Ultimate Guide to Free Feeding Cats: Do’s and Don’t


Free feeding is the method where you put the food in the cat feeding bowl that is accessible all the time. Whenever the cat is hungry, she can reach the bowl and eat the meal. You can feed only dry food as it is processed, and it does not get stale even if kept for days. 

Moisture in the air may make the food smell nasty after some days, so you should replace the food every day to avoid health problems in the cat.

Is free-feeding bad for cats?

Yes. Free feeding can make your cat overweight. Cat does not have control over their eating habits. If the food is always there in front of her, she will keep eating until the feeding plate is empty. Overeating becomes a problem for the digestion system. 

She may feel ill if the digestion system caused the problem. 

You can also see the change in the appetite over time. She will demand more food and become addicted to eating. 

Also, if you have more than one cat at a time, it would be difficult to tell which one is eating the more food.

Imbalance in the meal develops various food-related health problems. When cats are full, they sleep a lot. 

Ultimate Guide to Free Feeding Cats

Your cat will stop doing regular exercise, which again contributes to the weight gain. Also, when she has no purpose of communicating with you, there will be no bonding between you and your cat.

 She will not follow you or respond to your voice. She goes to her bed and rest. 

The cat will lose interest in you, and there will be no connection between you and your cat.

How do I free feed multiple cats?

When you multiple cats in the house, it would be difficult to manage them during the feeding hours. Cats are obeying animals like dogs. They will rush to the food as soon as you place them on the plate. You need to develop some method to provide sufficient food to each of them without making them fight.

Here are some of the ways you can feed your multiple cats at the same.

  • Feed them in a different room while closing the doors when feeding. This will make them separate, and both will have time to eat their food.
  • Feed the one cat at the time. Put the other cat out until the first one finishes her meal.
  • Having two separate places where they can be divided in the distance would help the cat develop the habit to reach their dinner plate. They will not interfere in each other place once they know which one is theirs.
  • If you have a multi-story apartment, then feed them on a different level. Some cats may need a special diet, so you can arrange the space for them to eat their meal comfortably. 
  • Use the table to divide the section for the cat. Have them sit on a different level. One cat sits on the table, and another will be on the ground. This way, you can feed multiple cats in the same room.

How do I stop my cat from free feeding?

Many cat owners think the cat will never overweight. Cat spends most of their time running and exercising, which keeps them in good shape. However, this thought is not correct. The cat does gain weight even if they are involved in athletic activities. 

Therefore, Schedule feeding time is the best way to keep your cat in good shape. 

Ultimate Guide to Free Feeding Cats

Step by Step guide to stop cat from free feeding

Step 1:

Consult your veterinarian about the diet plan for your cat. Every cat is different, so there will be a special diet plan available for your cat based on their daily activities. 

Cat needs a sufficient amount of calories to stay active during the day. The veteran will calculate the calories requirement based on the kitty’s age and ideal weight. 

According to the study, the 15-pound cat needs approx 220 calories every 24 hours.

Step 2:

Change the eating pattern of your cat. The first thing that you need to do is take away the feeding plate from the feeding area. 

The cat will notice the feeding plate is no longer available at the place. She will start reaching out for the food every time she is hungry. 

Develop the practice to feed her on schedule time. Let the cat develop the habit of eating a small portion every few hours, so they do not follow the overeating practice. 

Keep your emotions and attachment aside for a while. Even if your cat tries to meow around you all the time, do not feed her. Follow the rules strictly if you want your cat to live a healthy life.

Step 3:

Knowing how much food is sufficient for the cat should make a big difference in improving her health. 

Buy food container that has printed calories calculator. Or read the instruction given on the cat food container. 

Measure the calories per cup while serving the food to the cat. Do not feed the full cup in one go. 

Divide it into two portions so that the cat will eat slowly, and it will get time to digest the food. 

For the cat weighing around 15 pounds would require two cups that contain 110 calories meals per day.

Step 4:

Break the mealtime in 12 hours apart. Fix the time for the feeding, so the cat will know when the food will be served. 

Can remember the day of the time when you give them food. Once they have obtained the habit of eating the food at a particular time, they will only come to you when feeding time. 

After the feeding is done, remove the plate from the place, else it will remind them about the food, and the cat will continuously bother you. 

Step 5:

Get a weighing machine to weigh our cat once a week. Note down her weight regularly and compare it with the past data to know whether she gains the weight or loses it. 

If you plan to slim your cat, reduce the calories intact, and your cat will have a slim body. It will help you to reach the weight goal. 

Balancing cat food would be done using the data you get every week. Keep your cat at the moderated weight to improve health. 

Losing or gaining weight rapidly would also affect the cat’s health. Switch the weighing the cat once a month once you find the perfect meal for your cat.

Are free-feeding kittens good?

Many cat owners believe it is found to free-feed the kittens as they are growing, and they would require more food to fulfill their nutrition requirement. Free feeding is never good as a cat do not control their eating habit. 

They may eat as much as you serve without bothering about the health problem. The cat’s only job throughout the day is to eat and rest. 

Ultimate Guide to Free Feeding Cats

If the kittens are given a big pile of food every day, they will gain weight quickly and become obese. 

Also, some kittens may have digestion problems due to eating problems. You also notice the cat develops behavioral problems in them. 

They stop playing and become lethargic. You will find them sleeping all the time, which is not good for their growing body. As they grow, they will have weak muscles. 

Cat is a wild animal that lives in the forest. In the forest, the cat might get a small portion of the meal every day.

They have to work hard to get the meal. Wild cats are not in control of their food intake. 

There will be a day where they have not eaten a sufficient amount of food. The natural environment helps them to stay healthy. 

Now compare that with the domestic cat. That is, the home does not have to go anywhere in search of food. They reach to their feeding plate and get their meal. 

If No workout, no running, no activities that would keep them in perfect shape. 

Therefore, feeding the kitten using the free food method is not good. The cat that is feed using the free food method becomes aggressive when they do not find their meal. 

Their body will demand the food, and when the food is not available, they will try anything to get the food on the dish. 

You will see them climb the kitchen in search of food. They sometimes tear the cushion covers and bedsheets when they are angry.

If you develop free food habits for your kitten, they will follow that pattern in adulthood. It would be difficult to change their kitten age habit when they are adults. 

So it would be best if you practiced the scheduled meal to train the kitten for the mealtime. They will remember the schedule and enjoy the day without looking for the food.

What is the free-feeding cat’s behavior change?

A cat develops strange behavior when you try to feed using the free feeding method. The easy availability of the food makes them dull. There will be no activity in the home from your cat. They will not give you importance as they will be getting food all the time. 

If you have multiple cats, they might fight for the food and develop an aggressive nature. 

The stronger cat will take the big chunk of the food, and the other will be left with a small portion of it. The conflict between two cats may cause severe injuries to both.

Experts believe the free feeding develops the distress level as the year pass. The cat will become lethargic, and it would lose control over her senses. 

The easy food will make the obese. She will stop using her sense that is crucial for finding the food. 

As long you realize the problem in the cat, it may already have reached its peak. It would be a big problem for the cat.

Free choice makes the cat gain weight quickly. The excessive weight gain would make her ill. 

As the cat age, they may develop different kinds of diseases. In the worst case, the doctors may have to operate on her in the hospital. 

Overweight, cats find difficulty in doing regular stuff such as walking, jumping, and climbing. They will avoid such essential activities that keep them healthy. 

The cat would have difficulty in breathing as she gets obeys. Some cats develop diabetes mellitus or osteoarthritis health problems due to bad eating habits.

Free feeding cats stay alone most of the time. There will be no bonding between you and your cat. 

You will lose interest in her, and after some time, you may feel to get rid of her as the pet is not responsive. 

You may develop the thought that the pet is just wasting your money as there is no connection between you and her. The cat should become your friend. 

That’s the basic need of having a pet. If you do not have any feelings for her, eventually, you will sell her in the pet market and leave her there. 

Ultimate Guide to Free Feeding Cats

Therefore, you should keep your cat in full control with the right mean plan. Give her sufficient food, nutritional food that she needs to fulfill her daily requirement. 

A balanced meal will keep her agile. Let her join you in the playtime and do her exercise with the various activities in the home.

Final Verdict:

The guide on free feeding cats is discussed in a compressive manner to give you a complete view of managing your cat and their feeding routine. 

The ultimate goal is to give a healthy life to your pet. 

The Doe’s and Don’ts would help you avoid things that may cause health problems in the cats. 

Free feeding cats would work only if you control the daily food. If you keep serving the cat the whole day without calculating the cat’s actual need, it will harm the growth of the cat.

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Dinu Sri Madusanka

Dinu Sri Madusanka is a science graduate (B.Sc.) who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is a well-experienced writer with more than 7 years of experience. He interests in writing mostly animal welfare and advance technologies. Even though he is busy with research works, in his free time, he gives his contribution to several blogs by writing, reviewing, and analyzing information to provide more accurate and useful information for the reader. WalkwithCat is one of his major contributing places which is dedicated to improving the knowledge of cat parents.

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