Why doesn't my cat eat her food at once?
Far from the three meals a day we eat, cats prefer to nibble, spreading their food intake into several small meals.
In the wild, cats prey on small animals such as rodents or birds. Each 'catch' presents a low energy intake, so it is necessary for cats to hunt frequently and eat more to meet their daily needs. Predatory behaviour and eating are instinctive in cats, and not triggered by hunger. This results in your domestic cat preferring several small meals throughout the day, rather than one large portion. If the option is left to her, your cat will instinctively eat small amounts 10 to 15 times per day on average. Providing freely available food for her is more in keeping with her natural behaviour.
If your cat is fed twice a day, she will find it hard to regulate her food intake herself. Food deprivation can result in both physiological and emotional stress, while hunger can lead to anxiety, causing your cat to quickly eat the entire contents of her bowl at every meal. This can make digestion difficult, and may lead to vomiting or loose stools, while nutrients will be poorly absorbed. So it is important to control the quantity of food you give her every day, as feeding ad libitum is the primary cause of feline obesity.
You can also help her better control her food intake by splitting her daily allowance into several small meals over 24 hours. It may be easiest to use an automatic feeding machine for this, or an interactive distributor she can also play with.