What is the best diet for my cat? What is a healthy diet for my cat? What should I feed my cat? It is not always clear but understanding your cat’s nutrition is important. There are some myths you should know in order to ensure your feline friend has the best diet that will impact his/her health and vitality.
Ensuring your cat drinks enough clean and fresh water every day and has a well-balanced protein-based diet is what he/she needs to be happy and healthy.
Cat Nutrition: True Carnivores
Cats are small carnivorous mammals; they are in fact ‘obligate carnivores’ (or true carnivores) which means that they must eat meat in order to survive. Cats cannot be vegetarians.
Due to their genetics, and their past, cats are ‘obligate carnivores’, predators, meaning that all the nutrients needed to keep their body functioning are found in the prey (flesh and organs). Since cats were domesticated and brought by humans into our houses, they stopped hunting and the only way that cats have access to food is by human hands.
As explained in Encyclopaedia Britannica: “(…) they cannot obtain all the nutrients that they need from the plant kingdom and bacteria. In particular, obligate carnivores lack the enzyme needed to split carotene, obtained from plants, into vitamin A. Instead, these animals obtain vitamin A from the liver of their prey. Obligate carnivores are similarly unable to synthesize some essential very-long-chain, highly unsaturated fatty acids that other animals can make from shorter fatty acids found in plants.”
Not all cat’s food is the same
Nowadays the domesticated cat is mostly fed through commercial diets (pet food available in vets, pet stores or supermarkets) that can be dried, semi moist and canned. Some people like to give homemade food to their feline friends which can be a bit of a challenge. Making your own cat food is very demanding and time-consuming, you need to be accurate on all the essential vitamins and minerals and balance well all the ingredients. Get advice from a veterinarian if that’s the option you’ll follow.
The important thing to retain is that as ‘obligate carnivores’, cats have special needs:
- High amounts of protein (meat based diet)
- Moderate amounts of fat
- Minimal amount of carbohydrates (although they are not necessary for a cat’s diet, it will provide useful energy)
- Fatty acids
- Amino acids like taurine and arginine (from meat or fish)
- Finally: Water! The insufficient water intake can bring serious health problems to your feline. It is extremely important to provide fresh water all the time to your cat. As you know most cats don’ t like to drink still water. You should provide at least 2 water bowl per cat, or a water fountain, preferably those which control the quantity that they drink, such as Pawbo Spring.
How often do cats need to be fed?
Cats like to eat many small meals a day, rather than one or two big meals. This can be difficult to manage, unless you have an automatic feeder like Pawbo Crunchy, that has an Automatic feeding schedule controlled with the Pawbo’s App that also sets up to 10 meals per day so he/she eats smaller portions.
Kittens should be fed up to 3 times a day. An adult cat can be fed once or twice a day.
There are 3 different feeding methods, each one of them with its Pros and Cons.
Feeding Method #1: Scheduled Meal Feeding
With this method you feed your cat at set times throughout the day. It can be 1-2-3 times a day depending on the feline.
The advantage of this method is that you control what your cat eats, which in some circumstances, like overweight cats, can be helpful. This way, you can also easily detect changes in appetite that might indicate a health problem.
On the other hand, as a possible disadvantage, cats can ask for food between meals. However, since most pet cats are creatures of habit, this problem can be avoided by serving right-sized meals every day at the same time to control the cat’s appetite.
This does not have to be difficult or time consuming, there are solutions in the market like Pawbo Crunchy, the Smart Automatic Feeder. You define your pets’ meals settings and Pawbo Crunchy will take care of the rest with precision.
Feeding Method #2: Free Feeding
With this method your cat always has access to her food throughout the day. Your cat is never hungry because food is always available.
Many cat parents choose this method because is the most convenient for them, but this is not the best option for most cats.
One of the disadvantages of this method is that it can lead to overeating and obesity.
If you are a fan of this method the best advice to avoid obesity is to provide the adequate amount of diet that is described in the food bag and don’ t give any more than that.
It is also difficult to say if the appetite of your cat has changed. Again, Pawbo Crunchy’s smart cat feeder could came in handy, with its double scale measuring system you get the exact amount of food your cat needs avoiding under or over feeding you cat.
Feeding Method #3: Combination Feeding
The third method is a mix between the scheduled meal feeding and the free feeding methods. It consists on offering wet food to your cat in specific hours (scheduled meal feeding) and have dry food always available in a bowl for self-service (free feeding).
The good thing is that you partially control what your cat eats, and your he/she eats small portions throughout the day.
The disadvantages are those of the free feeding method, if you don’ t measure the food that you offer your cat, it can lead to obesity.
Just remember that no matter what method you choose to feed your furry friend, the amount you feed him and a balanced diet is what it matters the most. Talk to your veterinarian to fix the exact food amount for your cat, do not just go for the labels.
These advises for your feline nutrition are guidelines and no matter what the method that you chose, try always to provide a high-quality diet to your cat, provide enough fresh clean water and give a lot of love. They will thank.
How do you feed your cat? Share your stories in the comments!
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