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Feeding a cat does not have to be mysterious. But some pet owners are susceptible to very common mistakes in feeding their feline companions. By recognizing a few key concepts and attributes of cats we can create a very reasonable feeding plan for them.

Cats are creatures of habit. We can use this fact to our advantage by creating a regular feeding schedule and sticking to it. Regular, routine feeding times allow your cat’s body to be prepared for the food it will receive.

Cats are carnivores, so they need a source of animal protein to be in optimal health. Cats are extremely well-adapted predators and they not only eat meat but in fact, have become dependent on a meat diet and actually cannot thrive or survive without meat in their diet. You’ll need to find high-quality commercial cat food appropriate for your cat’s age and health.

The amount of food your cat needs will depend on its weight, size and age, so don’t always go by what your neighbor is feeding their cat! Obesity is quite common in cats and can contribute to a shorter life span, so always make sure you’re feeding your pet the correct amount of food.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to feed your cat a commercial dry or wet food, you can offer variety in your feline’s diet by feeding it cooked or raw, fresh meat.

Feeding Your Cat Dry or Wet Food

The experts haven’t reached complete consensus. But most agree on some of the pros and cons of dry and wet adult cat food.

Dry adult cat food:

  • Is more economical
  • convenient because you can leave it out and it doesn’t spoil as easily
  • energy dense, meaning a cat can consume lots of calories quickly
  • Has about 10% moisture content
  • Tends to have more carbohydrates and less protein than wet food
  • May be only slightly better than canned food at preventing dental disease

Canned adult cat food:

  • Is more expensive
  • Can spoil more easily and requires refrigeration after opening
  • Is less energy dense than dry food
  • Has up to 78% moisture content
  • Tends to have more fat and protein – especially animal protein – and fewer carbohydrates than dry food

There are a lot of people who believe that cats only need to eat canned food and will be unhealthy if they eat dry food. We would want to recommend mixed feeding as there is not enough research to determine which is better. Mixed feeding can be defined as serving canned food as a twice-daily meal and dry food is freely available.

Combination feeding allows your cat to eat multiple, small meals of dry food per day on their own schedule. You can monitor appetite at least partially when you feed them wet food as a specific meal at a set time of day. It also gives cats the nutritional benefits of both wet and dry food.

Feeding a Cat at Different Life Stages

Feeding kittens

Because kittens are growing at such a fast rate, they have higher nutritional demands than adult cats. It is usually possible to start weaning kittens from around 3-4 weeks of age, at which time small amounts of a good quality kitten food can be offered.

It is usually best to start with a wet kitten food or to soak some dry kibbles designed for kittens in water to thoroughly moisten them. As kittens grow and develop they can be transitioned to dry food if preferred. Weaning is usually completed by around 8 weeks of age.

Feeding Adult Cats

Similar to kittens, the basis of your adult or senior cat’s diet should be a high-quality, premium commercial cat food. Check the package label to see what age the food is suited to when shopping.

As with kittens, feel free to offer your cat a variety of food such as fresh or cooked meat or fish. Meaty bones or fresh meat is a great source of protein, just make sure it’s human-grade as some pet meat and bone products may contain preservatives that can be harmful for your cat.

Feeding Senior Cats

Always recognise older cats may have health issues the wrong diet can adversely affect. Many benefit from a wet diet that’s canned, fresh or cooked to help increase the amount of fluid they consume. Always consult your vet about an appropriate diet if your cat has health issues.


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