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How Often Should I Feed My Cat?

How often should I feed my cat?

Feed cats at least 3 times per day depending on their preference, usual schedule, and nutritional needs. Some cats prefer small frequent meals.

Kittens are best fed at least 4 times per day. They need multiple feeding times in a day due to rapid growth.

Feeding a cat freely can be useful for cats if they prefer small meals and/or you have an inconsistent routine.

Calculate out how much dietary energy your cat needs and use this to prepare the right amount of daily nutrition for your cat.

My name is Derrick and I write for Simply Cat Care. This is a website dedicated to writing easy-to-read articles to help you with your pet. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet if you are unsure of anything

In this article, I will cover the following.

Let’s get into the article.


How much food should a cat eat a day?

The first thing you need to do is find out how much nutrition your cat needs to be eating in a day.

I have gone in-depth into this topic in this super helpful article over here.

With that said, I’ll cover the basics in this post to get you started.

Step 1: Weigh your cat

To work out how much your cat weighs, pick her up and stand on a scale.

Subtract the ‘human+cat’ weight from the ‘human’ weight and you now have your cat’s weight.

Step 2: Use a chart or calculator to work out your cat’s resting energy requirement (RER)

Once you are done finding out your cat’s weight, check the chart below to find out the RER.

Alternatively, you can use this calculator for adult cats.

Step 3: Adjust your cat’s calorie needs with factors

Like humans, not all cats are the same.

Some have more or less nutritional needs at the same weight. There are a variety of reasons for this which relate to growth (in kittens) and regulating the right body fat.

What you need to do is take your REE and then multiply it with the appropriate activity factor below.

If you are looking for more information on this, check out the article I linked earlier.

Step 4: Work out how much to feed your cat based on the calorie calculation

Once you have the number of calories you need for your pet, you can find out their dietary needs.

There are three types of food for cats.

  • Dry food
  • Wet food (canned)
  • Raw food

This post isn’t going to how much of each you want to give to your cat to eat. There’s a case for all three in different situations.

What you need to do is decide what route you are going down and then how much food from each category you’ll use.

For example, you might use a 50/50 split of dry and canned wet foods.

If your cat needs to be fed 300 calories/day, that would mean 150 calories from dry and wet respectively.

In that case, it would be a matter of checking the nutritional panel of the food. That will tell you how much you need for your cat.

What is the right amount of food for a kitten?

Kittens require a higher amount of calories per body weight than adult cats. This is due to their rapid growth requirements at this age.

A kitten aged 0-4 months needs their REE x 2.5 to determine their calorie needs for the day.

A kitten aged 4-12 months needs their REE x 2.0 to determine their calorie needs for the day.

Kittens need to feed up to four meals a day, although some sources suggest three times a day is sufficient [1, 2].

What is the right amount of food for an adult?

Calculate an adult cat’s nutrition using their REE and the factors mentioned above.

This will depend on an individual cat’s needs. Some cats need to reduce their intake for medical reasons such as obesity [3]. Neutered adults require approximately 10% fewer calories as they are less active than intact cats [4].

Other disease states (e.g. cancer) may impact diet and nutritional needs. Consult a vet for situations such as this to give your cat the best advice and care.

The goal of the diet is to maintain a healthy body weight, which is important for longevity.

How many cups of dry food should I feed my cat?

This will depend on your cat’s calorie needs and how much of their diet you want to give as dry food.

For example, if your cat needs 300 calories/day and you want to give them 50% dry/wet foods – you will need 150 calories of dry food.

You will need to examine the nutrition label which contains this information. Here is an example below:

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

This package contains 3,850 kcal/kg. If you want 150 calories worth of food, you’ll need to do quick math.

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 cat food for the menu with enough water.

Also, note that on the right side of the package is a ‘Recommend Feeding Portions’ column. This shows an approximate number of grams needed (if providing 100% of the diet) per day on your pet’s menu.

For example, if my cat was 4-5kg they would need between 86-105g of dry cat food to get enough nutrition for the day.


What is the best feeding schedule for your Cat?

If you want to create a schedule for mealtimes, this is how you do it.

The frequency of feedings will depend on the cat and its life stage.

Some cats may need more frequent feedings for their routine. Routine is a large part of a human’s and feline’s life.

If your morning plan is to have a bowl of cereal and you don’t have it one day – you’ll feel hunger.

The same is true for your cat. Adjust the meal frequency to your pet’s preference.

One feeding in the morning before leaving and once in the evening works well for most people and cats (i.e. twice daily).

Kittens require up to four meals per day due to their growth needs.

What type of bowl should you use to feed your cat?

You should feed your cat with a flat saucer if possible.

A cat’s whiskers are sensitive to friction. It can be uncomfortable to rub against a bowl to get at the cat food.

Check out my guide to the best cat food bowls for more.


Is free feeding bad for your cat?

Free feeding is when you leave a bowl of food for your cat to graze throughout the day.

Dry food has the advantage of allowing a cat to graze over the course of a day as it does not spoil quickly [5, 6].

For people with erratic schedules, this can be useful to ensure your cat is well fed whilst you’re gone.

There are some risks such as overeating [6]. Ensure the amount of dry food provided is still carefully portioned and seek a vet’s advice for individual needs.

Why is my cat so hungry all the time?

Do not deprive your cat of nutrition throughout the day.

Disturbing your pet’s usual meal times and eating habits leads to hunger and anxiety.

If your cat has hairballs, it can often vomit out parts of its partially digested food [7]. If this is a frequent issue, consult with a vet as it can affect feeding your cat.

Disease states and medical conditions (e.g. hyperthyroidism, diabetes, parasites) can lead to hunger [7]. Again, consult with a vet if you notice any abrupt changes in cats eating patterns and weight.


Conclusion: How often should I feed my cat?

That wraps up this article on how much to feed your cats.

Cat eating schedules vary from cat to cat, as well as age.

Most adult cats will be able to stay in good health with twice-a-day feeding. Kittens may need up to 4 meals a day for health for their age growth needs.

Calculating your pet’s energy needs by weighing your cat can give you a more precise number of calories to provide on the menu for the day. Use this number to divide food needs from canned, dry, and raw items.

The type of food given could depend on personal preference and situation. Dry food has the benefit of allowing your cat to graze cat food over the day.

The question of ‘How often should I feed my cat?’ is individualized to the situation. Ask a vet for guidance for specific health conditions that may impact a cat’s dietary needs.

After more articles on cats?

Check out our guides below.

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