Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Should You Feed Your Cats?

Feeding cats is a hot topic among cat fanciers...mostly because the cats themselves demand that we humans pay special attention to their dietary needs.

On today's A to Z blog challenge, "F" is for "feeding" or "food for felines." Let's dispels some myths and facts about feeding cats and discuss proper feline nutrition.
Even as a kitten, we fed Pierre a blend of wet and dry food, giving him a choice to eat what he liked.

Feeding Cats: What Should You Feed Cats?

Cats, according to the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine website, are obligate carnivores. An obligate carnivore means that their bodies are adapted to a strictly carnivorous or meat-based diet.

So you know all those ads you see for vegan cat food? Throw them out and ignore them. Your cat cannot be a vegan or vegetarian, so please don't impose your own value set on your pet. Cats are born to kill. Humans and even dogs are omnivorous, and humans can exist fine without meat, but cats cannot. Cats need meat. Period.

In their natural habitat, cats eat a variety of rodents, birds, reptiles and insects. Their diet consists primarily of high amounts of protein, some fat, and minimal carbohydrates. The best diet for cats mimics their natural diet as much as possible. Keep this in mind when shopping for cat food.

Cats also need water in their diet. Their natural diet provides them with water from fresh kills. Many cats are finicky about their water sources and do not drink enough. Those who are prone to bladder and urinary track problems, like my kitty Shy Boy, must actually drink even more water, so giving cats food that contains added water such as canned cat food is often a good idea.
Shy Boy suffers from urinary crystals, so he gets a medicated food recommended by his vet.

Wet Food or Dry Food?

There's a lot of debate about whether you should feed your cat wet food or dry food. Both are nutritious, and there are pros and cons to each.

  • Dry food is made from meat, poultry and fish meal and by products, with added fiber, some grains and fats, food coloring and flavor enhancers. It's mashed together and extruded into dried, bite sized pieces, often coated with flavorings to mimic tuna, beef or whatever your cat likes.  Some people feel that dried cat food keeps a cat's teeth clean. I've found research disputing this, so it's up to you whether or not you feed your cats dried food. It's easy to feed, keeps for a long time, and is nutritionally balanced. It is also less expensive. 

  • Canned cat food or wet cat food contains about 75 percent water and meat, fish or poultry plus byproducts. Some types include bits of greens like spinach, egg or cheese added. Some brands of cat food include liver and organ meats that cats would eat in the wild. While many canned cat food varieties are nutritionally complete, not all are, so read the labels to make sure that if you are feeding your cats primarily canned food it contains all of their vitamins, minerals and protein needs.

My own cats are all fed a blend of both dry and wet cat food. Five of the six love wet cat food the best, but Pierre is the holdout. If he had his way, it would be Friskies Griller's Blend dried cat food night, day and in between.

All of our cats receive either Friskies dried food (the indoor crew) or Nine Lives Plus Care for urinary health (the outdoor crew). The outdoor boys are brothers from the same litter, and two of them have had urinary issues. Shy Boy has ended up at the veterinarian's office several times with difficult urinating and blood in his urine, so she has him on a permanent medicated diet. The medication in the cat food keeps his urine pH at a level that prevents the formation of crystals, which he tends to get easily.  So far, knock wood, it's worked.

We also give the outdoor cats filtered water to remove as many of the minerals from our well water as we can. The vet said that this would also help Shy Boy, so it is what we do. The outdoor cats actually prefer to drink the most disgusting water they can find. Water from the bird bath, fountains, or the small lotus pond in the garden are all preferable to their sparkling filtered water. Go figure.

We feed a blend of dried and wet food, about 75 percent dry and 25 percent wet. For treats, Genghis Khan kitty gets to lick tuna fish cans. He's our only cat who loves tuna. Whitey loves milk and toast, so he gets a few crumbs and a lick of milk when he can grab it. As for Pierre, well my spoiled kitty loves ice cream. He only takes a few licks, really tiny laps, but he always has to share my cone or dish with me. Vanilla all the way for my boy!

Do Cat Food Brands Really Matter?

Does the brand of cat food really matter? Yes, and no. Cats do seem to have a fondness or a preference for one brand or another. We've tried our boys on other flavors and brands of dried food, and they do have preferences, so we stick with them.

Many of the special, medical brands like Hill's Science Diet and Purina's medicated foods are very high in nutrients as well as specially blended for medical conditions. If your cat's veterinarian recommends a specific diet, as ours did with Shy Boy, take her advice. A good diet is so important for feline health!

A healthy diet keeps your cats active and strong! Shy Boy and his brother, Groucho.

F Is for Feeding Felines in the A to Z Blog Challenge

This post is part of the A to Z blog challenge....F is for Feline Feeding! I hope you enjoyed your visit to Six Cats and Counting. The cats hope you come back again someday!


  1. Great information about cat feeding. I have two and they do like their meat. Of course one has a sweet tooth and is a junk food junkie and eats ice cream, dorito's and pizza, and would eat gum drops if I'd let him. Thank you for sharing this useful information

  2. That's my cat, Whitey! He likes Pop Tarts. I only give him a tiny taste, but he'd eat the whole box if he could. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. So true. Our puss has the very best kibble and also wet meat food, a different combination night and morning. And fresh water, but she prefers the dog's! ~Liz

  4. Excellent post. A good diet is so important for our kitties.