Contributor: Maren Boyer Charlton- Agriculture Communications Student at Utah State University and Vice President of National Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow.
Please note that I have received compensation in exchange for this blog post.
- If you have dogs, feed them separately from your cat
There are many different reasons to feed your cats and dogs separately. For example, it is a safe precaution to ensure your cat is eating their own food instead of your dog getting to it first. Knowing how much your cat is eating can be a great tool to help manage your cat’s diet and ensure they’re not overeating. Feeding animals separately can also give your cat a safe space where they do not feel like they must compete for food.
- Create a schedule and routine when feeding your cat
What you feed, how much you feed, and how often you feed your cat can all play a helpful role in developing a feeding routine. Ask your vet for suggestions on the quantity of food you should be feeding your cat, and create a feeding schedule and determine when to feed your cat based off their suggestions.
- Don’t be afraid to find fun places for their food bowl
Do not feel like you are limited to feeding your cat on the floor — you can feed cats in very creative ways that are still accessible! For example, feeding them in their cat tree is a great place to keep food in a high, safe place that cats have access to. The food bowl should be in a separate location from the water, so assess your home and search for safe unique places to feed your cat in a fun way.
- Use multiple food bowls
How you feed your cat is also important – cats are natural explorers; their natural instinct is to search for food. Cats are natural explorers; their natural instinct is to search for food. It can be a helpful practice to have multiple food bowls scattered throughout your home to give your cat something to search for. This also can be a great tool to push your cat to exercise more while looking for food. It is important not to overfill each bowl and only replenish once all the food bowls are empty, to ensure you are not over feeding your cat.
- Change the location of the food bowl(s)
An additional step to include is to change the locations of the food bowls once they are empty. Changing locations can help motivate and encourage further searching and exercise for your cat.
- Find a safe location for food (away from the litter box)
When finding a location for your cat’s food bowl, it’s important that it is not near their litter box. Cats naturally do not eat or sleep close to where they go to the bathroom (unless they are stressed or confined), so keeping food away from their litter box can help create a positive association with food, and not interfere with their association with their litter box.
- Water, water, water!
It is very common that cats do not get enough water, and before being domesticated, your cats’ ancestors were commonly desert dwellers. This means that cats have genetically adapted to survive on low quantities of water throughout their life. This has created an instinct in cats to have a low desire/need for water. This makes it very common and natural for your cat to not be drinking enough water. The most important practice is to always ensure that your cat has fresh clean water available. New fountain water feeders are helpful to ensure circulation and continued fresh water for your cat to be more enticing. Try to always keep an eye out and ensure that whatever water feeder you have, your cat is drinking from and drinking enough.
- The little things
When it comes to feeding, sometimes the little things can make a big difference. For example, make sure you have the correct bowl for feeding. According to Veterinary student Brendon Charlton, the whiskers on your cat play a vital role in how your cat interprets their surroundings. If bowls are too deep or not wide enough, the constant rubbing of their whiskers on the bowl could turn into a feeding deterrent. Puzzle feeding bowls can be a helpful tool to encourage your cat to think and exercise while feeding. Puzzle feeding bowls are very helpful for overweight cats who are more prone to be food motivated, and will put in more effort for food.
I hope these tips help you create a fun, safe and healthy feeding environment for your cat!