The ultimate guide to feeding your cat
The most important part of your cat’s day is when they get to eat. Naturally, cat’s are instinctively programmed to spend their days stalking prey so that they can enjoy a tasty meal that will help them survive. However, the life of a domesticated cat is much different, as they are given their tasty meals pre-prepared by their loving owners that typically consists of a nutrient-dense cat food formulated for their needs.
As much as we all love a chunky, cuddly cat, leaner cats are more likely to live a longer life than their heavy counterparts. Therefore, it’s important as cat owners to ensure that your cat is fed the right amount of food, at the right times and with the correct ingredients for them to live happily and healthily.
Cat’s with a healthy diet and body weight are less likely to suffer from health issues and live longer to provide us with endless amounts of love and entertainment. That’s why, here at Direct4Pet, we’re here to provide you with all of the essential information you need to know about feeding your cat. From what food you should be offering to, how often they should be eating and how to spot if your cat is displaying signs of being underweight or overeating, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover the ultimate guide to feeding your cat.
How often should you feed your cat?
The question of how often your cat should be fed is a highly debated topic and one that is unique to each cat and their eating habits. Some cats choose to graze on food all day, coming back to it whenever they wish and others like to have set times of the day where they eat all of their food at once.
Whether you choose to leave food out for your cat to graze at all day or feed them twice a day, the most important thing to remember is that they should not eat over their recommended daily intake of calories. This means that you should refrain from filling up your cat’s bowl whenever it is empty, not all cats are good at regulating how much they eat and may keep going back for more every time their bowl is refilled, resulting in overeating which can often lead to weight gain.
The overall rule is that adult cats should be fed twice a day. Once their stomach is filled with food they will then burn this off over the next 8-10 hours until they are hungry again. However, as cat owners, It’s important that you do not let your cat go over 12 hours without eating as their stomach can start to produce unwanted extra acid which can lead to nausea and vomiting.
While this general rule of thumb applies to the majority of cats, kittens and pregnant or nursing cats should ideally have food left out for them at all times to ensure that they are getting the essential calories and nutrients they need for their growing metabolism.
Cats are creatures of habit and love routine, which is why it may seem your feline friend's days often revolve around their meal times, because of this, we recommend that you stick to feeding your cat at set times each day. This not only helps you keep track of how much your cat is being fed but it also helps to recognise any potential changes to their eating behaviours or health issues that may be a cause for concern.
Feeding your cat on a schedule will result in them showing any number of these following signs to remind you that they’re hungry and it’s their designated meal time:
- Purring and vocalising
- Rubbing their head against you or nearby surfaces
- Following you around the house and being invasive
- Persistence with the above behaviours until they are fed.
What is the healthiest thing to feed a cat?
By nature, cats are true carnivores which means that they are dependent on the nutrients that come from catching prey, meaning that it is essential they are primarily fed a meat-dense diet. Domesticated cats are typically fed cat food that contains a blend of different meat and animal derivatives balanced with vegetable extracts that would typically be found in the gut of their prey in the wild.
The healthiest way to feed your cat is to start them on a type of cat food that is tailored to their unique dietary needs. However, if you’re not yet familiar with these requirements, as a starting point, we recommend you give your cat a balance of both wet and dry cat food from a high-quality, premium brand to ensure they are getting all of their essential nutrients. Each cat will require a different type of food in order to be their healthiest, taking into consideration both their breed, age and specific health issues.
Here at Direct4Pet we offer a range of cat food that is tailored to the specific needs of your cat. From Royal Canin breed-specific cat food to Dechra Specific cat food formulated to address health requirements. Below, we have outlined our top-picks cat food options to help you get started.
Royal Canin offers a wide variety of cat food made for the specific needs of individual cat breeds. Recognising that not all breeds of cats require the same essential nutrients, Royal Canin offers both Adult and Kitten cat foods from Maine Coon to Persian and many more, Royal Canin’s cat food is designed to help your cat grow in the healthiest and happiest version of themselves.
Available in both wet and dry formulas, Royal Canin’s Kitten cat food is formulated to support your kitten’s immune system and overall health as they grow in order to give them the best start in life. Featuring the perfect balance of vitamins, minerals and proteins to not only nourish your pet but to also encourage the growth of a beautiful coat and healthy skin. With additional fibre content and prebiotics to support intestinal flora, blended with the perfect composition of animal protein and vegetables, your kittens are guaranteed to love this food whilst also guaranteeing you a healthy cat.
Royal Canin’s breed-specific cat food ensures that each animal gets exactly what they need out of their food for both their inside health and their outside beauty, whilst also enjoying meal times. Cat food formulated for larger cats such as Maine Coons, contains additional ingredients that will help to support their heart and joint health as they grow, as well as extra nutrients to help with the growth and maintenance of a healthy fur coat.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s weight, digestion, heart health or joint issues, Dechra Specific offers a wide range of specially formulated cat food that caters to your pet’s health concerns.
Available in both wet and dry versions to accommodate your cat’s preferences, Dechra Specific ensures that your cat is given the very best blend of protein, fibre and vitamins to ensure a healthy, balanced diet. Their weight reduction cat food is also a great option for cats trying to maintain a healthy weight, as this specially-formulated food is low in calories and fat but full of protein and fibre to help your pet feel fuller for longer, maintain muscle mass and ensure slow glucose release useful for those with diabetes.
Dechra’s digestive support cat food includes easy-to-digest ingredients combined with higher levels of vitamins and minerals to ensure that even with digestive issues they are still getting the essential nutrients they need. With added electrolytes and fat soluble vitamins, this digestive support food is formulated with a tasty blend of meat, fish, eggs and more to ensure your cat is kept happy and healthy.
Browse our full range of cat food and cat treats to find the perfect fit for you and your cat. Alternatively, if you’re curious about other ways to help support your cat’s diet, take a look at our range of cat supplements which can help to keep your cat’s health in check in addition to their tasty food.
How much should you feed your cat?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the amount of food you should feed your cat, it is completely dependent on the individual cat. Many factors contribute to how much you should be feeding your cat:
- Age - A younger cat or kitten should be fed more as they have a higher energy requirement and need more nutrients to help with their growth. Whereas adult and senior cats require less calorie intake as they are already fully grown.
- Size - Cat’s vary in size depending on their breed and therefore the amount they should be fed varies too. Larger breeds of cats such as, Maine Coon, Ragdoll and British Shorthair, will require more food in a day than smaller breeds of cats such as Siamese, Burmese and Munchkin cats.
- Indoor vs. Outdoor - Typically, outdoor cats should be fed more as they are more likely to have a higher activity level compared to indoor cats. Indoor cat’s tend to lay around more and therefore will require less food, however, each cat has their own metabolic rates unique to them.
- Health Status - If your cat has a health condition or illness, their metabolic rate could be affected and in turn, the amount of food they should eat will be affected too. Certain diseases may require your cat to eat more protein and neutered cats will need to eat less as the lack of hormones gives them a slower metabolic rate. Whereas pregnant or nursing cats will require more calories to keep up with the nutritional demands on their body.
Taking into consideration all of these factors, you can then make a decision on how much you think you should feed your cat. Using the recommended amount outlined on the packet of food you are using, you can also use this as a guideline for how much you think your cat should need. The packaging of cat food provides very rough guidelines to cover a range of cat breeds and sizes, therefore you should adjust the amount you’re feeding your cat accordingly based on your personal knowledge of your cat’s needs.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s weight, whether that be that they are losing too much weight or seemingly overweight, consult with your vet first so that you can then make the correct adjustments to your cat’s eating and exercise habits. Consulting with your vet will help you better understand what your cat needs, how much food they should be eating at what age and will help to rule out any possible underlying health conditions that could be contributing to your cat’s weight gain or loss.
If you’re worried about not feeding your cat enough, here are some typical signs to look out for that suggest that your cat is being underfed:
- Eating too quickly and in turn regurgitating their food
- Stealing food from your plate or bin
- Eating unusual food items
- Lethargic and more lazy than usual
- Skinny or sunken body.
It’s important to note that if your cat does start to show an interest in non-edible materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, dirt etc. this could be a sign of a disorder called Pica. Pica is caused by a lack of nutrients which triggers your cat to want to eat non-edible things and if you are worried that your cat may be experiencing this you should contact a vet straight away.