We used to free feed our cats every day – mainly because we both grew up feeding cats this way… and because Adrienne thought they could actually starve if they didn’t have food available at all times.
Then we both learned differently.
When you free feed cats it doesn’t allow them to be a cat. A cat in the wild doesn’t have a bunch of crunchy dry food piled up as an all-day buffet to eat whenever they wish. They feel hunger – then they hunt, kill and eat.
Our free fed indoor cats don’t experience hunger in this way. This can actually cause stress on their bodies – because their systems are made to hunt. Digestive issues can begin and soon there are even more health issues like obesity, diabetes and kidney disease.
Indoor cats like routine. Routine feeding reduces their stress and improves overall health. Feeding smaller meals 2 or 3 times per day at the same time also strengthens the bond between cat and parent. And, believe me, if you forget feeding time, your cat will let you know.
There are now more interactive ways you can feed your cat – ways that closely mirrors the way they eat in the wild. Doc & Phoebe’s indoor hunting feeder is a great way to let your cat be a cat and hunt, catch and play with their food. This is an awesome way to feed your cats dry food (if kibble is all you can feed), but it also works great for freeze dries raw and treats as well. You can do this 2 or 3 times per day and watch as they utilize their ‘cat skills”.
We feed our cats a species appropriate fresh moist diet 3 times per day. Since we stopped the free feeding at our house, we’ve noticed a huge change in their behavior and health. They play a lot more and the vet says they are all in great health!
In conclusion, don’t be discouraged if it feels tough to take away the all day buffet. God knows, this was way more difficult for Adrienne than it was for any of our cats! It’s also important to note that for many years we felt we couldn’t feed our kitties the most optimal diet. We felt we didn’t know enough, couldn’t afford it, didn’t have enough time, or – if you’re like Adrienne – just thought fresh, raw food was too gross. Here’s the bottom line: We all grow (at our own pace, in our own way). We all can make improvements to the way we feed our cats. Once we know better we can do better. 🙂