Cat cuisine facts: What can or can’t cats eat?

Sally Keegan

Worried your cat’s piling on the pounds? Caring for someone else’s kitty and unsure what human food is safe for them to snack on? We’re here to help.

We spoke to our feline-loving friends at the UK’s largest cat charity, Cats Protection, to find out all the kitty cuisine facts. From how much you should feed a cat to whether or not cats can eat cheese, our friendly partners were happy to provide us with all the expert answers…

What can cats eat?

Cats are carnivores, so they thrive on a meat-based diet. However, this does not mean cat owners can feed their puss purely on meaty leftovers from their dinner plate. To keep your kitty happy and healthy, they need plenty of protein and a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals.

So, what can cats eat to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need? The answer is simply cat food. Just make sure you choose a can, bag, or pouch labelled ‘complete’, as commercially complete cat food is specially formulated to meet your fluffy friend’s dietary needs.

Wet cat food vs. dry cat food

There are two primary types of cat food to choose from; wet cat food and dry cat food. Which you choose is up to you; you can even feed your cat a combination of the two, as both have their own benefits.

Benefits of wet cat food:

Tins or pouches of wet cat food contain meaty chunks, usually in jelly. As it has a high water content, feeding your cat wet food is a great way to make sure they’re staying well hydrated. So, if your cat is suffering from a medical condition which means they need extra fluids, your vet may recommend feeding them wet food.

Benefits of dry food:

Letting your cat chomp on dry cat biscuits, also known as meaty kibble, can help clean their teeth and keep bad cat breath at bay. If your clever cat tends to get a bit bored, pouring kibble into a pet puzzle feeder bowl can also be a great way to stimulate their minds.

How much should I feed a cat?

Cats need to eat little and often, and so, ideally, their food should be split into around five portions and spread out over the day. To know how much food you should give your cat, just follow the advice on the food packet. Of course, if you’re pet sitting a cute kitty, it’s important to just stick to their daily diet regime by following the owner’s instructions.

If you’d like to treat your clever kitty, there are plenty of tasty cat snacks on the market. Also, feeding your feline pieces of “people food” now and again is fine, such as a well-cooked fish or chicken.

Although it can be tempting to shower them with treats, be careful not to overfeed them. It’s important to keep a close eye on your kitty’s weight; if you’re worried your furry friend is over or underweight, or if you notice an unexpected change in their size, take them to their vet.

Can my cat eat...?

Your cat may turn its tiny nose up to an unfamiliar tin of cat food, but there are many human foods they’ll do anything to get their paws on — even if it’s unsafe.

To keep our feline friends healthy, it’s up to us to know what cats can and can’t eat, and then keep any dangerous foods out of paws’ reach. To make sure know what snacks to watch out for, Cats Protection has kindly cleared up the most common cat cuisine questions…

Can cats drink milk?

No, cats shouldn’t drink milk. While kittens need their mum’s milk to thrive and grow, once they’re weaned, cats become lactose intolerant. While you may like to treat your cat to specially created cat milk, the drink is high in calories and can cause your kitty to pile on the pounds.

Ultimately, the only thing your cat should drink is water, of which they should always have a clean supply.

Can cats eat cheese?

So, if they can’t drink milk, can cats eat cheese? Eating any dairy products is likely to give them an upset stomach, so cheese should be avoided.

Can cats eat chocolate?

It may be one of our favourite foods, but chocolate can kill cats and dogs. The danger is due to a substance called theobromine, and even a small amount can cause cats to suffer serious heart problems and seizures.

Can cats eat liver?

A very small amount of liver no more than once a week is fine for your cat. Any more than this can make your cat very ill, as liver contains a high amount of vitamin A.

Can cats eat tuna?

Tuna sold for human consumption can cause your cat to suffer serious tummy upset. However, there is plenty of cat-friendly tuna on the market that is fine for your cat to eat.

Can cats eat garlic?

Ever heard the rumour that garlic will help protect your cat from parasites like fleas and worms? The myth is not only untrue, but can actually be dangerous for your moggy as even a small amount can cause them to develop a life-threatening form of anemia.

Can cats eat onion?

No, onions are part of the same food family as garlic and so can also cause your cat to develop life-threatening anemia.

Can cats eat raw meat?

Cats are meat eaters, and most would be more than happy to eat it raw. However, a raw food diet for cats can cause quite a few problems. Not only is it unlikely to meet your cat’s nutritionalneeds, it also contains bacteria and parasites that can make both you and your cat unwell.

Can cats eat dog food?

No, dog food is not an appropriate substitute for cat food. The diets of cats and dogs are very different; cats are carnivores and dogs are omnivores. For this reason, dog food does not contain enough meat protein or even the appropriate amount of vitamins to keep your cat healthy.

Still unsure about what your cat can or can’t eat?

If you’re ever concerned about your cat’s cuisine, it’s important to consult a veterinary professional. For TrustedHousesitters members, you can do this for free by calling the veterinary experts at our dedicated Vet Advice Line, day or night. Whether it’s concerning your own cat or a pet in your care, they’ll happily help you with all your animal related questions or queries.

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