How you feed your cat can be as important as what you feed your cat. We all want our cats to be strong, vibrant and healthy for as long as possible! Scheduled feeding is a method that allows you the most control of your cat’s diet and helps you address any health issues your cat may face.
Free Feeding Vs. Scheduled Feeding
Free feeding is a feeding method in which a bowl of food is left out all day for the cat to consume whenever he/she would like to eat. Many owners who choose free feeding for their cat do so because it is most convenient for them (the owners). All the owner needs to do is refill the bowl whenever it is empty and the cat takes care of the rest.
Scheduled feeding requires the owner to feed the cat proportioned meals at set times throughout the day. The idea is the there will be just enough food for the cat to eat in one sitting. Often cats are fed 2-3 times per day, depending on their specific nutritional needs.
Scheduled feeding doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. Tools, such as the SmartFeeder by Petnet, can help cats get the right-sized meals at the right time without the owner needing to be present. Just fill the feeder, set up the feeding schedule on your smartphone and monitor the results that are sent to you.
Here’s why scheduled feedings are best for your kitty:
#1: Scheduled Feeding Allows You To Observe Your Cat’s Eating Habits
Being able to easily observe your cat’s eating habits is important. Eating habits are one of the first things to change when a cat is feeling ill. Here are some good things to observe:
- Does your cat eat the food?
- Was your cat as excited to eat as he/she usually is?
- How much food did your cat consume?
- Did your cat still seem hungry after mealtime?
- Is one of your cats bullying another cat at mealtime?
- How quickly does your cat eat the food?
- If your cat has become ill, how long after eating did symptoms of illness begin?
- What kind of bowel movement followed the meal?
If you are just changing to scheduled feeding from free feeding, don’t panic about not having all of these answers at first. Over time, you will naturally learn what is “normal” for your cat and what is not.
#2: Scheduled Feeding Gives You Control Over Your Cat’s Diet
With free feeding, the cat chooses how much to eat and when. The only control that you have over your cat’s diet is what type of food is in the dish.
Scheduled feeding lets you choose not only the type of food in the dish, but how fresh that food is when your cat consumes it, how much he/she will eat per meal, and how much the cat will eat total throughout the day. This type of control allows you to combat feline obesity and satisfy the nutritional needs of multiple cats within one household.
#3: Scheduled Feeding Makes Diet Changes Easier
As your cat ages, his/her nutritional needs will change. It is important to keep up with those new needs! You may also learn about a new diet that would be better for your cat (like switching to a wet or raw food diet). When you feed scheduled meals, you control the transition from one food to another completely and have the ability to monitor your cat’s reactions. You will learn if your cat needs to transition more slowly or if a particular food isn’t right for your cat.
#4: Scheduled Feeding Fosters A Relationship With Your Cat
When it comes to building a relationship with your cat, food is an important factor. Your cat needs to know that you will reliably fill his/her needs while in your care. As you take the time to feed your cat each meal, your cat will associate you with this very important need being met. It is a great way to build trust and bond! Scheduled feeding can also be used to help your cat get used to a new person living in your home.