Last updated: December 23, 2016
Cats are fussy creatures. Mine would happily live on a diet of fish, birds, rats, mice, lizards and great big spiders, but he’s an indoor/outdoor cat and a mighty hunter. We know that when the supper is untouched he’s been dining al fresco on raw protein.
Indoor cats can’t indulge in this wanton behavior, though, and don’t get the chance to chase helpless little creatures through the garden, exercising themselves and burning off surplus calories in the process. I threatened to keep my indoor/outdoor cat in the house but he disappeared like a puff of smoke! He doesn’t want to find out what is the best food for indoor cats!
The conditions in which a pet cat lives differ markedly from those of their wild and feral cousins. Out in the mean streets of a big city, feral cats have companionship and a social hierarchy, but their living conditions are perilous. If a cat is injured and can’t hunt it will starve to death, so you can see that being a pet cat is a pretty cushy number!
A lot of people prefer their cats to be permanently indoors, and many animal welfare organizations recommend it, so if you’ve made the choice to keep your cat indoors you have to bear in mind a few things: an indoor cat is less active, and he needs more stimulation to compensate for this. What is the best food for indoor cats depends on how fat you want your cat to be! Less activity can also mean the danger of obesity and diabetes, and consequently a shorter life.
Downsides of the Insides
It’s important to feed your cat the right food, not just to regulate his weight, but because living indoors has its own hazards.
If you use an air conditioner in your house, you may dry out the air and therefore the cat’s skin and fur, and he will be so embarrassed to be a tatty catty!
An indoor cat spends a lot more time grooming itself, sometimes because it simply has nothing else to do. In fact, it can spend approximately three to four hours licking itself and forming irritating hairballs which can’t always be taken care of by the digestive system. This may lead to a blockage in the stomach which can result in a visit to the vet and even surgery, so it’s important to keep the cat busy so that boredom doesn’t set in. A regular and dependable playtime routine can help here.
Wet, Wet, Wet!
You won’t believe this, but your bog-standard domestic moggy evolved from the dry desert areas of North Africa – yes, really! Anyway, this means that they are not designed to drink a lot since they get most of their water from their food. Even so, they do need to drink, so what is the best food for indoor cats contains lots of water, which ideally is 70-75% water. Dry cat food contains much less than this, and this means that even if your cat drinks its water bowl dry every day, it will never really get enough water to stay properly hydrated, so make sure that you give him some wet food every day.
Symptoms of Dehydration
A few of the symptoms of dehydration are, listlessness, a dry mouth, not eating, a faster heartbeat, sunken eyes and a general air of sadness. They may also pant a lot and be constipated because the body conserves water by taking it out of the feces. There is often a loss of elasticity and you can check this by pulling up some skin at the back of the neck (the bit that Mommy uses to carry her kitties around) if it goes back quickly your cat is fine. If not, it’s vet-wards you go! The slower the retraction the more the dehydration.
The best way to feed an indoor cat is to give him three or four measured portions of food spread out through the day. If you have a busy work schedule and this isn’t possible, measure out carefully what the cat needs for the day and leave it. Don’t be tempted to fill it up all the time when those pleading little eyes and small soft voice ask you to. Remember that they can be little psychopaths when they want to be! Oh, and don’t fall for the old trick where they eat a one-inch hole in their food and tell you the bowl’s empty!
Keeping Up Standards
Don’t bother about the blurb on the tin or packet. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and manufacturers will do anything to sell their products. Ask your vet what he or she recommends, and make sure that it meets the requirements of your national animal welfare associations. The best food for the cat is the one he will eat, so ask his opinion first! If he approves and it doesn’t upset his tummy, that’s fine. BUT – and it’s a biggie! If he doesn’t like it try something else. Cats can protest by going on hunger strike and this can actually kill them over time. If you’re trying another one, introduce it slowly to avoid the risk of him spitting it out – you know what they’re like! It also lessens the chance of upsetting Fluffy, Rex or Leo’s tender tummy! This helpful infographic can support you take decisions!
A Word About Litter
Litter boxes are not designed to smell. You pay quite a high price for keeping your home fresh and clean, so if your moggy’s litter box is more than a little whiffy (and not in a good way!) it can be the sign of a badly balanced diet. If this happens check with your vet.
Occasionally you may want to treat moggy to a bit of fresh air. You can try putting them on a leash or harness. This takes a bit of training but it can be done. Good luck! Then there’s a carrier, which you can tie around your shoulders and waist like a backpack. Your cat is enclosed and safe, but can still enjoy sights and sounds. These are also great for carrying invalids. Then there’s something for the cat with EVERYTHING! Try a cat stroller, which is exactly like a baby one but made for cats. I want one!
So feed him little and often with lots of water! And remember, no matter how much good chow he gets, he still needs big portions of love!