Cat Feeding 101: How to Feed a Cat

November 9, 2017


When you acquire a cat, there’s more to feeding her than just placing some food in a bowl. Because cats of each age and even individual cat have a certain way and amount that they need to be fed. The food should in addition have the correct nutritional content. The problem is also that when you feed your cat something that you shouldn’t, she can’t tell you.

So, there are some common feeding mistakes which you may or may not be making. One of the main ones is overfeeding. In fact, the most common nutritional disease in cats is obesity. There are other mistakes additionally which are listed below in feeding cats that you should not make so that you can keep your car well-nourished, fit and feisty.

Feeding your cat correctly is important to her health.

Feeding your cat too much food

One of the things a cat owner may do is to feed the family cat too much food at a feeding time. When your cat eats too much food, it can lead to arthritis, diabetes and even urinary tract disease. In fact, it can even cause your cat to develop metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome in cats is when enzymes made by the cat’s body for the metabolic process to work don’t function properly. When the enzyme function isn’t working correctly, then a metabolic disorder may develop.

The reason why metabolic syndrome in cats is so bad is that it can damage tissues or affect energy production. A metabolic syndrome in cats may be acquired or inherited. However, in most cats, a metabolic disorder is more common from feeding a cat incorrectly.

Now it’s easy to overfeed your cat because as she grows older, she becomes more sedentary. Her need for nutrition is lower than a younger cat’s, so her food intake needs to be adjusted accordingly.

In addition, your cat may only need 24 to 35 calories per pound to keep her weight at a healthy level. If you aren’t sure what your cat’s healthy weight is, ask your vet to help determine the body weight score of your cat.

Overfeeding your cat isn’t doing her any favors. It may cause problems with her metabolism and other medical issues.

Don’t feed only dry food

Dry cat food is convenient; you can let it sit out and it doesn’t smell or spoil quickly. But only feeding your cat dry food is a mistake. One reason is that cats don’t drink water as often as a dog does. Because a cat drinks less water, her urine is going to be highly concentrated. This can cause a urinary tract problem which will put her at the vet’s and cost you money.

A cat’s nature is to consume water when they eat too. So, if a cat eats a mouse, it’s about 70% water. Canned food has about 78% water and dry food has about 5%-10% water though. Giving your cat canned food will help to keep your cat hydrated and feeling good.

Only feeding your cat dry food can cause some medical issues.

Not giving your cat enough water

Water makes up between 60% to 70% of your cat’s body weight. If your cat doesn’t drink enough water, she can develop a serious water deficiency. This deficiency can contribute to serious illnesses and even death.

Now your cat eating wet foods does help replenish her water needs, but she also needs fresh water. A cat should have several sources of water throughout your home. So watch where your cat likes to be and place a dish of water in that room.

Keep in mind too that some cats don’t like the taste of chlorine in the tap water and may refuse to drink it. If that’s the case, you may have to buy bottled water. Other cats like to drink from running water. There are several types of running water fountains for cats which can be purchased.

Your cat needs fresh water sources throughout the house. A running water fountain for cats is an excellent way to have fresh water available at all times.

What you shouldn't feed your cat

There are some things which you should not feed your cat. Some cat owners try to make their cats into vegans or vegetarians, for example. Cats are carnivores though, and they need meat and animal organs to stay healthy. One reason is that in animal tissue the amino acid taurine is found. Cats need this amino acid to prevent blindness, heart problems and even death.

Another thing to keep in mind is that homemade food for cats isn’t always a wise choice. Just because it’s homemade doesn’t mean that’s it’s healthy. If the homemade food is unbalanced, it can do more harm than good.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t feed your cat homemade food; the meat just has to be balanced with the right amount of calcium. Because a cat hunts, she not only eats the meat, but also the bones of her prey. This provides the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus for the cat.

Also, if you feed your cat a diet of too much liver, liver oil or tuna, she can develop vitamin A toxicosis. This can result in joint and bone pain, brittle bones and dry skin. In addition, if you give your cat a diet which is too rich in raw fish, it can destroy the distribution of Vitamin B1. This can result in seizures, muscle weakness or even brain damage. If you want to make your cat’s food, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet who can steer you in the right direction.

Additionally, to see if your cat is overweight, there are three ways to check. The first one is to put both thumbs on the backbone of your cat. Spread your hands across her ribcage. You should be able to feel her ribs. You feel because, on some cats, the coat is so thick though you can’t check by sight.

The second way is to look at your cat’s profile. Her abdomen should be up under her rib cage, not potbellied. The third way is to look at your cat from overhead. You should be able to see a defined waist behind her ribs.

Talk to your vet to make sure that you have the right balance of nutrients that she needs in her food.


Does age of your cat matter?

The age of your cat does make a difference because a kitten eats more than an adult cat does. A kitten eats more food per pound of body weight and needs to be fed several times throughout the day. Also, a kitten under the age of six months may need to eat three meals a day.

Once your kitten matures into an adult cat, which is at about one year of age, you can feed her once or twice a day. When a cat becomes a senior, which is at seven years of age or above, once a day feeding should be sufficient as long as there aren’t any disease issues. If your cat is having some health problems, then the vet may put her on a different feeding schedule.


For example, if your cat has diabetes, when her insulin is administered may affect how you should feed her. On the other hand, if she has hyperthyroidism, she’s going to be hungry all the time and you’ll have to follow what the vet says.


Too, as cats get older, they may have trouble with her teeth. They can develop gum disease which may make it too hard to chew dry food. So if your senior cat is having a hard time chewing, then switch her to soft food. You can also buy cat food in a smaller nugget size or mix it with water, mashing it up, for easier chewing.


Tips on feeding your cat

To make feeding your cat easier, effective and more fun; here are some tips on using her instincts and senses to help you, along with other facts.

A bowl or a plate

With your cat, her whiskers are important. They help her to sense how wide an opening is, navigate in her surroundings and they even express her mood. So, you need to decide which bowl works best with your cat’s whiskers. For instance, a shallow bowl is a good choice because her whiskers won’t get in the way when she grabs food.

But be sure that the dish is still big enough to hold a whole day’s food. It additionally needs to have a lip on it that’s tall enough so that your cat can see the room over it. This is because cats like to use their sense of sight for their protection. A cat still has wild instincts after all. In addition, if your cat is making a mess, then switch to a larger bowl.

Where to put the Dish

A cat likes to be able to survey her surroundings when she’s eating. This is so that she can see any approaching danger, predators or rivals. So, where her dish is important because she has to be comfortable when eating. So, if you put her dish in a corner of a room, it may upset her because she won’t be able to see the whole room. This is especially true if you have dogs or multiple cats. If you place the dish in the open, then the tension may be reduced.

using feeding toys

If your cat is a food gulper or likes to overeat, consider investing in a food distributor ball or a puzzle feeder. These can be found online or at a pet store. Both of these stimulate the desire in your cat to hunt and also work for her food. By giving a bite or two of kibble, it will additionally prevent your cat from eating all her food at once. Just make sure you check the feeder to be sure that she is actually eating the food.

Active or Curious Cats

If you have an active or curious cat, you could place different portions of food in separate dishes. Then place these dishes in different rooms in your home. Your cat then can find the dishes throughout the day, and it will add heightened interest to eating.


If you’re feeding a kitten, moistening the food will help the kitten to swallow it easier. Here, take the amount of food which is recommended for your kitten and split it into several servings. Only moisten one of these servings at a time so it stays fresh. 

It’s not difficult to feed your cat if you follow directions. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your vet.

Having a cat or kitten can be a real joy and bring a lot of happiness in your life. By feeding your cat or kitten properly, you will add to her health.

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