CAT MOJO: You’re Feeding Your Cat All Wrong!

The first thing Jackson would tell you if you asked about your cat’s odd behavior?

Stop free feeding!

Learn how you could be using food as a tool with your cat.

All in this week’s episode of Cat Mojo.

The Cat Mojo show is Jackson’s personal online web series.

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  1. Jackie   March 24, 2014 at 10:54 am  


    I’d like to break the free feeding cycle, but I have one question.

    I leave the house at 5:20 a.m. to work out before work. Also, in order to help fund a move I have planned, I have taken on a part time job which sometimes keeps me not getting home until 9:30 p.m. That’s 16 hours a day I’m not home, which is why I free feed. Is she going to be okay if she eats at 5 a.m. and doesn’t eat again until almost 10 p.m.?

    1. Marie   March 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm  

      What about a cat food dispenser? You could set the timer 5 hours after you leave and fed your cat, so he or she will have a meal before you come back.

  2. Deb Durham   March 24, 2014 at 10:57 am  

    Just watched free-feeding segment. What if you work 9 hrs. a day and can’t get home to them to feed multiple times per day?

    1. Alamda   February 19, 2015 at 8:11 am  

      thats NOT A PROBLEM AT ALL! Your cat CAN eat only 2 meals the size of its head twice a day. fill that amount in the morning and then when you come back.


  3. Eloiza   March 24, 2014 at 11:34 am  

    Jackson, I live alone with my 3 cats and work all day far from home. I’d like to give meals to my babies, but it seems impossible to my case. Any tips? Thanks.

  4. leslie alexander   March 24, 2014 at 11:59 am  

    I have had between 1-15 cats at a time in 45 years (including incorporating feral with domestic). Free feeding sets up both cat(s) and owner up for trouble. For cats it is over weight and health issues and disciplinarian issues. For owners it makes owners lazy to give a cat its very own individual time for petting or playing. Each cat needs their OWN FEED BOWL. DO NOT feed more than 1/4 cup each (consult with vet) per feeding time. If there is a food bolter ad large marbles/rocks or getting food bolting dish or feed in kennels for “competitive eaters” if you don’t have enough rooms. Always feed at bell to bell. For cats that are OCD or food obsessive feed 3 times a day or feed in those feeding toys!. REMEMBER wild cats do not eat food around the clock and their bodies are not designed to be full full time any more than ours. Owners need to remember that not all cat foods are created equal. Many have fillers, junk, or chemicals that are not satisfying vitamins or other dietary issues which might make for a complaining cat! Free feeding will take the edge off complaints but cats do need and do want TLC so regardless of free feeding you will get “acting out”. Most Disciplinarian issues can be resolved with spending and giving time to your Harem with one on one time. Before I forget, each cat needs their own litter box even if side by side in order to prevent or stop spraying or missing the box! It is easy to clean these boxes daily than clean up a sprayed up house!! Jackson has covered all these points and I am sure if he thinks I misspoke I hope I will be corrected or held accountable. .

  5. Lisa S   March 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm  

    I’ve actually stopped free feeding based on your recomendations. My Question would be, if my two don’t finish their wet food after a certain period of time, should I pick it up? How long should their wet food be left out?

    Big fan! Love your show!
    Lisa S
    San Antonio, TX

    1. Nan   October 16, 2014 at 8:32 pm  

      Sure wish someone who knows had bothered to answer this…

    2. Jake   February 14, 2015 at 7:47 am  

      You technically should remove the left-overs and refrigerate them when the cat has left it for at least five minutes untouched. The food can get dried out otherwise, but my cats still eat it.

  6. Jan Johnson   March 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm  

    1-I will soon be picking up my new kitty far away. Any hints to make the kitty comfortable
    in his carrier.
    2-My 4 yr old cat is grieving terribly because my 17 yr old cat had to be put down 3 months ago. They played, slept and did everything together. Now the 4yr old talks incessantly to me and needs on me at the same time whenever I am home. I play with him to get him tired but it doesn’t help. He talks and wants me all the time.
    How can I help him and how do I introduce the new kitty.
    Thank you,
    Jan Johnson

  7. Patti   March 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm  

    Jackson, we have an FIV+ cat who is asymptomatic. :) He’s a Maine Coon who was out in the desert for at least 2 years before we adopted him a year ago. He does weigh 16 plus lbs, and is a bit tubby. I do leave grain free dry food for him to eat because I don’t want him to lose weight or get AIDS. Should I also not free feed him? He’s separated from our other three. I also feed him (and the others) only USDA organic canned food once a day. He also gets a raw egg yolk a couple times a week, dehydrated raw food every evening, and organic yogurt every day. I also put Healthy Helper on him once a day. I know your Mojo is FIV+ so you can probably give me some insight. :)
    Thanks Jackson!

  8. kristi   March 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm  

    Really Jackson…how do you expect those of us who have full time jobs..and travel for work to give up free feeding…especially when our cats have no current behavioral issues?

    1. Amanda   April 30, 2014 at 6:12 am  

      There are several models of timed automatic pet feeders available online. Some of them accommodate as many as 6 meals. I used free feeding without incident for my multicat household for 20 years, but the 2 cats I have now have urinary problems & the vet recommends can food only. I feed 6am & 6pm. One more thing for those who travel – PLEASE have someone check your cat(s) EVERY DAY. I was working weekends out of town – leaving Friday evening, returning Sunday morning – put down plenty of food/water & my cats were always fine, until a month ago. When I left at 6pm Friday both cats were on the counter eating. When I returned at noon on Sunday, my male cat was lying on the floor, as limp as if he had been sedated. He had blocked & become uremic. His first night in the ER was $1200 & they weren’t sure he would make it through the night. He spent a week in the hospital & is doing well now. I have found a job closer to home.

  9. Jennifer   March 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm  

    My cat is 41/2 and I think he could be lonely. He is an indoor cat and seems to have (parking lot) friends. He also is a love bug, the fact that he is a love bug is why I think he would be a great big brother. What is your thoughts

  10. Carla   March 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm  

    I have free fed dry all the time. Never had a problem. However, it does make sense what you are saying and I am going to feed less and less until I do regular feeing times. My question is. Is this schedule OK. Feeding before work at 6 am, Then 5 pm (that’s 11 hours later). Is that OK. You say 5-6 hours apart of a little more but I can’t do that schedule. Any suggestions. Thanks.

  11. Carla   March 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm  

    Oh forgot to say, I am also going to switch from dry and canned to dehydrated raw food hopefully starting tomorrow. More meat : D

  12. susan   March 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm  

    I really want to begin the feeding every 5 – 6 hours with our 1 year old cat but my husband & I work & usually don’t get home until late in the afternoon. Should our cat be expected to wait 8 or 9 hours for food?

  13. Denise LaChance   March 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm  

    I have two cats. One is a grazer the other is glutenous. I have tried scheduled feedings. The grazer eats a couple of nuggets while the gluten scarfs down all of his food, hides somewhere and barfs it up then goes back for the grazers food. If the grazer eats all his food at once he will barf it back up too. The gluten weighs 17 lbs. Hes fat. The grazer weighs 11 lbs. If I feed them 3 times a day, I can’t be certain of who’s getting how much. I don’t know how to change this. I feed them a small hand full about 6 – 7 times a day.

    1. Liz   March 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm  

      My solution for fast eaters: One of my cat eats slowly and the other gobbles food and sometimes throws it up. I do not free feed. They get one or two raw meat meals-one afternoon and maybe one at night. I feed small amounts (10-15 kibbles) of holistic high protein dry food a few times daily when they show up in the kitchen hungry-first thing in the morning, 3-4 pm and before bed. To slow down the fast eater I made a kibble dispenser (it was free vs. paying $50 for electric one) by cutting (KIDS-get help from ADULTS) a kibble-sized hole in the side of an empty plastic vitamin bottle. Put the kibbles in it, replace the screw-on lid and place it on the floor. My Russian Blue food gobbler loves to roll it around to get the food to fall out, one or two pieces at a time, which slows her down and lets her buddy, a buff colored tabby with gorgeous aqua green eyes, eat at his relaxed pace without losing any of his food to her and he is not at all interested in the vitamin bottle and leaves her to her fun. For the raw meat meals I just dole the food out to her slowly, stroke her fur between bites and talk to her while explaining how nice it is for her mealtime to last longer. They are both healthy with shiny coats and their weight is good, but the “gobbler” would be overweight if I let her eat free choice. For those not at home to feed small frequent meals, the timed electric feeder or feeders for multiple cats, would be the best option. There are some dry food dispensers that make it harder for cats to eat fast, but I have read reviews that smarty cats figure out how to open them and still over-eat. So far my girl has not opened the vitamin bottle! If their tummies are upset from furballs I give them Jackson Galaxy Spirit Essences Happy Tummy and some green grass. Hope this helps.

      1. Denise LaChance   March 31, 2014 at 3:53 pm  

        Thank for taking the time to respond to me. I will try the bottle trick you mentioned.I don’t think that it will stop him from raiding the grazer’s bowl. The grazer eats about ten kibbles then walks away. He may be gone for 5 minutes or more then comes back and does the same thing. I think that the fat cat will see a bowl of food sitting unattended and just go back to it. I may try giving them 10 minutes to eat and take the bowls away, empty or not. Of course that will mean having to deal with two cats pushing things off of tables and counters, whining and whatever else they can do to annoy me until I feed them again. Thing is, I am not sure that my grazer will get enough food. When ever he has tried to eat it all , he throws it back up.
        gosh, a Russian Blue. They are such beautiful cats! Thanks again for your advice

    2. doug mccown   January 1, 2015 at 5:44 pm  

      Do you mean a glutton? Gluten is a protein that exists in wheat, barley, rye.

  14. Pm   March 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm  

    Need advice, I have a 2 cat household. I feed them a half cup dry food in the am, then what they don’t eat is gone by the time evening feeding comes. Its high quality. One cat has a more active personality and doesn’t sleep much she’s 2yrs old. My other is less active sleeps alot like most cats I guess I think she is overweight by about 2 lbs. Shed 5yrs old. How do you feed 2 completely different cats? I’ve also noticed they poop alot, so I’m guessing the high quality food isn’t what it says or there should be less waste. Gimme ideas

  15. Louise   March 24, 2014 at 6:20 pm  

    Would like to see more actual work on getting a non-playing cat to play. How long do you keep trying in one session, should I stick with the one toy I started with for the whole (15minute?) session (sometimes they do start playing – eventually), when are they really done (walk away or just when they just sit and watch the toy), how do I end a play session(someone is still playing but it’s late and I’ve got to get some chores/dinner, etc. done), and playing with multiple cats at once and keeping the peace????

    I don’t free feed and I feed raw mixed with dehydrated raw. This one I totally understand.

  16. Sandy   March 24, 2014 at 11:46 pm  

    Hi Jackson. Yes – I understand the feeding in you’re feeding your cat all wrong. But what is best to feed my little feral? LUV YA Sandy

  17. Robyn   March 25, 2014 at 5:10 am  

    I have 3 cats who should be eating 1/2 cup per day, are you saying I should maybe cut that in half and feed in the morning and then evening? They just hate when the cat bowl is low, they act like there is no food in the bowl. Will this work because of this reason?

  18. Katie   March 25, 2014 at 5:23 am  

    I feed my cats wet food twice a day, at set meal times….however, I have cat dry biscuits avalible 24/7.
    If there aren’t biscuits down, Acorn starts destroying things and getting over anxious and Molly starts attacking the other cats.
    I tried to take them away and got no sleep for 2 days straight.
    The cats beat me, they get their biscuits. :P

  19. Pat   March 25, 2014 at 5:36 am  

    GREAT, my cat is almost 4 and I have free fed him from the start. Lately he seems to want more and more thus I feel he is putting on some excess weight. How do I go from free feeding to a schedule without a nutty cat on my hands trying to figure out where his food is? A little advice would be great. Thanks. Pat

  20. Karen Graskewicz   March 25, 2014 at 5:43 am  

    Jackson, thanks for this. I have never “free-fed” my cats and they are happy and well- behaved!

  21. kyla   March 25, 2014 at 5:48 am  

    I have 4 cats and my latest rescue has a big eating problem. I tried with set meals but it causes more fights than anything. I have tried feeding them with four seperate bowls all in different rooms even. I gave up, they won… They have access to food whenever which also means feeding the dogs. What can I do differently?

  22. Melanie   March 25, 2014 at 6:47 am  

    I don’t know what I have been doing right, but my cats behave perfectly (for cats, lol), and never hurt me, or bother me, and I free feed them. It’s probably one of the only things I do that you would frown on though, thankfully. I have tons of cat trees and things they can scratch, and lots of toys everywhere. My cats will search me out multiple times a day for love and affection too, so they are happy cats. :)

  23. Sylvia   March 25, 2014 at 8:12 am  

    I stopped free feeding last year, and I would love to convert all my cats to a raw meat diet, but I have one cat that will not eat anything but kibble. He will not even eat tuna. I am 70 years old, and I have never heard of a cat that would not eat tuna ever. I bought some animal digest product and sprinkled it on canned food, but he still would not try it. He sniffed it, but that was it. Now I have pretty much given up on him eating canned or raw food in this lifetime, but I may try him again in the future. I have been feeding my 11 cats twice a day, but I think I will try feeding 3 times daily after seeing Jackson’s video. Perhaps eventually Mater, the kibble cat, will actually try some canned food. I guess I am a cockeyed optimist.

  24. Ree   March 25, 2014 at 8:18 am  

    Several small meals daily isn’t ideal for domestic cats. 50+ years with ferals, barnies and domestic cats tells me that the several small meals daily is as much a myth as is free-feeding. Cats are crepuscular, meaning that most of their energy expenditure and consumption occur at dawn and dusk. There is very little hunting and eating during full light and full dark. Sadly, many cat owners and their vets are unaware of natural cat behaviours.

    I love what you strive to do and know that it is often an uphill battle with people conditioned to using only the most convenient methods of cat care. Success to you and thank you for all the ideas and information that you share.

  25. Joann   March 25, 2014 at 8:23 am  

    Hi Jackson –
    My 4 year old will only eat part of her wet food (breakfast and suuper times) so I always thought my cat was hungry so I would leave dry food out for her to munch during the day. I also need to give her a treat before she will eat her meals. How do u break a bad habit for a fussy little girl?

    Thanks so much for your great posts.


  26. Tom   March 25, 2014 at 8:25 am  

    Thanks for all this free advice. I won’t name names or be that guy, but I will say a certain dog expert greatly disappointed me with charging $5,000 for a lesson, reduced to like $4,800 if you don’t bring your dog. Opposed to what Jackson does here, helping us out to spread the knowledge and helping kitties everywhere, even if we can’t fly to him, make it on the show or otherwise pay him large sums of money for it.

    This is obviously, truly, for the love of our animals. And that goes a long way and is loved/appreciated.

    Thank you.

  27. Kiera   March 25, 2014 at 8:29 am  

    My husband and I feed wet food twice a day, but leave dry food out… You would recommend differently? We both work 8-5, so we can’t feed our girls during the day….

  28. Anne   March 25, 2014 at 8:36 am  

    Thanks for this vid! I’ve been thinking about this :)

    I don’t have problems as such but have been thinking of doing it differently.

    Can it be a solution to have a feeding board/tunnel/what not (the kind of devices, where the cat needs to work to get the food)?

    Also: as I’m considering one and have two cats. Should they have one each or os it something else with that kind of feeder? I’m looking at one that have multiple ‘output tunnels for digging out.

  29. Heidi Jo   March 25, 2014 at 10:23 am  

    I am a free-feeder, and I have no behavior problems with my two cats. They play with each other, toys, etc. No litter probs, nothin. They’re kind-of on a wet food schedule, twice a day, but dry is out 24-7 with water fountain. The only behavior I don’t like, is my Feral Kitten won’t let me touch her, and she is too easily spooked. If I walk into room too fast, she panics and runs. If I am blocking the door, she shatters my ankle with her head and tears top of my foot with her claws, while bolting past me. I got her from a alley cat rescue lady, she was 5 months old when I got her, she comes to her name when I am getting food ready, she will hang by me every time i eat because I share with her, trying to bond. Will being a food Nazi with her make her come around and trust me? How do you get ferals to let you touch them? I have her trust everywhere else, I think… She is great, she taught my adult abuse rescue how to use his scratch post and tree, and she was the one from the streets! She’s a great cat, I just worry about her hypertension, and I want her to be relaxed around me, there’s no enjoyment in a life of fear. Will controlling her food more help her? What are your tips? I try the stuff I see on your shows, she has all her own areas, her own beds, trees, hiding spots, food dishes, she’s living high on the hog, they both are. I touched her tail the other day, she is ssooooo soft I wanna scratch her head and give her some love, but she only seeks it from Jorgie, my other kitty, whom takes my kisses, he don’t like ‘em, but he tolerates them ;). Any tips? All 3 of us are laid back and chill. No other bahavior probs at all. Does she just need more time? She’s been with us for 6 months now.
    Thanks Jackson, I love you! keep up the awesome work!!

    1. Stefanie   March 31, 2014 at 12:45 pm  

      Hi Heidi,

      A word about your feral baby, you will have to use extreme patience and calmness to get her to let you touch/pet her. The deal with feral/domesticated cats is that all cats are born “feral” but many are domesticated and exposed to/or handled by humans from a very young age (4-8 weeks). Feral cats that are not domesticated before 12-14 weeks of age usually will stay “kind of” feral if not outright unhandleable. My 14 year old male (Harley) is the least domesticated of my two former ferals (I got them both about 14 weeks old) and although I can pet him and his sister easily, Harley won’t go near my live in bf of 7 years. He’s still pretty wild, but he’s also SUPER sweet! So, hang in there and good luck! Thanks for taking such good care of your charges! -

    2. Stefanie   March 31, 2014 at 12:58 pm  

      Also, this page has a ton of helpful info!

    3. Denise L.   April 8, 2014 at 2:45 pm  

      I have a cat that was very skiddish and would not let me touch him. He was a biter too. It took me a while, maybe a year or two to get him to to let me touch him. I started by touching a small area just briefly and doing it whenever he seemed relaxed. After a while he realized that I wasn’t going to hurt him. I , very gradually, increased the area . I did the same thing with a comb. I started in a small area on his neck. I wanted to show him it feels good. He slowly let me do more and more. After a while he came to me every time I showed him the comb. It just takes time and patience. I would not start feeding him table scraps. I did that once and I am still paying for it. It is a bad habit to get into if you don’t want to have to fight cats off every time you bring any food out. I know how tempting it is but you will be sorry later for it. Try enticing with baby food or wet food instead.

    4. Charmie   May 13, 2014 at 9:50 am  

      Hello Heidi Jo

      I’ve some suggestions for getting to touch your kitten through food therapy, but since you leave food out for your other cats you’ll need to separate her short term.

      I foster rescued cats for a cat shelter and my specialty is working with those that nobody can get near. Jackson’s tips have been really helpful for me and I’ve watched every episode, I’ve also got my own cat sense and understanding so I recognize where he is coming from. Cats are my favourite animal and Jackson is my favourite expert.

      Through the charity I got to foster a cat called Joey who spent four months in another shelter and then spent several more months with another fosterer at their home before he came to be fostered in my home. They told me that he was two years old, he came from a cat hoarder’s home with too many cats and had never been socialised and had spent his life hiding, he could not be handled and you could not come close to him, he would hiss and scratch and bite. Both the shelter and the previous foster home had been putting food out to eat and leaving him to eat it, also they had not been blocking off hiding places so he would always go where you couldn’t reach him.

      The first thing I do with these unapproachable cats is put them in a separate room of their own which they can call their own territory, and where there are no unwanted hiding places so the cat is never ever difficult to find or to reach. (You can either block off under furniture or temporarily remove all furniture from that room until the therapy is over, also block off any kind of nooks or corners or gaps they may get into with objects that are heavy and solid). In the room I provide everything they need – a bed, horizontal or vertical scratch posts and cat trees, and lots of toys etc. I visit the cat several times a day as you don’t want the cat to feel isolated.

      For some cats you can provide a place of refuge like a designated box for the cat to hide in and sleep in with a nice cushion or blanket, but make sure that is the ONLY place the cat can do this, so you are letting the cat hide but in a very controlled way – whether you provide this hiding box or not depends on the type of cat:

      — If they are shy but gentle they will come out in their own time, so then I provide a type of box for them to hide in that is completely open at the front and large enough for me to easily have access for petting, and I drape a blanket or towel over the front to act like a curtain which can be drawn aside – but to help the shy cat feel secure always remember to put the ‘curtain’ back down each time after you have finished petting the cat and when you leave the room. Do not use a closed type box that has holes cut out for a door or window, because if a cat feels cornered and you put your hand into a small hole when you can’t see the cat very well through it, then you are bound to get batted even by a gentle cat.
      — For a feral type cat or a cat that appears quite aggressive or unapproachable, I do not provide a box or hiding place at all because it is too dangerous putting your hand in. Their therapy requires getting used to being exposed and out in the open because their main issue is more mistrust than shyness.

      Next comes the food therapy. I do not leave any kind of food in the room, only water, and for the most difficult cat cases I deprive the cat of food the day before the therapy starts to be sure the cat is hungry enough to want the food. The therapy involves making sure the cat gets fed ONLY when you are there so the cat learns to associate you with good things happening. I hand feed cat biscuits (very cautiously of course) and as I drop two or three biscuits by the cat’s head I lightly stroke the cat on the cheek or head while it is distracted by eating – after a few repetitions the cat can’t remember which came first, was it the food or the stroking, so as you continue it seems to the cat that a reward comes each time it gets stroked.

      After two days of trying the food therapy twice a day with Joey, on the third day when I walked into the room he came up to me and meowed and rubbed against my legs, head butted my hand for food, purred, and even rolled over! But because of severe trust issues, the cat will also at first revert back to previous behaviour like they take two steps forward and one step back, until the new behaviour takes hold and therapy is complete. The food therapy is a trust building exercise and it takes a different amount of time for each cat. Gradually the cat will learn to trust and to give and receive affection. Each time you go in the room the cat will have gained a bit more confidence and will also take bigger and bigger steps towards improvement as the confidence grows.

      For your kitten Heidi Jo it sounds like she already trusts you to some extent and is used to being hand fed. But if you use the food therapy plan as I described and keep her in a separate room for a week, you’ll probably get to stroke her very quickly.

  30. C J Schultz   March 25, 2014 at 10:23 am  

    “Tubby” needs Help! One of the felines that we rescued last March was taken to our Vet to be checked out & medically taken care of which at that time he weighed 11 lbs & just 6 months later he weighed in at 21lbs! I have never had this happen in my 30 plus years of rescuing felines & wanted to know what you think about this. I took him back to a different Vet. that we use to see if there was any medical issues & the Vet. said Nope!

    1. Tonya   September 19, 2014 at 10:15 am  

      Were they an indoor outdoor pet before? Are you playing with them? Is there room for them to run around? Did they have a playmate before? Did you change their food? Try wet a few times a day. Most dont like wet after its sat in the single servings and give it to them twice a day with a handful of dry in the morning and at night

  31. Diane   March 25, 2014 at 10:45 am  

    Nice to know this, I never knew. Maybe this will take care of my cat’s prede
    licton to poop wherever she wants to.

  32. Marie Yarber   March 25, 2014 at 10:48 am  

    I do cat rescue so I have a houseful of cats and some of the players change. Recently, my personal cat has decided to become a bully and is terrorizing all the scaredy cats. Most of my permanent residents (20+) either have medical issues or are scaredies so they aren’t really adoptable. I foster kittens and the occaisional friendly feral that ends up in my colonies, but have tried to stabilize the house. Loki has gone from being my good will welcome committee to stalking 3 of the scaredies. Any ideas ? He is healthy, 3 yo neutered bobtail.

  33. Jen L.   March 25, 2014 at 2:11 pm  

    My husband and I have 2 cats. We keep them on a feeding schedule; feeding them once in the morning and again about 12 hours later. However, my boy cat, Marley scarfs his food down as quickly as possible and then attempts to steal Mila’s food. We actually have to sit next to Mila and either shoe Marley away or distract him with toys until Mila is done (she’s a much slower eater.) I’ve thought about feeding them in separate rooms, but our apt is small so the only way to do that effectively would be to feed one in the bathroom behind a closed door til both were finished, however, that seems cruel. Any thoughts? Also, is there a way to slow Marley down, cause I’m worried that his eating so fast will make him sick? I tried a food puzzle, but it was designed for dogs so it didn’t work too well. Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. Liz   March 29, 2014 at 3:16 pm  

      Please read my reply above to Denise LaChance!

    2. Tonya   September 19, 2014 at 10:17 am  

      Feed them three times a day or 6 to 7 hours max apart…how would you respond if you had not eaten in 12 hours?

  34. Kay McCann   March 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm  

    Hi Jackson
    Thank you for all your wonderful tips and I have a couple of questions.
    1. How long does it take to change eating habits to regular time from “free feeding”? My cat is 14 1/2 yrs old and has been free feeding for a long time. He yowls when he thinks there’s not enough food in his dish. And, I’ve been feeding him all he’ll eat all day long as 3 yrs ago he was over 10 lbs and now is about 6 1/2 lbs.
    2. Are there any remedies for gum disease for cats? My cat has been on pednisone for several years and for the past few months on clindymacin.
    Thank you
    Kay McCann

  35. Ronald   March 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm  

    I free feed my cat and want to stop, but not sure exactly how to do it. I understand I should set my cat “Boston” on a schedule. So, when I feed him in the morning, how long should I leave the food out before I head off to work? He’s only 10 months old and I want to give him a good life. Please help.

    Ronald Fabbo

  36. Fuchsia   March 26, 2014 at 11:35 am  

    I found this to be very interesting. I have always thought that I free fed (and my cats have always self regulated their own food and were not over weight), but in looking at when they ask for a refill I realized that they set their own mealtimes. They ask for food in the morning and at bedtime. I know that they do eat during the day, but they save some of their breakfast for lunch. So apparently they have self regulated themselves into meals but I never noticed. Smart kitties!

  37. Kate   March 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm  

    Hi Jackson!
    LOVE your show and SAVED 2 kittens because of it! What is your opinion on timed feeding stations when away at work for most of the day or sometimes 2 days?

    1. MJ   April 4, 2014 at 10:26 am  

      Love our timed feeder. Our cat was 21/2 when we got her and obsessed with food.She was contantly trying to open cupboard to get food. Could not leave food out – she would eat all we put out. Trying the dispenser type of feeder but that didn’t work – she could get the next meal out right away, so when it moved nothing came out and she would dig out the next meal. We got one that has a dish with 5 divisions and set it up for 4 meals a day 2TB dry food each at 5 am, 11 am, 5pm & llpm – fill it every night after our dinner and put 1 TB in the 5th container for her to eat right away. She used to keep us up half the night trying to get us to feed her – now she still wants us up for the 5AM feeding but close to our normal wake up anyway.
      now sometimes she leaves food in her dish because she knows at the sound of the motor she’ll get a meal.

  38. Angela   March 31, 2014 at 7:41 am  

    So many people thinking they HAVE to free-feed because they are at work all day… why? Feed in the morning before you go and feed when you come home… even if those times are like 12 hours apart, your cat is not going to wither away and starve. I feed my girl ONCE a day and she is fine.

  39. Liz   March 31, 2014 at 2:11 pm  

    My four also get fed pretty much whenever they are hungry in the morning and 10-12 hours later when I get home from work. They have all had urinary issues and feeding several small meals during the day instead of one or two larger meals is one of the best ways for cats to stay hydrated. I use a good quality wet food but don’t measure out a precise amount. So far there are no weight or other health issues. Seems a lot of unanswered questions on this board on the details that hopefully is giving Jackson good ideas for a future broadcast. :)

  40. Susana   April 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm  

    Thank you so much for your wonderful videos! I have an 11 year old boy Louie and an 11 month old kitten Max. Louie is a nibbler and very picky eater, who throws up at 5am, if he didn’t eat enough the night before. He is thin since his brother died 1 1/2 years ago. We feed wet food at 6:30 am and wet food and chicken cooked just for them at 5:30pm and leave dry food down 24/7 (refill at meal time). I would like to stop free-feeding, but I don’t want Louie throwing up or Max getting aggressive to Louie, because he is worried about food. Louie has always done the trowing up early in the morning, if he didn’t eat enough the night before. In the evening I also give them both chicken broth a couple of times per week with an eye-dropper, which they both love. It’s family time in the bathroom, very cute. It seems to give Louie energy. Often the day after he’s had chicken broth he has more energy, jumps up on the tall cat tree, plays a little more with a toy. I have learned so much since we got Max (from a feral litter) almost a year ago, constantly learning, since it was quite a challenge having both of them together in a tiny apartment. They get along fine at times now, other times Max still jumps Louie too much, keeps him from being able to relax while eating or pooping.

  41. Katt   April 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm  

    I don’t agree that no cat should be free fed. I have free fed all my cats – past 40 years. None had weight problems. BUT I feed high quality food.
    My only issue is that my cats like to race around the house but it is not a real problem. They feel good and they are safe inside.
    I typically like what Jackson states to do but a generic statement of “don’t free fed” is inconsistant with his knowledge that you must adjust to each situation as if it was something new.
    Not all households are “doing it wrong” by free feeding.
    Households are doling it wrong if feeding foods such as those high in corn (filler) and food dyes.
    Thanks for listening.

  42. Diana   April 24, 2014 at 6:45 am  

    Hello Jackson im Diana im from Denmark in Europe i have two cats. my two cats weigh too much, I think the first oskar was too thin when i bought him so I gave him shrimp and canned food now he and the other cat need to lose weight they get diet dry food and canned food diet i play with Them do you have any advice for me

  43. Teresa   April 26, 2014 at 10:24 am  


  44. Gina   April 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm  

    Does anyone know how to reach Jackson Galaxy for help with a cat behavior problem??
    We all watch his show but trying to reach him is just impossible…so how do they do these shows if you can’t reach him??

  45. Lily   July 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm  

    Hi Jackson! I am a big fan of your show! My cat Beast is overweight. He won’t play either! I do leave food out all day but I leave for school at 7:40 and don’t have time in the morning to feed him on a schedule. How do I get him to be more playful so he’ll loose some weight? Any suggestions for his feeding issues?
    Lily and Beasty

  46. Nicole   July 21, 2014 at 9:58 am  

    I have 2 cats that are brother and sister, approximately 3.5-4 years old. Both have their claws and strictly indoor kitties. We made the mistake of free feeding. Our male does fine with it, he is healthy and in shape. However, our girl has grown quite chunky and has major food anxiety. We wanted to gradually take the food away (tried putting it away at night, picking it up for a few hours during the day, letting it go empty for a bit) but everytime we try she barfs/poops/pees everywhere. She starts to get anxious even if her auto feeder is low but not even empty yet. I worry about diabetes, heart problems, and her joints so I’d really like to get them switched on a feeding schedule. I just dont know how! Do I let the anxiety puking run its course until she gets used to it? I feel like an awful cat mom when I see her upset and sick like that. I also worry that our boy won’t get enough bc of his piggy sister if we switch to strict feeding times. Advice anyone??

  47. Paige   July 26, 2014 at 7:27 am  

    I do free feed, and it hasn’t set up my cat for any of those problems– I guess I’m one of the lucky ones!

    I feed two canned meals a day and leave dry food out in case he decides he’s still hungry, but he’s very active, a very healthy weight, and not picky at all! Although he does seem to prefer fish to any other meat. c:

    My grandmother on the other hand DOES NOT free feed, but she feeds dry Science Diet, and her cats are FAAAAAT. I’ve tried to convince her to switch to wet food of a better brand, but she just won’t listen to me! >_<

  48. Ellen   August 11, 2014 at 10:13 am  

    I’ve been having problems with one of my cats (daily vomiting) for a long time. Shatzy is 17 and has puked almost every day for a very long time. He was a free-feeder, along with the other cat I adopted at the same time (Patch; now deceased.) Patch required a special urinary tract formula and the vet told me I could give it to both Patch and Shatzy, who was obese for most of his life.

    This all changed when my daughter introduced a kitten. Pandora needed kitten food which Patch couldn’t eat. And I didn’t want Pandora eating the big kitty food. So feeding times were established and they ate in separate rooms.

    Now that it’s Pandora and Shatzy – both grown – I stick to feeding times and they eat together. Shatzy always seemed anxious to get enough food before Pandora took it, but I’m noticing, lately, that this doesn’t seem to be a problem. They do like each other and they are leaving food on the plate, so there’s no competition going on.

    I started using paper plates a couple of months ago (they only like dry food), so that Shatzy couldn’t pick up too much at once. I also decreased the portions. That seemed to help. Shatzy would go days without puking.

    Then I decided to buy an easily-digestible formula. Things seemed to be going okay until the past week. Shatzy is back to puking, more than once a day now. The difference is that the food stays in him longer and so it’s digested when it comes up (and messier.)

    There are days when I am not home for many hours at a time (12), but I stick to a twice-a-day feeding schedule, even when I come home late.

    Shatzy is thirsty after he vomits and when he’s done puking, he goes right to the water. He also seems to “dig” around the water bowl a lot – a relatively new habit. He’s also vomiting up a little bit of water now, which seems to be related to drinking to quickly.

    He seems healthy and happy aside from all of this. I wonder if there’s a better food. I don’t care how expensive it is or inconvenient to get. I am going to decrease the portions and give them a slightly more frequent feeding schedule, but I’m afraid that it might induce a more competitive eating style again. I’m also ready to cover my whole apartment in plastic because one never knows where Shatzy’s going to lose his food. :/

    He’s an old boy and he’s always begging for food, even when he has some or has just eaten. Habit? Dementia?

  49. Emiliya   August 21, 2014 at 6:30 am  

    OMG! That was so helpful! I have been having some problems with my tabby recently. It was all perfect until he got a tooth taken out – nothing to do with the procedure which was actually HUGELY beneficial for him, just that I felt so guilty I started free feeding. He started playing up and being all grumpy, he put on weight and is interested in me only when he wants food. Before that he was such a sweetheart and when I used to stick to feeding times he never used to eat all at once but leave some and eat through the day.
    Anyway! Thank you again! it was mostly helpful in that it empowers me and I don’t feel bad for not surrendering

    Mostly appreciated

  50. Megan   September 12, 2014 at 9:28 am  


    I have a 1 year old domestic short hair. I don’t free-feed. He is fed a cup of dry food three times a day. I’ve owned other cats and never understood why people free-feed theirs. I always associated that with why their cat was overweight. My question is, even though I schedule feed my cat why does he always seem to be hungry. He begs for food every time any one enters the kitchen. When he is fed and finishes he flips his bowl and looks for more food like a savage. Honestly it’s really annoying. I don’t give in to the begging until it’s time for his next feeding. I’m just wondering why he acts like he is starving?

    1. Tonya   September 19, 2014 at 10:10 am  

      Its ok for you to feed yourself different foods constantly but he is annoying for being bored of the same ol..maybe you need a different perspective

  51. Amber60   September 12, 2014 at 10:00 am  

    Jackson, please help my cat is 17 years old and has turned into a very picky eater. I took her to vet cause her stools was like gravy, and smelled horrible. The vet said there is nothing wrong with her stools, did a fecal exam on her. Even though they are were like that, now she will not eat her cat food, I tried letting her go waiting for her food like they say when she gets hungry she’ll eat it. That never works, I mean she will go without unless I give her what she wants. Yesterday I gave her 5 different kinds of food and she would not eat them. I worried cause she is very thin cause of it. The vet does not have any advice to give me. I know she is like that cause of to many changes in her diet. I bought BM Tone-up gold and her stools are alright as long as I give it to her twice a day. I’m getting frustrated because I have to get up and down like a yoyo, cause when she will not eat what I give her she comes every few minutes and cries for food and then she will not eat it. I really think this is not a sickness but a mental behavior. She is not a normal cat never was I think she has mental problems. When she was a kitten she would hiss and growl at things not there. Please any advice yo can give will help.

    1. Tonya   September 19, 2014 at 10:08 am  

      Have you tried broiled or baked chicken? Cooked beef…picky cats usually love it! No seasoning

  52. Tonya   September 19, 2014 at 9:48 am  

    I have 6 cats. My first furry family members were four feral kittens. My then landlord was attempting to catch them then dump them in a remote area. I begged him to let me take care of his issue. I contacted a vet and he came to the house. I was then educated on what a feral cat is( I had never had cats as I am highly allergic (was) The vet was not helpful beyond labeling the kittens..oh and they had massive flea issues he stated.

    I then researched feral cats and found the feral cat coalition…also not very helpful.

    I contacted another vet. He gave me sedatives and told me what to do.

    I put the medication in food dishes with the food and one by one caught the kittens. They were incredibly aggressive and very mean.

    We took them to the vet and had them groomed from top to bottom and every other thing you would do to bring a kitten to good health.

    They stayed with the vet for some time as they had no plans on letting anyone near them.

    Eventually after a very hefty vet bill I brought them home. We placed them in a very large cage in my daughters room. She was not allergic.

    I was getting allergy shots and taking benadryl as well getting regular breathing treatments(Im asthmatic)

    I began sleeping next to the cage so they would learn to trust me. We then opened the cage and closed the bedroom door…then released to the house. My landlord wanted them gone so I bucked up and bought a house so they would have a home. We had grown attached to them and they attached to us.

    We moved out to Silverlake in Los Angeles. It took them a year to trust is 10 years later and they are the most loving,friendly cats I have ever known. We found two more free spirits roaming the neighborhood so we now have 6 cats.

    I feed them wet food twice a day and they share about three cups of dry each day. I dont like leaving food out.

    Our dog eats chicken or meat everyday so her meal times are used as treats for the cats. They get a bite or two of whatever she is having.

    My cat Jake is a large breed cat and one of the first members is a bigger cat. None of my cats are incredibly large but Lucky..the large cat and Jake seem to like food.

    The vet suggested that I put Lucky down when he was a kitten as he was incredibly aggressive.

    I said:nah..hes just hungry: ) He is the most loving cat ever! He is also always hungry. Jake being the largest cat patiently waits to be fed.He never crowds the other cats during feedings.

    There is always plenty of fresh water and up until March of this year they had been in door out door cats.

    We moved in March so now they are in door cats.

    Thus far no health issues. Jake is having issues grooming his back so I have been un matting his fur every day followed by a back massage. Im guessing he is a bit older than the others.

    I have seen people leave food out and not change the water daily…thats not cool.

    I would not want to eat stale food and I certainly wouldnt want to drink cloudy water.

    I was hardly a cat person before I encountered these little noodle heads.

    My cats love pumpkin! Mainly breads..only little bits during the season.

    Love this website. Glad I found it! This is my cat Jake and I : )

  53. Dean   October 2, 2014 at 9:15 pm  

    I would LOVE to switch my cats to a times diet, but I have a few issues. The first being: my cats. I can switch my two younger ones no problem, but my two older ones (10 years and 7 years) have been on the free feeding diet their whole lives. (Note: I feed all four Nature’s Variety with raw boost, plus a packet of Weruva twice a day. None of my cats are overweight). The second issue is a work really weird hours. I know when I go into work (8am), but I have no idea when I get out. It could be eight hours, it could be fourteen. I never know. Advice?

  54. Linda   November 20, 2014 at 7:29 pm  

    I have a Maine coon cat that is overweight (25lbs) but he’s also built bigger than most. I stopped free feeding him months ago to help him lose some weight. When free feeding, he seemed peaceful and self-sufficient , but now he seems hungry all the time, and I have become his “feeder”. Last month I started giving him prescription urinary tract formula wet along with his dry twice a day.

    My problem is that he jumps on my head every morning starting at 5am. He’ll “buzz”me by running across the top of my pillow. ..and hair, every 10 minutes trying to get me to rise. If that doesn’t work, he starts playing the harp on the blinds. He’s tortures me until I get up to feed him. Sometimes I cave and feed him at 5am, but I don’t want to reward this behavior. Doors are not closed in our home, due to claws and heat flow, so I can’t keep him out, and he is faster than my quick draw on the squirt bottle.
    Otherwise, he is sweet and adoring. How can I break this bad behavior before I lose my mind?

  55. jenn   January 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm  

    Hello, I have 2 cats, just recently got the second one(kia) and feeding them at the same time, the newer younger one(kia) eats out of her bowl then tries to eat out of the other cats(bonkers) bowl after bonkers left and there’s still food in her(kia) bowl… why?


We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

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