Categories: wet cat food

Millions of dollars of pet food wasted because cats are fed when not hungry

I genuinely have difficulty in deciding for sure when my cat is hungry enough to eat the entire contents of a sachet of high quality wet cat food.

Too much wet cat food is wasted because people feed their cat before they are hungry. The potential wastage of wet cat food encourages cat owners to feed dry which I think people now accept as less than ideal.

Just opening the can or pouch will render wet cat food unusable quite quickly in terms of palatability to a cat.

The only sure way of knowing if your cat is hungry is if he eats all the food you have provided or whether he leaves part of it; sometimes a lot of it. By then it is too late. And high quality cat food is as expensive or more expensive than human food on a price per gram comparison. Waste is undesirable. Waste is also a problem with refuse collectors as it is an excellent medium for maggots and so on.

Crudely and cruelly speaking, if you starve your cat for a couple of days he is bound to be hungry but that is obviously a non-starter.

How do you know when your cat is hungry? Yes, cats sometimes ask for food by meowing when hungry but not all cats do this. More demonstrative cats will probably rub against your legs and pester you for food when hungry. But they might do this when they are not hungry just because it is part of a routine.

There are times when your cat likes to eat so you feed him at those times. You don’t really need to know if your cat is hungry. Except you’ll waste cat food if he is not truly hungry and ready for a meal.

If you feed your cat dry cat food exclusively there is no problem. Dry food can be put down permanently and your cat can graze on it when hungry (please see M E King’s comment below: dry food bowls need changing regularly). But this is not a solution. Cats need high quality wet food.

The problem I am referring to concerns wet cat food which does not last long once in the bowl. In hot climates it would be unpalatable to a cat after a couple of hours unless he is starving.

So tell me what do you do to ensure that your cat eats all the wet food on the plate other than putting down tiny portions. Tiny portions are good but the can or sachet is open and the remainder will go off.

Those of you who will provide feedback will probably tell me that your cat always eats the entire bowl! Is that true?

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I'm good right now. I have two little crumb snatchers and haven't had to toss a dollop of cat food since they went off the bottle. My wonderful vet who cares about them beyond vaccinations and physical advised they be given a variety of food and food textures so they become accustomed to different foods. They're 16 weeks old tomorrow I need to toss them on the scale again. But they're probably close to 5lbs each and their mom was 8lbs when weighed at the vet for testing.

  • My furbabies get fed twice a day. They each get 1/4 cup dry and 1/8 of a can of wet at each meal. They are given 30-60 minutes to eat (depending on whether I have to go to work and what time I have to leave). All food bowls are picked up and washed. They eat all their food or just leave few kibble (NO one leaves and of the wet. Since some are on special diets, everyone eats in a separate room with the door closed. When the doors open they all scatter to see it anyone left anything. No one is overweight, although some vets may say they are. I prefer my babies have some groceries on board, so it they get sick, they have some reserves. Those that need medication (I have 3 that need daily meds) get their meds prior to eating and they all get 2 treats at each meal. Four of my cats are deaf ferals, one has pancreatitis and one has a tendancy to urinary tract problems.

    • Susan, I love your organising skills. Wonderful. I think this may be the answer. To feed strictly to a program so you can be assured that your cats will be ready to eat. I like that. Thanks Susan.

  • If you feed your cat dry cat food exclusively there is no problem. Dry food can be put down permanently and your cat can graze on it when hungry. But this is not a solution. Cats need high quality wet food. quote.

    Actually no they won't. Plus just like dishes used for wet food the ones used for dry need to be washed daily. I dispose of uneaten dry food in the morning and replace with fresh food and bowls. If you have ever looked at the bottom of a bowl used for dry you will see an obvious build up of food, spit, little bits and just general food residue. I have one cat that will only eat dry and the babies have some down at all times.

  • Monty always eats everything he is given. Then he sometimes skulks around looking for more. He always thinks he is still that starving baby kitten, even though he is seven and a bit fat. Seven years of all the food he can eat but he still thinks he is starving! If he gets too much he will barf it but I am getting better at knowing what is too much. I cannot go by what he tells me. His belly can be full but he will tell me he is starving.

    A neighbor came in to feed him over the Thanksgiving holiday while we were at my mom's and she said that Monty is just such a good eater. I guess her cat just nibbles. I never realized wet food goes bad quickly as Monty never leaves any.

    He is getting barrel shaped again. Every now and then I have to check myself to make sure I am not giving in to his pleas for food when I should not give him any. I know how much he actually needs. He does not.

    • Monty is such a good eater. And I am envious except you have to watch his weight I guess. Monty seems to be permanently hungry! I forget how you adopted him. Perhaps his early years have made him concerned about where the next meal is coming from.

      • Michael,
        Monty was either born under my porch or brought there soon after. Of all his litter he was the only one I could catch. He was not only starving he was riddled with round worms. We had to deworm him a few times to completely get rid of them. He definitely was not getting adequate nutrition during his most formative months. This is why a 12.5 pound cat (who should be about 9-10 pounds) believes he is at the point of death from lack of food. Poor baby.

        He was completely wild at first. My husband made me take to him to Animal Control and I agreed because he was so wild and would not eat. Jeff relented and allowed me to go back for him after we found out that he would almost certainly be killed. The month he was brought in Milwaukee Animal Control killed 636 cats.

        The staff had told me that after a seven day hold he would go to the Humane Society. Why did they not tell the truth-- that they would almost certainly put him down and that as a black cat he had little to no chance of ever being adopted even if he made it out of Animal Control alive? By God's grace I found out in time and went back for him.

        He came home a lot less wild and he had figured out during his time at Animal Control that humans=food so we were able to build a relationship on that. I would feed him and he would consent to be my little furry companion, though always on his terms, of course.

        His mom was eventually brought into The Cat Network with another litter of black kittens. As they grew every one of them looked exactly like Monty. She had had that litter in someone's garage instead of under a porch, but basically the story had repeated itself. Except this time I wrote a check to pay for the mom cat to be spayed and all but one of the kittens found a home. Even the momma cat was adopted.

        Monty's half brother still lives at The Cat Network, as far as I know. I used to go over and pet him in the ways Monty likes to be petted and watch him just melt under the attention, looking at me and wondering how this stranger knew exactly how he wanted to be petted.

        I do believe Monty and I were chosen to be together. Before I even met him, when I first heard there were possibly kittens outside, I thought to myself, "But he belongs in here!" It was a thought about a specific cat, a male cat, not just a general thought that all kittens deserve a good home. That sense that I knew Monty already was God whispering in my ear of what was to come because He had waited since before the beginning of the world for Monty and I to be brought together and He didn't want to wait any longer to tell me.

        When I told my sister I did not know what to call him (he came home from Animal Control with only a number) she said without hesitation, "Why don't you call him Monty?" It was almost as if she had been pondering a name for a kitten we did not even have yet, but knew ahead of time just what to call him.

        Everything was prepared for Monty to have a home with us. Even that we have a fully fenced yard that was easily turned into a secure enclosure for him and the fact that Jeff is skilled in carpentry worked in Monty's favor. He was able to build a cat highway for Monty in our back room. So the starving, wild kitten who had a life expectancy of 1-2 years (probably much less) lives like a king today with us, seven and a half years later.

        • Thanks a lot Ruth for a beautiful story. I asked a question and got a magically little cat rescue story. I can see why he likes his food. I think we'll have to turn your comment into an article. Too good to leave as a comment.

  • I feed twice a day. That's about one whole can 5 oz. a day for each. Take out the water and that's about 2 oz of solid nutrition (per 6 active hours) per day. For an average 9 pound cat it's worked well.

  • First I keep a regular schedule so that survival switch doesn't go off in their head and they trust they're always going to eat. Then feed 2 1/2 ounces (more or less) of high quality canned food to each all at the same time. I watch them, make sure they have no issues such as trouble chewing, how fast they eat (their overall behavior), then if they continue to search for more food (or stare at the bowl then look at me) I'll feed a little more, keeping all of them busy (more for this one, a tiny bit for that one), until I'm satisfied everybody's good - never too much because hey, I can't afford to waste it either. I have only four at this time so it was fun keeping up with the 14 I once had. I believe they are opportunists so it is easy to overfeed them. I let them know that there are other reasons I go into the kitchen too, so they don't associate that with food only. Lastly I keep track of their weight and overall health. Not long ago I decided I was feeding two of them too much, so I cut them back a little bit each and got them back to normal body shape. I've seen one freak out and start eating way too much (survival mode), and a drastic cut-back on obese cats can possibly develop hepatic lipidosis. They can also seek out neighbors who (for all my begging not to) will be all too glad to feed them anyway, and crap food too. You're right Michael, it's easy to overfeed, and wet food goes bad very fast. And a reminder that a good (the only) means to research pet food is via

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