How Do You Feed Your Cat?

How Do You Feed Your Cat?

by Michael
(London, UK)

There seems to be several ways to feed your cat(s). I would be interested to hear which method visitor’s adopt.

Meal Feeding

This can take two forms both though are concerned with controlling the amount of food our cat eats.

I tend to respond to my cat’s demands. If she wants food she asks and I provide. She eats some and comes back for more later. Pretty simple stuff but is it wise? I also have some dry down for grazing.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

This though is quite haphazard and can lead to overeating and obesity.

What we can do is put down a set amount of cat food based on calorific requirements. This is portion controlled feeding. A minimum of two meals should be provided per day.

Portion control gives the cat’s caretaker greater control over her cat’s feeding and eating behavior. The trouble is you have to work out what your cat’s energy needs are and what amount of energy there is in the food and match the two up. Who is going to do that?

A modification on this is time controlled feeding. This requires the cat to self regulate dietary needs. Food is put down at certain times but the quantity is not controlled. The amount is more than required at one sitting. I guess this is the method I have unwittingly adopted except I don’t control the length of time my cat feeds for. Time controlled feeding dictates that you allow a certain amount of time for your cat to feed. At least 30 minutes is the best time frame we are told. There should be two or more daily meals.

Time controlled feeding can lead to overeating.

Free Choice Feeding

This means putting down food whenever you wish, usually dry for grazing and you let your cat decide on intake.

Obviously dry cat food is best suited for this method but an exclusively dry cat food diet is not advisable. Wet cat food goes off quite quickly, however, which in itself dictates how long the food is put down for.

This method is probably the most commonly employed because it requires the least work and attention but it can lead to cats overeating. Domestic cats don’t always self regulate it seems. They can overeat and cat obesity is a modern cat health problem.

Free choice feeding somewhat distances the cat’s caretaker from the eating habits of their cat and it can therefore be harder for the person to observe and monitor eating habits which is useful in respect of health management.

Modern dry cat food is high in carbohydrates and tasty! This encourages a cat to lose ability to self regulate properly particularly if the cat is full-time indoors and has a sedentary lifestyle.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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How Do You Feed Your Cat?

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Aug 26, 2011 Correction! Measured Food
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Whoa! I don’t give Abby a measured cup of dry – it’s really a measuring cup that sized at 1/4 cup, which she gets in the morning and, if her dish is empty, 1/4 cup of Orijen dry in the evening. She always has fresh water.

The morning routine is 1/4 dry Orijen, 1 teaspoon wet, 1 treat with the dry. Evening: (if dish is empty), 1/4 cup dry Orijen with fresh water. That’s it!!! Got to get that ‘girlish’ figure back, LOL!

Aug 26, 2011 Former Feed on Demand, Now by Measure
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

I’m guilty to say that I was feeding Abby on demand; however, during her last round of shots last week, she weighed in at 12-lbs, 13oz. That’s a full pound heavier than last year! I am the guilty one. Althbough I switched to top-of-the-line food: Orijen, as suggested by a Maine Coon cat breeder, I indulged Abby. Well…no more!

In the morning, I give her a measured cup of Orijen (dry) and one TEASPOON of wet, usually Newman’s Own Organic (Grain-Free) – flavors: Liver, Beef/Liver, Beef. In the evening, I do not give her wet at all and if she hasn’t finished her dry from the morning, I no longer top it off like I used to.

I also quit giving her 3 treats, twice daily, like I did. (6 treats daily = 60 calories x 7 days = 420 calories weekly!!!) No wonder she was beginning to look like a porker. I will capitulate and give ONE treat in the morning with her dry, but that’s it. Surprising as it is, she’s actually getting used to the regimen.

Aug 17, 2011 Happy fed on demand cats
by: Jane

I too have happy healthy fed on demand cats.
Life is not only about quantity,it’s about quality too.
My cats get the best of everything it’s in my power to give them and I’ve not had one not live a long healthy life yet.
Kept always indoors,sometimes declawed,fed a strict diet doesn’t seem like much quality of life to me.

Aug 17, 2011
for “acidosis” read “lipidosis”

by: Grahame


I had been up reading all night long when I posted about feeding cats.I wrote “acidosis” intending to have written “lipidosis”.

Aug 17, 2011 Strict feeding protocol
by: Grahame

Michael, you ask who is going to work out the metabolizable energy in their cat food and portion control it to their cats’ needs.

The answer is: ME.

Obesity in aging cats can lead to death from hepatic acidosis if the cat goes off feed for any reason. Having lost a precious 17 year old cat this way (also mediated by plassma cell cancer), I determined not to let my other 14 year old very precious cat to be at risk.

It is very easy to portion control feedings. I feed a high density protein rich and no carb dry food: EVO. My cat is very fond of her water and hydration is not a problem here.

I have determined that my indoor cat needs about 15 kcal per pound of cat weight. This works out to 15 kcal per 454 grams of cat weight. Take the target weight of the cat, divide by 454 grams and multiply by 15, obtaining the number of kilo-calories to feed that cat. Commercial cat foods list the amount of metabolizable energy they provide–on the package, expressed as kcal per kilogram of the feed. Divide this by the amount you have determined to be the cat’s daily energy needs expressed in kcal (as above), obtaining the number of feedings contained in 1 kg of the feed. Now divide 1000grams by the number of feedings obtained in the previous step. The result is the weight in grams of each feeding.

If one wishes, this can be worked in pounds and ounces, but that is obtuse.

I have a lot of the little specimen containers used here for urine samples–I get them at my general practitioner’s. I label each with the day of the week and put the measured amount of feed in each. Obviously one needs a portion control scale (very inexpensive)or other balance.

Aug 17, 2011 I portion feed at specific times
by: Maggie

I’m very strict on my cat’s eating habits. When Chilli was a kitten he was fed 4 times a day. Now that he’s an adult, he and Mae are fed 3 times a day.

They’re fed a small handful of dry food at 7AM every morning, and they’re fed about 1-and-a-half tablespoons of wet food at 4PM and another 1-and-a-half tablespoons of wet food at 10PM.

There used to be a 12PM meal, but that was taken out as it was causing Chilli to put on too much weight.

I don’t allow my cats to eat whenever they feel like it, as that would cause them to be over weight, and allowing your cat to get over weight is, in my opinion, very cruel.

However, if the cats are showing signs of being hungry and are getting restless, I will give them a small about of dry food, which usually fills them up until their next meal. 🙂

Aug 16, 2011 We feed on demand
by: Ruth

We feed on demand also Michael and it’s worked well for us for 37 years now with no overweight or health problem cats.
There is always a saucer of fresh dry food too beside a dish of water, upstairs and down, for our boyz to nibble on and if we go out they wouldn’t go hungry if we were unavoidably delayed.
Cats are sensible and don’t often eat themselves sick.
I’ve never held with the idea that cats should be fed the same food for every meal, just think how bored we’d feel with a diet like that.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Aug 15, 2011 Multi cat family is a problem
by: TL

My cats have mostly all been self regulating and it is only recently I have one who begs and is overweight. We think his thyroid is a little slow. It is tough with several cats since he may eat their food if I leave it around. I stopped buying the cheap dry food because he would eat a lot of it and throw up. Now I give him Science diet dry food for dental and that slows him down. He is also surprisingly fussy about wet food and often leaves it.
I am a little puzzled that he does not seem to eat that much but is still chubby. In contrast I have a kitten a few weeks old who eats like there is no tomororw. Of course he plays like mad too.

Aug 15, 2011 Food timer helps
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I purchased a two compartment timer which opens to allow my cat access to dry food. I just have to double check my arithmetic (you set it to open in so many hours) and make sure to remember to put the battery in it. Monty gets dry food in this for lunch when I am gone during the day. If we are gone overnight he gets dry food for breakfast in his food timer, since my sister is not an early riser. Monty tends to get small meals/snacks at set times throughout the day. It’s not that much food at one time, but it adds up to what cats who will graze would eat.

Monty does not graze– he eats whatever is put down, to the point that he’ll make himself sick. He’s getting a little better about the dry food. He tends to only eat it if he’s really hungry. Wet food will be all gone in a matter of seconds, not minutes. My husband calls Monty the “Hoover”– after the vacuum cleaner, not the president, because he sucks his food down so fast.

Once Monty told me that Jen (my sister) had not fed him supper yet when we got back from up north, so I gave him supper and then he sort of passed out in a food coma by the back door. I started to suspect he was not as starving as he had let on and that he had in fact conned himself a second supper. It was like post Thanksgiving dinner with him for the rest of the evening– he was one full and sleepy cat!

I’ve been letting Monty out in our fenced yard between 6 and 7 a.m. and then getting him in by opening the door and yelling, “Monty, treat!” He comes running within a few seconds. I’m sure the neighbors appreciate this method, as before I’d just run out there in my pajamas. No one wants to see that, trust me. I want to get a video of Monty running in, because it’s kind of funny. First you see an empty yard and at the word “Treat!” there comes this little black cat just sprinting to the door as fast as his legs can carry him.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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