New pet owners spend a lot of time thinking, “What should I feed a cat? How much to feed a cat?” This situation is also the same for old pet owners; they end up over-feeding or under-feeding, not knowing what to do.
Both over-feeding and under-feeding can lead to different health problems in cats. Under-feeding can lead to cat nutrition deficiencies and weight loss.
On the other hand, over-feeding can cause obesity leading to an increased risk of diabetes, musculoskeletal problems, high blood pressure, heart and skin diseases, cancers, and fatal liver diseases.
It’s better to know the factors affecting the food quantity needed and how much to feed your cat daily. Now, the question is:
How Much to Feed Your Cat Daily
Dry or wet food has different amounts of calories. Usually, the calories in each can or packet are written on the food container. You can look it up on the back of the cat food.
Sometimes, the packaging labels contain different ranges for the amount of food. You can easily follow the range and feed your feline friend accordingly. If there is none, you can always contact your local veterinary clinic to get a clear idea about the amount.
A Tip: Keep in mind that there’s a difference between low and high-quality food. Low-quality food usually contains lesser calories, even with the same quantity as high-quality food.
No worries if you can’t figure out the food amount. Just find in which category your pet falls and feed them accordingly. We have also made a “how much to feed a cat chart” depending on the weight for your convenience.
A quick chart to help you balance your cat’s diet weight, and healthy life.
|Weight||Daily Calories for Non-Neutered/Non-Spayed Cats||Daily Calories for Neutered/Spayed Cats||Daily Calories for Overweight Cats|
|5 lbs (2.3 kg)||184 kcal||156 kcal||104 kcal|
|7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)||244 kcal||211 kcal||140 kcal|
|10 lbs (4.5 kg)||304 kcal||259 kcal||174 kcal|
|12.5 lbs (5.7 kg)||363 kcal||298 kcal||208 kcal|
|15 lbs (6.8 kg)||412 kcal||355 kcal||234 kcal|
|17.5 lbs (7.9 kg)||464 kcal||397 kcal||260 kcal|
|20 lbs (9.1 kg)||510 kcal||439 kcal||290 kcal|
How Much Dry Food to Feed a Cat?
Have you decided on feeding your cat dry food? That’s good. It will help you save both time and money. The benefit is that your cat can practice self-control by having the opportunity of “free feeding.” Always keep a bowl of water available for your cat because dry food will make them thirsty.
We have prepared a chart to show how much dry food to feed your cat.
Have you decided to go for wet food instead? Don’t worry; we have also included the amount of wet food in the chart.
|Weight||Average Calories||Cups of Dry Food (oz)||Cups of Wet Food (oz)|
|5 lbs (2.3 kg)||171 kcal||2.5||3.5|
|7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)||227 kcal||3.5||5|
|10 lbs (4.5 kg)||282 kcal||4.5||6.5|
|12.5 lbs (5.7 kg)||331 kcal||5.5||8|
|15 lbs (6.8 kg)||384 kcal||6.5||9.5|
|17.5 lbs (7.9 kg)||431 kcal||7||10.5|
|20 lbs (9.1 kg)||475 kcal||8||12|
Bonus Tip: If you can’t always remember the information in the chart, here’s a simple way to calculate how much food your cat should eat. You just need to remember your cat’s weight and calorie intake. Simply divide your cat’s daily calorie requirement by the food’s calorie content. Whatever the result is, the amount you need to feed your pet. For example, your canned cat food contains 56 kcal/can, and your cat is 5 lbs and needs 184 kcal/ day. So, 184 kcal/day ÷ 56 kcal/can = 3.2 cans daily.
How Much Raw Food to Feed a Cat?
Veterinarians don’t advise feeding raw food often due to many health concerns. But if you are a raw feeder, make sure to feed your cats 2% to 4% of their ideal body weight.
To make things easier for new raw food feeding cat parents, here’s a chart showing the feeding amount according to the percentage of body weight.
|Weight||Daily Amount for 2% Bodyweight||Daily Amount for 3% Bodyweight||Daily Amount for 4% Bodyweight|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||60 grams||90 grams||120 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||80 grams||120 grams||160 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||100 grams||150 grams||200 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||120 grams||180 grams||240 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||140 grams||210 grams||280 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||160 grams||240 grams||320 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||180 grams||270 grams||360 grams|
|6.6 lbs (3 kg)||200 grams||300 grams||400 grams|
You don’t need to feed them the whole amount in one sitting; you can divide it into two or three meals daily. This way, they won’t be hungry often and will get used to the schedule.
Things You Must Know
How Much Should a Cat Eat a Day
Before moving on to the amount of food, we should first let you know about food quantity factors.
Factors Affecting Food Quantity
- Age: Usually, kittens need more calorie intake than older cats for healthy growth. You should feed them frequently as their little tummy gets empty quickly.
- Weight: If your cat is overweight, it’s better to feed them less food to change their habit. On the other hand, underweight cats need to be fed more until they reach a healthy weight.
- Size: Different cat breeds grow differently and should be fed according to size. For example, larger cat breeds need more food than smaller breeds to gain enough energy for the day.
- Exercise Level: If your cat is an active feline, they need more food to keep up with their daily activity levels.
- Indoor vs Outdoor: If your furry feline friend is always at home, there’s no need to feed them more, but if you let your cat roam around the neighborhood, they need more food to keep up with their lifestyle.
- Health Issues: Usually, veterinarians will let you know the amount to feed your cat if they have some health issues. For example, cats with hypothyroidism need less food to adapt to their slower metabolism.
Is Your Cat Eating Enough or Too Little?
After going through the chart, the question comes to your mind: “Is my cat eating enough?” You start noticing your cat is not eating as much as you thought. They are eating too less.
Another way to know if your cat is eating enough is by looking at its ribs and backbone. How? Take a look at your cat’s ribs and spines; if it’s visible, they are likely eating less, and if you can’t feel their ribs and backbones, they may be a bit overweight.
Throughout your cat’s life, you need to keep changing their diet to accustom them to changes such as lifestyle, metabolism, and dietary changes. It will help them remain at a healthy weight.
Remember, it’s easier not to let your cat be obese than to get them on a strict diet.
What To Feed Your Feline Friend
You have figured out the amount of food to feed, but you seem stuck on what food your cats will eat. Well, that’s why we are here!
Your feline friend needs food high in protein, moderate in fat, and minimal in carbohydrates. Besides these, their nutrient needs include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.
There are various types of cat food: dry, wet, and raw. The food is commercially sold at many pet stores with the proper nutrients for each age group of cats.
Let’s have a lot at different properties of the types of cat food.
- Dry Food
Dry food is made with a mixture of ingredients and dried to bite-sized pieces. The food is crunchy and coated with different fat flavors to make it more appetizing.
Usually, the ingredients include:
1. Meat or meat by-products
2. Poultry or poultry by-products
3. Grain or grain by-products
4. Milk products
5. Fish meals
6. Sources of fiber
7. Vegetable sources
8. Vitamin & mineral supplements
The benefits of giving your pet dry food are that the food won’t go stale quickly, and you can try “free feeding” so that your cat can have food anytime they want. But, remember to look out for their weight. Sometimes cats can control and maintain a healthy weight, but free feeding is not the best choice for them.
Bonus Fact: Dry food contains only six to ten percent water, depending on the ingredient quality.
- Wet Food
Wet cat food is usually canned for easy access. It can be stored for a long time if not opened; otherwise, it needs to be refrigerated to maintain its freshness. Wet canned food contains 75% water content, so veterinarians recommend it. The water content helps prevent kidney, liver, and urinary tract diseases. As a bonus, it also controls obesity.
But the wet food ingredients must contain higher protein and meat and lower carbohydrate contents.
The ingredients usually include:
1. Meats such as kidney or liver
2. Fish such as Tuna, sardines, or Salmon
3. Poultry or poultry by-products
4. Grain or grain by-products
You should look for high-quality canned cat food brands that maintain the nutrition requirement and suits your cat’s calorie need.
- Raw Food
Raw food mainly feeds your cat uncooked meat, fish, bones, kidneys, and livers. It’s similar to maintaining a cat’s regular diet if they had been living in the wild. It’s also called Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. The abbreviation is pretty funny: “BARF,” which can refer to a cat’s barfing.
Many people think raw food is bad for cats, but it helps with:
- Better dental health
- Improved metabolism
- Better weight control
- Less shedding and healthier fur
- Increased movement
- Reduced poop odor
But before you decide to feed your feline friend raw food, research the disadvantages because there may be many.
Make a Cat Feeding Schedule
The best way to feed your cat is to match their schedule with yours. If you have hectic mornings in the house, it’s better to feed your cats at noon or evening. But, if you are busy during the evenings, try feeding them at night. It’s essential to have a schedule.
There are other ways to feed your cats, even on busy days. For example, you can buy an automatic dry food dispenser and set a timer; the food will automatically dispense in the bowl, and your pets will be able to eat.
“But I have decided to feed my cats wet food. What can I do now?” We are always here to solve your problems. There are refrigerated feeding bowls with a timer that you can use to dispense fresh wet food at your preferred time of the day. Your beloved felines won’t be disappointed and will no longer have to stay hungry.
These automatic food dispensers will also help to maintain a regular feeding schedule. Your cats will understand gradually that a particular time of the day is the time for food. They will just come running!
Of course, if you have multiple cats, feeding them can be difficult. Cats tend to show attitude when it’s feeding time. Maybe they don’t feel like eating at that time and will walk away snobbishly. The other cats may overeat as the food will be left unsupervised. You just need to find a way and plan better!
We can give you one piece of advice: supervise to ensure one cat doesn’t eat the other’s food.
Don’t forget to calculate the calorie intake of your cats along the way to ensure a healthy, balanced diet. Otherwise, you can be left with an obese pet.
Every pet parents ponder over the feeding diet of their pets. It’s normal! We understand it. You care and want the best for them.
We hope to have given you a general idea about feeding your new or old feline friend through this article.
Supervising your pet’s feeding habits and the amount of food consumed is important. These little furballs will surely beg for more food sometimes. But don’t let those cute, big eyes fool you. Occasional treats are not a problem, but if you fall weak for those eyes and give them excess food daily, it can lead to many health problems. So, think before you do something that will harm your precious pets.
Remember to visit the vet clinic for bi-yearly check-ups so you can monitor your pet’s health and weight.
I am Dana McQueen, a Veterinary Doctor who studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. For years, I have got common questions from friends and family about their pets. So, I decided to open up this website and answer all those frequently asked questions. Alongside, here I share my expert knowledge about pet care, pet health and the animal environment.