Diet is one of the most important things when it comes to having a healthy life and body.
Not only is what you eat very important; when you eat and how many times you eat in a day can be equally as important to your health.
When it comes to feeding cats the same can be said.
For example, cats who have sensitive stomachs may require regular feedings throughout the day to ensure that their stomachs don’t become overly acidic.
Some cats, like our cat Beau, have other medical conditions such as Pica, which cause them to chew on cardboard, plastics and soft materials like cloths and tissues.
So as you can see, there can be many factors that influence the number of times you’re going to want to feed your cats in a day.
On that note let’s get to chatting about what some of those reasons are, how many times the average cat owner should feed their cat and the options on how to feed your cat.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD KITTENS BE FED?
Let’s start with the youngest of the batch.
Kittens must be fed more frequently than adult cats because they need more nutrients to grow.
Due to the fact that kittens have stomachs that are much smaller than an adult’s cat, to be able to get all the nutrients they need they must be fed multiple times during the day.
Now, there are other factors that are involved in this, such as whether or not the kittens are still being fed by their mother or not.
Kittens should be allowed to openly nurse with their mothers and should not be limited to how much they eat.
Even in situations where the mother/queen is still nursing it is best to consult a vet to ensure that the kittens are getting enough food.
There are unfortunately many circumstances where a queen cannot produce enough milk for her kittens or a milk duct gets clogged.
A KITTEN WHO IS EATING PATÉ, WET FOOD, OR KIBBLE
In many cases kittens who are fed paté, wet food or kibble need to be fed a minimum of 3-times a day.
Again, due to the size of their stomachs and the number of nutrients they need, one or two feedings will not suffice.
Kittens between the age of 3-months to 6-months should be fed as much as they want to eat as at that age it is more difficult to pinpoint exactly how much they need to eat.
At the age of 6-months, a kitten will begin settling down and food can begin being limited and/or a set amount of food can be offered daily.
Kittens this age should still be given food 3-times a day, although some cats can get away with being fed 2-times a day.
The worry with continuing to open feed cats this age is the fact that they are known to overeat when given the opportunity to.
Since kittens under the age of 6-months are usually higher energy and are still doing the majority of their growing, it’s not really that big of a problem if they overeat, because they’ll probably burn it off.
Though, in all circumstances where you think that your cat is overweight or underweight, it is best to consult a vet.
Your vet will help you make approximations on how much your cat should weigh and how big they will grow at full size based on their breed, age and current size.
It is at this time that your vet will also let you know whether or not they think you are overfeeding your cat or if there are any alterations you need to make in their diet.
It is recommended that you feed adult cats, or cats that over the age of 1 at least twice a day.
This will ensure that there is always something in your cat’s stomach and will ensure that they never get acid reflux and will never be hungry.
If you notice that your cat is destructive and chews on things like cardboard, plastics and soft materials like cloths and tissues you may want to feed your cat more regularly.
We feed Beau and Kalista 4-times a day.
This is due to the fact that Kalista is picky about her food and because if Beau is fed fewer times in the day (even if he’s been fed the same amount) he will begin chewing on anything and everything.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve woken up to Beau chewing on our bedsheets and how long it took me to figure out how exactly I could get him to stop.
I DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO FEED MY CATS MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY
If you find it difficult to feed your cat multiple times during the day, I highly recommend getting yourself a timed feeder.
My sister has an automatic feeder for her cats and it seems like the biggest lifesaver, especially for days where she has to be in town.
Although it may not fully solve your feeding problem, sometimes putting your kibble in feeder toys such as a SlimCat ball can help your cat spread their meal over the course of a day.
We used to use the Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree with Beau when he was our only cat and he would eat his meals over the course of 8 or so hours.
Feeder toys are a great way of making sure that your cat doesn’t gobble up their food and throw up,
Feeder toys are also a great way of making sure that your cat learns to pace themselves and not to eat their full meal all at once, even if it is provided to them.
Similar to us, when cats eat slower they “become full faster” because the stomach has time to understand that it was fed.
If the primary source of your cat’s diet is kibble, pacing your cat will also give the kibble a chance to expand in your cat’s stomach, ensuring that they feel full.
IT IS IMPORTANT YOU BUILD A FEEDING SCHEDULE
The most important part of feeding your cat is staying consistent.
Cats feel safe when they follow a schedule and when everything is in order.
This is why you may notice your cat wanting to play at the same time each day, taking naps at the same time each day and even crying or meowing around the same time each day.
Beau, for example, built himself the habit of standing on a stool that was in our kitchen every time he needed to get fed.
He would wait patiently for us to feed him while standing on that stool for each of his 4 meals, it was adorable!
You may notice similar patterns in your cats, some can include simply rubbing against you, chirping or even scratching their scratching post.
IS OPEN FEEDING BETTER THAN FEEDING MEALS?
I’m not a huge fan of open-feeding as Beau is a cat who cannot contain himself.
Beau will eat himself into a food coma if he could, though we try to make sure that he doesn’t overeat.
Open feeding isn’t for every household and quite frankly, if you can avoid it, I personally feel like that’s a better option in general.
Open feeding often leads the pet owner to become unaware as to how much food the cat actually consumes and as mentioned can often lead to overeating.
You can choose to refill your cat’s food bowl once per day, however, many open fed cats will begin feeling comfortable with a completely filled bowl and will become upset if the bowl is not completely filled at all times.
This may also cause a cat to refuse to eat until their food bowl is completely filled again.
While there isn’t anything that is overly problematic with this behaviour, it is a good idea to keep your eyes on cats like this to ensure that they do not have any health problems such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes or another underlying condition.
The only time this behaviour is considered problematic is when it is stressing out a cat.
While the amount of food you provide each cat may be different, the number of times you feed a cat should be the same.
There’s nothing wrong with splitting your cat’s meals into more than two, though it is strongly recommended that you feed your cat a minimum of two times per day.
Again, this will ensure that your cat always feels full and doesn’t experience an upset stomach.
When cats become hungry their stomachs become more acidic in preparation for digesting food, however, if left empty this may result in acid reflux or vomiting.
So pet parents, I’m curious, how often do you feed your cats?
Do you use any feeders?
Let me know in the comments below!