Whether you love your cat and have lived with it for a long time, or you've just welcomed a furry feline into your home, it's important to understand one of your cat's most fundamental needs: food.
Every pet owner wants to know that their pet is getting everything they need, which is why we're here to explain exactly what your cat likes and what's best for their diet.
What exactly do cats like to eat?
Understanding your cat's underlying biology is essential to knowing what foods are best for them. So what's best for our kitties? Meat.
"Cats are obligate carnivores. They are required to take in a certain amount of proteins, amino acids, and fats. If not, they can end up with heart disease or other illnesses," according to Dr. Cecilia Burnside, a Texas-based veterinarian.
Biologically, cats are hunters. Before cats became our loving pets, they hunted rodents and other small animals for food. Even though cats are now domesticated, they still need food that provides them with the same nutrients as their old hunting days. "Your cat is a hunter of animals," explained Dr. Geri Katz, a veterinarian in Connecticut. "They don't need blueberries or flaxseed. If cats could, they would eat seven mice a day."
Are there things that cats shouldn't eat?
Cats don't process carbohydrates as well as they do protein, so whole animal protein should always be the first ingredient listed on their food. Most cats don't drink a lot of water, so they need moisture in their diets. Even though dry food is usually cheaper, cats often do better when they have some wet food in their diet to give them the moisture that they need.
- Chocolate: As with dogs, the theobromine chemical found in chocolate can be fatal to cats, so keep it away from them.
- Alcohol: Even just a teaspoon can cause major brain and liver damage, so beware.
- Coffee and tea: Caffeine can cause heart palpitations and muscle tremors, so make sure your kitties don't go near the stuff.
- Onions and garlic: if these food are eaten in a large enough quantity they can cause major problems, so make sure your cats aren't getting a hold of them.
Are there human foods that cats like to eat?
We know that we shouldn't feed our cats from the table because little indulgences can quickly go overboard for your feline. However, if rather than pre-packaged treats, you want to give your cats a different reward, there are some human foods that cats enjoy.
One of the main things to watch out for in human food is fat content. Fat isn't in and of itself bad for cats, in fact, it is good for them. But high fat means high calories, and food with too many calories can quickly cause your feline to put on weight.
- Cheese: while some cats can develop lactose intolerance, so be careful, most cats enjoy dairy and cheese is a great source of fat and protein.
- Fish: most cats LOVE fish, and a little tuna or salmon can make a great treat. Just be careful, because both options are high in fat, and you don't want to feed your kitty too much of that.
- Eggs: With a great mix of protein and vitamins, eggs make a great kitty treat. But vets recommend serving only cooked eggs, to protect your cat from diseases like E. coli and Salmonella.
- Cooked Poultry: of course, one of the best things for your protein-loving pets is cooked meat, and poultry makes a great option, because of its low-fat content.
One of the best things you can do for your feline friend is to bring a little variety to their lives.
No matter what food you choose to feed your kitty, know that one thing cats value above all else is a little variety in their lives. According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, cats can actually become too finicky about food if you feed them only one thing, which can become a problem. Sometimes, thanks to a medical condition or other factors, your cat will need to change diets. If you've been feeding your feline only one thing, it will be much harder to change diets.
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Researchers suggest rotating between 2-3 types of food for your cat, so that it learns to like a couple of different things. That way, if you're forced to change your cat's food, they're already used to variety, so the transition will be that much easier.
Luckily, if you need to rotate your cat's food to add variety, now you have plenty of ideas. And we know that you and kitty will thrive now that you both understand what your feline friend should be eating.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.