How Often Should Cats Eat?



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Many people wonder how often they should feed their cats. The answer depends on your cat’s age and the type of food you’re providing it. Your cats should be fed at least 2 meals about 12 hours apart daily.

How Often Should Cats Eat. Orange tabby cat eating from a white bowl with a white brick background and white floor.

However, there’s more that goes into creating a feeding schedule than simply scheduling 2 meals a day for your kitty. Please keep reading to learn more about ensuring your cats get enough food at every point of their lives.

Factors That Affect How Often You Should Feed Your Cat

Several factors affect how often you should feed your cat. These include the following:

  • Your cat’s age: Kittens require significantly more food than adult cats because they are far more active and need the additional calorie intake to grow appropriately. It would be best to feed a kitten as much as twice what you provide adult cats.
    Additionally, you should ensure that you feed them meals explicitly formulated for kittens because they have different dietary needs than an adult cats.
  • Size: Cats grow to various sizes, depending on their breeds and body types. Bigger cats will need more food than smaller cats.
  • Activity level: More active Cats burn more calories than the ones that lay around and therefore need more food. Similarly, an outdoor cat’s food intake is higher than an indoor cat’s because they burn a lot more calories.
  • Health and reproductive status: Some illnesses require you to increase your cat’s food intake because it affects their metabolic rate, resulting in them burning more calories. Pregnant or nursing cats need additional calories to compensate for their body stress. If your cat is neutered, it will have a slower metabolic rate and require less food.

How Often Should You Feed Your Cat

Outdoor cats have more significant nutritional needs than indoor cats. Therefore, you should feed your indoor cat at least 2 times a day and ensure they get enough food to fit their dietary needs.

However, this depends on their body weight – a lean cat should get more food than an overweight cat. Overweight cats are generally unhealthy, and cat owners must reduce their weight to ensure they live long and happy lives.

If you have an overweight cat, contact a vet for advice as soon as possible.

Is It Okay To Feed Cats Once a Day

Significant veterinary medicine research suggests that feeding cats less frequently than once every 12 hours can result in nausea due to their stomach becoming hyper-acidic.

However, recent studies suggest that feeding your cat one large meal a day is also okay, especially if they are indoor cats.

Keep in mind that the once-a-day feeding routine is only recommended once your cats reach adulthood and if they are entirely healthy. You should consult your vet about their feeding regime if they have health problems.

Should Cats Have Food Available at All Times?

While you might have decided to feed your cat only once or twice a day, the question remains about how much access they should have to food. Should you allow them to snack throughout the day and give them meals at scheduled times? Or should you only allow food when it’s time to eat?

The answer to this depends on the strategy you’re taking. There are several options you can consider, including the following:

  • Meal feeding is when you only feed your cat at designated mealtimes. Meal feeding allows you to monitor your pet’s food intake carefully. However, remember that this will not stop your cat from begging for food if it feels like it.
  • Free feeding: As the name suggests, free feeding means that cats have food available at all times, and you feed them according to their schedule. It is particularly convenient if you provide your cat dry food and allow it to eat multiple small meals during the day.

    As long as you’re keeping track of your pet’s caloric intake, this feeding method is perfectly acceptable – you have to be careful not to feed your cat too much food accidentally.
  • Combination feeding: Pet owners feed their cats canned or wet food once or twice a day and allow dry food to be available according to their pet’s preference.

Whether you’re combination feeding or free feeding, you can allow your cats access to food at all times. First, however, you should measure the food you feed them to ensure they are not overeating and maintaining healthy body weight.

My outdoor cat has good quality dry food available throughout the day and eats when it suits him. He is active and not overweight; he also has fresh water readily available.

What Food Is Best for Cats?

There’s a significant divide between pet parents who feed their cats wet and dry food. So which is better for cats?

Ideally, you should feed them wet food when possible. Wet canned cat food contains as much as 70% water content, essential for those with health conditions. In addition, cats prefer wet food over dry food simply because it is more palatable to their taste buds.

Some cats prefer not to eat wet food and prefer dry food. Ultimately, depending on your cat’s eating habits, you can feed them wet, dry, or a combination of both.

The nutritional content of dry and wet food differs, so ensure you’re feeding your cat appropriately.

How much wet and dry food you feed your pet depends entirely on the cat’s preference and your feeding style – ensure that, no matter what regimen you choose, you do not accidentally overfeed your kitty.

Final Thoughts on How Often A Cat Should Eat

How much your cat eats to have a healthy life will depend on a variety of factors, including its age, activity level, and size. As a rule of thumb, you should feed your adult cat at least 1 to 2 times daily while maintaining its weight.

Before you go, you may find these articles helpful:

How Much Water A Cat Should Drink

Why Cats Like Lasers

Chew Toys For Cats

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