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The Free-feed Vs Scheduled Meals

Discussion in 'Cat Nutrition' started by earthwormgym, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. earthwormgym

    earthwormgym Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    Jun 5, 2017
    Hey folks,

    So our cat is now 9 months old- today in fact! And I've read articles that say it's time to start considering the transition between free-feeding and scheduled meals.

    I guess I just wanted to know if now is a good time to start, or when he reaches the year-mark? And with the transition, I am thinking 2 meals, one in the morning and one at night (with bowl down for 20 minutes.) What do you guys think? Will this change his attitude? Obviously nervous for the overall outcome.

  2. cheesycats

    cheesycats TCS Member Adult Cat

    Jan 29, 2017
    You can try leaving it down for 20 mins but odds are he's gonna drive you bananas a few hours later for more food because he most likely won't eat half his daily amount in 20 mins. At least my cats never did that. I have two cats now and I just put out a half a cup per cat in two separate bowls in the morning. Then they get half a 5.5 oz can at night with some frozen raw mixed in, in another two separate bowls with their remaining kibble from the morning left out the rest of the night. I find they have hit pan by the next morning but they aren't driving me absolutely nuts as they would be if I'd pulled their food at 20 mins. Maybe since you cat is young he will adjust but I could never get my 5-6 year olds to adjust to it. They would just eat their full at the moment then be begging me midday and after I gave them their nightly wet they'd be driving me nuts and crawling all over my face in the middle of the night or banging on my door yowling if I shut them out of my room. Definitely worth a shot though if you wanna do it. I'd give up after a week if he won't adjust though. I personally think it's just a lot of food for them to consume in just 20 mins and there's nothing wrong with just keeping their recommended amount out everyday.
    FelinskiFamily purraised this.
  3. himawari

    himawari TCS Member Adult Cat

    Aug 14, 2017
    It's always best to have smaller, scheduled feedings rather than large ones for cats because it's similar to how wild lions eat and is easier on the digestive system. But if you can't do that then try doing the two meals a day and see how your cat reacts. If anything, you can add a third one before you go bed so it would be: when you wake up, before you leave your house or when you come back, before you go to bed. See how your cat reacts at first.
  4. Vega's Dad

    Vega's Dad TCS Member Adult Cat

    May 27, 2017
    I don't know if this is true as this is only one example. A female cat who was spayed later in her life (few years old) has been free fed and never been over weight.
    I used to feed Vega two meals a day. She was doing fine but always looked hungry. I started free feeding her 2-3 weeks ago and closely monitoring her weight. Her weight has not changed so far, between 4.4 and 4.6 kg. She's pretty long.
    She's 15 month old and super active.
  5. lalagimp

    lalagimp TCS Member Super Cat

    Mar 7, 2017
    Tommy started doing scheduled feeds when he was 4 years old. He gets fed small meals 5 times a day with Stewart and their automatic feeders. I've never tried to do anything less because these boys have always been very food driven, and used to be significantly overweight... Tom had to lose 8 lbs and Stew had to lose 4.
    My girls have always been free fed and keep it that way due to their microchip collars. They maintain their physique on their own.
  6. 3katz

    3katz TCS Member Kitten

    Jul 21, 2017
    Maybe I am the exception to the rule, but for as long as I have had cats (my entire life and numbering in the 12-15 range of cats through the years) I have always free fed dry kibble and feed wet food scheduled due to masking medications. I have never had an obese/overweight animal and use a high end grain free all stages type dry food (although currently I have a kitten food {Wysong} that my adult cats won't stop eating! Dry kibble is provided at all times for my crew of 3 and wet food is provided in evening- typically 1-2 small cans divided. The wet food I use is grain free and of higher quality as well. My cats all are healthy and have the softest and/or fluffiest coats.
    nahui and tarasgirl06 purraised this.
  7. momof3b1g

    momof3b1g TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Dec 8, 2013
    It really depends on the cat. I have had cats for about 25 years. I used to free feed and some cats will be fine and not over eat. Now I have 7 and dh tells me to put a bowl out. But we would have some very over weight cats and really skinny ones who wouldnt get much food.
    It took my awhile to get all mine on a schedule that worked for everyone. Some will not it enough at each feeding, while others if they eat to much throw up.
    DreamerRose purraised this.
  8. mazie

    mazie TCS Member Top Cat

    Jan 11, 2015
    south Georgia
    My experience on this is that Katy does not eat all of her wet food at one sitting, and then I have to go to work. I leave the wet what she has left for her to finish at her leisure and then leave some kibble to nibble on through out the day. She is most certainly not overweight so I am not concerned about her eating more than she should.
    tarasgirl06 purraised this.
  9. tarasgirl06

    tarasgirl06 TCS Member Top Cat

    Sep 19, 2006
    Glendale, California
    My own policy on this that has worked really well for years is to feed wet food pretty much on schedule (I feed 3 times a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to coincide with my own, pretty much) and to leave high-quality dry food for free feeding. They do not gorge on the dry and it enables them to get through the night and early morning hours without being too hungry. I also have multiple clean water bowls in various rooms for them, including a cat fountain in their main dining area.
  10. DreamerRose

    DreamerRose TCS Member Top Cat

    Dec 11, 2015
    Naperville, IL
    I also think it depends on the cat. Mingo won't overeat no matter how much food you leave out, so he could be free-fed. Lily, on the other hand, eats everything in sight, and she would overeat. She was overweight when I got her, and I trimmed her down to a normal weight.

    Neither of my cats are large, so I feed less than a quarter cup of kibble in the morning, one Sheba for Mingo at lunch, and in the evening, one Sheba for Lily and one Fancy Feast for Mingo.
  11. NewYork1303

    NewYork1303 TCS Member Top Cat

    Jun 9, 2015
    Washington State
    I would recommend more than two meals a day. Our three cats eat four meals a day. They have wet food in the morning, then a small amount of dry food a few hours after that. Then wet food again when we get home from work and raw food before bed. They each eat pretty much everything that is put in front of them in the first fifteen minutes.
  12. maggie101

    maggie101 4cats Super Cat

    Apr 20, 2014
    My cats are on a regular schedule,same time, 3x a day. No regular schedule means they bother you at odd times like when you're sleeping. A cat hunts in the morning and mostly at night and less mid day. Just be sure to play with them first. Start asap
  13. nese

    nese TCS Member Adult Cat

    Mar 27, 2017
    When making the transition it will be better to start with 4-5 feedings in day and then gradually reduce it, or you can keep feeding 4-5 times a day, if it fits you and your cat.

    We have one very active adult female cat only 6,6 lbs and a 4,5 months old kitten. We were free feeding them, just transitioned to 5 meals a day. We give wet food in the morning before we leave for work.
    Then they get kibble from automatic feeder around 11 am, after that around 3:30 pm. They get wet food again around 7:30 pm when we get home. And some kibble for the night just before we go to sleep.
  14. mokapi

    mokapi TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Jun 22, 2017
    I've been doing two feedings a day and am going to have to switch to three or four, I think. I was able to free feed for almost 8 years without an issue, but my newest cat has no self control.

    It's been hell with two feedings, though. I've been tossing cats off my face at 4 a.m. for weeks.

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