Feeding Free-Roaming Cats

Most cats love to roam outside. In addition to safety when outdoors, cat owners should also pay attention to a few things when feeding outdoor cats. Read here what they are.

The optimal diet is different for every cat. Which food is best for a cat depends on many factors. In addition to age, race, and state of health, this also includes activity level and lifestyle. An indoor cat, therefore, needs a different diet than an outdoor cat.

The Right Food for Outdoor Cats

The main difference between outdoor cats and indoor cats is the energy requirement and consumption. Outdoor cats tend to be significantly more active than indoor cats and burn far more calories roaming around the neighborhood.

In addition, a free-roaming cat is exposed to more pathogens than an indoor cat, it is also outdoors when it is wet and cold and therefore needs a strong immune system and good defenses.

When feeding outdoor cats, it is therefore particularly important to pay attention to high-quality, protein-rich cat food with a high meat content and many healthy nutrients. Cat food with a higher energy density is also recommended. For example, the cat food MjamMjam Monoprotein from Pets Premium* provides your cat with a lot of protein. So your outdoor cat is well cared for.

Of course, a free roamer is not the same as a free roamer: There are cats that spend the whole day in fields and meadows and those that hardly ever leave their own property line.

What is the Difference Between “Outdoor” Cat Food and Regular Food?

There is also outdoor cat food specifically for outdoor cats on the market. This food often differs from “normal” cat food in that it has a higher energy density. These types of food often also contain additives that support the cat’s joints, teeth, intestinal flora, immune system, and/or urinary tract or are intended to ensure a shiny coat.

For example, there is Green Petfood FairCat* cat food, especially for outdoor cats. It provides your cat with plenty of vitamins C and E and ensures a healthy metabolism.

Just because it says “outdoor” on the packaging doesn’t mean that the food is really suitable for your cat. You should always pay attention to the ingredients and the composition of the food. A high, high-quality meat content, for example, is particularly important. Cat food that is not declared as “outdoor” food can also be suitable for outdoor cats.

How Often Should An Outdoor Cat Be Fed?

Cats don’t just eat one big meal a day, they eat lots of small ones. Therefore, feed your outdoor cat several times a day, about three times. Kittens need more meals throughout the day.

In the case of outdoor cats, it is particularly advisable to establish more or less fixed feeding times. The cat will adjust to these times and then come to your home to eat on its own. In this way, you can prevent your cat from going to the neighbors to eat.

How Much Food Does an Outdoor Cat Need?

Determining the right amount of food for an outdoor cat is not that easy. After all, it consumes more energy outdoors and the feeding recommendation on the food packaging may therefore not be suitable for the free-roaming cat.

In addition, as the owner of an outdoor cat, you can never be sure whether the cat has eaten hunted animals, e.g. mice or birds, or whether the neighbors are feeding it from time to time. So how do you determine the right amount of food for the outdoor cat?

  • The feeding recommendation on the packaging of the cat food gives the first clue. The feeding recommendations for outdoor cat food are usually already designed for more active cats since the food is made especially for them. “Normal” cat food, on the other hand, is usually designed for the “average”, which is why a very active cat may need more food than the feeding recommendation says.
  • A general formula for calculating the required daily food ratio for cats can be found here.
  • The best way to find out exactly how much food your cat needs with its individual activity level is to simply try it out: Observe whether the cat can handle the amount you give it or whether it is gaining or losing weight. If this is the case, adjust the amount of food.
  • If you are unsure, you can always ask a veterinarian for advice.

If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors in winter, when it is wet and cold, it makes sense to increase the amount of daily food slightly, as the cat then needs even more energy.

Cat Eats at the Neighbors or Goes Hunting

As a cat owner of a free-roaming cat, you can never be sure whether the cat isn’t also eating prey or being fed by the neighbors. Of course, you can never completely rule it out, but you can take precautions.

The Cat Hunts and Eats Prey

If you feed your cat enough high-quality food containing meat, you can at least prevent your cat from hunting mice and birds as much as possible – simply because then it won’t need the extra food. Of course, this can never be ruled out, because cats are naturally passionate hunters. Extensive, daily playing with the cat also helps. If she puts her energy into playing with you, she may hunt less.

The Cat Gets Food From the Neighbor

Neighbors often feed strange cats without thinking too much about it. If you do not want this, politely inform your neighbors or the people in your cat’s “territory”. This is particularly important when the cat needs special food, for example, because it has diabetes or another illness.

On the other hand, you should not feed strange cats if they look healthy and well-fed. The cat then probably belongs to someone who takes good care of it and feeds it adequately. It’s different when the cat is neglected and emaciated. Then you should also take them to a veterinarian.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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