How Often Should You Feed a Cat?

If you are confused by how often or how much you should feed cat food to your pet you are not alone. Eat brand of food has their own recommendations which vary widely. But those are just guidelines, you must adapt your cat's diet to his individual needs and that of your household.

Establish a Regular Feeding Routine

Kittens need more food per pound of body weight to support growth. Until the kitten reaches an age of six months feed three times per day. It is acceptable to place a day's ration of dry food out for kittens to graze on during the day. Since kittens are growing and their metabolism is so active, this will not usually lead to weight problems. Kittens from six months to one year feed twice a day; adulthood and beyond feed once or twice a day. If cats are otherwise healthy and in good condition, there is nothing wrong with feeding once per day.

Cats with health problems need to be fed according to their needs. Cats on insulin will need to be fed around the time of their insulin injections. Cats that have an over active thyroid may be hungry all the time; treat the thyroid problem and then feed the cat on a normal schedule.

Feed a Balanced Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they must eat meat for their long-term health. In the wild, a cat's diet is composed almost entirely of meat. This type of diet ensures that the cat receives two essential amino acids taurine and arginine.

Cats should be fed a diet that is 30 to 45 percent protein and 10 to 30 percent fat on a dry matter basis. A good commercial high protein food will meet these requirements, but be sure to read the label.

Avoid Obesity

Free feeding of cats by placing food out in a bowl for them to graze on at will is an acceptable feeding method, however, it is not without problems. Some cats will tend to overeat using this method. If you have multiple cats, this can cause some to be underfed if one hoards all the food.

Feline obesity causes a multitude of health problems. Obesity leads to lameness, joint and muscle disease, and diabetes. Skin problems can occur due to the cat becoming so obese that he cannot reach all areas of the body to groom and care for the skin. Cats that are obese are twice as likely to die in middle age 6 to 12 years old.

Cats that are obese must be fed a measured amount of cat food on a daily basis. If the cat is a free feeder, you can place half the daily amount in his bowl morning and evening, or place the entire amount out at once, but once the food is consumed feed no more until the next day. The cat should be fed away from other cats and not have access to the food of other cats. This will ensure that the cat receives only his allotted portion and no more.

Final Considerations

One other consideration to feeding your cat is your household schedule. If you are a two-income household or a single working person, mornings may be hectic and an evening feeding schedule may work best. Some people like to feed the cat during their evening meal to keep the cat occupied and avoid the cat interrupting their meal. If there is a stay at home caregiver, then multiple feedings per day will work fine.