Thursday, July 2, 2015

How often should your cat eat? Is free-feeding a cat really wise?

Blind cat meowing
Lucy is a vocal little cat, and she has no qualms about telling me when she's hungry and she'd like to chow down. That's what she's doing here, as it's close to her dinnertime and she wants to nosh, right now.

I could, if I so chose, keep her a little quieter by providing her with a bowl of food at all times. But instead, I keep her on a strict schedule of mealtimes. In my opinion, that's the best way to keep her healthy. And I'm not alone in that.

Lucy is, at the moment, taking place in a food challenge sponsored by Solid Gold. The manufacturer provided her with a few weeks' worth of food, and I agreed to record her responses (more on that here). Since this food is new to me, I spent a little time reading up on the manufacturer's food recommendations. And there's some interesting data on the bag about portion control.

For a cat of Lucy's size, 1/2 cup per day is ideal. And, since she's a little on the sedentary side, that might be a little too high. If I fed her that full requirement, she might gain a little weight. And that's hard on her tiny frame, especially in the summertime.
Solid Gold cat food feeding guidelines
I want her to maintain her trim figure, so she won't have to work so hard to move around and to stay cool when the weather heats up. So I need to ensure that she eats just enough to maintain what she already has. And that's harder to do when free-feeding.

When cat food is tasty, cats naturally flock to the bowl. They like the way the food tastes, and they don't have hangups about body image, as we humans do. They eat because they like the food, and that can lead to huge weight control issues, as many cats just won't stop eating. They'll gorge until they just can't eat anymore.

In the past, this wouldn't have been much of an issue for Lucy, as she has a history of pickiness. But I would worry about free feeding this new Solid Gold food. She really seems to like it, and she's been eating enthusiastically at most meals. I think if I left a full bowl out at all times, she'd get a little big in no time at all.
Blind cat and cat food

So she eats twice per day instead: Once in the morning, and once in the evening. That is, not coincidentally, the recommended feeding schedule by the folks at Solid Gold. So we're doing it right! Yay!

Are any of you free feeding your kitties? And if so, how come? I'd love to hear a contrasting opinion in the comments. 

Note: I was not sponsored for this review. Instead, I got several weeks' worth of cat food to try, at no charge, for Lucy, and I agreed to provide my honest opinion about the products and my experience. No monetary compensation was involved. 

No comments:

Post a Comment