Know What to Feed Your Cat

Edited by VisiHow, Eng, Train Wreck, Inukshuk and 1 other

Cats have been human companions for thousands of years. Yet, despite this, everyone with cats has at some point wondered what to feed their furry feline friends. This is in part due to the inherent picky nature of cats, especially those that refuse even the best of foods, but it's also due to their unique dietary requirements. You see, while dogs are omnivores and can live without meat, cats are carnivores. Excepting very special diets, all cats require the proteins and nutrients in meat, or they will die from heart and liver problems. Then there is the consideration of age. Cats at every stage of life require slightly different diets to be at their healthiest, but as a general rule, foods that are rich in proteins and moderate or low in fats are best. Carbohydrates are also essential for fiber, energy, and making sure the cat feels full after eating.

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'Very sleek and fat did the cats appear, and sonorous with purring content.
The citizens talked with one another of the affair, and marvelled not a little.

- H. P. Lovecraft, "Cats of Ulthar"

Healthy Cats

In order to have a healthy cat, you need to feed him or her the right foods. At first this can seem a bit daunting, especially when your cat brings you something it hunted, such as a cricket, or even a mouse. You may start to wonder if the dry cereal you normally feed your cat is enough. Chances are it probably isn't enough, but there are signs you can watch for to monitor their health as related to their eating habits, as well as many other things you can feed your cat to keep him or her healthy.

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    Raw bones make a great treat for a cat, but cooked bones are bad. This is because bones become softer as they are cooked, and cats will try to chew them up. That can hurt their digestive tracts. On the other hand, raw bones can help keep teeth healthy. You can even give some raw meat with a bone for your cat.
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    Refusal to eat
    If a healthy cat refuses to eat, check if the cat's food is still good, or needs replacing. In warmer climates, canned food goes bad in under an hour. On the other hand, the food can also be too cold. Teeth are sensitive, and cats are no exception. Cold food can hurt a cat's teeth. If you keep cans of cat food in the refrigerator, warm them to the temperature of your body before serving. If that still does not work, try feeding your cat from your hands with some of the human foods listed in the next section of this article.
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    Not eating for longer than usual
    If you notice that your cat has not eaten for the whole day, it may be a signal of inflammation, infection, or other illness. Cats can survive without food for up to two weeks, but three days maximum (hopefully, it will not come to that) should be enough to sound the alarm and prompt you to visit a veterinarian with your cat. When visiting the vet, it's important to mention whether or not your cat has had water that day. If your cat is also not drinking, then don't wait several days. Immediately take them to a veterinarian. Lack of liquids makes blood thicker, which is deadly for circulation. In extreme cases your veterinarian will take a blood sample, determine the cause of your cat's illness, and maybe even make the blood less viscous by putting your cat on an IV drip.
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    While giving your cat plenty of water and wet food is crucial to maintaining good health, there are still quite a few people making different claims about cat health. Some of these claims can even be harmful to your cat if you unknowingly follow them without proper research. For example, some nutritionists recommend serving dry food with abundance of fresh water. They say that dry cat food is cheaper than canned cat food, in part because companies sell up to 80% of water in each can or package. However, this is a bit misleading. Dry food usually has more carbohydrates, which is dangerous for diabetic cats. It is usually high in plant-based proteins, which will have less vitamins and minerals for your cat. Worse, such food may also have a fungal mycotoxin contamination. To keep your cat healthy, just make sure he or she is fed a mix of both dry and canned food.
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    Alternate foods
    You can switch between or mix semidry, dry, canned, and human food to satisfy your cat's appetite. You can even alternate the same food types. For example, change brands of wet or dry cat food occasionally. Some people even switch back and forth between two-to-five brands. It's all a matter of what your cat likes, and what you are comfortable providing for him or her.
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    Safe food
    If you would like to feed your cat with food from own your table, please examine this list of food that is safe for cats:
    • yogurt;
    • cheese;
    • butter;
    • cooked chicken or turkey;
    • fish;
    • meat;
    • eggs;
    • baby food;
    • rice;
    • cooked vegetables, such as pumpkins.
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    Unsafe food
    Just as there are good foods, there also bad ones. The foods listed below are not things you should feed your cat. Especially if your cat has any dietary issues or problems:
    • cooked fish or meat with bones;
    • citrus and avocado;
    • alcohol (never use it to cure anything like distemper!);
    • apricot, cherry, apple seeds, or peach pits;
    • tea or coffee as the cats are not noble Englishmen;
    • chocolate;
    • grapes;
    • raisins;
    • macadamia nuts;
    • milk for adult cats is never a good idea. This is because it upsets the digestion of lactose-intolerant animals (which is the natural state for weaned animals).
    • mushrooms;
    • pure fat (dog food has a lot of fat, so avoid letting your cat eat dog food);
    • liver;
    • onions and garlic;
    • potatoes and tomatoes;
    • salt;
    • tuna can be dangerous when fed too frequently;
    • yeast dough.
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    As treats for your cat, you can give green and black olives. This food is not detrimental to their health, and they will thoroughly enjoy playing with it. This is because the chemicals used in making olives are very close to catnip.
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    Shop around for the best cat food you can buy for your cat
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Cats That Have Problems with Health

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    Cats recovering from an illness or surgery require plenty of water, which is should usually be supplemented with cooked chicken and turkey without bones. In some cases your cat may not eat a lot of food and just drink water. If you believe your cat has an upset stomach, he or she can be given rice.
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    Diabetic cats require both food and medicine to be administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. Generally speaking it's a low carb diet that excludes dry cat food. See the next paragraph if your cat requires weight control, which is also essential for diabetic cats.
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    Extra weight
    If your cat is obese, you may want to adjust his or her diet. Reference the section on food nutrition values at the end of this article for help with what to feed your cat. Otherwise, please use the section below for a list of methods you can used to help your cat to lose weight:
    • cutting the daily food intake by 20% (you will have to weigh each food portion). Weigh your cat every three days. The safe limit is 2% of body weight loss per week. If your cat is losing weight faster, add more food per day;
    • calculating calories per day should be done according to the desired optimal weight for your cat (for example, 6 kilograms for a domestic average male cat).
      • Imperial system: calories=(13.6*optimal weight)+70;
        metric system: calories=(6.18*optimal weight)+70.
      • If your cat is still not losing weight week after week, multiply the calories by 0.8 (20% reduction), and feed accordingly.
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    Little weight
    If your cat is emaciated, feed him or her food rich in protein and fat. Ideally, visit a veterinarian for a food recommendation, or a pet store where you can ask for a cat food rich in fat. Some human food will do too (duck, eggs, mackerel, plain yogurt, or sardines).
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    Chronic renal failure may require low-protein foods that are only sold in pet stores. Unfortunately we can't make specific food recommendations, as it differs from cat to cat, and even region to region. Also, the protein amount in food depends on the stage of the illness. Please consult a veterinarian for assistance with this problem!
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Stray Cats

Feeding stray cats is done differently, depending on the climate. For cold climates, you will have to bring only canned food, as it food is the only way for them to obtain liquids. If you bring water, it will become ice very fast. For warmer climates, try to feed canned food as well, as dry food often has no smell to cats.

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Kittens and Aging Cats

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    For the first three weeks of a kitten's life, it should have no dairy at all. Before the kittens start eating their own food, you may want to feed their mother with some kitten food too. This is because while she is nursing her kittens, she will have higher nutritional requirements. Also make sure you have good space for the mother to feed her daughters and sons.
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    Aging cats
    Grimalkins, or elderly cats, may require a different diet. Many cat-food manufacturers have special food to meet the needs of these older cats. Also, some homeless cats can start to lose or break teeth the longer they are on the streets. These cats will need softer food or even puree. It is also possible to give your aged cat some baby food from a jar, just make sure it's something a cat would normally eat. Don't give things like sweet pineapples or fruits. If the cat's teeth are in a very bad condition, you can use a syringe without the needle to administer liquid food.
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Tips and Tricks

  • Always remember to provide your cat with fresh water every morning and evening. Make sure the bowl is always full, and wash it daily.
  • When feeding, make sure you don't give too much food. If the cat can't eat it all, then other animals may be attracted.
  • Some towns and cities around the world have problems with stray animals. Because of this, when feeding a stray cat you should consider hiding any feeding bowls you may use when giving them food. This will help keep other animals from trying to steal their food.
  • Use the Cat Food Nutrition Calculator if you want to find out the nutrients in what you're feeding your cat.
  • Sticking to a feeding schedule will help regulate the appetite of your cat. Feeding three-four small meals a day is plenty for adult cats.
  • You can also give vitamins to your cat. Just read the labels and make sure you don't give too much.
  • Do not make cat sounds, or try to talk to cats that you aren't familiar with. This is especially true of stray cats, as they may be scared, and in some cases even think you are threatening them.
  • To avoid cats eating their own hair and vomiting from it, please view our tutorial on grooming your cat.

Links and References

1. "Feline Diabetes", Lisa A. Pierson, DVM.

2. "Cat Food - Natural Composition".

3. "Safe Human Foods Cats Can Eat".


If you have questions or comments on cat dishes, meals, nutrition values, and other foods for your cat, please leave a comment!

See other tutorials on cats:

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Cats

Recent edits by: Inukshuk, Train Wreck, Eng

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