The cat eats at least 10 times a day


Morning noon and evening, or morning and evening, this is what seems most natural to many of us to feed our animal, especially because it corresponds to our own meal times.

Indeed, this feeding rhythm is suitable for the dog. But by the way, is it really suitable for cats?

Moreover, its digestive system has gradually adapted to the diet of the man who feeds it: from carnivorous opportunist the dog has become carnivorous omnivore. The dog feeds during the day and takes 1 to 2 meals per 24h², its rhythm is based on that of humans.

cat eating behavior

In the same way, the behavior of the cat remained close to its wild ancestor.

It was a territorial, solitary animal, hunting small prey, most often much smaller than itself (a small rodent weighs about 20 g). He had to find a large number of them to meet his needs (about 10 per 24 hours to cover his energy needs).

Like all its feline cousins, the cat likes to eat in peace, apart, in safety.

Did you know ?

Like all predators, cats preferably choose dawn and dusk to hunt, times when their prey are most vulnerable.

This is the reason why most of them demand their food at daybreak, which is not always to the taste of those around them.

cat digestive system

Short and numerous digestions

The cat's digestive system is designed for short and numerous digestions, which is as much at the physical level (short intestine, smaller stomach volume than that of dogs of the same size) as at the chemical level (continuous production of relatively small amounts of digestive enzymes)

This smooth digestive activity (many and scanty meals) also allows it to limit glycemic peaks (which can lead to obesity) and pH peaks (which can lead to urinary stones)¹.

meat diet

Unlike other more opportunistic animals, the cat in nature does not feed on plants, but only on animals.
Its digestive system is designed for the ingestion and assimilation of meat. Its digestive enzymes (which transform food into assimilable nutrients), allow it to digest animal proteins and lipids well, much less vegetable starch.
In addition, to maintain its muscle mass, its protein needs are high³: at least 5.2 g of protein per day and per kg of body weight, i.e. at least 21 g for a 4 kg indoor cat, i.e. at least 6 small animals per 24 hours.

Did you know ?

Several studies conducted in the decade 2000-2010 have shown that wild cats, as well as feral cats (domestic cats returned to the wild), feed in nature with small mammals of all kinds, more rarely birds, even reptiles⁴ .
- The prey consumed depends mainly on what the cat finds according to the season, and according to where it is.
- The constant being the food choices (100% animal), and the size of the prey (always small).
- which leads the cat to make many small meals, as soon as it is independent in its diet.

The cat remained a strict carnivore, feeding regularly day and night².

For a long time, the industrial diet of cats was based on that of dogs, with the essential necessary adaptations: in particular the size of the ration (cats being, except for exceptions, much smaller in size) and the taurine content ( that cats should find in their food). Most cats did very well.

It is only in the last twenty years that a strong scientific research activity has developed specifically on cats covering many disciplines, from genetics to behavior through physiology and nutrition.

We now know that, if the cat and the dog have accompanied man for thousands of years, it is with a very different degree of proximity, and much less metabolic adaptations in the cat (see "the metabolism of the cat n 'has not changed since prehistory'): where the dog must absorb its food bolus in 1 to 2 meals per day, it is recommended that the cat can do so in at least 10 meals.


The feeding behavior of our pets remains very close to that of their wild ancestor. The wild cat ate between 10 and 20 times a day, the domestic cat must distribute its daily food intake in many "small meals", of the order of 10 per 24 hours.

1. Dr Lefebvre, Veterinary nutrition for dogs and cats, 2020
2. Basics of eating behavior in dogs and cats, D.Elliott & P.Maniquet, 2012, table 1

3. Laflamme 2013 Discrepency between use of lean body mass or nitrogen balance to determine protein requirements for adult cats
4. Body composition and amino acid concentrations of select birds and mammals consumed by cats in northern and central California Kremen, Camvert, Larsen Journal of animal science 2013
5. FACCO Annual Report 2022, Kantar-Facco 2020 study

© Yomy, June 22