Being responsible for the health and wellbeing of a cat is a huge responsibility and a large part of that is your ability to feed them a balanced and nutrient rich diet to promote longevity, energy and a healthy weight. Coupled with this, deciding on how and when to feed your cat can also bear an impact on their wellbeing – so what are you supposed to do?
Repeat after me: routine! Routine! Routine!
Whatever method of feeding you choose to use – stick with it. Cats thrive on a steadfast routine and in their case, variety is certainly not the spice of life.
Firstly, it’s important to consult your vet about the amount and type of food your cat should be eating. The amount will not only be based on their age but their size and usual energy output. You will have to monitor your cat’s energy and adjust the amount of food they receive. If your cat is a true lazy bones, you should be thinking of reducing the amount they eat, whereas if your kitty is full of beans, they could probably benefit from an increase in diet intake.
This is a very common way to feed your cat and is popular with both owners and cats alike. Free-choice feeding is when the allotted amount of food is left out for cats to graze on whenever they feel like it. Cats like it because they usually prefer small meals throughout the day. Owners like it because there’s not much effort required, which is particularly handy if you work long or random hours. A free-choice feeding regime works best for dry food because it is less likely to spoil. However if your cat is very fond of food, this is not the method for you because free-choicing can often lead to obesity.
Like humans who have a ‘healthy appetite’, cats can often benefit for some portion control. Portion control feeding involves a cat’s daily recommended amount of food to be measured out and given, either in one or two meals. If you opt for two meals, leave around 8-12 hours between each meal. This method is particularly useful if your cat needs to loose a few pounds, however the only trouble is you’ll have to make sure you are available at the same time(s) each day to dish out meal time.
Timed feeding requires a greater level of commitment from you and probably some protests from your cat! This method is a great way to get a snap shot of your cat’s true amount of food intake and will help combat any over eating. Like the portion controlled method, you dish out up to two meals a day for your cat based on the amount of food that is required for them, except you only leave their bowl out for no more than 30 minutes. Once the allotted time is up, you remove the dish out of view, including any left overs. It might be a rude shock for your cat at first, but they will soon learn that they don’t have all day to graze.
When and how you feed your cat is totally up to you, however if you have a cat that likes to wake you up very early, then feeding them late at night should put a stop to any very early wake up calls.
Following on, it’s important that before you give your cat their final meal for the day (or their only meal) make sure you engage in some non-food related bonding time, such as petting, brushing, playing or a nice cuddle. This is crucial because you don’t want your cat to only regard you as their food source, which can also help with any early morning cries for food.
If you still are unsure as to when to feed your cat, choose times of day that are less chaotic for you and the rest of your household. So if your mornings are busy with taking children to school or getting ready for work – either feed your cat before everyone else is up or wait until much later in the day – just remember routine, routine, routine!
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