What should I feed my cat?

Your cat needs the right food to stay healthy and happy. The type and amount depends on their breed, type, age, health and lifestyle.

A Cat’s Diet

Cats must eat meat – they can’t be vegetarians. This is because their bodies need certain proteins that are only found in meat. Without them, your cat could become very ill, and even go blind. Cats also need to eat animal fat to get vitamin A, which helps keep them healthy.

Our vets recommend that you don’t give cats milk to drink. Cows’ milk contains sugar that cats find hard to digest, which can cause tummy upsets.

‘Life-stage feeding’ matches your cat’s diet to what they need at different ages and stages of development. For example, kittens need different food from older cats, because their bodies are still growing. Many companies make food especially for kittens, juniors, adults and seniors. Feeding your cat a complete commercial pet food is the easiest way to make sure they get all the nutrients they need.

It sounds obvious, but pets who eat too much get fat! If you feed your cat a lot of treats as well as their normal food, most of the extra calories will turn into fat. Cats don’t need treats to know you love them: playing and spending time with you are what they enjoy most of all.

How Often Should I Feed my Cat?

Cats prefer lots of small meals to one large one. They ‘graze’, eating between eight and 16 times a day! So, it’s best just to leave food out for them, unless there’s a chance it will go off, or be eaten by another cat.

It’s a good idea to weigh out your cat’s food at the start of the day. Most cats are very good at knowing how much they need to eat, but some are greedy! If your cat is eating too much and putting on weight, it may be better to feed them two meals a day, instead of leaving food out.

Our vets advise owners not to feed leftovers, bits of meat and other scraps, because:

  • Cats who get scraps may refuse to eat their normal food without them
  • It unbalances the cat’s regular diet, and they often get overweight
  • Your cat may misbehave during your mealtimes, as they think they’re going to get food, too!

Another top tip is to keep a food diary for a week, and take it with you when you go to see your vet. This can help you spot where your cat is getting the extra calories, and makes it easier to cut them out without a special diet.

You can download our free guide to feeding your cat, including an example food diary to help your cat on their way.