What Do Outdoor Cats Eat?

Have you ever wondered what your adventurous outdoor cat munches on while they’re out exploring the neighborhood? Maybe you’ve considered taking in a stray cat and are curious about their dietary needs. As someone who’s well-versed in feline nutrition, I can tell you that outdoor cats have a vastly different diet compared to their indoor counterparts.

Outdoor cats get to enjoy the benefits of hunting prey animals such as birds, rodents, and insects. These creatures provide essential nutrients that keep cats healthy and happy. However, it’s crucial to understand that not all prey animals are created equal when it comes to nutritional value.

Apart from hunting, outdoor cats may also scavenge for food in garbage bins or be fed by kind neighbors. While this may seem like a treat for your furry friend, it’s important to monitor what they eat to ensure they maintain a balanced diet.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the world of outdoor cat nutrition. We’ll explore the various types of prey animals and their nutritional value, as well as the potential risks associated with scavenging and eating human food. Join me on this exciting journey as we discover more about what goes into an outdoor cat’s belly.

a. Definition of Outdoor Cats

Outdoor cats, also known as feral cats, are domesticated cats that have been left to fend for themselves in the wild. Unlike indoor cats that are provided with food and shelter, outdoor cats hunt and scavenge for their sustenance.

These natural-born hunters primarily consume small mammals like mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels. However, they are also opportunistic hunters that will eat anything they can catch, including birds, reptiles, insects, and fish. Their diet varies depending on their environment and the availability of food sources.

Outdoor cats are resourceful creatures that may scavenge for food in garbage cans or beg for scraps from humans. Some even consume grass or other vegetation to aid in digestion or eliminate hairballs. However, it’s important to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure their health and well-being.

As responsible pet owners, we can provide our outdoor cats with high-quality commercial cat food specifically formulated for their unique nutritional needs. Alternatively, we can offer them raw or cooked meat such as chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before making any dietary changes.

While outdoor cats enjoy a diverse diet, they also face many health risks related to their eating habits. For instance, they may consume poisonous substances like pesticides or chemicals found in trash. They may also contract diseases from infected prey or contaminated water sources.

What Do Outdoor Cats Typically Eat?

Their meals primarily consist of prey they catch such as rodents, birds, insects, and reptiles. Being natural carnivores, outdoor cats require a protein-rich diet to maintain their health and sustain their wild instincts.

While outdoor cats may also scavenge for food in trash cans or steal from other animals, it’s important to note that not all human foods are safe for them. Feeding your outdoor cat processed foods or table scraps can lead to health issues such as obesity and digestive problems.

To ensure your outdoor cat receives the proper nutrition, consider supplementing their diet with high-quality commercial cat food. It’s important to choose cat food specifically formulated for outdoor cats that meets their nutritional requirements. Consulting with a veterinarian can also help you determine the appropriate amount and frequency of feeding.

Small Prey

While domestic cats that roam outdoors may hunt small prey, it’s important to note that they shouldn’t solely depend on it for their nutrition.

Small prey such as mice and rats are rich sources of protein and other essential nutrients that cats need to stay healthy. However, for older cats or those with health issues, a well-balanced diet is crucial to maintain their vitality. In addition to rodents and birds, outdoor cats may also munch on insects such as grasshoppers and beetles which provide additional protein and fiber.

But hunting for small prey can pose risks such as exposure to diseases, parasites, and toxins. To keep your outdoor cat healthy and happy, it’s recommended to keep them up to date on their vaccinations and deworming treatments.

As a responsible owner of an outdoor cat, it’s important to ensure they have access to fresh water and a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. Commercial cat food or homemade meals can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals that hunting may not offer.

Human Food and Garbage

Human food and garbage are no exception. However, as a cat expert, it is important to remind pet owners that feeding cats with human food or garbage is not recommended. This is because it can lead to health problems such as obesity, gastrointestinal issues, and nutrient deficiencies.

Outdoor cats may scavenge for popular human foods such as meat scraps, dairy products, and carbohydrates like bread and pasta. Although these foods may be tempting for felines, they do not provide a well-balanced diet and can cause weight gain and digestive problems.

Garbage is another source of food for outdoor cats as they rummage through trash cans searching for scraps of meat, fish, or other items. Nevertheless, eating garbage can result in health problems such as bacterial infections and parasites that can make your cat sick.

As a responsible cat owner, you must ensure that your cat gets a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. You can achieve this by combining commercial cat food with occasional treats in moderation.

What Should Outdoor Cat Owners Feed Their Pets?

Unlike indoor cats, outdoor cats have different nutritional needs due to their active lifestyle. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide them with a balanced diet that meets their unique requirements.

One of the best options for feeding outdoor cats is high-quality commercial cat food. When shopping for cat food, opt for brands that contain real meat as the first ingredient and free from fillers and artificial preservatives. Wet food can also be a great option as it provides hydration alongside essential nutrients.

For cat owners willing to put in extra effort, providing a raw or homemade diet can also be an excellent option for outdoor cats. Raw diets consist of raw meat, bones, and organs, while homemade diets may include cooked meat, vegetables, and grains. Although these diets require more research and preparation, your cat will thrive on this type of diet.

Aside from a balanced diet, it’s equally important to ensure that your outdoor cat has access to clean water at all times. During hot weather, multiple water sources should be made available around your property to avoid dehydration.

While outdoor cats may hunt and eat small prey like mice or birds, it’s important to monitor their hunting activities. Over-hunting or consuming prey that may carry diseases can lead to health problems for your cat.

High-Quality Commercial Cat Food

Not only does it provide all the essential nutrients they need to maintain a healthy diet, but it can also prevent potential health problems down the road.

When selecting a high-quality commercial cat food, it’s important to read the label carefully and ensure that it meets your cat’s nutritional requirements. High protein content is essential for maintaining muscle mass and energy levels, so look for foods with significant amounts of protein listed in the ingredients. Avoid fillers such as corn or wheat, as they provide no nutritional value and can cause digestive issues.

Age and activity level are two important factors to consider when choosing a commercial cat food. Kittens and senior cats have different nutritional needs than adult cats, so choose a food that is appropriate for their age group. Outdoor cats require more calories than indoor cats due to their increased activity level, so select a food that is high in calories to keep them healthy and energetic.

By providing your outdoor cat with a balanced diet of high-quality commercial cat food, you can ensure they are getting all the essential nutrients they need. This will help them maintain their adventurous lifestyle without experiencing any health issues caused by over-hunting or consuming contaminated prey.

Raw or Cooked Meat

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While both options have their benefits, the answer ultimately depends on what is best for your furry companion.

Raw meat has gained popularity among cat owners due to the belief that it mimics a cat’s natural diet in the wild. However, it’s important to note that raw meat can also pose health risks for both cats and humans due to bacteria contamination. This risk can be reduced by sourcing the highest-quality meat from a reputable supplier and ensuring that it’s handled and stored properly.

Cooked meat, on the other hand, is a safer option as cooking can eliminate harmful bacteria and parasites. Additionally, it can provide essential nutrients like protein and amino acids that are necessary for your cat’s overall health and well-being.

Before deciding whether to feed your outdoor cat raw or cooked meat, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian. Your vet can advise on the best type of meat to feed your cat based on their age, activity level, and any dietary requirements they may have. They can also ensure that your cat’s nutritional needs are being met properly.

Potential Risks of Feeding Raw Meat to Outdoor Cats

Although this might seem like a natural and healthy choice, there are various factors to consider before making any significant dietary changes for your furry companions.

One of the biggest concerns with feeding raw meat is the risk of bacterial contamination. Raw meat can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause serious illnesses in cats. Furthermore, humans who come into contact with their feces or saliva can also contract these bacteria. Therefore, it’s crucial to handle raw meat properly and obtain high-quality meat to minimize the risk of contamination.

Another risk associated with feeding raw meat is the potential for nutritional imbalances. A diet consisting solely of raw meat may not provide all the essential nutrients that cats require to thrive. This can lead to deficiencies and health problems over time. Therefore, it’s critical to provide a balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients for your cat’s wellbeing.

Feeding raw meat can also result in dental issues for cats. Raw bones are prone to splintering and can cause damage to a cat’s teeth, gums, and throat, leading to painful dental problems that require veterinary intervention. It’s advisable to avoid feeding your cat raw bones and instead choose alternative dental treats that are safer for their oral health.

Moreover, feeding raw meat to outdoor cats can attract wildlife such as coyotes and raccoons. This puts both your cats and other animals at risk of injury or disease transmission. Thus, it’s essential to supervise your cat during outdoor feeding times and protect them from potential predators.

Benefits of Providing a Balanced and Nutritious Diet for Outdoor Cats

And when it comes to outdoor cats, providing them with a balanced and nutritious diet is critical for their overall health and well-being.

Outdoor cats are exposed to numerous environmental factors that can put their health at risk, such as parasites, diseases, and predators. By feeding them a diet that is rich in essential nutrients and vitamins, you can help strengthen their immune system and reduce their chances of getting sick.

So, what exactly does a balanced and nutritious diet entail? Well, for starters, it should include high-quality protein sources. Protein is crucial for cats as it helps build and repair muscles. Additionally, essential fatty acids are vital as they help maintain the health of their skin and coat. And let’s not forget about vitamins and minerals – they play a crucial role in overall health maintenance.

Providing your outdoor cat with a balanced diet can also help prevent obesity – a common issue among cats who live outdoors and have access to an unlimited food supply. By offering them a balanced diet, you can regulate their calorie intake and prevent them from overeating.

In addition to preventing obesity, a balanced diet can also help prevent other health problems such as diabetes, urinary tract infections, and dental issues. A diet that contains high-quality protein sources can help prevent urinary tract infections by promoting bladder health. Proper dental care can be maintained by feeding your cat crunchy kibbles or offering them dental chews.

Overall, providing your outdoor cat with a balanced and nutritious diet is fundamental for their health and well-being. It can help strengthen their immune system, prevent obesity and other health problems, and promote longevity. As a responsible cat owner, prioritizing their nutritional needs is crucial to ensure they live a healthy and happy life.

Tips for Selecting the Right Commercial Cat Food for Outdoor Cats

If you’re struggling to choose the best cat food for your furry friend, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Here are five key factors to consider when selecting the right commercial cat food for outdoor cats.

Choose High-Quality Cat Food

When selecting commercial cat food for outdoor cats, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality product that is specifically formulated for their energy needs. These types of cat foods contain higher levels of protein and fat to support their active lifestyle and provide essential vitamins and minerals to promote overall health.

Read the Ingredients List Carefully

Reading the ingredients list is crucial when selecting commercial cat food for your outdoor cat. Look for a cat food that lists meat as the first ingredient instead of fillers like grains or by-products. Outdoor cats require a diet that is high in protein, and choosing a cat food with meat as the primary ingredient will ensure they receive all necessary nutrients.

Consider Wet vs. Dry Cat Food

Wet and dry cat food both have their advantages, but it’s essential to consider what works best for your outdoor cat’s specific needs. Dry kibble is convenient and easy to store, but wet food may be a better option for outdoor cats who need extra hydration in hot weather conditions.

Consider Your Cat’s Individual Needs

Outdoor cats come in all shapes and sizes, with different nutritional requirements depending on age, activity level, and health condition. If your cat is older or has health issues, you may need to choose a specialized cat food that addresses these needs. Similarly, if your cat is particularly active or spends a lot of time outdoors, you may need to choose a higher calorie or energy-dense cat food to meet their needs.

Consult with Your Veterinarian

Before selecting commercial cat food for your outdoor cat, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. They can provide guidance on specific dietary needs based on your cat’s individual health conditions and activity levels.


In conclusion, the diet of outdoor cats is vastly different from that of their indoor counterparts. These feline explorers rely on small prey like rodents, birds, insects, and reptiles to satisfy their hunger pangs. But don’t be surprised if your kitty comes home with a snack from a neighbor’s garbage bin – they’re resourceful creatures.

As much as we love spoiling our furry friends, it’s crucial to keep an eye on what they eat. A balanced diet is essential for maintaining good health and avoiding potential risks. Providing your outdoor cat with high-quality commercial cat food formulated for their unique nutritional needs is a great way to ensure they get the nutrients they need.

If you prefer to give your cat raw or cooked meat, make sure it’s chicken, turkey, beef or fish. And always consult with a veterinarian before making any dietary changes.

Feeding your outdoor cat a nutritious diet can have many benefits – it can strengthen their immune system, prevent obesity and other health problems, and even extend their lifespan. When choosing commercial cat food for your furry friend, opt for high-quality products designed specifically for outdoor cats’ energy needs.

Remember to read the ingredients list carefully and consider your cat’s individual needs before making any decisions.