The Food You Feed Your Cat

The Food You Feed Your Cat
Feed your cat like a cat - not like a dog or a human. Cats like variety, and they are nibblers, happy to snack at frequent intervals. They are also finicky, and after carefully sniffing at your latest gourmet offering, they may walk away in complete disdain.

On the other hand, cats easily become addicted to one food - especially such items as liver, fresh meat, or tuna fish. None of these is an adequate exclusive diet for cats. Cats are usually sensible about managing the amount of food they eat, and very few overeat to the extent that they become obese. If they do, suspect your feeding program or look for a psychological disturbance. Then eliminate the cause.

In nature cats usually are expert hunters, and they balance their diets by catching and eating every morsel of their prey. They catch all kinds of small rodents, birds, lizards, and snakes and often proudly bring them home to demonstrate their hunting prowess. Eating wild prey exposes your cat to several disease states - especially toxoplasmosis and internal parasites - and you should prevent this habit. The only way to stop the hunting habit in a cat is to keep it confined...

Do not feed cats table foods or foods that are cold. The best method is to leave dry or soft-moist cat food available to your pet at all times. Place an amount that is slightly more than is needed for 24 hours in a dish and replenish daily.

Rotate the food by adding the fresh food to the bottom of the dish. This prevents food from being left in the bottom of the dish for several days. This method is effective, as cats enjoy nibbling.

Some cat owners like to expand and supplement the above system by feeding the cat a different food as a "meal" once or twice daily. These feedings may consist of canned cat food, canned treats, liver or fish, fresh meat, or cottage cheese. A cat will usually relish such a meal, and under this system, will eat correspondingly less of the constantly available dry or soft-moist foods.

The amount of food a cat needs varies, depending on growth, physical activity, pregnancy, metabolic rate, and digestive efficiency. You must tailor the amounts to your cat's own needs. Most adult cats weight between 6 and 10 pounds. Generally either 2 to 3 ounces of dry food, 2 to 4 ounces of soft-moist food, or 5 to 8 ounces of canned food will provide maintenance requirements. However, kittens and pregnant cats require much more than this. The best maintenance guide is to feed your cat an amount adequate to maintain a constant and ideal body weight. The above quantities are rough guides. Read and carefully follow feeding advice on the cat food package or can. Feed a variety of foods.

A cat cannot live on meat alone. There is not enough calcium, taurine, essential fatty acids, etc. in just plain meat, so you must be careful to prepare the diet using the necessary ingredients-and always remember that calcium is not an optional "supplement," but a very critical component of the diet. Use extreme caution if you choose to buy a pre-ground raw pet food (as opposed to making it yourself using your own grinder).

Many people have a strong negative reaction to feeding a raw meat diet but in reality, a properly handled and prepared raw diet has much less bacteria in it than many commercial pet foods. Commercial pet foods also may contain high levels of mold toxins from grains which is never a danger in a home-prepared, grainless diet. Cats are very different from humans with respect their susceptibility to ‘food poisoning'. Cats have a much shorter transit time through their intestinal tract than humans do. (~12 hours for the cat versus ~35-55 hours for the human.) This is a very important point because the more time bacteria spend in the intestines, the more they multiply, eventually leading to intestinal upset.

Learn How To Read a Pet Food Ingredients Label

  • The words "natural" or "premium" are not necessarily indicative of high quality!

  • Look for meat as the first ingredient. This will be listed as "chicken", "turkey", etc. NOT "chicken meal", or "chicken by-product meal" or "chicken by-products", or "chicken broth". The term "meal" denotes that it has been rendered (cooked for a long time at very high temperatures) and is lower quality than meat that has not been as heavily processed. By-products can include feet, intestines, feathers, egg shells, etc. and are less nutritious than meat.

  • Grains should be absent or, at least, minimal in amount. This means if they are present, they should not be among the first three ingredients. Corn and wheat are thought to be common allergens when compared to other grains such as rice, oats or barley so it is best to choose a food that does not contain corn or wheat.