Should I Leave Food Out For My Cat At Night

Should I Leave Food Out For My Cat At Night

Devoted pet parents like you only want the best for your furry babies. So, it’s like second nature to be constantly checking if your cat has enough food to eat and water to drink. But, while leaving food for your cat at night may be okay, is it really necessary?

But should you leave food out for the cat at night? The answer is that you can leave food out for your cat at night but it should only be dry food because wet food coagulates in a matter of hours and spoils easily. 

Is leaving food out for your cat at night necessary?

While it’s okay to leave food for your cat at night, some pet owners are adamant about it. This feeding method may not work out well if you have multiple cats as you can’t identify how much quantity each one is consuming, although this can be resolved by using feeders with microchip technology. 

Here are the benefits of leaving food out at night:

It provides freedom both for you and your pet cat.

If you leave food out for your cat at night, it allows your cat to eat when she wants to, thus, allowing for freedom on her part. This kind of feeding arrangement will also free up your time and you don’t have to worry if your cat will go hungry during the night while you’re asleep. However, you should make sure that you only place a specific quantity and a set amount of calories to avoid overfeeding your cat. 

It’s easier to manage.

This feeding method is easy to manage as you don’t have to worry about getting up and feeding your cat with small portions of meals every couple of hours.  It’s actually a simple set-up that only requires you to put dry food in one go. This type of set-up may also become your benchmark in determining what your cat’s feeding preference will be. Try to observe how your pet cat responds to this arrangement of leaving food out at night and if she adapts to it easily then it’s a good sign.

It can help analyze the natural feeding pattern of your pet kitty. 

By allowing the cat to eat whenever she wants and whenever she’s hungry, you will get a better perspective of the feeding patterns of your cat and of what will and won’t work when it comes to feeding schedules. Observe and take some time to see how your cat eats and the frequency of feeding. It will help you identify if there are specific patterns and from there you can create a separate meal schedule. Having a way to identify your pet’s eating cycle will also alert you if she’s feeling ill or has health-related concerns if she deviates from it.  

It’s highly ideal for dry food.

As mentioned earlier,  this type of feeding set-up is only ideal for dry food because wet food spoils easily so you should not leave it out overnight. Dry food is beneficial because it’s low in moisture, allowing your pet cat to graze and free feed on it without worrying about spoilage. An important thing to note when starting a free feeding set-up is that you should be willing to invest in quality dry food. This ensures that your pet cat is getting the right nutrients. 

Recommended dry food brands for cats:  Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Food, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food, Purina Beyond Natural, and Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food 

Even as some may indicate that free feeding or leaving food out for your cat at night is an over-indulgence, it also has benefits that should be considered. Is it necessary? In a way, it is, because it allows you a degree of freedom when it comes to a feeding routine and it’s convenient because dry food is easy to measure, feed, and store. It can also help you analyze the natural feeding pattern of your pet cat. Always ensure that your pet cat has ample water in her water bowl during the night as well. 

Tips to avoid overfeeding cats at night

If you’re anxious that leaving food out at night may overfeed your pet cat then here are some steps that you can do to curb it. 

Avoid giving refills.

Be sure that once your pet cat consumes the food don’t refill it again because it may entice your cat to start nibbling again. Make it a rule that if she’s done then that’s it, and that no more food will be provided anymore until the next day. 

Use a slow feeder or food puzzle. 

It can help minimize the number of calories that your cat is taking as it forces your cat to eat more slowly and mindfully over time. These food puzzles are interactive feeders that mentally stimulate and entertain your pet cat while helping them slow down with their feedings. Interestingly, these puzzles are also a great help in fixing behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, urination outside the litter box, fighting over meals, and redirected aggression with other felines. 

Some recommended food puzzle brands:  Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center, Catt Senses 2.0 Food Tree, Petsafe SlimCat Meal Dispensing Cat Toy,  Jackson Galaxy Go Fish Slow Feeder Puzzle Bowl, and Trixie Pet Products Poker Box Activity for Cats

Other feeding methods for cats 

Aside from the free-feeding method, there are two other ways of feeding your pet cats: the meal feeding, and the combination feeding methods.  Here are its pros and cons:

Meal feeding method 

Considering that cats tend to be nibblers and grazers, they may eat at any time during the day. This can be a struggle especially if you have an overweight cat or if you’re trying to put your cat on a special diet because of a medical condition. If this is more like your situation, then the meal feeding method may be the solution. This feeding method allows you to provide wet and dry food for your cat only at a specific time during the day. 


  1. It helps you to figure out how much you can feed your pets. 
  2. It allows you to observe your cat’s feeding habits. 
  3. It makes it easier to administer medication to your pets.
  4. It’s a good way to have some quality bonding time with your kitty.
  5. There’s more variety in the meals that you serve to your pets. 
  6. It’s a good reminder to change and freshen your cat’s water supply. 


  1. Your cat may beg for more food between meals. 
  2. It’s not an easy feeding method to keep up with especially if you’re busy and has a full-time job. 

Combination feeding method 

This type of feeding set-up allows you to feed your pet cat two meals a day plus dry food that’s freely available throughout the day. This method is like getting the best of both worlds, so to speak. 


  1. It allows your cat to eat multiple small meals each day on her own schedule. 
  2. You’ll be able to monitor her diet and appetite partially when you feed her with wet food. 
  3. It provides your pet cat with nutritional benefits that she can get from both dry and wet food like protein and carbs. 


  1. It may lead to overeating and obesity so you should measure the food. 
  2. It’s difficult to monitor the food intake especially if you have multiple cats.