Not sure when to feed your cat at night?
This is a common question that many veterinarians receive and one that is often searched on the Internet. After all, when we eat as humans seems to affect our digestion and overall mood and well-being. Why would it be any different for cats?
Up ahead, we’ll help you understand when the best time is to feed your cat at night and provide some explanation as to why this is.
What time should I feed my cat at night?
So when is the best time to feed your cat at night? Most experts recommend feeding your cat at least three hours before their regular bedtime. This isn’t too far off from how we feed ourselves at night, if you think about it. For example, if you tend to go to bed at 10pm, you might eat dinner at 7pm.
So, in this way, it makes it pretty easy to remember when to feed your cat too. Simply give them their food when you have your dinner, and call it good!
Individual Cat Habits
One thing to remember here is that you should pay attention to your cat’s individual habits too. For example, if they are a cat that simply eats three times a day whether you give them loads of food or not, you probably don’t have to worry about feeding them to late or giving them too much food before bed.
They can probably regulate their digestion, how often they eat, and how much they eat on their own. Some cats are just like this; it’s their nature.
On the other hand, other cats may eat anything you give them, no matter how much you give them! You could provide bowl after bowl of food, and they would eat it — even if they got sick by eating things like the toilet paper. In this case (which is probably more common than the former case), you need to regulate your cat’s food quite closely, and it will be you who will need to dictate the exact time of dinner.
There’s one other phenomenon that is quite common with cats and their dinner. Here’s a scenario:
Let’s say it’s almost time for you and your family’s dinner. You’re not sure when you’re going to feed your cat yet. After dinner – say, around 7:30pm — you decide to give your cat some leftovers. They get some scraps of meat, some bits of potatoes and roasted vegetables, and some yummy gravy.
To them, this is heaven. They would far prefer to have a meal like this then to have their own nuggets of dry cat food.
This is important to keep in mind if you plan on changing your cat’s eating routine later in the day toward bedtime. After all, if you’re giving your cat dry cat food at 6pm and wondering why they don’t eat it, it’s probably because they’re waiting for your leftovers. They know they don’t have to eat dry food. They have something even better coming in just about an hour and half.
In these scenarios — where your cat is actively avoiding eating their own food because they know they’ll get leftovers — you should probably stop feeding your cat from the table.
Is it ok to feed a cat before bed?
Yes, it’s certainly okay to feed your cat before bed, but you should not feed them directly before bed if you can help it. That is, give them a few hours to digest before it’s time to lay down for the night. More important than when you feed your cat is having a daily feeding routine.
This is for multiple reasons, but most importantly, remember that they do have some natural digesting to do after they eat late at night. And this can be uncomfortable if they’re meant to lay down right away.
Furthermore, they probably have to go to the bathroom right after eating, and you’ll want to give them a chance to do this for their comfort and so that you can avoid an accident! Most of experts recommend giving cat dinner around 6pm or 7pm and then taking them for a walk and letting them run around outside for a bit.
What is the latest I should feed my cat at night?
Most experts recommend feeding cats no later than two hours before their bedtime. Three hours is optimal.
In large part, your cat’s bedtime will be around your bedtime, so if you’re a night owl and go to bed at midnight, technically, you could feed your cat around 10pm.
On the other hand, cats do have a circadian rhythm of their own, and 10pm is a little late for dinner. Again, sticking to 7pm or 8pm at the latest is generally a good idea for a cat’s dinnertime.
Should you feed your cat in the middle of the night?
No. There is no need to feed your cat the middle of the night unless you and they have a particularly odd schedule — for example, if you work together, and your day is night and your night is day.
Should I feed my cat early or late?
We like 7pm or 8pm for most cat’s dinnertime.
For other meals of the day — namely, breakfast and lunch — all you need to do is basically divide up the rest of the hours of the day fairly evenly. This is the same for humans when you think about it.
So, if you tend to get up with your cat around 7am, give them some breakfast somewhere in that first hour. For lunch, somewhere around noon or 1pm is good.
As always, keep your cat’s eating habits in line with their physical activity habits. Kittens, for example, will probably eat more than senior cats because kittens are a lot more active and burn more calories throughout the day. They need more energy because they expend more energy.
The same goes for young and adult cats of active breeds, like Ragdolls. Smaller cats and older cats tend to not need to eat as often, though you always must make sure that your cat is getting enough to eat, of course.
Watch their weight and speak with your veterinarian if you have questions about optimal weight for your cat’s age, size, and breed.