What your cat eats plays an important part in their health and wellbeing. Take a look at our free guide for top tips on feeding your cat, how much you should feed your cat and plenty of information about cats and their eating habits.
We’ve put together a helpful video with tips and advice on feeding your cat, how to keep their diet healthy and preventing overeating.
How much your cat eats (and how much you should feed them) will depend on their current circumstances, such as their age and weight. If you’re ever unsure about how much your cat should be eating, speak to your vet as they can give you the best advice based on your cat’s needs.
There will usually be a guide on your cat’s food as to how much you should be feeding them. Remember this is only a rough guide and will depend on your cat’s current weight. Your vet will be able to tell you exactly how much you should feed your cat.
Head to your nearest supermarket’s pet food aisle and you’ll find plenty of cat foods to choose from. But with so much on offer, how can you decide what is best for your cat?
Before you buy, remember to choose food specially formulated for cats. Dog food isn’t suitable and food intended for humans doesn’t necessarily include all the nutrients that your cat needs. The best food for your cat (unless they have special dietary needs) is a complete cat food from a reputable brand.
Homemade cat foods might be good for occasional treats, but it is very difficult to give your cat the right balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals they need to thrive – unless this has been recommended by your vet.
Depending on how old your cat is, they will need different food. As a general guide:
If your cat has a health condition, such as kidney disease or diabetes, your vet might prescribe a prescription diet. They may also recommend a special diet if your cat is particularly overweight. Always follow your vet’s advice on this as specialist foods will contain the right balance of nutrients to make sure your cat stays as healthy as they can.
Switching your cat’s usual food can cause problems, so it should be done slowly and carefully. Don’t put a new food down for your cat and expect them to eat it straight away!
You should first offer them a little of the new food alongside their usual food (in separate food bowls). If they eat this, you should gradually offer more of the new food, reducing the amount of the old food you put down. Never mix the two together as this can really put cats off.
Generally speaking, we wouldn’t recommend feeding your cat food meant for humans unless your vet has advised it. It can be hard to know how many calories are in human food for your cat and can unbalance their diet. Also a lot of human foods can be harmful to cats.
Cats are meat eaters, making vegetarian and vegan diets unsuitable for them. Your cat needs more protein than many other mammals and they need specific amino acids such as taurine in order to survive. This is why it is important to feed your cat food that is made just for them.
There are a few vegetables that you can feed your cat (if they’re keen!). These include: carrots, peas, corn, broccoli and spinach. Steer clear of garlic and onion as these can be difficult to digest and can make cats very ill.
One common question that many cat owners ask is whether it is ok to feed their cat chicken. Cats are carnivores, which means they are meat eaters and in the wild will eat raw meat in the form of their prey. For your pet cat, always ensure that any chicken you feed them is cooked – preferably boiled and does not contain any bones. Remember to include chicken as part of your cat's daily treat allowance, fed with a balanced diet. Feeding only cooked chicken long term can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Do not feed your cat raw meat meant for cooking for humans. Food meant for people from supermarkets and butchers is supposed to be cooked and can contain higher levels of bacteria which will be killed off during cooking but be higher than raw food meant for pets.
While most human treats should be avoided, chocolate is a complete no-no for cats. Just 2g of chocolate – not even as big as a square – is enough to do serious damage to your cat due to its levels of theobromine. Theobromine acts as a stimulant, increasing the heart rate and acting as a diuretic to increase the loss of bodily fluids. As cats struggle to metabolise theobromine, the chemical stays in the bloodstream and quickly reaches dangerous levels.
Just like us, our cats love the occasional treat. If you opt to give your cat treats, make sure you limit the amount throughout the day so they don’t gain weight, and reduce their usual daily allowance of food.
Try putting treats in food puzzles and toys to keep your cat happy (and provide some extra playtime). Eventually they might even prefer their regular meals in a feeding toy. If they like fuss, more of your attention when they want it can be a great treat for your cat instead of food.
Remember, too many treats can cause your cat to gain weight which can lead to all kinds of health problems. Treats should not be a daily part of your cat’s diet.
It can be a worry if your cat seems to be eating less than normal or not at all and there are lots of things that could cause this.
If your cat’s eating or drinking habits suddenly change, give your vet a call to rule out any medical causes. This way if your cat needs treatment you can get them help as soon as possible rather than letting a problem get worse.
If your vet rules out medical causes, there are a few things you can do to encourage your cat to eat, including:
If you’ve got a pregnant cat or a cat who is feeding her new kittens, you’ll need to provide additional nutrients and the same high-protein kitten food as weaned kittens.
Give your pregnant cat unlimited access to kitten food, as well as a supply of fresh drinking water. While you might notice that during pregnancy she may only eat a little more than usual, she might eat double or triple the usual amount of food when she is feeding kittens.
For more advice on pregnant cats, read our guide: