Whether you’re new to cat ownership or you’ve changed your cat’s food, you may be wondering how much to feed your cat.
Although the answer should be simple and straightforward, figuring out how much food your cat needs is a little complicated (kind of like your cat).
How Do I Decide How Much Food My Cat Needs?
Different cats have different nutritional needs based on their size, life stage and more. Here are some factors to consider when deciding how much food your cat should eat:
- Age & Life Stage: Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult or senior cats. Cats who are pregnant or nursing also have different needs.
- Weight: If your cat is not at her ideal weight, you may need to give her smaller or larger portions to help her achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Energy Level: Cats who are active and playful throughout the day may require more calories than those who prefer to spend their time napping.
- Type of Food: Dry and wet cat food differ in calories, as well as portion sizes. You’ll want to ensure you’re feeding an appropriate amount of food, whether you feed dry, wet or a combination of both.
- Indoor vs. Outdoor: Indoor cats may not get as much exercise as an outdoor cat would, so they need fewer calories. Outdoor (or indoor/outdoor) cats living in regions with cold winters may need more food in the winter.
The best way to determine how much food your cat needs is to talk with your veterinarian. They can determine how much food your cat requires based on the above factors.
They can also help you troubleshoot any problems that may arise, such as your cat eating less or more than usual.
Cat Feeding Recommendations on Packaging
Your cat’s food label can also give you a general idea of how much food she needs. The recommendations on cat food packaging may include ranges, so you’ll need to determine where your cat fits within those ranges. You can always make adjustments to meet your cat’s needs.
How Often Should I Feed My Cat?
Most feeding recommendations tell you the total amount of food your cat needs per day, but they don’t tell you how often you should feed her.
If you feed dry food, you can put it in her bowl and let her graze throughout the day. When feeding wet food, it’s important that she eats it within a half hour or so to avoid the food spoiling.
If you want to split her wet food into two meals, you’ll need to determine the total number of calories she needs each day and divide that number by how many times you intend to feed her.
For example, if your veterinarian recommends giving your cat 300 calories per day, you’ll want to feed her two meals with a total of 150 calories in each.
Assessing Your Cat’s Feeding
Once you determine how much food to feed your cat, use that as a guide for a couple weeks. Then assess how your cat is doing. Here are a few things to consider:
- Does your cat leave food in her bowl? Or is she waking you up in the middle of the night for more?
- Is she cleaning her bowl but gaining too much weight? (See how your veterinarian assesses your cat’s weight with our Body Condition System).
- Is she eating happily and maintaining her weight and activity levels?
Ensuring your cat gets the right amount of food will help her maintain her ideal body condition. Consider a healthy weight cat food to help her achieve and maintain this ideal body condition.
We also recommend working with your veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying medical issues.