We hear this all the time. Most cats are experts at getting us to do what they want. However, most cats can easily self-regulate their food intake and will not maintain excess weight when they are fed a proper carnivore diet.
Cat foods that contain more than 6% starch (most cat foods contain more than 20% starch) digest differently than foods that contain predominately animal protein and fat. Your cat is a carnivore and has no nutritional requirement for starch/carbohydrates; they thrive on meat. Basically starch/carbs mess with their metabolism and they get into a cycle of overeating that they cannot get out of.
Once you convert your cat to a carnivore food their ability to self-regulate their food intake will almost always take over within two weeks and they will be able to have food available at all times (free choice feeding). For those few cats that can never learn to self-regulate you will need to portion their food in two or preferably three feedings a day.
Some cats will eat whatever food you place in front of them and then beg for more. Some of us have a hard time looking into those pleading eyes and we give in to their demands. This back and forth between cat and care giver can be hard on both parties and decisive action needs to be taken to break this cycle.
First let’s distinguish between a hungry cat and a cat acting out of habit. A cat wanting food out of habit will generally look at their food dish then at you, as if to say I’m hungry. If you walk away and your cat goes about their normal business then your cat was not really hungry, but may have been acting out of habit or concern that their food supply is getting too low. On the other hand, a hungry cat will become very vocal, follow you from room to room, always be under foot and may even become aggressive. No cat should be allowed to go more than 12 hours without food.
If your cat is not really hungry and acting only out of habit, then you can change their behavior. Changing a cat’s behavior will generally take a minimum of two weeks, you will need to be both patient and consistent.
Always separate love and attention and play time from food. Try to keep all interactions with food as boring as possible. A cat acting out of habit will be easily distracted with playtime or a good brushing. A hungry cat will not be deterred and will be very vocal. It is your job to feed enough food to satisfy their metabolic needs and then learn the difference between habit and actual hunger. We are always here to help, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.