What Do Cats Eat?

Written by Dana Mayor
Updated: October 19, 2022
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Key Facts

  • Whether wild or domestic, cats need to eat meat to survive. A vegetarian lifestyle simply wouldn’t do.
  • That said, it is possible to provide your pets with variety in the form of fish, eggs, cheese, or even fruit which is safe for them to snack on.
  • Wild cats mainly feed on rodents, and may themselves be hunted by birds of prey or wild canines.

What do cats eat? As obligate carnivores, cats require the nutrients in animal products to remain healthy. Unlike dogs, who can eat a vegetarian diet, cats need a high protein diet with moderate fats and very low levels of carbohydrates. They also require amino and fatty acids they cannot make on their own and which are only available in animal products.

What Do Pet Cats Eat?

If you are wondering what do pet cats eat, commercial cat food is the most frequently chosen option for pet owners. There are many benefits to commercial food; it is readily available, nutritionally balanced, and most cats find it palatable.

Commercial cat food is available in dry and wet formulations. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Many pet owners find that feeding a combination of both wet and dry works best for their situation.

For a cat with no weight concerns, free choice dry food with a serving of wet food once or twice a day may work best. For a cat who tends to put on weight easily, offering dry food free choice is not an option, but measured portions of both wet and dry allow your cat to benefit from the variety while maintaining his weight.

What Do Cats Eat
Cats eat birds, rodents, cat foods, and rodents.

Benefits of dry cat food:

  • More affordable than wet food
  • Convenient to feed
  • Readily available

Benefits of wet cat food:

  • Adds variety to the diet
  • Improves hydration, which is very important for your cat’s overall health
  • Higher protein levels support muscle development

Human Foods Cats Can Eat

The best diet for your cat is one designed specifically for his life stage. As long as he is generally healthy, however, he can have some added treats in the form of human foods. Your domestic pet doesn’t have to struggle to find meals, but the downside of this is that the routine diet can lead to boredom. Healthy human foods, such as cheese, meat, and fish, can add variety to the meal plan.

Other foods that many cats enjoy and are perfectly safe may surprise you. Not all cats like all foods, but experiment with some of these choices, you may find a new favorite snack for your kitty.

Here are some safe human foods for your domestic pet:

  • Melon
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Cooked eggs
  • Oatmeal

What Do Wild Cats Eat

It makes sense for a pet cat to eat commercialized food, but you may be wondering what do wild cats eat? You probably have noticed your own cat attempt this lifestyle (or pretend to!) whenever they go outside and hunt in the yard. As a carnivore, a cat in the wild spends much of its time hunting. Small rodents, such as mice and moles, make up the majority of their diet. Birds, lizards, and rabbits are also potential prey. Depending on the environment and how easy it is to find food, the cat in the wild will also eat insects and carrion.

How Cats Hunt Prey

When hunting for food, cats get very still, waiting for the prey to get close enough to pounce.


You may have some idea of how a cat in the wild hunts by watching your domestic pet play. There are two main ways a cat hunts its prey. It may sit very still, waiting for the prey to get close enough to pounce, or it may stalk its prey before pouncing. The sit and wait method of hunting requires less energy but more patience.

What Do Cats Eat as Pets Vs In the Wild

As carnivores, both domestic and wild cats require a high-protein diet. The domestic cat gets this nutrient through wet food, dry food, or a combination of each. A cat surviving in the wild meets its nutritional requirements by hunting prey and scavenging.

What Eats Cats?

We’re used to thinking of cats as hunters, stalking that innocent pigeon, groundhog, or mouse. And yet there is no shortage of predators waiting to help themselves to felines of both the domestic and untamed variety. These include birds of prey such as eagles and owls. Coyotes which can be found all over the United States are also partial to cats as are cougars and foxes. Wolves will also help themselves to a quick proteinous feline meal although such incidences are rather rare.

Up Next…

Keep reading these posts for more incredible information about key animal facts.

  • What Do Otters Eat?: Are they strictly carnivorous? Or are they partial to a few vegetables at the dinner table? Read all about their preferences in this article.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I love good books and the occasional cartoon. I am also endlessly intrigued with the beauty of nature and find hummingbirds, puppies, and marine wildlife to be the most magical creatures of all.

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