If I'm not mistaken, a dog doesn't know when to stop eating (I've never had one, so I can't be sure).

But what about cats? If I take a large bowl with delicious looking fish and leave it in front of a cat, will the cat eat until it's full or until the food is gone?

  • In my experience, it is far more common for cats to be able to limit food on their own. I have dry out at all times for all my cats, with wet food meals and none of my cats have been even overweight. I would consider a cat that did not allow this to have an eating disorder. Now a really tasty meal might be an exception! I had a small kitten that was given pan drippings from a roast and ate so much she was almost spherical. She was sleepy for a long time. – Oldcat Jan 16 '15 at 2:02
  • I've found with most of my parents' cats that they become fat. My mom is so loving that she will always give them food whenever they want. I think much like humans, they can only judge up to a point but if spoiled they won't know when enough is enough. – Sridhar Sarnobat Jun 26 '19 at 22:30

Depends entirely on the individual cat.

I've always been able to leave dry food out and not have them become more than slightly overweight.

But I've known cats who just liked to eat, or who had dog-like attitudes of "eat everything you can now in case it isn't there later." In those cases diet foods exist, but you may just have to limit access.

Watch their weight and adjust accordingly. Your vet can tell you what the weight range should be for that particular cat.

  • Totally agree. My second cat was homeless. She lived in street for a long time. And first year she could eat and eat and eat everything I gave her, and steal food from the table. I guess she was afraid, as you have said, that everything she had could not be there later. i had to limit her, as she started to become overweight very fast. About a year later she finally realised, that there will be always food for her. Now she eats with small portions. – Dude Jul 8 '16 at 12:22

It really depends on the cat.

My cat is free-fed, meaning there is a full food bowl available at all times. He is overweight. I bought him a special interactive feeder bowl, which forces him to work for every paw-ful of food he eats... and he is still overweight, though he did lose a little.

Here are some things to consider when trying to figure out if your cat has self control. First, this is a weakness that many humans have - we eat when we're bored, when we're stressed, when we want to celebrate, etc. Cats absolutely do that, too. Dogs, too. In fact, there are some dog breeds (entire breeds!) that are simply known for being food-obsessed, like beagles and labs. My brother has a dog that will literally eat until it throws up, and then will eat some more. It just depends on how food-oriented or food-obsessed the individual is. Second, if this is a high-value, unusual treat, then all bets are off. There are some people that, if you put a cake in front of them, they will eat until the cake is gone - a slice here, a nibble there and a few hours later, no more cake. Third, it is important to remember that before the comforts and conveniences of our modern world developed, we humans and our pets had to work for hours to get a meal. It is actually unnatural to simply walk up to a bowl of food and eat until you are full and then have to find a way to occupy yourself for the rest of the day.

On a separate but related note, be careful that the food you are giving your cat is safe and non-toxic. (not spoiled, bone-free) You can find a list of cat-safe foods on google easily. Also, remember that if this is an unusual or special treat, that too much of it could make your kitty sick enough to make messes all over your house, so moderation is best.

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