The ins and outs of the optimal cat diet

A quality diet ensures your cat lives their best life from kittenhood to their golden years. What is a proper cat diet, though, and how to achieve it? With various types of cat food to choose from, determining a proper cat diet can be challenging. What are the essential nutrients a cat needs to thrive? The topic is quite broad and might even scare new cat parents, but don’t worry because Untamed is here to explain:

Necessary nutrients from kittenhood to adulthood

The key to a quality life for a cat is to provide enough calories and nutrients to keep them happy and healthy. The exact amount of calories and nutrients your cat needs depends on various factors—most importantly, which life stage they are in:

  1. Kitten
  2. Adult
  3. Senior

Depending on the breed and activity of your feline, you might have to increase or reduce their meals, but the following recommended values is a great starting point.

Kitty diet 101

The three essential nutrients for a growing kitten are:

Nutrient

Function

Required percentage on a dry matter basis

Protein

Helps muscle growth

35–50%

Fat

Provides energy

18–35%

Calcium

Helps bone growth

0.8–1.6%

Even though it doesn’t seem like it, kittens have a higher caloric intake than adult cats because they are growing rapidly. Specialists suggest feeding your kitten 60–65 calories per pound. If you notice a smaller or weaker kitten or if they eat less than the rest of the litter, feed them more to help them grow and develop faster.

Take a look at the kitten feeding chart below:

Week

Weight (in grams)

Formula (in millilitres)

Feeding frequency

Week one

50–150

2–6

Every 2 hours

Week two

150–250

6–10

Every 2–3 hours

Week three

250–350

10–14

Every 3–4 hours

Week four

350–450

14–18

Every 4–5 hours

Week five

450–550

18–22

Every 5–6 hours

During weeks six, seven, and eight, you can mix some formula with wet or dry cat food, but make sure the meal is no larger than half a cup. If your kitten is sound asleep, don’t wake them up to feed them. You can use a syringe until they are ready for a bottle.

Stroke the kitten on the back with your finger or toothbrush to simulate their mother’s licking.

Source: Emrah AYVALI

The basics of healthy adult cat nutrition

Adult cats require more complex nutrition, featuring:

  • Proteins and amino acids—called crude protein and total fat on cat food labels
  • Numerous vitamins and minerals
  • The tiniest amount of carbohydrates

Essentially, you want the most significant part of your cat’s diet to be protein (35–40%), followed by fat (20–24%). Carbohydrates shouldn’t exceed 3% of your cat’s nutrition.

Keep in mind that feline organisms aren’t designed to digest plant-based protein. Cats are carnivores—like their relatives in the wild—and rely on animal-based protein from:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Turkey

Let’s get to the meat of the matter!

Image (c) Untamed

Cat parents want only the best for their furballs. We understand and want to help you achieve that. Untamed recipes feature the best meat and fish to provide your feline with that precious protein while satisfying their delicate palate. Our assortment has options for every kitty, even fussy and sophisticated eaters!

Is this all for me, human?

Image (c) Untamed

Check out the recommended daily caloric intake based on a cat’s weight:

Shape

Weight

5 lbs

10 lbs

15 lbs

20 lbs

Lean

170 kcal

280 kcal

360 kcal

440 kcal

Overweight

180 kcal

240 kcal

280 kcal

310 kcal

Keep in mind that those are only approximate values. Depending on your kitty’s breed and activity levels, you will have to adjust the portions, but don’t worry, cats usually stop eating when they’ve had enough. If your cat starts meowing louder than a French horn, they might still be hungry.

Mooooooom, you can’t tell me that was the entire lunch for today! I’m looking at you.

Source: Amar Preciado

Cat diet tips for senior furry pals

Senior cats have a significantly slower metabolism, so you want to look for highly digestible foods that have high single-source protein content. You should also look for foods that feature a higher percentage of antioxidants, which can slow down the ageing process of your precious feline friend.

The table below shows the digestibility of the best protein sources for cats:

Food

Cooked egg whites

Chicken, rabbit, and turkey

Kidneys, livers, and hearts

Fish

Digestibility rate

98%

92%

90%

75%

Single-source protein foods are also praised for their hypoallergenic properties, which prevent your furry friend from experiencing pesky food allergies.

Untamed provides options for sensitive stomachs, too! Soothe your kitty’s tummy with our single-source protein meals, such as:

  • Chocka Chicken
  • Tuck-in Tuna

These recipes come as both gravy and jelly options, so your kitty can try both and see which one they like best (or get both).

There can only be one in the box.

Image (c) Untamed

Different feeds for different needs

When shopping for cat food, you notice that the majority of cat food isles are dominated by dry and wet food categories—but which is better for your cat? 

Is dry food good for your cat’s diet?

If you want to feed your cat with dry food, keep in mind that:

  • Most commercial options are typically packed with carbohydrates. A high amount of carbs might endanger your feline’s health and cause obesity and diabetes
  • The caloric value of dry food is significantly larger than that of other types of cat food, which can be beneficial if your cat should put on some weight, but it might lead to overfeeding in other cases
  • The lack of moisture in dry food can lead to dehydration and urinary problems. If you want to include dry food in your kitty’s diet, you can pour some water or chicken broth over it, but don’t forget to serve a wet meal every now and then

In conclusion, most commercial dry foods aren’t an ideal cat food option, and if you feed it to your cat, do it in moderation.

Is wet food the best option for a healthy feline diet?

Wet food may be a better choice for a healthy and happy kitty because:

  • It has a super high water content
  • Your feline can enjoy a larger portion while not overeating because of the lower caloric value
  • The texture can be appealing to your cat
  • Cat food companies often offer a line of therapeutic wet food specially designed for cats with particular health conditions, such as allergies, kidney problems, digestive issues, etc.

The main downside of wet food is that it’s generally more expensive than dry cat food, but it is an investment in your feline’s well-being for the long term.

Mom, are you pawsitive you emptied the entire tin?

Image (c) Untamed

The good, the bad, and the ugly of cat food

Some kitties love it, others wouldn’t look at it, but the truth is, commercial cat food has its pros and cons.

The good

The bad

The ugly

  • Pre-sized meals are easy to serve
  • You will spend less money on commercial cat food than if you were to cook food for your feline yourself
  • You have plenty of options to choose from until you find the one that works for your kitty
  • Most commercial cat food isn’t as nutritional as it claims to be
  • Some brands offer dry food packed with grains (carbs)
  • Vegetable derivatives
  • Artificial flavouring and colouring
  • Preservatives
  • Ingredients can include meats that aren’t allowed for human consumption and have been contaminated with metals, chemicals, and other contaminants

Sharing is caring—human foods that cats love

A snack every now and then won’t harm your kitty, provided you give them small portions. You can use many items from your own pantry to treat your feline—or if their pleading eyes while you eat are the problem, you can share some of your food without remorse.

Here are some human foods your cat can enjoy:

Fruit

Veggies

Grain

  • Blueberries
  • Melon
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Mangos
  • Pineapples
  • Carrots (cooked or steamed)
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Oatmeal
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Couscous

Before sharing these foods with your cat, keep in mind that:

  • These are only snacks and not the main ingredients for a healthy cat diet, so you should offer them to your cat sparingly and in small quantities
  • Treats should make up only 2% of your cat’s diet
  • Diabetic cats should never eat fruit
  • You need to check up on your feline to see if they’re having a hard time digesting a snack they're eating for the first time

Cat diet no-nos

Some of the cat diet no-nos that could seriously harm your feline are:

  • Alcohol—it leads to digestive issues, choking, coma, and death
  • Chocolate and coffee—these contain toxins theobromine and caffeine that can cause severe problems and even death
  • Citrus fruits—these are very harsh for a cat's stomach because of the citric acid they contain (they can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and an upset stomach)
  • Coconut flesh and water—these cause digestive problems
    • Fat trimmings—this lead to severe digestive issues and inflammation of the pancreas
    • Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions—these veggies cause gastrointestinal problems and damage to erythrocytes (red blood cells)
    • Grapes and raisins—they can lead to kidney damage and their eventual failure
    • Milk and cheese—dairy can cause digestive issues, such as diarrhoea, constipation, and vomiting
    • Mushrooms—they usually lead to drooling, digestive problems, tearing, and liver damage
    • Nuts—they cause digestive issues and inflammation of the pancreas (often accompanied by inflammation of the liver and intestine)
      • Raw bread dough with yeast—yeast leads to bloating and twisting of the spleen
      • Salt (in large amounts)—salt leads to tremors, seizures, digestive issues, dehydration, and even death in cats
      • Seeds and skin of cherries, plums, apples, or pears—these cause respiratory problems and shock because of the cyanide compound
      • Small and uncooked bones—bone splinters can lead to choking or rupture to your feline’s organs
      • Xylitol (sugar-free food sweetener)—it leads to vomiting, lethargy, and liver failure

        Signs your furry friend isn’t feeling feline

        An unbalanced diet can affect your cat in different ways. Some warning signs include:

        • Lethargy
        • Fever
        • Vomiting
        • Inconsistent appetite
        • Sudden increase or decrease in water intake
        • Low energy
        • Constipation or diarrhoea
        • Bland and rough coat
        • Dull eyes
        • Sudden weight loss or gain

        If you notice any out-of-the-ordinary behaviour, consider taking your cat to the vet. Nutrient deficiency can cause severe health problems, such as:

        • Anaemia
        • Cataract
        • Skin, bone, and eye deformation
        • Muscular dystrophy
        • Nutrient malabsorption
        • Slow or no growth
        • Fatty liver

        Fussy and picky eaters

        Is your cat refusing to eat? Fussy and picky eaters can give us a hard time, but we love them, and that’s why we want to make sure they eat well. If your demanding feline is rejecting food, the reasons could be:

        • Sudden change in:
          • Type of food
          • Food brand
          • The flavour—if your feline is used to chicken, switching to fish may prove to be challenging 
          • Way of serving food—since we love our feline friends so much, we tend to spoil them. If you had a particular way of preparing their food, you might have to stick to it (this can include heating the meal, cutting the food in a specific way, adding water to dry food, and similar)
        • The food bowl being dirty
        • Stale food
        • Hot weather
        • A snack your cat caught before mealtime

        If you tried your best to fix the issues mentioned above, but your feline still isn’t eating, they might be having health problems and require veterinary assistance.

        Tips on how to find the purrfect meal size

        Depending on your furry friend’s age, size, and activity, they need 24–35 calories per pound of healthy body weight. You can feed your adult and senior felines once or twice a day, but in some cases, that might not be the best approach. If your cat tends to wake you up at night seeming hungry, splitting a daily food portion into multiple small meals may be better than adding more meals and overfeeding them.

        Other benefits of smaller portions include:

        • Less bloating
        • Better digestion
        • Better weight management
        • Increased energy and activity

        Are you ready for a pawsitive change in your cat’s diet?

        Many cat parents introduce a new brand or type of food abruptly, which is a shock for their furballs.

        Luckily, there is a way to ease your feline’s transition from one food to another, and we’ll show you how. Before we get started, keep in mind that this process needs to last for at least one week. Ideally, the introduction period should last for two weeks because if you allow more time for your cat to adjust, you’re more likely to succeed.

        You want to introduce the new food gradually. Start by making it approximately 20% of the entire meal or even 10% if you’re going for a steadier pace. After that, you will increase the percentage of the new food:

        • Every 2–3 days by 10% if the process will last two weeks
        • Every day by 20% if you’re doing it for one week

        If you opt for the quicker method, check up on your kitty and their bowl to see their reaction to the change. An adverse reaction of your feline might require you to slow down the process.

        The perfect cat diet—at your doorstep

        With Untamed, you never have to question whether your cat is getting all the nutrients they need. Quality human-grade ingredients ensure your kitty gets only premium treatment.

        Untamed's recipes:

        • Require no additional preparation—our meals are gently steamed and ready for serving
        • Are delivered to you at your convenience
        • Come with no shipping fees

        The best treatment for your cat and the planet

        We strive to treat the planet like we do your cat. Our sustainable packaging—the recyclable cardboard boxes and aluminium tins—ensures the environment doesn't suffer from our package waste.

        Get your purrsonal Untamed cat food trial box

        We treat every Untamed cat as if they were our own, and we do that by getting up close and personal. Complete our questionnaire to ensure your trial box caters to your furry friend’s needs and tastes. To get started:

        1. Visit the Try Now page
        2. Answer a few brief questions about your cat’s:
          1. Name
          2. Age
          3. Food preferences

        Lastly, enter your email address to get a recommended meal plan for your kitty, which you can modify at any time. If the plan works for you, sign up to order your trial box—one-time payment, no commitment.

        Human, if I don’t get lunch anytime soon...

        Image (c) Untamed

        Once you try Untamed—you will never look back

        Untamed is the result of one cat’s recovery story. The first member of the Untamed family is Sian, who got sick and wasn’t feeling better despite the efforts of multiple vets. With the help of a nutritionist, we took matters into our own hands and switched Sian to a human-grade diet, which resulted in him feeling better than ever before.

        The idea behind Untamed is to provide the best cat diet available on the market that’s made with a whole lot of love and whole meats.

        After switching to Untamed, our customers' furry friends have shown immense progress in the form of:

        • More energy
        • Tidier litter boxes as a result of a consistent digestion
        • Fabulous, thick, and shiny coats
        • Consistent weight
        • Fewer hairballs

        If you want the same for your feline, join our wild pack!