Cat Nutrition: Just What DO Cats Eat?
The Different types of cat food
An important part of cat and kitten care is proper nutrition and feeding. Experts have differing opinions on the best type of food to feed a cat as well as how much to feed your pet.
Exactly, what do cats eat? Among the choices are hard or soft dry food, canned wet food, raw diet and others. One basic fundamental of cat nutrition that all experts agree on is the fact that cats are carnivores and require meat in their diet.
Because cats naturally consume other animals, they have a high protein requirement and need certain key nutrients from meat like taurine that cannot be obtained through plant foods alone. There are many healthy cat food brands available that will meet cat nutritional needs.
A high-quality, commercial dry or wet cat food will have a high protein source listed as the first ingredient on the label. Grain free cat food is also growing in popularity. Proponents of a dry cat food diet advocate the benefits of convenience, lower cost and potential teeth cleaning effects.
Those who recommend a wet food diet claim the benefits of higher moisture content among others. Raw diet advocates may ask what do cats eat in the wild, and insist that a cat’s natural diet consists of raw food, consequently the raw diet more closely mimics their natural nutritional intake.
Responsible cat owners will definitely want to follow the recommendations of the breeder if they are purchasing a purebred cat. Some contracts utilized by cat breeders even require that certain dietary guidelines be followed as part of the adoption contract agreement.
Dry cat food advocates like its lower cost and dental health benefits.
Some cat lovers prefer wet canned cat food exclusively.
How Much Food Should You Feed Your Cat?
A question that even veteran cat owners may have is not necessarily what do cats eat, but rather how much to feed your cat.
An active 8 pound cat requires about 240 calories per day which equals about 4/5 of a cup of dry food or just under a full 6 ounce can. (Source: Animal Medical Ctr., New York)
Many cat owners will divide the meals into morning and evening portions and some cat owners allow their pets to snack on dry food during the day. Another question that many cat owners may have is whether or not nutritional supplements are necessary.
How Do You Find High Quality Cat Food?
Most high-quality healthy cat foods already contain many of the necessary vitamins, minerals and other components for balanced cat nutritional needs, thereby eliminating the need for supplements.
Cat treats are enjoyed by many cats and can include benefits such as dental health and weight management. If cat obesity is a concern, cat treats should be used sparingly, if at all.
Be sure to check cat nutrition facts on the package label and include the calories per serving in the cat’s total daily caloric intake. Contrary to the myth that cats like milk, cats do not easily digest cow’s milk which can cause diarrhea and kittens and cats.
By following these few simple guidelines, cat nutrition will be seamless, automatic and ensure a long and healthy life for your pet.