Remember watching Garfield struggle to walk a few blocks from home because he could not keep his paws off a plate of lasagna? Well, scientists say most people are unwittingly putting their cats at risk by feeding them regularly. Therefore, they have come up with recommendations about how to feed your cat to avoid the risks after studying eight cats. Here are the results of the study and a guideline for proper cat feeding.
The Effects of Multiple Feeding
Animal nutrition specialists noticed that most pet cats suffer from obesity; thus, they decided to compare how feeding them a single meal versus multiple feeding impacted their health. Eight normal-weighing indoor cats, all under five years, were the subjects of the research. For three weeks, they fed the cats a single meal every day, but later, the same amount of food was divided into four meals per day. The findings were that the cats retained their weight in both instances.
The main change observed was the increase in amino acids in the blood during the first three weeks of a single meal per day feeding. The effect of increased amino acids is the maintenance of muscle mass. Additionally, a single meal a day, as published by Slash Gear, led to cats being satisfied, which in turn reduced their chances of begging for food throughout the day. With the decreased appetite, the felines’ risk of developing obesity was low. The nutritionists explained that feeding your cat with a single meal per day is like intermittent fasting, which has been proven to reduce obesity in humans.
Other Cat Feeding Methods and Their Impact
In 2018, Hill’s provided an analysis of the different feeding methods, complete with their advantages and disadvantage. According to the article, meal feeding, which implies feeding cats with several meals at specific times of the day, enables you to closely monitor the cat’s intake to avoid some cats eating more than the rest. Consequently, you can easily tell the cat that has changed his feeding habits and act accordingly. Hill’s adds that most adult cats have their nutritional needs met by one meal per day, supporting the animal nutritionists’ conclusion. However, this method encourages begging for food. Also, to prevent the spread of diseases if you are a parent to several cats, each should have its own bowl placed in its favorite place.
Another point in line with the researchers’ study is regarding free feeding. Cats left to feed on their own schedule are at higher risk of obesity. However, it can be controlled by measuring the amount of food the cat will feed on during the day and not filling the bowl up again. If not food is not measured, free feeding can lead to a lot of waste since you should throw away the food left in the bowls. Controlling the amount fed can, unfortunately, be challenging if you have multiple cats. Besides, only dry food can be fed using this method because wet food should not be left in the open for long. Finally, there is combination feeding in which you give the cat wet food twice a day and make dry food freely available. Unlike free feeding, it enables you to stay on top of your cat’s feeding habits; similar to free feeding, it can result in obesity.
The Basics of Feeding Your Cat Properly
The number of times you feed your cat is determined by more than just the age; kittens require regular feeding, but adult cats can survive on one meal per day. However, even adult cats should have varied amounts of food. As Pet Central advises, larger cat breeds need more food than the smaller ones. Additionally, a cat like Garfield that likes to laze around all day does not need as much food as one that likes to take walks around the neighborhood; you can now see why Garfield was obese.
The health of your furry friend also determines the regularity of feeding. For instance, one that has diabetes should be fed depending on the time of insulin administration. On the other hand, a cat that cannot feed on dry food will have to survive on wet foods; thus, free-feeding is not an option. On this note, it is important to clarify that although most owners prefer dry foods for their affordability and convenience, they lack enough water content, thus give your cats as much water as possible. If you are not sure of the right amount of calories your cat needs, a cat feeding chart is available on Pet Central to guide you. However, the cardinal rule is to always ask the veterinary for any changes you want to make to the pet’s diet.
What Causes Your Cat to Have an Increased Appetite?
You might try feeding your cat one meal per day, but it still behaves like it has not been fed all day, which makes you wonder if scientists were misguiding you. Webbox informs us that your cat could have an increased appetite if it is infested with worms. Regularly deworming your cat will save you the puzzled look on your face when the cat gobbles down an entire bowl food and meows for more. If you have been regularly deworming the kitty, but still, the feeding rate is worrying, maybe you should have the vet test him for hyperthyroidism, cancer, and diabetes.
The diseases cause cats to want to eat all the time, so once treated, you might notice decreased appetite. However, if all else fails, maybe your cat has an underlying psychological issue. Some humans manage their stress by ordering a box of pizza and eating it in one sitting; cats also can be depressed and try the same coping mechanism. In such cases, the solution is to keep the cat happy, play with him, pet him, and reassure him that you are his forever friend and watch the appetite return to normal.