What Do Cats Like to Eat?

Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
By Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
Updated: 6/3/20242-4 minutes
Cat is eating

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they’re meat eaters. They also like variety, so they may not be satisfied with eating the same dry kibble day after day.  

Fortunately, there are numerous options ranging from wet cat food to dry kibble to complements and toppers, so your cat can experience new flavors and textures.  

What Do Cats & Kittens Like to Eat?

Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats. In the first few weeks of their lives, kittens are solely fed their mothers’ milk. They are gradually introduced to moistened solid food before transitioning to a complete and balanced kitten food

Like adult cats, kittens are adventurous eaters and will enjoy trying new things, so you can feed wet or dry food, or a combination of the two.  

Whether you’re feeding a cat or a kitten, “Cats need animal-based protein as part of their main diet,” explains Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS. Some protein-rich foods cats like to eat include:  

  • A variety of fish, such as salmon, trout, tuna and whitefish 
  • Poultry like chicken, turkey and pheasant 
  • Beef 

In the wild, cats eat a variety of small prey, so mixing up the protein sources in your cat’s food can tap into their instincts and satisfy their cravings.   

What Can Cats Eat? 

Cats can eat a wide range of different foods, but they rely heavily on protein as an energy source. As a result, cat food is typically higher in protein but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t include other foods—or that they don’t need them.  

The non-protein ingredients included in cat foods are tasty and easily digested to support various aspects of their health. These may include:  

  • Rice 
  • Wheat flour 
  • Dried chicory root 
  • Oatmeal 

What Food Do Cats Like Besides Cat Food?

Although we recommend sticking to a complete and balanced cat food and occasional treats, cats can eat some human foods. These include:  

Although some cats may like berries and melon as a treat, it’s not because they’re sweet. Cats don’t have receptors on their tongues to taste sweetness. Instead, foods like these have a bitter flavor, like amino acids in protein, which cats find tasty.  

As with regular cat treats, these foods should not exceed more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily caloric intake.  

Can Cats Drink Milk?

Unless your cat was raised on milk and has continued drinking it into adulthood, they shouldn’t drink milk—even as a treat. Without adequate lactase enzymes, milk can cause digestive upset.  

What Do Cats Love to Eat? 

Cats love interesting flavors and textures. They’re naturally adventurous eaters, which can mean they may try to eat things they shouldn’t. Raw or undercooked meat, fish and eggs are tempting to cats, but they pose a risk of foodborne illnesses or parasites and should be avoided.  

Keep meat and fish with bones out of reach. The bones can cause serious injury to a cat’s mouth, throat or intestines.  

What if a Cat Is a Picky Eater?

You may think your cat is a picky eater. In reality, they may be bored. You can satisfy your cat’s desire for variety by introducing new flavors and textures of food often.  

Figuring Out What Foods Your Cat Loves

There are a lot of options when it comes to feeding your cat. You can choose from dry or wet cat food—or a mix of the two—and you can add broths, creamy toppers and more to spice things up.  

We can help you find the right food based on your cat’s unique nutritional needs and preferences.  

Our Pet Expertise page has more tips on cat nutrition and feeding from our experts.  

Related articles

A little kitten napping on a person’s lap
When a kitten is not eating, it can be worrying for you as their owner. Learn from Purina cat experts why kittens lose appetite and tips for encouraging kittens to eat.
Close-up of a small blue-eyed kitten with a concerned look
A striped cat leans out of a basket
Pet Food Finder App on smart phone with ingredients surrounding it

Find Your Pet’s Perfect Food

Get your personalized recommendation with our Pet Food Finder tool.