A Balanced Diet: Feeding Your Cat Right
Every cat lover wants their furry friend to lead a long, healthy, happy and active life. It’s important to make sure your cat’s diet has the right balance of the five major nutrient groups: protein, fats & oils, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.
As obligate carnivores, felines rely on protein as their main source of energy, and need higher levels of protein in their diet than dogs which means they can never be vegetarian or vegan. Meat provides three essential nutrients that cats can’t live without: taurine (for heart and vision), arachidonic acid (for skin and coat health) and Vitamin A (for coat and vision).
What can cats eat to stay healthy? Keep reading to find out all the essential elements that make up their diet and how much to feed your cat.
As mentioned earlier, cats need the correct balance of all essential nutrients. Good-quality cat food should be delicious and packed with all the nutrients felines need to thrive. For the best diet, make sure your cat is getting all the following:
The best wet cat food comes in cans, foil trays, or pouches. When feeding your cat wet food, always serve it at room temperature to allow your cat to get the most enjoyment from the textures and smells.
Once opened, cover any remaining portions and store them in the fridge for no more than 24 hours. Wet food shouldn’t sit around uneaten for more than an hour as it will become unappetizing and could attract bacteria, resulting in tummy upsets.
Cat kibbles contain more concentrated with nutrients than moist foods, so you only need to serve small helpings. They also have a crunchy texture that can help keep your cat's teeth healthy.
No dog food
Despite their appearance, dry cat food and dry dog food are not the same; their diets are not interchangeable.
How do you change a cat’s food?
If you decide to change your cat’s food, introduce the new food gradually over a period of seven to ten days. It is best to put out two bowls— one with the old food and one with the new, so your cat can taste both.
Homemade cat food
The idea of preparing homemade cat food might sound like a labor of love, but unfortunately it isn’t recommended. It’s difficult to provide the best cat diet using cooked or raw foods as some ingredients have very high or low quantities of essential nutrients.
Raw meat can also contain parasites and bacteria, such as Salmonella, which can make your cat ill. Avoid serving homemade raw diet and food which contain bones in it as these can splinter and even lodge in your cat’s intestine.
Do cats need food supplements?
Healthy cats that are fed a complete, balanced diet don’t need any supplements. In fact, the addition of supplements could unbalance their nutrition and cause problems.
That said, some cats have special nutritional needs (e.g. for growth, certain medical conditions or during pregnancy) and cat food diets are available that are formulated for those specific needs. If in doubt, have a chat with your vet.
How much to feed a cat?
If you’re wondering how much to feed a cat, you’ll need to consider their breed, activity and lifestyle. You can start by following the feeding guidelines on the pack as these contain dietary information. The actual amount needed will vary from cat to cat depending on things such as their size or activity level. Monitor your cat’s condition regularly with our tool and use this as a basis to adjust the amount of food you feed your cat.