Maine Coon owners often ask me, should I free feed my Maine Coon?
Since this is an emotive subject amongst cat lovers, I’ve broken the debate down into the pros and cons of free feeding, to help owners make an informed decision.
Maine Coons are prone to obesity. Cats that overeat are not suited to free-feeding as it may cause weight gain and obesity. Health problems connected to cat obesity include diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues. Free feeding can cause behavioral issues like picky eating and food guarding. Cats not prone to overeating can be free-fed.
Leaving food out for your Maine Coon to eat whenever they want might seem like the easiest way to keep them fed and happy, but it is not always the best for their health.
In this blog post, we will discuss the following:
- How to monitor your cat’s weight
- What to feed them
- How much to feed them
- When to feed them
By understanding the importance of a proper feeding routine, you can ensure your Maine Coon lives a long, happy, and healthy life.
Should I Free Feed My Maine Coon?
Maine Coon cats are the biggest domesticated cat breed in the world, reaching up to 25 lbs in weight!
Having originated from Maine, in the United States, these previously wild cats are now fully domesticated but still require a diet high in protein to ensure their bodies stay fit and healthy.
Here are some famous Maine Coon cats that you might have heard of!
If you are unsure whether to free-feed your Maine Coon cat or not, start by considering what Maine Coon feeding methods are available to you.
How To Feed A Maine Coon
If you have been wondering how to feed a Maine Coon cat, below are the main feeding methods to consider.
To help you select your preferred Maine Coon feeding method, make sure you read the pros and cons of each of these cat feeding methods (source 1).
1. Free Feeding
Free feeding is the process of leaving food out for a cat to eat whenever they want.
This can be done by leaving a bowl of dry food out all day, or by filling an automatic pet feeder that dispenses food at set intervals.
This method is suitable for cats that are not prone to overeating, or for cats that are left by themselves for a long time.
- Convenient option for busy pet owners who cannot guarantee they will be in at feeding time, each day.
- Allows cats to eat when they are hungry, thereby preventing stress.
- Cats may gain weight if they do not self-regulate their food intake.
- Can lead to food wastage if not consumed – dry food loses its fresh smell if left out too long.
- May lead to territorial behavior if multiple cats are fed together.
2. Scheduled Feeding
Scheduled feeding is the opposite of free feeding where an owner sets specific times for the cat to eat.
This can either be done by placing a set amount of food in the cat’s bowl at specific times of the day, or by using a timed pet feeder that dispenses food at set intervals.
This method is often used for cats that are prone to overeating or for cats that need to lose weight.
- Helps prevent overeating since cats can only eat what they are given.
- Useful way to manage a cat’s weight.
- Allows owner to monitor and control the cat’s food intake.
- Easier for the owner if a pet food dispenser is used.
- If a pet food dispenser is not used, it can be challenging for busy pet owners since this method requires them to be available to feed their cats at specific times.
- May cause the cat stress if they are not fed on time.
- Can lead to food wastage if the cat does not finish the food provided.
3. Combination Feeding
Combination feeding is a method that combines both free feeding and scheduled feeding.
This can be done by leaving a bowl of dry food out all day, but supplementing it with scheduled feedings of wet food or treats.
- Provides a balance between the convenience of free feeding and the control of scheduled feeding.
- Allows the owner to monitor and control the cat’s food intake.
- Might be challenging to achieve the right balance between free feeding and scheduled feeding, which may lead to overeating or underfeeding.
- Can cause stress for the cat if they are not fed on time.
- Can lead to food wastage if the cat does not finish the food provided.
What Is The Best Diet For A Maine Coon Cat?
Below is a detailed breakdown of what Maine Coons need in their diet:
High Protein Levels
Due to their large physical build and active lifestyle, Maine Coon cats require a diet that is high in protein, to support their muscle mass.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, and adequate protein intake is crucial for the growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass.
Meat-based protein sources are an excellent option for Maine Coons, and include:
Fish like salmon and tuna are also great choices, as they provide both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for maintaining a shiny coat and healthy skin.
Maine Coons require a small level of carbohydrates in their diet, for energy.
Carbohydrates are regarded as the primary source of energy for cats and provide them with the glucose they need for their brain and muscles to function properly.
A moderate amount of fat is necessary for Maine Coons to maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin.
Fat is a vital energy source for cats, and it is also needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as:
Nutrients And Minerals
Maine Coons need a variety of vitamins and minerals to support their overall health.
If you are concerned your Maine Coon is not consuming the correct nutrients and minerals, consider adding supplements to your cat’s food. These are the best cat supplements.
Supplements such as taurine and multivitamins can be added to the cat’s diet to ensure a Maine Coon is getting all the necessary nutrients.
Taurine, for example, is an essential amino acid that is important for heart and eye health.
Maine Coons should not be fed more than 2-3 wet food sachets a week, since wet food can lead to dental problems and obesity.
Read about the common dental problems that Maine Coon cats can suffer from, in my Maine Coon teeth guide.
These are my favorite wet foods for Maine Coon kittens.
Always ensure your Maine Coon has access to clean water, as they need it to maintain proper hydration and bodily functions.
Maine Coon Feeding Guide
The following cat guide will help you determine how much should you feed your Maine Coon kitten, and how often should you feed a Maine Coon kitten.
To assist Maine Coon owners, we’ve detailed a cat feeding schedule by age and shown how often to feed your Maine Coon, according to their age.
Please note that the portion quantities and schedules detailed below are general and may vary depending on your individual cat’s needs.
Kittens (0-6 months)
During this cat life stage, Maine Coon kittens are growing rapidly and require a diet that is high in protein and fat to support their growth and development.
If you’ve been wondering what is the appropriate feeding schedule for a Maine Coon kitten, the answer is that they should be fed small, frequent meals throughout the day (3-4 times per day).
A high-quality kitten food, such as Royal Canin Maine Coon Kitten (conveniently sold on Amazon here) is formulated specifically for the unique nutritional needs of these impressive cats.
Their recommended portion size is 6-8 ounces per day, divided into 3-4 meals.
If you haven’t started your Maine Coon growth chart, read this guide and start straight away!
Juvenile (6-12 months)
During this stage, you will love watching your Maine Coon kitten continue to grow and mature each day.
You may notice your Maine Coon gradually reducing the number of meals they eat per day to 2-3 times each day.
Continue to feed your Maine Coon high-quality kitten food, such as Royal Canin Maine Coon Kitten dry food.
Alternatively, transition your Maine Coon kitten to high-quality adult food, such as Royal Canin Maine Coon Adult dry food. This product can be found on Amazon, here.
The recommended portion size is 8-10 ounces per day, divided into 2-3 meals.
Adult (1-7 Years)
After your Maine Coons 1st birthday they should be transitioned to a high-quality adult Maine Coon dry food, such as the Royal Canin Maine Coon Adult dry food pictured above.
Adult Maine Coons should be fed two meals a day, with a total daily serving of 8-10 ounces, depending on their individual needs.
Senior Cats (7+ years)
As Maine Coons age, their nutritional needs may change too.
What you feed them will be dependent upon their unique Maine Coon health.
For example, our 10-year-old Maine Coon has had urinary issues, so we feed him Royal Canin Urinary dry food.
Whereas cats with sensitive stomachs may prefer cat food specifically tailored to their more sensitive tummies. Like this one sold by Amazon.
Senior cats should be fed two smaller meals a day, with a total daily serving of 8-10 ounces, depending on their individual needs.
My Maine Coon Is Always Hungry
If your Maine Coon seems to be constantly hungry this is likely the result of the following reasons:
1. Not Enough Food
Maine Coons are a large cat breed and have a higher energy requirement than smaller cats. If you are not providing enough food for your Maine Coon, they may be feeling constantly hungry.
These are my favorite dry cat foods for Maine Coons.
2. Inadequate Nutrition
Feeding your Maine Coon a diet that is not nutritionally balanced can lead to them feeling constantly hungry.
Make sure you are always providing high-quality cat food that is formulated for your gentle giant’s specific needs.
If you are interested in feeding your Maine Coon kitten or cat a raw food diet, read my guide.
3. Health Issues
Certain medical conditions can make a Maine Coon more hungry, including:
- Certain Types Of Cancer
If your Maine Coon is showing other signs of illness, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian.
These are the top 7 Maine Coon health problems to be aware of.
4. Boredom Or Stress
If your Maine Coon cat is feeling bored or stressed, it may eat more than it needs to alleviate the boredom or stress.
Maine Coon owners should buy the best Maine Coon cat toys to entertain their Maine Coon cat whilst they are busy.
Providing more interactive toys, scratching posts and other forms of mental stimulation can help a cat feel happier.
5. Neutered Or Spayed
Cats that have been neutered or spayed have a lower energy requirement than cats that have not been neutered or spayed.
Maine Coons that have been neutered or spayed may require less food than before.
How Much Does It Cost To Feed A Maine Coon Cat?
Feeding a Maine Coon will cost more than feeding a regular-sized cat since Maine Coons are larger, have higher energy needs, and therefore have more muscle to feed!
When it comes to food options there are three main types to choose from:
Alternatively, a combination of the above is also fine!
Before choosing what to feed a Maine Coon cat, keep in mind that the best food option for Maine Coon cats is always dependent on their individual needs and preferences.
Let’s take a closer look at the feeding options:
Dry food diets are convenient and cost-effective.
Brands like Royal Canin have specially formulated Maine Coon dry food that is packed with all the necessary nutrients that this large cat breed needs.
At the time of checking, a 6 lbs bag of Royal Canin Maine Coon dry food costs roughly $38 and provides good value for the money. For the latest pricing on Amazon, click here.
Please keep in mind that dry cat food alone may not provide enough moisture for your cat, and you may want to supplement their dry food with wet food or water.
Wet food can be a great option for Maine Coon cats, as it provides more moisture than dry food.
Brands like Purina and Royal Canin offer wet food options for Maine Coon cats, which typically cost around $18.99 – $45 for 24 cans of high-quality wet cat food.
Wet food can be a bit more expensive than dry food, but it is a good way to ensure your cat is getting enough moisture.
Some cat owners opt for a raw food diet for their Maine Coon cats, believing this to be a closer fit to this previously wild cats’ natural diet.
A raw food diet consists of raw meat, such as:
- Ground Turkey Or Chicken
- Chicken Or Turkey Necks
- Chicken Or Turkey Hearts
The cost of raw food will vary, depending upon where you live and the meat you are sourcing.
According to this website, in the United States, you can expect to pay $5.19 per lb of ground beef. By comparison, this website states the national average price for chicken, fresh, whole, per lb is $1.83.
If you are considering feeding your cat a Maine Coon raw food diet, please keep in mind that raw food diets for cats can be risky and should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian.
With a little bit of research and some expert guidance, you’ll soon be able to find a food option that works for both you and your furry companion.
So, should I free feed a Maine Coon?
This is a highly emotive subject matter and as you can see from this article there are many factors to consider.
One of the most important things to note is that Maine Coons grow big, and have unique dietary needs compared to normal cats.
Maine Coons need:
- High-protein diet to support their large muscle mass
- Moderate levels of fat to achieve a shiny coat and healthy skin
- Small amount of carbohydrates to maintain their high energy levels
Free feeding may seem convenient but it can lead to:
- Picky Eating
- Food Guarding
On the other hand, scheduled feeding allows for:
- More control over their diet
- Can prevent obesity and other health issues
Ultimately, it is all about understanding your Maine Coon’s needs and working with your vet to find the best feeding plan for your Maine Coon kitten or cat.
How Long Should Maine Coons Eat Kitten Food?
Maine Coon kittens should be fed kitten food until they reach 9-15 months of age.
What Is A Maine Coon Food Calculator?
A Maine Coon Food Calculator is a tool that is used to determine the appropriate amount of food and nutrients for a Maine Coon cat. It is based on the cat’s weight, activity level, and other factors.
Are Maine Coon Cats Prone To Obesity?
Maine Coon cats are prone to obesity if not fed the appropriate amount of food and not exercised enough.
How Often Should I Give Food To My Maine Coon Cat?
Gentle giants should be fed at least twice a day. Some cats may require additional feedings, depending on their activity level and weight.
What Should I Look For To See If My Maine Coon Cat Is Overweight?
Signs your Maine Coon is overweight include a round or “pot-bellied” appearance, difficulty moving, and a lack of muscle definition. You can also check your cat’s body condition score (BCS) using a BCS chart.
Can Maine Coon Cats Eat Wet Food That Has Been Left Out For A While?
Do not leave wet food out for more than 30 minutes, as bacterial growth and spoilage may occur. Do not feed your Maine Coon food that has been left out for a while.