With such an independent nature, it's no wonder cats have their own way of eating, even if they can normally count on an attentive owner to meet their needs.
It is useful to understand the behaviour of our feline friends to ensure a happy household. This article will provide you with valuable information about cats’ eating habits, enabling you to anticipate their needs.
Cats are predators
In order to understand how a cat eats, we need to delve into their origins. Underneath the adorable round eyes and silky soft fur lies an impressive hunter. They will lash out at prey, be it birds or rodents, insects or lizards.
Hunting is a deeply rooted instinct for cats. Sometimes hunting unfolds as a game, chasing and throwing their prey about. This behaviour is often observed in kittens, however some adult cats continue the chase well into their years.
Cats are, first and foremost, carnivores meaning they need to consume animal protein. A deficiency in animal proteins and minerals can awaken their hunting instincts.
A keen sense of taste and smell
Taste and smell go hand-in-hand where cats are concerned, even more so than some other species. A finely tuned sense of smell is a crucial attribute for any cat who wishes to sustain a good diet; even if it’s less developed than that of a dog, they still use smell to select their meal. Like many animals, cats sniff their food first to determine interest and quality, and then decide whether they will eat it or not.
Additionally, cats have an advanced sense of taste. These taste receptors are located on the outsides of the tongue, allowing them to taste without swallowing. They can determine if the food is acidic, bitter, or salty, but interestingly not sugary.
Digestion happens directly in a cat’s stomach, which is relatively small. The process is aided by the presence of stomach acid, which is very useful in combatting certain digestive infections.
However, a cat’s digestive system is not well suited to the intake of more exotic foods. Cats with either normal or sensitive digestive systems can easily become ill after a meal they that aren’t used to or that is too sizeable. Instead, cats need to eat little and often of the foods best suited to them.
Feeding your cat
It’s particularly important to keep an eye on spayed and neutered cats’ diets. A sterilised cat will experience changes to its metabolism, and often become more lethargic as a result. Unsterilised cats are much less likely to put on weight if they stay active.
Establishing a regular routine is the key to a good diet in adult cats. It is best to serve up several small meals a day. If this doesn’t fit into your daily routine, your cat can get used to two set meals instead, with a small bowl of dried food left out to nibble on as they please.
A final piece of advice: avoid giving your cat food scraps and treats as meals. Apart from any nutritional concerns, this can also cause your cat to gain weight and, if it happens often, they may stop showing an interest in their normal meals.
What are your cat’s eating habits like?