Help! My cat never stops bothering me for food!This is a common thing that we hear from our clients, particularly when we recommend weight loss for their feline friend. Just like in humans, extra weight can lead to serious diseases such as diabetes, liver disease and arthritis. The typical lifestyle of most indoor cats predisposes them to reduced exercise and, often, more calories than are necessary. So, what can we do? Ultimately, it is the humans in the household that are responsible for the cat's well-being and there are many viable options out there!
First, it is always good to remove the human component from the feeding process. If the cat sees the people of the household placing food in their dish, they will turn to them when they want to eat. A meowing, persistent cat can be very difficult to ignore! A good way to separate from the feeding process is by purchasing a timed, automatic feeder. There are many options to choose from; some have a number of slots that you pre-prep food into and they open up as scheduled and others hold the food and distribute a set amount at regular timed intervals. We recommend feeding multiple smaller meals per day – generally about 1/8 of a cup 4 times per day. If your cat wakes you up at 4:00am to eat, set the timer to go off at 3:30am and then at regular intervals throughout the day and evening.
Another option is to make meal time a more stimulating process than eating from a bowl. The "NoBowl" or Indoor Hunting Feeding System is an easy way to get started feeding your cat in a more natural way. Cats, in general, prefer a more interactive feeding system. They instinctively are meant to hunt their food, so placing small amounts of food in 5 “mice” feeders and hiding them around the house allows them an indoor option for hunting. While it may not work for every household, cats typically love having something to do and even older cats can learn to enjoy looking for their meals. The system can help reduce the “scarf and barf” that some cats display, reduces boredom, helps in weight management and contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle. While it does take a little more effort for the humans of the household, several of our staff members have implemented the system at home with great success!!
If you don't want to commit fully to the NoBowl experience, you can try alternative feeding in many ways. There are many “treat feeders” and “food puzzles” that you can purchase or even make that can help enrich your cat and make meal time more fun and interesting. If you'd like some specific ideas on feeding alternatives and enrichment, check out our Pinterest page for lots of options! Just remember that it is ideal to feed small amounts spread out multiple times per day. The average cat doesn't need more than ½ cup of food total… so use a measuring cup and keep track! Your cat will thank you!