Cats in the wild eat once a day. They hunt, kill and do not eat again until the following successful hunt. They don’t have access to food all day long, to graze perpetually and fill themselves with calories. However, domestic cats live a different lifestyle. As pets they don’t have to hunt for food, it’s presented to them, and often they not only get fed at mealtimes, but they have food available all day or get fed on demand. Who doesn’t know a cat that rubs round the ankles, walls, tables purring, meowing, seeking attention for their bowls to be filled? Add factors that include the cat has limited exercise compared to its wild cousins, or worse, that it is an inside cat with a life that is very sedentary and you have a recipe for a very unhealthy animal. Overweight cats or obesity is a serious heath problem for the cat. So what do you need to know about feeding your cat?
It is important to control the calories your cat consumes. If the cat is a kitten or young cat or has an active lifestyle then they can have (and need) more calories. Inside cats and older cats need less calories. Simple. Or is it? If it was simple then there wouldn’t be so many overweight animals. The evidence is clear that a cat should be fed twice a day, unless they are a kitten or have health issues. However, there are other thoughts on the subject.
Anita Frazier in her book “The New Natural Cat” (1990) discusses advice by Dr. Paul Rowan who recommends that cat owners remove food bowls after 30 minutes. Dr.Rowan highlights the fact that doing so mimics life in the wild for cats and won’t stimulate their appetite or sense of smell and make them crave food and nibble all day long. Much like a human dieter – if you don’t buy cookies you won’t have cookies to eat. Remove the temptation. She writes:
“Cats in the wild eat once a day – if they are young and strong and lucky. For a wild cat, being served food twice a day would be a luxury bordering on decadence. In the wild, times of fast occur naturally because of scarcity of game or inclement weather, or because the animal is feeling sick and chooses to fast. A day or two or even a week may go by without the taking of a meal. Nature provides these fasting times for a very good reason. During a fast, the blood and energy that are usually used for digestion and assimilation are now available for use in other parts of the body. Healing and repair are accelerated during a fast.”
She also points out that having food around stimulates the sense of smell and it is that that triggers the brain into wanting food and preparing to eat.
“When food is smelled, the olfactory center in the brain sends out the message to slow down the whole metabolism so the body can concentrate on digesting the food…..Moreover, if cats are constantly smelling food, the trigger mechanism in the brain that starts the whole digestive process will soon wear out and fail to respond.”
Controversial it might be, and to some mean and unloving, but the facts seem to be clear. If there is a
cupcake in the house bowl of cat food out it will be eaten. So, cat lovers give some thought about feeding your cat.