The Cat Diet Guide - Learn to Pick the Best Food for your Cat

While our cats may not want to accept it, they are dependent on us to make all the decisions regarding their diet. People who are new cat parents are often asking themselves the question, “What do cats eat?” Cats eat the same food at every meal, hence understanding their nutritional needs is relatively simple. Establishing a healthy cat diet plan is not just essential to maintaining a healthy weight; it also improves the quality of life, which means fewer visits to the vet and a longer, healthier life.

The unconditional bond that we share with cats dates back to about 10,000 years ago when farmers and cats shared a symbiotic relationship. Cats would kill the rodents on the farm and in turn receive food, shelter and the warmth of a family. During domestication, cats have sustained only minor alterations in their anatomy and behavior, and are still capable of thriving in the wild. So, what is it like feeding an animal that is close to the heart, yet close to the wild? Because of their closeness to the wild, cats cannot be fed an entirely vegetarian diet. However, that does not mean that a vegetarian household cannot live with cats.

The food we choose has a significant influence on our cat's overall health; therefore, you want to make sure you're feeding them something nutritious and wholesome. If your cat was eating a particular brand of cat/kitten food before its adoption, using small amounts of the same cat food along with whatever food you plan on feeding them can help in a healthy transition. You can find your cat's choice of food, right here. If a cat's diet is changed all too soon, it often causes an upset stomach. Kitten food should be a formula especially designed to meet the nutritional and caloric needs for them to grow up to be strong and healthy. If your cat is underweight, overweight, or geriatric, it's best to ask a veterinarian to help select the right type of cat food.

Here's an insight into feeding a healthy cat:

What to feed?

Raw cat food - Raw feeding is relatively new to many and is called a BARF diet (biologically appropriate-raw-food). A BARF diet involves feeding your cat uncooked animal products - muscle meat, organ meat, and bones. An ideal and wholesome raw diet is prepared based on a carefully designed recipe. If you feed your cat a BARF diet, it must be one that is nutritious, balanced, wholesome and approved by a veterinarian.

Should I feed my cat a BARF diet?

Those who support raw food diets have much to say about the health benefits: coats are shinier, teeth stay cleaner, obesity is prevented, and overall health is better. Because cats are obligate carnivores, they must eat animal products to live a long and healthy life. They thrive on a high-protein and high-moisture diet whose main ingredient is meat. A BARF diet is what supporters believe to be closest to what a cat would eat in the wild to stay healthy. Studies have shown that cooking alters the meat by decreasing its potency of vital substances. A BARF diet is considered by those who believe that cat food should be closest to what their anatomy is meant to eat.

Is a BARF diet necessary to keep my cat healthy?

Feeding your cat a BARF diet has its risks along with the benefits. Raw food must be fed fresh. This kind of cat diet may not work for a household where cat parents are working during their cat's mealtime. Raw diets cannot be fed to cats who live with immuno-compromised individuals, young children or the elderly. Raw food contains life-threatening pathogens, and when not handled carefully, it can be dangerous. Most cats will digest a raw diet because they have shorter, acidic digestive tracts; however, those that are immuno-compromised may require a cooked diet.

Wet cat food - Wet food or canned food is one of the most commercially available cat food. Wet cat food is available in gravy, mince or chunks and is a favourite among most cats we've met. This type of food has high water content and is most often nutritionally balanced and wholesome.

Should I feed my cat wet food?

When it comes to wet food, quality takes the driver's seat. It is crucial to feed your cat wet food of the best quality because good quality and premium canned foods often have meat as the primary ingredient and don't contain by-products, artificial colours, flavours, or fillers.

What are the downsides of wet cat food?

Wet food cannot be left out for more than twenty minutes. It can spoil and become unsafe to eat. While premium quality food offers a wholesome and balanced meal, wet cat food of lower quality doesn't provide complete nutrition. It can cause upset stomachs.

Dry food - Dry food is the most common form of feeding cats. It is available in the form of kibbles and used by many cat parents.

Should I feed my cat dry food?

Dry food feeding is most convenient if you are working or aren't at home during mealtime. Dry food can be left out for a long time without it spoiling. Just like wet food, dry food of the best quality is crucial.

What are the downsides of dry cat food?

A lot of commercially available cat food is grain-based as opposed to being meat-based. Check the label to make sure that meat is the primary ingredient and avoid products with byproducts, fillers, and artificial flavours.

How much to feed?

Once you have decided on what type of diet you want your cat to have, the second step is to determine how much he or she needs to eat. Cats that are active and take trips around the block during the day may require a diet of higher caloric value than those who prefer to laze around indoors. The amount to be fed also depends on your cat's weight. Be sure to ask your veterinarian on how much to feed your cat before making a decision.

How to feed?

An important point to note while feeding cats is to ensure that the food and water bowls are not kept  together. Cats are more comfortable when the source of water is away from their food bowl. It also promotes hunting and foraging habits to place water in more than one area. Choose cat bowls and dishes that are made of stainless steel or ceramic because they are unlikely to hold strong odours.  As for water, cats prefer water that is fresh; hence the water must be changed four to five times a day.

The best part - treats!

They love a good treat every now and then. Cat treats are an excellent way to get them to listen on the days they're a little stubborn. Find your stash of delicious cat treats right here.

As loving cat parents, we owe it to them to understand their dietary requirements and feed them what is best. Now when you meet a fellow cat parent who’s wondering ‘what do cats eat’, you know how to guide them.