Free feeding or not?

Karty

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Hi everyone I have a stray cat that was caught the previous weekend. He was badly constipated and was treated at the vet, so now he have a prescription dry food and he gets two (85 g) bags of wet food. Judging by his weight he should get 4 bags but he have free access to dry food. A bowl of dry food (nearly 2 dl) will last him for 6 days. So he don’t overeat I think and I add extra water to his wet food.

I’ve never owned a cat but most cat owners I know free feed them dry food and give wet food at specific times. I also know of owners that free feed wet food but I worry about bacteria when being left out too long. So I always take away the wet food after a certain time if Loke haven’t eaten everything. Often he will eat the liquid first and within 2 hrs he will have emptied his bowl of wet food. He don’t do it in one sitting, he take a few bites rest and go back again.

I know wet food is a lot better than dry food and I can increase his wet food but I want him to have access to food to grab if he feels like it. He often takes a few mouths of food during the day. Of course I would restrict if it turns out his weight is heading the wrong direction. At the moment he’s underweight.

A picture of Loke
00FB32CB-C2E8-455F-AC1F-344073737CFD.jpeg
 

LTS3

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A few small canned / pouch / tinned meals daily is fine for cats. You don't need to free feed it like dry food. A programmable timed feeder works well to give meals if you are not at home all day to feed the cat.

Instead of leaving the dry food to sit in the bowl for 6 days or more, just give your cat enough that will be eaten up in a day. Dry food is haven for bacteria growth, more so than canned / pouch / tinned food that is usually eaten up quickly. Cat saliva is full of bacteria and that coats all the dry food pieces and then the bacteria grows while the food sits in the bowl for days.

Which prescription dry food did the vet give you? Unless your cat has a specific health condition, prescription food is not needed at all.

Most canned / pouch / tinned food are complete diets so you can feed only those. Check the teeny print on the label of the food to be sure it says something to the effect as "nutritionally complete".
 

di and bob

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I leave dry out for my cats too and give them canned in the AM and evening. There are many grain-free good quality dry brands out there now, and many cats prefer them. Just make sure to provide and encourage lots of water. a fountain works great as does setting several small containers of water around. A cat is always curious and will check out a bowl, then more times than not will drink from it. After he gains enough weight, there are 'weight management dry foods out there too, or give him more wet food.
 
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Karty

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A few small canned / pouch / tinned meals daily is fine for cats. You don't need to free feed it like dry food. A programmable timed feeder works well to give meals if you are not at home all day to feed the cat.

Instead of leaving the dry food to sit in the bowl for 6 days or more, just give your cat enough that will be eaten up in a day. Dry food is haven for bacteria growth, more so than canned / pouch / tinned food that is usually eaten up quickly. Cat saliva is full of bacteria and that coats all the dry food pieces and then the bacteria grows while the food sits in the bowl for days.

Which prescription dry food did the vet give you? Unless your cat has a specific health condition, prescription food is not needed at all.

Most canned / pouch / tinned food are complete diets so you can feed only those. Check the teeny print on the label of the food to be sure it says something to the effect as "nutritionally complete".
It was just an estimation of how long 1 dl of dry cat food last in a week. We fill it up when everything have been eaten and the food will often just last a day.

The prescription food are because of how badly constipated he was, so he gets Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome as to help stabilize his tummy. I have just started to lessen his laxatives to see if his tummy will be normal.

I’m going to change his dry food to another brand that have a better content of meat while wet food I’m not sure I can give him the best every month at the moment. They are quite expensive combined with all his vet cares I’m building up quite the bills at the moment. So the splitting of the food are to lessen our monthly costs. I’ve had vet bills since spring, so I’m running a bit low and now with Lokes vet bills up on top. I need to save money other ways until I’ve saved up their vet savings again. It was emptied already in mars and I’ve been to the vet monthly since April. While no rescues or shelters had space for Loke but I got a shelter to help me split his medical bills. We have a few upcoming vets cost on Loke for this month.
 
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Karty

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I leave dry out for my cats too and give them canned in the AM and evening. There are many grain-free good quality dry brands out there now, and many cats prefer them. Just make sure to provide and encourage lots of water. a fountain works great as does setting several small containers of water around. A cat is always curious and will check out a bowl, then more times than not will drink from it. After he gains enough weight, there are 'weight management dry foods out there too, or give him more wet food.
Loke don’t drink water, all his water comes from the wet food which I add extra water to and make it into a soup. The water fountain he haven’t touched and the water bowls not even noticed they are existing but at least he got sources to pick from. I also have different taste of his wet food, so we rotate them for him and he loves gravy.

He’s a picky cat and no cat treats except cat milk or trixie cat malt will he accept. Not even freeze dried, fresh meat etc. I will increase the wet food to 3 bags when he’s better.
 

Morpheus1967

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I have always free fed dry. But now, because of a diabetes diagnosis, I have to regulate his feeding more, and also make sure the majority of his calories are coming from wet food. So I will give him 1/4 cup of diabetically friendly dry in the morning after he has had his wet food. This will keep him going throughout the day while I am at work. When I get home, I dump whatever is left of the dry, and feed him his wet (the dry has not ever been gone, not once). I will then give him a fresh 1/4 cup scoop of the dry. Lather , rinse, repeat.

Tossing whatever is left of the dry when I get home probable isn't necessary, but I obsess about fresh food. I think about how a potato chip would taste if left out for 12 hours. I am to the point where I will vacuum seal smaller portions of the 4 pound bags I use to keep them airtight until I am ready to use them. I also then keep the dry food in a ziplock bag once I open it, inside a Tupperware container. Like I said, I obsess about the freshness.
 

Alldara

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I would also suggest to only put out the amount of dry for one day. Start by only putting out 1/4 of the dry food currently out.

The dry food bowl needs daily cleaning too. Disease can be in pet bowls left too long. Especially these days when many foods are recalled, a small amount of the bacteria your cat might fight off quickly, but a build up on unwashed pet bowls where your cat is constantly intaking the bacteria will be harder for your cat to fight off. How Often Do You Wash Your Dog's Bowl? Probably Not Enough

As well, we can't see the small amount of saliva that a cat leaves on the remaining dry food. For that to sit for days I wouldn't recommend.

It's perfectly fine to continue with some dry food for as long as you need, unless your vet says otherwise for your cat. Commercial foods have played a huge part in extending a cat's lifespan (the only pet we haven't lowered the lifespan of!). As we learn more about what ingredients cause issues long term, most pet food companies are responding and changing formulas.

I would recommend sticking to a diet that allows you to have the funds to do yearly bloodwork for your cat. The bloodwork helps to catch illness early and you can be responsive rather than reactive to a serious illness.

Keep the prescription diet and stave off vet bills. If the food is expensive consider talking to your vet about an 'over the counter' version of the food. (For ex. Magnus was on EN Purina Chicken and Rice for vomiting, but after some time we moved to the non-prescription Chicken and Rice Purina).

THe main goals of your cat's food should be:
1- energetic cat (no tummy upset)
2- soft fur
3- poo that is soft but log-like
4- cat able to maintain hydration (pinch test on neck)



As for water: cats on wet diets, especially with extra water added may not drink much unless the weather requires it (hot days for example). This is fairly normal.

YOur can try various bowls to see what your cat likes for drinking. We found human mugs or bowls work best and we've gotten many from used stores for this purpose. We've chosen ones we like on display since ultimately they sit on our floor. A large plastic bin that's low is also a big hit (we've put a few ping pongs in it for play too. We have a Catit fountain but one of our cats it's frightened of drinking from it. We did not like the other fountain we tried but many on this site love it (it could be due to the water softness of the location we live in that we had issue).
 
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Karty

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I would also suggest to only put out the amount of dry for one day. Start by only putting out 1/4 of the dry food currently out.

The dry food bowl needs daily cleaning too. Disease can be in pet bowls left too long. Especially these days when many foods are recalled, a small amount of the bacteria your cat might fight off quickly, but a build up on unwashed pet bowls where your cat is constantly intaking the bacteria will be harder for your cat to fight off. How Often Do You Wash Your Dog's Bowl? Probably Not Enough

As well, we can't see the small amount of saliva that a cat leaves on the remaining dry food. For that to sit for days I wouldn't recommend.

It's perfectly fine to continue with some dry food for as long as you need, unless your vet says otherwise for your cat. Commercial foods have played a huge part in extending a cat's lifespan (the only pet we haven't lowered the lifespan of!). As we learn more about what ingredients cause issues long term, most pet food companies are responding and changing formulas.

I would recommend sticking to a diet that allows you to have the funds to do yearly bloodwork for your cat. The bloodwork helps to catch illness early and you can be responsive rather than reactive to a serious illness.

Keep the prescription diet and stave off vet bills. If the food is expensive consider talking to your vet about an 'over the counter' version of the food. (For ex. Magnus was on EN Purina Chicken and Rice for vomiting, but after some time we moved to the non-prescription Chicken and Rice Purina).

THe main goals of your cat's food should be:
1- energetic cat (no tummy upset)
2- soft fur
3- poo that is soft but log-like
4- cat able to maintain hydration (pinch test on neck)



As for water: cats on wet diets, especially with extra water added may not drink much unless the weather requires it (hot days for example). This is fairly normal.

YOur can try various bowls to see what your cat likes for drinking. We found human mugs or bowls work best and we've gotten many from used stores for this purpose. We've chosen ones we like on display since ultimately they sit on our floor. A large plastic bin that's low is also a big hit (we've put a few ping pongs in it for play too. We have a Catit fountain but one of our cats it's frightened of drinking from it. We did not like the other fountain we tried but many on this site love it (it could be due to the water softness of the location we live in that we had issue).
Thanks for the tips and I wash his bowls daily, I’ll buy a few more bowls to make it easier for me. So I can just shift them and do a rotation. At the moment he’s not an energetic cat, he sleeps and cuddles but it might change later. Because he also go snuffles and broken teeth from some trauma, so he got an inflammation in the mouth while the ear mites have been treated. We are focusing to make sure his stomach becomes normal and clear his snuffles before we dare pulling out his teeth.

I was worried when he never drank water, so we went with extra water in the wet food. Specially when he was dehydrated when we got to the vet but he no longer got that problem. My plan are to stay away from vet bills for many years except health examinations plus vaccinations on my buns and Loke. I just lost one of my best friend this week because the vets had missed that his teeth were growing wrongly (bunny). So when we noticed Odin wasn’t strong enough to be treated. Now I’m extra careful with Loke and I don’t want to mess it up again.

My bunnies are used with cats and dogs but they have their separate room. I will just need to watch out that Loke won’t be using their litter box or the other way around. Loke will be introduced slowly to them, they are nearly his size.
 

danteshuman

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I bought my cat a free feeder for his dry food because my health is bad. If something ever happens to me, I want him to be OK for up to a week. Not many people live alone with bad health. 🤷🏻‍♀️

For your cat, can you wean him off the dry food or most of it? Is it possible part of your cat’s poop issues come from the dry food? Since cats get their moisture from their food.I could never wean my guy completely off dry food and he eats 1/16 to a 1/4 cup of dry food every day. You can add a teaspoon of water to his wet food to try to get more moisture in. You can also try giving him cat safe bone broth (onion & garlic free) to try to up his water intake. Some people let their cat’s dry food soak in broth. However the whole reason cats even eat dry food and that cats/dogs frequently swallow dry food whole is because they spray the outside of the pellets with animal fat!

⭐High protien dry food only goes up by a few percents over a good dry food. In my guy’s case his blue Buffalo wilderness verus blue Buffalo high protien was just a few percentages different! So I kept him on his regular dry food. That said many cats have trouble digesting wheat or corn and many cats are allergic to wheat, corn & chicken. Your vet is on it but a dry food without wheat or corn in it may help ...... and wet food only would probably be the safest bet. 🤷🏻‍♀️
 
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Karty

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I bought my cat a free feeder for his dry food because my health is bad. If something ever happens to me, I want him to be OK for up to a week. Not many people live alone with bad health. 🤷🏻‍♀️

For your cat, can you wean him off the dry food or most of it? Is it possible part of your cat’s poop issues come from the dry food? Since cats get their moisture from their food.I could never wean my guy completely off dry food and he eats 1/16 to a 1/4 cup of dry food every day. You can add a teaspoon of water to his wet food to try to get more moisture in. You can also try giving him cat safe bone broth (onion & garlic free) to try to up his water intake. Some people let their cat’s dry food soak in broth. However the whole reason cats even eat dry food and that cats/dogs frequently swallow dry food whole is because they spray the outside of the pellets with animal fat!

⭐High protien dry food only goes up by a few percents over a good dry food. In my guy’s case his blue Buffalo wilderness verus blue Buffalo high protien was just a few percentages different! So I kept him on his regular dry food. That said many cats have trouble digesting wheat or corn and many cats are allergic to wheat, corn & chicken. Your vet is on it but a dry food without wheat or corn in it may help ...... and wet food only would probably be the safest bet. 🤷🏻‍♀️
Loke was already constipated when he was living as a stray. It was the last 2 weeks my work colleague thought he was getting rounder and rounder. So we don’t know why he got constipated. It’s first when we caught him and I brought him home that he got a diet of dry food and wet food. The reason why he’s thin, he have been spotted in the area for at least 6 months lurking around. So when we didn’t hear from any local that he was their cat we decided to catch Loke. I don’t really know how common it is with constipated stray cats but Loke was it and he would of died a painful death if he didn’t get the vet care he got, he was really in pain. Now he have been producing normal poop and we are lessing the laxatives to see if he can produce healthy poop without it.
 
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