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How often should I feed my cat? Here’s what to know about cat feeding schedules

There's a lot more to think about than just what cat food to buy

Tabby cat stares at her kibble in a bowl
Nataliia Dvukhimenna / Shutterstock

Trying to find the perfect food for your cat can be difficult — just ask any cat owner with a picky eater at home. The shops and internet are home to endless delicious and nutritious options to choose from, but buying the best food for your cat is only half the battle — your cat’s feeding schedule is another code to crack. If you’ve ever wondered, “How often should I feed my cat,” you’re not alone.

You can feed cats anywhere from one to five times a day, depending on their individual needs. After all, it’s no secret that every cat has a distinct personality, right? No matter how often you feed your cat, their feeding schedule can impact their digestive system, energy level, and overall happiness, so finding the perfect balance for them is essential. Like many other animals, cats love routine, and once they learn their feeding schedule, they’ll happily remind you of it.

There are factors to consider when determining how often you should feed your cat. Read on to find out what to keep in mind.

Orange cat with metal bowl
eclipse_images / Getty Images

Consider your cat’s age

A cat’s age impacts how often you should be feeding them.

Kittens should be fed more often throughout the day

They require more food per pound of body weight than adult cats because they are in a vital growing stage. If they don’t get enough nutrients and calories, it can inhibit their growth and cause problems later on. You should feed kittens younger than six months of age four or five times a day, while kittens older than six months of age require about three feedings per day for the healthiest growth rate. 

Adult cats can eat less frequently

Once kittens reach one year of age, you can switch their feedings to once or twice a day. You should feed your adult cat at the exact same time each day. If you’re feeding your cat twice per day, offering food once in the morning and once in the evening is recommended to help maintain a healthy digestive system. With a consistent feeding schedule, it’s also easier to notice any discrepancies that could indicate an underlying medical issue. You should always contact your veterinarian with any concerns you may have.

Overall, it’s necessary to consider your cat’s age when determining how often to feed them because different stages of life have unique requirements. Whether you feed your cat once a day or your kitten four times a day, keep the timing consistent for optimal health.

White cat eating from orange bowl
Olha Solodenko / Shutterstock

Health issues may impact feeding requirements

There are many health issues that can affect cats’ diets and appetites. In these cases, their diet and feeding frequency need to be specifically designed to meet their needs.

  • Diabetes: If your cat is suffering from diabetes, you may need to feed them at the same time you give them their insulin. You’ll need to center your cat’s feeding schedule around their insulin injections.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This disease will typically make your cat want to eat constantly. An overactive thyroid gland can cause a cat to feel extra hungry and consume more than they need. You can keep your cat comfortable with frequent, small meals, but it’s important not to overfeed them. Make sure to seek veterinary care if your cat is showing signs of hyperthyroidism.
  • Dental issues: As cats age, their teeth and gums become more delicate and tender. One way to combat this issue is with wet cat food. Consistency is key when feeding older cats because their digestive systems are sensitive, and any slight change could cause stomach upset.
A long-haired calico cat eating and drinking.
sweetlouise / Pixabay

Consider your personal schedule

You can’t feed your cat if you’re at work, so it’s ok to tailor your cat’s feeding schedule around your day. If you have a set workday schedule, then it’s easy to feed your cat once in the morning and once at night. If your schedule is a bit more hectic, a late-night or early-morning feeding once a day may better suit your needs. Regardless of your schedule, do your best to feed your cat at the same time every day so they always know what to expect.

Cat eating and licking their lips
Laura Chouette / Unsplash

Consider an automatic feeder to keep things consistent

Those who work long hours, have overnight shifts or travel often may need to invest in more high-tech solutions for a feeding routine. There are a number of trustworthy automatic feeders that can ensure your cat gets fed at the same time each day, but you’ll be limited to using dry food for these meals. Some cats won’t mind at all!

To use an automatic cat feeder, you’ll fill up the feeder with several portions of food, tell the feeder how much food to dispense per meal, and set the time for each meal. The machine will take care of the rest! Plenty of the ‘smart’ feeders on the market can also connect to an app, so you’ll always be able to tell when supply is running low. As an added bonus, app control allows you to give your furry friend an extra treat, too!

Cat waiting for food in a bowl
Lightspruch / Shutterstock

Choose the food that’s best for your cat’s individual needs

Many cat owners give their cats a combination of wet and dry food. A dry food diet is fine, but choose a high-quality option that is balanced and nutritious. Additionally, make sure your cat always has access to fresh water, as dry food is not nearly as hydrating as wet food. Of course, a fresh and filled water source is necessary for felines eating mostly wet food, too.

However, dry food typically lasts longer than wet food. If wet food is left out too long because your cat didn’t finish his meal, you’ll have to throw it away. Your best bet is to experiment with your cat to see what he likes best. Just be sure that your cat isn’t overeating; obesity isn’t just a problem for people. If your cat is overweight — or underweight — consult your vet to determine the best course of action.

A tabby cat licks her lips while staring at an empty plate on a table.
mik ulyannikov / Shutterstock

Closing thoughts

Although caring for a cat might be challenging, it’s also rewarding. Cats thrive on a consistent diet and feeding schedule because they are creatures of habit. Consider your cat’s age, underlying health issues, and your schedule to create the perfect feeding routine for your cat. You will find yourself loving the consistency as much as they do.

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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