So, Sparky Has the Munchies: To Free Feed or Not to Free Feed

So, Sparky Has the Munchies: To Free Feed or Not to Free Feed

My work week begins when my fuzzy alarm clock, aka Angus, decides it’s time to wake, which is approximately four a.m.  I’ve learned to sleep through the head butts, howling and mad dashes from one end of the apartment to the other, but the truly annoying part is that he settles down about fifteen minutes before I have to wake.  I drag myself to the kitchen and prepare his breakfast, a half tin of wet food.  He stares at me, unimpressed, and goes back to sleep.

Angus’ hunting instincts have been null and void since I rescued him eleven years ago.  He’s lived the feline life of luxury ever since, where filtered water flows from a fountain and organic crunchies are available all day.  I’ve basically set up an all-inclusive cat resort, now that I think about it.  But does this make him happy?

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Cats Are Built to Hunt, Catch, Kill and Eat.

The answer is no.  As much as they graze, Angus and his brother are missing the hunting component, which leaves them (ironically) unsatisfied.  According to allthebestpetcare.com, feral cats operate on a twelve-hour hunting cycle with a period of rest in between, which allows for digestion and aid in healing.  When cats are allowed to graze, their body remains in the digesting stage and these healing periods never take place, leading to disease, low white blood cell counts and depressed immune systems.  Aside from this, infrequent exercise coupled with grazing can lead your once-svelte kitten to packing on the pounds.

free feeding transition

Transitioning From Free Feeding to Meal Feeding 

One solution to free feeding is meal feeding, where the bowls of dry food are phased out and replaced with specific feeding times, allowing their digestive systems to rest.  ‘Cats are built to eat small meals throughout the day,’ says Jackson Galaxy, host of ‘My Cat from Hell.’  ‘They are not grazers.’  You can transition from free feeding by removing the bowl of food an hour earlier each day.  Another solution is the use of puzzle feeders, which engages hunting instincts and forces cats to work for their meals.

I purchased the Northmate Catch Interactive Feeder for Cats, a purple monstrosity that encourages cats to dig for treats, engaging their inner hunters.  I’m hoping that this will also mellow their instinct to attack one another, a phenomenon that occurs when one cat spots the other in a peaceful, zen-like state.

Since we live in SoCal, the cleansing capital of the world, this coming month our entire household (me and the fuzzy monkeys) will start a cleanse.  While I replace my beloved Pinot Noir with disgusting green juice and attempt to meditate, Angus and Squeaker will take their aggressions out their obnoxious purple food puzzle instead of each other.  That’s my hope, at least!

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