We have sort of "adopted" a cat that visits us once or twice a day. I wouldn't mind keeping her but she is a free spirit and I think confinement would be a torture for her now.
Her behavior is quite aristocratic: For example one of her visits is in the late aftrenoon. She suns on the porch, then waits by the door and wants to come in as soon as she sees us. She likes to lie on various carpets, sit in a few of her favorite spots, be petted, watch TV for a while (she really likes TV!), have some food and then she definitely wants to leave and move on! She quietly sits by the door once again, this time to be let out. She likes to spend about 2 hours with us.

She never misbehaves, never pees inside. She never begs for food, never jumps at food even if she is very hungry and seems to prefer to eat alone when no one is watching. (Typically, when I place the food, she checks it out, has a bite or two at most, but then gets busy with other life. She prefers to eat later when we are at the other end of the house. Any explanation?)
We know nothing about cat foods. So far I have bought a dry bag and occasional cans from Target, Walgreens etc. A little bit of web surfing tells me such foods are likely to be "unhealthy junk foods", with meat by-produts, grains etc dominating. I have a few basic question for the experts:
1. Is dry food better or wet food, or some kind of rotation?
2. We can't afford to go too premium but also don't want to feed herjunk food that's bad for her. Are there any "best value" brands to look for? What kind of stores are best?
3. If she doesn't finish the food, can the left-overs remain in thebowl to be eaten later, or should they be discarded?
4. In case of canned food, if we don't use the entire can, can theunused portion be refrigerated and used next day? Should it be given cold, or microwaved?
5. Do cats like to eat at a definite spot, from a fixed bowl, etc?

As you can see, we know nothing. All pointers would be greatly appreciated.
1. Is dry food better or wet food, or some kind of rotation?

Wet food is alwaysbetter than dry food. Cats are carnivores, there is no reason to feed them corn or rice. Read the ingredients list and judge for yourself. Emotion: smile
2. We can't afford to go too premium but also don't want to feed her junk food that's bad for her. Are there any "best value" brands to look for? What kind of stores are best?

You will find the lowest prices at the big chain stores (Petsmart, Petco). From the brands sold there, the best is Nutro. Look for stuff without by-products and with meats at the top of the ingredients list. If a grain is one of the top 3 ingredients, don't buy it.
3. If she doesn't finish the food, can the left-overs remain in the bowl to be eaten later, or should they be discarded?

Canned food will go bad eventually, it depends on the weather. Emotion: smile I feed my crew canned food twice a day, if there are any leftovers by the time of the next feeding, I toss them.
4. In case of canned food, if we don't use the entire can, can the unused portion be refrigerated and used next day? Should it be given cold, or microwaved?

Most cats prefer their food at room or body temperature, but some will eat it cold. If she won't eat it cold, try warming it a bit by taking it out a couple of hours before feeding. I would avoid the microwave, since it produces very uneven results (some parts of the food will be too hot, some cold).
5. Do cats like to eat at a definite spot, from a fixed bowl, etc?

Yes, cats are routine loving critters and most prefer to eat on the same spot every day. Avoid plastic dishes, metal and ceramic are best. Instead of buying overpriced cat bowls, buy regular people dessert plates at Target, they're cheaper.
As you can see, we know nothing. All pointers would be greatly appreciated.

It's great that you've decided to adopt a cat. They are wonderful companions. Please do keep coming with questions and comments, we're here to help.

Victor M. Martinez
Owned and operated by the Fantastic Seven (TM)
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Victor has said it all. Good advice!
S.
5. Do cats like to eat at a definite spot, from a fixed bowl, etc?

Yes, cats are routine loving critters and most prefer to eat on the same spot every day. Avoid plastic dishes, metal and ceramic are best. Instead of buying overpriced cat bowls, buy regular people dessert plates at Target, they're cheaper.

I bought a glass dish wide enough to accomodate a cat's whiskers at Dollar store for $1. I think glass should be OK too, right?
Winnie
Thank you for your detailed advice. I went to Petsmart and bought an assortment of Nutro, IAMS, and Science Diet cans to give them a try.

(I am glad that thanks to all the good advice I received I avoided what I would have been most likely to buy otherwise: 24-can packs of Whiskas or Friskies!)
I spent a lot of time reading labels. Must say I was concerned that even premium food had by-products and corn/rice listed among ingredients, like cheaper brands. Maybe it ia a matter of percentage?

Another customer who was there said she buys premium food but likes to economize by mixing dry food with wet. Does this seem like a good idea to people here ? (She uses 1 Tbsp wet with 1/2 cup dry.)

Thanks again for all the help.
A.
> 1. Is dry food better or wet food, or some kind of rotation? Wet food is alwaysbetter than dry food. Cats are carnivores, there is no reason to feed them corn or rice. Read the ingredients list and judge for yourself. Emotion: smile
> 2. We can't afford to go too premium but also don't want to feed her > junk food that's bad for her. Are there any "best value" brands to look > for? What kind of stores are best?
You will find the lowest prices at the big chain stores (Petsmart, Petco). From the brands sold there, the best is Nutro. Look for stuff without by-products and with meats at the top of the ingredients list. If a grain is one of the top 3 ingredients, don't buy it. > 3. If she doesn't finish the food, can the left-overs remain in the > bowl to be eaten later, or should they be discarded? Canned food will go bad eventually, it depends on the weather. Emotion: smile I feed my crew canned food twice a day, if there are any leftovers by the time of the next feeding, I toss them.
> 4. In case of canned food, if we don't use the entire can, can the > unused portion be refrigerated and used next day? Should it be given > cold, or microwaved?
Most cats prefer their food at room or body temperature, but some will eat it cold. If she won't eat it cold, try warming it a bit by taking it out a couple of hours before feeding. I would avoid the microwave, since it produces very uneven results (some parts of the food will be too hot, some cold).
> 5. Do cats like to eat at a definite spot, from a fixed bowl, etc? Yes, cats are routine loving critters and most prefer to eat on the same spot every day. Avoid plastic dishes, metal and ceramic are best. Instead of buying overpriced cat bowls, buy regular people dessert plates at Target, they're cheaper.
> As you can see, we know nothing. All pointers would be greatly > appreciated.
It's great that you've decided to adopt a cat. They are wonderful companions. Please do keep coming with questions and comments, we're here to help.
I spent a lot of time reading labels. Must say I was concerned that even premium food had by-products and corn/rice listed among ingredients, like cheaper brands. Maybe it ia a matter of percentage?

Yes. Some people aren't concerned about by-products and some people say not all by-products are created equal. If I could get my cats to eat only Innova and Felidae, I'd be happy. But they seem to like by-products for some reason. The Nutro line does not have by-products, so I try to feed them as much as possible about them. I also avoid corn, since it's a known allergen for cats.
Another customer who was there said she buys premium food but likes to economize by mixing dry food with wet. Does this seem like a good idea to people here ? (She uses 1 Tbsp wet with 1/2 cup dry.)

I give them dry food to snack on between meals. Some of our cats prefer dry food, but I try to make them eat canned food (it's good for you, eat it!) as much as possible.

Victor M. Martinez
Owned and operated by the Fantastic Seven (TM)
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We have sort of "adopted" a cat that visits us once or twice a day. I wouldn't mind keeping her but she is a free spirit and I think confinement would be a torture for her now.

Canned Friskie's. Get her spayed.
-L.