06 Oct Grazer or guzzler? Feeding your cat
Have you ever heard that a cat will never overeat? That cats are very good at regulating how much food they consume?
Our first cat, Misty, was very good at this, as was our gran’s cat Anya, which led me to believe this was correct when I was younger. After working in a cattery, and being a cat sitter back in Glasgow, I discovered that this wasn’t completely true.
I’ve noticed there are two types of cat in the world. The cat that eats to live, and the cat that lives to eat. Alternatively known as grazers, and guzzlers (or gulpers). Our two resident purrs are a perfect example of the two.
Millie (pictured left) loves to chase butterflies, roll around in catnip, and block the doorway so Molly (our dog) can’t get past. She’s also a grazer.
Regis (pictured right) loves to wrestle with his toys, is the cuddliest cat ever, and is the terror of the local vole community. He’s a guzzler.
So what is a guzzler and a grazer? Does it matter?
A grazer is a cat that will dip in and out of their food throughout the day.
A guzzler is a cat that wolfs their food down as if they haven’t eaten in days, which can sometimes make them throw up because they’ve eaten it too quickly.
Knowing the eating habits of your cat is always good. A sudden change in appetite can be an indicator of illness in cats. Loss of appetite can be anything from dental issues, a stomach upset, or something more serious. An increase in appetite could be an indication of worms, or possibly even an over-active thyroid.
In a multi-cat household, having grazers and guzzlers can be problematic. Guzzlers will finish eating first, and then bully the grazer out of the way. Guzzler overeats, grazer under-eats. Or grazer becomes defensive and fights ensue.
So how do you prevent any issues from occurring? Feed all cats separately. This prevents fights over food and means you can keep a track of how much each cat is eating. Just remember to lift the bowls of grazers so guzzlers can’t steal it!
Good feeding practices
First things first! Always weigh out your cat’s food.
It’s estimated that around 50% of the cat population in the UK are either overweight, or obese. And a small percent of owners actually feed their cat based on the recommended feeding guide on the food bag. This has severe consequences on our felines health and well-being (joint/mobility issues, shortened lifespan, diabetes, to name a few). See the PDSA’s findings from 2017 here.
Out of curiosity, if you don’t weigh out your cats food, pour out the amount you would usually feed your pet, and then weigh it. Compare this to the daily feeding guide on the pet food bag (make sure you go by what your pet’s ideal weight is, not their actual weight) – you might be surprised at the difference!
If you don’t know what your cat’s ideal weight should be, ask your vet.
Slow feeders and microchip feeders
A fantastic thing to give your guzzler cat is a slow feeder. They come in various shapes and sizes and are designed to slow down the rate your cat eats their food. We have a few different types here at Pooch and Purr, which is especially handy for multi-cat households that have guzzlers mixed in with grazers! It’s also useful for cats that eat too quickly and make themselves sick.
Another way to prevent your cats stealing one another’s food, is a microchip feeder. These bowls have a scanner, which only the cat registered to that particular feeder can access. If a different cat attempts to eat out of it, the food remains inaccessible. These are expensive (around the £60/£70 region), but seem a great idea for those who don’t have the space (or possibly even the time) to feed their cats separately. I haven’t used one yet, but if anyone has one or used one I’d love to hear your opinion on them!
Next month we’ll be talking about how to identify what weight category your cat falls under (underweight, overweight, etc.). As well as how to know how much food is the right amount.
Meanwhile, here’s a few more feeding tips for your kitty below:
- Always clean their food bowls after each meal. We don’t reuse a dirty plate, and neither should your cat!
- Clean their water bowl/water fountain out at least once a week (more often if a mutli-cat household)
- Don’t leave wet food sitting out all day. It dries out and becomes unappetising, and in warmer months attracts flies which can lay eggs in the food.
- Throw out any uneaten dry food at the end of each day (or start of day if fed at night), as dry food can go stale.
- If you feed your cat treats, cut back their main meals slightly. Treats are very high in calories!!
- Never give a cat milk, they are lactose intolerant!
That’s it for this month!
If you have any questions, or have any ideas about what you’d like me to write about in a blog post, get in touch!