Cats and their food

DrPaul -

Cats and their food

Felines can be complex creatures with peculiar eating habits that can often make no sense to their owners. Some cats seem to be perpetually hungry and are always asking for food whereas others seem secretive and will rarely eat in company. The intricacies of feline behaviour extend to their unusual dining habits but the following article may just unlock the mystery of your own cats’ dinner time!

How many times a day should I feed my cat??

Our domestic cats are not actually designed to just eat two or three times a day. This feeding regime is more to do with the habit and convenience of human owners. .
In fact our cats prefer small meals little and often throughout the day and night. This harks back to their hunting instincts where food comes in lots of small packages. When food is scarce, cats in the wild would also avoid eating the entire kill, prefering instead to hide and return to it as a food store in case they are less successful at the next hunt. These instincts never leave our cats and so ensuring there are multiple food sources around the house is a great way to provide a safe outlet for this behaviour. It will also help prevent obesity, as your cat will become accustomed to eating smaller meals and feeling fuller for longer.

Why is my cat occasionally fussy with food?

This could be for a number of reasons. Cats hate eating with other cats and generally around their human owners too. They much prefer to eat undisturbed and unobserved. If your cat seems fussy they may be feeling anxiety around their eating environment. Provide a quiet safe place for your cat and ensure it is separate from other cats if you have a multi-cat household.
Some cats just get bored so occasional changes in diet may help when appetite seems diminished. Novelty plays a big role in food interaction for some of our cats so don’t be afraid to switch it up a little-just don’t stray towards increasingly rich foods as you may inadvertently invite an upset tummy.

Why does my cat always seem hungry?

Meow, meow get up and feed me! Sounds familiar to many I am sure. Our cats are absolute creatures of habit so for those of us that routinely feed our cats twice a day it is no surprise to receive a regular wake up call for breakfast. But does your cat bolt down their food and not long after start asking for more? Does your cat occasionally regurgitate their food after eating it too quickly? Cats that eat too fast will miss the point of feeling full. This inevitably leads to begging for more food and if need be going through the rubbish or to the lovely old lady next door.

This relationship with food is the most common cause of feline obesity and obesity related illness. In order to effectively help a continuously hungry cat you will need to alter your cats feeding regime to include multiple small meals throughout the day. Consider using puzzle feeders, slow feeders or hiding dry kibble around the home to encourage hunting and foraging behaviour. To learn more on how to help your overweight cat shed some pounds read my blog here ( …. it may just help limit those early morning wake up calls.

It is important to say here that in some situations, it may be certain medications or medical conditions that can affect a cat’s weight, especially if they are losing weight despite being continually hungry. It’s best to check in with your vet if you are concerned.

What is the perfect set up for feeding my cat?

Here are some tips on how to ensure you have the perfect dining set up for your cat:
● Cats prefer to have multiple water sources that are placed separately away from their food.
● If your cat prefers dry food then it’s important to maximise their water intake, so consider a water fountain, as some cats prefer running water to still.
● Feeding bowls should not be located near the cat’s latrine sites or in busy areas/thoroughfares of the home.
● Water bowls should be ceramic opposed to plastic or metal, which can taint the taste of sitting water.
● It is important to never overwhelm your cat with multiple new foods simultaneously as this will likely result in the cat being put off the food and possibly creating an aversion.

To learn more and read up on my advice on feline hunting behaviour; what it is about and how to prevent those unwanted gifts read our blog here. (

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.