Feeding behaviour

2010 | Nutrition & Health | Cat Breeding Guide, Royal Canin SAS

As a cat breeder you understand the behaviour of your cats and breeds but it is always useful to review some basics.

Historically, cats used to capture and eat their prey alone. Their hunting behaviour is driven by instinct, not by hunger. Each animal they catch contributes towards only a small portion of their requirements. Nowadays, many cats live indoors and ‘the hunt’ must be replaced by a game, to help them remain mentally fit and physically agile.

Cats Eat Their Food in Several Small Servings Throughout the Day

The way cats have evolved means that they are adapted to consuming small prey. As such, they split their intake throughout the day and night, eating on average 10 to 20 times in a 24-hour period when they have free access to kibbles. They consume 5-6 grams each time they return to their bowl, and the session lasts only one or two minutes. In total, cats eat for less than 30 minutes in a given 24-hour period.

This ‘average’ behaviour, however, depends on major differences between breeds – Siamese cats and Maine Coons are characterised by a high ingestion speed (approximately 4g/min), while Persians take their time, consuming only 1.7 g/min on average.

Cats Have Different Feeding Behaviours

A faster rate of ingestion (as seen with the Siamese) leads to a higher risk of regurgitation after eating. Many cats swallow kibbles whole and miss out on the brushing effect the kibble has on the tooth during chewing. These cats tend to have a higher rate of dental plaque and tartar formation.

The way in which cats take food into their mouths can also be different. This is important as different shaped kibble may facilitate prehension in certain breeds.

Kibble shape

Location of the food bowl

Cats must be able to seclude themselves during feeding in order to feel secure. Having a designated quiet area for the food bowl, away from the cat’s toileting areas and not in a thoroughfare can be important.

Key Points:

  • Cats eat their food in several small servings throughout the day.
  • Look up the behaviour of your breed as each breed has its specific feeding habit with regards to speed and prehension. There are breed specific foods that address this need.
  • Placing the food bowl in a quiet location can be reassuring during feeding and in some cats, quite important.

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