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Free-Feeding Method For Cats

Is Your Cat a Free Feeder or on a Diet?

Readers, PetSugar user TiVo needs our help! She submitted this question to the PetSugar Q&A group:

Does anyone use the dry food "free feeding" method for cats? I'm worried one of my kitties (the glutton) would eat herself sick!

Weigh in with your advice in the comments, and submit your own questions to PetSugar Q&A or Pet Peeves so we can help you out, too!

Image Source: Thinkstock
Sarahrob Sarahrob 6 years
My cat has been a free feeder his whole life until just recently, when I decided to start feeding him wet food, and he never gained too much weight, but now he is a lot happier with wet food. Ive never really noticed a problem with over eating, he just eats til he is full and then come back later when he is hungry again
EricaJane EricaJane 6 years
we free feed. the body types of my 4 cats are so different. we have an extremely small boy cat who weighs like 7 lbs, and we have a really large female who weighs nearly 16. The other two lay somewhere in the middle. I've found that they only eat small amounts, even the big girl. Ideally, she'd be on a special diet, but it's not realistic with the others being fit, and one verging on being underweight. Sometimes I mix the diet and regular food to sneak in fewer calories. They're pretty smart though.. they can pick out the yummy pieces.
bingbingboom bingbingboom 6 years
I agree that it depends on the kitty's interest in food. We use the feeder for Remy because we travel frequnetly. For a while, we were worried that she might over eat. However, she only eats a few drops before she runs away to play. Isn't "small meals, 5 times a day" a healthy diet for human?
Happsmjc Happsmjc 6 years
I do the exact same as fuzzles, my 1 year old cat is free fed dry and given a small bit of wet food once a day as a treat. She goes to her bowl when she's hungry and never finishes a whole bowl in one day, I top it off every morning, but it would take her a while to finish her little bowl. I like keeping food in there because the few times it has gotten low she seems to get scared she's going to run out and eat all of it quickly. Free feeding probably helps her eat less because she always knows it's there. She tends to eat a little more when I'm out of town, again scared she will not be fed again?! But, she is on Wellness Core and weighs 10, maybe 10.5 lbs. She has a pooch like isharangme said, a little tummy and small head and skinny hips, but the vet thinks she's fine. Even if you're cat is an overeater I would try it because it could be due to her being scared she's not going to be fed again and eating quickly. If she knows it will be there maybe she will slow down and eat when hungry? Good luck.
Mandy-Harris Mandy-Harris 6 years
I really think it depends on the eating habits of your kitty! Our cat is pretty thin, and just isn't all that into food — even if we fill her bowl up when we leave her overnight, she's hardly made a dent in it when we get home. But if your kitty tends to overeat, as you mention, I'd avoid it! You could always try it out for a week or two and see what she does; a week of overeating shouldn't have any lasting effects.
fuzzles fuzzles 6 years
Just saw the comment under the picture. *blonde moment* If you think that your kitty is or would be a little glutton, I would probably lean against free-feeding. If you did try it, I would suggest measuring out a specific amount each day. When it's gone, it's gone. It sounds as though you have other cats, so that might be a little difficult to accomplish.
fuzzles fuzzles 6 years
I've actually had the opposite experience. All of my Persians have been free fed dry food, with regular canned food treats. Two of my girls were petite little wisps, both consistently weighing in at 6 lbs. and some change. Another was a well-rounded but healthy for her 12 lbs. Oliver Katt, the current man of the house, did reach a chubby (but not fat!) 14 lbs at one point. His vet suggested that I cut him back slightly, but only because a little less weight would be easier on his kidneys (he has poly-cystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder common to the breed). He has weighed in consistently for quite some time at around 12 lbs, and his blood work has been super! :D I think it really just depends upon the cat.
isahrangme isahrangme 6 years
don't do it!! i think almost everything online recommends you to not, especially if you already know one is a glutton! i free-fed my cats when they were kitties, because they needed to be fed more often than i could be home to feed them (working full-time) well now, one is definitely overweight and CRAZY about food. being overweight has made her lazier, which means it's even harder for her to lose weight the other one is fine. she's not GREAT, but the vet said she cannot add more weight SO my advice, DON'T DO IT! if you need to, use a timed-feeder ALSO, i (vaguely) remember reading once , that after cats are spayed, they are more likely to develop fatty areas. i free fed both kitties after they were spayed. they definitely have pooches that are not going away! i don't remember the entire study, but yea something like that... :[
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