Recently we converted the cats to partial free choice feeding, leaving their dry food out for them to eat at their own time for some of their meals. I usually do this for their nighttime snacks and daytime meals by leaving the food for them the night before.
The reason why we tried this out is because the cats are eating less canned food now anyway. Sayang totally doesn’t eat lunch anymore, which tallies with her age – she is now 9 months old – and Scooter is able to eat dry food when he wants to. I also place the food there the night before their breakfast so that we can sleep in longer, as Scooter tends to be our alarm clock at hours as early as 4 a.m.
Through this method of feeding I find that Sayang eats less, and Slinky eats more. Hence I am not keen on converting them totally to free choice feeding, as Sayang should be eating more for her energy level and Slinky less because she is already chubby. Slinky is of course a happier cat now that she has all the food she wants to eat, but her weight still needs to be closely monitored and since she is extremely greedy, partial free choice is better for her than total free choice.
It is however much more convenient for times where we are not going to be waking up at 6 or 7 a.m. to feed the cats.
I still maintain scheduled meal times for their dinners, and for Scooter’s supper. On occasion when there is no need to sleep in I wake up to feed them their breakfasts too. We enjoy the interactiveness of feeding them their meals; seeing them enjoy their food is extremely rewarding. Slinky links her wet food so greedily, Scooter gorges himself and makes whining noises if disturbed, Sayang who is so picky, when she actually eats, it is a joy in itself to watch.
Here is a summary on pros and cons of free choice feeding:
- Convenient for owners
- Cats will never go hungry waiting for food
- Hard to monitor their food intake especially for cats with weight problems
- Only works for dry food
- Little interaction between owner and cat
Currently we (only!) have three cats and serving them scheduled meals is not a hassle when we have the time to. If we ever increase our cat family free choice feeding will definitely have to become a mainstay as in most big cat-households. But for now, as we speak, the cats are sitting with me contented with their delicious breakfasts of Royal Canin Fit 32 + Natural Balance Ocean Fish Formula. Deelish!