A good diet for my cat
A healthy diet for your cat
What should I feed my cat? How can I give my cat a healthy diet?
We all want to our best for our cats and kittens, learning a little bit about your cat’s dietary needs will help you keep your loved one healthy.
Cats need meat
Cats are carnivorous, this means they eat meat and have little need for carbohydrates (cereals and vegetables). Hunting cats will eat a variety of prey – mice, voles, birds, rabbits etc. Cats eat the muscles, organs, skin and bones of prey; this is a diet high in protein and fat. Cats need three times more protein than dogs.
Cats and cereals
Cats have little need for cereals and vegetables (about 2-3% in a natural diet).
Many dry cat foods contain up to 35-50% starches. Your cat does not have the metabolic adaptation to digest all this carbohydrate and so it is turned into fat. Feeding a lot of dry food may mean your cat is more likely to get overweight.
Cats with a history of urinary tract infection may be best fed with wet foods, although some premium dry foods containing cranberry are good.
Cats with diabetes should avoid dry foods with a high carbohydrate content. Always get specialist advice if your cats has diabetes.
What should I feed my cat?
Prepared wet cat foods are a reliable way to give your cat a balanced diet, but can cause tooth decay if they contain sugars.
Commercial canned cat food and sachets are higher in protein than dry foods and therefore may be suitable; although quality varies a lot between brands.
Varieties with gravy will contain more starchy stuff (and probably more salt and sugar) than the jelly type (jelly is made from the bones and ligaments of animals).
Canned foods usually contain around 8-10% carbohydrate and so this is nearer to a natural diet; canned foods do though contain a lot of water.
Cats eat a variety of prey in the wild, so your cat can quickly get bored with the same flavours of cat food.
Add variety to your cat’s diet with some:
- Cooked meat (beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, turkey, chicken), be careful to remove all the bones though and cut the meat into small chunks or use minced meat. Cats do not chew.
- Canned sardines, herring or mackerel make a good, nutritious treat.
- Lightly scrambled egg is good as a light meal (never give cats raw egg white).
Don’t feed your cat
- Too much liver – this can upset the bowels.
- Too much fish – can lead to vitamin B1 deficiency.
- Too much lean meat – cats need fat too.
- Raw egg white –it contains avidin which can affect vitamin B absorption.
- Dog food- it is too low in protein and too high in carbohydrates.
- Anything salty.
Dry cat food and your cats diet
There are some good quality complete dry cats foods on the market which do not contain high levels of carbohydrate; look for products which are grain free.
High quality dry foods will be easier to digest than brands containing more starchy material. Dry foods containing a lot of starch can cause bowel problems as cats are not designed to eat grains.
Cranberry extract, often added to dry food is good for your cat’s urinary tract health.
Dry food may be less likely to cause tooth decay.
An obese cat
An overweight cat has a shorter life expectancy and is more likely to get diabetes.
Cats usually prefer a number of smaller meals, rather than one large meal.
Wet foods may better than dried food for heavy cats as they contain a lot of water, although there are specialist dry foods for older and overweight cats.
Lazy cats will need less food than active cats.
Ask your vet for advice; weighing dried food will help with portion size.
Safe human foods for snacks or treats for your cat
Occasional treats are fine:
- Hard cheese (in small amounts)
- Cooked scrambled egg
- Poached fish (bones removed)
- Canned tuna (not in brine –salted water)
- Cooked broccoli, pumpkin and carrot
Human foods toxic or likely to cause upset stomach in cats
- Citrus fruits
- Apple seeds
- Apricot, cherry, peach
- Cooked bones
- Coffee, tea, alcohol
- Grapes, raisins
Foods to avoid:
Milk can cause tummy upsets as cats are often lactose intolerant; so may be best avoided.
Don’t feed too much tuna (excessive amounts of this can lead to ‘yellow fat’ disease).
Food allergies in cats
Some cats may develop an allergy to something in the content of their food.
Itchy skin is a common symptom of food allergy or intolerance.
A diet free from wheat and added carbohydrates may benefit your cat.
Check the labels on cat food carefully.
If you have any concerns about your cat contact your vet for advice.
Of course your cat may be guilty of visiting other homes for an extra meal!