On Tuesday of this week, I decided to pull the plug on this and just leave dry food out for her all the time. That seemed to work well. She relaxed quite a bit and I knew that the times she came up to me for loving had nothing to do with trying to coax some more food out of me. She also seemed to be spending more time outside of the Catican, away from the food dish. The downside was the amount of food she ate. She wiped out at least twice as much food as she'd been eating previously. I became concerned for the health of her digestive system - could she really process that much dry food?
It turns out my concern may have been well-founded. I did some clicking around the Interweb Tubes today and came up with two sites that recommend against free-choice feeding. The first suggests that food-anxiety is a good thing.
The best comparison we can make is that free-feeding would be like a person having a full buffet in your house, stocked with food 24 hours-a-day. When you think of it this way, it’s not hard to understand why pets that are free-fed tend to be sluggish, lethargic, and passionless about their pet food...In a dog or cat’s life food is the #1 motivation they have...A pet should have a unbridled passion for food. They need to look forward to their next meal with anticipation and excitement. This lays the foundation for a well-tempered, happy pet.The best argument of all is based on the natural life of a predator.
Physiologically, the cat sitting on your lap is not much different from a lion. A lion has to hunt for its food...Cats are designed to gorge on a meal, then not eat again for many hours or even days. This allows for proper digestion and elimination of the toxins associated with a meat-based diet...A cat's digestive system needs a good long break on a daily basis. A 24-hour fast once a week is a good thing for a healthy adult cat. In the wild, this would most likely happen more than once a week. As efficient a hunter as the cat is, more hunts are unsuccessful than successful.That's a convincing argument for me. I'm going back to measured meals, but I'm going to do some things to make them more interesting for her. My goals here are to:
- Make sure she has a healthy diet.
- Keep her as active as I possibly can.
- Maintain a loving relationship with her.