How Many Times Should A Cat Eat And Is It Good That It Has Free Access To Its Food?


Leaving food available to your cat can work in some circumstances, but remember that how many times a cat should eat depends on many factors.

Many times the cat’s food is left available throughout the day, so that the kitten will eat whenever it is hungry .

However, while this may work well for some cats, in most cases it is best to monitor how many times a day and how much the kitten eats.

How many times should a cat eat?

If your cat is used to having his food and now you want to regulate his food consumption, as well as his weight,  the ideal is that you serve him food twice a day .

Some cats prefer a more frequent feeding schedule. In that case, you have to give them smaller portions, but more often. Three meals a day is a good amount for these kitties .

Divide the food of the day into two or three servings.

Make sure to measure each serving that you serve your cat at each of her feeding times.

Ideally, you should weigh the croquettes each time, but since it can be a bit tricky to carry out, the next best option is to use a measuring cup.

Another good idea is food puzzles, in which your cat has to struggle to get food out, which helps keep him entertained and intellectually stimulated .

How many times should a baby cat eat?

When a cat is small, feeding is intended to promote its growth, strengthen its bones and help it develop its muscles . That is why at this stage the food must be especially nutritious, rich in protein and with a high energy intake.

Read more: Tips for your kitten to follow a proper diet

A kitten needs up to three times more energy (in proportion to its size) than an adult cat needs.

But of course, his stomach is smaller and he cannot digest large amounts of food , so it is important to feed him several times a day instead of leaving him a bowl full of kibbles.

Make three meals a day usually works well for babies kittens two to three months.

In addition, since they usually do not drink enough water, it is important to alternate the croquettes with wet food , or offer them from time to time a little chicken or fish broth (only cooking water, without salt, seasonings, onion or garlic).

In some cases, the vet may recommend that you give free access to food to very young kittens (or the elderly or sick), but these are particular cases that should be consulted with the professional.

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How much should an adult cat eat a day?

To determine how much your cat should eat, it is a good idea to start by reviewing the food package. In general, the guide that the manufacturer includes on the packaging is a good reference on the grams that your pussycat should consume daily.

It’s important to take your cat’s weight and activity level into account when applying these manufacturer’s tips.

However, the best reference to decide how much your cat should consume is usually its physical condition , that is, how chubby or thin it is. Start from a reference quantity, such as the one on the package and adjust according to the weight and health situation of your kitten until you find the optimal quantity; the vet can advise you.

Remember also that if you give him a treat or any extra food , it is necessary to take it into account in the total amount of daily food for your cat.

How much food should my cat eat if I give him kibble and wet food?

If you want your cat to have a mixed diet, combining kibble and wet food, the easiest thing is to buy both products from the same manufacturer.

In general, brands offer references to correctly combine their different types of food.

Taking this into account, you can determine how much your cat should eat based on its physical condition: if it needs to lose or gain weight and the activity it performs daily. In this link we talk at length about obesity in cats. 

Why is it better for a cat to have meal times?

For most cats, having free access to their food throughout the day often results in overeating , leading to obesity problems.

Although some people believe that cats can naturally regulate their food intake and maintain a healthy weight, this is not always the case, especially when it comes to neutered cats.

It is therefore important to avoid this situation , as being overweight can cause your cat major health problems, such as diabetes.

Diabetic cats: 7 homemade recipes to lick your fingers

In addition, if your cat does not have meal times and has free access to his food, it is more difficult to observe if there are changes in his appetite or in his eating habits . These types of signals are very important to detect health problems, so knowing them in detail is very useful.

Finally, wet food is not suitable for staying all day at the cat’s disposal, as it cannot stay at room temperature for that long. And if the croquettes remain in the bowl a lot, it will also be necessary to replace them from time to time , as their aroma and texture will no longer be the same.

More than one cat at home? Meal times are essential

If more than one cat lives in your house, the problems are increased by giving them free access to food. First of all, it is very difficult to identify how much each cat is eating and kibble bowls can become a source of conflict or competition.

If there is any change in your cat’s appetite, if he is gaining or losing weight, or if he has gastrointestinal problems , it is best to see the vet.

Based on his medical history and physical condition, he can tell you if it is a good idea to give him free access to his food or how many times a day your cat should eat.

Why doesn’t my cat eat even though food is always available to him?

There may be different causes for your cat not eating even though food is available to him all day. In this case, the main thing is to find out the cause :

  • The cat may have a health problem : You have to observe if there are any other changes in its usual behavior (if it vomits , has diarrhea, sleeps more than usual, etc.) and eventually, take it to the vet.
  • The food is not liked : if the food is old, has been exposed to the air for a long time and its texture has changed or the protein is of very poor quality, it may be that the cat does not want to eat it very much. Although cats perceive flavors differently than we do, it doesn’t mean they don’t have their own tastes!
  • The cat is stressed or depressed : Everyday life events can impact your kitty’s life and cause her to become stressed or depressed. Changing from a diet where food is always available at fixed times can be a cause of stress if it is not done carefully and little by little. 
How to change a cat’s diet: step by step

Finally, we leave you a video to make a simple puzzle so that your cat can entertain himself while eating and consume his food more calmly.


Divyesh Patel