To keep your cat healthy, it is important to feed her the right amount of food. Cats are small, so any excess weight can really make it difficult for them to run, jump, play, and climb. In addition, overweight and obesity in cats can lead to strain on their heart, diabetes, and other health issues. At the same time, you will want to be sure that you are feeding your kitty enough so she maintains a good weight and has the energy to do all of the things she loves. If you’re wondering how much you should feed your cat, read on to find out.
In This Article
How Old Is Your Cat?
In general, younger cats need more calories than older cats of the same size. This means that if you have, for example, a 6-pound kitten, that kitten will eat more than a 6-pound adult cat. And a 10-pound young adult cat will usually need to eat more than a 10-pound senior cat. This is because kittens need the extra calories for growing and older adult cats are generally less active than younger cats.
If you look at your package of cat food, there might be a table that tells you how much you should feed a kitten or adult cat of various weights. This is a good place to start, but you will want to take other factors into consideration.
How Active Is Your Cat?
A cat whose main job is to hold down your bed during the day is going to require fewer calories than a cat who lives outdoors and runs around much of the day. Kittens are usually more active than older adult cats, but this varies quite a bit depending on the individual cat.
Cats do need exercise, so if your feline friend isn’t moving much during the day, you can try to entice her with cat toys. If you get your sedentary cat running and jumping around a few times per day, you might notice that she’s hungrier and in need of more calories.
What Kind of Food Are You Feeding Your Cat?
While the exact number of calories that a cat needs will vary, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that an adult cat needs about 30 calories per pound of body weight per day and that kittens will need more than that. So if you have a 9-pound adult cat, you can assume that she needs approximately 270 calories per day to maintain her weight.
You can read the package of cat food that you prefer to figure out how much you need to feed your cat. Also, if you are using a combination of dry and wet foods, you’ll need to calculate the total for each type so you know how much to offer your cat. Most dry foods contain about 300 calories per cup, so most adult cats will need a bit less than a cup of food per day. Six to eight ounces of wet food would be the equivalent number of calories, depending on the brand.
Another option is to have a company like NomNomNow calculate how much fresh food you should feed your cat. They take into account your cat’s current weight, her target weight, and her age to determine how much food she should have at each meal. Then they package it up and deliver it right to your door.
Is Your Cat Pregnant or Nursing?
If your cat is pregnant or nursing kittens, her appetite will increase quite a bit. By the end of her pregnancy, you can expect her to eat 1.5 to 2 times the amount of food she was eating before becoming pregnant. Nursing mother cats will also eat a lot. In these cases, the best practice is to offer food frequently and to let her eat her fill each time. You can also leave dry food out for her all the time so she can eat when she is hungry.
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Eating the Right Amount
Your veterinarian is the best resource when it comes to deciding if your cat is eating the right amount. You can also feel your cat’s sides; you should be able to feel her ribs without pushing in too much, but they should not be right under her skin. Just looking at your cat won’t usually tell you whether she is eating enough or too much unless she’s extremely under- or overweight, because her fur will usually make her look plumper than she actually is.
Finally, if she is able to jump up onto counters and climb easily on her cat condo or other furniture, that is a good sign; if she isn’t able to, a check by your veterinarian might find that she is overweight and that her food intake needs to be cut down a bit or that she needs a diet cat food. Find the right option for your cat in our review of the best diet cat foods.