What Is the Optimal Cat Feeding Schedule?

October 18, 2021 10:33 pm Published by

If you ask your cat, they’ll probably indicate that the optimal cat feeding schedule is “all the time.” As cute and demanding as they are, however, constantly feeding your cat is not a good idea.

Keeping your cat on a feeding schedule can reduce their food anxiety—and even let you sleep in on occasion. Cats are creatures of habit, and their internal clock will adjust to a regular schedule. Here’s how to determine how often you need to feed your cats.

Understanding cat anatomy

To understand good feeding schedules, it’s helpful to understand a bit about your cat’s anatomy. Like humans, cats also have a simple stomach structure, complete with small and large intestine. When your cat eats, it sends satiety signals to their brain. As their stomachs digest the food and it moves into the small intestines, their stomachs empty. After eight to 10 hours, they start getting hunger signals again. Then the yowling begins.

For this reason, two meals per day is ideal for your cat. It’s not a good idea to put out a bowl of food and let them graze. This can lead to obesity and other health problems.

Determining a feeding schedule

Your cat shouldn’t go more than 12 hours without a meal. Going too long between feedings causes their stomach to become hyperacidic, which can lead to nausea.

You can determine how often you want to feed them based on your own family schedule. For example, if everyone’s out of the house during the day, two larger meals at breakfast and dinnertime may be ideal. However, smaller breakfast, lunch and dinner meals are equally effective.

A good veterinarian will help you figure out exactly how much food your cat should be eating, based on their age, current weight and caloric needs. Then you can decide how you want to portion out that food.

Troubleshooting cat feeding schedules

Sometimes your cat is an outlier. This can make feeding them a little more confusing than the average cat.

If your cat likes to graze instead of inhale the contents of their food bowl, that’s fine. Some cats are good at self-regulating, and can be trusted not to overeat. However, it’s still important to create expectations of regular mealtimes. Even if your cat doesn’t consume their entire portion at once, they’re free to graze until the next meal shows up. (This can get challenging if you have another, more food-motivated pet in the house.)

On the other hand, if you notice a change in your cat’s eating habits, this can signal a problem. Because cats are creatures of habit, regular mealtime instincts will become ingrained. Keep an eye on their food bowls and watch to see if you notice any problems. If your food-motivated, perpetually hungry cat starts leaving food behind, that could be a warning sign of illness.

As always, consider your veterinarian the ultimate source regarding your cat’s needs. When you have cat feeding schedule questions, call the vets at Kingstown Cat Clinic right away.

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