Help for first-time cat owner - feeding?

Discuss ways to improve the quality of your cat's life and longevity through proper nutrition; a place for all of your questions and answers about feeding your kitty!

Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times. Non-informative posts criticizing a particular brand or another poster's choice of food are not allowed in this Forum. References to any brand of food as "junk," "garbage," or other harsh names will be removed.


Member Since
Purred: Sun Jul 7, '13 8:39am PST 
I know there are a lot of posts about this on this forum, but I want to make sure I get the right info for my cat since I don't want to over- / under-feed her.

We just get her yesterday. She's 1 year old, but petite for her age - probably 5-6 pounds. The shelter recommended wet food in the morning and evening, and leave out dry food throughout the day to munch on.

However, the shelter didn't specify the quantity of wet food. Can someone give me recommendations in terms of ounces, etc? smile

Also, I'm reading in some places that dry food is bad. Should we give her more wet food, and limit the dry?

Thanks for any help!


Purred: Sun Jul 7, '13 11:32am PST 
cats are carnivores and require protein, so much of their diet should come from that. look for things that are high in protein with little-to-no fillers (aka wheat, corn, other carbs). i feed my cat primarily wet food. i only fed dry food when she was a kitten (so that she could free graze) and she eventually just stopped eating it. i give her 1 3oz can in the morning and 1 3oz can in the evening. my cat is 2 years old and around 7lbs. most articles i read have said that the average-sized cat needs around 250 calories per day. most 6oz cans of wet food provide this (or 2 3oz cans) and you can maybe use that as your baseline. since she's rather small, maybe don't give her full cans.

if you decide to go the dry route, there are many high quality dry brands out there that cat owners would stand behind. it's not that dry is "bad", as many users here have had cats live full and healthy lives on dry. it's just that wet food provides more protein and water for animals who are susceptible to renal/kidney issues.

as for brand recommendations, going through active food threads will give you a good list to start researching.

congratulations on your first cat!! smile

Merlin - An Angel- Forever

Purred: Sun Jul 7, '13 4:19pm PST 
Read http://www.catinfo.org/ for proper cat nutrition way to go

Yes, dry food is not good for a cat's health. Long term feeding of nothing but dry food can lead to many health issues like obestity and diabetes. Shelters feed dry food because it's the easiest for them to store in their limited space, and the most cost effective way to feed multiple animals. Shelter workers often are unaware of proper nutrition as well.

There is no specific amount of canned food to feed. You just go by what your cat will eat without causing a huge weight gain smile The general rule is 20 to 25 calories per pound of ideal body weight. This is about one 5 oz can a day or two to three 3 oz cans per day. I'd start with one 5 oz can per day. You can split a 5 oz can into about three meals. Adjust amount of food per meal as needed.

If your cat will eat canned food there is no reason at all to feed any dry food, IMO. Canned food can be left out during the day. Just use a programmable timed feeder like this one smile Some people like to freeze canned food into chunks and put the frozen chunks into the feeder to slowly defrost until it is avaiable for eating.

But if you feel the need that your cat has to have some dry food, then limit it to a very small part of the diet, like less than 10%. Add extra water to the canned food to ensure good water intake. Dry food causes dehydration shrug Feed only a grain-free dry food. Check the local pet stores to see what brands are avaiable. Nature's Variety Instinct, Wellness Core, Innova EVO, and Blue Buffalo are some good ones.

Or, instead of dry food, feed freeze dried raw food instead. Freeze dried raw is a lot healthier for your cat than regular dry food. These can be fed dry, though it is recommended to rehydrate them before serving. Stella and Chewy's is one good brand that is 100% complete. The food is nugget shaped, a little larger than most dry food but softer in texture.

There are several recent threads about brands of canned foods to feed. Check them out big grin

Edited by author Sun Jul 7, '13 4:21pm PST


Tiger - In Loving- Memory

Where's the- food?
Purred: Sun Jul 7, '13 7:02pm PST 
I have heard(from my vet) that feeding wet food only can lead to gum diseases and other such problems. People say dry is bad for your cats, which I agree it probably is which is why I'm looking into switching to raw. Although this can be time consuming and requires much research I truly believer it's probably is what's best for a cat. But anyways, I have a cat who is 16 and hates wet food so she has never been on wet. She is 16 and still kicking pretty good for an old girl. If you're going for commercial food I suggest doing a mixture of both wet and dry. Even if it's just a few kibbles mixed in. Why? I know this is different but I work at a kennel and all the dogs who are on wet only seem to have way worse teeth than those who are on a mixture or even dry.

I've always wanted to do that and that's what they eat in the wild, which only seems natural. I know people who have done it and their pets are super healthy, good looking teeth, and a great coat. Just need to do your research first!

Merlin - An Angel- Forever

Purred: Mon Jul 8, '13 4:40am PST 
Poor dental health (ie not brushing) leads to bad teeth, gum disease, etc. All types of food leave behind food particles on the teeth which results in plaque buildup. Cat teeth, like Human teeth, benefit from being brushed regularly to remove food particles and plaque way to go Gnawing on raw bones and organs supposedly works to help remove food particles and stuff thinking Our wild cousins have pretty good teeth from just eating raw meats and gnawing on bones.

Older cats are more resistant to raw food, even canned food diets, because they are used to eating dry food shrug In those cases, you just have to feed what the cat will eat and keep trying to add at least some canned or raw.

Don't mix canned food with dry food shock If the cat eats the mix up right away it's not a problem. But if the mix sits out for hours, then harmful bacteria grows in the now moist dry food and may cause an upset tummy. And never add water directly to dry food and let that sit out for hours.

Human feeds a commerical brand of raw pet food smile It's what's easiest for her to feed at the moment. Homemade raw is more ideal but does take a bit of time to make.

Edited by author Mon Jul 8, '13 4:44am PST



Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
Purred: Mon Jul 8, '13 4:42am PST 
It's a myth that kibble cleans teeth. It's like your dentist telling you to eat potato chips for good dental health. The best things for cleaning teeth are raw bones. Come on over to the raw forum in you need any help or info!


Psycho kitty
Purred: Tue Jul 9, '13 2:17pm PST 
All I want to say is, ask Merlin. Now, there are so many people that now about food and nutrition, but Merlin helped me the most on my post, so he is one of those people you should go to. Good Luck!!!!!!! big grin


Butt-kicker of- all other cats
Purred: Wed Jul 10, '13 5:37am PST 
I swear, if I hear about one more vet telling people that dry food is better for the teeth, I think I will scream. My vet says if this were the case, then why do all the cats that he sees every day that eat only dry food have the worst teeth! It is a myth that dry food is better for the teeth, all food leaves behind food particles and only brushing and regular dental care will get rid of the food. And there are so many other GOOD reasons why wet food is better, hello, water? Cats need water, they are so prone to kidney and urinary issues and they don't drink enough water and get virtually no water in dry food, and wet food is 78% water. Any vet that tells you to only feed your cat dry food is not going to see me ever back in their office.

Most of us that feel this strongly about diet do so because we have had cats suffer from urinary or kidney problems from eating a dry food diet, and we have learned the hard way. And all you have to do is read this forum or other cat forums and see the people that go there to ask questions about what to do about UTI's, crystals and kidney failure. And MOST of the time, they all have that thing in common, their cats eat dry food. Some cats will be fine eating dry food and never have a problem, and some cats will develop problems no matter what they are eating, but it does not take much to see that most of the problems come from a poor diet. Just like people. If you have a good, healthy diet, you are less likely to develop other problems down the road.

You should read www.catinfo.org it is good information. My vet steers everyone to this website. My male cat had urinary problems that he developed as a he turned 1, he was on all dry food, and I switched him to wet food, and it has been over 5 years and he has had no more problems.


The Most- Beautiful Girl- In The World
Purred: Wed Jul 10, '13 10:39am PST 
I have to say that the dry food cleaning teeth cannot be true in my girls case. Cali has nice teeth and was on all kibble until 2 months ago. However, she was a super fast eater, she DID NOT chew her food, she would inhale it. If she happened to puke after, even several hours later, the kibble that came back up was still perfectly formed round balls.
I try to give her a CET dental treat several times a week, she will not let me brush her teeth. She has the jaws of a crocodile

Edited by author Wed Jul 10, '13 11:18am PST