How often should you feed your cat?

Trying to find the perfect food for your cat can be difficult, with endless delicious and nutritious options available. Buying the best food for your cat is only half the battle, too — 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 them anywhere from once a day to five times a day, depending on their individual needs. After all, it’s no secret that every cat has their own distinct personality, right? However many times you offer food to your cat in a day, feeding schedules impact their digestive system, energy levels, and overall happiness, so it is so important to find the perfect balance.

Orange cat with metal bowl
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Cats, like many other animals, love routine. They will learn when they should be fed and happily remind you of it. This is why having a consistent feeding schedule for your cat is a necessity. It will make them feel balanced and ready to take on each and every day.

How often should I feed my cat?

Always consider your cat’s age

A cat’s age has a huge impact on how often you should be feeding them.

  • Kittens: Kittens are usually fed more often throughout the day because they require more food per pound of bodyweight than adult cats. This is because they are in a vital growing stage. If they don’t get enough nutrients and calories, it can inhibit their growth and cause issues later on. Kittens younger than 6 months old can be fed four or five times a day, while kittens older than 6 months can be fed about three times per day for the best, healthiest growth.
  • Adult Cats: Once a kitten becomes a cat, at about 1 year old, you can switch their feeding schedule to once or twice a day. This is pretty consistent with most healthy cats and will ensure a good, routine diet. You should feed your adult cat at the exact same time or times each day. If you are feeding your cat twice a day, it is recommended to feed once in the morning and once at night. This consistency will help your cat maintain a healthy digestive system. With a consistent feeding schedule, it is also easier to notice any discrepancies in feeding or stool. Any discrepancies could mean an underlying medical issue that you will want to get checked out.

Overall, it is vital to consider the age of your cat when determining a feeding schedule. The different stages of life require unique feeding to ensure your cat is getting enough nutrients and calories. Regardless of whether you feed your cat once a day or your kitten four times a day, always ensure the timing is consistent on a day-to-day basis to promote a healthy digestive system.

White cat eating from orange bowl
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Health issues may have an impact

There are many health issues that affect your cat on a day-to-day basis. Most of the time, their diet and feeding frequency need to be designed to specifically fit their needs.

  • Diabetes: A cat suffering from diabetes may need to be fed as frequently as they are given insulin. Some insulin needs to be taken with food, so it is important to center your cat’s feeding schedule around the frequency and times needed for insulin injections.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This disease typically will make your cat want to eat constantly. An overactive thyroid gland encourages hunger and eating. It is important to try to get your cat treated for this disease. Until treatment, you can keep your cat comfortable and well-fed with frequent, small meals. It is important to not overfeed your cat, but treats and small meals throughout the day will help them feel more comfortable and well-fed.
  • Dental issues: As cats age, their teeth and gums become more delicate and sensitive. One way to combat this issue is with wet, soft cat foods, but the frequency at which you give them this food is important. It is important to give older cats food once or twice a day. This isolates the time it takes to chew the food and will allow them a consistent schedule. Consistency is key when feeding an old cat. Their digestive system is delicate, and any slight change could upset their stomach, so ensure you are feeding your old cat on a regular daily basis.
Cat waiting for food in a bowl

Incorporate your personal schedule

Your cat can’t be fed if you are at work, so create a schedule around your day. If you have a consistent workday schedule, then it is easy to feed once in the morning and once at night. If your schedule is a bit more hectic with less consistency, a late-night or early-morning feeding time once a day may suit your needs better. Regardless of your schedule, you should do your best to feed your cat at the same time or times every day. It is important for them to have a consistent routine for both their mental and emotional health, as well as their digestive system.

What should I feed my cat?

Many cat owners choose to give their cats a combination of wet and dry food. A dry food-only diet is fine, but make sure you choose a high-quality option that is well-balanced and nutritious. Additionally, make sure your cat drinks plenty of water, as dry food is not nearly as hydrating as wet food is.

Dry food typically lasts longer than wet food does. If wet food is left out too long because your cat didn’t finish his meal, it has to be thrown 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 on the best course of action.

Taking care of a cat can be a handful, but it is a rewarding handful. They will thrive on a consistent diet and feeding schedule because they are creatures of routine. Consider your cat’s age, underlying health issues, and your own personal schedule to create the perfect feeding routine for you and your cat. You will find yourself loving the consistency as much as they do.

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