How Often Should You Feed Your Cat?
5 min read
Good feline nutrition does not only mean ensuring that cats maintain a regular intake of high-quality, diverse and wholesome food. The health of your cat’s digestive tract, moreover its entire body as a whole, also depends on the other aspects – for example, the timing and frequency of meals.
Keep reading to look more closely at how to develop a healthy diet for your cat.
How many times a day should an adult cat be fed?
Giving too much food is as bad as giving too small portions.
Some owners believe that it is necessary to feed their cat only when they are clearly seeking food; for example, if they look pitifully into your eyes and meow for a long time. But sporadic meals can lead to serious problems, including:
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- weight gain
- heart problems
- respiratory problems
- other medical consequences
The diet for a cat is just as important as for a person, so you should not respond to your pet’s begging. An overabundance of food, especially increased portions, or even treats from the table (like a piece of sausage or half a patty), is harmful for your pet’s health. In addition, constant feeding spoils pets, and turns them into a kind of manipulator.
The general consensus is that two times per day is the optimal frequency of meals for adult cats. It is preferable to feed them in the morning and evening hours – immediately or at a maximum half an hour after waking up, and then later a couple of hours before their bedtime.
Two meals a day allow the digestive tract of your pet to perform its functions efficiently and correctly. Too many meals (or conversely a single meal per day) can be harmful to the cat’s digestion. However, it should be noted there are exceptions to this rule i.e. cases where an adult cat should be fed not twice a day, but more often. For example, it may be necessary to feed up from 3 to 6 times per day, cats that are sick (for example, suffering from gastrointestinal diseases in the acute stage), as well as pregnant or nursing cats.
How many times a day should you feed a kitten?
Kittens can eat more often than adult cats - up to four times a day.
Kittens need meals more frequently in comparison to adults. They should be fed every six hours for up to two months, in a diet that gradually introduces crushed adult food (meat, cereals, vegetables, dairy products). After four to five months, the frequency can be reduced to three meals a day (morning, afternoon and evening). And after six to eight months, your kitten can then be fed twice a day like an adult cat. However, there are some owners who prefer to give their kitten three meals a day for up to a year. Some believe that such an approach ensures their kitten being healthier in the long-term.
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Mother cats usually feed their kittens, but this may be impossible for many reasons. In such cases a newborn kitten, that is no more than 3 days old, should be given a milk substitute every two hours from a pipette; moreover, this should also be done throughout the night.
What to do if your cat constantly asks for food?
You should find the reason for the cat's desire to eat all the time.
It has been established that a healthy adult cat should be fed only twice a day. But what if, between the morning and evening meals, the cat starts to act in irritating ways because of hunger; for example, screeching, blocking people, or stealing food from the table? The owner should consider the following questions:
What is the calorie content of the food that your cat consumes?
The more calories the cat intakes, the more satisfied it will be. Cheap food is normally low in calories, and therefore, after an hour or two after feeding, the pet will likely start to beg for more food. The best solution is to feed the cat with premium or extra-premium feeds. Everything is a little more complicated with a “natural” diet, because in this case the owner has to calculate the daily calorie intake independently. Furthermore, in order to prevent the cat from starving, owner has to include meat in cat’s everyday diet, since it forms the basis of the whole pet’s diet. Everything is a little more complicated with a meal consisting purely of natural food, because in this case, the owner has to calculate the daily calorie intake by themselves.
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Is there enough food in the average portion served to your cat?
It may be that your cat is in constant hunger simply because there is always too little food in the bowl. An average-sized adult cat should eat per day approximately:
- 10-15 grams of dry food
- 60 grams of industrial wet food
- about 75 grams of natural food
However, again, it is vital to consider the caloric value of the food. The higher the energy value of food, the smaller the portion should be. So, it is important to carefully calculate the volume of each serving of food put in the cat’s bowl. Moreover, do not forget to refresh water in a bowl, so the cat is not thirsty.
Is the increased appetite caused by some kind of ailment?
For example, diabetic animals, pets under stress, cats suffering from vitamin deficiencies, can all find themselves in a constant state of hunger. It is important to respond in a timely manner to any alarming symptoms or visual cues that may be associated with a hunger:
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- poor coat and skin condition
- bulging bones
- hollow appearance
- abnormal stool
If your cat shows any of these signs, you should bring it to a vet as soon as possible.
Does your cat want food out of boredom?
Cats can be bored in the same way as humans - this can be the reason for asking for food.
Some animals eat or beg for food literally because they have nothing else to do. There is an easy solution: you can distract the cat from food by playing with it. Furthermore, you should provide your little mustachioed friend with a variety of toys that will keep it occupied.
Following these simple tips will ensure that your furry friend has a proper diet and ultimately stays healthy.