Many people ask us this question: what should I feed my cat? We’ve made a simple list of good and bad ingredients for cat food. The most important things are high-quality protein and avoiding harmful ingredients.
Sadly, not many foods in stores meet these needs. Choosing the right food is also hard because of things like what’s available, how much it costs, and how you like to feed your cat. As the person who takes care of your cat, you have to think about these things to pick the healthiest food.
Cats need meat. They do best on food that’s right for them and have lots of good protein. Spending a bit more on better food when your cat is young can mean they’re healthier and have fewer vet bills as they get older.
People have different opinions on types of cat food. We hope this helps you learn enough to make a good choice for you and your cat.
We don’t suggest specific foods online anymore, except for some raw food advice. Please read cat food labels carefully and know what to avoid in cat food.
Dried food for cats
A lot of people give their cats dried food or kibble.
- Simple to give
- Cats can eat when they feel hungry
- Most cats enjoy it
- Usually cheaper
- Might have lots of carbs, not enough protein
- Thought to be a reason for many cats getting too fat, which can lead to diabetes
- Not much water in it, which some say is bad for cat kidneys
There’s a trend in pet food to make dry food without grains. This often means swapping grains like corn, wheat, and rice with things like potatoes, peas, and oats. From what we know, these haven’t been tested much to see if they’re safe for cats over a long time. Some ‘grain-free’ foods might even have more carbs than those with grains.
Wet food for cats
Some vets say to feed cats only wet, or canned, food. We mostly suggest the smooth, paté kind instead of the kind with pieces in gravy. Lots of cats just lick up the gravy and leave the meat. This means they don’t get all the nutrients they need, and they eat too much stuff that thickens the gravy and glutens.
- Add more water to a cat’s diet
- Cats usually love it
- Easy to mix in extra vitamins or medicine
- Has to be given at set times, which stops cats from eating little meals throughout the day
- Might cost more
- Often gets stuck on cats’ teeth, which can cause tooth problems
Raw food for cats
There’s a growing trend, even among some vets, to feed cats fresh raw food. But, it’s a tricky choice. You have to either make it yourself or use ready-made frozen or freeze-dried options. Click here to see our talk about raw food for cats.
Feeding raw food right is crucial. As dr. Jean Hofve, a vet who supports raw food, says, “The best diet for your cat is a well-made homemade one, but the worst is a homemade one that’s not made right!”
Dr. Karen Becker, another vet who likes raw food, says, “If you find it hard to include all ingredients and it’s too much work, you’re better off with store-bought frozen, canned, or even dry food.”
- Said to fix tough health issues like irritable bowel disorder and allergies
- Might help with better fur and teeth
- Less mess to clean up
- Takes more effort to make
- Has to be given at specific times
- Many cats, especially those used to store food, might not like it at first
- Can cost more upfront
- If not made right, a raw diet can miss important nutrients for your cat
Combining foods for cats
Many cat owners mix different types of food. For example, they might give scheduled meals at night and leave some kibble out during the day. Or, they use wet food as a special treat added to a dry diet. There are lots of ways to keep your cat happy and healthy with good nutrition.
Treats don’t have to make your cat overweight. Just choose treats made of high-quality protein and replace some of your cat’s regular food with them. It’s also a great idea to use treats when playing with your cat, like in clicker games. Your cat will enjoy doing something fun with you, and you’ll have a good time too!
Tips on where and how to feed your cat
Cats usually prefer to eat alone, away from other cats. When we ask them to eat together, it might cause trouble. It’s good to think about where and how to feed your cat, especially if you have more than one.
Here are some tips:
Feed them in different places: Give each cat its eating spot, away from the others. This helps them stay calm and avoid arguments.
Feed them up high: Some cats like eating in high places, like on a shelf or a cat tree. It can make them feel safer.
Choose a quiet spot for food bowls: Cats get scared easily. Find a calm, quiet place for their food, away from loud noises and busy areas.
Feed them at the same time every day: Cats like a regular schedule. Eating at the same time each day can make them less worried about meals.
Try puzzle feeders: These can make eating fun and feel like hunting, which is a natural thing for cats.
Watch how they eat: Look out for any bullying around food or if a cat isn’t eating much. You might need to change where or when they eat.
Every cat is different, so what works for one might not work for another. It’s about finding what’s best for your cats.
Remember their water!
Cats often drink more if their water is away from their food. A water fountain can encourage them to drink more. Try to find a fountain that’s simple and has few parts, so it’s easy to clean every few days. We like our fontaine à eau pour chat en acier inoxydable because of this.
But remember not all cats like the sound of running water. Start with a quiet fountain. When you bring in the new fountain, keep their regular water bowls where they are and place the fountain somewhere else.
Cats like things to change slowly and like having options. By keeping both the bowl and the fountain for a while, you give them a chance to get used to the fountain and choose if they prefer it over the bowls.