Feeding Time: A Healthy Diet For Your Cat

Get the scoop on healthy foods for your cat

Have you added a new feline friend to the family? Or do you already have a four-legged friend and want to make sure they’re eating right? Look no further: this handy guide will help you feed your kitty everything they need to thrive.

How often should I feed my cat?

Your furry friend might be meowing at all hours, hoping for a cat treat or two, but when really should you feed them? 

  • According to the New Zealand SPCA, if you have a kitten, you can feed them food formulated for kittens three times a day, or let them graze throughout the day.
  • From six months to a year of age, kitties can thrive on adult food with two meals a day. 

How you structure this depends on the nature of your cat. Kitties that are prone to weight gain should not be ‘free-fed’, as unnecessary snacking may lead to health issues. That means you will need to feed them at certain times of day for set periods and remove the bowl when they’re done. 

If your cat manages their weight well and doesn’t eat ‘for the sake of it’, then leaving their biscuit bowl out to graze on throughout the day might work well. Just make sure the food is always fresh and removed and replaced after the day.

Image Source: Paul Hanaoka

What should I feed my cat? 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) UK states that cats are natural carnivores, so they need to eat meat. 

The two main options for cat food are wet and dry foods. 

  • Wet cat food can include meals like canned tuna or pouches of beef in gravy. There are so many varieties, from organic brands to the most gourmet of flavours, like ‘turkey, peas and carrot’! 

Consider these wet food options: 

  • Dry cat food comes in the form of biscuits/kibble, and will include a meat product as well as carbs, preservatives and supplements. 

Consider these dry food options:

Some people feed their cat all wet food, all dry food, or a combination of both. Canned food can be beneficial as it contains much more moisture than dry food, and cats prefer to get their hydration needs from their diet.

Are some brands better than others?

It’s also important to decide which brand of food to feed your pet kitty. Some premium brands bought from pet stores can have better quality ingredients that are easier for your cat to digest, but there isn’t always a huge difference. Sometimes it just comes down to how the product is marketed. Compare and contrast the ingredient labels to see if there are any significant differences between products to be sure.

Most importantly, always purchase pet food with an AAFCO certification. This means a product has met the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ standards, which has become a benchmark for nutritionally complete and balanced pet food internationally. Along with tailored advice from your vet, this is the best way to know your cat is getting a healthy diet. 

Other things to think about when feeding your cat: 

  • Avoid feeding your cat ‘human food’ – this is not a part of their natural diet and may have adverse effects.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, cats shouldn’t drink milk. The New Zealand SPCA states that many cats are lactose intolerant, so dairy products like milk upset their tummies. 
  • No matter what type of food your cat is eating, it’s essential there’s always a topped up water bowl for them. Without enough water, they can develop urinary and kidney problems.
Image Source: Alexander Andrews

Where should I feed my cat?

Try to feed your cat in the same place, and at the same time, each day. The New Zealand SPCA recommends a quiet area, well away from their litter tray. 

Make sure you use a bowl and mat that can be easily cleaned – and clean it often. You can also try interactive feeders like this Catit Senses Food Tree to mimic how cats would hunt for food in the wild. This helps to keep them mentally and physically enriched. 

If you have multiple feline friends that eat each other’s food, keep their feeding areas away from each other. Sometimes you may just have to feed them in separate, confined rooms! 

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What about special diets?

If your cat is in their senior years or has a medical condition such as a kidney or dental problem, your vet may recommend a special diet. Make sure you follow their instructions to ensure your furry friend is getting everything they need to stay healthy.

Some cat owners swear by making their own cat food or feeding their feline a raw diet but talk to your vet about this first. Any diet needs to be right for your cat and balance their nutritional needs.

Can I feed my cat snacks?

Your beloved cat deserves a cat snack now and again. Choose a brand that, like your regular cat food, is described as ‘complete and balanced’ on the label. Check out the ingredient list and if the product is high in sodium/added sugar, considering putting it back on the shelf and choosing another brand. Much like for us humans, anything too sugary or salty isn’t good for your four-legged friend. 

Consider: Nutreats Free Range Venison Freeze Dried Cat Treat for a natural, pure New Zealand-made option.

Also remember that when it comes to treats, also remember to limit them to a few per day – no more big handfuls! 

Now you’re all ready for kitty’s next meal time! 

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