There are two feeding options available to cat owners - free feeding (also known as self feeding) and scheduled feeding. You can allow your cat or kitten to self feed by leaving a portion of dry food out all day. Your feline will be able to eat or snack whenever he wants. This is a good option for people who are at work odd hours. However, this type of feeding could lead to weight gain. If your cat eats all day because he is bored or lonely, he may become overweight.
If you feed canned food, you will have to set up a regular feeding schedule so that it does not spoil. You can feed your cat according to your own schedule, such as before you go to work or when you come home in the evening. Keep in mind, however, that once you set this schedule, you must stick to it. Your pet will rely on you for a regular feeding time. Kittens need to eat often, so if you use schedules feedings for a kitten, you will have to give him food several times a day.
Some owners do a combination of free feeding and schedules feeding. Before they leave for work, they put out a small portion of dry food for daytime consumption, and when they return home at the end of the day, they offer a schedules feeding portion. This sets up a routine for the cat and allows him to snack if he becomes hungry when his owner is not at home.
If you practice scheduled feedings and go away for a weekend trip or a vacation, someone will have to come to your house and feed your cat at the scheduled feeding times. A cat who free feeds on dry food may be left enough food for an overnight trip or a weekend.
Having your child help you to feed the cat is a great way for the child and cat to bond with each other. Depending on the age of the child, she can be given different responsibilities when it comes to feeding time. Younger children can get the food dishes out, choose a can of food, or refill the water bowl each day. Older children can feed the cat, either scooping out the correct portion or giving him the bowl at the appropriately schedules time each day.
When feeding the cat, explain to your child how much food he needs and how often. You can even have her draw up a feeding chart or schedule that shows when it is feeding time. Always supervise your child when she is feeding a pet and remember to teach her that the cat should not be disturbed when he is eating. Allowing your child to feed a pet and learn how to take care of him properly teaches responsible pet ownership from an early age.