Cats are very precious, and as pet parents, it is very tempting to give our fur babies everything they want, especially food. We are a goner for those lovely eyes and the sweet faces they make when they ask for food.
We do not want them to starve. However, feeding them too much at any time of the day could cause obesity and lead to other health problems.
It is your responsibility to make sure that your cat’s diet is healthy and balanced. You may be confused as to how often do cats need to eat. There is conflicting advice on the matter.
Some would say you need to feed them three times a day or twice, while you may also read that one meal is enough.
The frequency of your cat’s meal depends on different aspects such as your cat’s age, health, and type of food.
Does age make a difference?
Age makes all the difference because cats require different amounts of nutrients at different stages in their lives. Kittens need more nutrients and require more food compared to adult cats.
Kittens are still growing, and they need more food to support their growth. Kittens need to be fed three meals per day for optimal nutrition for six months.
At six months until maturity, two meals per day would be enough for your feline friend. When your cats turn a year old and become an adult, a meal or two in a day would suffice.
Senior cats also do well with one or two meals. However, if your cat has a health problem that requires a different diet, you should take the feeding regimen advised by a veterinarian.
Should I let my kittens eat all they want?
No, it is not advisable to let your kittens eat all that they want whenever they want.
We may have mentioned that kittens require more food because they are still growing, but it is not ideal to leave their bowl with food throughout the day and let them eat whenever because this could lead to obesity and digestive issues.
Overeating can cause discomfort and indigestion to your cats. Kittens have smaller stomachs compared to adult cats.
So, while they need more nutrition, you should serve it in smaller portions throughout the day.
Smaller servings help avoid any stomach discomfort and to optimize the growth of your precious fur baby. As they gradually grow, you can reduce the number of meals but in relatively larger servings.
How often should I feed my senior cat?
Senior cats who have been around for a long time spend most of their time napping with less physical activities. They do not require that many calories anymore as younger cats do.
However, they do need additional vitamins and minerals to keep their body healthy. Taurine is a good example. Your cat needs more taurine that is good for your cat’s vision and heart.
What is the best type of food I can feed my cat – dry or wet cat food?
Both dry and wet or canned cat food is good for your cats. Some pet owners prefer to feed their cats only dry foods.
Not only is dry food much less expensive compared to canned cat foods, but they also stay fresher longer.
However, if you are to feed your cat dry foods, make sure to provide them with plenty of water for hydration. Clean water is very important for your cats also to avoid developing urinary tract infections.
Wet or canned foods, on the other hand, have a high water percentage at about 70 to 80 percent. Canned cat foods are also generally more attractive and palatable for our feline friends.
Because it is more appetizing, your cat would more likely overeat. You should be strict with the size of the portion that you give them.
Mixing wet and dry food to feed your cat is also not a bad idea. You can choose to give your cat dry foods and supplement it with a bit of canned food.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your cat is receiving just the right amount of calories.
Can I feed my cat fruits and vegetables?
A simple answer is yes. You can feed your cats some fruit and vegetables. These are rich in vitamins and minerals that our cats need.
However, you should know that certain fruits and vegetables are toxic to cats, and you should avoid them at all costs.
Cats are hypercarnivores meaning their diet is made up of more than 70% meat. Their digestive system is not that efficient in digesting fruits and vegetables.
Some fruits and vegetables also contain toxins that can harm your cats and may poison them.
Included in the list of fruits and vegetables that you can safely feed your furry friend are apples, bananas, carrots, peas, corn, etc.
But to be completely safe, you can visit your local veterinarian for advice and find out if your cat has any food sensitivity issues.
What are other factors to consider when deciding how much to feed your cat?
We have already mentioned how the feeding regimen of cats may differ according to their age. Aside from that, other factors may determine the amount of food that your cat needs.
These include their weight, energy level, and if your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat.
If your cat is overweight or is currently on a diet to lose weight, you need to give them smaller servings. Obesity can be a problem in cats that may lead to more severe complications such as heart problems.
If your feline friend is not at her ideal weight, the more you should control their food intake.
Cats who are more active and move around a lot would require more food. Meanwhile, a cat who spends most of its time napping needs less.
Also, less active indoor cats do not get as much exercise as outdoor and physically active cats. An indoor cat with less activity does not need much food as outdoor cats.
How do I get my cat to eat its food?
Some cats are picky eaters. It is almost impossible for you to make them eat something which they do not necessarily prefer. If your cat keeps on missing its meals, then you should start worrying.
Your cat may not feel like eating because he is unwell and ill. If it goes on, then it is time to go to the vet.
But if an illness is not the case and your cat is naturally picky over its food, you can encourage your cat to eat through the following:
- Offer your cat various types of food. If you notice that your cat is not eating the dry food you are giving them, you could switch to canned cat foods that are more palatable to their taste.
- Serve them a smaller portion of their meals – this way is less overwhelming and may encourage your cat to eat.
- Offer some foods that have a strong odor to attract your cat.
- Sit down with your cat or hand-feed them if needed.
When to call the vet?
A change in your cat’s eating habit would signal the time you need to call the vet.
If your cat keeps on missing out on its meals and instead lazily lies around most of the time, this is an indication that something is wrong and they are not feeling well.
Cats are not the biggest eaters, but it is still unusual for them to miss a meal. If you noticed that your cat suddenly stopped eating and this would go for several days, then something is wrong.
Vomiting and diarrhea are some of the more noticeable signs. If you also notice your cat eating with only one side of their mouth or making a grinding noise when they eat, these are subtle signs that your cat is ill.
Ravenous appetite and weight loss are also not good signs.
We love our furry friends very much. However, this shouldn’t mean that we give them every food that they want to eat. If it is bad for them, we are responsible for making sure that they do not ingest it.
Giving them free unlimited access to food could lead to obesity. And several health complications stem from obesity that could lead to death in severe cases. It is then your job, as the pet owner, to moderate and control the food intake of your feline friend.
Your veterinarian is your friend. They are the best source of nutritional guidance that you could follow to properly take care of your cat’s health. From the type of food, the amount, to how often the cat needs to eat – you can trust your veterinarian.
Giving your cat all the food that they want is one way of showing love. But the best way to express it is to give your cat healthy and nutritious food in just the right amount for them to live a healthy and long life together with you.