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Why Does My Cat Eat One Kibble At a Time?

If you have noticed that your cat is only eating one kibble at a time it may be a concern. And, it may leave you wondering why and what to do about it…

Why Does My Cat Eat One Kibble At a Time?

When your cat bats or gently picks up a piece of kibble with their mouth to eat it separately, this is often an example of an evolutionary trait that felines exhibit instinctually. With kitties in the wild, a piece of food is selected and batted or carried away from the other cats.

This is for safe consumption away from others. It ensures that the cat eats by minimizing the chances that this tidbit is stolen.

That said, if this behavior is new, it could also mean that your cat is having problems with its teeth. If your cat will allow it, take a look inside their mouth to check for inflammation and get the vet involved if you see it!

What is kibble?

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Kibble is a term for dry food which is ground into a mealy consistency and then shaped in preparation for consumption. Basically, it’s just another term for ‘dry food’ that we feed our pets, and it may be used to describe both cat and dog dry foods.

How much kibble should a cat be given?

Cats require 20 to 33 calories per pound of bodyweight daily to stay at the same weight. This comes out to 200 to 250 calories for indoor cats, while more active outdoor kitties might eat as much as 330 calories of dry food.

Depending on the food that you are using, this generally comes to 1/3 to ½ a cup of cat food every day, but you can check the serving calories listed on your cat food to determine the approximate calories per serving in your specific case.

Can cats eat kibble alone?

An orange cat eating kibble from a metallic bowl.

An orange cat eating kibble from a metallic bowl.

Provided that you are feeding them a highly nutritious kibble then yes, they can live perfectly healthy lives on a strict diet of this.

That said, you need to make sure that they are getting plenty of water, and you can also add a little bit of that water to the kibble to make it more appealing for your cat and to help ensure proper hydration.

While your cat can technically live on just dry kibble, we do recommend varying their diet to help ensure that they don’t get bored with their meals. This will help to make sure that they eat what you give them and stay healthy, happy, and strong!

How can I get my cat to drink more if it eats mainly kibble?

If you add about ¼ cup of hot water to the kibble and let it stand for 2 to 3 minutes before you serve it, then the kibble will absorb the water and expand, making it softer and a bit more flavorful (especially if you mix in a little beef or chicken bouillon).

This helps your cat to get a little extra hydration simply by eating, though you can also just treat them to the occasional chicken bouillon broth – watered down – and this will compel them to drink a little more water as well.

Why does my cat leave 1 or 2 pieces of kibble in its bowl?

Cats may do this for different reasons, but in most cases, this simply indicates that your kitty is full. While you wouldn’t think it by looking at them, your cat has a stomach about the same size as a ping-pong ball, so by the time they get to the bottom of the bowl then they are already very much full.

Their stomachs are designed to hold around 1 to 2 tablespoons of food, which is about the same size as a small rodent or bird, though as your cat gets older it will certainly stretch a bit just like ours do.

Why doesn’t my cat eat all his food at once?

With their ping-pong ball-sized bellies, eating all of their food at once is not exactly an easy thing, so most cats are going to eat as much as they are comfortable with and then finish the rest off later. This is perfectly normal – after all, your kitty doesn’t want to feel bloated.

If this behavior is new for your kitty then it might be time to change up their diet a bit – eating most or half of the food and leaving the rest alone is an indication that they are bored with their food!

Why does my cat take food out of the bowl and eat on the floor?

A white and black cat eating kibble from the floor.

A white and black cat eating kibble from the floor.

If your cat is removing the food from the bowl, then it could be that they are setting it apart instinctually as a way to ‘claim it’ and keep it safely separated from the rest of the food to consume it safely. This is something that cats have done in the wild for a very long time.

It could also be that they don’t like the bowl or if you have another pet, they might feel that the food on the floor is easier to defend. Finally, some cats simply like eating and batting at their kernels, so eating it on the floor might simply be more amusing for your kitty during mealtime.

Do cats eat kibble whole?

Yes, cats will usually eat their kibble whole, as the pieces are shaped specifically with the intent that they are ‘bite-sized’ for your kitty. If your cat is nibbling on them, rather than crunching up the entire piece, then this might be a personal preference or it could indicate that they might have a dental issue.

If the behavior is new, check your cat’s mouth if they will allow it, or simply bring them to the vet and have them do it. When a cat is experiencing dental pain, one common symptom is gentle and deliberate handling of their food because it hurts them to eat.

Check with your vet if you believe that this may be the case with your own kitty!

Does the size of cat kibble matter?

Yes, the size of the kibble matters, and the basic aspects of dry kibble are very deliberately engineered. For instance, kibble is dense because this makes it more filling. It is also sized and shaped quite specifically so that it encourages a lot of chewing and thus easy digestion.

The shape of the food is not just about chewing, either. Dry kibble is purposely shaped in a way that your cat’s teeth can easily pierce it so that there is a natural ‘brushing’ effect to help minimize plaque and tartar!

Lindsey Browlingdon