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Do cats really get used to specific meal times?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
This is the darndest thing.

Okay, so Taco (15.5 yrs old) is my diabetic kitty, he's also battling 2 malignant tumors (on scruff and near shoulder area). For the past 5.5 yrs anyway, since he was diagnosed w/ diabetes, he (along with my other 4 cats) have had scheduled meal times; generally geared around my work hours (6am and 6pm, give or take). Well as I was laid off 2.5 months ago, I've made the times about 8 and 8.......and over the past couple of weeks I was sick with a flu-like bug and slept in one day until 11am, so then changed times to 11am and 11pm (this hasn't impacted his diabetes at all, his blood sugar, which I check twice daily prior to his food/insulin) is still around 120-130.

I'd been getting a little worried lately because 11pm will come and he doesn't eat as much.......tends to nibble the canned food throughout the night which then starts a vicious cycle because by the next meal time (11am), he's not 'starving' because he's been nibbling all night. Well last night and tonight, at 6pm he's sitting here begging me for food........which I thought was bizarre because this morning I'd fed him at 11:30am, so it was hardly 12 hours later.

Because he's got cancer, I won't do a darn thing to discourage him eating....so I checked his blood sugar and decided to feed him and he ate really well..............so it would almost seem that his body is used to 6pm.

What do you think? Do meal times get somehow ingrained?

I think I'll get him on an 8 and 8 schedule; I just have no desire to be getting up at 6am when I'm not working, makes for a very long day!
post #2 of 17
well my boys know what time wet food come s and the pup knows exactly when the food should be served
post #3 of 17
They seem to have here. Because my work schedule changed but they didn't seem to care.

You should have seen what happened when I switched the wet meal to morning instead of evening--they weren't having that--and if I miss a wet meal and just offer dry Jack b!tches about it for at least an hour.

When they say dogs have owners and cats have staff they ain't playin!

Leslie
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yes, and my crew have always been that way, too.............no matter whether I was working or not, 6am I had a herd of 5 cats on my bed and head, frantically telling me to get up and feed them.........and the same thing at 6pm..........but I just figured that because I've been feeding them at different times (though 12 hours between meals), they'd get used to the new schedule........the definitely seemed to for a good week? But then I started noticing that nobody was eating very well. Canned foods they'd love one day, they'd pick over the next. I have a pantry full of canned food LOL.......the good stuff to the cheap stuff.......I was starting to get a little concerned that they were all being so fussy ..........but it seems this might be it? -- they're so used to their set times? strange.
post #5 of 17
Well, about 10:20 pm, without fail, I suddenly become surrounded with cats meowing in my face and nudging me. They get fed at 10:30/45.
post #6 of 17
Then the time changes can really make things fun...

Topaz is a light eater. As soon as it is daylight, she eats.
post #7 of 17
I do not have to look at a watch to know the time of day (or night) when it's their time to eat.
post #8 of 17
I think they definitely do. My cats always wanted to eat as soon as they woke up, then they were up and waiting in the kitchen for lunch around 11:30 and dinner at 4:30. If I was a few minutes late, unless they were sleeping or outside, they let me know
post #9 of 17
Yes they do get used to a specific meal time. I have tried feeding a little more the night before I want to sleep in, but they are still standing on my head at 6AM

When the clocks changed we were besieged by confused kitties. I actually moved their afternoon meal gradually to meet the time change (usually it's 4, so I did it at 3 and then 3:30 over a couple of weeks, now they are fine with the "new" 4PM)
post #10 of 17
Mine get fed wet food in the morning when I wake up (regardless of time), then again at 7PM sharp. At around 6:55, the cats will start congregating around me, and if I don't get up to start feeding them by 7:05, I swear they start tapping their little feet. Scarlett will crawl into my lap, stand on her hind legs and start stroking my face with her paw, meowling the entire time. All I have to say is either "are you hungry?" or "dinnertime" and they all run into the kitchen.

Time change really confuses them. This spring I just switched their time to 8PM until the time changed again this fall.
post #11 of 17
If Pavlov would have experimented with my cats instead of dogs he would have come to the same conclusions.
post #12 of 17
So when did you all start *not* giving them free for all food? Obviously when they're kittens they can eat as much as they want but when is it appropriate to start feeding times? just curious what everybody here has done....
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by runawayrisa View Post
So when did you all start *not* giving them free for all food? Obviously when they're kittens they can eat as much as they want but when is it appropriate to start feeding times? just curious what everybody here has done....
I leave dry food out all day long, but give them their wet meals twice a day. I have some who really don't eat a lot of wet, so I have to give them the alternative. Besides, I feed 10 cats at meal times, so trying to divy out even dry twice a day is impossible for me to do.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by runawayrisa View Post
So when did you all start *not* giving them free for all food? Obviously when they're kittens they can eat as much as they want but when is it appropriate to start feeding times? just curious what everybody here has done....
I dont leave food out 24/7 for my cat because then she turns into a lazy cat. She would sleep all day! I missed my playful/active cat too much so I feed her 2 times a day and she is still very active now at 3 years old.

Lily doesnt care what time she gets fed because I never made a set time for her to eat. I always have fed her between 7 and 12 in the morning and afternoon, this way I can sleep in when I want to and she sleeps with me until whenever I wake up. But both my sisters have set times for their Siamese to eat and they both have cats who wake them up in the morning to be fed and they wont let you forget dinner either. Lol, it's very entertaining for me to watch them get bugged by their cats Especially with their silly Siamese meows.
post #15 of 17
My vet had us start doing scheduled feedings when our kitty was about a year old. She was finally up to a good weight, had finished most of her growing, and was switched to regular (adult) cat food.

She knows EXACTLY when it's time to eat, give or take a few minutes, and doesn't hesitate letting us know that her internal feeding alarm clock is ringing!!
post #16 of 17
Harley is waiting for my hubby to feed her the second she hears him coming up the stairs in the morning. She definitely knows when it's time to eat!
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by runawayrisa View Post
So when did you all start *not* giving them free for all food? Obviously when they're kittens they can eat as much as they want but when is it appropriate to start feeding times? just curious what everybody here has done....
Dry food is out all the time and they snack on that at different times through the day and night. The get a wet meal in the morning when I get up, and in the evening when I get home.

They definitely know the time because they don't bother me on the weekends until its about 30 minutes past their normal breakfast time and then they hound me until I get up and feed them Riley thought he would starve to death when the time changed and I tried to drag their dinner time out a little later to compensate
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