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Monday, July 13, 2009

when to feed

After researching about how to feed our cats in the right way, and trying out different schedules, we came to learn that:
  • Cats, built to be natural hunters, are able to subsist on eating an entire prey in one meal, and then going without for the rest of the day, even for a few days. Their digestive system allows them to process a large meal in one go.
  • For the cat owner, this means that you can feed your cat one meal a day.
  • Some cats prefer to eat more than one meal, as this adds interest to their daily activity. You can split your cat's daily ration into more than one meal.
  • To ascertain how many meals and how much at each meal, two factors need to be considered. 1) your daily schedule and availability to feed your cat; 2) how much your cat can eat in one sitting.
  • It is better to encourage your cat to finish his meal than to leave it out, especially for moist or fresh food. It should be left out for your cat for an hour at most, giving your cat time to eat slowly, and preventing deterioration of the food.
  • Dry food manufacturers suggest leaving kibbles for the cat around the clock. As dry food is preserved with chemicals, it does not deteriorate even if exposed for more than an hour, and if it fits yours and your cat's lifestyles, you can allow your cat free choice kibbles round the clock.
  • Feline obesity can cause a lot of health problems, as can excess of vitamins, so be sure not to over-feed your cat.
The usual guidelines we tend to come across in cat care books regarding number of meals:
  • Newborn - milk every 1 - 2 hours
  • From weaning at 4 weeks old - 10 meals a day
  • 5 weeks old - 6 meals a day
  • 10 weeks old - 5 meals a day
  • 20 weeks old - 4 meals a day
  • 30 weeks old - 3 meals a day
  • Between 6 months to 1 year - gradually reduce to 2 meals a day
  • Adult cats - 1 or 2 meals a day
While these guidelines are prescribed across many cat research materials, each cat is different, and having to live with us, cats also need to adhere to our lifestyles and preferences.

At present our 3 cats are fed according to this schedule (updated from the last)
  • Slinky, adult cat: 2 meals a day
  • Sayang, 8 months old: 3 meals a day
  • Scooter, 10 weeks old: 5-6 meals a day
We don't actually starve our cats to fit them into the schedule, but somehow their age and ability to eat in a one meal seems to correlate with the guidelines in our cat textbook, so this is how we feed them. Our cats also 'tell' us when they are hungry, so for our growing boy Scooter, we know when he wants to eat more in one meal, and how often he wants to be fed. This is how we ended up reducing his 10 meals a day to the current 6 - because he is able to eat more in one meal now.

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