Do you understand your cat’s eating habits? How to tell the good and the bad apart
Everyone sharing their life with a kitty knows how bewildering feline eating habits can be! From their fussy antics to binge-eating, we’ve seen it all. Understanding your cat’s eating habits requires more than determining their taste preferences. Their diet and feeding schedule offer insight into various behavioural patterns.
Cats are obligate carnivores who thrive on whole meat containing the requisite amounts of proteins, fats, and other essential micronutrients.
We will guide you through the good and the bad of feline eating habits and present some helpful tips and tricks to set up a perfect meal plan for your cat.
The evolution of a cat’s eating behaviour
In a natural setting, cats are solitary predators hunting for food—rodents, bugs, and birds—several times a day. Being true carnivores, felines have a simpler and shorter digestive tract than herbivores and omnivores (who need to digest grass or complex carbohydrates). An average wild cat needs about 8–12 hours to process raw meat, which keeps them light and ready for their next hunt.
The digestive mechanism of domesticated cats is the same. Their organs function optimally on highly digestible whole meat. Keep in mind that the eating behaviour of indoor cats differs from wild or outdoor cats in particular aspects:
Wild or outdoor cats
Domesticated or indoor cats
Consume several meals in a day (about six to ten) by hunting small prey
Are highly adaptable to different kinds of meat due to their survival instincts (although the contaminants in raw meat reduce their lifespan)
May have low adaptability to different food due to their compromised digestive system caused by inadequate nutrition
Bad eating habits? Me? Never! I only follow my kitty instincts. They won’t mislead me, right? Or would they?
Source: Anjie Qiu
What influences a domestic cat’s eating habits?
Domestic cats may eat whatever you feed them, so coming up with an adequate diet will result in healthy eating habits. An ideal meal for your feline should contain:
- Animal protein—All cats thrive on a high-protein diet consisting of lean meat. Proteins support cellular and muscular health in cats and meet their caloric needs. Animal protein is crucial as it contains vital amino acids like taurine and arginine that cats cannot synthesise. Consuming animal-based proteins helps cats feel full for longer, so your kitty won't be asking for snacks all the time
- Animal fat—Cats need some fat in their diet to regulate organ function and maintain skin and coat health. Animal fat also increases the palatability of food, which helps when your cat loses their appetite
- Vitamins and minerals—These micronutrients (cats get them from meat) have various functions like bolstering the immune system and strengthening the bones, joints, and teeth. Deficiency can lead to multiple health conditions
- Moisture—Lack of moisture in the feline diet can lead to several digestive and urinary tract diseases like constipation, IBS, and bladder stones
If you’re wondering why carbs are not on the list, it’s because cats don’t need them. Cats can digest carbs in small quantities, but overconsumption would lead to feline obesity and diabetes mellitus.
If your cat is suffering from a nutritional imbalance—like a protein deficiency or a carb overdose—it may affect:
- How much they eat
- How often they eat
- How they approach food
Is your kitty eating in controlled portions?
Most adult cats should eat two to three complete meals a day. The portions depend on their:
- Body size—Larger breeds like Main Coons and Ragdolls need more food than smaller breeds
- Activity levels—Active breeds like Siamese and Bengals generally need larger meals than laidback Persians and British Shorthairs
- Sterilisation status—Neutered or spayed cats tend to eat less than intact cats
- Pregnancy status—Queens need more food throughout the pregnancy and lactating period
Both overeating and undereating are detrimental to your cat’s health. Let’s look into what these eating disorders entail:
- Overeating—Cats tend to overeat when they don’t get enough protein from their meals. It’s more common in cats on a dry food diet. Biscuits are highly processed, loaded with carbs, and usually contain less protein than wet food. Cats don’t get all the essential nutrients and eat more to compensate. Another problem is sugar. Manufacturers add it to make kibbles look glossy and appealing to the human eye, but sugar is known to cause addiction in cats even though they cannot taste sweet
- Undereating—A loss of appetite is accompanied by lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Senior cats tend to refuse food if they have hyperthyroidism and late-stage diabetes. If your healthy cat isn’t eating as much, the reason could be repulsion towards the taste and texture of a specific product
Get medical help if your cat is not eating for two days or more because it can lead to rapid multiorgan failure and death.
Overeating is when you eat the cat food till your tummy’s about to explode, but your brain declares they’re not satisfied. How do we fix that, hooman?
Source: Cats Coming
What about the timing of the meals?
Ideally, cats should have 8–12 hours between two meals. To develop the best feeding schedule, avoid the following mistakes:
- Free-feeding—The idea is to let your cat eat whenever they like by serving their daily ration at once. This method only works with dry food because it can stay plated longer than wet or semi-moist products. Since most vets do not recommend a dry food diet for cats, free-feeding is not the best solution, especially for felines who tend to binge eat
- Giving treats all the time—Snacks shouldn’t exceed five per cent of your cat’s daily food intake. It’s especially risky to give high-fat (and highly palatable) snacks like eggs, milk, and cheese to cats as they can create a calorie surplus in their diet, potentially leading to obesity and diabetes
Pay attention to your cat’s behaviour while eating—how do they approach food?
Once you get past the “how much” and “how often,” it's time to observe how your cat approaches food. Check out the details in the table below:
Feline eating behaviour
What it means
Eating too fast
Cats tend to eat quickly on a nutritionally deficient diet of tasteless fillers like grains and vegetables. It’s a psychological response similar to overeating. They try to compensate for the lack of essential nutrients by gorging
Eating too slowly
Playing with food
Cats playing football with their biscuits are bored out of their wits and could use some mentally stimulating games or human interaction
There’s nothing to worry about if your kitty likes to be left alone while eating. Their ancestral disposition as lone hunters makes them more comfortable with eating solo
Cats have intense survival instincts, which can turn them into food hoarders. The behaviour is more common in kittens who grow up in a competitive environment, i.e., with siblings or other pets
Regurgitating is your cat’s natural strategy to eliminate undigested food and ingested hair, usually in the form of hairballs or tubular vomit. If your cat regurgitates while eating, swapping their current food with high-quality wet food usually fixes the problem
Low-quality meals lead to bad eating habits in cats
Bad eating habits stem from an inadequate diet. With that in mind, avoid the following ingredients:
- Low-quality proteins—Cat food should contain more than 50% protein, preferably from whole meat. Although healthy for humans, the following fillers can do more harm than good to your furry companion:
- Vegetable proteins are hard to digest and don’t have the proper amino acid profile
- Meat derivatives are heavily processed slaughterhouse scraps with low bioavailability
- Dairy proteins are inadequate for cats because they contain lactose, which cats cannot metabolise properly
- Too many carbs, including grains, sugar, or starch, ruin the nutritional profile of many commercial products. Felines don’t need carbohydrates in their diet as they get their energy from protein. Cat food shouldn’t have more than three per cent of carbs
- Artificial additives, flavour enhancers and chemical preservatives because they are harsh on a cat’s stomach and may affect their health in the long run
Besides getting nutritious cat food, stick to a strict feeding schedule to promote healthy eating habits and keep your kitty in excellent shape.
Keep your cat’s eating habits in check with Untamed wet food loaded with whole meat proteins and antioxidants!
Image (c) Untamed
Change your cat’s eating habits with Untamed—here’s how!
If you are looking for an easy way to develop or maintain healthy eating habits in your cat, try Untamed. We offer gravy and jelly products made with human-grade whole meat and organs, with twice as much protein than the industry average.
All our products are free of sugar, grains, animal byproducts, and vegetable proteins that can potentially tamper with your cat’s normal eating behaviour.
Our recipes positively impact your cat’s eating habits because we:
- Use natural ingredients—Our products are free from all known allergens and suitable for kitties with sensitive tummies. If you’re looking for hypoallergenic food tailored to the needs of cats with severe allergies, try our single-protein Chocka Chicken and Tuck-in Tuna meals
- Offer bioavailable nutrition—We ditch harsh processing and gently steam our food to preserve the nutritional value of the ingredients. Every Untamed meal is filled with taurine and vitamin E, essential for your cat's well-being
- Have the best-tasting food—The natural aroma of our food will entice your cat’s senses, so they'll look forward to every meal and feel satisfied in between
Use Untamed to develop good eating habits in kittens
Kittenhood is the best time to forge appropriate eating habits in felines. Once kitties are weaned off, they need food with high protein content to support brain and muscle development and healthy weight gain.
Feeding them adult cat food loaded with coarse grains or other fillers can trigger diarrhoea and vomiting, which can be fatal for younglings. It’s also risky to introduce dry food as the sugar content in kibbles can cause addiction and lead to rejection of wet food in the future.
If you’re looking for safe food for your kitten, choose Untamed! Our whole meat meals are excellent for growing kittens. With a regular feeding schedule and planned portions, they’ll develop good eating and pooing habits.
If possessiveness is also a bad eating habit, deal with it. Because I’m not sharing my Untamed stash with anyone.
Image (c) Untamed
Worried about your adult or senior cat’s eating behaviour? We can help!
If your adult or senior cat’s eating habits give you regular headaches, turn to Untamed. Here’s how it works:
- Managing food portions—Untamed comes in pre-portioned cans, and the food doesn't require defrosting or heating. Whether you have an obese cat on a diet or a senior cat who needs to gain weight, all you have to do is tweak the number of Untamed cans they eat in a day
- Preventing odd cravings—Food cravings come from nutritional deficiencies or bland-tasting food. With Untamed, your cat gets real meat, which makes them full and satisfied
- Optimising digestion—We speak from experience when we say a whole meat diet can optimise your cat’s digestion. Going Untamed means fewer gastrointestinal upsets or bowel problems. Since our food offers over 75% moisture, it also prevents dehydration and related kidney ailments
Here’s what happy cat parents have to say about the Untamed effect:
The Untamed effect
Digestion is optimised, leading to a less messy litter tray
Stabilised energy levels in your cat—no lethargy or hyperactivity—thanks to the suitable calories they get from lean whole meat proteins
Super-sleek coat and almost no annoying hairballs
Week 24 and beyond
Natural weight management and strengthened immune system for life
Untamed delivers to your doorstep!
Untamed offers a seamless onine cat food shopping experience and free home deliveries for all orders. Getting your taster pack is easy:
- Complete our TRY NOW quiz and tell us more about your cat
- Select a meal plan
- Place the order
You will receive the goods within a day. If your cat approves our dishes, we will deliver a fresh batch of Untamed every month. Our cat food shipping is both regular and flexible–you can modify, cancel, or postpone the delivery anytime!
We adhere to the best practices of ethical cat food production, and our operations leave a neutral carbon footprint. Our products always come in recyclable cans, and we get our meat from sustainable, cruelty-free sources.
What snacks promote healthy eating habits in cats?
If you want your cat to maintain healthy eating habits, stick to meat snacks. Give them contaminant-free raw meat or B.A.R.F. treats like freeze-dried pork or chicken. You can also prepare occasional soups or broths using leftover meat but with minimum seasoning to be served with wet or dry food or as a standalone snack.
Here are some snacks that cats can eat occasionally, but in tiny portions only:
Keep your guard up because cats are opportunistic eaters—they can get a hold of toxic food when you’re looking away!
Be careful with fruits. Cats can handle bite-size pieces of specific fruits, like strawberries, bananas, and apples, but grapes and cherries are toxic to felines. Other potentially harmful snacks include chocolate, nuts (or peanut butter), onions, and raw yeast.
Beyond food—unnatural eating habits of cats
Some eating habits may be unrelated to food. Many cats develop a strange eating disorder, known as Pica Syndrome, urging them to crave and chew wool, plastic, cardboard, rubber, and even faeces!
My hooman’s watch magically tastes delish every time I’m bored. Maybe I need kitty games to kill time?
Source: Yury Kim
Pica can lead to choking, poisoning, and internal injuries and blockages. While the exact cause of this disorder is unknown, feline behaviourists believe it stems from psychological issues like anxiety, boredom, territorial fear, or neglect. Particular cancers can also trigger Pica. Consult a vet immediately if your cat displays signs of this disorder.