Feeding Cats – Do’s and Don’ts

Here are the essential things you need to know:

  • Cats have very specialised bodies and have evolved to eat a meat-based diet. See ‘Choosing Food‘ for more information, but a reminder here that a diet must be balanced, and that dog food is NOT appropriate
  • NEVER place food or water bowls near litter trays. Survival has taught cats to avoid sleeping and eating near their toilet, as that latter will attract predators
  • Each cat should have their own bowl. Sharing a vital resource such as food can lead to bullying and worsen relations between cats. Each cat should feel that they can eat in peace and not have to fight for their food, or cross a room where they are likely to be attacked. Would you want to have to share your plate with a sibling or friend for every meal?!
  • Provide more than one feeding area for multi-cat households, so that a more timid cat can eat in private without risking bullying from another cat. For strained inter-cat relationships, feed in separate rooms out of sight of each other. Would you want to eat every meal with a sibling peering over your shoulder waiting for leftovers?!
  • Food bowls and water bowls should be in different places, and not next to each other. A cat will naturally seek water as a separate activity to eating, and will not appreciate water with food particles in it
  • Treats should be just that – in small amounts, to reward good behaviour. Tuna, raw fish, human table scraps and milk are best avoided or fed as rare treats
  • Feed nervous cats on the side of the room furthest from the doorway, with the bowl a little way from the wall so that your cat may eat facing towards the room and doorway, keeping a lookout, rather than having to constantly look over their shoulder. Closing the door may help, leaving your cat alone during mealtimes
  • Cats will often eat grass to aid digestion or eliminate fur balls. Whilst this is nothing to be concerned about, if your cat vomits or retches regularly then this is not necessarily normal and should be checked by your vet
  • Cats may bury food if they have eaten enough – it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like the food. This is a strong protective instinct to avoid attracting predators to the area, and to hide their presence from other prey. If your cat does it regularly or obsessively, feed smaller meals, pick up uneaten food, and provide a greater proportion of food via puzzle-feeders
  • Finally, feeding a cat should involve some frustration and challenge, so a degree of ‘Feeding Enrichment’ should be employed


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