What do tigers eat?
Like all cats, tigers are obligate carnivores. They only eat meat. Their size alone put tigers at the top of the food chain in their territories. They have no natural predators and only became endangered when humans started hunting them as trophies. While they were hunted just for food prey, sufficient numbers remained in the wild to reproduce.
Despite being the apex predator in their areas, tigers are rarely picky when it comes to what animals to kill and eat. Cats hunt with their eyes more than their noses, so fast-moving animals are often the main victims. Tigers will hunt deer, leopards, wild boars, zebras, horses, and even bears! If they cannot find a large animal to eat, they will settle for smaller prey, like rodents, frogs or monkeys – anything, as long as its meat. Their night vision is estimated to be 10 times better than a human’s so the time of day for hunting is not as important as available prey. Our domestic cats share this visual trait, after all, they are also carnivores sharing 95.6% of their DNA with tigers, regardless of whether they are tabby cats (like tigers) or any other colour or pattern or coat length.
Typically, tigers only eat once every other day, feasting on a kill and then sleeping until they become hungry again. Observations suggest they make one big kill about once a week, so eat about 50 – 52 large animals a year. When we feed our cats on-demand, without them having to hunt for them, we can disrupt the balance between energy in and energy out leading to our pets putting on weight. Something to try and avoid!