A Guide to How Much You Should Feed Your Cat

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As a cat owner, you’ve probably asked yourself the question: ”How much should I feed my cat?”. Establishing a regular and healthy feeding routine is the key factor for your cat’s overall well-being. Knowing how much food your cat needs depends on its age, weight, activity level, and more.

In this article, we will provide a basic feeding guide and show you how to calculate your cat’s optimal food intake, as well as the meals’ frequency.

What Do Cats Eat?

Cats are meat-eaters, which means they need foods that are an animal protein source in order to survive. Even though it is acceptable to feed your cat canned or dry food, you can add more variety to their diet by occasionally feeding them cooked fresh meat. But how much to feed a cat and what food they should consume depends on many factors, including the cat’s age. Kittens require food that contains a lot of nutrients, for example, while an adult cat doesn’t need that many calories.

DID YOU KNOW: To many owners’ surprise, even house cats can sometimes go for a hunt. Even though their main prey is small mammals, like mice, they can also be seen eating birds, as well as some insects.

How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

In reality, there’s no universal requirement of how much a cat is supposed to be fed, as it depends on many different factors, including the cat’s age and weight, activity level, and what kind of food you’re feeding it with. Each cat is different and has its own unique needs, and the feeding amounts may vary as much as 50% below or above the amount considered average. That’s why it is best to consult your vet in order to determine exactly how much a particular cat should eat a day.

Below, you can take a look at the average servings based on the cats’ weight and whether they are neutered or spayed.

Cat Weight Typical Pet, Neutered or Spayed Typical Pet, Not Neutered or Spayed
5 lbs 157 kcal/day 183 kcal/day
7.5 lbs 210 kcal/day 245 kcal/day
10 lbs 260 kcal/day 303 kcal/day
12.5 lbs 298 kcal/day 362 kcal/day
15 lbs 354 kcal/day 413 kcal/day
17.5 lbs 396 kcal/day 462 kcal/day
20 lbs 440 kcal/day 513 kcal/day

Factors That Affect Your Cat’s Portion Sizes

Apart from the factors listed above, there are several others that also play a key role in determining how much food a cat should eat a day.

1. Age

If you are wondering what to feed your kitten, you should know that kittens need a lot of nutrients and have high energy requirements, as they go through rapid growth and development. This is why they should be given kitten food more often, i.e. three to four times a day. Senior cats, on the other hand, have significantly lower caloric intake requirements, meaning that feeding them with food that is suitable for adult cats once or twice a day would be just enough.

2. Size

Because all cats differ in size and build, you might wonder, “How much food should I feed my cat?”. Larger cat breeds, such as the Maine Coon and the Siberian cat will need more food compared to a smaller breed cat, such as the Siamese. Even within the same breed, individuals that have a smaller frame (bone structure) would require less food compared to their big-boned counterparts.

3. Activity and Body Condition

Cats who are playful and active, and who routinely get a lot of exercises, burn more calories than those who just lie around and move seldomly. That is why active cats need more calories. The metabolic rate also plays a role in establishing how much to feed a cat. Some cats have a higher metabolic rate compared to others, which means they would require a higher caloric intake. Overweight cats would need fewer calories as they are usually less active.

4. Health Status

Some health conditions can cause cats to gain or lose weight, as they affect the cat’s metabolism. That is why you should consult your veterinarian to adapt their diet accordingly. If your cat has a progressive stage of diabetes, you may need to feed it before it receives its insulin dose.

As cat ages, the chances of its developing a gum disease increases, which would make it difficult for it to chew dry food. If it reaches the point when it refuses to eat, try offering it canned food or mash up its favorite dry food and mix it with some water.

5. Reproductive Status

How much an adult cat should eat also depends on its reproductive status. Pregnant or nursing cats have higher caloric requirements due to their bodies’ nutritional demands during those times. But spaying and neutering decrease their nutritional requirements, hence lowering the number of food cats require.

6. Indoor vs. Outdoor

An indoor cat usually doesn’t get as much exercise as outdoor cats do, which means that they would require fewer calories. Outdoor cats that live in regions with cold winters would need to be fed more during the winter months.

DID YOU KNOW: Outdoor cats often hunt as much as 20 times a day and eat more than 7 meals. As their stomachs are small (approximately the size of a ping pong ball), each of their meals is the size of a mouse.

Key Takeaways

Cats are carnivores and their main source of nutrients is meat.
Knowing how much food a cat should eat a day is a very important step to determining the best diet for your cat.
Many factors play a key role in the number of food cats should eat, such as their age, weight, activity rate, etc.
Spayed and neutered cats require fewer calories due to their lower hormone levels.

Wet vs. Dry Cat Food

How much wet and dry food to feed a cat is one of the most common questions veterinarians get asked. Although both types of cat food are a good source of nutrition, deciding which one is best for your cat depends on several factors, some of which are:

  • Your cat’s weight
  • Your cat’s health condition
  • Your budget

If you’re wondering which food would best fit your cat’s requirements, take a look at the following table containing the benefits and drawbacks of feeding your cat both types of food, as well as a generalized cat feeding guide on the amount of food you should serve.

Canned food only Dry food only Both
Benefits – High water content

– Pleasant taste

– Less expensive

– Has a longer shelf life

– Provides a balance between both diets
Drawbacks – More expensive

– Short shelf life after it’s been opened

– Harder to monitor how much your cat’s eaten

– Older cats have a hard time chewing it

– Cats who prefer only one type of food might find it hard to adjust
Serving size 2 oz three times a day 1/6 cup three times a day 2 oz of wet cat food twice a day and 1/6 cup of dry food once a day (or vice versa)

How much wet or dry food to feed a cat depends on your cat’s unique needs, so it is best to consult your vet in order to provide your pet with the best diet possible.

How the Brand of Cat Food Makes a Difference

The brand of food you choose to feed your cat can make a big difference in the quality, as well as the amount of food your cat will receive. A dense, high-quality food will contain more nutrients than poor-quality cat food. It will need to be served in smaller portions, while at the same time providing all the macro and micronutrients your cat needs.

What you should look for on the food packaging is whether it meets the AAFCO requirements; this serves as a guarantee that your pet will receive all the necessary nutrients.

How to Measure Your Cat’s Portion

How much food you should use to feed an adult cat is easy to measure. It is important to know the exact amount in order to prevent you from overfeeding or not feeding your cat enough.

A cup is the most common measuring tool used to describe cat food serving size, it is also a common source of misunderstanding. Namely, different people have a different notion of the term cup. That is why using a different measuring tool when preparing your cat’s portion of food is a much better idea.

When you know the weight of what you should feed your cat, you can always be exact in how much dry food to feed a cat. You can use a digital scale when serving your cat‘s meal, as measuring the food by weight rather than volume is much more accurate. Using a kitchen scale would also work, as well as one of the handheld digital pet foods scales.

If you’re not sure what’s the appropriate amount of cat food you should give to your cat, check out the food packaging. It should have the calories per kg listed there, which would help you calculate the amount of food to feed based on your pet’s caloric needs.

Why Is Measuring Important?

Knowing exactly how much food to feed your cat would provide your cat with the correct amount of calories and nutrients, without the risk of overfeeding them.

The pet obesity rate in the US is huge. It is widely known that obesity in pets contributes to many health problems; although overfeeding isn’t the only factor, it certainly plays a big role.

By measuring the correct amount of cat food your pet needs, you will keep them happy and healthy, while at the same time saving a bunch of money on cat food.

When and How Often You Should Feed Your Cat

There’s no universal cat feeding guide. While some cats seem to get a bite out of their food bowl throughout the day, others prefer eating at strictly set times. In general, you should offer your cat a balanced diet, serving their food about two to three times a day, at equal time intervals.

The most important thing to keep them healthy is to never feed them more calories than they need.

DID YOU KNOW: Not eating for a long stretch of time can cause your cat to experience stress, nausea, and aggression towards people or other pets. That’s why it’s crucial to feed it at regular intervals.

The Dangers of Over/Underfeeding Your Cat

Healthy adult cats should maintain a stable body weight so that they are neither too thin nor too fat. You should consult with your vet to determine exactly how much a cat should eat a day, in order to avoid any health issues related to feeding your cat too little or too much. Some of these health conditions include joint pain, breathing difficulties, diabetes, teeth problems, patchy hair, etc.

Conclusion

As food requirements can vary from cat to cat, knowing how much food it needs is the first step to providing a healthy and quality life for your beloved pet. A proper feeding amount would not only give them all the nutrients they need but would also protect them from developing some serious health conditions.

FAQ

How much dry food should I feed my cat?

Typically, a cup of dry cat food contains about 300 calories per cup. With this in mind, the cat feeding guide by weight states that an 8-pound cat would need 4/5 of a cup of dry food a day to meet its caloric intake needs.

Is one can of wet food enough for a cat?

This depends on the size of the can. Most wet foods come in three-ounce cans, which is the recommended daily feeding amount for a cat that weighs approximately 3-3.5 pounds.

Is 1 cup of cat food too much?

“How much should I feed my cat?” is a frequent question cat owners ask. It all depends on the cat’s weight and size. While 1 cup of food a day may be just enough for a bigger cat, it may be too much for smaller breeds.

ABOUT AUTHOR

When she couldn’t decide between being a nurse, a psychotherapist, and a financial genius, Ofelia decided to do all three. Her interests run far and wide, and she loves researching about everything you get to read on our website. Credit cards or top-notch software, she’s here to tell it all like it is.

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