Cats largely take care of themselves at mealtimes, and generally graze throughout the day upon the food that is made available to them, and cat owners soon learn to judge what their cats do and do not like to eat, and how their tastes change over time. A lot of time, research and money is spent by feline nutritionists and pet food manufacturers to find out exactly what makes cats tick at mealtimes, and how to make sure that your cat gets the most out of their food and are happy about what they eat and how they are fed.
Benefit from their experience by following some top tips from feline nutritionists, experienced cat owners and the results of premium cat food company’s research endeavours, and ensure that you are feeding your cat in the best way possible!
Feeding your cat their favourite food or supplementary meals can be an opportunity to get your cat to return home at the same time every day so that you can check on them, even if they are out for a lot of the time. When your cat comes home, welcome them in with their favourite food, praise them and pet them, but leave them in peace to eat.
Your cat should know that they have food available to them when they are hungry- most cats graze throughout the day at food that is left down, but if you do not leave food down all day, make sure that you feed little and often and at set times, so that your cat knows what to expect.
Ensure than when, where and how you feed your cat is suitable for their needs; they should have a calm, quiet place to eat, where they will not be bothered by undue noise or activity, nor be hassled by children or other pets. Many of us feed our cats their main dish at the same time that the family eats their main meal, but ensure that the environment that your cat eats in is not too rowdy or noisy for them to fully relax.
If you feed your cat wet food such as tins, trays or pouches, you may conserve the remainder of the opened container in the fridge between meals. It is important that if you do this, you take the food out of the fridge a reasonable amount of time before your cat is due to be fed, and allow the food to reach room temperature before decanting it. Cats are not usually keen to eat cold food, and the food will not be as aromatic and enticing to your cat if it is cold.
If you feed tinned food, decant any remaining food into another container before storing it in the fridge, as the taste can become tainted otherwise. Also, if you have anything particularly stinky in the fridge, such as onion or some cheeses, this can taint the scent of the food as well.
Cats do not have a particularly keen sense of taste, and the main part of the appeal to them from their meals comes from the smell of the food, which enhances the taste. Very bland, unscented foods are unlikely to appeal to your cat (even if this makes them more pleasant to handle for us!) and so ensure that your cat can identify the smell of their food and is keen to eat it.
Different cats have different tastes, just as people do. Some cats love fish-based meals, while others will greatly prefer different types of meat instead. You will usually get a good feel for what foods drive your cat wild and which ones leave them cold, and you should, where possible, accommodate for their tastes. Cats are also famously finicky eaters, and their tastes can change over time, so you may need to feed a range of flavours or change brands gradually now and then to account for this.
Cats have different nutritional requirements depending on their age and life stage, and you should ensure that the food that you feed to your cat is a good match for their age and condition. You can also buy special breed-specific diets to account for the unique nutritional needs of different types of cats, such as the Siamese, Persian or Maine Coon.
Cats must have free access to clean, fresh water at all times, and you should clean their water dishes and replace their water every 24 hours at a minimum. However, some cats are as finicky about their water as they are about their food, and if you can account for their tastes, all the better!
Some cats will only drink rain water, some like hard water, some like warm water and some like cool! Some cats will only drink running water, so consider getting a cat water fountain if this is the case, and if your cat neglects their water bowl but is always trying to stick their heads in your glasses, try to identify what the difference is and act accordingly!