Diet

A guide to feeding your cat

Five important things about your cat's diet

  1. Cats must eat meat. They are ‘obligate carnivores’ so a vegetarian or vegan diet isn’t suitable
  2. Choose a cat food that is ‘complete’ rather than ‘complementary’ for a balanced diet
  3. Cats like to eat away from other cats – place their food bowl in a quiet spot
  4. Keep food, water and litter trays in different places so your cat knows their food and water is clean
  5. Your cat needs fresh water, which should be changed daily

What kind of diet should my cat be eating?

Your cat needs a balanced diet. The easiest way to guarantee your cat gets the nutrition they need is to give them high quality cat food – usually something from a reputable pet food brand.

Cat food is usually described as either ‘complete’ or ‘complementary’ in its labelling. Wondering what the difference is?

  • Complete foods provide all the nutrients in the right measures, so no other food is needed
  • Complementary foods (such as treats or snacks) should be combined with other foods to give your cat all the nutrients they need.

When it comes to choosing between wet or dry food, this is your choice. You can feed your cat dry or wet food, or a mixture of both.

  • Dry food – dry food is popular with cat owners because it can be left out all day – especially if your cat regulates its own food intake.
  • Wet food – wet food is better for fussier cats, as it comes in a wide range of flavours. If your cat has a medical condition, such as urinary issues, you may need to increase their water intake and offering wet food is one way to do this. Speak to your vet for more information.

You can find out more about feeding your cat in our guide.

How much food should I feed my cat?

The amount of food your cat needs to stay healthy could depend on everything from age to activity level. If you’re stuck on how much to feed your cat, check the label on your chosen food for advice on quantities.

Here is a guide on how much to feed your cat, based on their age:

  • Kittens – as kittens have small stomachs and are full of energy, they’ll need to be fed throughout the day. Remember to check their food and replace it four times a day
  • Adult cats – a cat is an ‘adult’ between the ages of one and eight. Feed your cat once or twice a day. Some will regulate their own food intake, so their daily rations can be left out – others will not!
  • Senior cats – a cat is a ‘senior’ cat over the age of eight. As your cat grows older, their nutritional needs change and they may need special foods. The food will likely have less protein and a balance of minerals and vitamins designed to keep older cats in good health

Keeping your cat’s weight down

Keep an eye on your cat and check their weight to make sure you aren’t under-feeding or over-feeding. Preventing your cat from gaining weight is easier than helping them lose weight.

Neutered cats typically need less energy, so consider reducing the amount of food you provide.

You can find out if your cat is overweight by looking at our guide to obesity.

How often should my cat be eating?

Cats in the wild like to eat many small meals – around 10-12 throughout the day. Often you’ll find that their feeding behaviour depends on their environment and their past experiences. Fresh wet food should be replaced at least twice daily, while dry food should be replaced at least once daily.

Should I provide water for my cat?

Providing fresh water for your cat every day is part of your responsibility as an owner. Keep their bowl topped up with fresh drinking water, although you might find that they drink from everywhere but their water bowl.

If you notice that your cat is drinking more or less than usual, it is important to speak to your vet about your concerns.

Find out more about cats and drinking in our guide.



Related topics

Feeding - Topic

Types of cat food - Topic

Obesity - Topic

Cats and drinking - Topic