Cat Eating

When it comes to how to feed a cat, there are several schools of thought. Do you have a strict routine with particular feeding times and measured meals, or are you a bit more lax?

Proper nutrition is one of the most important aspects of cat care, but there are a few ways to go about it. Which made us wonder how Vetstreet readers tend to feed their cats. So we surveyed 738 cat owners about just that.

Find out how your dinnertime drill stacks up to the results below!

1. Feeding Style: How Do You Give Your Cat Her Food?

Some cat owners practically count the kibble they pour into their kitties’ bowls, while others just keep their bowls always filled with food. 

As it turns out, when it comes to cats, the latter is considerably more common, with 65.1 percent of cat owners saying they free-feed their cats. If you’re part of that camp, you may want to reconsider your ways. According to Dr. Marty Becker, free-feeding pets is a bad idea for a multitude of reasons. 

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your cat’s mealtime, feeding her small amounts numerous times throughout the day. In fact, of the respondents who give their cats measured portions, just 22.4 percent said they provide their cats with three or more meals daily. Most of those who measure their cat’s meals feed them twice a day (66.5 percent), while 11 percent give their cats a single measured meal daily.

2. Food Type: Do Your Give Your Cat Dry or Wet Food?

Cats can be finicky eaters, so we know that sometimes, when you find a food your kitty craves, you probably stock up on it. But what kind of food is it: canned or kibble?

Many of our readers — 68.5 percent — make canned food available for their cats, at least occasionally, leaving 31.5 percent of those surveyed serving strictly kibble. And that’s OK, because both types of food can be great for cats. Though it’s becoming fairly common for many veterinarians to recommend wet food with a high moisture content for some cats, especially those with kidney disease who are more likely to become dehydrated, that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect choice for your specific cat. Kibble has its benefits, too — it’s not only convenient, but it’s also ideal for food puzzles.

3. Treat Time: How Many Times a Day Do You Give Your Cat Extra Snacks?

Do you dole out special treats for your kitty on a regular basis? Quite a few Vetstreet readers do not, with 37.1 percent saying they don’t give their cats any treats.

However, 36.3 percent give their cats one or two treats a day, 15.4 percent offer three to four treats a day, and only 11.2 percent feed their cats treats five ore more times daily.

This light-handed approach to treats might not be a bad thing, given the fact that so many cats are overweight or obese, and overtreating can certainly add to the epidemic. But remember, if you’re training your cat, using small, low-calorie treats as a reward can be a fantastic motivator, especially if you’re working on ways to get her a little more active.

4. Cats and Dogs: How the Results Compare

When it comes to the differences between how Vetstreet readers feed their cats and how they feed their dogs, there’s more to it than just which aisle of the pet store they cruise down to buy it. Far more, in fact! We recently asked dog owners these same questions, and here’s how they compare to the answers from our cat-owning readers.

Free feeding: Just 22.6 percent of dog owners admitted to free feeding, where as 65.1 percent of cat owners said it’s standard at their homes. However, of the owners who feed measured meals, two meals a day was the most popular answer for both groups.

Canned food: Dog owners are less likely to feed wet food to their pups, with 42.6 percent saying they include canned versus 68.5 percent of cat owners who do.

Treats: There’s a considerable distinction between the dog and cat owners when it comes to handing out the goodies, too. Very few dog owners said they feed their dogs no treats (6.6 percent), but a whopping 37.1 percent of cat owners said that is the case. Large portions of both groups said one or two treats is the norm (44.9 percent of dog owners and 36.3 percent of cat owners), but dogs won out in a big way once again when it came to three or four daily treats (36.1 percent of dog owners versus 15.4 percent of cat owners). Neither was terribly likely to feed five or more treats (12.4 percent for dog owners, 11.2 percent for cat owners).

Remember, if you ever have questions about the best type of food, treats or method of feeding for your kitty, ask your veterinarian and read up with the resources below. 

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