Tuesday 8 December 2020

Do owners of full-time indoor cats do enough to satisfy their cat's feeding requirements?

Cats confined to the indoors are dependent upon their owners entirely when it comes to feeding. The way a domestic cat feeds should reflect how their wild ancestor feeds. It is also said that cats naturally eat several small meals per day. The feeding of domestic cats, confined to the indoors, should try and introduce some sort of hunting behaviour which is perhaps attempted with food puzzles. I don't believe in food puzzles because they don't work as far as my cats are concerned but they do attempt to replicate hunting prey. In other words it's an attempt for a full-time indoor cat to feed naturally.

Are some dry cat food pellets toos small promoting swallowing without chewing? Image: PoC.

The feeding of a domestic cat should promote their physical and mental/behavioural health and they should be given a choice to allow them to find what they like best. Choice is a massive factor in the feeding of domestic cats in my view. I strongly believe in having a selection of foods with which I can provide my cat. I know that he likes variety and change.

Note: the link in the tweet above no long works as free access which is disappointing but the feeder is interesting.

Free feeding from a permanently available dry cat food bowl is perhaps the most common way that we feed cats. It's okay provided the cat doing the free feeding is not putting on weight or has gained weight and is classified as obese and is provided with alternatives which must be wet foods to compensate for the lack of moisture in dry cat food. Domestic cats do drink more water when they eat dry foods but it is strongly argued that they do not compensate adequately and therefore they can maintain a state of mild dehydration about which the owner is unaware and which has a slightly damaging effect on the cat's health.

The point of this short post is to say that it is fine to keep your cat indoors all the time in the interest of safety but you can't, I believe, do it casually. It places an added burden upon the cat's human caretaker in terms of feeding arrangements and entertainment. It is much harder to create a natural environment for a cat indoors and if you don't there might be health consequences for the cat. They can become bored, obese and mildly depressed at best. They become stifled but they accept it and adapt to it. But it is not a full life.

The alternative, to allow a cat outside is perhaps equally bad because of the dangers outside. This is a great dilemma for cat owners because neither option is entirely satisfactory. Does this not point to the elephant in the room? The inbuilt partial failure of cat domestication. 

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