Are you wondering if you’re feeding your cat right?
With 25% of US households owning at least one cat, they’re one of the most popular pets. But they’re so much more than that to their owners. They’re another furry little member of your family.
You want what’s best for them and to make sure they’re getting the best care possible. So, it’s likely that more than once you’ve asked the question, “how much should you feed your cat?”
Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Read on for our guide to cat food portions and how much you should feed your cat.
Factors that Effect How Much You Should Feed
There is one step before you can start thinking about different feeds and cat food portions. You need to know that different factors will determine how much food your cat needs.
Kittens need a high amount of nutrients and energy. This is the age where they experience rapid growth and develop fastest. How much you’ll need to feed your kitten is a topic all on its own.
Once they reach around 1-years-old, they can switch to adult feed. They aren’t growing as much now and won’t need all that extra high-concentrated energy. The nutritional needs of a senior cat are much like that of younger adults if they’re still fit and healthy.
A larger breed like a Maine Coon or high-generation Savannah will need to eat more than a smaller cat. But remember, even within the same breed, sizes will vary. A smaller cat from that breed will need less food than a larger counterpart.
Metabolic Rate & Activity Level
If your cat is the athletic type who burns a lot of energy through exercise, they’ll need more food. Same as though outdoor cats who roam all day compared to those couch potato indoor cats.
It’s important to note that the resting metabolic rate of a cat may be lower or higher than typical. This is due to the unique physiological differences each cat possesses.
A spayed or neutered cat won’t need as many calories each day. Cats that are nursing or pregnant should have unlimited access to food for kittens. They will need a huge amount of nutrients and energy to help keep up with the demands on their bodies.
Health & Condition
Weight works as it does for us. For cats to lose weight they must consume fewer calories than they use. To gain weight, they must consume more calories at a surplus.
It’s also common for older cats to have issues with their kidneys and then need renal specific food. There are health issues that cause cats to gain or lose weight too. If you notice a sudden, dramatic weight change then speak with your vet.
How Much Should You Feed Your Cat? The Basics
As we’ve seen, there are a variety of factors that you need to consider. But you also have to consider what brand of food you’re feeding your cats.
A high-quality, dense dry cat food will contain more nutrients by weight than a lower quality one. So, if you’re feeding higher quality feed, you’ll likely need to feed a smaller amount. You’ll need more lower-quality feed to get the right level of nutrients into your cat. Cat food portion control is key.
A lot of cat owners will provide ad lib access to dry biscuits so their cats can always get some. They’ll then supplement with wet food 1-2 times a day. But it’s not only cat food quantity, but it’s also quality too.
If you want to go for a dry food diet completely, it’s not an automatic bad diet. But, you’d need to make sure you were feeding high-quality biscuits. You’ll also need to make sure your cat is drinking a lot more water, as they won’t get it from the wet food.
When Should You Feed Your Cat
Especially for new owners, it can be confusing knowing how often to feed a cat. If you’re bringing a new cat home, make sure you keep them on the same food they’ve been eating the same feeding times.
You shouldn’t change food or feeding times too fast, as it can upset their stomach. Once settled in, move them onto your food of choice and schedule. Be slow, and steady, and wean them off the food. And don’t change both things at the same time.
Cat’s don’t cope well with change and a new environment will be stressful enough. Give them something consistent will help them settle in. And it will also help keep any gastro-intestinal upsets at bay.
When picking a schedule, it’s better to feed your cat little and often through the day. Most cats will do better with their food needs split into 2-4 smaller feeds a day than one larger one.
It’s a good idea to look at the feeding recommendations on your chosen cat food. This applies to dry, wet, and raw food diets. This will give you a good starting idea of how much and how often to feed your cat.
What Time Should You Feed
As mentioned, it’s common for owners to leave out dry biscuits for all-day access so their cats can graze. But that only works if your cat is a grazer. If they’re greedy, it could lead to them overeating and being sick.
A lot of people will stick to a morning and evening feed for their cat. Think about your schedule and pay attention to when your cat gets hungry, you may need to find a compromise.
Some cats get along with this morning and night routine. Others need a mid-late afternoon feed too. Pay attention to your cat’s eating habits and when they tend to start asking you for their food. It’s best to tailor their feed schedule around their individual needs.
Wet or Dry Food — What to Feed Your Cat
As we’ve mentioned, another factor in how much to feed a cat is what you’re feeding them. The basis of a healthy feline diet is a fleshy protein like fish, poultry, and red meat.
Any dry food you feed should have high animal protein content and low plant protein. Carbs shouldn’t be more than 10% of the total ingredients.
If you’re going for wet foods, these need to have a predominant meat content. There should be very little filler or by-product in them.
Wet vs Dry Cat Food
The consensus among most vets is that wet food should make up most of a cat’s diet. This is due to the higher water content that can help prevent lower urinary tract and kidney issues. It can also help prevent obesity and the issues that come with it.
You must feed your cat the best cat food you can. High-quality wet foods will have more meats and meat-based proteins. Compared to dry food, they have fewer carbs, matching your cat’s nutritional needs more.
Aside from the cost though, a big benefit of dry food is its density and ability to sit out for a while. It’s better for cats that like to graze throughout the day. But if you go for dry food, make sure you go for a meat protein-rich one. It should be low grain or grain-free where possible.
Some Calculations for Cat Food Portions
New York’s Animal Medical Center say 30 calories per pound for an active, healthy 8-pound adult cat. So, the average 8-pound cat will need 240 calories a day.
The usual dry food options contain around 300 calories in each cup. For canned wet food, it’s about 250 calories for 6 oz cans and 125 calories for 3 oz cans. With this in mind, you can work out that an 8-pound cat would need 4/5 of a cup of dry biscuits. Or, they’d need a little under a full 6 oz (almost two 3 oz) cans. You can then adjust this based on if your cat prefers wet or dry food more.
If you feed your cat their dry food to graze on through the day, measure the day’s allotment. Then put that in your dry food feeder. It will reduce the amount you need to throw out if it goes stale.
It’s also better for monitoring your cat’s intake and making sure they aren’t gorging. Being allowed too much ad-lib dry food is one of the biggest reasons for feline obesity.
Remember, this is an average scenario. Your cat is an individual with their own needs. It’s best to talk to your vet if you’re unsure how much food to give them, or want a food recommendation.
Are You Feeding Your Cat too Much or too Little
As your cat grows and matures, you’re going to need to make changes to their diet. It isn’t a one size fits all thing, and it’s ever-evolving. You need to accommodate metabolic and dietary changes.
Feel along your cat’s spine and ribs. If the ribs and spine show up through the skin, then your cat is too thin. If you can’t feel any of their ribs, then there’s a chance your cat has too much weight.
You should talk to your vet and immediately adjust your cat food portions to accommodate this. Preventing obesity in cats is much easier than getting an overweight cat to diet. It’s going to save you and your cat a lot of heartache in the future.
How Much Should You Feed Your Cat Made Easy
So, there you have it! Now you’ve read our guide on how much should you feed your cat, you’re well on the way to a happy, healthy feline.
Each cat is an individual, there isn’t a one size fits all approach. But take into consideration factors like age, condition, and activity to help guide you.
Feed little and often, rather than one large meal, and try not to leave ad-lib biscuits. This makes it hard to track their food intake. If you’re unsure of how much to feed your cat at any point, always talk to your vet.
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