Indoor cat food reviewed—is cutting calories a healthy hack?

The core cat diet serves their biological build as active predators. While living the pampered domesticated life is cosy, cats don't get to explore and run wild, which brings down their daily calorie requirements. Indoor cat food is a reduced-calorie diet meant to support the health of cats living a somewhat sedentary life, but is it a proper dietary solution for them?

For starters, indoor cats have similar nutritional requirements as outdoor cats—both need a high-protein diet to support their bodily functions. Merely tweaking the calorie content won’t guarantee your cat gets all the good stuff in their system.

If you are a concerned cat parent looking for answers, you're in the right place. You can give your indoor cat the best life with minimal effort because we will help you:

  • Decipher the basics of nutrition for indoor cats
  • Understand what food is best for them
  • Find the finest products and health tips for your feline’s well-being

Imma good boi having the best adventures indoors. I DO exercise—does sofa-scratching and making twenty trips to the kitchen count?

Source: Paul Hanaoka

The nutritive demands of an indoor cat—simple math or rocket science?

Cats have the skills of a super flexible athletic sprinter, which remain the same even when they live indoors. You cannot deny that jumping from the kitchen countertop to the refrigerator door requires enviable muscle tone and acrobatic prowess!

Like cats in the wild, indoor kitties need a protein-rich diet to stay fit. The table below will give you a summary of their nutritive demands:

Enablers

Information

Protein

  • Being obligate carnivores, cats need meat-based proteins for muscular growth, immunity development, and overall maintenance
  • Ideally, proteins should also fuel their calorie needs—one gram of protein offers four calories
  • About 30% of a cat’s daily calorie intake should come from proteins

Fats

  • Cats need 20%–25% of fat in their daily meals to help with metabolism and coat health
  • One gram of fat offers nine calories, so even a small amount of fat serves as a good portion of your cat’s daily calorie requirements

Carbohydrates

  • Healthy adult cats don’t need carbs to survive if they have animal protein-based meals—there is no vet-approved minimum value for carbs in the feline diet
  • If you are feeding them carbs in the form of grains or starchy vegetables, keep it under 10% of their total food intake

Vitamins and minerals

  • Felines get their required blend of vitamins and minerals from meat sources like chicken, turkey, and cooked meat or fish

Water

  • Cats need to drink at least 60 ml of water daily for every kilogramme of their body weight

How many calories does an indoor cat need?

While the nutritional needs for indoor and outdoor cats are the same, their daily energy requirement is substantially different. Being indoors entails few opportunities to burn calories, so even occasional overeating can have them piling on the pounds quickly.

We have compiled a Q&A table to help you with the comparative analysis:

Question

Outdoor cat

Indoor cat

What is the daily calorie requirement?

  • The average outdoor cat needs 70–80 calories per day for every kilogramme of their weight—a cat weighing 5 kg would need at least around 350 calories in a day
  • On average, indoor cats need only 40 calories a day for every kilogramme of their weight
  • A 5 kg indoor cat would enjoy healthy sustenance at 200 calories per day

What’s the best calorie source?

  • Outdoor cats should get most of their calories from proteins and fats
  • For indoor cats, proteins should form the bulk of their calorie consumption
  • Due to their inactive lifestyle, getting too many calories from fats and carbs can lead to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease

Warning: Chonky, not obese. No fat-shaming in kitty territory—I WILL take it purrsonally. *rolls eyes* It’s not like I pick my own food.

Source: islandworks

Should you look for indoor cat food as a separate product?

Indoor cat food is fundamentally a diet food for house cats who don’t need the same amount of energy as wild cats. There is no need for separate food for indoor cats if you are already feeding them protein-based meals which offer the perfect calorie amount.

Most conventional, cheap, and readily available retail brands use filler carbs in the form of fattening cereals and starch-heavy vegetables, which cause:

  • Feline obesity—Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) conducted an obesity study in companion animals in the UK and found that a staggering 44% of indoor cats in the country were overweight. Since most cats are dependent on retail food products stuffed with carbohydrates, the calorie-surplus diet is the obvious culprit behind the rising cases of feline obesity
  • Metabolism issues in indoor cats—House cats have slower metabolism due to insufficient exercise, only made worse by unhealthy carbs in their diet

Getting specific food is not necessary if your cat is getting the essential nutrients and their weight is under control. Instead of obsessing over whether a food is adequate for indoor felines or not, you should focus on:

  • The source and quantity of animal protein in a product
  • The serving size and frequency of meals based on the size and activity level of your cat
  • The overall nutritional profile of your cat’s everyday diet

Remember that not every indoor cat food is a complete meal, and you still need to inspect labels to see if a product is right for your cat.

Indoor cat food vs. regular cat food—which one’s better?

The comparison between indoor and regular cat food boils down to two parameters—indoor food packs fewer calories than regular food and contains more fibrous content. But, neither calories nor fibre are the accurate indicators of a complete feline meal, which should have animal-sourced protein combined with animal fat.

Avoid regular and indoor food brands that substitute meat with iffy replacements, such as:

  • Vegetable proteins—Plant-based proteins don’t sit well in a cat’s stomach and don’t have the necessary amino acids. A few manufacturers also use casein protein from milk and dairy products, which can be harmful to lactose-intolerant cats
  • Animal derivatives—Any cat food containing “animal derivatives” might be a major nutritional flop because the term usually refers to cheap meat industry discards
  • Grains—Many manufacturers compensate for low meat content by using grains to add volume to their products. Grains are unnecessary for cats and can also trigger nasty food allergies and tummy troubles
  • Low-grade fibre—Food volume can also contain cheap fibre fillers like corn cobs, peanut hulls, citrus pulp, and cereal by-products, which can be abrasive to a cat’s teeth

Many store-bought foods (indoor or otherwise) lack quality, so basing your cat's diet on them will do little for their health. If you want your cat to flourish and age well, you should start reading food labels before buying anything.

Nutrients or ingredients—what to look for in indoor food?

When inspecting labels, try thinking in terms of the percentage of nutrients present rather than the ingredients. Many brands don’t reveal the percentage of carbs in their food. In such cases, you can start with 100 and keep reducing the percentage of proteins and fats already mentioned on the label. The resulting figure is the amount of carbs and fillers in the product, both of them being equivalent to junk food for cats.

Should indoor cats have dry or wet food?

Dry food is easy to serve and aids dental health in cats by preventing the formation of calculus. Despite the convenience, vets recommend that indoor cats either have wet food only or a diet consisting of both dry and wet food. Feeding cat biscuits only can:

  • Cause dehydration
  • Trigger kidney or urinary diseases due to the lack of moisture in the diet
  • Make them dismissive towards other food textures

If you have included dry food in your cat’s meal plan, make sure to keep them hydrated throughout the day. Indoor cats will hardly look for water unless they are parched. It’s an instinctive habit that can be fixed by:

  • Installing multiple water stations throughout the house
  • Cleaning their water bowls every day to get rid of any foul smell
  • Adding moisture-based treats to your cat’s diet, like jelly food and bone broth

Humans on a mission: The purrsuit of the best indoor cat food in the UK is easier than you think!

Source: (c) Untamed

How to pick the best dry cat food for indoor cats

Dry food tends to be high in carbs, plant proteins, and artificial additives. When buying indoor dry cat food or cat biscuits, opt for the products that:

  • Have a high percentage of crude proteins sourced from animals
  • Include taurine (taurine is an essential amino acid that helps cats with structural development and maintenance of eye, heart, and reproductive health)
  • Contain 0%–10% of carbohydrates
  • Are devoid of sugar (as ridiculous as it sounds, sugar makes the biscuits look glossy and appetising to humans—it only influences our purchase decisions!)
  • Contain probiotics or fibre to support digestion

The right indoor wet cat food (that’ll work!)

Wet cat food is ideal for indoor cats as it provides optimal hydration and usually has a higher percentage of crude proteins. While choosing the purrfect gravy or jelly delight for your cat, go for brands that:

  1. Are transparent about their ingredients—Some brands piggyback on the good reputation of wet cat food but use fillers and questionable animal derivatives. Check the label to ensure the ingredients are clearly stated and satisfactory
  2. Have a decent shelf life—Wet cat food goes rancid quickly, especially after opening. If you are stocking up your pantry, go for brands with a good shelf life. Also, don’t keep wet food out for too long to prevent bacterial development leading to diarrhoea and food poisoning
  3. Offer grain-free food—Certain grains may also be hard to digest, making them inappropriate for felines with a sensitive stomach. Since grain is used as a filler and a protein replacement, grain-free food products should contain more essential nutrients
  4. Are hypoallergenic—Cat food allergies are unpredictable and can develop suddenly. Hypoallergenic products reduce the risk of allergic reactions

Housecat food and special diets

Many cat parents prefer to:

If you love cooking for your feline:

  1. Avoid adding forbidden ingredients to the meal (onions, caffeine, and raw/uncooked yeast can harm your cat)
  2. Don’t overseason the food
  3. Get your contaminant-free meat from organic sources only, especially if you are preparing a raw meal

I delegated my food-hunting chore to my hooman, and I dare say I’m impressed!

Source: (c) Untamed

An elegant solution—Untamed understands indoor cats better than anyone!

If you want the best for your cat, switch to Untamed! Our recipes are created for indoor cats, and our meals don't contain:

  • Animal derivatives
  • Vegetable proteins
  • Grains
  • Sugars

Indoor cats can be incredibly finicky over food, often refusing to eat the priciest products! That's why we focus on the taste as much as the nutritional value. While working on our formulas, we noticed that domesticated cats respond best to whole meats that tease their senses. With that in mind, we make wholesome cat food by:

  • Using human-grade meat—We use only the prime cuts fit for human consumption. Our meals have two times more protein than the industry average. They are also hormone-free, cruelty-free, and hypoallergenic. We make our products from chicken breast and liver, duck breast, tuna steak, salmon, sardine, mackerel fillet, and shrimp
  • Steam-cooking our food—Cats can be notoriously hard to please if their food doesn’t smell right. We preserve the nutrients and aroma by gently steam-cooking our ingredients so our tasty recipes appeal to the fussiest of felines!
  • Applying vet-approved formulas—We use vet-approved formulas to ensure your cat gets all the essential nutrients

Visit our TRY NOW page and order a taster pack for your furry companion!

Looking for a weight management plan for indoor cats? Untamed has your back!

Weight management is crucial for indoor cats. From obesity to anorexia, the pendulum can swing to both extremes if you are not careful.

Since Untamed products are strictly protein-based and come in appropriate serving sizes, you will never face weight issues with our meal plans. In case you are struggling with your cat’s current weight, check out this table for some handy tips:

Your cat is:    

Health strategy

Overweight

  • Cause—Excess carbohydrate intake
  • Strategy—Create a calorie deficit diet, preferably under 200 calories for a medium-sized cat. Make sure to include at least one Untamed can (jelly or gravy) to your cat’s daily meal plan because our food will make them feel full and control the urge to overeat

Underweight

  • Cause—Malnourishment, aversion to foul-smelling food, and medical issues
  • Strategy—Opt for a calorie surplus diet rich in muscle-building proteins. You can feed two to three cans of Untamed to your cat. Our ingredients have a high biological absorption rate, and if there is no pre-existing medical condition, your cat should start gaining healthy weight in two to four weeks

Raising a kitten indoors? Get them Untamed from the start!

Many cats get hooked on the wrong food during kittenhood. If you are going to raise a kitten indoors, it’s a good idea to introduce them to healthy food early on.

When a weaned-off kitten starts eating the right portions of meaty Untamed wet food, it triggers the release of natural digestive enzymes and helps them grow at a steady pace.

Our customers reported a continual improvement in the health of kittens, adults, and seniors on Untamed. Here’s a timeline of benefits:

Period on Untamed

Timed improvements

One week

  • Optimised digestion
  • No litter-box mess

Six months

  • Consistent energy levels
  • No hairballs
  • Shiny coat
  • Toned muscles

One year and beyond

  • Robust immunity
  • No mood swings
  • Stabilised weight

For indoor cats, we recommend regular exercises to give them the mental and physical stimulation they need. Here are a few examples:

  1. Stair-climbing or cat towers
  2. Laser chasing
  3. Food hunting sessions
  4. Leash training
  5. Installing bird-viewing window stations

For obese indoor cats, you should visit a feline therapist for intense exercise options like water treadmills and massage therapy.

I only follow one diet—it’s called the yum-yum diet.

Image (c) Untamed

Untamed delivers cat haute cuisine to your door!

If you want to give your sweet homebody feline the best life ever, get them a trial pack by following these steps:

  1. Visit our TRY NOW page and tell us about your cat’s preferences
  2. Review the recommended meal plan
  3. Order your desired pack

With Untamed, you’ll enjoy indoor comfort as we deliver all our products to your doorstep. Going forward, you can get timely deliveries every month without having to step out of the house. If you want to pause, skip, or modify a delivery, you can do so from your account in a few clicks.

Ethical cat food production is our highest priority, so we use recyclable packaging to keep the environment safe for future generations of cats and humans.