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Should I Keep My Cats Food Bowl Full?

If you are keen to keep your cat well-fed but do not want to overfeed it, you may be wondering if the bowl should be full or not…

Should I Keep My Cats Food Bowl Full?

You can, but it’s not recommended. Your cat needs approximately 200 to 250 calories per day, and by keeping that food bowl always full, there’s a good chance that your cat might overeat. If you have more than one cat, then it can be even worse – you’ll have no idea how much each cat is eating or not eating.

The most practical solution is scheduled feedings so that you can see them eating with your own eyes, or you could take it further. With microchip feeders, a chip in each cat’s collar is the only thing that will uncover their food, which lets you monitor their caloric intake and prevents other cats from bullying them for their food.

What is the best level to keep your cat’s food bowl at?

Don’t target a specific level, but rather, a specific schedule. Always keeping the food bowl filled to the rim will very likely result in an overweight kitty. Obesity can lead to several diseases, as well, such as diabetes, pancreatitis, liver disease, and more.

If your cat is very active outside, their caloric requirements are generally more, but not by a lot – usually around 300 calories per day, which is just a 50 calorie increase against a ‘full time’ indoor cat. It’s better to feed an exact amount at exact times during the day.

If this is hard to do from a busy work or social schedule, then an automatic feeder can even do it for you.

If I overfill my cat’s bowl can it overeat?

Bowl full of dry cat food.

A full bowl of dry cat food.

Yes, if you overfill your cat’s bowl, then you will increase the chances of your cat overeating and the likelihood of obesity. Some cats will regulate their diets, certainly, but just like with humans, the temptation to overeat is going to be there.

It’s best to remove it from the equation with scheduled, measured feedings.

How often should a cat be fed?

Twice a day, so that your cat is eating every 12 hours, is one option. Any more than 12 hours and your cat’s tummy can become an acidic place indeed, leading to stomach problems and eventually worse.

Alternately, if you have the time, 5 meals of up-to-50 calories in each serving. Ideally, served at breakfast, lunch, late afternoon, dinner, and before bedtime. This can increase your cat’s metabolism by ensuring a consistent, reliable calorie flow throughout the day.

Is free-feeding better than scheduled meals?

Free feeding can be a great option – if your cat can handle it. We recommend that if you are considering this option you spend a few days writing down everything that your cat eats so that you can count the calories.

Oftentimes, we think that our cat is dieting well on their own, but the reality is that they are snacking on treats you offer them throughout the day and simply leaving their dry food as a last option.

So, count your cat’s calories. Snacks should only make up 10% of their daily 200 to 250 calories and if it’s substantially more, then your cat isn’t self-regulating – they’re just primarily eating your scraps.

Should I let my cat eat as much as he wants?

Cat eating from a white decorated bowl.

Cat eating from a white decorated bowl.

No. It is not recommended that you let your cat regulate their diet and the statistics seem to back this up. In one 2016 survey done by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 58.9% of cats and around 53.9% of dogs were classified as overweight by their veterinarians.

While some cats can pace themselves, the odds are about 60/40 against them doing so if we go by these numbers. By taking control of your cat’s diet you’ll have the best chances of keeping your cat at its ideal and most healthy weight.

Is 1 cup of cat food too much?

Yes, 1 cup of food is just a small amount over their daily requirements, unless you have a cat that spends a lot of time outside. 1 cup of dry cat food, on average, is about 300 calories, while 1 6-ounce can of wet food is an ideal 250.

Check the calories on your specific food brand per cup serving, but if the total is 300 then just under a cup, divided into 2 feedings daily, is the easiest way to meet their daily requirements without going overboard.

Also, don’t forget to factor in those treats – the perfect amount of dry food won’t be useful if your cat is frequently eating all of your scraps. You can still let them have some, just don’t overdo it!

Should I feed my cat the same food every day?

No, you don’t want to make mealtimes boring by never changing things up, and there are different ways to easily do this and keep your cat interested in their meals.

Adding hot water to the dry food or better, chicken broth, can make the dry food into makeshift wet food, full of chicken goodness – just look for salt-free bouillon and remember to count calories. You can also simply mix a spoonful of wet food into their dry food.

Little changes like this, every now again, will go a long way toward keeping your cat looking forward to their mealtimes.

How do I tell if my cat is hungry?

Cats will let you know, one way or another. Sometimes they will approach their empty bowl and fish around in it with their paws, looking up at you expectantly, and they will likely have a very specific meow that you’ll only get when they are feeling puckish.

Watch for them stalking close to the bowl or running into the kitchen every time they hear you there. Unless they are feeling ill, your cat will always let you know when they are hungry!

Do cats know when to stop eating?

Well, yes and no. Cats have ping-pong-sized stomachs, so they will know pretty quickly when they are full, and when their brains get a signal that this is the case then they will know.

Some cats will not overeat usually, but occasionally, if they like the food or they’ve stretched their tummy with years of bad habits, then they can and do overeat. This is why you must help to make sure that they are eating regular, healthy portions so that they have less chance of becoming obese!

Lindsey Browlingdon