The eating habits of our favorite pets are a frequently debated topic on the internet—questions about what to feed our cats, when, and how are hot topics among cat parents.
I recently got into a conversation with another cat owner about cat eating habits, and an interesting topic came up. The owner of this beautiful Russian Blue boy asked me what my cat likes to eat for breakfast.
A little confused by the question, for reasons I’ll explain below, I told her jokingly, “well, of course, my Max’s favorite breakfast is Mice Krispies”… haha… Did you get my dad-joke? Or is this just a lame cat joke?
Anyway, this sparked an interesting discussion, and we touched upon some interesting cat-feeding topics that I regularly come across online.
Do cats eat breakfast?
Because our cats have adapted to the human biological clock and consider nighttime as resting time, they would eat breakfast in the morning as the first meal after several hours of fasting during the night.
The English word ‘breakfast’ comes from ‘break-fast’ or ‘breaking the fast’ as in the first meal after a period of fasting (during the night).
Although cats sleep about 20 hours per day, they do so in short bursts, and the time in between naps, they spend hunting when they have to survive in the wild and aren’t fed by a human.
A wild cat might catch several small prey over the course of a day, like small rodents, birds, insects, and lizards. As a result, eat many smaller meals.
Because cats in nature don’t sleep all night (they consider this their ideal hunting time), they are unfamiliar with the concept of breakfast. This is something that humans more or less forced upon our domesticated felines since we don’t go out feeding our furry friends throughout the night.
What do cats eat for breakfast?
There isn’t a specific menu that cats should eat for breakfast, and it depends on your cat’s personal preference. From what I’ve seen, there are many different opinions from cat parents.
Of course, we all want the best for our cat children, and there’s probably something to say for each opinion. However, I’d advise the following;
As a general rule, it’s best to feed cats wet food in the morning to help them re-hydrate and replenish the fluids they lost during the night. Wet food also contains more nutrients to give them plenty of energy during the day. Feeding dry food or kibble later during the day is an option but not recommended as the first meal of the day.
How often per day should you feed your cat?
When it comes to feeding times and quantities, there is no hard and fast rule, and your cat usually adapts to whatever feeding schedule we set for them within reason.
Most domesticated adult cats can get by on two meals a day, roughly 12 hours apart, supplemented with some light snacks in between.
On the other hand, what I do with our cat, Max, is to set the feeding plan based on how cats would eat in the wild, spreading their daily intake out over several smaller meals during the day.
The smaller meals can consist of some (cat) treats, dry kibble or small amounts of (wet) cat food. I still keep the two major meals of the day, so Max still has his ‘breakfast’ and ‘dinner’.
After trial and error, I settled on the following feeding schedule, and Max agrees with it.
- 8:00am – breakfast
- 11:00am – snack
- 3:00pm – snack
- 6:00pm – dinner
- 10:00pm – snack
When feeding multiple times during the day, be careful not to overfeed your cat. The table below helps with determining your cat’s ideal calorie intake during the day.
|Daily recommended calorie intake for cats||5 lbs||10 lbs||15 lbs||20 lbs|
|Kitten||200 kcal||400 kcal||600 kcal||800 kcal|
|Lean Cat||170 kcal||280 kcal||360 kcal||440 kcal|
|Overweight Cat||180 kcal||240 kcal||280 kcal||310 kcal|
|Pregnant Cat||336 kcal||603 kcal||850 kcal||1090 kcal|
Automate feeding times
While I work during the day and there’s not always someone home to feed our cat, we rely on a timer feeder for kibble. If you’re interested in getting one for your cat, there are many options, and it really depends on your preferences, your budget and the functionality you need.
We finally settled on this automatic cat feeder, and we’re quite happy with it. We got it from Amazon, where it got a decent amount of good reviews.
It has all the features we need, but we specifically looked for the option to set variable portion sizes, easy cleaning and operations, and a sturdy design.
An automatic feeder is also great if your cat tends to wake you up at night because it’s hungry.
Turning feeding time into a game
It is no secret that cats don’t only hunt to feed themselves. To cats, the hunt is just as much play-time as it is a necessity. Their hunting instinct is so strong that even cats who are fed regularly feel the need to hunt.
The lack of actual hunt in domestic cats often leads to cats playing with their food before eating it.
To keep your cat busy during the day and tickle their hunting instincts and playfulness, look into getting a puzzle feeder.
Puzzle feeders are great for administering small snacks throughout the day, keeping your cat busy, and avoiding them over eating out of boredom.
Our cat thoroughly enjoys playing with this puzzle feeder, but every cat is different, and you may need to try a couple of different ones to see what your cat likes.
Dry or wet food in the morning?
According to many veterinarians, a mix of wet and dry food is the way for most cats since both have their advantages and nutritional value.
However, in the morning, we would advise feeding your cat a wet food breakfast. The most important reason for this is to make sure your cat is hydrated after a fasting period during the night.
Cats are known to not drink enough and are therefore at risk of de-hydration. Getting some wet food in at the start of the day has the added advantage of replenishing their fluids.
On top of that, wet food contains more protein than carbohydrate-rich kibble and many nutrients that will give them energy for the day.
We wrote a more extensive article about the differences between wet and dry food and why they should both be included in your cat’s diet. Have a look at it here.