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Welcome crazy cat people!
One thing we humans have in common with our feline friends is our love for food. As new cat owners or just general cat enthusiasts, we often have several questions regarding cat behaviour and feeding such as ”How often do cats eat in the wild” or What do cats eat in the wild”?
This article will answer these questions as well as other questions you may have around wild cats and domestic cats diets!
In general, wild cats tend to eat 16 small meals over a 24 hour period. Cats tend to hunt more around dawn and dusk when their prey tends to be most active but will eat at various times throughout the day depending on hunger levels. Some research shows that feral cats will hunt and eat up to 9 mice a day.
Wow, and you thought you were a big eater with a huge appetite!
The thing with cats is that they are very adaptable animals and when you own a house cat they will eat whenever you feed them although I can’t stress enough how much they crave and love routine, so stick to a feeding schedule for a happy cat household!
That reminds me while we’re on the subject of food!
If you are interested in finding out the best type of food for an indoor cat, how to adjust their diet and to find out whats other said about their cat’s diet then please read my blog post, the complete guide to food for indoor cats!
The rest of this post contains some frequently asked questions so keep reading to find out more…
What do cats eat in the wild?
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need protein in their diet as their main fuel source. Cats are natural hunters and enjoy a diet of small rodents, birds, insects and even reptilians. Cats tend to consume the whole body of their prey to gain the most nutrients including organs and even feathers.
So as you can see cats lead a fairly healthy lifestyle with a wide variety of food.
Cats are amongst one of the best species on the planet for hunting their prey. Their whole body is made for the hunt, cats have an amazing sense of smell and sight as well as their natural skills and instincts. Their teeth are sharp so they can bite into their prey and their claws are also very strong and sharp!
A feline is literally a hunting machine!
Cats need to have a balanced diet, being obligate carnivores means getting all their nutrients from meat and its by-products. Cats require high levels of protein, moderate amounts of fat and low levels of carbohydrates!
Rabbit when available is one of the biggest parts of a cats diet and according to this study it’s not mice!
Meat contains many nutrients and one vital nutrient contained in meat is Taurine which is so important for a cats diet for growth, reproduction, eyesight and heart health! The majority of taurine is found in the muscle of the meat!
B-vitamins and minerals are mainly found in the organs of the prey which the cat will also eat!
Cats in the wild however will eat whatever is available to meet their dietary requirements, cats who live near lakes and rivers will even catch and eat fish. Fish contains so many nutritious benefits for cats due to its amino acid content and its Omega 3 fatty acid profile!
Cats in the wild also eat grass and certain plants however they tend to eat grass when they have eaten bad meat to assist in bringing up the rotten food.
Grass eating in cats also helps to clear hairballs which can cause a big irritation when they get clogged up within a cats throat and stomach. Overall grass helps to maintain a healthy digestive system with less constipation.
So we know what they eat but you may be wondering how much do cats eat daily when in the wild?
”One study looked at how feral cats get their food. It showed that a “typical” feral cat will kill and eat approximately nine mice throughout the day, with a number of unsuccessful hunts scattered in as well. Another paper revealed that feral cats got 52% of their calories from protein and 46% from fat, which only leaves 2% available to come from carbohydrates – according to PetMD
Wow! 9 mice, this truly made me realise how active cats are in the wild and how important it is to make sure our indoor cats are kept active too.
On that note! If you share your life with an indoor cat and want to know 13 really fun ways to keep your indoor Kitty entertained then you have to read my blog post!
Do wild cats play with their prey?
Cats do appear to play with their prey. One reason they do this is to tire out their prey to prevent injury to themselves. Small animals may defend themselves and give the cat a nasty bite, so cats will tire out their prey before delivering a neck bite which will sever the spinal cord of the rodent.
Those people out there who say they dislike cats will often use many reasons to explain their dislike.
One statement we hear all the time is that ”Cats are cruel, they play with their food because there killers”
Well personally I disagree with that statement, as humans we have all our needs met, most of us don’t have to go out on the hunt for our food unless of course, we live in areas of the world that are poor or if we live in a tribe for example.
The average American can go to the local store and buy their meat pre-packaged, the killing of the animal, the preparation has all been done for them!
Imagine if the world was a different place and we were not as lucky and we had to get our own food, of course, we would hunt that food because its survival of the fittest, we all must eat!
We would also find ways to protect ourselves and as I stated above cat’s play with their prey to tire them out to make sure they don’t get hurt when they kill them!
So yes cats are hunters but it is part of their instincts and the only way they know how to survive in the wild, so sometimes we must just let nature take its course.
Do cats eat insects?
In general, cats prefer larger prey over insects but may eat insects to satisfy their curiosity and their need to hunt. Insects can be eaten in large amounts by cats and even though their protein levels are low they can often provide essential nutrients not found in commercial cat foods.
Ewwww…… The thought of eating insects is enough to turn anyone’s stomach but a cats stomach is strong and their need to hunt is even stronger.
Insects don’t last very long in my home at all. My two cats will eat anything that moves in their territory including wasps and bees!
I did try to stop them from chomping down on them because I don’t want them to get stung but no matter how many times they get stung they will still attack any flying stingers that dare enter their home! If I see them attacking a wasp I generally intervene but often in the summer wasps will get inside my home even when I am out.
Who needs fly spray when you have cats!
So don’t stop your cats from eating insects (unless it’s a wasp or some of the other poisonous ones), allow nature to take its course!
Let them soak up the minerals, amino acids and vitamins that they can get from these little creatures.
If you have indoor cats like me then they need to express their natural need to hunt, stalk and chase so what better way to do this than with a crunchy little spider!
Just make sure you are not actually buying live insects and letting your cats eat roaches as this can cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten in large amounts – see this post by the spruce pets to find out which insects are poisonous!
According to spruce pets – ”
‘‘Hard-bodied insects like roaches, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers are typically non-toxic to cats. However, ingesting their exoskeletons can cause oral irritation and gastrointestinal upset. Roaches may carry parasites that can affect cats”
Can cats eat eggs?
The good old egg! Humans love eggs whether they are scrambled, fried or boiled but does your cat share the same love of eggs as most humans do and can a cat eat eggs?
Cats can eat eggs to supplement their protein-rich diet, cats can be fed 1tblsp of egg white to increase protein in their diet. Please make sure not to feed them raw as they can harbour salmonella and contain a protein called avidin which can bind to essential vitamins preventing absorption.
So eggs are an all-around great protein source for your cat to eat but they do also contain a lot of fat to which should of course be monitored in your cat’s diet. Diets too high in fats can cause pancreas issues and also gastrointestinal stress.
According to this article by pet keen – ”Cats only need 20-24% fat in their diet – You may also wish to click the link to view their article which goes into more depth about fat in a cats diet and which healthy fats to choose.
So there we have it your Kitty does enjoy the odd bit of egg, that’s if they can get over the smell of them cooking.
My cat was feeling a little poorly one day and I was making boiled eggs to mix into a salad and he actually threw up when he walked in the kitchen and smelled them cooking!
So to summarise when it comes to eggs we must use common sense to avoid any side effects from eating them, make sure they are cooked and make sure your cats don’t eat too much!
Do cats eat vegetables in the wild?
Cats in the wild do not eat vegetables. They are obligate carnivores who cannot digest vegetable matter or take any sort of nutrition from plant foods in fact cats produce their own vitamin C. They may occasionally eat grass to aid with digestive issues but would not last long on a vegetarian diet.
So there is no need to feed your cat vegetables, they are not really gaining any benefit from vegetables or fruit for that matter.
They would much prefer a delicious bit of salmon or chicken if you want to give them a little treat and at least that way you know that the food they are eating will provide them with the vital nutrients that they require to live a healthy life!
In fact, analysis of wild cat diet shows that non-animal tissue makes up barely 2% of their diet – according to thehappycatsite.com
This non-animal tissue more than likely comes from the stomach of the prey that they are eating regularly rather than the eating of vegetables themselves.
I hope this guide has helped you understand a little more about when wild cats eat, what wild cats eat and some of the foods cats love and some that they don’t actually need in their diet to survive!
Who would have ever thought how much our furry friends like insects! Ewwww…. each to their own like, who are we to judge!
What surprised me the most was finding out just how often cats eat in the wild, up to 16 small meals a day with 9 mice! They certainly do have a big appetite.
The one key takeaway from this is to make sure your cat gets plenty of protein and NEVER EVER place your cat on a vegetarian diet!
Your food choices are your food choices but your cat is most definitely a proud meat-eater!
As always take care of yourself and your feline friends.
Much love, Mark (The Crazy Cat Man)