Should Cats Be Allowed to Graze All Day?

Grazing can make your kitty gain weight rather quickly.
Grazing can make your kitty gain weight rather quickly. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Leaving food out all day for your feline crew is ideal. All their meals are laid out and you don’t have to worry about them. While grazing may be convenient for you, it isn’t always best for your fur pals. Some kitties overeat when you leave a buffet of food out, leading to a chubby kitty and chronic health issues later on in life.

Single vs. Multiple Cat Homes

Grazing probably isn’t a big concern for single-cat households. You know exactly how much food you put out and can see how much your fur ball ate. The bigger problem is when you have several felines. If you put out a certain amount of food, you have no idea how much each kitty ate. Maybe Milo is a hog and gobbles up the majority of the food, leaving Milton just a few scraps. Over time, Milo will start getting rounder and rounder while Milton remains rather skinny.


You should be able to feel Milo and Milton’s backbone and ribs, without pressing, if they maintain a healthy weight. If you struggle to find these bones, your fur balls might be overweight from grazing and their risk of chronic illnesses increases. Obesity in felines can lead to diabetes, urinary tract issues, joint pain, skin diseases and liver issues, explains the Feline Advisory Bureau. Additionally, weight gain from overfeeding can decrease your cat’s immune system function and make it harder for him to breath.

Ideal Feeding Solutions

Ideally you should feed your fuzzy buddies two meals per day, suggests the ASPCA. Divide each serving of food -- according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the bag -- in half. For example, if the manufacturer states that you should feed your adult cat 1 cup of food daily, give each feline a 1/2 cup serving two times per day. Before heading out the door in the morning, offer each kitty his daily half-portion of food. If one kitty has a bigger appetite than the others, you might want to separate them in different rooms for meals. Then in the evening when you’re eating dinner, feed them the other half of their recommended serving of food.

Other Tips

On those long work days when you do have to leave food out, opt for kibble instead of wet canned food. Moist food can get stale and dry out in a short period of time, leaving Milo and Milton hungry later on in the evening. Opt for dry kibble if you have to give your kitties something to graze on once in a while -- it won’t get stale as quickly. Your other option, if you’re concerned about your fur-covered chums overeating, is to portion out their meals in timed feeders. These specialized feeders open up at times that you designate, giving each kitty a fresh meal at various points throughout the day. Of course if Milo is overambitious, he could eat Milton’s portion before he gets a chance to get to it, so timed feeders might not be best if you have one cat who is highly food motivated.

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