I recently ran across an article that stated that feral cats, those in the wild, will eat as often as ten to twenty times a day. That seems excessive, because they have to expend a great deal of energy to catch the mouse, the squirrel, the chipmunk in order to dine. So, the article continued, how often should you feed your cat? The author recommended leaving a bowl of food out all day.
Ah, but therein lies the rub! If you have multiple cats, you have multiple eating habits. I have different feeding “stations” for each of my cats, but none is polite enough to be satisfied with his or her own. One of my cats will deliberately pass by his own goodies and go to work on another cat’s who lies asleep, oblivious to the thievery of this cat stalking her food. I have tried putting up the unfinished bowls, but that doesn’t help the cat who did not finish his meal, preferring to wait for a hungrier time.
I feed my cats canned food in the morning. They are all hungry then, and they pay attention to their food. One eats about half, dashes outside for a potty break, and comes back in and continues. One inhales her food so to return to her lair on the upper floor. One eats while purring loudly, cleans his bowl nicely and looks expectantly for more. He is fat, so it isn’t forthcoming. Between about four and five, the cats begin to congregate, making their hunger pangs known, and I give them a cupful of dry food. Sometimes I mix it with a little pumpkin or a tiny bit of olive oil, just to keep things working. If I have left over meat without spices and so on, I will chop it fine and put it in their dished. They are not really fans of people food except for cheese, and I give them a treat of a cheese strip now and again, and of course, the occasional nibble, the equivalent of our piece of candy after a meal.
Because they share their quarters with an enormous dog, I have to watch that he doesn’t polish off what they’ve saved for chewing at their leisure. It isn’t a terrible problem, because generally, my dog is afraid to come into the kitchen, the pantry, the landing to the basement because he doesn’t like the floor. Really. I don’t know if it’s because it’s maybe slippery or if the pattern offends him. But occasionally, he will walk out of the kitchen with a furtive grin, eyes down and to the right, and the cat food is gone.
So, I have not provided one answer on how to feed them. One writer suggests that the cat have to work for its supper, but mine are far too lazy for that. They are older cats, and it seems that their golden years should be rewarded with nice meal without a lot of fuss.
I just try to determine if a cat is meowing because of hunger, or if s/he just would like a little attention. Sometimes, a scritch behind the ears is all that is needed.
I do NOT recommend that leftovers be given to dogs or cats very often. Maybe a bit of Thanksgiving turkey, or a nice little bit of pot roast, but don’t pile on the potatoes and gravy. Your pet will be healthier sticking to diets formulated for his/her own digestive system.
By Gay Fifer, Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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