How to feed your cat on a budget

01 Jun 2023

For over 160 years, Battersea has weathered many storms to be here for every dog and cat, as well as the community of animal owners and rescue lovers we're proud to represent. The cost of living crisis is no different. We know that as pet owners, you want to give your beloved animals the best, even when money is tight. When deciding on a diet for your cat, whatever your budget, our guide will help you make the best choice.

Cat eating out of a cat bowl on the floor in a hallway while a person kneels nearby

What to look out for when choosing a cat food

  • Most good quality cat food from a supermarket or pet shop should have a balanced nutritional mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water and vitamins/minerals.
  • To make sure your cat is getting what they need, try to look for named proteins as the main ingredient. For example, check the ingredients label to make sure that a protein like chicken, fish or turkey are the main ingredient, rather than meat filler, ‘by-products’, or meat meals.
  • Look for ingredients such as fish oils and flax seed as these contain Omega 3 and Omega 6, essential fatty acids which are vital to a healthy cat diet.
  • Taurine is an amino acid that is also key to your cat’s diet as they can’t produce it themselves. A lack of taurine can affect a cat’s ability to grow, and in extreme cases, can lead to them developing medical issues. The minimum taurine requirement for adult cats is 25mg/100kcal of dry food and 50mg/100kcal for canned foods.

Some of the cheapest cat foods may lack key components of a balanced diet. In some cases, this may lead to unpleasant faeces, a less healthy coat, and poor growth and development. In other cases, lacking key nutrients can lead to more serious medical issues such as bone abnormalities, poor vision and heart conditions. If you start to notice any issues, it is best to contact a vet to check that your cat is getting all the nutrients they need.

Get your free pet care guide

Our free guide is packed with expert advice and answers to all your questions on toxic foods, body language, training, and brain games for your pet. We’ve even included recipes for making pet-safe homemade treats and toys.

Are homemade alternatives an option?

Whilst homemade cat food can be complete and balanced, the variety of ingredients needed to make a fully balanced meal often means the cost is higher than the cost of ready-made food. If you’re looking for ways to save money, making your own cat treats can be a cost-effective option. Check out some of our DIY cat treats. You can also look into purchasing cat food from a wholesaler or consider using a pet food subscription service, as they tend to offer a discounted price.

How to change your cat's food

If you’re considering changing your cat’s food, it’s worth noting that they can be quite specific about their routines, including what food they eat. We recommend making any changes in food slowly over time, and not making too many changes to their routine at once. Start by feeding your cat a very small amount of the new food, slowly swapping part of their old food for the new food over the course of a week before changing over completely. It’s not uncommon for cats to have tummy issues or vomiting if their diet changes too quickly. If you do notice any issues, stop the changes and consult your vet.

To find out more about what Battersea are doing to support pet owners during the cost of living crisis, and for further advice, visit our Cost of Living Support Hub.