Cats should be fed five times a day – including at night – instead of just twice to stop them getting overweight.
Lots of small meals would stop cats overeating, as this more closely replicates how cats eat in the wild.
Rather than eating ‘little and often’, as they would naturally do in the wild, large meals can lead to cats overeating, researchers advise.
Eating a lot at one go leads to a cat’s overriding their inclination to stop when they feel full.
And as cats are active at night, owners should consider using timed feeders that release food in the hours of darkness.
In further advice, cat behaviour experts also advised cat owners to make feeding time more like a ‘hunt’.
In the wild, cats would spend much of their time – around 12 hours a day – hunting for food.
They would have lots of small meals – for a typical wild cat perhaps catching around ten mice.
Without this mental stimulation, cats can become ‘bored and frustrated’ and engage in ‘attention-seeking’ behaviours such as wreaking destruction in the home, or showing signs of ‘withdrawal’ and depression.
To go some way to recreating a sense of adventure at meal time, scientists suggest owners could make meal times for cats more fun by creating ‘puzzle feeders’.
They suggest putting cat food inside used toilet rolls glued together in the shape of a pyramid.