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How Much Food Should I Give to my Cat: a Complete Guide for Cat Owners

Professional veterinary specialist with 10 years of experience. - Alisa Moor

publication time: 00:17

Feeding is, probably, the most important part of pet care. Even experienced cat parents sometimes can’t say for sure how much cat food their kitty needs. Meanwhile, both underfeeding and overfeeding can cause numerous health problems and reduce the lifespan of a cat. Specialists believe that overfeeding is even more dangerous, as it leads to obesity, diabetes, heart and kidney diseases. If you are concerned about your cat’s diet, find useful tips on cat feeding in our complete guide.

Table of Contents:

When and How Should I Introduce a New Diet to My Cat?
What Type of Food Should I Choose?
How to Calculate the Daily Amount of Food for My Cat?
How Often Should I Feed My Pet?
How Can I Know Whether My Cat Gets Enough Food or Not?

How Much Food Does a Cat Need?

The amount of food that a cat must consume is calculated individually, depending on several variables. To answer the question “how much food should I feed my cat?” you need to consider:

  • the cat’s age;
  • physical activity level;
  • state of health;
  • type and brand of food;
  • special physical conditions (pregnancy, nursing, etc.)

Commercial dry food must be of high quality

The best approach here is to follow the recommendations of the food manufacturer. Keep in mind that the nutritional value of different brands of dry food varies. Thus, premium brands commonly offer high-density high-calorie food with a high share of natural meat. Cheap commercial food consists of meat by-products, grains, egg powder, etc. Its nutritional value is lower. So, there is a direct dependence between the cost of the food and the portion size.

Giving a cat unlimited access to dry food is a big mistake. Specialists recommend to feed a cat in small portions. Cats can’t control themselves when it comes to eating. Regular overeating causes large problems. That said, cats, especially those on dry food, must have unlimited access to fresh drinking water. Insufficient watering causes kidney disease and digestive problems; impacts the state of skin and fur.

When and How Should I Introduce a New Diet to My Cat?

The first thing you need to be aware of is that cats are very sensitive to any changes in their diet. When you adopt a kitten or a cat, try to find out what food the pet is used to. If you are planning to switch the pet to another brand or type of food, try to do it gradually. It will reduce its stress and make the cat get accustomed to a new home easier.

Start with adding several kibbles of the new food to the bowl. Mix it with the old food to attract the cat. Gradually, increase the share of the new food and reduce the share of the old food. Your goal is to switch to the new food within several days.

What Type of Food Should I Choose?

A cat eating wet food

Choosing the type of food is another point of concern. Can I feed my cat with dry food only? How much wet food should I feed my cat? The answers to these questions depend on the cat’s physical state. Normally, healthy adult cats can be fed with high-grade dry food all the time.

Regardless of what type of food you opt for, it must be of high quality. The number one ingredient of good dry food is natural dehydrated meat, poultry or fish. Carbs and vegetable proteins can be represented by beans and vegetables, but their share must not exceed 10%. When it comes to moisture food, its number one ingredient must be meat, poultry or fish as well. Also, it can contain some meat by-products, vegetables, and fillers. In cheaper foods, meat is usually replaced by meat by-products, which is why a cat needs much more food to cover its needs in essential nutrients.

How to Calculate the Daily Amount of Food for My Cat?

If you don’t know how much food per day your kitty needs, you may calculate the optimal daily dose, knowing the cat’s body weight. It is believed that a healthy cat needs about 30 calories per pound every day. That is, if your cat’s body weight is 7-8 pounds, it must get 210-240 calories daily. The calorie count of the food varies depending on its type and rand. Approximately, one full cup of dry food or one 6-oz can of wet food contains about 250 calories. This is slightly more than one daily dose of an 8-pound cat. So if you are asking yourself “how much dry food should I feed my cat”, the answer is about 5/6 of a cup per day.

Keep in mind that overeating is dangerous to cats. Veterinarians recommend avoiding free-choice feeding. Calculate how much food your kitty really needs and portion out the meals.

How Often Should I Feed My Pet?

The frequency of feeding can vary depending on the cat’s age and health state. Normally, adult cats are fed twice a day. That said, with modern automatic feeders, you may pre-program up to 5-6 meals per day, including treats and supplements.

How Can I Know Whether My Cat Gets Enough Food or Not?

Cat nutrient requirements can change throughout its life. Thus, metabolism tends to slow down a little, over time. That is why you need to monitor your cat’s physical state and correct its diet if needed.

The easiest way to assess the cat’s state is to weigh it and match the results with the growth/weight chart for the breed. Additionally, you may try to feel your kitty’s ribs and backbone. If you can’t do this, chances are your pet is overweight. If the ribs are easily felt or seen by a naked eye, a cat is definitely too thin. Maybe, it is starving.

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