"How much should I feed my cat?" is a common Google search for cat owners. We'll answer all your burning questions about feeding your cats
Feeding your feline companion isn’t complicated, but it is based on many variables, including the age of your cat, whether you’re feeding wet or dry food and your cat’s activity level.
When to feed your cat
When you bring a new cat home, it’s important to continue to feed them the same amount of the same food on the same schedule that they've been accustomed to, then gradually migrate to your own food and schedule. Cats are very sensitive to change, and a new cat will be dealing with a lot of new-environment stress, so keeping the food and schedule consistent will ease their transition and keep intestinal upset at bay.
When you’re ready to transition your cat over to your own food and schedule, you’ll need to determine what kind of food you’ll be feeding them (wet or dry, raw food or a combo), and using the calorie counts in each food, determine how much of which kind to feed them. You cannot just answer to their begs for food!
What to feed your cat — wet food or dry food?
Another important factor in answering “How much should I feed my cat?” is considering what you’re feeing your cat. The foundation of a healthy cat diet is flesh-based protein like meat, fish or poultry. Dry food should be high in animal proteins, and low in plant proteins (which cats are ill-equipped to digest). Carbohydrates should equate to no more than 10% of the mix of cat food ingredients.
Wet foods should consist predominantly of meat with as few by-products and fillers as possible.
How often do I feed my cat?
Another factor in determining “How much should I feed my cat” depends on how often you feed your cat. And how often to feed a cat depends on what you’re feeding them. Most cat owners feed their cats in the morning and at night, and may or may not supplement those feedings with free feeding of dry food throughout the day.
Common mistakes when feeding cats
- Feeding your cat too much
This is probably the most common mistake people make when feeding cats is over-feeding as obesity is the most common nutritional disease seen in cats.
Cat's are a lot more sedentary than they used to be, so it is easy to overfeed your pet.
So how much food does your cat need? That’s a question best answered by a professional, though recommendations range between 24-35 calories a day per pound, to keep cats at a normal, healthy weight.
- Feeding your cat only dry food
Cat's get a portion of their water content from food. By feeding them food that lacks water, you're setting them up for urinary tract problems. This is because their diet would be low in liquids.
- Not giving enough water to your cat
Clearly water is vital, for cats as well as people. Essential to life, water accounts for 60% to 70% of an adult cat’s body weight, say ASPCA experts. A serious water deficiency can have critical repercussions for pets, causing serious illness or death.
Bear in mind, water originating from wet food will not replenish your cat's liquids significantly.
- Not feeding your cat meat
According to some vets, another up-and-coming mistake made when feeding cats is trying to make cats vegetarians or vegans.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat mainly meat and animal organs to thrive. The amino acid taurine, for example, is found only in animal tissue. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experience heart problems, blindness, and even death.
Cat feeding guide by weight
This is what your dry cat food label will tell you:
This gives you a ballpark idea of what your cat should be getting. But be aware that the ranges are pretty large to accommodate the needs of different individuals within a certain weight range. Also, take note that the amount listed is "per day," not "per meal." how much should I feed my cat
You should also not take any chances. Look at your cat closely to see how they behave when you feed them different amounts of food. Consult someone experienced in the field and feed your cat the amount that matches the normal behaviour of a healthy cat. how much should I feed my cat
Cat feeding guide by age
- Kitten Food
For the first four to five weeks, kittens get everything they need to survive from their mother. Kittens are normally weaned by seven weeks old, but even from week four they can start eating a specially prepared kitten food.
From about four months old, one pouch is perfect for a single delicious meal. Kittens should be fed three to four meals each day until they are six months old. After that, two to four meals a day are recommended. how much should I feed my cat
- Adult food
At one-year-old, a kitten is considered an adult cat and can gradually transition over to a complete and balanced adult cat diet.
A healthy and active adult cat requires around 240 calories per day, which can be obtained from a mixture of both dry and wet foods.
It’s advised that you feed your kitty wet food in the morning and at night, with their allocated portion of dry food left out for grazing on during the day.
- Senior Food
Cats’ natural behaviour will continue throughout their life, and he or she will stay active and curious. But we know that cats can be fussy eaters at the best of times, and as they get older they may become even fussier! how much should I feed my cat
As your kitty grows older, his or her nutritional needs will change. So while you should continue feeding them the same amount of food, after the age of seven it’s important to adjust their diet to one that suits their age.
In addition, try to always serve your cat’s food at room temperature as most cats do not like cold or refrigerated food. It’s also important to ensure that your kitty always has a fresh bowl of water available.
There are many factors to consider when considering how much to feed your cat:
- Their age
- Their weight
- Their energy level
- Whether she is pregnant or nursing
- Whether you feed wet food, dry food or both
- The nutrient content of your cat's food
- Whether they're an indoor cat, outdoor cat or both
Throughout your cat’s life you will need to modify his or her diet to accommodate a changing metabolism and dietary needs.
A healthy diet for your kitty will make both you and your feline friend a lot happier.
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