Do you have the kind of cat who paws at your face at an ungodly hour of the morning until you finally relent and get up? Does s/he then proceed to meow and whine until you fill up their food bowl? It’s not that your cat is unusually gluttonous; it could be that they’re telling you that it’s a natural feeding time for them.
In the most recent episode of The Upgrade, animal behaviour expert Zazie Todd told us that cats are naturally inclined to eat five times a day ” not just two, like most of us tend towards with our animals. This is because cats are natural hunters, and in the wild, they might be hunting and eating throughout the day.
For more on taking care of your pets, check out the video below:
As Todd explains:
[C]ats prefer to be fed five times a day, if that’s possible, rather than just twice a day. [It’s] good for them to spread their meals out. Because if you think normally a cat would be catching mice throughout the day and a cat might catch maybe 10 mice in a day, that would be like 10 little meals. So if we can try to approximate that, that’s good for the cats.
If you don’t have a cat that naturally self-regulates (i.e. is able to avoid devouring their entire bowl of food at once), timed feeders can be a godsend. If you do have a cat that self-regulates, then simply making sure their bowl has some food in it at all times works well.
As for the early morning harassment, Todd recommends the following:
[M]aybe give her a last snack before bed…But if you can spread her meals out a bit more and then tire her out before bed, then hopefully she won’t wake you up quite so early. If she does, of course, every time you get up, you’re rewarding her for waking you up. So you might want to try and shift that a little bit later in the morning if you possibly can.
And all of this makes sense when you recognise that cats have not been domesticated for as long as dogs. They’re still a little bit wild when you think about it, and as Todd puts it, “if we didn’t exist anymore, our cats could continue to exist quite happily on their own.”
To hear more about how to better care for your cat, check out the full episode!
Have you ever wondered why your cat bites you after just three pets?Â Or how to get your dog to chill out and stop barking? We're uncovering the mysteries of our four-legged friends this week with help from animal behaviour expert Zazie Todd. In this episode, you'll hear about the underlying...Read more