Feeding a cat and cat nutrition
The cat's diet must meet the cat's natural nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, so their diet should be rich in meat. Cats need more animal protein and fat than dogs, which is why dog food is not suitable for cats.
Read this article to find out how to feed your cat and what kind of food your cat needs.
What is the best food for my cat?
A high-quality, complete cat food is the easiest way to feed a cat, because it will ensure your cat gets enough nutrients. A meaty diet rich in animal protein will keep your cat’s belly full, supports the cat’s well-being and helps to prevent obesity.
Wet cat food is a recommended choice for your cat’s main meal, as cats need to get most of the hydration from their food. A cat that eats mainly dry food might not get enough water, which can harm the health of the cat's urinary tract.
Although cats are carnivores, feeding only fish or meat without supplementary vitamins and minerals can cause various deficiencies in the cat. Fish and meat are considered as supplementary foods, because they do not contain all the nutrients the cat needs.
You can prepare your cat's food yourself from the scratch, but it requires a thorough understanding of the cat's diet. Read more about the cat's natural diet.
Do you know what kind of food a kitten needs? Read our article on feeding a kitten.
How much food for a cat?
Usually, the cat will only eat as much as it needs and can regulate its own eating. The cat food packages have instructions for dosing the food, from which you can get a good basis for estimating the amount of food your cat should eat each day.
The cat gets enough food when it is energetic, its fur is shiny, and the weight remains appropriate. You should take a closer look at your cat's diet, especially if the cat starts to gain excess weight. In addition, poor coat condition and brittle nails can indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Read our tips on how to estimate if your cat is overweight.
How many times should I feed my cat a day?
A cat's natural diet includes several small meals a day. Once you know your cat's eating pattern, you will know when to fill your cat's food bowl. You can also keep food constantly available for your cat. If the food can’t be available for the cat freely, you should feed the cat at least 2–3 times a day.
Practical tips for feeding a cat
Provide wet and dry food separately, as your cat may not want to eat them mixed.
- Did you know wet cat food can be freely offered to your cat in the same way as dry food? Your cat will not eat spoiled food, so be sure to empty any leftover food from the bowl often enough and clean the bowls.
- Many cats prefer to eat their food at room temperature. Leave the wet food taken from the refrigerator to warm up in the food bowl, so the cat can eat the food when it is warm enough for the cat.
- Wet food should not be taken away, even if the cat does not seem to eat it right away. The cat may well like the food later. Sometimes the cat may eat part of the food first and come back after some time to eat the rest.
Observe your cat's eating habits. This way you can find out what kind of food your cat prefers to eat, and it will make feeding the cat easier. At the same time, you may notice possible changes in the cat's behaviour more easily, which can help to spot health problems.
Different nutrients in cat food
The cat's diet is based on proteins of animal origin, which are the main source of energy for the cat, in addition to fats. Plant-based proteins are poorly utilized by cats.
Proteins act as building materials for muscles and tissues. Only from animal protein, i.e. meat or fish, does the cat get the amino acids that are essential for its vital functions. These include arginine and taurine that the cat’s body cannot produce by itself. Deficiencies of the essential amino acids can lead to blindness, heart disease and other serious health problems.
Protein intake regulates a cat's sense of satiety, contrary to many other mammals. Cat foods that contain a lot of plant-based proteins, which are poorly utilized by the cat, often cause the cat to be overweight. This is because the cat needs to eat significantly more of it than meat-based cat food to become full.
After proteins, animal fat is the cat's second most important source of energy and an important nutrient for the body. For example, salmon oil provides the cat essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which affect the health of the cat's skin and fur, as well as the functioning of the kidneys.
Carbohydrates and fibre
A cat does not benefit much from carbohydrates in its diet, because its digestive system is based on processing food containing animal protein and fat. Instead, the cat needs some fibre for the normal functioning of its digestive system and to facilitate the passage of hairballs in the intestines. Among carbohydrates, especially sugar is not part of a cat's diet and can cause digestive problems and obesity. Learn more about the disadvantages of sugar in cat food.
Especially fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) are cat-friendly fibres that act as natural prebiotics. Prebiotics help promote the balance and health of the cat's intestinal microbiota, as they are food for good intestinal bacteria. When added to cat food, FOS and MOS support the passage and digestion of food in the intestines and help strengthen the cat's immunity.
PrimaCat cat food is designed for the needs of a carnivore. The main ingredient of our cat foods is always meat or fish, and they contain a limited amount of carbohydrates. Only highly digestible ingredients are chosen as sources of carbohydrates and fibre, and never wheat or sugar. PrimaCat's popular Classic wet foods are always grain-free.
Water is one of the most important elements in feeding a cat. It transports nutrients, affects the removal of metabolic waste from the body, regulates body temperature and reduces the acidity of the cat's urine, which prevents the formation of painful urinary stones.
Cats naturally have a weak sense of thirst, and they must get most of their hydration from their food. The cat's most common prey animals contain 60–80% water, which is why it is good to offer the cat wet food in addition to dry food or only wet food.
Remember to always keep fresh water available for your cat, preferably in several places. Read our instruction how to get your cat to drink more water.
Check out PrimaCat cat food selection and find your cat's favourite!