feed your cat

The Way You Feed Your Cat Can Impact His Wellbeing

We are all fully aware that our cats love routine, especially when it involves mealtime. But, have you given any thought to how you feed your cat? Not what you feed him, but how? Do you feed him twice a day? Do you just place his food in a bowl and walk away? Do you feed your cats next to each other, if you have a multi-cat household?

What if I told you that the way that you feed your cat could impact his health, happiness, and wellbeing? With a few simple changes to your cat’s mealtime routine, you could provide him with mental and physical stimulation and possibly decrease his stress or anxiety levels.

How Do Cats Feed in the Wild vs. How Do We Feed Cats Indoors?

In the wild, cats are solitary predators. This means that they prefer to hunt and eat alone. They hunt and kill small prey several times a day to be able to consume enough calories to meet their basic needs. This style of hunting keeps a cat mentally stimulated all day long, but also contributes to most of their physical activity as well.

Indoor cats rely solely on their owners to feed them. Most owners feed a cat a large portion of food twice a day by placing the food in a bowl for the cat to easily consume. Indoor cats do not need to hunt or forage for their food, so those natural feeding behaviors are not being met. Also, most cats in a multi-cat household are being fed near or next to each other, which is not natural for them and can cause high stress levels. These factors of the way an indoor cat is fed can lead them to have behavioral issues, such as food aggression, or they can suffer silently from stress and anxiety.

How Can You Improve Your Cat’s Mealtime?

To begin to change your cat’s food routine, you can start with trying to mimic their natural hunting behaviors as much as possible.

  • Begin to feed smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, instead of 1 or 2 larger meals.
  • Before feeding some or all of the meals, try to play with your cat for a few minutes. This will simulate them hunting, and after play they will eat their food as they would prey. Most likely after this, your cat will be ready for a well deserved nap.
  • Incorporate a variety of ways to present their meals to them. This will be discussed further later in this blog.

Mealtime in a Multi-Cat Household

As stated before, most cats in a multi-cat household are usually fed all together, and they even share bowls of food. Sharing food, let alone out of the same bowl, is not natural for a cat, and it can lead to stressful situations. It is important to make sure each cat in the house feels safe and secure during mealtime in order to avoid stress and behavioral issues.

  • Create multiple feeding stations throughout the home.
  • Keep in mind the physical ability for each cat when planning the feeding stations. You could incorporate a cat tree or shelf as a feeding station, especially for younger cats or those with no physical ailments. Or, if you have a senior cat, maybe just a quiet area around the corner from the other cats or inside a cardboard box on the floor.
  • Use the space that your cat is most comfortable in. Most cats tend to have a favorite space in the home where they are calm and relaxed, so use that to your advantage when planning out feeding stations.

How Can You Make Mealtime More Challenging?

Lastly, it is important to incorporate mental and physical stimulation to mealtime. This will help keep your cat happy, occupied, and decrease stress and anxiety. Get creative with the way you give your cats their meals and you can even switch it up every day or every other day.

  • Puzzle Feeders. If your cat has never eaten out of a puzzle feeder, it would be best to start off with an easy one, so you do not cause your cat to become frustrated. There are a variety of puzzle feeders on the market to choose from, and it would be best to have a few on hand to rotate every few meals. By rotating the puzzle feeders, it will help your cat not to get bored.
  • Licki Mats. These mats are great for serving canned food on and they come in different designs and different textures. Not only does this help stimulate your cat mentally, but it can also be self soothing for him.
  • Foraging. Scatter your cat’s dry food on the floor or hide it in different places around your home. This will help your cat mimic foraging skills and behaviors, and also incorporate physical activity into his day.

By introducing some of these new ideas into your cat’s feeding routine, you are creating a more natural way of feeding your cat which will only have positive benefits for his wellbeing.

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