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24/7 feeding vs specific meal times?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Hello all!

I was just wondering what the pros and cons are between leaving a bowl out 24/7 and having specific meal times. I see the need if you're feeding wet food which shouldn't stay out, but I only feed dry. I normally just put out a cup of food per cat in the morning and let them eat as they please throughout the day. However it seems to me that they are beginning to think that there should ALWAYS be food in their bowls and they act like they are being starved - which they certainly are not! I have been woken up sometimes as early as 4am because they want more food in their bowl - and it appears that they just want to see it there, not eat it. If they were previously ferals or outdoor cats I would think that they were assuring themselves that they had something to eat, but I got them as just weaned kittens and they have only known a loving, safe, providing home. Also, they are indoor only cats and I'm concerned about them becoming obese at a later date if I keep giving into that heartbreaking mewing. I've also got the sneaking suspicion that Smudge, my dominant, might be eating more than his share and I don't want Nermal to suffer any health problems.

If it IS better to have specific meal times how in the world do I switch them over??
post #2 of 50
For most cats, I like to do the seperate servings, 2x a day.
I have free fed however.

Some cats are more prone to eating to much and becoming fat, some other cats stay highly active, and don't eat more then their fill on a daily basis and do fine.

As long as all your cats look good and healthy, and are at a great weight, and get their daily excerise and continue on this way, you can feel free to keep free feeding.

Though if they eat it all in the morning, then yes they are hungry come supper time. If you ate a HUUUUGE breakfast, you would STILL be hungry say oh 6 or 7 at night wouldn't you? Thusly eating even more, same for your cats.

Free feeding is mostly good for finiky eaters, cats whom are easily distracted, and easy on owners who don't want to worry about feeding cats all the time while they are away.

I prefer to feed 2x a day as I said, I can put the proper adn exact portions in EACH cats bowl, not every cat will need 1/2 a cup of food, some will need 1/3 some will need 1/4. I like to put my cats in seperate rooms until they are done eating, so one isn't chasing another away form their dish, one goes hungry, and another gets to fat from eating 2 bowls, etc.

Oh also, if you feed them the proper amount and they are not getting fat or eating all day, you will have less stuff in the litter box to scoop!
post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 
They are definitely 'nibblers' so maybe if I feed them a little in the morning before work and then a little when I get home it will balance out a little better for them.

I currently feed them Purina Special One, which apparently is easily digestable because my litter box is not smelly (even with two cats using the same box!) but after reading your posts on the Chicken Soup food I'm going to go get them some of that tonight as well as change their litter from the clumping clay to either SWheat or Pa-purr (whichever I can find in my area).
post #4 of 50
We only have one cat, so I don't have to worry about one cat eating too much and the other(s) going without. I feed twice daily: half a day's portion of dry food in the morning, which JC can eat throughout the day, and then canned food (half a day's portion) in the evening. If I free-fed dry food, I wouldn't be able to get him to eat canned food, which I feel he should eat in case he develops kidney problems later in life.
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 
A dry food only diet will give cats kidney problems!? I wasn't aware of this - please give me more info!!
post #6 of 50
Thread Starter 
Can anyone tell me how to get a pic to post w/ my signature??
post #7 of 50
Find the picture you want to use in your signature. Get the url to it (the address/link) http://www.mypictures.com/cat.jpg

Uptop of this page click on User CP
Click on Edit Profile

You will see a box for Signature: in there type

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Submit Modifications button.

Or whatever the address of the image happens to be. It has to be hosted on a website (server) some where, you can't just use one off of your hard drive.

About the dry cat food. All diets can cause problems of some sort, and not every animal will actually eat a diet. Some will only eat dry, some wet, some only raw/barf.
I prefer a diet of mostly dry, HIGH QUALITY dry food that is, high quality food can help reduce the risk of illness's and desease's. With this diet I make sure they get PLUNTY of water, and they get wet food about every 3 days.
Course this is just finacially and time wise speaking.
I think the raw/barf diet is the best diet for animals, but I don't always have the time or money to feed JUST that, my cats get off sets of raw treats, and I'm slowly trying to get my ferret on the same diet, though he is not as willing.

Purina One is an ok food if that's your only option, glad to see you choose that food, and if you can get the Chicken Soup for the Cat lovers Soul, go for it!
I'm trying to find some research pages for you right now in regaurds to dry food but I don't have it all book marked.

Sorry this is all I have for you right now, but it's a good starting point on companion animal nutrition.

post #8 of 50
I have 5 cats ranging in ages from 12 yrs to 1 1/2 yrs. They are on an all day feeding schedule. I find that I usually fill their dishes in the morning and again at bedtime. The dishes are not empty either time but the kitties like to see "fresh" food put in the dish. None of the cats are overweight and all a very active.
I tried to switch to Purina One food and they wouldn't have anything to do with it. They eat Meow Mix. Is this a bad food?
post #9 of 50
Meow Mix is not the best food. You want to stay away from the red colored type of dry food because of the dyes in them. Also something I recently found out is that when cats have dry food down all the time, sometimes their food clock shuts off, and they just don't show much interest in eating. If you can leave the food down for only 30 minutes at a time, or buy a timed out feeder, this is best.

You can find some good ones here:

Feeding Solutions
post #10 of 50
I free-feed Spike. He's my only cat, and he's only given dry kibble. (He gets wet on very rare occasions.) Anyway, he's also a nibbler, and only eats a few pieces of kibble at a time. I guess I'm lucky... he doesn't seem to overeat at all. He's also very active and isn't overweight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things stay as they are.

Oh, and swngdancir, if you just change the "[/url]" at the end of your signature to be "[/img]" your picture should show up.
post #11 of 50
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jenn!!! Obviously my pic is there now! Now I just have to figure out how to shrink it a little....
post #12 of 50
Originally posted by gert452000
I tried to switch to Purina One food and they wouldn't have anything to do with it. They eat Meow Mix. Is this a bad food?
I had a heck of a time when I originally tried switching mine from Cat Chow...they wanted nothing to do with new foods. With the advice of my vet I successfully switched them over a 3wk period by adding a very small amount of the new food and increasing the amount daily while slowly decreasing the amount of Cat Chow. This worked well for us
post #13 of 50
Nern: Yeah that's how it's suppose to be done. Slowly increase the amount of new food, and decrease the old over the period of at LEAST a week. Not only can they adjust to the new taste, but it is better for the digestive system.
post #14 of 50
No problem swngdancir. And Smudge is so handsome!

I heisted a copy of your picture, and sized it down for you. (You don't have to use it if you don't want - I won't be hurt! ) Also, if you'd rather it a different size, I can do it for you, just let me know.

post #15 of 50
Between my two furbabies, i must say Daisy is definitely the one that is harder to please. This "lady" will only eat stuff she LIKES.

i feed my outside kitties (Feral kitties) about 2 times a day. i can tell when one longs for canned food. i feed 2 servings of wet food and 2 separate large servings of dry food. They all love all types of Fancy Feast wet food.

With Daisy and Venus, i am really happy they eat together. i have never seen them fight over food.

i feed them about 2 cans of wet food in the morning. They like Fancy Feast. Now, they are eating about 6 varieties, mostly flake pieces, seafood fillets and grilled/marinated chicken. i mix in the Pawiers supplements whenever i feed them wet food. These are basically droplets of vitamin supplements.

Also, i serve them dry food about 2 times a day. They are not huge portions. The dry food mix consists of 3 different Wellness and Solid Gold. i premix them in a large and airtight tin (those large and cute tins from Ikea.)

Also, i change their water bowls twice a day. i don't give them tap water, due to the chlorine content. Just distilled or bottled water. Whatever i drink, they drink. *Only pertaining to clear H2O of course!

In between their play times or after a grooming session, i give them treats, in the form of human baby chicken food. i use a baby spoon to feed them. Both girls love it!

Here is a recent pix of them during chomp2 time!

post #16 of 50
Thread Starter 
Woo-Hoo! Thanks Jenn - the pic is great!
post #17 of 50
I free feed my 3 month old because I work 8-5 and he'd starve through that time. But when he gets older I plan on feeding him 3 small meals per day if he is overweight otherwise I feel that he's fine free feeding. But that is one thing I always think about. Also if I have him on meals...what if i'm not home at that time each day?
post #18 of 50
You're welcome, swngdancir!
post #19 of 50
Sorry - I wasn't implying that dry food causes kidney problems. An awful lot of cats develop kidney problems later in life, and then some vets advise that they should get canned food instead of dry. I'm just insisting that JC eat some canned food as a precaution, because he really prefers dry. I don't want him to fixate on one food. My mom adopted a 10-year-old cat that would only eat one brand of canned cat food, and one flavor (chicken). A few years back there were really bad ice storms and snow in the Midwest, and all the stores in her area were out of that brand. She called up everyone she knew, begging for that brand, because Ginger simply refused to eat anything else. It really could have been a catastrophe.
post #20 of 50
Thread Starter 
JC looks like he could be brothers (or at least cousins) with my Smudge!
post #21 of 50
I was thinking that myself, but seeing as they're on different continents.... "Smudge" is the perfect name for your cat!
post #22 of 50
Okay...so how about this?

Each morning before going to work I put a 1/2 cup of food in Willie's dish. He digs through that all day until the next morning when jsut a few crumbs remain. I'm still measuring his food he just nibbles all day long. I don't just fill the bowl up to the top each time. So he really has no way of overeating, except when I decide to feed him some canned food as a treat.

Is it just that free feeding always keeps his degestive system working that is bad? I don't know...is it even bad? It's like the hard food issue versus the canned food...which is really better? Whatever way I still treasure my cat like he's gold. I've only had in for one month...but he was born on Jan 22. I adopted him from the humane society when he was 9 weeks old and so little.
post #23 of 50
Hi I used to do that when it was just Piper (well I put half dwon in the morning and left it there, then half down at night, adn both times there was a little food left), and as long as you catch him eating during the day and not all at once, and there is always some food left in the morning, that is just fine.

if he later starts to want to eat more that his portion, then stop free feeding, measure and give it in two meals.

I was just at the vet yesturday for Roxy booster, we talked about feeding since I now have 3 cats, and he was telling me all fixed cats need to be watched with what they eat, overweight cats are the biggest underlying health problems, especially with age...

I also asked because Roxy is getting spayed in 2 weeks, and people told me her behavior will change ie. calm down) and she will gain weight..........he said she is at perfect size and should stay that way, so to not give her more food than her recomended protion...and watch her carefully and give her lots of exercise once she is healed!
post #24 of 50
I think it depends on the cat and where they are..If they are outside and u have alot (I have 10)then I think it's ok to leave food out (not toooooo much or you'll be feeding area wildlife too). They are active enough outside to exercise the extra pounds away that a inside cat would normally get from too much food. They will still catch mice and other kittie delicacies. As for an inside cat it depends on how active the cat is and how much you feel u can handle the constant meowing. If you already leave food out and don't want to anymore, then u can switch to however many times you want...BUT first you need to VERY slowly cut back. The slower the better because u will have less meowing. They are less likely to notice (and beg for more food)if they don't notice that u are cutting back. GOOD LUCK and have fun!!!
post #25 of 50
i free feed my kitties dry food, and then in the morning i feed them wet food for breakfast
i was just wondering , i don't know if you guys have these brands over there in the states, i feed my cats Whiskers brand and Friskies brand dry food, these are just cat biscuits you can buy in the supermarket, do they have a poor nutritional content..ie. should i not be feeding my cats these?
post #26 of 50
Iceangel: We have both Wiskas and Frisky's here in the states. And they are pretty much at the bottom of the chain as far as cat foods go. I would definetly recomend a change, but that's up to you.

Foods I would recommend...
Solid Gold
Natural Balance

There are numorous other ones you can find in petstores or buy online, if you find one you like that you have access to, just ask and I will personally give you the run down of that food, as I'm sure several other people here will too!

If you are limited to grocery stores only, then you might want to consider...
Fancy Feast (canned only).
Maxximum Nutrition (Sold at Walmart)
Purina ONE
post #27 of 50
okay thanks, well some of those i don't think i can get here, i can get fancy feast though, and maybe purina..
what do you think of foods like whiskers advanced? do they have better nutritional content? how about iams?
i don't think i can afford anything too expensive!
i'm thinking about changing but it won't be for another few months cuz i just entered this compitition where if u buy 6kgs of friskies you get a free cat tunnel, so they have to finish that first!
post #28 of 50
IceAngel: I'm going to send you a PM when I get home from work in reguards to Iam's and why I feel you should never buy their products.

Are you talking about Wiska's or Whiskers food? We have Wiska's here in the states! But not Whiskers.

Perhaps if you could look at the back of the bag, and type up the list of the first 6 or so ingredients, and tell me the protient and fiber content, I could advise better.

I can not tell you what foods are good over there, as I have never been over there.
post #29 of 50
Thread Starter 
Please include me on that PM regarding Iams. Thanks!
post #30 of 50
Iceangel & Swingdancir: Check your PM's
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