Cat parents are often confused by the question: How much should I feed my cat? We explain everything you need to know about feeding your cat.
If you’re a first-time cat owner, the question “How much should I feed my cat?” will probably be one of the first questions you ask yourself when you bring your cat home. Even if you’ve had cats for years, you may wonder if your cats are getting too much or too little food. Let’s review some factors to consider when answering the question, “How much should I feed my cat?”
How much should I feed my cat? The Bottom Line
The answer to the question “How much should I feed my cat?” depends on many variables, such as your cat’s weight and age, whether you feed wet or dry food, activity level, and whether your cat is pregnant or nursing.
The brand of food you feed also makes a difference in answering the question “How much should I feed my cat?” A dense, high-quality dry cat food will contain more nutrients by weight than lower quality food and, therefore, will require smaller portions to provide the same amount of nutrition to your cat.
Many cat owners allow their cat’s free access to dry food, supplemented by canned food once or twice a day. A diet based exclusively on dry food is not necessarily bad if you are feeding high-quality food, but you should encourage your cat to drink a lot more water to make up for what she is not getting from the canned food.
When to feed your cat
When you bring a new cat home, it’s important to continue feeding the same amount of the same food on the same schedule as your cat is used to, and then gradually switch to your cat’s own food and schedule. Cats are very sensitive to change, and a new cat will experience the stress of a new environment. Maintaining a consistent diet and schedule will help ease the transition and avoid any intestinal discomfort.
When you are ready to transition your cat to his own diet and schedule, you will need to determine what type of food to feed him (wet or dry, raw or mixed) and, using the calorie count of each food, determine how much of each type of food to feed him.
What to feed your cat: dry or wet?
Another important factor in answering the question “How much should I feed my cat?” is to consider what you are feeding your cat. The basis of a healthy diet for cats is meat-based proteins, such as meat, fish, or poultry. Dry foods should be high in animal protein and low in plant protein (which cats are not ready to digest). Carbohydrates should be no more than 10 percent of the cat food ingredient mix.
Wet foods should be primarily meat, with as few by-products and fillers as possible.
You’re always asking, “How much should I feed my cat?”. Some calculations
According to the Animal Medical Center in New York, a healthy, active adult cat weighing 3 pounds needs about 30 calories per pound per day. Therefore, an average cat weighing 3 pounds needs about 240 calories per day.
In general, dry food contains about 300 calories per cup, and canned food contains about 250 calories per 6-ounce can (or 125 per 3-ounce can). (or, 125 per 3 ounces can). Using these numbers as a guide, an 8-pound cat needs 4/5 cups of dry food or just under one 6-ounce can (or two 3-ounce cans) of wet food per day. You can adjust the proportions depending on whether your cat prefers more or less dry or wet food.
If you feed your cat dry food, measure the amount of food allotted for the day in your dry food dispenser each day. This will reduce the amount of expired food you have to throw away. It will also help you control the amount of food your cat consumes. If you need to take a skinny cat to the vet, the diagnosis will be easier if you can identify exactly how much your cat is eating each day.
Spreading out the food will help prevent your cat from overeating. Overeating is one of the major factors in cat obesity.
How often should I feed my cat?
Another factor to consider when determining “how often should I feed my cat” is how often you feed your cat. And how often you feed depends on what you feed your cat. Most cat owners feed them in the morning and evening, and may or may not supplement these meals with free choice dry food throughout the day.
Is your cat eating enough, or not enough?
Throughout your cat’s life, you will need to adjust his diet as his metabolism and dietary needs change. Feel your cat’s spine and ribs. If the ribs and spine are visible through the skin, your cat is too thin. If you can’t feel the ribs, your cat is probably overweight. Adjust your portions accordingly.
It is much easier to prevent your cat from becoming overweight than to force an overweight cat to go on a diet. And that will make you and your cat much happier.