Both under-feeding and over-feeding your cat proves to have disastrous effects on their health. If you feed them too much, they’ll go fat and could become more prone to diseases. The same goes when they’re too thin, which is why we’ll want them in an ideal weight.
So, how much should you feed your cat in general? Well, for starters, there is no universal answer because there are various factors that come into play. Just like how there’s no single breed of cat, there’s also no single way of feeding them, which is why we wrote this article for you as a guide.
How much should I feed my cat?
The typical amount of food you can give to a cat is between 1/2 and 1-1/2 cups if you feed them kibble. However, if you’re feeding them wet or canned food, you can give them somewhere between 1-1/2 and 3 cups.
However, as we mentioned above, all cats are different – the same goes for their diet. There are many factors to consider before deciding how much to feed your cat. Below are some of the common deciding factors to look for:
1. How old is your cat?
With the different stages of life for your cat, there are different recommended diet plans. Here’s a rough guide for each feline growth stage:
Birth to 4 weeks old
Kittens that are new to this world should only depend on their mother’s milk until they are about 4 weeks old. Weaning should start by this period but always do it slowly to avoid digestive upsets.
4 to 8 weeks old
When your kitten is still under the weaning stage, they should be free-fed (no cup measurement) but make sure they get convenient access to the food. Scheduling them for 3 meals a day will train their stomach and normalize their digestion and eating habits.
At 6 months of age, kittens are also okay to be offered with kibble, so long as it’s appropriate for their age and breed. Generally, we prefer feeding wet or canned food for kittens for the best nutrition but dry food is also okay.
8 weeks to 8 months old
During this stage, your kitten might need up to 2 cans of wet food a day or kibble as needed. As mentioned above, scheduling the meals to 3 portions in a day will help train them to stick to a routine. This is their growing stage so they need very nutritious food.
If you don’t know what to feed your kitten and need a quick fix from the grocery store, it’s best to stick to cat foods that are suitable for all life stages.
8 months to 7 years old
When your kitten turns into an adult cat, feeding becomes tricky because of weight issues. Adult cats are more prone to obesity, especially if they like to beg a lot.
We recommend having a weighing scale at home to frequently measure your cat’s weight. If you can’t get your cat still, hold them up, measure yourself, and take out your weight from the value. The result should be your cat’s total weight.
As mentioned above, your adult cat can be fed up to 3 cans of wet food or up to 1-1/2 cups of kibble per day. If you are feeding your cat raw or home-cooked food from the market, you may want to consult your vet with the right amount to make sure you are feeding your cat with the right nutrients (and amount of food based on their weight).
7 years old and above
Senior cats are recommended to have a daily two-meal schedule. Senior cats may need different nutritional requirements, which you can ask your vet. That’s especially because they won’t move around much, unlike when they were still youngsters.
2. How heavy is your cat?
The next determining factor is the weight of the cat. Fortunately, many feeding guides for specific cat breeds will give you a chart on how much to feed depending on their weight. Naturally, a heavier cat breed will require much more cups per day.
Another helpful fact that these charts will show you is the comparison of weight at birth. Not all cats weigh the same when they were born so that base weight is often used as a determining factor for how many cups of food are best for them for daily meals.
So, how do you determine the corresponding calorie requirement for the most common ideal weights of a cat? Here are some of them:
- For cats at 6 to 8 pounds, they need about 150 to 220 kcal a day.
- Cats that weigh 10 to 12 pounds may require 200 to 300 kcal daily.
- About 280 to 380 kcal a day is recommended for cats weighing 14 to 16 pounds.
- Last but not the least; you’ll need about 310 to 410 kcal for cats that weigh 16 to 18 pounds.
3. How active is your cat?
Active cats, such as those that often scurry around and catch mice, may require more calories in their diet than those that are often in the house. If your cat likes to go outside, they’ll need much more energy from their food so you might find them hungrier than your couch potato.
When feeding your cat, always consider their behavior and lifestyle. Cats, like people, need to burn their calories through physical activity because if they don’t, they’ll end up accumulating fat. Getting an obese cat will only get them closer to various diseases.
4. Is your cat pregnant?
Expecting cats, like their human counterparts, may require much more food than the usual adult. Fortunately, many formulas in the market are specifically tailored to pregnant queens.
Your cat mom requires more calories from their food, which may continue through their nursing stage. If your cat is prone to bloating, you can give them more frequent meals but with lesser amounts per serving.
5. Does your cat have any certain medical conditions?
If you have a diabetic cat, your vet could advise you to watch their weight. In this case, you may need to feed your cat only a certain amount of food per day to avoid causing them health problems.
Aside from that, if your cat is known to have certain food allergies, don’t feed them too much of anything new. Instead, gradually give them portions to test if they have adverse reactions to it.
6. What kind of food are you feeding your cat?
There are different kinds of food to feed your cat – all of them have different ingredients and consistencies so it’s hard to measure without knowing what kind of food you are feeding. Here are some common types of cat food:
Wet or canned food
If your cat depends mainly on canned or wet food, adults need to be fed between 1-1/2 and 3 cups depending on the brand. Most canned food in the market has juicy gravy mixtures and can have various ingredients, ranging from chicken to fish (e.g. tuna).
Dry food or kibble
You can also feed your cat with kibble if your climate is humid and wet food tends to spoil quickly. Kibble is also usually less expensive and easy to prepare. Dry food should be about 1/2 to 1-1/2 cups for an average adult cat.
When considering kibble for cats, consider a brand that uses no artificial fillers, flavorings, and the like. We prefer cat food that’s made with organic ingredients because they provide better nutrition to your pet. Although they are slightly pricier than store-bought brands, they will benefit your cat’s overall health in the long run.
Many pet owners also feed their cats with raw food from the market, such as organs, other than meat. Cats can be fed around 2 to 3% of their body weight when feeding them with raw food (daily food intake).
This percentage depends on how active your pet is and it may also depend on the vet’s advice should they have other health issues. If you’re new to handling raw food for your pet, be sure to listen to your vet’s advice.
Raw feeding is not quite simple at first. When you consider raw feeding, you should provide a balanced diet, which means different ingredients, such as various meats. Raw foods should not contain preservatives and should be properly handled to avoid spoilage or contamination.
You can also feed your cat with home-cooked meals, such as recipes involving chicken, tuna, salmon, beef, white rice, sweet potato, corn, lamb, pork, and others. The amount greatly varies depending on the ingredients and the advice of your vet.
Feeding your cat with home-cooked meals is similar to that of raw feeding such that there’s no definitive amount as it depends on the cat’s body weight. With cooked food, make sure that you don’t overcook it so it won’t reduce the nutrients for your cat, as feline stomachs were designed for a raw diet in the wild.