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How to Feed a Cat: Your Most Burning Questions Answered

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If you're a new cat owner, you probably want to know, "How much should I feed my cat? Is meal feeding or free feeding better? Wet or dry food?" We've made a list of some of the most common questions cat owners ask about feeding their cats.

Read on for answers on how to feed a cat.

Should I feed my cat wet food or dry food?

Wet food vs. dry food is an ongoing debate between cat parents (and cat food manufacturers). What's the difference between wet food and dry food?

First, dry food is more nutritionally dense than wet food. It is also cheaper to buy and easier to use, because it doesn't require refrigeration. Wet food, on the other hand, contains more water, which can help your kitty stay hydrated. It does cost more, but it's easier to camouflage medication with.

Both wet and dry food can provide the nutrition that your cat needs. Just make sure you read the label and choose a high-protein, low-carb diet to imitate what cats would eat in the wild. You can even do some research on raw food diets. Some cats absolutely love them!

Bottom Line: Do your homework and try out different foods until you find a nutritious food that your cat likes. 

Is meal feeding or free feeding better?

Although free feeding is a popular approach among many cat parents, it does have some drawbacks. Free feeding means putting out a generous portion of food in your cat's dish and allowing her to eat whenever she wants. Here are some possible problems with the free feeding method:

  • Your cat isn't good at regulating her intake and may gain too much weight.
  • In a multi-cat household, the bigger cats may eat too much and leave only a little bit for the smaller cats.
  • You won't notice as readily if your cat stops eating or has a decreased appetite.
  • If your cat already has diabetes or obesity, eating too much can compound her health issues.

That's why many cat experts recommend meal feeding. Meal feeding means giving your cat portioned meals at regular times each day. This allows you to monitor her diet closely and bond with her while she eats. To learn more, read this article: How to Start Meal Feeding.

What should I do if my cat stops eating?

One question you might be wondering about how to feed a cat is, "What if my cat stops eating?"

There are several common reasons why a cat may lose his or her appetite.

First, is the cat dealing with unusual stress--the loss of a family member, a new pet, or a household move? This may temporarily cause your kitty to stop eating. To reassure her, spend some extra time cuddling her, and try hand feeding her some food. You could also warm her food up or add a little gravy on top.

Or perhaps you recently switched to another brand of cat food. Most cats aren't too excited about diet changes. If you feel the need to switch brands, do it over a week or two. Just mix the two brands, and keep increasing the ratio of new food to old food until you have switched over completely. 

However, if your cat hasn't eaten for 24+ hours, take her to the vet immediately. Loss of appetite can be a sign of serious health issues, including cancer, kidney failure, or intestinal problems.

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How many food bowls do I need?

A good rule of thumb is to have one food bowl per cat in your household, plus an extra. This ensures that each cat has equal access to food and prevents fighting between cats.

Do kittens need a special diet?

Yes, they do. Kittens should eat a food designed specifically for kittens. They require at least 25% more calories than adult cats because they are growing so fast. Also, you should rotate foods so you don't raise a picky eater. Read more tips for feeding kittens from Catster.

Let's Chat:

What other questions do you have about feeding cats? Just comment below or send us an email with your questions!

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Feral Cat Q & A: Dry Food or Wet Food?

Q: Should I feed my cats dry food or wet food?A: Many cat enthusiasts hold strong opinions about the best food for their cats. However, vets say that cats can thrive on either one.1 For quite a while, people believed that dry food was better for dental health since cats had to chew it.However, cats don’t usually chew their [...]

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