We often tend to believe that domestic cats like big cats (lions, tigers ...) tend to eat large meals irregularly. However, a domestic cat must consume around 12 mice...

We often tend to believe that domestic cats like big cats (lions, tigers ...) tend to eat large meals irregularly. However, a domestic cat must consume around 12 mice and therefore have 12 meals to meet its daily food needs. When cats are given self-service commercial food, they tend to eat 10 to 20 meals evenly distributed between day and night. Meals are slightly larger each time the food is changed. When the distribution of food is limited in time, cats adapt quickly and eat larger meals.

A cat will stop eating to kill a rat. Its predatory behavior therefore takes precedence over its eating behavior.

Generally, cats like a variety of tastes. However, under stress, they tend to refuse novelty. This must be taken into account each time a cat is placed under stress (for example the arrival of a new cat, boarding or a change of accommodation). A sudden change in diet can nevertheless be stressful and must be gradual.

Cats prefer to eat in a quiet and clean place. The bowl should be kept away from the litter box. If the animals are not housed individually in a farm, it is preferable to distribute the food in several bowls in order to avoid conflicts of hierarchy.

The palatability factors in cats are protein "digests", meat extracts, amino acids and animal fats. These are the natural flavors used as a coating on kibble or mixed in boxes to encourage the appetite of cats. Unlike dogs, cats are not sensitive to sweet taste.

The smell of food is very important to cats and they spend a lot of time smelling their food before eating it. The congestion of the nasal cavities during colds can explain a clear decrease in consumption. The texture (hardness, crunchiness ...) of the food is also important for cats. Unlike dogs, cats will tend to chew their food rather than swallow it up. Cats are indifferent to the color of their food.

The food intake by kittens will be influenced by their mother by mimicry. It is during weaning that the kitten will develop its preferences for certain tastes, smells and texture. It is therefore important to expose the kittens as soon as they are weaned to the types of food that they want to ingest in the future.

Refusal of food

If the cat refuses the food the problem can be:

1 the cat itself: difficult cat, illness, stress (new house, arrival of another cat ...)

2 the environment: too noisy, too hot, too dirty, bad smells

3 food: oxidized food (rancid), mold, as well as texture, variety, taste to which the cat is not accustomed.

The use of household food is always possible, following a rigorous approach.

What foods to choose for each cat?

As we saw above, all cats need diets rich in good quality protein, preferably animal proteins and all other nutrients (fats, minerals, vitamins, oligo- elements) in balanced proportion. The main difference will be in terms of energy intake and therefore fat, knowing that the more energy dense a food the more it will be concentrated in nutrients. The use of "high-nutrition" foods guarantees optimal assimilation of nutrients and the quality of raw materials.

Service animals

For cats with good maintenance, it is recommended to offer a dry "high-nutrition" food moderate in energy and therefore in fat (12-14% fat), this in order to avoid excessive consumption of calories and obesity. For maintenance cats which tend to be overweight, and especially castrated cats, it is recommended to offer a dry food "high-nutrition" reduced in fat (around 10% fat) and enriched in fibers to satisfy the appetite of the animal while minimizing the consumption of calories.

For lean, difficult or sensitive cats in the digestive tract, it is recommended to offer a dry "high-nutrition" food richer in fat (± 20 - 25% fat). This food is also ideal for preparing for exhibitions thanks to a greater richness in essential fatty acids and the use of other vegetable oils such as borage. For an optimal effect on the coat, the food should be distributed 3 to 4 weeks before exposure. It is important to properly adapt the rations of this food to the body condition of the animal to avoid the risks of obesity.

For all maintenance cats, it is recommended to offer a food that promotes acidic urine and contains moderate concentrations of magnesium to minimize the risk of urinary calculus with struvite (see feline urological syndrome at end of this chapter).

Household ration for a 3 kg adult cat, uncastrated, moderately active.

- 70 g of 5% fat red meat or white meat or lean fish (cod, whiting)

- 30 g of green vegetables (green beans, carrots)

- 70 g of very cooked white rice

- 1 tsp. 1/2 teaspoon soybean oil

- 3 g. or a teaspoon. of an A.M.V (A.M.V. = vitamin mineral food)

Ca / p = 2 containing 15.5% Ca

This ration must be mixed, so as to avoid sorting.

Reproductive cat

Breeding cats have very high energy and nutrient needs, especially during lactation. It is therefore recommended to distribute foods rich in fat (at least 20% fat and 4,200 kcal / kg) and in nutrients from the start of gestation. Studies have shown that these foods improve the prolificacy of females, lead to beefier kittens at birth and lower neonatal mortality. The nutrient requirements of pregnant and lactating cats are similar to those recommended for growth. Foods formulated for growth are therefore ideal for pregnant and lactating cats.

Household rationing of the pregnant / lactating cat

Until the 5th week of gestation, feeding the cat remains the same as feeding an adult cat during maintenance. Appetite may be slightly increased.

At the end of gestation, the nutritional requirements of the cat increase (up to 100 kcalEM / kg of body weight), while its appetite is more and more reduced due to the space occupied by the uterus, which compresses the abdomen and therefore the stomach.

It must then receive a food dense in energy, in order to have to consume quantitatively less, rich in proteins (prodito-caloric ratio> 80 g proteins / McalEM) and in essential fatty acids, and balanced in minerals and vitamins.

An industrial food brings simplicity of distribution and security of the contributions. However, for fans of household food, or for cats who do not accept any other type of food, it is possible to distribute a balanced ration, provided you ensure that it is consumed in full, without sorting.

Example of a ration for a 4 kg cat, at the end of gestation, per day, to be divided into 3 meals.

150 g of meat at 15% fat, or fatty fish (salmon)

50 g of green vegetables (green beans, carrots)

50 g of very cooked white rice

1 tsp. soybean oil

4 g or one teaspoon. of an A.M.V. *

with a Ca / P = 2 ration, containing 15.5% Ca

In lactation, the nutritional requirements of the cat are even higher, in particular the energy requirements, so high that the animal cannot consume enough, at least at the beginning of lactation, and will therefore lose weight, using the reserves formed during gestation. Household food is nevertheless possible, again, on condition that the ration is balanced. The ration must be well mixed, or even mixed, so that the cat, even if it does not ingest all of it, ingests a balanced food.

Example of ration for a 3 kg cat, lactating, per day, to be divided into at least 3 meals.

1 cooked white egg

300 g of meat at 15% fat, or fatty fish (salmon)

40 g of green vegetables (green beans, carrots)

40 g of very cooked white rice

2 tbsp. of an A.M.V. * with a Ca / P = 2 ration, containing 15.5% Ca


The feeding of kittens from birth to weaning is dealt with in detail in the section devoted to breeding. A "high nutrition" dry food, specially formulated for growth, which contains at least 20% fat and provides all the nutrients they need, is recommended during the first year of life to guarantee harmonious development. The size of the kibbles and their ability to rehydrate are also important to facilitate food intake by kittens.

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