This blog was written by Brooke Billingsley of Hepper
How to Properly Serve Meals to Your Cat
Are you feeding your cat the right way? It might sound like a silly question, but consider that many of us put the food in the bowl and set it out for our cat. Likewise, we’re used to our cats making noise when they can see the bottom of the bowl, even when it still has food in it, so we top off the bowl and call it a day. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with feeding your cat this way. It has worked for a long time for a lot of people, so it can’t be all bad. But there are things you can do to make mealtimes more beneficial and enjoyable for your cat. Here are the things you need to know about how to properly serve meals to your cat.
Choosing the Right Food for Your Cat
The main ingredient in healthy mealtimes for your cat is feeding the right food. Obviously, your budget and the availability of certain foods or ingredients makes a difference in what you can feed your cat, but you still want to find a food that meets your cats needs. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to choosing a food for your cat, Hepper has a great resource of the top cat food picks.
Pick a food that’s appetizing and appealing to your cat. It can be dangerous for cats to go on food strikes, and we all know cats can be finicky animals. If one flavor profile isn’t just right, your cat may refuse to eat. Determine the types of flavors and textures that your cat enjoys and use that as a starting point. Whether your cat wants wet food or kibble, or prefers fish flavors over chicken, there’s an exceptional food that will appeal to your cat’s tastes.
The practical details feeding your cat properly include the environment and feeding bowls you use. Here are some tips to manage mealtime:
Location, Location, Location
Your cat’s food should be put in a place that is safe from other pets in the home to keep your cat from feeling like they must compete for food. Dogs love cat food due to its high protein content, so many dogs will steal cat food if they can reach it.
Meanwhile, your cat will eat better and feel safer and happier if the food is located in a place that feels secure enough to let its guard down and chow down. Busy, loud rooms can be stressful to cats, especially when they are trying to eat.
Prevent Whisker Fatigue
An odd thing about cats that many people don’t realize is that they can get whisker fatigue. This might sound kind of silly, but there is some science to it.
Cats’ whiskers are exceedingly sensitive. Think of whiskers like insect antennae. The whiskers themselves don’t have nerve endings, but the attachments of the whiskers to the body are quite sensitive. They help your cat navigate through its day-to-day life, so it’s important to keep the whiskers happy and prevent sensory overload.
When your cat eats out of a deep bowl, the whiskers tend to hit the sides of the bowl. This causes whisker fatigue and can be overwhelming and uncomfortable for your cat. Choosing a plate or wide bowl with low sides is the best way to help your cat eat comfortably.
Maintain a Routine
Another important aspect of mealtimes for your cat is maintaining a routine. Cats love routine and normalcy can be very comforting for your cat. Not only that, but it might save you from your feline friend screaming in your face at 3:00 AM to beg for breakfast. Scheduled meals can also improve the trust between you and your cat, allowing your cat to see you meet their expectation of the routine.
Every cat is different, so your cat’s specific needs should be considered when it comes to meals. Depending on age and health status, your cat may require a specific type of food. Don’t stray from your cat’s basic dietary needs and get your cat’s veterinarian involved if you are unsure about what your cat’s diet should look like.
Your cat may be comfortable with chaotic environments or may be totally content to share its bowl with other pets in the home. When it comes down to it, your main goal should always be to ensure your cat is getting enough to eat and staying at a healthy weight.
At the end of the day, keeping your cat fed is the foundation of the pet/owner relationship. If you and your cat already have established mealtime routines that work for you, don’t change it unless something is indicating to you that your cat needs that change. Sometimes, though, minor changes to the way you serve meals to your cat can improve your cat’s sense of safety in its environment and create a private space for your cat to relax. Any changes you may make to your cat’s mealtime routine should be made slowly and in small steps to prevent confusion and stress for your cat.