Cats are solitary feeders, so when there are multiple cats in the home, it can be difficult to know how and when to feed each cat.  Here are some pros and cons of three different methods of feeding cats.

Meal Feeding is when food is provided at specific meal times (often 2 to 4 times a day) during the day, but is not freely available between meals.

Advantages

Food intake can be closely monitored.

Easy to tell if a cat has a poor appetite.

All cats have access to food.

Disadvantages

One must avoid allowing the cat to beg for food between meals.

The cat cannot control when it eats.

Free choice feeding is making food available at all times; only dry foods can be fed in this way.

Advantages

Allows the cat the eat multiple small meals per day on its own schedule.

Disadvantages

It is difficult to monitor how much each cat is eating.

More difficult to tell if a cat has a poor appetite.

Often leads to overeating and obesity.

Combination feeding is when canned food is fed as a meal, often twice daily, and dry food is freely available.

Advantages

Allows the cat to eat multiple small meals per day on its own schedule.

Intake of canned food can be monitored.

Appetite can be partially monitored.

Disadvantages

Total food intake is not easily monitored.

Often leads to overeating and obesity.

Generally in most multi-cat homes, meal feeding with individual feeding stations is the best approach.  This is especially true when some cats must be fed a specific type of food.  Free choice feeding can be problematic in multi-cat situations, particularly because it is not easy to monitor each cat’s appetite and food intake.  This can make it more difficult to tell when your cat is not feeling well.

 

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