As a cat owner, you may find yourself wondering how much and how often you should feed your cat. You might be new to looking after a cat, or concerned your cat is eating too much or too little. Of course, as your cat grows and gets older, their nutritional requirements change, so you will need to adjust their meals accordingly.
In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide on how much, how often and what exactly to feed your cat, and when to be concerned.
How Much Should You Feed Your Cat?
An average-sized adult cat usually weighs around 4kg and requires roughly between 200-240 calories per day. This is normally 2 meals per day, in morning and evening, and we recommend a mix of wet and dry food to meet your cat’s caloric requirements. You can check out PERFECT FIT™'s dry and wet food range for your cat to enjoy. How much a cat should eat will differ for each cat depending on specific factors, which we explain further below.
Factors Affecting How Much To Feed Your Cat
Each cat has different nutritional requirements depending on their age, their weight and their activity levels. Below, we look at 3 main factors which affect how much you should feed your cat.
As kittens grow rapidly in their first few months of life, their energy requirements are much higher. It’s essential to provide cat food specific to kittens, so it includes all the necessary nutrients in the right ratios for them to grow healthily. Broken down, this would be 3-4 meals a day with a recommended mix of wet and dry kitten food. PERFECT FIT™'s Junior Cat Food is a great way to begin your kitten’s feeding journey.
If you choose to neuter your kitten between 6-12 months, it may slow down their metabolism rate and therefore ability to burn calories. In this case, you can monitor their body weight with a vet and adjust their meals if necessary.
Cats are classed as adults between 1-8 years, and PERFECT FIT™'s Adult Cat Food range is an ideal option at this stage. Since they don’t require as much energy as kittens, wet food is beneficial with its low-calorie but high-moisture content, so that cats can feel full more quickly. Dry food should continue to be offered for its dental benefits.
Adult cats are also better at regulating their own food intake, so you can leave dry food out for them to graze on throughout the day. How many wet food pouches you should feed your cat varies. Adult cats should be fed at least twice a day, although your cat may ask for more - this is okay too, as long as you are not overfeeding.
From age 7 onwards, cats are considered to be seniors. As they get older, cats may start to lose their sharp abilities, including their sense of smell. In this case, wet foods may be preferred since their strong aroma can help to stimulate your cat’s appetite and encourage them to eat. Like kittens, senior cats require specific nutrition to support their muscles and organs in their old age. We advise you to provide cat food specific to senior cats, so that it’s easier for them to digest and reap the nutritional benefits - check out PERFECT FIT™'s Senior Cat Food range.
Weight & Size
As mentioned, the average adult cat is roughly 4kg. However, different breeds of cats vary in their body frame size. For example, Maine Coons are the largest domestic cat breed, whilst Singapuras are the smallest. Therefore a Maine Coon would need to eat more food than a Singapura cat.
You can feed your cat according to the guide on your choice of cat food, altering according to their weight and size. We suggest you keep up with annual health checks for your cat to ensure they are not underweight or overweight, but we provide some guidance on what to do if they are later in the article.
All cats are different in how active they are. Some cats prefer to laze around the house and take multiple naps a day, while others are bouncing off the furniture with random bursts of energy throughout the day. Outdoor cats are considered to be more active than indoor cats as they get more exercise and have a wider range to roam freely.
Needless to say, active cats will burn more energy than lazy cats. You can use a formula of +/- 10% of food intake, depending on your cat’s activity levels, to ensure you are not giving too much or too little food.
What Should You Feed Your Cat?
Cats are obligate carnivores by nature and we recommend feeding a diet that contains meat. They require high-protein foods that contain taurine to upkeep their energy levels, bodily processes and proper functioning of their heart, nervous system and reproductive system.
You should feed your cat age-appropriate food to meet their individual needs, and this can be provided through a mixture of wet and dry food. You can read up more on the benefits of wet food. Treats should be provided as part of play and affection with your cat, although it shouldn’t be more than 10% of their daily calories.
If your cat is keen to try human foods, you can sometimes offer them cooked chicken, beef, turkey and fish, including tinned fish. However, it’s not advised to give human food to your cat daily as it doesn’t contain all the necessary nutrients. Cats thrive on a complete and balanced diet, which is why PERFECT FIT™ have tailored their Cat Food range to meet the nutritional requirements according to each cat’s life stage and lifestyle.
How Much Wet and Dry Food Should I Feed My Cat?
How much wet and dry food you should feed your cat depends on their age, weight and activity levels. Ideally, a mixture of both wet and dry food is advised to ensure your cat receives sufficient hydration from wet food, but for them to also reap the dental benefits of dry food.
Usually cats will prefer one more than the other, but by offering your cat both you can ensure a healthy balance and enough variety to keep them interested in their food. You could offer ⅔ of dry food to ⅓ of wet food, or ⅔ of wet food to ⅓ of dry food, depending on your cat’s preference and nutritional requirements.
How Often Should You Feed Your Cat?
How often you should feed a cat depends on your individual cat’s needs. Most cats are content with 2 meals a day - morning and evenings. It’s important that meals are a maximum of 12 hours apart, but ideally should be around 8-10 hours apart. However, some cats will eat more depending on the specific factors above. For example, kittens will require 3-4 meals a day in the beginning as they are growing rapidly.
Cats thrive off routine - they are creatures of habit. Your cat will appreciate a daily feeding routine where they are fed at the same time each day. This will help your cat become accustomed to expecting food at that time, and will enable them to feel safe, secure and thankful for the predictability. If you ever need to change their food, then an established feeding routine will make this easier too. Learn more about changing your cat’s feeding routine in summer.
What If Your Cat Is Overweight?
There are some ways to identify if your cat is overweight at home. If you struggle to feel their ribs or backbone when holding them, and they have a rounded belly that hangs down with no definition to their waist, then they could be overweight. Ideally you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs without it protruding, but also without a rounded tummy. We’ve created a guide to help you keep your cat in shape.
Your cat could be overweight if they are eating more calories than they are burning off due to lack of exercise, which is particularly common with indoor cats. However, even outdoor cats can become at risk of being overweight if they visit other homes for food or treats, without your knowledge.
The health impacts if your cat is overweight can be dangerous. They are more susceptible to heart and liver disease, diabetes, cancer, urinary infections, respiratory issues, joint problems and may have a shorter life expectancy as a result.
To manage your cat’s weight, you can start controlling portions and feed them according to their ideal weight rather than actual weight. You could offer low-fat or low-calorie food to support your cat’s weight loss, whilst also encouraging them to exercise more by using interactive toys.
However, it’s important that you don’t cut down their food too quickly, as sudden weight loss can cause liver disease too. Gradually reduce the amount of food you offer, and consider splitting their portions across more servings. Of course, you should check with your vet if your cat is actually overweight before making any significant changes to their diet.
What If Your Cat Is Not Eating?
Generally, if your cat has a sudden loss of appetite, it is often an indicator of an underlying illness. However, there are other reasons your cat could be refusing food.
Since cats enjoy a predictable routine, a change in their food or their surroundings can be unsettling and cause a loss of appetite. Similarly, mouth discomfort or illness can make them uncomfortable too.
However, loss of appetite could be a sign of diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, pancreatitis or a parasite infection. If they have ingested something that is not edible or appropriate, it could become stuck in their gastro-intestinal tract and cause a blockage. Or if your cat otherwise seems well, they may not be eating because of psychological reasons, such as anxiety or depression.
We advise that you monitor your cat’s behaviour closely and look out for any other symptoms alongside refusal of food. Cats cannot go a long period of time without food and may become extremely sick, so if it has been more than 24 hours, then you should take them to the vet immediately. It’s essential to keep your cat hydrated until the issue is diagnosed and resolved.
You can try other things to stimulate your cat’s appetite at home, such as offering wet food - just make sure your cat’s nose is clean. You can also warm the food in the microwave to make it more appetising. Make sure your cat feels safe and comfortable at home, their bowls are kept clean and food isn’t left out to get stale as it may be off-putting for your cat. If the above doesn’t work, you can learn more about why your cat is not eating. Your vet may also prescribe appetite stimulants to help your cat eat.
We know it’s difficult to navigate your cat’s diet sometimes, but hope this article has provided some information to guide you. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy cat, and can support your cat’s natural defences.