What should you feed your cat?

Veterinary surgeon Martin Stevens unravels the mysteries of cat food with his guide to kitty cuisine. 

Walk along the cat food aisle of your favourite supermarket, pop down to your local vets or pet shop, or browse the multitude of online retailers and you’ll see a vast number of brands, flavours and types of cat food.

While this provides us with a huge choice around what to feed our cat, it can be difficult to make a decision. I’ve written this short article to help you unravel the mysteries of cat feeding.


Wet or dry cat food?

Personally I prefer dry food to wet food as it’s less likely to stick to tooth surfaces. This helps to reduce the severity and rate of progression of dental disease. Dry also tends to be cheaper than wet and takes up less space in your home.


When to change from kitten food to adult food

For the first six to nine months of life, kittens grow by about 100g per week. During this rapid growth stage, I recommend feeding them kitten food. Often the kibble/biscuit size is slightly smaller and softer, which is better for smaller mouths and kitten teeth. After six to nine months, you can transition to an adult food.

Later in life, cats over the age of 10 are likely to benefit from being on senior food. Many brands have a senior range, which will contain added nutrients for older pets.


So many flavours to choose from

Gone are the days when the choice was simply chicken, beef or lamb. We now have many brands offering salmon, tuna, duck and turkey together with more unusual flavours such as pollock and carrot.

Most cats will be quite happy eating the same flavour each day, but some of us like to change every now and then for a treat. For example, my own cats get a turkey-flavoured food on Christmas Day.


How often and how much should you feed your cat?

In ‘the wild’, our cat’s ancestors would have consumed 15 to 20 small meals a day. The best way to mimic this behaviour is to leave your cat’s daily ration of biscuits out during the day.

Careful monitoring in multi-cat households is needed to make sure that you don’t have a glutton who hoovers up their housemate’s food. In these cases, spacing out meals may be helpful.

With regards to portions, there will be a feeding guide on the food packaging, which will show you how much to feed according to your cat’s size and weight.


What about treats?

We all like a treat, and our furry friends are no different to us in that respect. The odd piece of fish or meat from our plates probably won’t do any harm, assuming no food allergy is present.

My cat is lucky enough to tolerate lactose and enjoys licking the lid of my yoghurt pot – but only on special occasions like birthdays, Christmas, and Fridays!


Recommended guides

Kitten feeding

Exercises for
your cat

Strengthening your bond with your cat

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