How Much to Feed a Cat

If you own a cat, you’ve likely wondered what the right amount of food for your cat is. Is she getting enough food, too much food, or too little? Well, to answer this question, there are a couple of different factors you’ll need to take into consideration.

In this article, we’ll go over these factors and some tips you’ll need to keep in mind when determining how much to feed your cat.

How much should you feed your cat?

When determining how much to feed your cat, you’ll need to consider the age of your cat. Kittens generally eat more than adult cats as they require more food to support their rapid growth. Thus, if you own a kitten, you’ll want to ensure that she gets fed at least three meals every day.

Once your cat becomes an adult at about 12 months of age, you can then feed her once or twice in a day. Older cats should also be fed once or twice as long as they’re healthy. 

feeding your cat

Of course, a cat’s age isn’t the only factor to consider when answering this question. Also important is the weight and energy level of your cat.

Experts estimate that a healthy adult cat weighing 8 pounds needs about 30 calories per pound (a total of 240 calories) per day.

Before looking at the feeding guides on cat food labels, it’s a good idea to do an assessment of your cat. Take a close look at the body condition of your pet. Is she slim and trim or quite fat? What is her energy level? Does she love to lounge on the sofa lazily or is she very fit and active?

If your cat is obese, pregnant or nursing, or an inactive senior cat, you will need to ask your veterinarian for help. Your vet should be able to provide in-depth information about your cat’s health and offer a feeding recommendation based on your cat’s unique needs.

If your cat suffers from a disease such as diabetes, you’ll need to adjust her feeding pattern to better suit her treatment. You may need to feed your cat whenever she gets a dose of insulin, depending on the type administered. Of course, your vet’s advice will prove invaluable in cases like these.

If your cat is older and has developed gum disease or has bad teeth, she may find it difficult to chew dry food. To work around this, you’ll need to offer dry food with smaller nuggets or canned food. You could also mix the dry food with water to make it easier for your cat to chew.

Once you’ve properly assessed the condition of your cat and sought help from your vet, you can then consider the feeding guides on the labels of your cat’s food. These will help you determine how much food to put into the bowl for your cat. 

Based on the information you’ve gathered about your cat, you can wisely determine how much to feed her. Of course, you can always adjust the amount you put out to ensure your cat gets the nutrients and calories she needs.

What type of food should you feed your cat?

Another important factor to consider when determining how much to feed your cat is what type of food you’re feeding it. Cat food can generally be split up into two categories: wet cat food and dry cat food.

Some cat owners only feed their cats dry cat food. Dry food is usually cheaper than canned food and may stay fresh for longer. However, if you go down the dry-food-only route, you’ll need to provide your cat with lots of fresh water.

type of food should you feed your cat

Wet cat food or canned food usually consists of between 70% to 80% water. Thus, wet food keeps your cat hydrated better and can be used to supplement a dry food diet. Some cats also prefer canned cat food to dry food. However, a cat might consume too much canned food if it finds it too palatable.

The brand of cat food you’re feeding your cat is also a factor to consider. A high quality cat food product will contain more nutrients and calories than a lower quality one. Dry cat food should contain a high amount of animal proteins and a low amount of plant proteins.

If you choose to feed your cat dry food, you might want to try supplementing it with a little canned food. You may also try providing it to your cat at specific times in measured amounts. Free feeding dry food to your cat could result in her gaining a few pounds if she fails to exercise self-control. 

How often should you feed your cat?

When it comes to how much to feed a cat, what really matters is how many calories your cat gets to consume in a day. Thus, cat owners take different approaches when feeding their pets. Some feed their cats in the mornings and evenings while others leave dry food out all the time.

Whether you choose to leave dry food out during the day or you feed your pet at regular times, you’ll need to calculate the total amount of calories she will need to consume. Then, you can divide the quantity of food accordingly.

It is important to find a schedule that works for you as well as your cat. If your mornings are hectic, you may find it easier to feed your cats in the evenings. Once you find a schedule that works, try to keep it consistent.

Which cat feeding method is best?

cat feeding method

What is the right way to feed your cat? Well, there are three different routes you could go down and each one presents a couple of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a brief look at them.

Meal Feeding

The meal feeding method involves providing your cat with food at specific times during the day. This method allows you to monitor the food intake of your pet. Meal feeding can be used for administering both wet and dry cat food.

It’s also a nice option if you have multiple cats as it prevents one cat from eating all the food. If you have multiple cats, you should try to provide each cat with food and water in a separate quiet place as cats prefer to be alone when they eat.

When you meal feed your cats, however, they might beg for food between meals. Your cat also won’t be able to control the amount of food she consumes at a certain time.

Free Feeding

Free feeding refers to the method of leaving out food for your cat throughout the day. This method can only be used with dry cat food.

Free feeding allows your cat to eat small meals at different times throughout the day. Thus, your cat is able to control the quantity of food eaten per session, the feeding times, and the frequency of feeding.

On the minus side, free feeding your cats can result in overeating and obesity if not properly managed. It’s also harder to tell when your cat’s appetite changes.

Another option for controlled “free feeding” is the use of an automatic cat feeder. With this product you can load up the chamber and have it accessible at a certain time or rate. 

Combination Feeding

Combination feeding or mixed feeding involves serving canned food at specific meal times while leaving dry food out throughout the day. This method combines the strengths of the other two approaches.

However, if you choose to try combination feeding, you’ll have to take care to regulate the amount of food offered to prevent your cat from overeating and becoming overweight.

Assess How Your Cat’s Diet is Working

Once you’ve settled in on a feeding amount, food type, and feeding schedule, it’s a good idea to evaluate the effects on your cat. You can do this by considering the following questions:

  • Is your cat eating happily?
  • Is she maintaining an ideal weight and healthy body condition?
  • Does your cat usually have some food left in her bowl?
  • Does she wake you up at night for more food?
  • Is she losing weight or becoming heftier?

The answers to these questions will help you to determine if you need to make some adjustments to your cat’s diet and feeding routine.

If your cat needs to lose or gain weight, you can split up her meals into smaller amounts and spread them out throughout the day. This could help you figure out how much food she needs to get to a healthy weight. You can also contact your vet if you notice concerning weight changes related to her diet. 

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, there is no simple answer to the ‘how much to feed a cat’ question. The answer depends on a couple of factors including your cats age, weight, diet, and health among others. As your cat grows older, you’ll need to keep modifying her diet to suit her changing dietary and metabolism needs.

Paying attention to how much your cat eats and following the best practices will help to keep your cat healthy and happy. So be sure to put some thought and effort into ensuring a healthy diet and feeding pattern for your cats. 

  • Updated January 5, 2021
  • Food
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