15 Cat Enthusiasts: Cat Diet Tips & What To Feed Cats
At Purrfect Cat Diet we have lots of practical experience when it comes to looking after cats with all kinds of dietary needs.
But for new owners, it can all be a bit confusing when it comes to working out what to feed cats. With so much information available online about different cat foods, cat diets, cat food brands etc. it is not always obvious what is best when it comes to feeding cats. What diets are most appropriate? What cat food brands are the most reputable? And why?
Online resources can be very useful (I’d recommend reading Feline-Nutrition, CatCentric, CatInfo, The Conscious Cat and Covered In Cat Hair), but there is also a lot of ‘noise’ from brands pushing certain marketing messages about what to feed cats. As noted by the Natural Cat Care Blog, there is huge amounts of conflicting information out there which requires filtering.
Reaching Out To Cat Enthusiasts
On a miserable Sunday afternoon (when Giles was curled up in a ball on the radiator!), I started reaching out to some of the cat enthusiasts in my network to bring together some useful cat food and cat diet tips.
15 brains are better than one, after all. This article is the result!
We were delighted with the responses and I’m extremely appreciative to those who took the time to get involved!
Whether you are a seasoned cat owner or not, the practical cat diet tips gathered and outlined below should help when it comes to weighing up the different options for feeding your cat. I hope you find them as useful as I have. If so, I’d encourage you to share the article with fellow cat owners, just use the nifty buttons at the top of the post!
*All of the information outlined below is subjective and should not be treated as formal ‘advice’. Whilst those interviewed know a fair bit about cats, cat food brands etc, they are not vets! Always consult a trained vet with a background in feline nutrition!*
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Please leave comments/questions.
Summary: Cat Diet Tips & What To Feed Cats
Our cat enthusiasts seemed to concur on the following points:
- PROTEIN – should be the top ingredient on the label! Make sure the meat is chunky.
- A grain-free cat food. Cutting out dry cat food is a good idea!
- Cat foods that do not contain meat by-products, artificial flavors, ingredients, colors, carrageenan or other potentially harmful fillers should be treated with caution
- A raw cat food diet is best for your cat – give it a go!
Remember. Always ask your vet for advice before switching your cat’s diet/reducing their food intake. Choose a vet that has a long background in feline nutrition!
All feedback gathered is outlined below!>> See our best cat food list <<
Ingrid King (The Conscious Cat Blog)
Follow The Conscious Cat on Twitter
“Protein (meat) should be listed as the first ingredient on the label, and the meat used should be fit for human consumption. If the meat is organic, that’s even better. The food should be grain-free – no rice, barley, or any other grains. Even though these are considered healthy in human nutrition, cats’ digestive tracts are not designed to digest the unnecessary carbs.”
“The food should not contain by-products, corn, soy, or any other fillers. Ideally, I’d like to see no carrageenan in the food. Carrageenan is a controversial ingredient, and there is no definitive research that it is harmful, but I prefer to err on the side of caution. Ideally, I’d like a food to be GMO-free.”
“Look for cat food brands that are transparent about their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing process. While I prefer brands that source all ingredients in the US and manufacture their food in the US, there are some great brands out there that manufacture in other countries. As long as they fully disclose sourcing and manufacturing practices, I’m comfortable recommending these brands. I am not comfortable with ingredients sourced from or foods made in China.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Protein should always be the first ingredient on the cat food label
- Cat food should be grain-free
- Food should not contain by-products, carrageenan or fillers
- Transparent cat food brands are recommended
Robin A. F. Olson (Covered In Cat Hair Blog)
Follow Robin on Twitter
“A cat’s perfect food is a dead mouse, because it’s high protein and very low carbohydrate. In fact the only carbs are in the mouse’s tummy. This is important to understand because cats don’t have the enzymes in their saliva to break down carbohydrates, so eating an animal that has already digested the grain is the best way for them to get those nutrients. Since we can’t get mouse-in-a-can (yet), what we want to do is look for high-protein foods (a raw diet is best) that are low carb, no grain (corn, wheat, soy, oats), no starch (potatoes).”
“The other key component is to ROTATE/CHANGE the brand you feed and the animal protein you feed (and don’t feed fish often it’s not a natural diet for cats). In the wild cats eat a variety of bugs, birds and mammals and in your home they need that variety via the cat foods you choose to stay healthy. If you do one thing, ditching ALL dry food is the best change you can make for your cats.”
“Prepare for upturned noses and cranky kitties, but stay strong and keep at it. The health and vitality you’ll give your cats is worth the effort.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- The best foods are high in protein and low in carbs
- Raw cat food diet is the best and most natural for cats
- Variety is important for your cat’s health
- Keep strong if switching your cat’s diet to raw, it can take time!
Debbie Glovatsky (GLOGIRLY Blog)
Follow Debbie on Twitter
“After learning my cat, Katie, was suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, I began to dig deep into researching the potential benefits of a whole food. It became increasingly clear that the best thing for both of my cats, and all cats for that matter, was a species appropriate ‘whole prey’ diet high in protein and void of all the additives often put in commercial dry and canned foods.”
“I feed a combination of cooked and raw whole food from Woody’s, a local pet food deli here in Minneapolis. Woody’s uses only US sourced meat, the same quality you’d find in a grocery store, and processes it themselves. Though this may sound a little shocking to someone completely new to whole food diets, ‘whole’ means the whole animal – bone, organs and muscle meat. It’s everything a cat needs without all of those ingredients they don’t.
“The change in my cats’ health has been nothing short of astounding. Katie’s IBD is under control and she’s begun to act like a cat half her age. Waffles is an energetic 3 years old and maintaining a perfect weight. Their coats are silkier than any cat my vet has ever treated. Best of all, I’m feeding my cats a diet I’m 100% confident in. …and one they love too.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Avoid foods with additives and try out natural, whole diets instead
- Take comfort in the fact that human-grade meat diets are fantastic for your cat’s health
Ajax & Cheetto
Follow Ajax and Cheetto on Twitter
“Currently Ajax and Cheetto are on Wellness brand kitten formula dry and wet cat food. We use Wellness cat treats as well. Wellness is grain-free and contains mostly meat. No artificial flavors or colors. Wellness does not contain wheat, soy, or corn. Wellness refuse to use animal by-products in their cat food as well.”
“My biggest concern when it comes to feeding Ajax and Cheetto is whether or not it is OK to feed them dry cat food – opinions seem to go back and forth about the topic.”
“I also avoid giving my kitties any human foods. I once had a dog pass away when I was growing up due to being fed grapes (which is toxic to dogs!)”
“I am very hesitant about ‘what is safe’ and ‘what is not’. I researched pumpkin and found that it is very healthy for cats so have added this as a regular part of their cat diet. They get a small teaspoon mixed in with their dry cat food, twice a week.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Go for grain-free cat food which contains plenty of meat
- Avoid cat food that contains artificial flavors or colors
- Ensure that your cat has a balanced diet – a mixture of dry and wet cat food is better than just dry cat food!
- Check human foods are not toxic before feeding your cat – have a look at our can cats page!
Dizzy Fish (Cat On Center Blog)
Follow Dizzy Fish on Twitter
“The 9 cats that currently make up our tribe are fed Forthglade wet cat food with a low/grain-free dry cat food from either Appaws or Royal Canin. I strongly believe that Forthglade is one of the best wet cat food brands on the market. I have had very happy and healthy cats since switching to Forthglade.”
“Now and again when my cats crave variety, I mix some Felix Sensation with the Forthglade. Forthglade contains FOS/MOS, which is excellent for their digestion. MOS in particular is underrated. It’s a prebiotic that fights some of the nasty bacteria in their intestines.”
“In 3 years, just one of my 9 cats has required veterinary attention. I partly attribute this to the healthy cat food that I feed them. When I cannot get Forthglade, I use Applaws wet cat food. I don’t think Applaws wet food is as ‘balanced’ (i.e. complete) as it should be, but it is OK. Nature’s Best is okay, as well. I don’t believe in ‘science’ diets. They have been known to contain up to 250 chemical compounds.”
“A couple of times a week I feed each of the cats a teaspoon of live bio yoghurt. The bacteria in live yoghurt works wonders to prevent gum and dental issues. A Japanese, peer-reviewed study with human trials found that eating just one teaspoon of live yoghurt after breakfast is as effective as brushing your teeth three times per day.”
“RAW is obviously the ideal way to feed, but expensive. My cats are active outdoors, hunting mice every now and again.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Try and feed your cat grain-free or low grain dry cat food
- MOS can be used as a prebiotic to fight bacteria
- Some people suggest avoiding ‘science’ diets, as the cat foods have been known to contain a high proportion of chemical compounds
- Raw is ideal, but can be very expensive!
- Feeding your cat small amounts of live bio-yoghurt can help with teeth maintenance.
Fluffy Kitty Yoda (My-Cat-Furniture Blog)
Follow Fluffy Kitty Yoda on Twitter
“We recently moved to Kathmandu, Nepal. While in the USA, we would feed Yoda Purina One – they do not use any harmful meat by-products or artificial flavors and ingredients. It is affordable and healthy. There are lots of brands available in the US market that target specific cat “needs” such as “weight-loss” or “urinary tract health”. These are often no more than marketing messages to entice customers into buying their cat food product”.
“I would definitely recommend that new cat owners aim to find a brand of food that is healthy and beneficial for your cat to eat as his/her regular diet (with alternations of human food). Cat owners should remember that cats are carnivores and are not really “meant” to eat dry kibble with fake ingredients for their whole life. Dry food lacks necessary ingredients (like taurine, fatty acids etc.) that you can find in a cat’s perfect meal – a warm mouse (!)”
“When we moved to Nepal, our cat food options became very limited. There are two brands of cat food; one has by-products and is overpriced, and then (very luckily!) the other option has real meat and no by-products. It has a high level (guaranteed analysis) of protein, fat, crude fibre, moisture, prebiotics and probiotics etc. We also like to mix up Yoda’s diet with human food. We give him cooked chicken, scrambled eggs and some cooked veggies (like zucchini).”
“We recently found a local meat company that provides raw cat food. We have not tried it yet, but it looks like leftovers of unused parts of chicken, heart etc. It comes frozen, crushed up prepared. We are looking forward to adding this to our cat’s diet.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Avoid cat foods that contain meat by-products and artificial flavors and ingredients
- Think twice before buying “need-based” products, they are often used as marketing ploys
- Avoid dry kibble, where possible. Dry food lacks necessary goodness!
- Try out raw cat food!
Expert Vet (Expert Vet Blog)
Follow Expert Vet on Twitter
“We would always recommend cat owners check with their veterinarian to ask about dietary needs based on the age, health etc. of their cat at the time – and periodically thereafter. Dietary needs change based on all of these factors and the veterinarian (with a background in feline nutrition) is the best source for advice.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Dietary needs are based on age, health, breed it is important to factor these into cat diet planning
- Always ask your vet for advice!
Follow Season on Twitter
“My cat Molly who went OTRB 4 years ago was fed Pro Pac from the local store because she had developed food and chemical allergies.”
“I’d suggest that new cat owners avoid free feeding, where possible. As long as you are feeding them the proper amount for their age and size, they should be getting what they need. If you have any concerns, check with your veterinarian (and ensure they have a background in feline nutrition). I split their meal into two sessions when in comes to feeding.”
“Try to avoid giving cats cow milk based products, they can digest goats milk. It is possible to get goat’s milk yogurt in many stores (possibly the health food section). Plain goat’s milk yogurt makes a good treat for a cat (if given in small amounts). Kittens also love it.
“It is important that cat owners pay attention to how much their cat drinks. If a cat does not drink much, try adding some wet food to their diet for hydration purposes. Take note of whether your cat prefers fresh or stale water. Season likes fresh and moving water, so has a fountain. Tess likes her water to have been sitting for a while. Season is fussy when it comes to drinking if there is a piece of dry food floating in the water. So, I now give her some wet food each day. She never eats the whole thing.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Drinking plenty of water is important; if your cat doesn’t drink much try feeding them wet food!
- Goats milk makes a good treat for kittens and cats
- Try not to overfeed your cat through hand feeding, watch how much your cat is eating!
Follow Balou on Twitter
“I have 3 cats and each one is very different when it comes to Food. Shorty is more traditional (meat type), he loves chicken. We only buy high quality products and take time to look at labels, making sure that there is a high % of protein/meat. Cheap brands generally contain less protein (10% meat) with the rest being sugar and supplements.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Every cat is different, this should be taken into account when tweaking your cat(s) diet
- High quality brands usually contain more of the good stuff – protein etc.
- Take time to check cat food labels
Princess P Willow
Follow Princess P Willow on Twitter
“Princess P Willow’s all-time favorite food is home-cooked food. She absolutely devours Roast London Broil. Chicken is another preference for her. Please note that Princess Pussy Willow Alexandria does not eat dry food. By supplementing her diet with home cooked protein, we feel confident that the little blue patched tabby angel is being provided with a great healthy diet and lifestyle! Our motto is – “A Healthy Cat is a Happy Cat!”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Try supplementing your cat’s diet with home cooked protein
- A “healthy cat is a happy cat, so make sure they enjoy what they eat!
Jem Vanston (Vanston Blog)
Follow Jem on Twitter
“In my book, the illustrated child-friendly version of A Cat Called Dog (2015), the cats eat a mixture of wet and dry food. We like cat food that has chunks in and that looks like meat/fish. We never buy the Sheba-style rip-off expensive brands – all a gimmick in my opinion. They also get titbits of our food if we’re eating meat.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Try mixing up wet and dry food
- Chunky cat food that looks like what it is supposed to be (meat/fish) tends to be of higher quality!
Follow PetBook on Twitter
“I give my cat Natural Balance Indoor Cat Formula. I believe that it’s a high quality brand that is more affordable than a lot of the rest. This food does not contain any artificial preservatives or dye, which is important to me. And she likes it too. I can see she enjoys it!”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Go for a high quality brand that you can afford!
- Avoid cat food brands that contain artificial preservatives
Sara V Cat
Follow Sara V Cat on Twitter
“Sara began to have weight issues midway through life. She lived in a home with multiple cats and had an endless amount of food available to her, most of the time. Sara is a pretty shy kitty. I believe she eats food for comfort. When we took Sara in we decided to start her on Purina Pro Plan Weight Loss from Petsmart. We noticed a small change in her weight within a couple weeks. She stayed on this for about four months and lost what appeared to be a couple pounds. Keep in mind she’s a pretty lazy kitty.”
“The vet said to start weighing her food on scales, cutting back gradually each week. She is now down to about 15 pellets per meal. At the first vet trip she weighed in at 22 pounds. Two months later she weighed in at 21 pounds. The vet encouraged me to keep with the diet and check back in another two months. She explained that sometimes bigger kitties, especially ones with a slow metabolism may take longer to lose the weight.”
“We also built a ramp up to the bed so she gets a little exercise now.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Visit your vet if you think your cat is a little more plump that they should be
- Always make sure that a reduction in food is managed gradually
- Exercise is an important factor to consider alongside your cat’s diet!
Joel Jackowski (Kool Kitty Toys Blog)
Follow Joel on Twitter
“There are several food products that are toxic to your Kool Kitty. A variety of foods are particularly harmful and should be avoided at all costs – chocolate, yeast, onion or garlic.”
“Where possible try to feed your Kool Kitty soft canned food or a mixture of both dry and soft food. Always consult your veterinarian for additional questions or guidance and make sure they have a background/experience with feline nutrition.”
“We have success with Fancy Feast, Whiskers, and Pate’ soft cat foods. Some cats are even more particular and like seafood, chicken, turkey, or beef related foods. The key to managing cat diet is to know what is best for your cat, their food requirements and favourites!”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Watch out for human foods that can be toxic to your cat – yeast, chocolate etc.
- Always ask your vet for advice!
- Make sure you know what your cat likes/dislikes!
Albert The AdCat (Ad Cat Albert Blog)
Follow Albert The AdCat on Twitter
“I always feed Albert twice a day, breakfast is usually dry food and dinner is half dry half canned. Currently, I feed him Purina One Sensitive Systems, I find that it is good for weight maintenance. He lives indoors, so doesn’t exercise too much. As such, I had to reduce his portions, even though he’d like to eat basically anything. I try to feed him chicken meat once a week. My top tip would be to change cat food type every 2-3 months if he’s not getting into the new one. I feed him from my hand the first few times and after that he seems to be OK with the transition.”Top Cat Diet Tips:
- Portion size is an important factor to consider when feeding your cat!
- It is important to switch your cat’s diet if it isn’t working, once you have found the right diet – try and maintain it – cats like consistency!
- If your food still doesn’t make him happy and he spends the day meowing and moaning, I suggest you buy some earbuds!