Free-Feeding vs. Scheduled Feeding

Cat eatingWhen it comes to feeding cats, owners must decide on free-feeding vs. scheduled feeding.  Here we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Many cat owners believe in free-feeding their cat because it’s convenient and the cat can snack throughout the day.  It can also work well in a multi-cat household if cats get hungry at different times.

On the downside, if your cat is a boredom eater, having food constantly available to snack on can lead to weight gain.  This has become a big problem in the last few years, with approximately 25% of cats in the US now classified as obese.

If there’s more than one cat in the house, it’s also difficult to tell how much each cat is eating.  For cats on a canned food diet, free feeding is not a good option because food is apt to sit out too long and become hard and unappetizing.

Scheduled feeding time helps cat owners regulate the amount of food their cat eats, which can help keep weight under control.  Regular feeding times also work for cats on a canned food diet because the food won’t be sitting out for an extended amount of time.

Scheduled feedings can also allow you to use food as a training tool because it isn’t always available.  For free feeding cats, food isn’t a motivator because it’s always around!

The downside to scheduled feedings, though, is that your cat is on a feeding “schedule” so if you are running late, your cat will probably be ravenous when you get home.  A ravenous cat tends to gobble food, and we know how that usually turns out.

What feeding method do you use and is it working well for your cats?  Please leave a comment.

Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.

2 Responses to "Free-Feeding vs. Scheduled Feeding"

    1. There are quite a few cats that would roll into the 50 lb. bag category…..I think many times it’s a boredom eating thing. I eat when I’m bored, pets do too, I imagine

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