What do cats eat and drink to stay healthy?


Cats are carnivores, so what do cats eat and drink to stay healthy? They must eat animal protein to get the nutrients they require. Some cats like variety, others are happy to eat the same thing every day. As long as they are getting the required protein, either option is acceptable.

So what should I feed my cat? Fresh meat, fish, or seafood will work as long as it does not have preservatives. If you have a freezer, you can make up cat-sized portions in advance.

What do cats eat and drink? Chaucer eating a Christmas hat! What should cats eat?
Chaucer, forced to eat a Christmas hat!

What do cats eat and drink? What’s the best diet for your cat?

Human food suitable for your cat

  • Canned fish (in spring water) is an excellent treat to have on hand.
  • Meat, unless it has been processed. Don’t forget bacon is processed.
  • Cooked eggs are considered nutritional powerhouses. Beware, raw eggs can make kitty sick.
  • Small amounts of cheese. Think of it as a treat.
  • Yogurt, as long as it is unsweetened.
  • Small amounts of bananas. Make sure you don’t go overboard as there is a lot of natural sugar in bananas.
  • Many fruits, once again, in small quantities.
  • Most vegetables (see list below for no go veggies).

Meat is your cats’ source of protein, so it cannot be left out of their diet. When you consider what should cats eat, remember to watch for added sugars, spices, and salt. All are bad (and can even be toxic) for cats.

If you decide you want to make homemade food for your cat (good on you, we are impressed), it is not as easy as just feeding kitty meat. A balanced diet requires protein and the right fats, minerals, vitamins, and water. Please do your homework if you choose to make homemade cat food.

Nomadic lifestyle options

What do cats eat and drink when on the road? High-quality tinned wet food and treats are going to be your best option as mainstays. Both are easy to store, and treats are necessary for training. This is important when you travel as you never know where you will be able to stock up. Some cats consider running out of their favorite food to be an emergency. We are pretty sure roadside assistance services will not agree.

If travel with your kitty is your thing, check our blog on How to travel with your cat: 8 tips.

Why wet food?

Tinned wet food has a high moisture content. This is very important for cats who are not good drinkers. It is actually more common than you think to have a cat that isn’t big on drinking. Some, like ours, will not drink still water in a dish. This can be tough when you are on the road, especially in hot climates.

Read our article for more information on managing heat stress in cats.

Drinking is essential

No, not for you, we are still on water for your cat. The importance of hydration is especially true when you live in a small space that resembles a tin can in the heat. What to do?

Although your cat is getting hydration from their tinned food, it is better if you can also entice them to drink real water.

Moving water is something that many cats will drink, but if you can’t find a river every day, then perhaps you will want to try a water fountain.

Sound silly?

We thought so, but we purchased one anyway as we didn’t want to look like we weren’t trying to keep kitty as healthy as possible. Go figure. She lapped the water right up. Some pretty cool water fountains work with a USB.

Going Mobile

Since we discussing water, don’t forget that your cat will also need some water in a mobile container when you are out hiking or, in our case, out for coffee. We will share with you that our cat refuses to drink out of her mobile water bowl except for this one time she did. It all boils down to our excellent parenting that we were prepared for that one thirsty day and will continue to be ready for (that potential) next time.

Treats

When we ask “what should cats eat?”, don’t forget the treats. Treats are more important than ever on the road. Think bribes, recall, training. Package treats are best if you don’t have a picky cat.

Our adventure cat considers prawns to be the only treat worthy of her palate. We are lucky to have a freezer in our bus, so we buy freshly cooked prawns, cut them into tiny pieces, freeze them on a platter (so they don’t stick together), and then transfer them into little baggies. This is the treat we use when training and recall.

We do recommend you find good quality packaged treats that your cat is willing to give its life for. If you can find that, you are on to a winner. Check out healthy treats such as Feline Greenies Dental Treats.

Cats are creatures of habit. They like to eat the same thing, at the same time, in the same spot every day. Sound familiar? Therefore, once you know what your cat’s favorite food is, best to stick with it.

A word of caution

What do cats eat and drink to stay healthy that is part of our diet? We talked about human foods that are safe to feed your cat in a pinch or as a treat. It is just as important to consider unsafe foods and drinks that we humans use. Odds are your cat may turn its nose up to many of these foods anyway, but that is not always the case.

Consider the beautiful tabby, Calso. He would fight you for a beer. If he saw one unattended, he would knock it over and lap up the goods. Yes, Calso did have a few drunken experiences in his time, but he did live to a ripe old age. That said, alcohol is not suitable for cats and can be quite toxic.

Some foods are not for cats

The following list is not exhaustive…

  • Alcohol
  • Tinned fish packed in oil
  • Raisins/sultanas
  • Grapes
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Coffee
  • Bread dough
  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Fruit stones
  • Fruit seeds
  • Corncobs
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms

This is not a complete list. If you are considering feeding your cat an unusual food item, check first to make sure it is not toxic.

Picky eaters

What do cats eat and drink if they are fussy? Neko is a picky eater. What if we can’t get her brands? Vets have assured us that a cat will adapt to new food when hungry. Put the food out. If they don’t eat it, put it in the fridge and bring it back out when the next meal is due. They say within a couple of days, your cat will have adapted. We would suggest this is not the thing to do when your cat is stressed. This, if you think it necessary, choose a time when the world is otherwise in balance for your kitty.

Caution

If your cat goes off their food or stops drinking water (assuming they normally do drink water), talk to a vet right away. Kitty may be ill.

Let’s talk dogs

When you consider what should cats eat, don’t think of your dog’s diet. If you own a dog as well, it must be stated that dog food is not suitable for cats or vice versa. A cat’s system does not tolerate carbs the way a dog’s system does. This can be an issue when in a contained environment like your home on wheels. One potential solution is to keep the cat’s food high as kitty is likely to eat several times a day. Feed your dog in a separate area (maybe outside) if possible.

Final Thoughts on what should cats eat and drink

Everyone’s lives are different, as are their cats. What should cats eat? The goal of this article is to get you thinking about making decisions around what do cats eat and drink. This is especially important if you plan to travel with your kitty. While this article is not exhaustive, hopefully, it gives you food (pun intended) for thought so you can make an informed decision on how best to feed kitty a nutritional diet during travel, therefore making life on the road easier for both of you.

Read our article on life on the road with your kitty.

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