How To Feed Your Cat

Cats have very specific dietary needs, but what they eat and when and where they eat it is completely dictated by you, the owner. Their food and water intake is very important!

There is a wide range of cat food available on the market including everything from dry kibble, to canned foods, to pouches with chunks and gravy. While this book won’t be delving into the exact nutritional needs of cats, it is important to choose a good quality cat food that is specific to the age of your cat.

Kittens, adult cats and ‘geriatric’ cats all have different nutritional requirements, and getting a premium, commercially prepared cat food (be it wet, dry or a mixture of both) is imperative.

While it is possible to prepare your cat’s food at home, it is extremely hard to balance their diet properly, and there is a much greater chance of feeding them a diet deficient in some nutrients when doing so, all the while potentially over-saturating their diet with other nutrients in the process.

Regardless of the diet you choose for your cat, it is very important that you follow the feeding guidelines on the packaging as closely as you can. Indoor cats have a much higher chance of becoming overweight or obese primarily due to decreased amounts of activity and by being fed too much.

As the owner, you are in control of both of these things so it is important to regularly exercise your cat via play, to follow those feeding guidelines to the letter, and not to give extra bits of food!

When and where to feed your cat

The location of the food and water bowls for the cats in your home is very important. Ideally you need to feed each cat in a separate room if possible, as doing so helps to prevent fighting between the cats, lessens stress, and allows each cat to eat at their own pace.

Hepper NomNom Pet Dishes

Try to find a quiet space in your home where each cat can comfortably eat. While cats can be very particular with their water bowls, this generally isn’t true for food bowls. Stainless steel is ideal in that it is easy to keep clean and doesn’t degrade with time, unlike with plastic bowls.

The Hepper Nomnom bowl is ideal in that it has a base with a unique and innovative crumb catcher, but you can also remove its stainless steel bowl regularly in order to clean with ease.

How often you feed your cat is often dependent on your situation.

Most cats prefer to take their time to graze on their food. In fact, in the wild, cats will often have up to 15 – 20 small meals/snacks per day depending on what they catch! At a minimum, indoor cats should be fed 2 – 3 times per day. If your situation allows it, and you have a cat that is particularly fond of grazing, you can divide their daily food allowance in to 5 – 6 meals.

The key here is to ensure that you follow the volumetric feeding guidelines on the food you have chosen for your beloved feline. It is easiest to measure out your cat’s daily food allowance in the morning and divide this into the number of ‘meals’ in the day you want to give.

How To Keep Your Cat Hydrated

Water and the Best Water Bowls

Having an adequate number of water bowls around your home is very important for a number of reasons.

With many cats on dry diets (kibbles) these days, ensuring they drink enough water is very important. Cats can be particularly fussy when it comes to water, and getting the right type of water bowls for your cat is just as important as the number of bowls in your home.

photo: pixabay

A cat’s wide water preference may include any or all of the following:

  • Ceramic bowls
  • Stainless steel bowls
  • Glass bowls
  • Plastic bowls
  • Flowing water – i.e. from a tap, or a cat drinking fountain
  • Water next to their food bowl
  • Water well away from their food bowl

Understanding your cat’s preferences can take time and a bit of observation. Start with a few of the above options and then continue with for the ones your cat visits most frequently.

Generally the bigger the water bowl the better, but choose one that isn’t too deep since cats do not like it when their whiskers touch the sides of a bowl. The Hepper NomNom bowl is perfect choice for this reason, as it is wide, but shallow.  We call it “Whisker Friendly”!

Ideally there should be at least two water bowls available per cat in your household. These need to be refilled every day and washed out once or twice per week. For many cats, having the water bowl adjacent to their food bowl is acceptable to them, but for others this may be an issue. You might need to move their food and water bowls to separate places in the house.

The Hepper NomNom bowl has two stainless steel bowls, which affords you the flexibility of choosing to keep the bowls full of food only, or to have food and water, on your cat’s preferences.

The Best Cat Food Tip

Best Food Tip For Multiple Cats In Your Home

photo: Jon Ross “Danya and the girls eating”

If you have more than one cat, you have probably experienced the irritation of trying to stop them from eating each other’s food.

In these situations, it is important to try and feed the cats in separate rooms so that they do not fight or bother each other. This may mean feeding one cat in the laundry room, and another in the dining room, for example.

Allowing each cat time alone to eat in a quiet and ‘safe’ place away from their housemate ensures they don’t gobble their food down too quickly and makes for a stress free home.

Cats will typically share water bowls, so this isn’t usually a problem in households with more than one cat, but it is still important to try and have at least 2 water bowls per cat around the home, and to choose water bowls according to the preferences of each individual cat.

This is chapter 3 of the 12 chapter series.

About the Author

Dr. Mark Edwards is a small animal veterinarian and veterinary consultant in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Dr. Edwards created the Happy Cats Guide for Hepper.