Cats can be quite fussy when it comes to eating. Unlike dogs, who seem happy to wolf down whatever you put in front of them, cats can be choosy over the flavours and types of food you feed them. Cats are much more likely to graze on food over the course of the day than to gorge themselves at a specific time. This is perfectly acceptable, as long as you’re not constantly refilling the bowl as this could lead to overeating.
Joe Bartges, professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee told WebMD that obesity is the most common nutritional disease in cats. This isn’t always the fault of the owner however, as it harks back to the days when cats were much more active and would be constantly on the move and hunting for their next meal. Cats live a much more relaxed and sedentary lifestyle these days, so it can be easy to overfeed them, as their nutritional needs are not as high as they once were.
When you’re feeding your cat, it’s important to offer them both wet and dry food. Cats are reluctant to drink water in the same way that a dog does as cats were designed to get their hydration from their food. Because of this, dry food alone is not enough to keep your cat hydrated. On average, canned ‘wet’ food is around 78% water compared to dry food which can be as little as 5%. However, cats do still require constant access to clean fresh water. You can either leave this next to their food bowl throughout the day or place smaller dishes around the house in their favourite spots.
Consistently overeating, also known as polyphagia, could also be a sign of a deeper issue. It’s possible that your cat is suffering with worms, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. They may be overeating as a way to combat boredom or loneliness or maybe they are suffering with depression and eating to self-soothe.
If you’re worried about your cat’s diet, seek professional medical advice from your veterinarian before making any changes. Cats don’t generally react well to change and you might need to take a more gradual approach to any modifications to their food. Your vet will be able to tell you how much food they should be eating according to their age and size and will be able to assess whether they are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals that they need.