When and how often should you feed a cat?
Cats like a routine, they like to be fed at the same time and in same place every day. If your cat had their own way they would like to be fed little and often. This doesn’t fit with modern life as we can’t always be on hand to pander to our cat’s desires as some of us have to go out or go to work! So it’s best to choose a time that’s convenient for you and stick to it, your cat will soon learn when it is dinner time.
Some owners choose to feed wet cat food in the morning and evening and leave dry cat food down throughout the day to keep hunger at bay. Others prefer to feed twice a day. That’s what most vets recommend. Do what is best for you and your cat.
To help you monitor your feeding and manage your cat’s food intake, download our handy Cat Feeding Tracker.
How much should I feed a cat?
It depends what you feed your cat as to how much you feed them as foods have different calorific densities. Some people choose to feed meaty wet cat food only, others dry cat food only and others a combination of both, it is purely down to preference.
Meaty wet cat food provides a delicious taste and different texture to dry which some cats prefer and for some owners this is seen as a more natural diet as cats are carnivores and need meaty goodness in their diet. There is higher protein content and less carbohydrate in meaty, wet food than dry. Meaty wet food is more filling for a cat, they will feel fuller faster compared with feeding a dry cat food. There are many different options in wet cat food with cans, pouch and foil trays.
Dry food is convenient and easy to measure. Dry cat food has more calories by weight than wet cat food so it’s harder to over feed your cat on a wet food diet. It has a low moisture content so cats on a dry food diet will need to drink more water. You may notice cats fed on dry food only will drink more. Make sure your cat has access to fresh drinking water at all times, even though they seem to prefer drinking out of puddles!
Any cat food you buy has different feeding instructions; Follow the guidance on how much you need to feed. Remember that the instructions are based on feed per day not per sitting. Every cat is different so adjust the amount fed to suit your cat’s needs by monitoring their activity levels and weight. If your cat changes circumstances e.g. becomes an indoor cat or has been neutered their nutritional requirements change, typically needing to be fed less.
How to feed cats
If you have more than one cat it is recommended that you don’t feed them too close to each other.
If you are planning on changing your cat’s food this needs to be done on a gradual basis (2-3 weeks). Gradually decrease the existing food and proportionally increase the new food to avoid any runny tummies. You may notice a difference in your cat’s stools, monitor the situation and consult a vet if things haven’t settled down after a week.
Treating your cat
Treats are a great way to develop a bond between you and your cat. However, bear in mind when treating your cat that you should cut back on the mealtime foods to stop them getting too many calories and becoming overweight.
Why are some cats fussy eaters?
Cats may have a discerning palate naturally but sometimes they are made to be fussy. They can turn their nose up at certain foods if you chop and change their diet too often. The best option is to choose a food they like and stick to it. By changing their food you are opening the world to different tastes and textures and they will expect change and variety.
Don’t panic if they don’t eat their food straight away, there are plenty of reasons why they might not rush to eat it as soon as you put it down.
- If they go outdoors there are plenty of opportunities to go hunting and have a snack in between mealtimes.
- Serve the food at room temperature as the food has more of an aroma warm than cold, this may grab their attention.
- If the food has been down for a while it may be a little stale which is unappetising.
- If the weather is warm this affects their appetite and they tend to eat less or eat later in the day.
- Check your cat’s teeth to see if it could possibly be an underlying issue, check that the gums are not red and that that there aren’t any abscesses. If you are unsure ask your vet for advice.
When your fussy cat does eat, offer praise and affection as a reward. When they have finished this gives you another excuse for a cuddle and time with your cat
If the fussiness continues
If you feel they are continuing to be fussy eaters try changing your cat’s food to a different flavour within the same brand as it may revitalise the taste buds. However, do persevere with feeding the cat food you want as once they learn that you will react to them, they are in control.