Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Did you know that 57% of all cats are overweight in America?
Why? Because people have been taught to fill a bowl of dry food for a cat and walk away! This is a BIG NO NO! Cats can actually become addicted to their dry food - which is why they cry when the bowl is empty. When they cry, owners think they're still hungry and feed them more. It's a vicious cycle that leads to obesity and other health issues.
Free feeding, in our opinion, is the #1 cause of overweight cats in America. Think about it, if cats are left a kitty buffet 24/7, they'll never stop eating. The more they eat, the larger they get, making exercise and training non-existent. One of the biggest complaints that we hear cat owners with overweight cats say is that "my cat demands food all the time! They'll break into food containers, open doors, and do anything to get fed." USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. This means that your cat is EXTREMELY FOOD DRIVEN and you should start training your cat at meal time.
Cats are hunters by nature and crave working for their food!
Cats are used to hunting and working for their meals. Its in their nature! That is why training at meal time is so successful. When you train your cat at mealtime, they get to problem solve and figure out how to catch their "prey". When they succeed, they are rewarded with a delicious meal - in the wild, that's a mouse or bird, well anything they are lucky to catch!
Cats stomachs are only about the size of half a mouse! In the wild, cats have only two successful hunts a day because that is all they need to survive. A mouse has the perfect amount of nutrition for a cat. It has the water, fats, calories, and proteins all jam packed into one meal. Cat food is completely different. Dry cat food is very high in empty calories. Its essentially like feeding your cats donuts at every meal. If you're only feeding dry cat food, this is why your cat is begging for more at all hours of the day. Have you ever had a donut and then 2 hours later your stomach starts grumbling for more? That's the same for cats and that is why we add wet food into their diet at each meal! The protein and fat in wet food is the only thing that signals to the cats brain that the cat is full. Feeding wet food is our secret weapon for those cats that bother you and keep you up at night. Typically they're doing this because they're hungry. If you feed wet food at dinnertime, they'll be full for a longer amount of time, allowing you that precious beauty sleep you need!
So how much should I feed my cat?
Each cat is different in how much they exercise, so you’ll want to gauge how active your cat is and base the amount of food off of that. We've found that 2 TBS wet food and 2 TBS dry food, twice a day keeps an average domestic house cat at the proper weight! Of course, if you have a larger breed, you may want to increase their meal amounts. We also account for training treats when developing their meal ratios. With the above amount in mind, we are able to add fresh cooked chicken as treats into our cats diets for training! At CatBoss TV, we use real chicken breast for treats to add protein and build lean body mass and achieve the muscular physique cats were designed to have!
Switching from free feed to meal feed
When you switch from free feeding to meal feeding you will want to do this over the course of two to three weeks to give your cat plenty of time to adjust. Meal feeding also provides motivation for your cat. In order to train your cat, you definitely want them to be motivated! We schedule our training times around meal feeding so that we can get the maximum benefit from training and then use their meal as a jackpot reward.
*Please note that you’ll want to check with your veterinarian before doing any diet changes to make sure its right for your cat. We are not licensed nutritionists. As a professional cat trainer and behaviorist, my goal is to get you to rethink how you build your cats diet to create the bond with your cat instead of missing out on that opportunity.