Now that you decided to bring a new kitten home, you need to ensure you are not just providing the best place for your pet but guarantee they are getting the best nourishment.
There will be adjustments that take getting used to, and a routine in place. Feeding your cat and providing them with the nourishment they need is the top priority.
There are cat owners who find it an easy decision to feed their cats using the normal feeding pattern. This includes feeding them twice or thrice a day.
For most cat owners who ask, “Should I leave food out for my kitten at night?”, Yes! You can leave dry cat food out overnight, but I would advise against leaving wet food out overnight for your kitten.
Recommended read: Helpful Tips for Leaving Your Kitten Alone for The First Time
Do kittens need food and water at night?
It is a fact that cats are nocturnal creatures. They will sleep all day, and they are awake at night. It is also true if you rehome a kitten because they will initially have anxiety during the first few days or even for over a week. It is best to have a ready bowl of food for them and just a fair amount of water in case they get thirsty through the night.
Also, kittens have more energy than adult cats, and more often than not, they are awake during the night and asleep the entire day.
If you don’t want your kitten to wake you up during the wee hours, provide them with the needed essentials.
Benefits of leaving food out at night for your kitten
There are benefits of leaving food out at night for your kitten but make sure you are using dry food and not the wet cat food variety.
Also, if you are leaving dry cat food for your kitten, do not place too much for your kitten as you want to avoid overfeeding them. Just supply enough amount that your kitten can graze on while you are asleep.
- MORE MANAGEABLE – You only need to ensure you provide the right portion of food to nourish your kitten through the night. It is also easy for you to fill the bowl with cat food before you sleep. It can be a routine that your kitten will soon learn and get used to. There is no need to refill the food bowl for the rest of the night. It also helps to see how your kitten responds to the food and how it affects his health.
- PROVIDES YOU MORE QUALITY SLEEP – Your kitten may still be adjusting to his new life, and you may not know when he’ll get hungry. When there is food available at night, he will have the freedom to eat and feed himself. He won’t need to scratch the door or make noises to wake you up to feed him. It means you will have more uninterrupted sleep. However, you must not give in when your cat asks for more food after finishing what you serve him, or he will repeatedly wake you up to demand food.
- AVAILABILITY OF CAT FOOD THAT WILL NOT SPOIL EASILY – The advantage of having various cat food choices is identifying which one your cat will prefer. Sometimes there is a cat food that spoils and is not healthy for your cat to feed on through the night. You may also see reviews of various cat food in the market and see which has good reviews.
- YOU WILL SEE A PATTERN WITH YOUR CAT’S EATING HABITS – If your cat likes the routine, he will finish his food through the night, and if it works for your cat, this will work for you as well. You need not change the routine as well since your cat is getting used to the practice.
Disadvantages of leaving food out at night for your kitten
Leads to overeating
Some owners may feel happy when they see their pet’s feeding bowl empty and may sometimes make them add more to the serving. Food given at night should be limited and must depend only on the cat’s weight or upon the vet’s advice.
Cats may keep on crying as if you are not providing them enough food, so owners may feel guilty and give the cat a more generous portion at night, which you should avoid doing.
May lead to food spoilage
If some owners decide to give their pets wet instead of dry cat food, there is a probability that the cat food will not last as long and cause food spoilage. Rotting food will not be palatable to cats, and these may even cause stomach upset or bacterial illness.
If you have multiple cats, it is hard know how much they’re eating
If you leave food at night for your cats, you cannot tell which cat is eating all the portions and who is getting less. One cat may overeat, while another may not be eating as much.
See also: Leaving Two Kittens Home Alone (what age and for how long?)
It is difficult to observe their behavior and eating habits
When your cat is bored and starts to get picky, you may not see it if you are giving him food at night while you sleep. You may also think they are not feeling well and worry about their health when it is just the taste of food they are resisting.
How long can you leave dry cat food out overnight?
You can leave dry cat food out for days, and it won’t rot since it does not contaminate as easily as wet cat food. It can also withstand high room temperature.
However, if you want to provide only the best for your fluffy friend, it is advised to provide your pet with a fresh bowl of cat food each time, cause although food will not spoil for days, it will grow stale and may not be as appetizing to your cat once that happens.
You need to remove leftovers from your cat’s food bowl and keep his food dish clean.
This way, you ensure that you are providing the best care for your pet.
Advantages of dry cat food
- Considered more affordable
- Ease and convenience of preparation.
- Scrapes plaque and food residue on your cat’s teeth which helps prevent teeth and gum problems
- Less risk of bacterial growth.
- Longer storage.
Disadvantages of dry cat food
- Has less moisture content
- It may not taste as palatable as wet cat food
- It may not contain as much protein compared to wet cat food.
- Probability of higher sodium content to keep its freshness.
Can I leave wet cat food out overnight?
Wet cat food is preferred by many cat owners because of its moisture content that helps the cat’s hydration. Wet cat food also has its benefit, but you cannot leave wet cat food out overnight. It tends to spoil faster within two to four hours, some even spoil faster depending on the room temperature.
The reason wet cat food spoils faster is that bacteria contaminates it after only a few hours.
It is better to feed the cat with only a small serving, and when you have kittens, two to three teaspoons per meal are enough. It is required to keep the leftovers in the fridge once you open a can of wet cat food.
For nighttime feeding, dry food is safer to be left out overnight to feed your cat. It has a longer shelf life and will not spoil through the night compared to wet cat food.
Advantages of wet cat food
- Good for your cat’s hydration.
- There are various flavors available.
- Easier to chew for kittens or cats with dental disease.
- Provides the texture to make the cat food enjoyable, particularly for picky eaters.
- It has a strong scent that keeps the cat interested.
- With more proteins but has fewer carbohydrates.
- It undergoes minimal stages of processing as compared to dry cat food.
Disadvantages of wet cat food
- It spoils faster as bacteria, molds, and fungi grow on it.
- May cause bacterial contamination to your pet, such as e.coli, listeria, or salmonella.
- You need the right amount to serve your cat if you don’t want to waste cat food.
- Wet cat food loses its freshness quickly and tends to harden after being left at warm room temperature.
- It highly requires cold temperature during storage once you open a can of wet cat food.
Can I leave my cat overnight without food?
Although cats look strong and independent and do not need their daily walks, they want the presence of their owners as this satisfies them and makes them highly comfortable.
But in case you need to leave your cat overnight and not load his food bowl, you need not worry cause a cat can be left alone and survive even without food for two to three days provided they have water available.
Cats can also feel boredom, and when they are not getting the attention they need from their humans, issues set in.
The problem will arise if you leave your cat alone for days, and even if you have food available for them, you cannot expect them not to stress being left alone.
Your cat can still feel uneasy and may lose appetite if they are left alone all the time.
If you need to leave them for days, make sure you have someone spending time with them and taking care of their essential needs. A pet sitter will be a big help if you need to leave your cat for hours or days.
Having a pet sitter will not just ensure your cat is feeding regularly, but you are also providing them love and attention while you are away.
What to do if you need to leave your cat home alone overnight
Make sure they are comfortable
Climate can vary, and your cat can also feel the heatwave. Make sure you are keeping your cat cool, and comfortable while you are away. A small box fan will work, or leaving cooling mats around will be effective as well.
Make sure your kitten is well hydrated
Your cat needs to avoid dehydration while you are out. You should refill the water bowl you have in your home so your cat will have the ration he needs just in case you are away for an extended period. Make sure fresh and clean water is available around the house.
Provide your kitten with plenty of entertainment
You can leave the radio on or the TV for your cat to not feel alone. He will not get bored if there is a voice he hears over the radio or soothing music to keep him entertained.
Set up a fun play zone for your cat
You can place a cat scratcher or a cat tree where your pet can climb and do their exercise. It will give him hours of entertainment and help lessen his boredom. An assortment of toys will also be helpful to keep him occupied as well as some cardboard boxes where he can play.
Keep their environment safe
If your cat is left alone overnight, make sure that breakable things are not on their way. Keep decors and furniture where your cat will not be injured when they start climbing or jumping from it. Remove or tie up electrical cords and hide them out of the cat’s reach. Keep all escape routes closed cause cats are great at escaping, so you don’t go home to an empty house and a missing cat.
Get an automated cat feeder
Automatic feeders like this one are useful, particularly for cat owners who often need to leave their cats. The feeder is programmed to provide a portioned feeding when necessary. It will also help your cat not to overfeed, unlike leaving numerous bowls of cat food available while you are away. There is a tendency for your cat to eat the food in one go.