Most people believe that the cat’s menu is not a mystery, and it seems that everyone knows what these animals should eat. You probably know people convinced that it is wise to offer a cat some milk, while others feed their furry friends only with kibble or raw meat.
My neighbor goes fishing every morning to provide a fresh meal for his beauty, while the new-age generation has a weird idea to transform cats into vegetarians. With so many different approaches, it is a moment to discover what do cats eat exactly. Let’s see.
Cats Habits and Biology
Modern cats descended from the African wildcat, and the first ones started to live with humans about 6,000 years ago. Nowadays, approximately 60 million of these beautiful furry creatures live as pets in the US. It is estimated that additional 300 million kitties enjoy their human families worldwide.
People initially bred them as a defense against rodents, but they became pets over time. Thanks to artificial selection, you can find 36 domestic cat breeds classified into small, medium, and large groups that exist nowadays.
Cats are part of the natural environment and are not a threat to other species due to numerous biological and behavioral reasons. In fact, these animals have crucial roles in the local ecosystem balancing, and any attempt to remove them can have severe consequences.
Feral cats are opportunistic feeders that consume only food they can find without much effort. They are primarily scavengers and hunt only when they need to, usually rodents.
Surprisingly, cats consume birds only incidentally. Keep in mind that they never hunt a specific bird species but individual birds of different, the most common species in the area.
Cats almost always prey on ‘doomed surplus’, including ill, starved, and weak animals that would certainly die. In other words, those are animals which death doesn’t affect the overall population.
It is always necessary for cat, bird, and rat populations to be in balance. Only when they coexist, you won’t get a problem with the overpopulation of one species.
The vacuum effect
Cats live only in an area with enough food and water sources and appropriate shelters. You should be aware that their number is always in correlation with these resources’ availability.
Once you remove cats living in a particular place, other cats will move in from neighboring territories. This effect is a reason why most animal control policies fail.
The only way to keep the number of kitties under control is the trap-neuter-return approach. That way, people can stabilize cat populations without new kittens while sterile adults keep the territory safe from animals from the neighborhood.
What Do Cats Like to Eat Most
Domesticated cats enjoy eating a few small meals daily, so they usually find a free-choice feeding schedule highly desirable. Like any other carnivores, they need a diet high in proteins and fat, so you should provide these ingredients from meat, fish, and eggs.
Such food contains the amino acid taurine necessary to prevent heart disease, promote healthy reproduction, and maintain healthy eyes. It is also a source of vitamin A and E, fibers, and a balanced amount of fatty acids.
Keep in mind that pregnant and breastfeeding cats need to get 50% to 70% more proteins. They are prepared for regular food only after kittens begin weaning.
Since indoor cats often eat human food and never exercise enough, you need to prevent your kitty’s obesity by controlling its portions. Finally, you should offer your beauty a special diet if the hairballs don’t pass into the intestines after ingesting.
Cats are unique when it comes to feeding. Whether you like it or not, these animals are strict carnivores, and any other food offered is only a treat for these creatures, not a necessary food. The cat’s menu should always include essential ingredients like:
These obligate carnivores need meat to survive since it provides the necessary proteins their bodies need. Be careful when offering raw meat to your pet since excess fat can endanger its health. The recommended food include:
- Chicken with a moderate amount of skin, cartilage, and smaller bones
- Lean beef and lamb
- Cooked turkey breasts
- Cooked eggs
- Lean deli meats occasionally
Many cats love fish, but some species can decrease the vitamin E levels in their bodies, so be careful with such a meal. Fish that kitties adore:
- Cooked tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Canned anchovies and sardines
- Fresh fish you catch in the river or sea if you are a fisherman
- Fish oil
Avoid offering your furry friend sushi.
Cats often become lactose intolerant with age, so you should be careful with dairy foods and only occasionally provide some:
- Cheeses with low lactose levels
- Hard cheeses
- Low-fat yogurt
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Even though veggies are not the necessary food for cats, some of them will enjoy different tastes. However, it is crucial to pick out only those safe for these predators, including:
- Pumpkins and squashes
- Cooked green beans
- Frozen or raw peas without pods
- Cooked rice can help with possible digestive issues
- Mashed sweet potato
- Cooked or steamed carrots
- Cooked broccoli, spinach, and asparagus
- Dandelion roots and leaves that relieve feline allergies and liver detoxification
Since spinach causes crystals to form in the urinary tract, you should avoid offering it to neuter males and cats with urinary or kidney problems.
Since most cats in the US have an obesity problem, you should avoid feeding your pet with grains. However, you can offer some only as a treat, and the best options are:
- Polenta and cooked corn
- Couscous and millet
Cats can’t taste sweet flavors, and most of them will refuse to eat sweet food. However, you can offer your pet some treats like:
- Frozen and blended bananas
- Raw or frozen blueberries
- Watermelon without seeds
- Peeled and chopped apples
Always be careful when feeding your cat with ingredients meant for people. The best option is to ask your vet first to prevent possible problems with overweight.
Food Avoid to Feed Cat
Be careful when feeding your cat since some ingredients are highly toxic for these beauties, including:
- Chocolate and coffee – Methylxanthines that they contain are toxic to pets and cause tremors and seizures, sometimes even death.
- Tea and energy drinks – These caffeinated drinks cause rapid breathing and muscle tremors in cats.
- Alcohol – It may cause breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
- Tobacco – Nicotine increases cats’ heart rate and damages their nervous systems over time.
- Almonds, walnuts, and pecans – They contain high oil levels that potentially cause pancreatitis in cats.
- Macadamia nuts – The exact mechanism of this food’s toxicity is still a mystery.
- Grapes and raisins – No one knows why they are poisonous to cats, but they often lead to kidney failure.
- Coconut – They are a reason for digestive issues in cats.
- Garlic, onion, and chives – Disulfides and thiosulphate (sulfoxides) in these veggies damage cats’ red blood cells, leading to anemia.
- Bread dough – Yeast from dough rises and causes gas accumulation in the stomach and consequential bloating and twisting.
- Citrus fruits – They contain essential oils and citric acid that upset the stomach and cause CNS depression, diarrhea, and vomiting when given in large quantities.
- Artificial sweetener xylitol – It usually causes lethargy, vomiting, and liver failure in cats.
It is also necessary to prevent your cat from accidental ingestion of:
- Moldy and spoiled foods
- Fruit stones and seeds
- Corncobs parts
- Fat trimmings
- Cooked bones and small raw bone pieces
- Candy and gums
- Human supplements and medications
Tips to Feed Cat
In ideal conditions, you should feed your cat the same way as felines eat in the wild. Only that way can you prevent diabetes mellitus, kidney issues, and obesity. A feral cat’s daily meal consists of:
- 52% of protein
- 46% of fat
- 2% of carbs
Since natural cat food contains a significantly lower level of fats and calories, these animals living without human protection need to eat six to eight times a day.
The amount of necessary food you should offer to your furry friend primarily depends on its age, size, weight, and activity level. Whether you feed your kitty with raw, homemade, dry, or canned food, it will be fine with two meals per day.
- Food quantity – The best option to prevent overeating and consequential obesity is to avoid the free-feeding method that implies offering food whenever your cat wants. Remember that an average mouse provides 30 calories to a kitty while processed cat food is much more caloric.
- Human food – Never offer human treats and snacks to cats.
- Seniors – Older cats with health issues need a specific diet, so you should consult your vet before offering anything potentially harmful. Your senior will probably need three to four smaller meals a day.
Cats are carnivores, so they primarily need meat to stay healthy and prosperous. You can add some other food types to their meals, but be careful. Some ordinary ingredients you enjoy in your everyday life are highly toxic for felines. Keep that on your mind when thinking about sharing snacks with your furry friend.
— Update: 12-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article What Do Cats Like to Eat for Breakfast? Best Foods for Your Fussy Feline from the website www.newsweek.com for the keyword what does cat like to eat.
What do cats like for breakfast? Pet food comes in several different forms, flavors and textures. But for cats, variety isn’t necessarily a good thing, as it could potentially lead to fussy eating habits.
“Pet owners can actually help to create a fussy eater by taking advantage of the huge variety among cat foods” and for some cats, providing many food choices can be overwhelming, explained veterinarians Krista Williams and Robin Downing in an article for VCA Animal Hospitals.
Eating is an activity in itself for indoor cats, given their lack of environmental stimulation. Regular feeding can help alleviate and prevent stress-related health concerns, such as cystitis as well as inactivity, overeating and other obesity-related problems, according to a 2018 consensus statement on how to feed a cat released by the American Association of Feline Practitioner.
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What Do Cats Like for Breakfast?
There aren’t any specific foods that cats prefer at breakfast than for other meals.
Speaking to Newsweek, Zazie Todd, the author of the upcoming book PURR: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy, said: “It’s very common to give the cat the same food for breakfast as for other meals. Cats like to have multiple small meals a day, so instead of giving one large breakfast, you could consider breaking it into more than one meal.”
For cats that are fussy eaters, one way to encourage them to eat could be to offer food at breakfast, leave it out for around 15 to 30 minutes, before taking it away until the next meal time, veterinarians Williams and Downing said.
Then at the next feeding time, offer the food again for about 15 to 30 minutes, removing whatever has not been consumed. This method works best with dry kibble. If you’re using canned food, it’s best to discard whatever has not been consumed to prevent illness from spoiled food.
“Unlike dogs, however, we must be very careful about attempting to jump start a cat’s eating by simply holding out to force them to eat what is offered. If a cat has any predisposition at all, just a few days of not eating can cause a potentially fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis,” Williams and Downing warned.
The Best Foods For Your Cat
Cats are “creatures of habit and take comfort in predictability,” Pam Johnson-Bennett from Cat Behavior Associates, who is an author of several books about cats, told Newsweek.
“To prevent potential stomach upset or food rejection, it’s best to stick to the cat’s normal nutritional program,” she said, feeding them good quality food and keeping with the feeding schedule so the cat knows when meals are expected.
Meat and Fish
Cats are carnivores at heart and their basic nutritional needs include food that is 40 to 45 percent protein, high in fat and low in carbohydrates, according to Dr. Graham Brayshaw, the Animal Humane Society’s chief veterinarian.
“You can feed your cat grains, but they lack the digestive enzymes to break them down, so there’s no real nutritional benefit,” he explained.
Canned food is often considered the “holy grail” of cat food options and some cats “go crazy for it,” Brayshaw said. It also helps keep your cat hydrated, with around 80 percent of canned food consisting of water, he noted.
You should avoid “poor-quality” canned food, which is usually packed with non-meat products and may not be complete and balanced, says the nonprofit San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SFSPCA).
“Cats fed from pop-top cans have a significantly greater risk of developing hyperthyroidism, possibly due to some component of the can lid” the SFSPCA warns.
If you’re feeding your cat wet food, don’t serve it directly from the refrigerator. Johnson-Bennett from Cat Behavior Associates said: “Cats aren’t scavengers and prefer their food at about body temperature which would be similar to fresh prey.”
In addition to being more budget-friendly than canned food options, dry food is great for maintaining your cat’s dental health.
“The kibble scrapes against their teeth when they chew and naturally removes plaque. If you feed your cat canned food only, you should brush your cat’s teeth regularly to avoid dental issues,” Brayshaw explained.
Some Human Foods
For cats that are fussy eaters, there are some human foods that may help increase the appeal of regular cat food and encourage consumption, such as ones outlined below by veterinarians Williams and Downing.
You should talk to a veterinarian to determine whether these human foods are suitable for your cat and how much of these to add in a day without risking weight gain, the Williams and Downing said.
- “No-salt-added” chicken or vegetable broth.
- Fresh or frozen water-based vegetables (such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce).
- The occasional “dry-scrambled” egg.
The veterinarians warned, however, that it’s important to “resist the temptation to begin feeding human food willy-nilly from the table. Once human food is given like this, it becomes much more difficult to transition back to balanced cat foods. It is actually quite difficult to balance a cat’s long-term nutrition when feeding them homemade food.”
Over time, your cat may exhibit taste preferences that lead to deficiencies of certain nutrients. There are currently no “commercially prepared, validated mixtures of macro- and micro-nutrients” that can be added to homemade cat foods, Williams and Downing said.
Brayshaw said it’s important to add taurine (an amino sulfonic acid that cats don’t naturally create, whereas dogs and humans do) to cat diets.
“Without taurine, cats develop Dilative Cardiomyopathy — a condition where their heart grows larger than normal and has to work extra hard to function,” according to the Animal Humane Society’s chief veterinarian.
Taurine is found naturally in most meat and fish but can be stripped during food processing. It is mostly destroyed when meat is cooked as it is especially sensitive to heat. So those preparing homemade cat food will need to add taurine as a supplement to the meal, Brayshaw said.
How Often Should I Feed My Cat?
Speaking to Newsweek, the president of The International Cat Association (TICA), Vicki Jo Harrison, said: “The number of meals a cat eats per day depends completely on the family schedule.”
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Cats should eat at least two meals a day that are about 12 hours apart. “If more than 12 hours elapses between meals, the stomach can become hyperacidic causing nausea,” she explained.
Spreading their feeding across five meals (feeding them at breakfast, lunch, in the afternoon, dinner and right before bed) is a great option.
Harrison added: “Growing kittens need to eat more frequently and should have three regularly scheduled meals in a day. After they are six months, they should be put on the same feeding schedule as adult cats. It is highly recommended that cats eat nutrient-dense cat food with their first meal.”
Author Johnson-Bennett said it’s important to determine your cat’s daily food portion based on health, age, body type and activity level to help prevent obesity. Once you’ve determined the overall portion amount, divide that up into frequent, small meals, she said.
Author Todd noted using food puzzle toys can be a good way to give your cat an activity to do “because it makes them work to get the food.”
There are several different food puzzle toys to choose from on the market, such as balls with holes in for the food to fall out. You can also easily make your own version of this using a cardboard tube with holes in it, Todd said.
“The key is to make it very, very easy for your cat when you introduce a food puzzle toy for the first time, because you don’t want them to get frustrated. You can also put treats in the toy to help get them interested in it,” the author explained.
— Update: 13-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article What Do Cats Like to Eat? from the website www.purina.com for the keyword what does cat like to eat.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they’re meat eaters. They also like variety, so they may not be satisfied with eating the same dry kibble day after day.
Fortunately, there are numerous options ranging from wet cat food to dry kibble to complements and toppers, so your cat can experience new flavors and textures.
What Do Cats & Kittens Like to Eat?
Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats. In the first few weeks of their lives, kittens are solely fed their mothers’ milk. They are gradually introduced to moistened solid food before transitioning to a complete and balanced kitten food.
Like adult cats, kittens are adventurous eaters and will enjoy trying new things, so you can feed wet or dry food, or a combination of the two.
Whether you’re feeding a cat or a kitten, “Cats need animal-based protein as part of their main diet,” explains Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS. Some protein-rich foods cats like to eat include:
- A variety of fish, such as salmon, trout, tuna and whitefish
- Poultry like chicken, turkey and pheasant
In the wild, cats eat a variety of small prey, so mixing up the protein sources in your cat’s food can tap into their instincts and satisfy their cravings.
What Can Cats Eat?
Cats can eat a wide range of different foods, but they rely heavily on protein as an energy source. As a result, cat food is typically higher in protein but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t include other foods—or that they don’t need them.
The non-protein ingredients included in cat foods are tasty and easily digested to support various aspects of their health. These may include:
- Wheat flour
- Dried chicory root
What Food Do Cats Like Besides Cat Food?
Although we recommend sticking to a complete and balanced cat food and occasional treats, cats can eat some human foods. These include:
- Cooked eggs
Although some cats may like berries and melon as a treat, it’s not because they’re sweet. Cats don’t have receptors on their tongues to taste sweetness. Instead, foods like these have a bitter flavor, like amino acids in protein, which cats find tasty.
As with regular cat treats, these foods should not exceed more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily caloric intake.
Can Cats Drink Milk?
Unless your cat was raised on milk and has continued drinking it into adulthood, they shouldn’t drink milk—even as a treat. Without adequate lactase enzymes, milk can cause digestive upset.
What Do Cats Love to Eat?
Cats love interesting flavors and textures. They’re naturally adventurous eaters, which can mean they may try to eat things they shouldn’t. Raw or undercooked meat, fish and eggs are tempting to cats, but they pose a risk of foodborne illnesses or parasites and should be avoided.
Keep meat and fish with bones out of reach. The bones can cause serious injury to a cat’s mouth, throat or intestines.
What if a Cat is a Picky Eater?
You may think your cat is a picky eater. In reality, they may be bored. You can satisfy your cat’s desire for variety by introducing new flavors and textures of food often.
Figuring Out What Foods Your Cat Loves
There are a lot of options when it comes to feeding your cat. You can choose from dry or wet cat food—or a mix of the two—and you can add broths, creamy toppers and more to spice things up.
We can help you find the right food based on your cat’s unique nutritional needs and preferences.
Our Pet Expertise page has more tips on cat nutrition and feeding from our experts.