Cat Feeding: Grazing vs. Set Meal Times and Cat Treats

healthy cat feeding

What’s the Best Way to Feed a Cat? Is One Way Better Than the Others?!

Cats are fiercely independent animals, and often times, one of the appealing things about a cat as a pet is how well they seem to be able to take care of themselves. If you’re reading this, then you likely co-habitate with one or more cat friends, and you can easily picture them waking and sleeping at their leisure, initiating play time when they have an excess of energy, and cuddling when they feel snuggly. It seems that in nearly every way, they’re truly self-starting, particular creatures.

The independent nature of most cats, however, may quickly lead to some confusion when it comes to feeding patterns and habits, and what may work best for adult cats. Is it okay to just pour a big bowl of kibble out in the morning, and then to leave it out for your cats to graze on throughout the day? Or should you be doling out set portions at set meal times? And what exactly should you be feeding your furry friend?

Food Scheduling for Your Cat

The two options for feeding your cat are free feeding and scheduled feeding. Both methods are fine for your cat, but each has a few pros and cons. If you have multiple cats, for instance, free feeding could be a problem because cats are not known to share and share alike.

In this case, you will have to come up with some method of making sure each cat gets his or her fair portion. Also, if your cat is overweight, you will have to measure out the full daily portion and not refill it if your cat finishes too quickly.

Scheduled feeding allows you to supervise the feeding and to make sure your cat or cats eat just the right amount every time. The downside of this approach, of course, is that you will need to make time several times out of the day to feet your cats.

Also, it may take your cats a while to get used to the idea of not having food whenever they want it, and they may signal their displeasure to you until they do. If this is your preferred method of food delivery, you may want to consider beginning the routine when your cats are kittens.

Healthy Cat Food Options

So, once you decide when you should feed your cat, next you have to look at what you should be feeding your cat.

Store-bought food can be fine, but it’s important to feed your cats a balanced diet. Some carbohydrates are okay for cats, but there needs to be a healthy amount of protein and fat in their diet, as well. To be confident in the food you are giving to your cat, be sure to look for an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the package that indicates the product is complete and balanced.

It’s also very important that you feed the right kind of food to the right kinds of cats. Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats, for example, and should only be fed kitten chow. Similarly, senior cats may have different nutritional needs and require food that meets those needs as well.

healthy cat feeding

Treats and a Word of Caution About Cat Food

One strict word of caution: never, under any circumstances, feed your cat dog food. Cat and dog nutritional needs are completely different, and your cat could even get sick or go blind from eating dog food instead of cat food.

So what about cat treats? Are there healthy treats, or is just about every one available on the market technically an unhealthy treat? Once again, you can check for AAFCO approval when looking for treats for your cats, to ensure you feed them healthy treat options instead of the equivalent of cat junk food.

Just like humans, cats don’t really need treats, but they can be fun and not unhealthy in moderation – also, if you’re planning on doing any kind of training, treats may be helpful. According to experts, treats should make up no more than 10 percent of the calories in your cat’s diet, with the rest coming from healthy, balanced cat food.

If you’re going to give treats to your cat, you may want to look for treats that are not only AAFCO approved, but also for treats that offer some other benefit, since they have little to no nutritional value. Some treats, for example, offer to control excessive hairball production in cats while others may suggest they have a positive effect on your cat’s dental health.

Other Ways to Keep Your Cat Healthy

In addition to healthy eating, another way to help your cat stay healthy is through play and exercise. For a great toy that can engage your cats for hours and keep them active, take a look at the intelligent cat toys and products offered on our site – when you purchase a SHRU, for example, you are really buying a new BFF for your kitty bestie, and they’re sure to thank you for it every day!

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