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Three Ways to Feed a Cat

Here are three common ways to feed a cat:

Method Availability Advantages Disadvantages
Meal feeding Food is provided at specific meal times (often 2 to 4 times) during the day but is not freely available between meals; both canned and dry foods can be fed in this manner.
  • Food intake can be closely monitored
  • Easy to tell if your cat has a poor appetite
  • All cats have access to food
  • Must avoid allowing your cat to beg for food between meals
  • Your cat cannot control when she eats
Free choice feeding Food is available at all times; only dry foods can be fed in this way.
  • Allows your cat to eat multiple small meals per day on her own schedule
  • It is difficult to monitor how much each cat is eating
  • More difficult to tell if your cat has a poor appetite
  • Often leads to overeating and obesity; consider using a food puzzle or forage feeder with a measured amount of dry cat food to prevent overfeeding
Combination feeding Canned food is fed as a meal, often twice daily, and dry food is freely available.
  • Allows your cat to eat multiple small meals per day on her own schedule
  • Intake of canned food can be monitored
  • Appetite can be partially monitored
  • Total food intake is not easily monitored
  • Often leads to overeating and obesity; consider using a food puzzle or forage feeder with a measured amount of dry cat food to prevent overfeeding

Finding the right feeding plan for your cat
The type of feeding plan you choose will depend on many factors, such as the number of cats in your home, and the age and health status of your cats. Your veterinarian can help you decide which method is most appropriate.

Are you feeding multiple cats?
Cats are solitary feeders, so when there are multiple cats in the home, it can be difficult to know how and when to feed each cat. Learn more feeding tips for multi-cat homes.

 


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