The common perception is that cats self-regulate their intake so will keep themselves in good condition. However, anyone who has owned a cat knows this isn’t always true!
Sometimes, our furry friends need a little help managing their diet and controlling how much they eat.
But how much is too much? How often should you feed your cat and how much should you give them?
As a cat’s diet can have a huge impact on their wellness, it’s an important topic to discuss.
How often should you feed a cat or kitten?
How often you feed your cat depends entirely on your schedule and/or your cat’s preferences.
The cat’s age can also factor into this as kittens and younger cats may need to eat more often than older cats.
You have 3 main options:
- Free feeding
- Set mealtimes
- Combination feeding
Free feeding is where your cat always has food accessible and can graze as and when they like.
Many cats like this as they are in control of when they eat. Plus, cats have small stomachs and often prefer eating little and often to avoid putting strain on themselves.
Free feeding does have its downsides though, if you provide your cat with a large portion of food to graze on all day they won't necessarily regulate themselves in a healthy way, this can often cause them to get sick or gain weight. That’s why we would suggest feeding your pet little and often scheduled meals.
Set mealtimes can work better for some cats and their humans. If you can maintain the same schedule day in day out, this can work well.
Your cat(s) will learn to anticipate dinnertime and won’t be afraid to remind you when it’s time.
Set mealtimes work well if your cat prefers wet food to dry because the wet food can be provided right away at its freshest.
However, if you have an automatic feeder with an ice pack from Closer Pets, the food stays fresh throughout the day, meaning you can schedule meals in advance to suit yours and your pet’s needs - without worrying about wet food tarnishing.
This can also work well if you need to work late or are away, and helps to maintain your pets feeding schedule even when you’re not there.
Combination feeding combines free feeding with mealtimes. You might leave some cat crunchies out in a bowl for grazing while providing a set mealtime for wet food.
There is no ‘best’ feeding method. Only the method that works best for you and your cat.
Try them all and see which your cat prefers. They won’t be afraid to let you know their preference!
Feeding kittens is slightly different.
They are expending lots of calories growing and developing and will be perpetually hungry. As their stomachs will be tiny, it’s best to feed them little and often.
We would suggest trying combination feeding first as this can allow them to graze when hungry and supervised meals to ensure they are eating everything they need.
It will be trial and error to see which method suits both you and your furry friend.
How much to feed your cat
How much you feed your cat or kitten will be influenced by their age, level of activity and their current weight.
For example, a kitten can eat far more often than an older cat because their activity level will be higher and they will burn calories simply by growing.
An older cat that prefers to sit in the sunshine and relax will need fewer calories and should eat less.
If your cat is a hunter and is stalking the garden or outside for much of the day, they will come home hungrier than one who hides in the bushes and goes to sleep all day.
If you’re free feeding, you’ll need to monitor their weight carefully. If you see them gaining weight, reduce the amount of crunchies you put out for them.
If you’re feeding at mealtimes, try one pouch of kitten or cat food per meal. This should be enough for most breeds of cat and they will soon tell you if they are still hungry.
Combination feeding will require both approaches. Provide a fixed amount of dry food and a pouch at mealtimes.
If your cat begins gaining weight or is sick, reduce to half a pouch at mealtimes, reduce the dry food and make sure your cat isn’t raiding other cat’s bowls.
The MiBowl® Automatic Microchip Pet Feeder from Closer Pets only allows access to paired cats via their implanted microchip or a Closer Pets Electronic I.D. Disc, which comes included as standard, to protect food from greedy siblings. It’s an award-winning concept that helps control portion sizes and provides the perfect solution for owners with multiple pets where one steals another's food, pets who require weight management, or those with special dietary needs.
Wet cat food vs dry food
Both wet cat food and dry cat food are viable options for giving cats everything they need to live life to its fullest. .
For some owners, wet food is an inconvenience. It’s messy, can smell and requires timely cleaning.
But it’s closer to what they would eat in the wild and provides a variety that dry food cannot.
Complete dry cat food delivers the nutrition a cat needs without the mess or the smell. But it’s important to keep your cat hydrated as they won’t get the moisture they get with wet food.
Invest in a cat fountain or keep the water fresh and encourage your cat to drink however you can.
Feeding your cat
As you can see, feeding your cat is a process. The more you get to know each other and your habits, the more you’ll be able to identify what works best.
Your own schedule may determine how your cat is fed, although automatic cat feeders can provide flexibility there.
At the end of the day, as long as your cat gets the nutrition it needs to grow and live a full and healthy life, life will be good.
Use good quality food and let technology help when needed to ensure everyone can live their best life!