How Often Should My Cat Eat?

PET CHECK BLOG - 3 cats eating together

\\\ Cat Food and Meals

\\\ Updated September 2021

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Should I Feed My Cat Twice A Day?

Should I Feed Once A Day?

Do you feed your cat to fit your busy lifestyle?

Having had a number of strays, we found our cats were happy to be fed anytime and appreciated having a warm friendly home where they were cared for. The proof seems to be they stuck around with us for the the rest of their lives. The strays turned up during different years and surprisingly all got along quite happily despite what cat behaviourists tell you that cats really don’t get on with other cats introduced into the home.

So whats this latest report ‘Feeding indoor cats just once a day could improve health’ conducted by the University of Guelph, Canada, research really about?

The University research team looked into how our tamed cats fared by mimicking wild cats being fed just once a day and what results it may have on their hunger.

The study published indicated that cats who ate one meal a day were more satisfied and which could result in less food-begging.

Our cats never begged for food. We’d feed them a small portion of food in the morning and when we returned from work, we fed them the same sized portion in the evening, as our cats snoozed through most of the day in a peaceful empty house. They would enjoy the company of the household during the evening and at bedtime, they disappeared off, outside, into the countryside for a spot of night hunting and making sure they marked their territory. In the morning, they’d great us having returned, as we got up for work, and were fed. They would be found soon snoozing away after ten minutes or so, after a busy night out, as we ate breakfast.

In the morning, they’d great us having returned, by way of the cat flap, as we got up for work, and were fed. They would be found soon snoozing away after ten minutes or so, after a busy night out, as we ate breakfast.

Does it matter if we feed our cats twice a day?

The research only studied eight healthy indoor cats, so their findings cannot really be regarded as definitive, where cats that ate one meal a day had a larger increase in blood amino acids which would provide more protein that was available to build muscle and other proteins compared to those cats that ate more regularly in a day.

Managing an indoor cat’s weight really must come down to the owner and how they ensure their cat follows a healthy diet, in a daily routine, sticking to the recommended amounts of food to give their cat.

Indoor cats are less advantaged with regard to the amount of physical exercise they can achieve, but making sure they have interesting scratch pads and toys, and that their owner interacts with them as much as possible, is most definitely a must.

It would be interesting to see the results of a much larger research programme, with both indoor and outdoor cats taking part, being compared, that ate one meal a day, with a range of differing ages and breeds recorded. What this would achieve, as the current report seems to be indicating, that cat overweight problems are only those related to those cats living indoors and making quite large conclusions on such a small sample of cats without providing much detail about them used in the trial. You can read Science Daily take on the research.

Veterinarians are constantly in the press providing warnings about the growing rise towards obesity in UK pets, dogs, cats, and even rabbits, and the rise of additional foods like manufactured treats which should be factored into a pets’ daily diet and not added on as an additional meal.

More outdoor feral cats may actually feast each night, whilst out hunting, and you may be feeding them the amount that cat food manufacturers suggest weight wise. This can be when weight problems start to occur. Cutting back a small portion of their daily regular food may be the way to keep their weight at a healthy level.

Weighing Your Cat

Something perhaps you hadn’t thought about, but a sensible option before your cat expands too much in size and you start changing their portion sizes. There are three easy options to weighing your cat –

  • Going to your local vets and using their free facility to weigh your cat, kitten, or any pet is one option.
  • The second option can be to weigh yourself on your bathroom scales and then separately holding your cat. Subtract you weight from the weight of holding your cat which will give you a very approximate cat weight.
  • Purchasing dedicated baby scales are ideal for cats (and small and medium size dogs, but not suitable for large dogs).

Once weighed, keep a weekly check and see if their weight is reducing or increasing with the improvements you make to their feeding habits.

PET CHECK BLOG Cat sitting on settee

Is Your Cat Putting On Weight ?

Altering Your Cats Diet

Simple tweaks to reduce your cats weight can help by reducing just 10% of the meal given, over a period of time, or even changing the brand of cat food that you are using, with some lighter weight meals now commercially and nutritiously available. If this doesn’t work then it’s time to speak to a veterinarian.

Cats may be leaner during the later spring, summer and early autumn months, when nights are longer and they may spend more time outside, if they have that amenity. Winter time, you may find your cat sitting and sleeping far more, and less likely to spend time out at night hunting. Winter time is not really the time to start reducing portion sizes unless obese. Pets need their winter weight to keep them warm from the colder months.

Another simple solution can be to provide your cat with the freedom of a cat flap door put into your home back door or entrance door, if you don’t provide one already, allowing your cat to go out when it wants too, and for how long it wants to instead of you manually letting your cat out and in, which can greatly restrict it’s activity, ideal in pet safe areas of the country. Cat flaps have become very sophisticated with timers allowing cats to exit and enter, and restricting other cats from entering your home. Buy from good retailers below.

The cat charity, Cat Protection, the specialists, have a dedicated page ‘Cat Obesity’ which may be helpful further reading.

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