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What's new pussycat? Science suggests new cat feeding schedule

You may think you’ve been feeding puss perfectly with gourmet cat food twice a day – but scientists beg to differ and have outlined a new cat feeding schedule. The proper feeding schedule for your furry friend is actually closer to five bite-size meals a day, which more closely replicates how kitty dines in the wild.

Large meal sizes mean that our favorite pets are getting overweight and sluggish, and suffering from diseases like diabetes in their older years.

The new report suggests that:

  • Cats should be fed five times a day, which includes a night feed.
  • Dining on many small meals throughout the day stops cats from overeating.
  • Eating “little and often” replicates the way that cats naturally eat in the wild.

Chomping down on large-portioned meals means a cat overrides its inclination to stop eating when it feels full. As our feline companions are active after dark, scientists also suggest using timed feeders to assure cats get their energy after we go to bed.

In addition to adopting the new cat feeding schedule the experts also suggested gamifying meal times to give the impression of a hunt. In the wild, cats can hunt for up to 12 hours a day. Without the stimulation of the hunt, cats become bored and frustrated, and engage in attention-seeking behaviours.

The scientists suggested creating “puzzle feeders” for the pets to help stimulate them mentally.

Puzzle feeders were the subject of a recent Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery review. These nifty tools helped reduce feline stress, curbed weight loss, reduced aggressive behavior, and eliminated attention seeking. The same journal also advised to keep water bowls separate from food, as in the wild cats prefer to drink water far away from a food source. It is presumed that water near food is considered contaminated by the cats.

Feline behavior specialist Sarah Ellis said: “The way we feed our cats generally does not match the lifestyle they were designed for. Cats have undergone little in the way of selective breeding during the domestication process and therefore have an instinctive need to hunt. This modern lifestyle could be dangerous to pets, but by making a few simple changes to the way we feed them, we can help our cats to live longer, healthier and happier lives. The plan, based on scientific evidence, helps every cat owner mimic the conditions cats would usually contend with to get their food.”

This research and the subsequent cat feed plan was authored by Dr. Sarah Ellis and Dr. Lizzie Rowe for the charity International Cat Care. You can read all their excellent tips for taking care of your nearest and dearest furry friend on their website. Follow this new cat feeding schedule and see your pussy prosper!

By Frances Levine/ Editor-in-Chief

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