A stand-up comedian and freelance writer, Regi Brittain loves life and wants to help you enjoy it!
There Are Multiple Ways to Feed a Cat
Growing up, my family sometimes had cats. Riveting story, right? Since college, I've almost always had at least one cat. As I write this, my spouse and I have two darling 12-year-old littermates. They are gentle and low maintenance, but they will eat too fast if we let them. Doing so can lead to a cat vomiting up the food they just consumed, which wastes money and leaves the cat hungry if the incident goes unnoticed for a while.
Thus, we have experimented with multiple methods that help kitties pace themselves at mealtime. Based upon my current fitness state, maybe I should try some of these techniques on myself. (This is your chance to imagine a grown human picking through a food puzzle built for a cat or a puppy!)
As with many things in life, there are several ways to help cats develop healthy eating habits. We'll explore them here, and you can try those that make sense for you and your feline pal(s). Please note that most of these methods can only be employed using dry cat food.
Introduce a Cat Feeder With a Timer on It
I must admit that I have not personally had great results with automatic cat feeders. It probably had to do with choosing budget priced cat feeders. Still, you are different from me, and your cats are different from my cats—and I am the mayor of Obviousville!
Here's what to do. Shop at a pet store that honors returns on all animal accessories. Where I live, we have a small, local chain called Pet Food Warehouse, and they will take back, for example, cat bowls with timers on them that your very-food-motivated cat figures out how to pry open. (I'm not saying that happened to me, but it didn't not happen. That's for sure!)
By ensuring that your pet supply purveyor prefers to make a customer, not just a sale, by honoring returns on automatic cat dishes, you give yourself leeway to test these babies on your feline(s) with full confidence! (That's a very good thing!)
Try a Cat Food Puzzle
If I got anything glaringly wrong in the above poll's options, please consider that I know painfully little about comic book physics.
Something I can speak on with excessively warranted confidence is cat feeding puzzles. We use them at my home. We dig them. I've even sometimes considered serving myself meals in one to help with my waistline. (I made that up just now, but it probably wouldn't hurt!)
These products come in varied designs, and they are all intended to engage cats' primal instincts during mealtime, which slows down their eating pace. At our house, we use this cat food puzzle as part of our cat feeding formula.
Use Cat Feeder Balls
Kitties crave engagement of their senses, well, except when they're sleeping, which seems like always. At my house, we use that craving to force one of our cats to eat slower.
We use a cat feeder ball, which is a hollow, plastic ball that opens to allow you to pour your cat's dry food into it so that it can be dispensed out of the holes. After you put the measured amount for your cat's meal into the ball, you replace the cap and allow your feline to bat the ball to gain pieces of yummy food, which comes out of the holes in the ball.
The model we use has adjustable holes, which allows us to control the rate at which food drops out of the ball. We set it so that just one or two pieces come out at a time, and our larger, food-oriented kitty has yet to send us a complaint email.
Spread Food Throughout Your Home
Like food puzzles and feeder balls, this method forces your cat to burn energy and mentally engage during feeding sessions. Place a few, small cat dishes about your home. Try to hide them under beds and in corners. If you have a cat that likes to leap and climb, pick a safe, high place to leave a little plate for your inquisitive, daring pet.
Scatter Dry Cat Food on Your Floor
As my departed, country grandmother might say, "This one sure sounds messy. Don't it?" But think about it: If a cat has to walk and sniff from one morsel to the next, they will naturally take longer to eat their meal than if it rests right before them in a bowl.
If you choose this method, be careful not to let any food bounce or skid under low-sitting furniture. Your cat might not find it, which would contribute to Granny's existential mess!
Get Crafty If You Have Multiple Cats
Owning multiple felines can lead to multiple cat-feeding strategies, which can lead to multiple-purr-sonality disorder. (I know! I hate me, too!)
We do it at my house. Our smaller cat does well with a food puzzle, but his bigger littermate still eats too fast with puzzles, so we use a feeder ball for him. He mildly voices his displeasure, but he also eats more slowly and does not regurgitate his meal.
Always Give Your Cat Access to Plenty of Fresh Water
This is an important note. Being a smart biped, you probably know that you've got to consume water as well as food. The same goes for cats. If you don't water your cat, you end up with a powdered furball. How do I know? Science! (Not really.)
What's a good cat-watering strategy? You can leave and regularly refresh water bowls throughout your home, or you can acquire a cat bubbler, a.k.a. a cat water fountain. These items engage cats' senses with sounds and action, and those facts can make your cat more likely to knock back some aqua—which helps them stay hydrated and helps them digest dry cat food.
Scheduled feeding times will help any cat.
— Mewbraham Lincoln
Find What Works for You and Your Cat
As with all pets, and cats especially, finding the right feeding method may require multiple attempts. Please promise Uncle Regi (that's me, sort of) that you will remember that you love your cat. After all, there's at least a 4% chance that it loves you back!
Thank you for reading my nonsense, and if you have made it this far, I hope you will share it on your socials! Oh! And my cats say hello! Well, actually, they say, "Meow!"
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2018 Regi Brittain