Since domestic cats tend to have a low level of activity and slower metabolism, it’s crucial to keep tabs on what and how much they eat. Many pets suffer from excess weight simply because their owners neglect the diet and leave a bowl full of food 24/7. It leads to serious problems with the heart, liver, and kidneys, not to mention overall wellbeing. The opposite is an underweight adopted cat that should be fattened up because its attenuated organism lacks the vital nutrients.
Related guide: How to fatten up the cat.
How much food should you give your feline friend? Our comprehensive cat feeding guide will help you figure this out. We will define the optimal portions of dry and wet food for cats of all ages and weight categories.
How much should I feed my cat? Basic Principles
To maintain the cat’s health, your cat’s diet should have the right balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. High-quality cat food will provide all of that. Unless you get special recommendations from the veterinarian, your cat does not need any other dietary supplements.
An average cat with a healthy weight should eat 4,5 lbs of dry food per month, that is, about 65-67 grams of dry food per day.
Ideally, cats should be fed often but in small portions. However, if your cat eats wet or semi-moist cat food or your lifestyle does not allow you to serve many small portions daily, feeding a pet twice a day will be enough. Alternatively, you can serve wet food in the morning and evening, and leave some dry food for your pet to consume during the day.
Set up a special feeding schedule to feed your cat at the same time every day. The feeding zone should be quiet and easy to clean.
Cat’s age and nutrition: what’s the connection?
The amount of cat food served per day depends on the cat’s age. Why?
- Kittens grow quickly and need a lot of calories and nutritional components;
- Old cats have a slow metabolism and are less active, which means they need a low amount of calories per day;
- Adult cats need an optimal balance between calories and vitamins. At the same time, the size of portions depends on health and level of activity. Pregnant cats should have a different diet, too.
Kittens and older animals should receive all the minerals and vitamins necessary for their health. Nutrition should be balanced in protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Organic acids, essential amino acids, calcium, and phosphorus play a crucial role in maintaining optimal muscle mass and immunity. While kittens and pregnant cats need more calories, food for old pets should include less fat and the same amount of protein because they tend to suffer from poor digestion.
How activity defines calorie intake norms
“How much dry food should I feed my cat if it’s calm and lazy?” – many pet owners ask. Here, the connection between the cat’s activity and diet is clear. The more your cat moves and plays, the more calories it needs.
Check the nutrition facts and charts on cat food’s label: as a rule, they provide recommendations for cats with average weight and activity level.
If you have an indoor cat that doesn’t move much, reduce the portion or shift to low-carb food options.
On the contrary, outdoor cats and active pets might get a somewhat higher amount of calories – they will be burnt throughout the day.
Visit a veterinarian to define an optimal daily amount of calorie intake for your cat.
Kind Of Food Matters
Yes, there is a significant difference between wet and dry food – the size of portions is different, as well as the amount of pure water served in addition.
A medium-sized cat needs 50-80 grams of dry food per day. The precise amount of portion is selected individually and depends on many factors: the age of the pet, lifestyle, breed and physiological state. Our cat feeding chart will help you define an optimal portion.
Wet food can be given 1-2 times a day. For the purpose of convenience, manufacturers produce it in the form of pouches: one pouch contains one serving.
Ideally, you should mix both wet and dry food, but the size of portions should be calculated individually according to the calorie intake and vitamin contents.
Peculiarities Of Nutrition For Pregnant Or Nursing Cats
The amount of food that your pregnant cat will consume will increase right from the moment of fertilization to the moment of birth. By the end of pregnancy, she will eat 50% more than usual. Feeding a pregnant cat is not too difficult: just give your pet a sufficient amount of food, and it will stop eating when the hunger is satisfied, so she is unlikely to overeat.
Since kittens need additional nutrition during their early development, start feeding your pregnant cat food for small kittens. When to feed cats kitten food? Start from the 4th week of her pregnancy.
When choosing food, do not forget about your pet’s daily preferences. For example, if a cat likes moist canned food, remember that its calorie content is lower than in dry food. Try mixing both types of food – and your pet will receive the necessary energy and vitamins.
How Often Should I Feed My Cat?
If your pet does not suffer from eating disorders or poor metabolism, you can leave it the daily norm of food before going to work. However, it would be better to feed your cat in the morning and evening.
Metabolism in young cats (8–12 months, or up to 1.5–2 years in large breeds) is fast: they can get hungry by the middle of the day. Therefore, if you have a young cat at home, you should divide the daily norm into three doses.
If the cat is prone to gluttony, give her food only in small portions. By eating all the food at once, it makes the stomach stretch, which leads to consuming increased volumes of food. Such cats are at the risk of indigestion, constipation, and kidney problems, especially if they don’t drink enough water. Smelly poop is one of the warning signs of digestion problems. You’re welcome to check our guide with foods to solve a smelly poop problem.
Automatic feeders for cats would be a perfect solution: they serve a certain amount of food by a certain cat feeding schedule. The biological rhythm of a cat will adapt to the schedule, which is great for both the digestive and nervous systems. Overweight cats should eat small portions 4-5 times a day. And don’t forget to serve freshwater. Also, there are feeders for multiple cats that resolve the problems of stealing.
Note that premium and super-premium diets contain a large concentration of useful high-quality components. Thus, a cat needs smaller portions of premium food.
Learn more: Read our article “Cat always hungry: Reasons and what to do” to understand how to manage this.
How do I know that my cat eats enough?
First, you should know what is a normal weight for your cat depending on its age and breed. Secondly, keep weighing your cat regularly (once a week when you try to figure out an optimal amount of food). Check the weight fluctuations and watch the norms and limits.
To define whether your cat is overweight, feel the lower abdomen between the hind legs – this is where the fat is deposited. If your cat has fat around the ribs, and the body has acquired a slightly “square” shape, it definitely has some extra pounds.
How much food should I feed my obese cat?
The optimal amount of food for an obese cat should be defined by your veterinarian. Most likely, the specialist will also recommend you change the type of food. By reducing the cat’s portions by 25%, you can make it lose weight without serious harm to health.
How much should I feed my cat at different ages?
Small kittens need the same amount of food as adult ones, but with higher calorie content. The normal food serving for adult cats is specified on the food label (obese cats eat 10-25% less of this amount). Pregnant cats eat 25-50% more by the end of pregnancy. Old cats may eat as much as young adult ones, but need fewer calories and more vitamins.
How much dry food should I feed my cat on a diet?
An adult cat (12 months and older) needs about 15-16 grams of dry food per 1 kilogram of its weight. However, cats on diet (sterilized and overweight) cats need 10-20% less of this amount. Cats that lack weight should be served 10-20% more food than normal. If you’re using a specialized weight loss food – just follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Now you know how much cat food per day should be served to your pets. This amount depends on a myriad of factors including animal’s age, weight, breed, health condition, and even the quality of products served. Keep in mind that sticking to norms and schedules is more important than it seems: the cat’s body can adapt to it, just be patient.
Watch the quality of food you serve and the calorie content: different foods have different nutritional values (we’ve got you covered with our ultimate list of best cat foods this year).
If you cannot give your cat several small portions of food per day, consider installing an automatic feeder – it will help you establish a healthy feeding schedule.
- How much should I feed my cat? Basic Principles
- Cat’s age and nutrition: what’s the connection?
- How activity defines calorie intake norms
- Kind Of Food Matters
- Peculiarities Of Nutrition For Pregnant Or Nursing Cats
- How Often Should I Feed My Cat?