Understanding Your Cat's Eating Habits

Compared with humans, your favorite feline needs a high-fat, high-protein diet with certain animal nutrients.

Cats usually eat many small meals throughout the day, so they easily adopt a free-choice feeding schedule to maintain their normal body weight. Dry foods, such as IAMS™ Proactive Health™ Healthy Adult - Chicken, are best suited for free-choice feeding because they stay fresh longer.


Nutritional Building Blocks

Cats need nutrients from animal-based protein sources. Providing the vitamins, minerals, protein, and other components found in a complete and balanced pet food can lead to a long and healthy life for your cat. It is important to avoid supplementing your cat's diet, as doing so may lead to a variety of health problems. When selecting a pet food, look for ones that offer the following nutrients:

Animal protein from meat, poultry, fish, or egg sources to maintain strong muscular structure, vital organs, antibodies, and more

Taurine, an amino acid found in meat sources such as chicken and fish, but not in plant proteins, to maintain healthy eyes, prevent heart disease, and promote healthy reproduction, fetal growth, and development

Essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, which can be found pre-formed only in animal tissues, and vitamin E to help support the immune system

A precise balance of fatty acids to help promote excellent skin and coat health

A fiber source, such as beet pulp, that will help maintain your cat's digestive system health.


Special Dietary Needs

Pregnant or Lactating Cats

A cat's energy intake should be increased gradually by up to 50% over her maintenance intake through pregnancy. You can use kitten food to provide nutritional support during the last few weeks of gestation.

After birth, the mother cat's energy needs increase by 50% to 75% over normal in the first week to twice normal the second week and to three times during the third week. The third and fourth weeks are the most demanding because kittens are still consuming milk and have not begun to eat dry food. Once kittens begin weaning, the mother cat should be tapered back to normal food portions to avoid unnecessary weight gain.

Avoiding Obesity

Food and energy requirements may vary for your adult cat. In general, indoor cats have less opportunity or need to exercise than outdoor cats. As a result, indoor cats are more prone to obesity, and regular exercise should be encouraged. You may want to control your cat's portions.


  • Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Try These Cat Feeding Tips!
    Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Try These Cat Feeding Tips!

    Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Try These Cat Feeding Tips!

    Cats are known for being a bit choosey about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.


    Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.


    Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat 

    Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats 

    Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!


    Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).


    Review Your Cat’s Food Routine 

    Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.


    It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!


    Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding 

    If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.


    Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!

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