The U.S. is no doubt a pet-loving nation, with 68% of households owning one. Dogs still lead the pack (60.2 million households own one), but cats are catching up, with 47.1 families owning one.
With those numbers, it’s no wonder the nation’s households spent $72.56 billion on their pets last year. This year, experts say we’ll spend even more on them — close to three billion dollars more.
Now, with a huge part of those pet expenditures — over 40% — going towards food alone, it would be weird to see a hungry kitten!
The thing is, cats can be pickier eaters than dogs (more on why below), so it takes a lot more to please their taste buds.
So, what exactly should you do then to ensure your kitty doesn’t go hungry? Keep your eyes glued to this page as that’s exactly what we’ll share in this post!
The Lowdown on Why Cats can be Finicky Eaters
If cats don’t like their food — they can sense if they won’t get proper nutrition from it — they’ll snub it. Even if that means they’ll go hungry to the point their stomachs growl like, well, like a lion.
But what exactly makes them dislike the bowl of chow you put in front of them?
Cats, by their very nature, are carnivores, which is part of the reason they throw up after munching grass.
A bigger reason, according to scientists, may have to do with their more potent bitter taste buds. Researchers found that some feline bitter receptors have increased sensitivity to bitterness.
Another study found that these enhanced bitter receptors allow cats to detect toxins. They seem to be the same receptors that give cats the ability to avoid food poisoning.
In short, it’s their bitterness sensitivity that can make them appear to be finicky eaters. They’re better at detecting bitter compounds than humans and dogs. So even if something tastes bland for your dogs, it may already be very bitter for Floofy.
What to Feed (and Not to Feed) a Hungry Kitten
For the longest time (thanks to cartoons), fish is the first thing that pops into our mind when it comes to cat food. It turns out, it’s at the very bottom of the list of healthy cat food ingredients. For one, because fish may contain a lot of toxins and chemicals.
So, ditch the fish and go for a mix of cooked meat, including beef, chicken, and turkey. But be sure to go for organic ingredients, whether you’ll opt for homemade or pre-made cat food.
You should also add vegetables, like carrots and squash, to your cat’s diet. Never feed your feline pal garlic, chives, onions, grapes, or raisins. These contain harmful substances that can lead to serious cat emergencies.
Some cheese, yogurt, and cooked eggs are also great for supplementing protein intake. Note that most adult cats are lactose-intolerant though, so it pays to test your cat for this first. Try feeding Fluffy a small amount of these foods first, and check for signs like vomiting or diarrhea.
Milk is a different story, as modern commercial milk now contains too little fat. Cats may still like its creamy taste, but they may find it harder to digest.
Know What to Look for in Pet Food Labels
Avoid cat foods that only say “this product contains meat” without even naming what type of meat it is. Instead, look for specifics, like “contains real cooked chicken” (or turkey, lamb, or beef).
Choose a cat food that also names a specific source of fat, like “chicken fat” or “turkey fat”. Higher-end foods may also use sunflower oil or olive oil.
You should also stick to a brand known for its stellar pet food traceability standards. This way, you can rest assure that they have excellent manufacturing and QA processes. Here’s a page where you can learn more about tracing where pet foods and treats come from.
Be Careful with Meal Proportion
How much to feed a cat depends on its age, size, and level of activity. On average though, felines should get at least 200 calories a day. It’s best to get guidance from the vet for a more accurate calculation of how much calories your cat should get.
Watch what and how much you’re feeding your cat because overfeeding leads to obesity. Obesity in cats is an epidemic, with 60% of felines having an unhealthy, even dangerous weight. Cats that are overweight are more prone to heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems.
This is even more important for aging cats, as they often have reduced activity levels. Their metabolism also slows as they age, which raises their risks of obesity. So, be specific when buying cat food for senior cats.
… Even in Underweight Cats
But what if you have an underweight cat, should you dole out more food? The best thing to do is to bring your pet to the veterinarian as weight loss is one of the main signs of cat ailments.
In the meantime, you can give your cat an extra serving of the normal amount you usually feed it. Also, consider switching to high-calorie cat food for weight gain. But be sure these foods contain both higher protein and fat levels.
Also, note that high-calorie cat food for senior cats uses an age-specific formula. They contain carbohydrates that are easier for senior cats to digest, as well as lower levels of fat. In short, it’s not a good idea to feed grandma cat the same high-calorie cat food you feed younger mama cat.
As for senior and kitten vitamins, your cats may not need them anymore, if they’re on high-quality pet food. The best cat foods already contain the essentials, like Vitamins C and E and Taurine.
But some cats, especially older ones, may need specific supplements for arthritis protection. In this case, ask your veterinarian about supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. If your cat is shedding its mane, it may need more omega fatty acids.
The important thing is to seek the vet’s advice first before you add supplements to your cat’s diet.
Don’t Let Your Kitten or Grandma Cat Go Hungry Again
So long as you follow these tips, you’ll worry less about having a hungry kitten (or older feline) at home. More than that, you can ensure your cattos feed on nutritious, balanced meals. This can then help them make the most out of their nine lives.
Also, make sure you keep your kitty’s dental health in check! For that, you can use and follow this ultimate guide on feline oral healthcare.