7 Ways You're Feeding Your Cat Wrong

Feeding a cat can be a tricky affair. Our feline friends can sometimes be a bit picky about their food and may exhibit odd eating habits. By changing some of your feline feeding habits, you can improve or maintain your kitty's nutritional needs and help reduce her risk of becoming one of the estimated 58 percent of cats in the U.S. who are overweight or obese.

From putting your cat on a vegan diet to changing her diet too quickly, we rounded up common feeding mistakes you could be making — and how to fix them.

Feeding Mistakes You May Be Making

Cat by empty food bowl


You leave your cat’s food out all the time.

Do you free-feed your cat? It’s the practice of filling a feline’s food bowl and letting her eat it whenever she wants. Then, when the bowl is empty, you fill it again. This can be problematic. When your cat's bowl is always full of food, she may overeat. That can lead to obesity and diabetes. Measuring her food and having several scheduled mealtimes per day are better ways to feed your cat. Or, try feeding her with food puzzles. Talk to your veterinarian about how much your cat needs to eat.

Bowl of green beans


You feed her a vegan diet.

Whatever your reasons for not eating meat, you shouldn't subject your cat to a vegan diet. In order to maintain their health, cats must have meat. They are obligate carnivores and their digestive tracts aren't ideally designed for digesting non-meat food. Plus, they need significantly more protein than dogs and humans. Your kitty will likely turn her nose up at a vegan meal anyway. If you’re still not convinced, read Dr. Patty Khuly’s take on the issue.

Cat by food dish


You’re not creating an optimal eating environment.

If your kitty is finicky about her food, you’ll need to get her checked by a veterinarian to rule out if it’s because of a medical condition. If that’s not the case, then her eating surroundings might not be up to par. She may feel threatened by other pets, noises from appliances or too many people walking by as she eats. Dr. Tony Buffington suggests finding a safe, quiet area in your home where your cat can eat undisturbed. If she still isn't eating, try these three appetite-whetting tricks for mealtime.

Cat eating treat


You give her too many treats.

Cat treats may be small, but they're filled with calories. And consuming extra calories can lead to weight gain and obesity. If your kitty demands a treat, be smart about it: make her work for it by throwing it across the room or putting it in a food puzzle. Or, better yet, redirect her begging behavior to another activity such as a game or petting session.

Cups of milk


You let her drink milk.

The idea of a kitty lapping up milk from a saucer may sound cute and healthy, but it’s not. Some cats are lactose intolerant and have trouble digesting milk. Plus, milk has a lot of calories and could cause your kitty to gain weight. So it’s probably best to avoid giving her the white stuff all together. That’s not the only human treat you shouldn’t give felines; these 5 other foods can be dangerous for cats.

Kitten by food bowl


You’re feeding her the wrong food for her life stage and lifestyle.

When you give your cat food, you need to account for her age and activity level. If she’s a kitten, she probably should be slowly introduced to a variety of foods so she doesn’t grow up to be a finicky eater. If she’s a senior, you’ll need to monitor her waistline, as some older cats can have a hard time keeping weight on. You’ll also need to make sure she’s drinking enough water. It's important to talk to your veterinarian about what diet might be best for your cat based on her age, health status and body condition. Learn more about life stage and lifestyle nutrition.

Dry cat food


You’re changing her diet too quickly.

It may seem like a good idea to help your cat lose weight by reducing the quantity of her food or changing the food she eats. But reducing the quantity of food could lead to hepatic lipidosis, a potentially fatal liver condition, and sudden food changes can result in vomiting and/or diarrhea. If you’re going to make a change to her diet, do it gradually and consult your veterinarian for guidance.

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