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MCV FAQ: "What should I feed my cat?"

Updated: Jul 6

Ensuring your cat receives a balanced diet is crucial for their well-being, contentment, and lifespan. Whether you opt for store-bought cat food or prepare meals at home, it's vital to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both choices. This article will walk you through the main aspects of feeding your cat commercially or with homemade diets.

Commercial Cat Food

Commercial cat food is a convenient and popular choice for many pet owners. It comes in two primary forms: wet and dry food, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Wet Cat Food

With its high moisture content, wet food is recognised for being an excellent option to help keep your cat hydrated. Its strong aroma and flavor make it more appealing to many cats, especially those with picky eating habits or reduced appetites. Moreover, wet food typically contains higher levels of protein and essential nutrients, which are beneficial for muscle maintenance and overall health.

However, wet food tends to be more expensive than dry food, especially if fed exclusively. It requires refrigeration once opened and has a shorter shelf life. Unlike dry food, it doesn't help clean your cat's teeth, potentially contributing to dental issues over time.

A cat being fed canned food
Canned food feeding is useful for fussy cats or those needing more hydration

Dry Cat Food

In contrast, dry food is convenient to store, has a lengthy shelf life, and can be left out for your cat to nibble on all day or used in interactive feeder toys. It is typically less expensive than wet food and can aid in preventing tartar accumulation thanks to its crunchy consistency. Specifically formulated dry dental care diets have proven to be particularly advantageous for oral health maintenance.

Dry food's drawback lies in its low moisture content, which may pose a problem for cats suffering from kidney or bladder issues. The quality of dry food can also greatly differ, with some brands containing fillers and inferior ingredients. If not properly supervised, free-feeding dry food can result in overeating and obesity.

A cat playing with a feeder toy
Dry food kibble can be used in feeder toys

What About Grain-Free Foods?

Grain-free cat foods have gained popularity with pet owners because they are believed to better match the natural diet of cats, which are obligate carnivores. While some grain-free foods offer increased levels of animal protein, the lack of grains does not always equate to lower carbohydrate content. Numerous grain-free cat foods utilise alternative carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and legumes, which can still lead to a high carbohydrate content that may not be optimal for cats.

Another concern is the potential for some grain-free diets to be linked to heart disease in pets, although this connection has been more prominently observed in dogs and is still under investigation for cats.

Various grains
Grain-free food is not necessarily low in carbohydrates

Homemade Diets

Some pet owners prefer to prepare homemade diets for their cats, believing it to be a healthier and more natural option. While there are benefits to this approach, it's essential to weigh the risks as well.

Benefits of Homemade Diets

One of the primary advantages of homemade diets is the control over ingredients, allowing you to avoid allergens and ensure high-quality components. Homemade diets can also be customized to meet your cat's specific dietary needs, whether they require a special diet for health issues or have specific preferences. There are a few good quality supplement mixes available to make balancing these diets easier. The Veterinary Nurtition Group run by two specialist vet nutritionists in Sydney has a great range of meal completer supplements (which we have in stock), recipies for home made diets and also offer nutrition consults and personalised recipe formulations as needed..

Risks of Homemade Diets

Ensuring a homemade diet meets all of your cat's nutritional needs is imperative. Cats require specific nutrients like taurine, essential for heart and eye health, and deficiencies can lead to serious health problems. Preparing homemade cat food can also be time-consuming and requires a commitment to research and preparation.

A cat eating raw meat and vegetables
Home made raw diets can be very nutritious if formulated correctly, but can have risks.

Raw Feeding

Supporters of raw diets claim that they are closer to what cats would consume in their natural habitat, emphasising high-quality meat and organs that offer essential proteins and nutrients. Despite these benefits, raw diets may harbor bacteria and parasites, potentially resulting in a health risk for both pets and humans. It is generally recommended to avoid raw diets for cats with illnesses or drug treatments that results in immunosuppression due to the heightened health hazards involved.

Here are some key tips for minimising risks when feeding cats a raw diet:

1. Use high-quality, human-grade meat from reputable sources to reduce the risk of contamination.

2. Practice proper food safety and hygiene: Wash hands and disinfect all surfaces, utensils, and bowls that come into contact with raw food. Store raw pet food separately from human food in sealed containers.

3. Freeze raw meat for a minimum of 2-3 days to reduce the viability of toxoplasma parasites in the meat. Thaw frozen raw food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, or consider thawing out small portions in the microwave once you're ready to use, to help reduce bacterial growth.

4. Feed meals in a designated area that can be easily cleaned and disinfected.

5. Remove uneaten food after thirty minutes and discard safely.

In conclusion, whether you choose commercial cat food or a homemade diet, it's crucial to ensure your cat's nutritional needs are met. Always consult with us before making any significant changes to your cat's diet. We can provide personalised recommendations based on your cat's health, age, and lifestyle to ensure they thrive.


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