When domestic cats eat the food we give them they are scavenging

Here’s an interesting thought for those of us involved in the world of domestic cats. The prey of a domestic cat is by definition a nutritionally balanced diet. It is usually the mouse. Unlike some other animals, cats are not mainly scavengers; they are hunters. They’re naturally inclined to hunt for their food.

The eating of the food that their human caretaker or guardian provides is the equivalent of scavenging for cats as it is not hunted and killed. Therefore from the cat’s perspective it is not automatically balanced. Cats don’t scavenge at random. They can make informed choices. They probably have the capacity to deliberately vary their diets.

“When eating food that they have not killed themselves, they also deliberately seek out a varied diet, thereby avoiding a build up of anything that might make them sick long term…”

When scavenging, cats will ensure that they vary their diet as it is more likely to result in a balanced diet. This is a form of “‘primitive nutritional wisdom'”

Could it be the case therefore that when cats are being picky about their food it is not simply an example of taste preferences but of a desire to vary their diet. I believe this is what happens and it should encourage us to do our best to provided a varied diet and certainly not a diet which is the same dry cat food all the time.

The quotes and idea comes from Dr John Bradshaw in his excellent book Cat Sense.

P.S. Dr Bradshaw ran a test to prove that cats like to vary their diet when scavenging. He laid out two types of dry cat food on a grid in equal percentages. The cat ate the different foods in equal amounts. He then varied the foods so that there was 90% of one type and 10% of the other. The cat actively sought out the scarcer food to ensure his diet was more balanced.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

2 thoughts on “When domestic cats eat the food we give them they are scavenging”

    1. I thought it was interesting too but I came to this conclusion that domestic cats are technically scavenging the food we provide which I though was interesting too.

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