We are continuing our series for beginner cat owners with a section about basic cat care. In this article, we want to teach you how to feed your new cat.
Table of Contents
- What is the best food to feed your cat?
- What do I feed a new kitten?
- How to change a new kitten’s food?
- Which food type should you choose for your cat?
- Is canned food a better choice for cats?
- Is a raw diet good for cats?
- What to look for in cat food?
- What to avoid in cat food?
- How to feed your cat tips
You will learn:
- What is the best type of for your cat;
- What to be careful about or ;
- What to look for on commercial labels;
- How often you should feed your cat;
- How much you should give your cat;
- And more…
Yes, this is a cat feeding guide for beginner cat owners. That said, we are sure most experienced cat owners will be able to learn something from this article as well.
What is the best to feed your cat?
First, there are several types of .
- or .
- Semi moist
Second, when it comes to the commercial , there are so many different manufacturers. While most are, not all are nutritionally complete for your cat.
What do I feed a new ?
No matter what is source of nutrients you choose, when you bring a new home, it’s best to keep the same type (and brand, if possible) which was served in their previous home. The reason is your new will be under enough stress getting used to their new home. Changing their may upset their stomach.
So definitely ask the breeder or the shelter staff for this information.
How to change a new ‘s
When your new becomes confident in your home (which may take anywhere from a few days up to several months depending on many things), you can start transitioning them to another type of . The best way to do this is gradually. Start by mixing a lot of their old with a very small amount of the new type. Continue this by adding a bit less old and a bit more every day. Eventually you’ll be able to feed your their only. Normally, this transition should be done over a week or so. Please note that it will depend on how well your new accepts their .
Which type should you choose for your cat?
Most cat owners choose . It’s the most popular type mostly because of the ease of use and it’s low price. However, dry is not the perfect choice for cats. Really?
Dry is not the best choice for cats?
Why? Because it has too little moisture. Nature has built cats so they get the bulk of their water from their . Most cats don’t drink enough additional water. How come? This comes from the fact that cats, in general have a weak thirst drive. If your cat eats dry , they will more than likely be dehydrated chronically. This will impact their long term health.
According to a research paper by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Health Center,
is typically about 70 to 80 percent water, and can be fed in addition to or instead of dry.”
Did you know your cat is an That’s one of the issues with most dry cat food diets. ? That means they lack the ability to digest carbohydrates. If you look at most dry cat foods, they tend to have lots of carbohydrates.
Is a better choice for cats?
while it’s not as easy to serve as is a better choice. Why? A provides enough moisture to meet your pet’s requirements. In fact, most can be as much as 70% or more of water. These are often called . That’s a good thing as an gets most of its water intake from . For the most part, the average is nutritionally more complete than your average dry . However, you still want to check the label (read below) to make sure your cats are being met.
Is a raw good for cats?
your cat a , homemade would be the best choice for most cats. The reason is, you get to control what goes into your cats bowl. Unfortunately, most cat owners are afraid to try it or don’t have the time to commit to their cat in this way. While your cat will benefit from a homemade, raw (especially an indoor that you want to reduce their ), the time commitment is high.
In working with many of our patients that are looking at their , have a , or know they have an , a raw can really help control their . As you control every that goes into you cat’s bowl, it really helps for . It’s also more like how a cat would eat in the wild. For more info on that, please see our post What do wild cats eat. We do believe that raw diets are a great choice for any cat. Even a from an average recipe is better than dry .
Yes, there are concerns about the risk of illness if so it’s much easier for you to serve. ingredients aren’t handled properly. The good news is that there are a few companies that make a
We encourage our patients that are serious about looking into for their to read a book by Kymythy Schultze: Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purr-fect Health. She explains why a is the best choice for your cat. She provides several great, nutritionally rich recipes for your cat to start with.
There are also commercial raw diets available . While, they usually are better than processed , you will still have to check the label to see what’s in it.
What to look for in ?
If you are choosing a commercial , always take a look at the label. The label will tell you everything you want to know about what your cat will be eating. So what should you look for?
The main part is the list of ingredients. They are usually ordered by how much of each ingredient is in the . The most important are the first ones listed.
Meat by-products. These are commonly used and as a general rule, a thing to avoid. What are they? Meat by-products are anything that is not meat. Surprisingly, many of them are still necessary for cats. For example, in our home made recipe we add chicken bones, skin, heart and liver. Technically these are meat by-products. If you think about what a cat eats in the wild, they eat the whole rodent. So this makes sense. On the other hand, if your chosen pet food lists by-products as the primary ingredient, you may want to look for one with meat as the primary ingredient.
What to avoid in ?
- Fish in should be avoided. Why? The reason is that most fish used in contains too much phosphate. Beef is another protein source that is a common allergen for cats. For this reason, we recommend to avoid it. Of course, if your cat is not allergic to beef, (which you can only know by beef to your cat and monitor them), you can use it with no problems.
- Grains and vegetables are not necessary in a . Cats are meat eaters. Their bodies have evolved over the eons to get all their nutritional requirements from eating small animal. They don’t have the ability to get anything from carbohydrates such as wheat or corn. However, we have found that it can be difficult to find a commercial which contains no grain. It’s really tough when you look at adry like . If grains are in the ingredients list, check if they are listed as far towards the end as possible. If you can, select a grain free .
- Additives, like vitamins and amino acids and minerals are also important. However, what is necessary depends on the main ingredients and the method of processing. Most processed commercial cat foods should contain supplemental vitamin B and an amino acid Taurine. It’s rare to find just those unfortunately. Downside is that even scientists do not know the right amounts of vitamins, minerals and other supplements needed. Why not choose not to process in the first place?
- The price of the is important (money doesn’t grow on trees yet we hear), it appear to have a correlation with the quality of . This makes sense as using quality ingredients that cost more than cheap ones will make the price higher. Also, paying people that knows about nutrition costs more as well. You should still check the label, as high price does not assure the quality of the .
How to feed your cat?
You now know what to feed your cat. So how do you feed your cat?
- You will want to find a tray or plate to use. We have found that most cats enjoy eating off of a plate. While it’s most common to serve their in a bowl, many cats don’t like to stick their head in them to get the last bits of . The other thing most cats don’t like is when the edges of the bowl touch their whiskers. Of course, make sure to wash the plate at least once a day. We found our cats like their dish cleaned after every .
Find a feeding location.
- It’s best if it’s on an elevated surface, like on a cat tree, on a window sill, or a piece of furniture. If you have an , they can more easily eat without bending over when their dish is up off the floor.
- Make sure you are serving the correct amount as written on the label. Most commercial have on the label. If you would like more information on how much to feed your cat, please read our article How much to feed your cat. Remember, those numbers are not written in stone and depend on many factors. Factors such as “do you have an ?”, what is the for your cat?, etc. The directions on the label are a very reasonable starting point. You can make adjustments whether your cat gains or loses weight. If your cat is always hungry, please read our article on Why is my cat always hungry?
Serve several meals.
- The digestive system of your pet has evolved to digest several small meals. The reason for this is that in the wild, cats hunt for their which is composed of small rodents rather than a large prey animal. In the wild, cats may eat up to 10 small meals per day. You should aim for approximately three to five meals per day. Yes, this is takes a lot of time and effort on your part. As you plan your cats for a day, divide the daily amount of necessary by the amount of meals you’ll serve. If you are a raw or a , make sure your cat eats the whole in one sitting. If they don’t finish it all in one sitting, serve a smaller amount at the next .
Try to stick to, at least an approximate schedule. A schedule is really important in your cat’s eyes. , or leaving out is an option but for many cats is confusing their instincts. If you have it’s also very difficult to calculate how much each cat is getting to eat.Cats have evolved their inner clock to be super precise. Why? Their hunting success is dependent on the ability to tell time and when their preferred animal prey is more active. Having scheduled meals in your household environment will fit into your cats natural instincts and lowers your cat’s stress.
Cat schedule tips
- Do not feed your cat right when you wake up. Wait for an hour as ab example. Feed them before you leave for work. The reason for this is while it doesn’t affect your cat’s well being, but will prevent your cat from trying to wake you up in the morning for .
- Try to schedule last meal before you go to sleep. This isn’t for your cat’s benefit, but for your benefit. The reason for this is cats are used to taking a nap after their meals. Having a schedule of serving their last (it may be smaller than usual) right before you go to sleep yourself, will make sure your cat is less active during the night. The idea is that you, the loving cat owner will sleep better. We tell our patients that this is most effective if the last is preceded by a playing session of 15 or 20 minutes. Of course you should still play with your cat during throughout the day.
- Keep fresh water accessible. Even, if you are a containing enough water to meet your cat’s needs. You should still provide a bowl of fresh water accessible at all times. Remember to replace the water at least daily. This is even more important if your cat is on a . According to the Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Health Center:
“Cats need to consume about 4 ounces of water per five pounds of lean body weight per day, so the average 10-pound cat should drink about one cup of water per day.”
Above article covers basic feeding guidelines for cats. Be sure to read our next article which is closely related to cat food – a teeth cleaning. Yes, yes, cats do need this, as well. By learning how to feed your cat, they will be healthier and happier. And a happy pet is what we all want right?
This article is a part of series about basic care for your cat.