The Top 7 Things You Should Know About Your Cat and Eating

Mr. Kittens hunting face

1. How a cat eats is as important as what a cat eats.
2. A cat’s stomach is about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. It is designed to hold no more than 1-2 tablespoons of food at one time – an amount equivalent to the edible contents of their typical prey. This is why when your cat eats a big portion of food at one time, they can vomit it right back up. Their stomach was not designed to hold that much at once.
3. Cats hunt both day and night.  Some animals are active only in the day (Diurnal,) like most humans, while others are active only in the night time hours (Nocturnal,) like raccoons.  This is why many cats wake their owners up at night.
4. Cats hunt somewhere between 9-20 times a day.  Not every attempt is successful.  The average cat requires approximately 250kcal/day. The average mouse is 35kcal.  So, a cat needs to eat 7-8 mice a day to maintain its bodyweight.
5. Cats have a natural cycle of their day, called The Seeking Cycle.  Cats will hunt and if they are successful they catch their prey.  But, they don’t eat right away.  Cats play with their prey before they eat.  When they are ready cats will eat their prey and then groom and finally, they take a satiated nap.  When hunger stimulates them, they head out on another hunt.  It is very unnatural, and not consistent with a cat’s nature to eat one or two large meals a day.  Worse yet, endless access to food in the absence of hunting is making our cats very unhealthy.
6. Hunting is a born instinct for all cats.  However, the technique for hunting is taught to the kittens by the mother.
7. Nearly 60% of cats in America are obese.
Cat’s physical and mental health is based on hunting in this natural cycle.  They are metabolically designed to eat many small meals throughout the day and night.  Yet, we are ignoring all of these factors in the way we proved nutrition to our cats.  So many of the most common health and wellness problems that I see as a veterinarian are a result of how we feed our cats.
Now we can do better.