Along with regular veterinarian checkups, play time & litter box setup, the proper feeding and nutrition of your furry buddy will help ensure a happy and healthy feline for years to come.
Pouring a mound of cat food into a large bowl and setting it out for your cat to have at it whenever he wants is not the way to go and is simply doing a disservice to your furry buddy. Cats are not programmed to graze, it's just not in their DNA. Historically, cats in the wild have always stalked, caught and killed their prey. Only after that activity, do they feed, as opposed eating continuously all day. If you have a 24 hour buffet for your little buddy, it messes with the cat's way of thinking and could potentially cause behavior problems. Instead, feed your cat every 5 or 6 hours, a little more or less than that is fine, but that interval is generally ideal. You say, "But, I'm not home during the day, how can I stick to that schedule?" No worries! Get yourself an automatic cat feeder. You can program it to feed at the required intervals and dispense the amount that you need. We have used the HoneyGuaridan Automatic Pet Feeder for a couple of years and have nothing but good things to say about it. It has a stainless steel bowl, battery backup, programmable feed times & portion size controls plus you can record your voice for audible meal alerts for your cat. If you desire one with more bells and whistles, the PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Cat Feeder is Wifi enabled so you can connect your smartphone for low food alerts. However, keep in mind the upgraded model will of course, cost you a considerable amount more.
Type Of Food
There are a plethora of brands and flavors of cat food, but in general terms, there are two main types of cat food: wet and dry cat food.
There is an ongoing debate between wet and dry food. Many believe that there is no place for dry cat food. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they need muscle based meats in their diet. They need the amino acid taurine in order to thrive. Taurine is found in the muscle meat of animals. Wet cat food's primary ingredient is meat or fish, so it provides a meal that’s better for a cat's nutritional needs. Does that mean that canned wet cat food is always a better choice than dry cat food? Not necessarily. The best dry cat food is better for your cat than the worst canned food. If you feed your cat high-end cat food, she is likely to thrive whether the food is wet or dry. However, keep in mind cats are notoriously delinquent water drinkers and receive most of their water intake from the moisture in wet food.
That being said I would say, a good rule of thumb, is that you want to feed your cat dry food because you use a cat feeder for instance, make sure that its a smaller portion of their diet and the wet food makes up the bulk of their daily food intake. So if you are out all day working and have to use a feeder to dispense dry food, then feed your cat wet food right before you leave for the day, set your feeder to dish out lunch at around 1pm then when you come home between 5 and 6 give your little companion a wet food dinner. I also like to give my cats some more wet food right before I go to sleep. It helps them sleep through the night and not lick my face at 3am. Again, the idea is to give your cats smaller meals throughout the day and not leave a mound of food for them to feast on at will.
What If My Cat Won't Eat Wet Food?
When we first brought home our Siamese cat Hunter, he would simply not eat wet food at all. He was the runt of the litter, so rather than wait out the stalemate, we had to feed him 100% dry food as he was underweight. However, at the same time, I was determined to get him to eat wet food. I started with chicken pate, no dice, he would sniff it and give me a look like, "where is that crunchy food dude?" Then, I being the genius that I am, said "Ah Ha! It's the pate variety!" So then I tried sliced duck and turkey, & I got the same "I don't think so pal" look. So, I said to myself well, maybe it's not the consistency, but the flavor that he is not keen on. Let me try fish. So I picked up a couple cans of salmon. Boom! That was it, he gobbled it up like a champ. The salmon finally sold him on wet food. I was able to get him interested in other flavors after that as well, by putting a bit on my finger and then rubbing a some between his nose and his mouth. He would lick it off naturally and then had a look on his face like "hmmm, this chicken is not bad after all!" Fast forward one year and now Hunter is actually bigger than his twin brother.
If your cat still won't eat wet food, one more trick you can try is to sprinkle a bit of Purina FortiFlora Cat Probiotic Powder Supplement on their meal. The benefits are twofold. The main benefit is that it promotes your cat's intestinal health. The secondary benefit is that cats love the taste of it! Whenever my furry buddies are being finicky about wet food, I sprinkle some of the Purina probiotic on, and they are all over it.
The answer is, it depends. How old is your cat? Active or couch potato? Weight? We'll break it down by age and weight and you can further adjust based energy level of your feline. Note: These are general guidelines and your cat may require a bit more or less and again meals should be spread out throughout the day
Kittens (3 ounce can of wet food)
- Up to 20 weeks of age: feed as much as they will eat in 3 to 4 feedings
- 21 - 30 weeks old: 2/3 can per 1 lb of body weight
- 31 - 52 weeks old: 1/2 can per 1lb of body weight
Adult Cats (5.5 ounce cat of wet of wet food)
- One can per 6-8lb of body weight per day
Senior Cats (5.5 ounce cat of wet of wet food)
- Same as adults cats. As your cat get up there in age be sure to monitor how much they eat. Loss of appetite or weight could be the first sign of a health issue.
Ok, But What Brand?
There are high end brands and then you have your lower end economy varieties with artificial flavor and ingredients. Here are our top 8 Picks based on the high quality of the ingredients. None the brands below contain grains, artificial colors or artificial ingredients.
|Feline Natural||Contains muscle meat, organs and blood plus New Zealand mussels which are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Most expensive option in this list.||$6.50 per day|
|Hound and Gatos||Simple ingredients & good option for cat with sensitivities.||$2.18 per day|
|Nom Nom Cat Food||Meal Delivery option. Homemade cat food but high on the carbohydrates (18%) but our cats love the taste of the the homemade food.||$2.00- $6.00 per day|
|Pure Vita||Straight forward ingredients & another brand for cats with sensitivity issues. Very low in carbohydrates (5%)||$4.38 per day.|
|Tiki Cat||Low fat, low calories and low carbs for cats that need to lose some weight||$4.86 per day|
|Instinct||Great for picky cats, Chicken turkey and egg plus salmon varieties with low carb content. They have a line of food for kittens as well. Great value @ 2.28 per day. Excellent Reviews!||$2.28 per day|
|Wellness Core||Ideal for kittens.||$3.00 per day|
|Dr Elsey's Clean Protein||Ideal for Senior Cats. Turkey, turkey liver & dried egg which are easier for senior cats to digest.||$2.24 per day|
Dry / Kibble
If you need a solid dry food brand try: Instinct Grain Free Dry Cat Food, Original Raw Coated Natural High Protein Cat Food. We love The Instinct brand for its natural ingredients and reasonable prices. This dry food in particular, according to Instinct, is made with: "81% real animal ingredients and nutritious oils, 19% vegetables, fruits and other wholesome ingredients. Responsibly sourced cage free chicken is the #1 ingredient." What's also great is that its recommended for adult cats and Kittens.
Well, there you have it. As long as you feed your cats every five or six hours, make sure dry food is a small percentage of their diet, and dispense their meal from a high quality can of food, you'll manifest a happy & healthy furry buddy who you will pet, snuggle & play with for years to come.
If cats get most their hydration from their food, should I still leave water out for them? The answer is yes!. Cats still do like to drink water. If you do not leave a bowl of water out they will end up looking elsewhere, like your sink or even your toilet. Its best not to place their water bowl near their food or litter box. Cats are biologically programmed not to drink water that could be contaminated with potential sources of bacteria. See, its not that they are finicky, there is a rhyme & reason to everything they do!