"Meow, meow, MEOOOW!". Or: How To Feed A Cat Without Nagging.

I used to set out a saucer of canned cat food out for my cat once a day.
The nagging started earlier and earlier. My cat would start his Poor Starving Kitty-act at o’dark thirty in the morning. We had to install a cat door, to keep him downstairs, unable from waking us by scratching at our bedroom door.

Now I’ve got three other cats. I’ve got a big bowl of dry kibble out at all times. The cats take some whenever they want. The difference is amazing: no nagging, no demanding mews. The cats maintain their weight and seem just as healthy.

Anyone got pro’s or cons to share on these two different feeding methods?

We use both, actually. Our mistresses have dry food available from a feeder 24/7, and split an envelope of wet once a day. I usually put out the wet when I get home from work, but if I am home for the day, Havoc will generally come and poke me around dinner time. So far it has worked well. The girls are healthy and reasonably slim.

One problem with free feeding is that pets tend to get fat. If this is not a problem, then so be it. Another problem with free feeding is that often the first sign of a medical problem is refusal of food. If you are free feeding multiple animals you will have no idea whether your pet is eating or not.
I am generally against free feeding, especially if it is instituted merely to convenience the pet owner.

My cat is overweight and does not have the ability to ration her food very long. I don’t think keeping a big bowl of food around would be a good idea for her, but if it works for your cats, more power.

She used to wake us up early in the morning whining for food, but I changed the routine and now I feed her at night instead. Over time she got used to the arrangement and no longer wakes us up in the morning.

My cats were waking me up before the alarm clock too. They still do, actually, but I’m seeing some results from my new method, which I got from a cat training book.

First, the book said not to feed them right when you first get up. I’m feeding mine now about an hour later, after I have breakfast!

Second, when they do meow at the door, shut them in another room so they learn to equate waking you up with loss of freedom. This one I’m not enforcing like I should, since the only room I have to put meowers in also contains the litterbox. If I shut Bad Cat in the room, Good Cat might not be able to go to the bathroom if he needs to. So for the first few episodes of the night, Bad Cat gets chased around with a squirt bottle.

Anyway, there has been some improvement.

Well, I simply feed the cats on my schedule not theirs. They learned pretty quick that the meowing simply won’t work and in fact when they howl for food they will not get it.

In what way would free feeding inconvenience a cat? Isn’t that sort of the way it is in the wild?

All my cats have been free feeders and none of them have been fat. Even better, none of them have had the habit of begging for food. Seems to be a win-win to me – the cat has its dignity and I have my peace.

I have always "free fed"my cats dry food. Only one has been overweight and he’s a Maine Coon, so he’s a different build anyway.

Try free feeding a high quality pet-food store dry food.

I’ll know if one cat is eating or not as I still give them one small can a day split. When they won’t eat it and/or when I don’t see them going for the dry food, I know they are refusing food.

I think it really depends on the cat. I’ve free fed cats for years and never had a problem until I got the Big Guy. After he hit 4 or 5 years, he really started gaining weight and now weighs 22 pounds. My other cat seems to be able to free feed without gaining.

Mine more-or-less free-feed. For two of them, it’s not an issue. One is getting overweight. YCat’sMMV.

I have no idea.

Cat gets one pouch of wet food in the evening, and has kibble to free-feed on all day.

The kibble doesn’t stop her from howling for dinner from about five-five thirty onwards (never any earlier than five, though), but she doesn’t get fed until the both of us are home. Otherwise if one of us is home first and feeds her, she’ll then set up a horrible racket when the other gets home trying to convince them that the horrible human who’s been home with her all afternoon is starving her to DEATH!

Hey! You guys know the rules about kitty threads!

Oh, I don’t think the food quality necessarily has anything to do with it. Quite the contrary, perhaps. The real high-quality stuff tends to be higher in protein and ( often ) fats. Both things cats need, but with the high-quality stuff you can get away with feeding less of it. But free-feeding gluttons on the good stuff can, I’m sure, lead to quicker weight gain.

The cat before my current two I free-fed crap quality food for 17 years and she always remained slim and trim. However these two, free-fed very high-quality food, started gaining rapidly as soon as they got out of kittenhood. They have to have their food measured out now, or they’d balloon out of control ( it doesn’t help that one of them thinks he’s a dog and eats accordingly ).

So I think whether you can free-feed or not depends less on food quality and more on the idiosyncracies of the individual cats. If you can free-feed your cat, excellemt. I used to and would if I could now ( though the advice about watching them enough to make sure they are eating is very spot on ). But I don’t think it can be done ( healthily ) with some cats.

As for mine, they get fed twice a day, don’t ( usually ) sleep in my room and have “trained” well enough that they won’t generally start complaining outside my door until ~9:00 a.m. .

  • Tamerlane

That is true, but grocery store cat food tends to be more “junk food”- cats eat more of the empty calories. However, in any case, that corn-based grocery store stuff should never be fed to your cat, “free feed” or not.

It is true that cats do differ and if you find you cat gaining too much weight then maybe free feeding is not right for that cat. But it is fine for* most *cats.

My parents’ kitty free fed and was always sleek and svelte. I started with free-feeding my kitties (2) but when I added a third to the mix he had a different kittenhood than the others and tended to over eat. So I cut it down to 2 feedings of one cup of food a day, one when I wake up and one about when I get home from work. If there is still food in the bowl I will not re-fill it, which leaves enough variability in the feeding schedule that only one of the three bugs me about food, and that’s only when I walk over into that corner of the kitchen. Otherwise, all is well!

Oh–and because they don’t get squishy food, and no scraps, they don’t even notice when I use the can opener!(!!!) We can even leave out food out on the table and they won’t bug it–they just don’t recognize it as kitty food.

Bad cat.

Good cat.

I think you labeled those backwards. Bad Cat is too cute to be bad, and Good Cat is too evil-looking to be good.

  1. Nooo! Don’t let Bad Cat use his kitty wiles on you! It’s a trap!

  2. Just between you, me, and the message board, Good Cat is a little bit dumb. But sweet-natured.

are you sure you were feeding him enough? the canned stuff I use says to feed them 1 can per 4.5 lbs of cat.