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Free fed or scheduled meals?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
i have 3 cats. i usually free fed dry food, and give wet in the am and evening.

should i feed scheduled meals or countinue to free feed??
post #2 of 20
Zoey is free feed as she is a self regulator and likes to eat in the middle of the night.... I do measure out her food she eats about 1 cup pr day ....
post #3 of 20
Zoe is only 9 weeks old, so until she is about 3 months, I will feed her freely, since she is a growing girl. After that, I will regulate her food to 1/2 cup dry and about 1 oz wet, twice a day.
post #4 of 20
I feed scheduled and regular meals twice a day. I like knowing exactly what they're eating and when, it's easier to spot a sickness or change in diet or appetite, etc. etc. For some reason I'm not too comfortable with free feeding.
post #5 of 20
I used to free feed but Roxie over-gorged herself and gained soo much weight... So now she gets three scheduled meals a day... Wet food in the am, a measured amount of dry at lunchtime and then wet food again at dinner. She will usually munch on the dry until dinner but she does still have some of her piggy tendencies and will practically vacuum it all down 5 minutes after I've given it to her

If your cats are free fed and not overweight I wouldn't worry too much. Do you feed them strictly dry? If so, you should think about adding some wet to their diet. It's much better for your babies
post #6 of 20
If they are spayed/neutered its better to do scheduled meals or they will become fat quickly on free feeding.

Ours gets a scoop of dry (not sure how much - maybe 1/3 - 1/2 cup) in the morning which they eat over a few hrs and the canned food at nite.
post #7 of 20
Right now PHX is being free fed, but he's gaining a little bit of weight He's not fat, just gaining weight!
post #8 of 20
I think sometimes it depends on the cats. I always leave some dry out for mine but then they have scheduled feedings of their wet food. But if either of them were over weight I'd have to reconsider leaving that dry food out all the time.
post #9 of 20
If they are governing themselves, you can free feed. However, given my problems with my three, I would recommend seeing if you can get them on scheduled meals. As they grow older or have problems, then you may find yourself trying to make sure that your cats are eating the right food. We can't stop the free feeding right now because the eldest is underweight and is used to free feeding but Carly tends to be overweight so we are trying to manage one that is losing and one that is gaining. I think if they are used to scheduled feedings, you can manage this better.
post #10 of 20
See, that is why once Zoe gets older, I'll start schedule feeding. Right now, I give her a certain amount of food (about 1/2 cup) and she can eat all she wants, I can pretty much tell how much she eats of that. But she also nurses her mommy during the day. Once she gets older, I'll be paranoid and controlling and need to know how much she eats so I can tell if her appetite has changed so I can match it with either a health or emotional issue.
post #11 of 20
Well, I used to free feed my 8 cats, and only one of them "became quickly fat". However, for various reasons I switched to scheduled meals earlier this year and I'm very happy with the results. The main reason I switched was just to get them off of dry food...but there have been a lot of other benefits.

With just one cat who manages their intake well, I think free feeding is fine. But with multiple cats it can be a lot harder to know how much each one is eating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysmom View Post
I like knowing exactly what they're eating and when, it's easier to spot a sickness or change in diet or appetite, etc. etc. For some reason I'm not too comfortable with free feeding.
This is something I didn't consider before switching to meals, but it is very true. I've caught a couple of minor issues much earlier than average because I could see an appetite drop off sharply, whereas with free feeding the change wouldn't have been noticeable.
post #12 of 20
I feed ours twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. They each get one tub of their soft food. Since i schedule their feedings i can monitor them better, watch their food intake eaiser and keep track of their weight easier. Now if you talk to my kitties though they would LOVE to be fed every 5 minutes (exactly why i schedule feed they'll eat themselves to death if you let them lol)
post #13 of 20
I would free feed but my cat can't self regulate. She has to be on scheduled feedings
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roxie225 View Post
I used to free feed but Roxie over-gorged herself and gained soo much weight... So now she gets three scheduled meals a day... Wet food in the am, a measured amount of dry at lunchtime and then wet food again at dinner. She will usually munch on the dry until dinner but she does still have some of her piggy tendencies and will practically vacuum it all down 5 minutes after I've given it to her

If your cats are free fed and not overweight I wouldn't worry too much. Do you feed them strictly dry? If so, you should think about adding some wet to their diet. It's much better for your babies

they are not overweight. 2 are a year old, and one is 2. i free feed dry, and they get wet in the am, and at night.
post #15 of 20
It sounds like your strategy is working for your cats. With mine, Willow is free-fed and Odo gets two meals per day. Willow is on the skinny side but almost always eats enough to maintain her weight. Odo, however, tends to be a bit heavy, so he is restricted to meals. Also, Odo only gets canned food, whereas Willow gets dry (with occasional canned treats).
post #16 of 20
I agree that your strategy seems to work. Every cat is different and it seems that your kitties are able to regulate themselves when it comes to the dry. As long as they are at a healthy weight I wouldn't change what you are doing now. If in the future you do see an increase in weight, then it may be time to think about regulating their dry food.
post #17 of 20
I free feed my boys- they get 1 cup of dry to share a day, but then get wet food every morning and at night too, seems to work for us, and they KNOW when its time to get their wet food! They will be sitting in the kitchen waiting for it!
post #18 of 20
i free feed but a measured amount. i put it out 2x a day. they get 3 wet food meals. but stimpy usually only wants to eat wet 2x a day. he's more of a kibble guy.
post #19 of 20
I have read that it's healthy for cats to have 8-12 hours between meals in which they don't even smell food. It prevents finickiness and helps control weight. And it's reccommended that all food be removed after 30 minutes. This doesn't work for one of my cats because if I only left out food for 30 minutes Spotty wouldn't eat enough of his wet food and if he eats dry food too fast he throws up so he needs to be fed a little more frequently. I split a 3 oz can or half a 5.5 oz can of wet in the morning and then put down a quarter to one third cup of dry food(depending on how much wet food has been eaten)for both cats to share in the morning and when they've eaten that that's all they get til dinner time, there is no time limit for how long it takes them to eat it except for the wet food which is usally one or two hours. For dinner I give them the same amount of wet food twice(adds up to a 3 oz can per cat spread over 2 meals) once at 5 pm and once at 8 pm. Occasionally I feed Rosie raw instead of canned but Spotty won't eat raw so I give him canned separately. If Spotty doesn't eat some or all of his wet in the evening he might get 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup extra dry.
post #20 of 20
I free fed Jaffa when he was a kitten but since he was about 6 months mine have all been on scheduled feeds as Jaffa will gorge if food is left out all the time. I also feed wet food so don't want to leave that lying around all day. I feed 3 times a day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moggiegirl View Post
I have read that it's healthy for cats to have 8-12 hours between meals in which they don't even smell food.
Jaffa vomits is he goes too long without food. I guess a cat in the wild would eat several small meals throughout the day, as and when it caught prey, so I think several scheduled meals throughout the day would be ideal but that's not practical for most people so we have to compromise.
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