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How to Start Meal Feeding

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Last week, we posted about 3 benefits of meal feeding your cat. Meal feeding allows you to bond with your cat, use portion control, and monitor its diet closely. 

Today, let’s talk about how to start meal feeding, either in your home or in a feeding station.

1) Plan a schedule based on your cat’s age and health.

Did you know that kittens should be fed more often than adult cats? Dr. Francis Kallfelz, DVM, PhD, of Cornell University Vet College, says, “Growing kittens up to six months of age may require three meals a day. From age six months to maturity, most cats will do well when fed two times a day.” 

Healthy adult cats should be fed 1-2 times a day. If your cat suffers from hyperthyroidism, Dr. Kallfelz recommends that your cat be treated for hyperthyroidism and then fed normally. Diabetic cats may need to be fed when they receive insulin. Ask your veterinarian for advice.

If your senior cat has gum disease, we recommend mashing up dry food with a little water to make it easier to chew. Or simply switch to canned food.

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2) Provide access to the meal for a limited time.

The night before you begin meal feeding, remove your cat’s food dish from her outdoor cat house. The next morning, set out a measured portion of food. Next, wait for a few minutes until your cat begins to eat. When she stops eating, remove the dish. Limiting your cat’s access to food will help her adjust to meal feeding.

3) Avoid giving “snacks” in between meals.

Although your cat may beg for treats or food in between meals, just say no. After she realizes that begging isn’t productive, she will learn to eat at mealtimes. Remember, you are doing it in her best interest, because you care about her.

4) Be consistent.

You may need to experiment with different feeding times to learn what suits your cat best. Also experiment with different feeding locations. Your cat may prefer feeding on the deck, in her insulated cat house, or in a quiet corner. Don’t give up when your cats protest. With time, they will adjust to the new schedule.

With time, patience, and consistency, you can start meal feeding your cats in a feeding station or in your home today!

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