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Do Cats Get Hungry At Night?

If you are wondering about the best times to feed your cat you may be concerned or interested to know if they need food at night…

Do cats get hungry at night?

Cats are nocturnal animals and it’s not uncommon for them to pop out of bed at night and go on the prowl, so they certainly get the craving for a late-night snack from time to time. If they are eating on a regular schedule, however, then don’t worry too much.

Your kitty will be fine waiting until morning, as long as they are getting enough daily calories.

Should I leave food out overnight for my cat?

A cat sitting on a table next to a book in the dark.

A cat sitting on a table next to a book in the dark.

That’s going to be optional, but some owners like to leave a very small amount of dry food out overnight as a ‘midnight snack’. Depending on how active your adult cat is, they will need a daily caloric intake of 20 to 30 calories per pound of their current body weight, to maintain it.

If you total up the calories from their meals, then you can get a good idea of how close they are to this target, and that will help you decide how much extra food to put out overnight if you decide to do this for your kitty.

When is the best time to feed a cat?

A twice-a-day schedule is usually the best, but don’t let more than 12 hours pass between the 2 feedings, or your cat’s tummy can produce too much acid and make your cat feel sickly. A good example schedule would be feeding every morning at 8 am and every evening at 6 so that 10 hours pass between meals.

What time should I feed my cat at night?

It depends on whether or not your cat has adopted your schedule. Some cats will sleep at the same time as their owners, and possibly right next to you in your bed. Other cats like to get up and prowl about in the house at night, enjoying the peaceful silence and hunting for an unlucky bug or a mouse.

For the late-night hunting cats, then you should try to tailor that evening meal for a little before your bedtime, You could even do an 8 am and 7 pm schedule so that only 11 hours pass between meals and your cat gets some extra nutrition before you sleep and they start their evening ‘rounds’ around the house.

If your cat sleeps on the same schedule as you do, then an 8 am and 6 pm feeding will be a better fit and give your cat plenty of time to play with you in the evening, visit the litter box, and groom themselves a bit before you both go to bed.

How do you know if a cat is hungry?

Some cats will give you little hints, such as staring up expectantly at you when you are having a snack or reaching their paws into their empty bowl as if to remind you that there’s nothing there. Most cats, however, will be more proactive about it and simply meow at you.

It’s not unheard of for cats to wake up their owners in the morning this way and some will even give you a light nip on the hand to wake you up if they have caught you oversleeping a little. Don’t worry about a missed message when it comes to your cat being hungry – unless they are very ill, they’ll let you know.

Can I feed my cat dry food in the morning and wet food at night?

Cat food in a food bowl.

Cat food in a food bowl.

Yes, you can feed your cat dry food in the morning and wet food at night, provided that they are eating all of their wet food. This lets them eat little bits here and there throughout the day since the dry food stays fresh longer, but as the wet food should only be out for 4 hours you’ll have to experiment to figure out how much of it your cat will eat with this arrangement.

Is my cat really hungry when it begs for food in the morning?

Yes, your cat is probably hungry, as cats are nocturnal by nature. Plus, consider the time – if it’s been 12 hours between means, then your cat’s belly is full of excess stomach acid and they might even feel nauseous.

Even if it hasn’t been that long, a cat that is active at night is burning calories, so they are 99% likely to be genuinely hungry, with that other 1% just using it as an excuse to get you to wake up and spend some time with them.

Why is my kitten always hungry?

This is normal, as your kitten is developing and needs a lot of calories to do so efficiently. Most kittens will need between 250 and 280 calories every day, and it’s best if you divide it up into 6 small portions if you’ll be home so that they won’t feel so hungry during the day.

If you won’t be home, you can always leave out some extra kernels for your kitten and they should be fine. At this age, it’s really hard to overfeed them, so leaving a little extra out will help to ensure that they are always getting enough to feel full.

Should I ignore my cat meowing at night?

If you’ve just brought your cat home and they’ve got a bed, a litter box, and plenty of food and water, then it’s best to ignore them when they meow at night. Cats notice when you come running every time that they meow and they’ll take advantage of this if you let them.

By ignoring them in the beginning, you’ll be teaching them not to ‘meow’ for frivolous reasons like attention. Now, that said, if your cat has been home for a while, then evening meows are worth investigating – especially with older kitties.

After all, aside from scents and body language, meows are pretty much their most direct form of communication, so if once you’ve taught them not to meow in the evening, then a sudden change in the silence is worth looking into just in case your cat is trying to tell you something.

Is my cat hungry or greedy?

Why not both? Just like humans, cats can and sometimes do overeat, and feline obesity can be quite dangerous to their health. The best way to tell if your cat is getting enough calories is to count their daily intake.

Depending on how active they are, your cat needs 20 to 33 calories per pound of body weight to maintain its current mass. If they are getting this, then extra feedings will lead to weight gain, either slowly or quickly depending on the calories involved.

A good way to regulate their calories and to get your kitty to ‘beg’ less is an automatic feeder. These are fairly inexpensive and allow you to program a schedule for the food bowl to open up and give them a premeasured food portion at specific times.

Once your cat learns how to use it, they’ll learn that schedule and when they are feeling hungry, they’ll be more likely to simply ‘wait it out’ at the feeder, rather than getting vocal at you when they feel that you are getting a little lax with their schedule!

Lindsey Browlingdon