How Much Food Should A Cat Eat?

how much should cats eat?
Image Tom Thai, Flickr




The amount of food varies on the different life stages of your cat as well as his activity level and size. There are now a number of brands of cat food you can purchase that are designed to meet your cat’s nutritional requirement at different stages.

It is always best to follow the recommended feeding guidelines on the packaging as these may vary from brand to brand. Below are guidelines only, if you have any questions you should consult your veterinarian.

How many calories does an adult cat need per day?

The average adult cat requires between 20-30 calories per pound of body weight. So, a 9lb (4kg) cat should consume between 180 – 270 calories per day. Different brands and flavours of food will have slightly different calories. A 400 g  can of chicken, sardine, salmon and vegetables made by Whiskas is 320 calories.

Kitten Kittens can be introduced to food at 4 weeks of age but should be allowed to nurse from their mother until approximately 8-10 weeks old. A kitten is growing quickly and needs to have several small meals a day. He should be fed a high-quality wet food 4 times a day (if time permits). Obviously, a 4-week old kitten will eat less than a 10-week old kitten, let them be the guide. If the food is gone within 30 seconds of hitting the bowl then it’s safe to assume you need to increase the amount of food you are giving the kitten(s). If there is leftover food after 30 minutes, then decrease the amount.
Adult cat An adult cat should be fed twice a day, morning and night. As a rough guide, a cat should have around 200g (7oz) of wet food a day (2 meals x 100g (3.5oz).
Senior cat As a cat ages, he typically spends more time sleeping and less time chasing flies around the house. As he is burning less energy, he is likely to need to be fed slightly less than a younger adult cat.
Pregnant or nursing cat A pregnant cat has much greater nutritional needs than an adult or senior cat. It is recommended that pregnant queens be fed a kitten diet, which is higher in calories. The pregnant cat should remain on kitten food until the kittens are weaned.

Dry food:

I have always left dry food out for my cats to nibble on between meals. They are fed wet food morning and night, any wet food that hasn’t been eaten within 30 minutes is discarded.

The above is a guide only. I tend to use trial and error when it comes to feeding adult cats. As a general guide, you can determine the weight of your cat by running your fingers along the side of the ribs. You should be just able to feel them. If they are very obvious, your cat is underweight if you have difficulty feeding them, he is overweight.

Both the overweight and the underweight cat should be checked by a veterinarian to make sure there isn’t an underlying cause. There are a number of medical reasons for your cat’s weight to fluctuate. If the cause is dietary, you will be guided in a safe way to increase/decrease your cat’s food consumption. Generally, feeding an underweight cat more food is all that is required, but the overweight cat needs to be put on a diet under strict veterinary supervision to avoid hepatic lipidosis, which is a life-threatening disorder.

Water:

All cats (with exception to kittens under 4 weeks) should have access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

Once weaned, kittens don’t need milk, and most cats are intolerant to the sugars in milk which can cause a tummy upset. If you do want to give your cat milk, it is recommended you purchase the special “cat milk” from your supermarket or pet store.







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