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How Much Should I Feed My Cat? A COMPLETE Guide

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How much should I feed my cat?

The easiest way to know how much to feed your cat is to weigh your cat and then check the label on your cat food. Most commercial cat foods give recommendations for how much to feed a cat based on weight.

Aim to feed your cat enough food to maintain a healthy weight. It’s unhealthy for a cat to be too thin or carry too much weight.

How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions.

The advice in this article is not intended as medical advice.

How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

The easiest way to know how much to feed your cat is to weigh your cat and then check the label on your cat food. Most commercial cat foods give recommendations for how much to feed a cat based on weight.

Another easy way to find out how much to feed your cat is by using an online calculator. Using an online calculator will help you get a more accurate amount of food to feed your cat.

The main thing that affects your cat’s food needs is their weight. The higher your cat’s weight the more they burn on average.

However, your cat’s needs are also affected by other things such as:

  • Age
  • Activity
  • De-sexing
  • Type of food
  • Pregnancy

If using an online calculator, you’ll need to enter the following fields:

  • Pet Weight
  • Spayed, Neutered, or Intact (select your cat’s desexing status)
  • Body Condition Score

Let’s talk about each field and how to enter everything into the calculator.

A cat relaxing.

How Do I Weigh My Cat?

Find out your cat’s weight by using the following method:

  1. Stand on a scale and weigh yourself. This is your person weight.
  2. Hold your cat and stand on the scale. This is your person + cat weight.
  3. Substract the person weight from the person + cat weight to find out your cat’s weight.

Here is an example:

Example

Joe weighs 70kg

Joe holds his cat and stands on the scale – it reads 75kg

Joe’s cat weighs 5kg ( 75-70 = 5)

You need to weigh your cat to find out how much to feed them using the online calculator.

Writing down the weight of your cat to find out how much to feed them.

What Is Body Condition Score and How Do I Measure It?

Body condition score is a tool to help you find out whether your cat is carrying too much or too little fat. It will help you find out whether your cat needs to lose or gain weight.

If using an online calculator you’ll need your cat’s body condition score.

On the Pet Alliance website, you’ll be able to use the Body Condition Score chart. Check your cat’s fat level and then enter the number on a sliding scale using the online calculator. Complete all the fields to get the estimated daily calories to feed your cat.

If a cat has too much body fat, they have a higher risk of diabetes and other health issues. They also have a higher risk of illness if they are too skinny.

A picture showing the body condition score chart for cats.

how do i calculate how much to feed my cat?

The easiest way to calculate how many calories your cat needs to eat in a day, use an online calculator. This is the fastest way to get an idea of what your cat needs to stay at a healthy weight.

Before using a calculator, you’ll need to know your cats weight and body condition score. You also need to know whether your cat is desexed or not.

If you have all the information you need, enter everything into the online calculator. This will tell you how much to feed your cat.

Here is an example below:

Example – Mary has a 12.0lb male intact cat. His body condition score is a 6 using the BCS chart.

  • Pet Weight: 12.0lbs (make sure you select the right unit as pounds (lbs))
  • Spayed, Neutered, or Intact: Intact
  • Body Condition Score: 6

Once you enter all the data you’ll get an estimated initial daily calorie amount. This tells you how much to feed your cat.

In this example, I got 249 calories.

You do not need to enter anything into the current calorie intake and ideal pet weight fields.
You may use the current calorie intake if you have already fed your cat a specific amount of calories.

This shows what to enter using online calculator for cats.

How Much Do I Feed My Kitten?

Use this online calculator to work out how much to feed a kitten. Up until the age of 6 months, cats grow rapidly. Kittens need more calories per pound than adult cats for healthy development.

Here’s how to use the online calculator.

I’ll use the following example:

Example: I have a kitten called Frisky The Cat who is 2 months old. He is an intact male that weighs 2.0 lbs.

Here is how I would enter the data using the online calculator. Make sure to select the right species.

An image showing how to to use a kitten nutrition feeding calculator.
An image showing how to to use a kitten nutrition feeding calculator.

You can leave your kitten’s body condition score at the default 5/9 unless they are underweight. If your kitten is struggling to eat talk with a vet for help.

Based on the calculator, I need to feed my kitten 163 kcal/day and I need 0.7 cups of water for him.

Learn more: Best Wet Kitten Foods

How Much Do I Need To Feed A Senior Cat?

Use an online calculator to find out how much to feed a senior cat. Energy needs increase at the age of 13 years.  An older cat has a higher protein and fat requirement to make sure they stay strong and healthy.

After the age of 12, old cats have a reduced ability to digest fat and protein.

This can result in a loss of muscle (sarcopenia) and reduce mobility. If you notice your older cat is losing weight, make sure to adjust the body condition score. This will make sure your senior cat is getting enough food for strength.

Learn more: Best Wet Cat Foods For Senior Cats

A senior cat.

Why Do Cats Need To Be At An Ideal Weight?

Keeping your cat at an ideal weight is the best way to keep your cat healthy. Overweight cats have a higher risk of diabetes and mobility problems. Being overweight reduces your cat’s chance of living out a long and healthy life.

In 2017, 60% of cats in the US were analyzed as being overweight or obese.  Being too thin can also create health problems for your cat such as loss of muscle mass and increased risk of illness.

Use the Body and Muscle Condition score chart to assess your cat’s condition. The Muscle Condition score chart will help you find out if your cat is losing muscle.

Learn more: How To Dechonk Your Cat

Learn more: Best Wet Cat Foods for Weight Loss

A vet giving a cat a physical check up.

How Do I Calculate How Much To Feed My Cat?

Using an online calculator is the fastest way to find out how much to feed your cat. However, you can also use a manual calculation. This will give you a more precise number to work with.

Here’s how you manually calculate your cat’s food needs step-by-step:

1. Work Out Your Cat’s Resting Energy Requirement (RER)

The RER is the number of calories a body burns at rest.

Even when your cat is lazing around the house, they still burn calories to fuel body processes such as digestion and thinking.

RER strongly correlates with body weight.

Use the chart below to work out your cat’s RER based on weight.

2. Apply An Activity Factor

An activity factor is a multiplication that adjusts your cat’s energy needs.

A lot of things affect energy needs including age, activity, neutering status.

Use the chart below to apply the necessary activity factor.

Example

My cat weighs 4.5kg.  I check the RER chart and see the RER is 218 Calories

I use the factor ‘neutered adult cat’ and multiply this with RER (1.2 x 218 = energy requirement)

That equates to 262 Calories/day.

Remember:

Kittens need more calories per pound than adult cats due to rapid growth.

Also, underweight cats need more calories and vice versa to get to an ideal weight for health.

If you’re having trouble with using the online calculator or the manual calculation method, talk with a vet for help.

3. Putting It Together: How Much To Feed Your Cat

Use the estimated calorie needs from the online calculator or manual calculation to find out how much food to give your cat.

I’ll walk you through this process:

Use the Pet Nutrition Alliance calculator and click on the FOOD tab.

You have three options for working out how much food to feed your cat.

  • Calories Per Cup
  • Calories Per Can
  • Calories Per Kilogram

Here’s what you have to do:

Get your cat food out and look on the label for the nutrition panel on the bag or tin.

Find any of these three numbers and enter that into the calculator.

I picked up a tin of Ziwi Peak East Cape 85g/3oz canned cat food.

The calorie content is 1,500kcal ME/kg.

Here is how this looks in the calculator below.

The calculator suggests I feed my cat 149.25 grams of Ziwi Peak East Cape.

This is slightly less than 2 tins per day.

What I can do is open two tins and weigh out the contents I need into a bowl. The remaining portion can form the next day’s food provision.

Depending on what metric you use, you’ll get a different way of measuring your cat’s food but it will all add up to what they need in terms of calories (i.e. cups, tins, or grams).

However, you might want to use a few different foods over the day and not just one.

For that, you’ll need to do a manual calculation.

How much should i feed my cat wet food?

You can feed your cat all wet canned foods if you want. Cat’s are obligate carnivores and benefit from eating canned foods as they are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate.

If you want to feed your cat a mixture of wet and dry food, make sure to adjust the amount of each in line with your cats calorie needs.

I’ll use an example of applying a 50% dry and 50% wet cat food feeding schedule.

You need to divide your cat’s daily calorie needs accordingly:

In other words – if your cat needs are 300 kcal/day, that would mean 150 kcal/day from wet cat food and 150 kcal/day from dry cat food. 

To figure out how much food this works out as use the nutritional labels.  In the example below, I’ve looked at a nutritional panel for dry cat food.

Nutritional panel for a dry cat food.

What you are looking for is the ME, which is the energy content of the food.

There is 3,850 kcal/kg in this product. Kcal is short for Calories (technically, a kcal is 1000 calories, but writing Calorie with a big C is a short way of writing this).

We need to figure out how much food we need for 150 Calories. Let’s work through the example.

Example

How much dry food would we need for 150 Calories/kcal (50% of dietary intake)?

Since there’s 3,850 kcal in one kg of this food, that means there’s 3.85kcal per 1 gram of food.

We need 150 kcal so that means 150/3.85 = how many grams we need.

That equates to 38.9g of food – which you can round to 39g.

Weigh up 39g of dry food for your cat and give this with sufficient water.

Do the same process with your wet cat food and you have your daily allotment figured out.

Of course, you can use the ‘Recommended Feeding Portions’ section of the food label which is on most pet foods.  However, in this case, it assumes you’re feeding your cat ALL dry food during the day. 

That’s why you want to figure out how much dry and wet food you’re providing – or whether you are pre-preparing meals for your cat.

Is 6 oz of wet food enough for a cat?

For many cats, 6 ounces of wet food is enough food to food every day to keep your cat healthy. This amounts to two 3 ounce tins or pouches of food. Use an online calculator for a more precise amount of food.

A cat looking at food.

How many cups of food should i feed my cat?

The easiest way to find out how many cups of food to feed your cat is to use the recommended feeding portions on the package. You can also use an online calculator to get a more precise number.

Let’s use the following dry food label. For this example, I’ll have a 4kg cat:

Nutritional panel for a dry cat food.

The recommended feeding portions suggest 63-86g of food for a 3-4kg cat. Since our cat is 4kg, I’ll use the higher end of that suggestion and go with 86g.

Below the chart, the label says 1 metric cup = 126g.

To find out how much to feed our cat, we have to divide 86 by 126 (86/126 = 0.68). That means we need about 2/3 cups of food per day for our cat.

Is 1 cup of cat food too much?

It depends on the type of food, it’s calorie density, and how much your cat needs. In general one cup is a good amount for a cat around 6kg, but can be a little too much for lighter cats.

It is best to use an online calorie calculator or find out your cat’s weight before serving out their food. This will help you serve the perfect amount of food to keep your cat healthy.

How many oz of dry food should a cat eat?

A 5kg cat should eat around 3.5 ounces of dry food per day. This depends on many factors including your cats weight, gender, age, and type of food.

Some dry foods contain more calories per gram than others. In other words, they are more calorically dense.

To know how much of the particular food you need, you can use two methods. Either use the recommended feeding portions on the package or use an online calorie calculator.

A cat eating dry kibble.

How do you know if you’re feeding your cat enough?

Your cat should maintain a healthy weight that is neither to thin or fat. Check the body condition score chart to see whether your cat is getting the right amount of food.

If you notice your cat is a little thin or carrying too much weight, it’s best to check how much to feed them using an online calculator.

For more simplicity you can use the recommended feeding guide on the foods package or tin. Make sure you’re accounting for calorie intake from treats and/or snacks.

How many times a day should i feed my cat?

Most vets recommend feeding your cat between at least two times a day. In the wild, cats eat 7-20 times a day eating small prey such as mice, birds, and insects. This cats may prefer small and frequent meals as opposed to big infrequent meals.

One thing to avoid is ‘free feeding’ your cat. This means giving your cat access to food 24/7 without a break (e.g. a bowl of dry food always topped up). Free feeding can increase the risk of obesity.

Learn more: How Often Should I Feed my Cat?

How many times should i feed my cat wet food?

Feed an adult cat at least twice per day. You can feed your cat all wet food if you want, or a combination of wet and dry.

I recommend feeding a cat mostly wet foods as these foods are higher in moisture. Cat’s tend to struggle drinking enough water if only fed dry food diets.

Dry food is also higher in carbohydrate, and may cause health issues in the long term including diabetes.

Learn More: 9 Tips to Feed Your Cat for Awesome Health

Is it ok to feed my cat 3 times a day?

Yes, as long as you are feeding your cat an appropriate amount of calories for their needs. Use the recommended feeding guide on the cat food label or an online calculator. This will help you find out how much to serve in each meal time.

Always make sure you adjust your portions if you choose to switch up your cats eating frequency.

A cat eating out of a bowl.

Should I Feed My Cat Wet Or Dry Food?

You can feed your cat either or both. In terms of calories, it doesn’t matter if your cat eats dry and/or wet canned cat foods. Make sure your cat gets the right amount of calories for the day based on its estimated calorie needs.

Dry cat food is more calorically dense compared to wet food which contains a lot more moisture. In other words, giving your cat the same volume of dry cat food will result in more calories.

One cup of dry cat food has a lot more calories than one cup of wet cat food. Make sure not to get the two mixed up when divvying up your cat’s daily food.

A cat.

Which Type of Cat Food is Best For Health?

Wet cat food is the best choice for cats. This type of food gives cats enough moisture for hydration and is also easy to digest.

Dry cat food does not provide enough water for kidney health and cats tend to drink little water to compensate.

Most dry cat food is high in carbohydrate, which may increase diabetes risk long term. Choose a lower carbohydrate dry food for better health.

Learn more: Best Dry Cat Food Brands

A cat eating food.

Conclusion

In this post, I answered the question; ‘How much you should I feed my cat?’.

An online calculator is a fast and easy way of finding out how much to feed your cat. You need to adjust how much to feed your cat based on age, activity, neutering status, and weight.

Commercial dry and wet canned cat food will give you calorie information on the label. You can use this to find out how much of your cat food to feed your cat. Continue to monitor your cat’s weight and adjust their diet if needed.

Talk to your veterinarian for more assistance with determining the amount of food needed for your cat.

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