6 myths about feeding your cat

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6 myths about feeding cats
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Dec 02 2015

Are you feeding your cat wrong? You may think kitty is content with a big bowl of kibble that’s available at her leisure, but is it what’s best for her? I’m busting six feline feeding myths so you can your cat trim, healthy and purring.

Myth #1: Free feeding (leaving full bowls out all day) is fine.

Truth: Unless you have a cat with particularly strong will power, free feeding is a bad idea. Over half of the feline population is overweight or obese, and most cats need to eat a specific amount of food to stay fit and trim.

In the wild, cats eat several small meals a day, so ideally, that is how we would feed our domestic versions as well. However, since most people aren’t available at their pet’s every meow and call, we’ve settled on twice a day as a good middle ground.

Myth #2: Dry kibble is healthier than canned food.

Truth: For years, veterinarians insisted that dry food was healthier than canned food, but we were wrong! The epidemic of fat cats had us rethink the whole thing, and now we know it’s best for your cat to eat canned food.

The trick is finding the right canned food, because a lot of canned food is just too rich. Look for one that is low in carbohydrates, and ask your veterinarian for recommendations. 

Myth #3: Feeding a cat a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthier for them.

Truth: While this may be true for humans, it actually couldn’t be further from the truth for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they have to eat meat to meet all of their nutritional requirements. Feeding an inadequate diet can lead to potentially life-threatening health consequences for cats. 

Myth #4: Any location in the house is a good location for my cat’s food bowls.

Truth: There are certain places that should be off limits for feeding. Next to the litter boxes, for instance. I mean, really — who wants to eat next to a toilet? Also consider your cat’s personality. A high traffic area might not be the best dining room for a skittish or anxious cat. Choose a place where your cat feels safe.

Myth #5: My cat can have as many treats as she wants.

Truth: You should limit treats and count them as part of your cat’s daily caloric intake. The calories in treats add up quickly, and before you know it, you could easily feed your cat a meal’s worth of calories in treats alone. You want the vast majority of your cat’s daily calories to come from her nutritionally rich food, so scale back your treats if it’s getting out of hand.

Myth #6: Milk is good for cats.

Truth: Most adult cats are lactose intolerant, and milk can cause gastrointestinal upset. And as with other treats, milk is not a good source of sufficient nutrients for cats. However, some cats do just fine with a little bit of milk as a treat.

As always, check with your vet if you have questions about your cat’s diet or before you mix it up. Every feline is different!

Updated February 28, 2019