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June 28, 2021

How Much Cat Food Per Day? Ultimate Cat Feeding Guide

Knowing how much to feed your cat is important. Studies show that about 60 percent of cats in the U.S. are obese or overweight. As a result, they’re highly likely to get certain types of cancer, heart problems, skin disease, musculoskeletal problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

On the other hand, when you underfeed your cat, it could lead to weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. If you understand how much cat food per day is required, you’ll be able to serve the right portions to your cat to prevent underfeeding or overfeeding.

How Much Cat Food Per Day is Right?

The Animal Medical Center in New York suggests that a healthy 8-pound adult cat needs approximately 30 calories per pound a day, which totals to roughly 240 calories a day.

It’s easy to calculate the amount of calories per day you’re feeding your cat because manufacturers today have to list the caloric content of their food on the label. For wet food the caloric content is written as kcal/can while that of dry food is written as kcal/kg.

The standard method veterinarians use to determine the caloric needs of a cat is as follows:

  • Divide the body weight of your cat in pounds by 2.2 to change to kg
  • Resting energy requirement = 70 (body weight) 0.75
  • Maintenance energy requirement = MER x appropriate multiplier

An appropriate multiplier refers to factors such as whether the cat needs to gain or lose weight and whether the cat is neutered. For instance, if you have an adult cat that’s neutered and you need to find her resting energy requirements, use the formula: 70 x (weight in kgs) x ¾.

Multiply the result by 1.2, as this is the appropriate multiplier for an adult neutered cat. However, you should only use this method to find an estimate of your cat’s daily caloric requirement. For a more accurate number, you need to put into account a number of factors including:

Age

The dietary needs of your cat change as it grows, either because it’s becoming more or less active.

Size

Generally, a larger cat needs more food than a smaller one to help maintain a healthy weight.

Activity Level

How much exercise does your cat get? Does it prefer a relaxed lifestyle or is it more playful than other cats? Cats who get a lot of exercise burn more calories than those who are less playful, hence they need more food.

Pregnancy

When a cat is pregnant, it needs to consume a lot of calories to meet the enormous nutritional demands of reproduction. As such, you should provide your pregnant cat access to sufficient food during and after the pregnancy until she finishes nursing.

The food should be provided in small, but frequent, meals as the cat won’t be able to consume too much due to the space being occupied by the infant kittens, according to PetMD.

Health Status

How much food your cat needs may also depend on their health, as certain health complications may affect the amount of food they consume. In the event of an illness, your vet will likely recommend specific nutritional provisions to help your cat recover quickly.

You may need to give your cat certain medications before or after eating, especially if the cat is diagnosed with diabetes.

In the case of diabetes, you need to ensure that the meals coordinate with the insulin dosing to avoid the risk of your cat becoming hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), according to associate professor of Nutrition Kathryn Michel from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

If you have any concerns about your cat’s health or feeding habits, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

How Much Wet or Dry Food Should I Feed My Cat?

Cat food can be classified into two categories depending on the level of water content. 90% of dry cat food is dry matter such as vitamins, fats and carbohydrates, with water only making up the other 10%.

Wet food, on the other hand, consists of about 75% water. Most of the food cats consume in the wild contains about this much water. If a cat survives on dry food, it needs to consume a lot of water to make up for the deficiency in the food.

This is an important consideration when determining how much cat food per day to feed your cat, so that you can be able to serve appropriate portions. Many veterinarians recommend feeding your cat a diet rich in wet food.

This is because cats are carnivorous by nature, and are therefore not designed to survive on carbohydrates, which is the main constituent of dry food. Subsequently, consuming too much dry food can lead to obesity.

Wet food is also a good way to introduce water into your cat’s diet to support the urinary tract, kidneys, and overall health.

To calculate how much dry food or wet food to feed your cat per day:

  • Use the RER (resting energy requirement) and MER (maintenance energy requirement) formulas to figure out the caloric needs of your cat first.
  • Divide the result (kcal/day) by the caloric content in the food (kcal/cup or can)

You can spread the calories throughout the day depending on how many meals you feed your cat. For instance, if your cat needs to consume 346 calories per day and the wet food contains 95 kcal per can, you should divide 346 by 95 to figure out how much wet food to feed your cat.

How Often Should I Feed My Cat?

The frequency with which you feed your cat can affect the total number of calories they consume in a day. Your cat needs a balanced diet with all the essential nutrients in appropriate proportions. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and oils, protein, and water.

If you’re purchasing manufactured pet food, the label should list the ingredients to ensure that your cat is getting all the right nutrients. Age will play a major role in determining the frequency of the meals.

In essence:

  • Kittens should be fed small, regular meals as they have high energy needs but their stomachs are too small to accommodate large amounts of food. Aim to feed the kitty up to 4 times a day and ensure that the food is specifically designed for kittens to allow for a healthy development.
  • Adult cats should generally be fed one or two meals a day

Whether you go for wet food, dry food, or a mixture of the two will depend on your cat’s personal preference. Some cats will regulate their food intake and miss out on certain nutrients, especially if you’re only feeding them dry food.

One idea is to start by offering small treats of wet food in a small plate or saucer. One full teaspoon should be enough. You could also introduce wet food into their diet by adding a topping of one heaped teaspoon of wet food to their dry food. Warm the food in the microwave for 3 to 5 seconds to enhance the aroma and entice a reluctant cat to indulge in the meal.

If your cat is accustomed to a wet food diet, you could introduce some dry food into their meals by offering it in the form of a treat. You could, for instance, put about ten kibble pieces in a treat toy or small dish for your cat to discover. You can also add a topping of the kibble in the cat’s serving of wet food.

How Much Cat Food Per Day For Weight Loss?

If your cat is trying to lose weight, you need to develop a strategic meal plan aimed at reducing their total daily caloric intake. When it comes to weight loss, wet or canned food is better than dry food for a number of reasons.

When in the wild, cats get most of their water intake from their kills and will rarely drink water independently. Cats that primarily consume dry food are prone to dehydration, which can put a strain on their kidneys.

Canned foods are designed to provide the same water content that’s found in the wild prey so that the cat produces more dilute urine, which is less likely to cause kidney and bladder issues overtime.

In addition, canned food is generally lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein, which, when combined with the high water content, is great for weight loss. Consuming more water keeps the cat full for longer, automatically leading to less caloric intake.

Dry food, on the other hand, is extremely rich in calories. The more calories your cat takes in, the more likely they are to gain weight. A great idea is to split the dry food into several small portions throughout the day. This way, the cat won’t starve but won’t be completely full either.

In most cases, reducing the intake of dry food to below 1/3-1/2 cups per day can make your cat feel too hungry even if they’re getting adequate calories. To make them feel fuller, add some bulk to the diet by incorporating canned green beans.

However, this is not recommendable if your cat has a history of FLUTD (urinary tract crystals), as the veggies may raise your cat’s urinary pH and trigger crystal formation.

A great way to maintain a cat’s weight is to combine both dry and canned food. Even when using a combo diet, always ensure that the cat has access to plenty of fresh water to promote their overall health.

How Much Cat Food Per Day For Pregnant/Nursing Cats?

When it comes to how much cat food per day for pregnant animals, a cat’s appetite will change gradually when she has kittens. By the end of her pregnancy, she’ll have increased her total daily food intake by 50%. In some cases they may start eating up to twice their regular amount. The good news is that you don’t have to stress about feeding your pregnant cat. As long as you provide access to sufficient food, they’ll only eat what they need and stop when they’re full.

Kittens generally need a lot of nutrition during the early years of development, so introduce kitten food from the 4th week of pregnancy.

If your cat prefers eating wet food, consider incorporating some dry food to boost their energy. On the other hand, if the cat prefers dry food, always keep fresh water available to avoid dehydration.

Try to introduce the new meal plan gradually to make it easy for your cat to adapt. Incorporate small changes to the new feeding formula over the course of 7 to 10 days until you’ve completely transitioned the cat. To maintain high energy levels, serve multiple small meals throughout the day.

Your cat might experience weight gain as she starts eating more. Some of this weight is the fat she’s preserving to help feed the kittens during nursing. You don’t have to worry about this type of weight gain as she’ll lose the extra calories during the three to four-week long nursing stage.

If you notice that the cat has lost her appetite in the late stages of the pregnancy, it could be a sign that labour is around the corner. Nevertheless, make sure that she has enough water and food in her bowl in case she wants to snack a little. If you have any concerns about extreme weight loss, consult your veterinarian right away.

When it comes to nursing, the kittens will rely solely on the mother as the main source of food until they’re about 8 weeks old. As a result, the mother cat may increase her food intake by up to four times the amount they were consuming before pregnancy to maintain her strength.

Stick to kitten formula until the cat has weaned her litter. The extra nutrients and higher calorie content will boost her energy levels, which will go a long way when dealing with a group of mischievous kittens.

The cat will stop producing milk after about six to eight weeks of giving birth. At this stage, you can start reducing her food intake gradually until she’s back to eating her normal portions once again.

How Much Cat Food For a 4-Week Old Kitten?

The weaning process begins when the kittens are about 4 weeks old. This is when you should start slowly shifting from formula or milk onto a solid food diet that’s rich in nutrients, fatty acids, and protein, which are important for the kittens’ early development.

If you’re bottle feeding the kittens, start gradually replacing the formula with wet kitten food after 4.5 weeks. Mix the two foods in the feeding bottle and then slowly start transitioning them onto a bowl.

How Much Cat Food For a 4 to 8 Week Old Kitten?

Between 4 and 8 weeks of age is when your kittens need a lot of nutrients to support their rapid growth, so when it comes to how much cat food per day, you should ideally provide approximately 3 times the food size of an adult cat.

The feeding schedule will also change at this stage. Newborns feed every 1-4 hours, but after 4 weeks they can have 6-8 hours in-between meals. However, you still need to feed them small, frequent meals to accommodate their little stomachs.

Kittens tend to burn calories quickly, and they need a lot of protein for muscle growth and calories for energy. They also need calcium and phosphorus for strong bones, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy brain, heart, and immune system.

Food Amounts For an 8 to 16 Week Old Kitten

This is when your kitten becomes curious and starts exploring its surroundings. From the 8th to 10th week, your kitten should be fully weaned and feeding on meat-based kitten food with sufficient protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to meet their high energy demands.

You should generally feed your kittens five meals a day after 8 weeks, but keep in mind that they may free-feed on dry food, as well. Although more food is good for their development, eating too much dry food can lead to becoming overweight or obesity.

Food Requirements For a 4 to 6 Month Old Kitten

After four months, your cat will start getting accustomed to its dietary routine. This is why it’s important to establish good habits when they’re young, so that they can stick with it as adults.

A good rule of thumb is to vary the diet to keep your kittens mentally stimulated. Also, be careful when introducing a dry diet at this point, because the crunch may be addictive and the kittens may not want to ingest wet food in the future.

For 4 to 6 month old kittens, the total caloric intake should still be about twice as much as that of an adult cat. In most cases, the food product will have feeding guidelines per pound of body weight. Generally, these kittens need about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight a day. To put this into perspective, a kitten weighing 8 pounds needs to eat about 240 calories a day.

You can spread these calories between 2 to 3 meals. You may also offer some treats in between the meals, but make sure that they don’t exceed 5 to 10% of the kitten’s total daily caloric intake.

How Much Cat Food for My Adult Cat?

When it comes to how much cat food per day for adults, keep in mind that your cat’s metabolism will start to slow down after about six months, though they still need plenty of calories to support their growth at this age.

After ten months, your cat is now an adult. It will become more active and inquisitive, so you should feed it a “maintenance” diet with vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat. Too much fat will cause it to accumulate around the joints, subsequently hindering mobility.

At 1 year old, you can start to transition your kitten to an adult’s diet. However, some of the larger breeds may continue growing until they’re up to 3 to 4 years old, during which they’ll still need to consume a growth-oriented diet.

One of the signs that the cat’s metabolism has started slowing down is a noticeable weight gain. It’s important to check your cat’s weight as obesity can lead to complications later on. You can do this by controlling their diet and making regular exercise a part of their routine.

An adult cat can eat both commercial cat foods and homemade cat food. Whichever type of food you choose, just ensure that you serve the right amount of calories per day, which basically entails offering two to three meals per day from 6 months of age.

Food Requirements For a Senior Cat

After seven years, your cat has now entered its senior stage. This life stage is characterized by a reduced metabolism and lower activity levels, so your cat will need smaller, tasty meals with high quality protein, fewer calories, and less fat. It may also experience dental problems by this time, which requires wet food that’s easy to digest.

Cats typically go through a number of physical changes by the time they are in their senior years, so they need special nutritional provisions when it comes down to how much cat food per day they’ll need.

For instance, they’re usually unable to metabolize protein properly, which in turn leads to loss of muscle mass. Therefore, they need to feed on more digestible protein to stay healthy and support lean muscle mass.

At this stage, your cat may also develop inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, so it’s important to add Omega-3 fatty acids into their diet.

Some senior cats also need less phosphorus and sodium to avoid stressing the kidneys, as well as some vitamins E and C for a stronger immunity. You should also include omega 3 and 6 in your cat’s diet to help maintain shiny fur and healthy skin.

Conclusion

To understand how much cat food per day your cat needs, you need to consider several factors such as your cat’s age, size, and health status, among other things. If you find that your cat is underfeeding or overfeeding, consult with your vet to establish a feeding regimen that’s specifically tailored for your cat’s needs.

Check out the articles on our website for more cat-related topics!

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