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Cat Feeding Behavior, Hydration, and Tips

Taking care of a cat should be easy — feed them the right food, make sure they’re getting enough water, play with them to keep them stimulated, and give the occasional belly rub (when they want it, of course). But there is actually a lot about taking care of cats that we don’t know about, especially when it comes to feeding them.

There is a lot of information out there, and it’s important to find the right tips to make sure your furry friend is as healthy as possible. We’ve partnered with NomNomNow, and they have provided us with these useful tips for feeding. They make fresh, healthy recipes that can benefit your cat, so you can be rest assured that they know what they’re talking about.

Cat Hydration and Feeding Behaviors

In their most natural state, cats are actually desert animals. This means that like other desert animals, cats get their water through the food they eat. Their prey is usually high in moisture, and through that, the average cat actually needs about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.

On the other hand, about 1/3 of domesticated cats are chronically dehydrated. While this might sound like a large number, it actually makes sense considering that the majority of cats eat dry food. Sure, dry food is easy to find, but it does not provide the same hydration that other options could.

Choosing the Right Food

If you are worried that your cat is not getting enough water in their diet, consider switching to a fresh diet that is high in water content. A fresh food diet has many health benefits, such as:

  • Regulating body temperature
  • Transporting nutrients into the body and waste out of the body
  • Improving functions of joints and intestines
  • Maintaining healthy skin
  • Balancing electrolytes
  • Promoting healthy kidneys and bladder
  • Helping with inflammation

Since cats are carnivores, you need to make sure that their food is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. With these aspects in mind, you can then decide what food you think is best for your cat. But with so many different types of food out there, how do you know which is the right food for your cat?

Dry, Wet, or Fresh Food?

Every cat parent has different preferences when it comes to what they purchase for food. There is dry, wet, raw, and many more options for cat food — you could even cook it yourself! There are different formulas made for specific groups of cats, such as senior cats and overweight cats. Depending on what kind of lifestyle your cat is living right now, you might need to look more closely at the different types of food before you make a decision.

Dry Cat Food

There is such a wide selection of dry cat food, but you really need to look closely at the label to find a good quality one. Many brands of dry cat food are high in calories and full of filler ingredients, such as grains and fibers. While these ingredients might sound like normal items found in foods, they can actually lead to weight gain for cats. In addition, the feeding guidelines found on these labels don’t take into account your cat’s age, activity level, and other factors. This can lead to feeding your cat a larger portion of food than they need at a time.

If you suspect that the dry food you are feeding is leading to your cat overeating or gaining too much weight, it’s time to take a look at the ingredients and portions you are using. Overeating in cats can lead to obesity, which can put a lot of stress on their body, especially on their bones, joints, and organs. Their organs have to work harder, which can lead to detrimental health issues in the long run. To avoid this from happening, make sure you are properly portioning your cat’s food with healthy ingredients to live a healthy life.

Wet Cat Food

Even though dry food might seem much easier and more convenient than wet food, wet food actually provides a lot of benefits for your cat. Wet food is also 3 to 4 times less dense in calories than dry food is, so it could help your cat maintain a healthier weight.

For most cats, two cans of wet food per day is ideal. Plus, it provides more hydration than dry food would. However, sometimes the preservatives and other additives can be an issue, so be sure to look closely at the label for wet food as well.

Fresh Cat Food

With fresh food, there are many benefits with switching your cat to this diet. Meals are made with a high percentage of protein and water content so they get the hydration and nutrients they need. In addition, fresh food meals are made with better ingredients to make digestion easy for your cat.

There are plenty of cat food recipes that can provide cats with the ideal amount of moisture and nutrition. Plus, when making fresh food for your cat, you won’t need to worry about any unnatural preservatives.

When it comes to mealtime, cats prefer food with a stronger odor. Fresh food (and wet food) provides a much stronger smell for cats than dry food does, and the texture of fresh food is similar to what they would eat in the wild, making it even more enticing to eat. It is important to note, however, that transitioning your cat may take some time, in part, if your cat is unaccustomed to those textures.

 

Artificial vs. Natural Preservatives

Preservatives are a common item in pet foods to help keep them fresh. Even though this holds true, it is still important to understand which preservatives are good for your cat and which ones could have harmful effects.

Natural Preservatives

Natural preservatives can extend the shelf life of a product without being harmful to your cat. Some of these preservatives include vinegar, citric acid, and vitamin E.

Synthetic Preservatives

Unfortunately, the long-term effects of synthetic preservatives are not fully known. BHA (butylated hydroxy anisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are some of the preservatives that are commonly found in cat food. The Center for Science in the Public Interest marked BHA in the “avoid” section while BHT was placed under “caution.” Therefore, these might not be the best items to include in your cat’s food.

Since fresh meals are meant to be eaten right away, they cut the potential for risk since there is not much need to add potentially harmful preservatives to these diets.

The Difference Between Snacking and Meal Time

Many cat parents feel comfortable with their cats regulating their own meals. Often times, they will leave food out for their cat throughout the day and allow them to eat whenever they feel hungry. This is a good idea in theory, however, free feeding is actually a reason why so many domesticated cats become overweight.

In the wild, cats eat often because they need to continuously hunt small prey. They’re always hunting and looking for food, regardless if they are hungry or not, and even cats that stay inside all day will share the same instincts. Because of this, cats tend to overeat if too much food is provided for them.

Many cat parents provide their furry friends with large servings even if the cat has a low activity level. If your cat’s food dish is not always full, then that is completely fine! By not feeding them too much and by giving them set amounts of food each day, it can help keep your cat at a healthy weight. Plus, if your cat is not overfed, it can help you to transition them to a new food easier.

Going Fresh with Your Cat Food

In order to replicate the food your cat would eat in the wild, providing fresh food is the best way to go. Fresh food just offers a lot more benefits than other options do. The following are reasons as to why fresh food stands out from dry or wet food.

Cat-Friendly Ingredients

With fresh food, you know exactly what ingredients you’re feeding your cat. You can actually see what is going into your cat’s food, so there is no need to worry about your cat eating items that could harm them or cause them to gain extra weight, like fillers.

When creating a fresh diet for your cat, you should make sure that all the ingredients are beneficial to them. Grains are an example of an ingredient to watch out for because they can be hard for cats to digest, which can cause loose and smelly stool. Fruits and vegetables are good grain substitutes for fresh foods, especially spinach and cantaloupe, because they consist of fiber that is easy to digest.

Easier Portion Control

Most fresh food recipes are made with portions in mind, so you don’t need to worry about feeding them too much or too little. You can feed them fresh meals at designated times, so you can make sure they are getting the right amount of food. If you are unsure how much food to serve your cat, the average cat eats between 150 and 200 calories per day.

No Artificial Additives

Unlike dry or wet food, fresh food is not sitting around for weeks before being served to your cat. You can make the food fresh for your cat every time they eat. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about any harmful preservatives being included in their meals.

Now that you know what all goes into different types of cat food, it is up to you to decide what is best for your cat. By making sure your cat gets healthy ingredients and proper portions, you no longer have to worry about your cat becoming unhealthy or overweight. NomNomNow makes it even easier to feed your cat fresh because each meal is formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, made with human-grade ingredients that you can see, and individually portioned to make sure your cat is getting the amount of food they need. Better ingredients, better health – it’ll be the best decision you made since bringing them home.

Written by Molly Weinfurter
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