How To Feed Cats The Right Way
“You can keep a dog, but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals.”
The reason we love cats
Everybody - alright, most people - love cats. We admire their elegance, their acrobatic moves and most of all how they just surf through life without any swea or hard work. Cats are hardly domesticated and they do not get mental if lost or thrown to the streets. They can easily go feral when lost and become domestic again.
The dual mindset of cats
Cats are Jekyll and Hyde kind of beasts.
On one hand cats are domesticated animals. They behave and communicate like if the owner was their mother. Cats use very similar vocalization and gestures as a kitten uses with its mother. Of course as time goes by a grown up cat develops communication further and evolves.
On the other hand they function as natural born wild animals when let out. They do not cross open spaces, but use all hiding opportunities, and hunt anything that moves.
This dualism can be seen when I walk home and see my cat on the street with others. The others escape as I approach, but my one stays there disturbed. I can see some body parts want to run away, while other do recognize me. Within a minute he finally realises that I am the owner and he is ready to come inside with me.
This dual behavior must be considered when feeding your cat. In optimal case the domestic and wild behavior should be in optimal balance.
A cat catching a pigeon
Habitat determines the lifestyle
A farm cat can allocate its time and its normal lifestyle provides enough physical exercises his body needs. No matter whatever mistakes the owner makes when feeding the cat, it will remain relatively healthy. You give it too much food? The cat will walk away when had enough. You provide too little food? The cat will hunt for itself without any grudge. Of course a farm cat will spend time with you only if you manage to master the art of being a good parent and friend to the cat and the cat finds your company pleasant and enjoyable.
In the suburbs where garden is around the house, the cat can have enough exercise but is tempted to spend a lot of time on the nice warm cushion. You must not give such cats too much food.
In a city flat the cat spends all day in a tight space. It cannot get a break and enjoy satisfy its hunting instincts. No hunting, no socializing with other cats. You can discover all the same dangers and symptoms on cats that city dweller people keep. Cats develop similar couch potato habits, obesity, neurosis and chronic dependency on the owners.
No matter where you live, there are some tips you should follow when it comes to feeding your cat. Let's go through some of these.
If it is possible, let the cat move out of the house or the flat. Unless it is a rare, valuable breed with no experience with the free world, cats can take care of themselves.
Obesity is a common condition among house cats. Cats do not need more than 24 to 35 calories a day per a pound of body weight. It is hard to resist giving your cat more food. Cats are talented and can be very cajoling and persuasive. Be strong – like a loving but tough mother- and do not overfeed your cat.
Always be alert, because cats do eat outside. Even well fed cats sneak to other houses through the cat-flap and help themselves a snack from other cats' bowls.
Cat Eating a Mouse
Cats are very picky and stubborn on their food. If kittens are fed only a limited selection of food, grown up cats will tend to reject other food. It is possible but hard to cajole them into trying other food. The bigger variety you provide the kitten the more adventurous and less picky your cat will become.
Excellent cat foods are available on the shelves of the supermarkets. Opening a sack or can of cat food is easy. However offering every day it to your cat is like you having McDonald's food or TV-dinner every day! It is alright once every two weeks, but very unhealthy to have it every day.
Buying some meat for your cat is not only healthier, but often cheaper. You do not need to buy USDA Prime Beef. Any cheap meat (cut overs, offal or chicken neck, heart) will do as long as it is very fresh. A healthy tabby has absolutely no problem eating a chicken neck including the bones. The only caveat is cutting it up the neck to smaller pieces. If the cat cannot swallow a piece without chewing even the laziest cat will start grinding and chewing! Do not be afraid of the bones unless the tubular ones. Vertebrae and ribs are all right.
Boneless meat and offal should be cut into one-two-three byte sizes. Cats can chew on it and will not drag the meat all over the flat.
All kinds of fish are welcome too. Do not be afraid of the bones. Cats grind all the fish-bones up using their lateral pre-molars and molars.
Cats will refuse smelly meat. They do not eat carrion. Buy fresh meat, wash it and allocate it into small portions and keep the portions in the deep freezer. At feeding time you can always take the next portion from the freezer and let it thaw.
Do you overfeed your cat?
In the wild an average cat eats 4-5 times a day. Usually a cat catches a mouse - the snack bar of nature – at a time and then keeps snoozing. Cats are not like dogs who eat as much as they can and one meal a day makes them happy. Cats just eat a little and and they trust providence and their skills to catch another snack bar when needed.
To emulate this habit, you need to provide the food in 4-5 servings a day. Unfortunately most of us cannot do this. However it is worth to think whether the family can share the tasks and serve the 4-5 portions (or 2-3 ones) in a day. If you cannot provide the series of frequent but small meals the cat will still survive. My cat is fed only twice a day. As a working man I cannot do better, even though I know that feeding my cat is two times a day is not ideal.
Do not feed -repeat – do not feed your cat between regular feeding times. Never give a piece or byte to the cat when you are having your meal. It takes no more than two weeks for the most insisting and stubborn cut to understand that nothing will drop off the table. If you do not follow this discipline your life will be an endless misery.
Many cats still stay around in the kitchen, but they turn their back to the owner. Some owners think the cat's feelings are hurt and they feel sorry. Such owners often do the peace-offering to soften the cat. WRONG! The body language of the cat tells total submission and acceptance. By turning back the cat says “I am not even here, I not even look at you”.
Courtesy and caring
When you go home your cat will probably be saluting you and begging for food at the same time. He/she is a bit confused. If you put the food into the plate the cat will just sniff in and will not eat but keep purring and rubbing its body to your feet. You can help the cat by placing it next to the plate and gently stroking and caressing the cat. Within a minute the cat calms down and starts eating. This way the cat will be assured that it has welcomed you warm enough and it can turn to the personal business of eating.
Generally it is very important to provide feedback to the cat. It is exactly like between humans. Friends need care. Moreover you do not help your friend only in dire need but also when they feel lonely or just need a little attention.
Pay attention when your cat meows or kneads your body. It needs attention and caring. If you pay enough attention to it, your cat will feel confident and will be able to cope with the stress of city life.
Water and drinking
The ancestors of domestic cats evolved in acid or semi-acid environment. They were desert or savanna dwelling creatures. Their urine is concentrated and utilize the water content of the prey. Most cats do not drink water voluntarily. What can you do?
First of all avoid dry food! To stay on the safe side, provide drinking water in a large bowl and replace it often. Do not wander if you never see your cat drinking from the bowl. Just make sure it will find water if wanted.
On the other hand notice if the cat drinks a lot! It can be a sign of diabetes that is very common among cats.