The amount and frequency of meals depend on your cat's age, health and preference.
Age Makes a Difference
Kittens require more food per pound of body weight to support their growth than do adult cats and therefore should be fed more often throughout the day. "Growing kittens up to six months of age may require three meals a day," says Francis Kallfelz, DVM, Ph.D., board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and James Law Professor Emeritus of nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. "From age six months to maturity, most cats will do well when fed two times a day."
Once the cat becomes an adult, at about one year, feeding once or twice a day is appropriate in most cases. Senior cats, age seven and above, should maintain the same feeding regimen. "Once cats reach adulthood, once a day feeding is fine as long as they are healthy and have no disease problems suggesting a reason to feed differently," says Dr. Kallfelz.
When a cat ages, his teeth may go bad, or he may develop gum disease that may make it difficult to chew dry food. "If they get to that point, then offer them canned food or dry in a finer nugget size," says Dr. Kallfelz. You can also mash up the dry and mix it with water to make it easier to chew.
Other Factors That Affect
Cats vary in size. Maine Coons, which are considered to be a larger breed of cat, will need to eat more than a smaller breed cat, such as a Siamese. Also, cats can vary in their body frame size. Smaller-framed or “petite” cats require less food than a larger-framed, or “big-boned” cat.
Cats that tend to lay around burn way fewer calories than a cat that gets a lot of exercises. Also, every cat has their own unique metabolic rate (the rate at which they burn calories). Some are high and others are low
Indoor versus Outdoor:
Outdoor cats tend to burn more calories than indoor cats, as they are usually more physically active.
Overweight cats need fewer calories since they are often less active.
Certain diseases alter the type and amount of protein that should be in a cat’s food. Some illnesses affect a cat’s metabolic rates causing them to burn more calories.
Pregnant and nursing cats have a higher caloric requirement due to the nutritional demands on their body during those times. But spayed and neutered cats need a reduction in the number of calories due to a slower metabolism from the lack of hormones.
Regular Feeding Times
Regular, routine feeding times allow your cat's body to be prepared for the food it will receive. It is not recommended to keep the bowl filled and allow grazing.
A break in eating habits can be a warning sign of illness. When cats eat on a regular schedule, that habit becomes strong. It is easy to see at a glance if all the food from a meal is consumed. If food is left, whether all or part of a meal, it is an important signal that something is wrong, and it is time to schedule a veterinary appointment.
Some cats really can regulate their food intake fairly well. It is still a good idea to create the expectation of mealtimes. This will help make it easier if another pet is added to your family at some point in the future. For grazers, simply measure out the entire day's portion of food in the morning and offer the bowl several times throughout the day. Choose regular times in order to create the routine we know is helpful. The important thing is to use a measured portion, either with a measuring cup or a kitchen scale, for the day.
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