Common Feeding Mistakes Made By Pet Owners

Start as you mean to go

If you don’t want your cat to scrounge food from your plate then don’t ever give him tidbits. It may seem cute to occasionally indulge him in this way, but it encourages begging. So, if you don’t want your cat to learn that it is acceptable to expect food from your plate, don’t do it. This also applies to letting cats jump up onto benches or the dining table. This is potentially dangerous, and if the cat learns that it is acceptable to jump up and take food, it may eventually eat something which is either poisonous to it (many human foods are poisonous to cats) or injures itself on a cooked bone.

Don’t overfeed

Obesity has become a huge problem in cats over the past 20 years. Several life-threatening diseases go hand in hand with obesity. It is easy to show how much we love our cats with food, but this can’t be allowed to happen. Obesity has an impact on our cat’s quality of life as well as lifespan and I am sure none of us wants to harm our cats in any way.

Feeding human food to your cat

The occasional table scrap is fine if only given very occasionally, and always put the food into the cat’s bowl. Also bear in mind that if you feed human food regularly, it may make your cat picky and less likely to want to eat his own food.

Feeding food past its use-by date

Cats are not waste disposal systems. If the food is out of date, or has spoiled and isn’t fit for human consumption, then it is not acceptable to expect your cat to eat it. Cats can become sick with food poisoning just like humans can. If in any doubt whatsoever, don’t give it to your cat.

Don’t feed dog food

Cats have different nutritional requirements to dogs and feeding them dog food will result in a taurine deficiency. Dogs eat dog food and cats eat cat food.

Too much of one type

This mainly refers to people feeding a homemade diet. Unless you are well versed in feline nutrition then it is best to feed commercial cat food to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. 

Liver and tuna are both problematic for cats. Tuna can cause steatitis (yellow fat disease) if given too often and liver can cause vitamin A toxicosis (cod liver oil can also cause vitamin A toxicosis and therefore should be avoided). So, while it is fine to feed tuna and liver, make sure you do so in moderation.

Avoid large quantities of raw fish

Raw fish contains the enzyme thiaminase which destroys thiamine (Vitamin B1), resulting in thiamine deficiency. Cooking destroys thiaminase, thus protecting thiamine.

Putting your cat on a diet without veterinary supervision

Dieting in cats, especially obese cats should be done under the supervision of your veterinarian. Weight loss needs to be done very slowly to prevent your cat from getting Feline Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease).

Feeding foods that are toxic to cats

Many pet owners assume that because a type of food is safe for human consumption it must be safe for our cats to eat. This isn’t the case, and some foods are unsafe and toxic to cats. Chocolate, for example, contains a substance called theobromine which is extremely toxic to cats, grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin causing kidney damage. Onions cause a type of anaemia.

Feeding a vegetarian diet

Cats are obligate carnivores, they must eat meat to survive. If you are against eating meat for moral or ethical reasons then that is a choice you can make. As humans, we can get along just fine without consuming meat. Cats cannot, so please don’t try to make your cat eat a vegetarian diet.

Too many snacks

It’s tempting to share food with our favourite feline companions but it is not a good idea to make a habit of offering them snacks as this can lead to obesity. Also, if you are offering them a bite or two of your turkey sandwich this may decrease their appetite when it comes to mealtime, making them eat less of their nutritionally balanced cat food.

Avoid plastic bowls

The use of plastic food bowls has been linked to feline acne, a common skin disorder that presents as blackheads and inflammation on the chin of affected cats.

Plastic scratches easily, which provides a harbour for bacteria to hide.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio