Now, if you are not a cat owner, you may be wondering about the title of this blog post. After all, how simple can it be to feed your cat?
Ah, but those of us who have feline family members know. It’s not so simple. There is some mystique to the art of feeding cats, who can relish a particular type of cat food one day and turn their noses up at that same food with a look of utter disdain the following day. Thankfully, some cats happily consume whatever you give them. However, these cats are rare.
Not only do cat owners have to deal with picky consumers, but they also must provide their cats with optimum nutrition. Cats are meat eaters; there is no way around it. Try to feed a cat a vegetarian diet, and you will… well, you’ll no longer have a cat. They are meant to eat meat. Think of the wild. Is that magnificent leopard gnawing on a tree? No, he’s taking down the poor wildebeest.
Be sure to feed quality brands of cat food. Cheap food is often composed of a lot of cereal, and cats may need to eat more of it to get the protein they need, waylaying any potential savings. Besides, feeding poor quality food may appear to save money now, but it can easily cost you big veterinary bills down the road a bit (not to mention the toll on your cat’s health).
Our first nutritional goal for the food we feed our cats is protein from meat, fish, or poultry. Read the ingredients on your cat food can or bag of kibble. Is protein listed as the first ingredient? It should be! Also, it should not just say meat. It should say salmon or beef or chicken liver or whatever the source is.
The other most important item to go in a cat bowl is water. Do not ever let your cat’s water bowl go dry. Instead, keep two or three water bowls in different rooms, so if you goof and one dish goes dry, there is always water available for your cats. If you’ll be away and are using a cat sitter, be sure they know that there are multiple bowls and where those bowls are located.
Most vets recommend a combination of dry and wet foods for cats. As there are cats that do not drink enough water, the moisture in a can of wet food will help them get the water that they require.
Taurine, an essential amino acid for cats, is critical. Cats cannot synthesize taurine, so it must be included in their diet. Required for healthy eyes, heart, and a properly functioning immune system, taurine should also be high on the ingredient list of cat food.
What to Avoid
What you don’t want to see on the labels of your cat food are a lot of chemical preservatives (such as BHA), cornmeal, or too many animal by-products (defined by the USDA as “products harvested or manufactured from livestock other than muscle meat”).
While some preservatives are required unless you are buying raw foods that must be refrigerated, the trend recently has been towards adding Vitamins C or E as preservatives. These do not provide as long of a shelf life, but they are healthier for our pets. While cornmeal or other carbohydrates are often used as fillers in cat food, cats do not need carbs.
Will Your Cat Eat It?
Always a big challenge. Cat owners need to look at this from our pet’s point of view. We might love macaroni and cheese, or pizza, or chicken. However, would we like to eat the same thing every day? Probably not. And neither does your cat. (Well, most of them. We are talking about cats here!) Consistency is not key among them.
Most cats crave variety. To entice them to eat, offer various flavors and different types of food. Vary what brands you buy. Buy some with gravy, some pates. Besides beef, chicken, and fish, buy combinations like beef with cheese, tuna with shrimp. Do be careful not to feed tuna too often as most tuna contains significant concentrations of mercury. Make sure any cat sitters you hire know to feed a variety of flavors while you are away, so your cats keep eating!
Some pet parents with feline family members buy a variety from one brand to last a month and then switch that brand next month. Pay attention to what flavors your cats like and don’t like, or if they react badly to a particular brand by throwing the food up on your favorite rug. (The eternal question: why do cats only throw up on carpets, never on the easily cleaned tile or wood floors?)
Follow these guidelines, and we hope you will have a happy, healthy cat that does not give you the hairy eyeball at feeding time. If you’re looking for experienced pet sitters on the Space Coast who know how to feed a cat – and enjoy doing so – contact us, and let’s meet!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. In 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR and committed to ongoing training and education. She leads a team with diverse backgrounds who are all animal-loving pet care professionals. Melanie is the mother of two amazing humans, two small pups and a witty African Grey parrot and enjoys volunteering, reading, swimming, hiking, traveling, grilled cheese sandwiches, and naps.
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