How to recognise the best adult cat food
Once your pawster’s all grown up, it’s time to graduate from milk replacers and baby food to full-course meals for full-fledged cats! Once they reach adulthood, your feline companion needs a well-balanced diet to get enough energy to stay active.
But what do you feed a fully grown feline? Is it enough to follow their natural feeding pattern, or does each cat require tailor-made meals? Do you merely head out to the pet store and grab a bag of kibble from the shelf? Let’s talk about the best adult cat food and learn why a healthy diet is crucial for our feline companions! We’ll explain how to create an adequate meal plan, control their portions, and provide all the essential nutrients.
What to look for in adult cat food
Cats are what we call obligate carnivores, meaning they require a meat-based diet to thrive. While many felines can gleefully snack on a veggie or fruit, their metabolism is not meant to digest high amounts of fibre, plant protein, and sugars. That’s why, when choosing adult cat food, you should stick to their natural regimen as closely as possible.
Whether you’re buying commercial products or cooking at home a try, make sure your feline companion gets enough:
- Animal proteins
- Essential fats
- Natural vitamins and minerals
You might’ve noticed your pet’s water bowl is often left intact. That’s because cats aren’t prone to drinking much water, especially if the source is near their feeding or toilet area. The instinctive aversion is a great way to prevent bacterial infection but can ultimately affect their health.
Your cat should drink a minimum of 100 millilitres of water per two kilogrammes. For example, an average-sized adult cat (i.e., weighing 3.5–4.5 kg) needs to consume at least 255 ml of water to stay properly hydrated.
If they don’t drink enough water, cats can become severely dehydrated, which will affect their overall health, especially bladder and kidney function.
Look out for the following symptoms of dehydration:
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, make sure to increase your pet’s water intake. The best way to do it is to feed them wet or semi-moist adult cat food. You can also prompt your pet to drink more by switching to a new bowl (some say cats react better to ceramic bowls) or by running the tap once or twice per day.
A fully grown cat requires a high-protein diet to support their metabolic function. Animal proteins in fish, chicken, turkey, and beef contain amino acids, such as taurine and arginine, which are vital for your cat’s health. The feline body is unable to produce these nutrients, and meat is the only viable source.
Amino acids sustain your cat’s vision, heart function, reproductive health, and central nervous system. Taurine insufficiency, in particular, can lead to several health conditions, such as:
- Central retinal degeneration
- Heart failure
- Central nervous system impairment
- Reproductive problems
Besides whole meat, certain meat by-products (e.g., liver, kidneys, and other giblets) are rich in protein and make for super healthy snacks.
If you’re looking for the best adult cat food, the benchmark is up to 50% of protein content. Avoid products with plant protein since its bioavailability for cats is low.
Protein is the ultimate feline health booster! Image (c) Untamed
Fats and carbs
Besides giving your fully grown feline a boost, essential fatty acids—such as omega-3 and omega-6—help with:
- Skin disease
The natural sources of healthy fats include salmon, chicken (dark meat), liver, and beef. If your cat’s lethargic and needs an extra kick, you can feed them fish oil as a dietary supplement.
What about carbs? Because of their carnivorous nature, cats don’t have a biological need for carbohydrates. While essentially redundant, the nutrients present a fast-release energy source. Tiny amounts (no more than 3%) of digestible carbs in the feline diet, such as grain, are perfectly safe.
Vitamins and minerals
High-quality adult cat food should contain natural vitamins and minerals listed in the table below:
Sustains eye function, bone development, dental health, reproduction, and skin maintenance
Maintains bone growth and health
Acts as an antioxidant
Enables blood clotting
Metabolises protein, fats, and carbs
Maintains bone and tooth health
Sustains metabolic functions and bone development
Regulates nerve function, muscle contraction, and cardiac rhythm
Enables enzyme function and helps metabolise protein, carbs, and fats
Vital for processing carbs, lipids, and nucleic acid
Acts as an antioxidant
The organic compounds mentioned above can be found in meat and some veggie snacks suitable for cats. You can also get over-the-counter vitamin supplements if your vet deems it necessary.
Minerals are inorganic substances that are typically added to adult cat food for optimal nutritional value or introduced to the feline’s diet via supplements. Keep in mind that high amounts of phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium can lead to the formation of struvite crystals and cause cystitis, so don't use dietary supplements without consultation.
What’s the best type of adult cat food?
The two most popular types of commercial cat food are:
- Dry kibble
- Wet food
In terms of the overall nutritional value, most vets agree that wet food is the superior option. High-quality products tend to have an optimal moisture content (78%) and an adequate protein, fat, and carb ratio. There’s also the semi-moist version, made with gravy or broth, but that’s considered a step down in quality.
Dry biscuits are highly processed and therefore less nutritious. Kibble is typically bulked up with starch and grain, which makes it caloric and unfit for cats (especially those suffering from feline obesity and diabetes). Another issue is the low water content, with only 10% moisture in most commercial products.
Does it mean kibble is utterly useless? No, there are a few advantages to dry cat food. Mainly, biscuits are more affordable than canned goods. Because of its high-calorie content, dry food is great for malnutrition recovery.
Ultimately, canned food is closer to your cat’s ancestral feeding habits, but a mixed diet of kibble and wet food is also a good option.
On the hunt for tasty and nutritious adult cat food? Try Untamed!
Looking for the best adult cat food in the UK? Untamed products are both delicious and super healthy, keeping your pet in tip-top shape while satisfying their appetite.
All our recipes are:
- Made with whole meats—Only the best meats make the cut! We only use human-grade ingredients in our product because we don’t believe in animal derivatives that add no nutritional value
- High in protein—Each serving has twice the amount of protein compared to the industry standard. We use animal protein exclusively to provide enough taurine and other essential nutrients that will keep your feline companion happy and healthy for a long time
- Vet-formulated—All Untamed recipes were designed by veterinarians to fit your cat’s specific biological needs. Each meal is gently steamed to maintain the original nutritional value of the ingredients
- Ethically produced—We’re a team of cat lovers who want to make this world a safer place for all our animal companions. That’s why we run a Carbon Neutral Certified business, using only recyclable packaging and ethically sourced ingredients
- Paw-sitively scrumptious—Even fussy eaters won’t resist our recipes! The palatable dishes will keep that diva behaviour in check while providing the optimal nourishment
After switching to the Untamed diet, you should notice the positive effects in a matter of days! If you become a member of our clowder, you’ll witness numerous long-term benefits throughout your cat’s life.
The expected timeline is presented in the table below:
Prominent health benefits
Within a week
● Regulated bowel movement
● Increased energy
After two months
● Decreased shedding
● Shinier and thicker fur
● Healthier teeth
Within four months
● Fewer hairballs
● Optimal weight and muscle tone
● Solid digestive health
● Improved kidney function
● Fewer gastrointestinal issues
● Stronger immune response
● Stable health and graceful ageing
Take a look at our delicious recipes
Let’s talk about the menu! Our diverse cuisine is bound to appeal to the feline palate, no matter their age or breed. Here’s a taste of our most popular recipes:
- Chocka Chicken in Jelly—Extra moist chicken breasts soaked in jelly and light on the tummy
- Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly—Cruelty-free tuna dish made with whole meat, simmered in jelly and fish broth
- Chocka Chicken with Duck in Jelly—The ultimate poultry platter, high-quality chicken breast mixed with whole meat duck and served in jelly
- Tuck-in Tuna with Salmon in Jelly—Delicious whole meat tuna soaked in jelly and served with high-grade salmon fillet
- Chocka Chicken in Gravy—A delicious dish for the sensitive feline, made with hand-shredded chicken breast and steamed in natural gravy
Take the Untamed online quiz and find something special for your cat!
Jellicles can and Jellicles do enjoy Untamed’s Chocka Chicken in Jelly!
Image (c) Untamed
Become a member of the Untamed clowder!
Treating your cat to an Untamed feast is a piece of cake. Sign up for a competitively priced tester pack and see for yourself! All you have to do is:
- Visit our Try Now page and tell us about your cat
- Check out the proposed meal plan
- Place the order
Your feline companion won’t have to wait long to taste our delicacies because we’ll deliver your tailor-made cat food pack within a day! Once the trial period ends, you’ll receive monthly deliveries of personalised Untamed meals, with no additional shipping fees.
Our monthly cat food subscription plan can be tweaked at your convenience. If you’d like to pause, change, or cancel any order, you can do so from your account at any time.
Transitioning from kitten to adult cat food
When’s it my turn to try big boy food?
Source: Slavy Darozhkin
Check out the table below for more details:
How much should I feed my adult cat?
A cat’s nutritional needs are affected by their:
- Age—A feline’s diet must respect their fluctuating metabolism. The energy requirements of a fully grown feline are higher than those of a kitten or senior cat, meaning they need bigger portions and a different nutrient ratio
- Breed—Each cat breed has a unique genetic make-up that entails a specific diet. For example, British Shorthairs are pretty inactive and often suffer from diabetes, dental disease, and hormonal disorders, so they can’t handle a high-calorie diet
- Health—If your cat suffers from a medical condition, your vet may prescribe dietary therapy, along with medication
- Activity—Felines who exercise daily tend to eat more, while downsized portions are advised for cats with a more sedentary lifestyle
- Pregnancy—Pregnant and nursing cats need more sustenance to support their litter
How do you know what the ideal portion size is? Most manufacturers include feeding guides in their products, but you can use a pet calorie calculator if you want to be precise. The daily requirements are typically determined by the following factors:
- Body condition score
- Sterilisation status
The average weight of an adult cat is around 4.5 kg, but it varies depending on the breed. Maine Coons can weigh up to 13 kg and be perfectly healthy! You should pay more attention to where your pet falls on the body condition score chart:
- Malnourished—The cat’s bones (spine, ribs, and hip bone) are sticking out, and their stomach is too tucked in
- Average weight—A tucked up tummy and subtle showing of spine, bone, and ribcage
- Overweight—Slightly rounded belly and barely palpable spine and ribs
- Obese—The cat’s ribs, spine, and hip bones aren’t palpable, and their stomach is low and flappy
Whether your cat is neutered or spayed is also an attributing factor. Some cats tend to gain weight after the procedure, so you should monitor their portions after sterilisation.
Please mom, may I have some more?
Source: Val Tievsky
Best treats and snacks for adult cats
While treats are considered complementary food, they’re still a welcomed addition to your cat’s meal regimen. If you feed them sparingly and stick to feline-friendly food items, they can even be beneficial. Treats are an excellent way to introduce fibre to their diet since most commercial products don't contain it. The nutrient is a natural remedy for digestive tract problems, such as constipation.
Keep in mind that meat must be the basis of your cat’s meals, while fibre snacks (or treats of any kind) shouldn’t take up more than 3%.
Here are some healthy snack ideas you could try:
● Turkey (dark meat)
Is milk a good cat treat?
The most widespread stereotype about cats is that they’re crazy about milk.
The truth is that felines usually like it, but it's not the healthiest treat for them. Cats are lactose intolerant and lack the necessary enzymes to process milk and dairy.
The sugar content in milk and other dairy products, like cheese, accumulates in the feline digestive system, potentially leading to various digestive problems. Lactose intolerance manifests in the following ways:
- General discomfort
The symptoms typically disappear once the milk has passed through the cat’s system, i.e., 24–36 hours. If indigestion continues for several days and is accompanied by appetite loss, increased shedding, and skin irritation—your cat might be having an allergic reaction. It’s best to consult your vet since food allergies can be dangerous.
Raw food diet—how (un)safe is it for adult cats?
Your feline companion has probably caught a mouse or sparrow and left it on the doorstep (much to your chagrin) as a demonstration of their hunting prowess. While freshly killed prey won’t cause your indoor cat any harm, a diet based on raw food alone is a bad idea.
By eating unprocessed food, such as raw meat and raw eggs, your cat is exposed to harmful bacteria, mainly salmonella and listeria. While kittens and senior cats are more vulnerable, adult felines can also have bacterial infections.
Other potentially harmful foods you should avoid are:
- Allium vegetables (onions, chives, and garlic)
- Grapes and raisins
- Citrus fruit
- Caffeine products (chocolate, tea, and cocoa)
- Yeast and raw dough
An ongoing trend in feline nutrition is the so-called "biologically appropriate raw foods" or the B.A.R.F. diet. Despite the fad, most vets still agree that feeding your cat uncooked meals can do more harm than good.