Just like in human beings, mealtime is crucial for all animals. Whether you own a cat for the first time or you have lived with one for a long time, knowing how much to feed it is one of the questions that many cat owners ask themselves. Even after having owned cats for years, you are still likely to wonder whether your cat is getting too much or too little. According to Catster, your cat’s health depends on avoiding unnecessary risks that could lead to making it overweight and creating a solid nutritional base. Below is a complete guide on how much you should feed your cat.
Factors to consider when determining the amount of food to feed your cat
Every cat has its own unique needs and therefore the amount you give to one cat can vary from the amount given to another one as much as 50 percent below or above average. It is therefore advisable to also consult with your veterinarian about the recommendable amount of meal to give your cat in particular. You need to consider several factors in order to determine the right amount of food to give your cat. Here are a number of them:
- Age: kittens need more food as compared to adult cats to support growth. You should therefore feed your kitten more times than your adult cat. A growing kitten that is between six weeks days and six months should be fed three times a day. From six months to maturity, a cat can survive on two meals per day.
- Level of activity: cats that get reduced exercise tend to burn reduced calories compared to those that do a lot of exercises. Apart from activities, the level of metabolic rate differs from one cat to another and this can also affect the amount of food to give your cat.
- Size: Cats differ in size, huge cats such as the Maine Coons should be fed with more food compared to cats of smaller sizes such as the Siamese. Cats also vary in the size of their body frame. Big-boned (larger-framed) cats require more food than petite (smaller-framed) cats.
- The area that the cat spends most of its time: outdoor cats are more physically active than indoor cats and therefore the former consume more energy than the latter.
- Body condition: overweight cats require fewer calories because they are less active.
- Reproductive status: the caloric requirement for nursing and pregnant cats is higher as a result of their nutritional demands then. They should therefore be fed with a higher amount of food than neutered and spayed cats which need reduced calorie intake due to slower metabolism because they lack hormones.
- Health status: there are diseases that alter the amount and kind of protein that a cat should take. Some diseases affect the metabolic of a cat leading them to burn more calories. A cat that suffers from health issues such as diabetes should be fed depending on the time insulin is administered. A cat that has hyperthyroidism may feel like eating all the time. If the issue your cat is facing can be treated you should have it treated and start feeding it normally. As a cat grows old, it may develop gum disease or the teeth may go bad. Such cats may be unable to eat dry foods and they should therefore be fed with canned food.
- The type of food: the type of food you are feeding your cat with also affects the amount. Dry cat food that is dense and of high quality contains more nutrients by weight compared to low-quality food. Therefore, it should be served in smaller quantities than low-quality food.
Other factors to consider
- The weight of your cat
- The amount of nutrients your cat needs
- Your lifestyle and budget
What should you feed your cat with?
As aforementioned, the amount of food you feed your cat with is also determined by the kind of food you are feeding your cat with. A healthy cat’s diet should normally have:
- Arginine: this is an amino acid present in meat. Although cats do not produce this enzyme, it is important because it helps in the removal of ammonia from their bodies.
- Protein: the protein should be gotten from animals such as fish, poultry, or meat. It enables a cat to meet its carnivore dietary needs. Kitten meals should contain higher protein than adult meals.
- Water: Ensure that your cat remains hydrated, especially if you are feeding it with a dry diet.
- Vitamin: Some of the vitamins that your cat’s diet should contain include vitamin D, Vitamin A, and niacin.
Cat’s food falls under different categories based on the following things:
- Life stage: these types of cat food are nutritionally balanced depending on the age and lifestyle of your cat. They include; kitten foods, geriatric or senior and adult food. Growing kittens for instance need more calories and proteins. Senior cat diet, contain reduced phosphorous levels to support aging kidneys.
- Nutritional adequacy: they can either be complementary or complete. Complete food provides your cat with all the necessary nutrients and they are meant to be the major part of any cat’s diet. On the other hand, complementary food does not contain complete nutrients. According to International Cat Care, complimentary food should form less than 10 percent of your cat’s diet.
- Lifestyle and sensitivities: These foods are classified according to the lifestyle and sensitivity of cats. They include; hairball prevention food, indoor, sensitive skin, and neutered among others. Foods for cats that spend time indoors and those that are neutered require fewer diet. Hairball prevention food may contain fibers like psyllium to prevent the formation of the hairball.
- Price: you can find cat food based on your budget, they include super-premium, premium, and economic.
Most cat owners leave their cats to freely access canned food, dry or both one time or two times daily. A meal that contains dry food only is not bad as far as its high quality. However, if you are feeding your cat on such, you should encourage it to take more water to compensate for what it would have gotten from canned food.
Wet versus Dry food
- Cat food can be categorized based on its water content.
- Wet food: This kind of food contain more than 60 percent water content
- Dry food: It contains less than 14 percent water content
- Semi-moist: it contains between 14 to 59 percent water content and it is normally categorized under treats.
Wet food is normally cooked under high temperatures to sterilize it. This leads to a longer shelf life compared to dry diets but this is only when sealed. Once they are opened they become more perishable than dry foods. Wet food comes in different textures including loaf, gravy, jelly, mousse, or chunks. Although dry foods can be baked, many are the times when they are extruded. Dry food is cheaper than wet food when sold on a calorie basis.
Benefits of wet food
- Weight management: the energy density in wet food is lower compared to dry food because it contains a lot of water, which does not provide calories. Typical wet food contains 0.8 to 1.5 kcal/g whereas dry diets contain 3 to 4 kcal/g. Therefore, wet food is bulkier and is ideal for weight prevention plans or weight loss.
- Constipation: Dehydration can lead to constipation. If your cat is suffering from constipation, serving it with canned food can help alleviate the issue.
- Urinary health: wet food is beneficial in promoting more urine, which helps prevent urinary tract issues.
Benefits of dry food
The major benefit of dry food is its ease, convenience, and cost. Millions of cat owners feed their cats with dry food either in combination or exclusively. Dry food gives room for free feeding and they can stay for long without going bad. Some cats opt to take their food little by little throughout the day rather than taking it at a certain mealtime. The other benefit of dry food is that it can be easily used with food dispenser toys for mental stimulation and as a means of environmental enrichment. Some types of dry foods are also beneficial in decelerating plaque accumulation or reducing tartar formation; the former is achieved by scraping the tooth mechanically. You should however note that not all dry foods contain enough kibble texture to work on plaque and if they do they are not effective on each tooth surface. The energy density level of dry foods is also higher as compared to wet foods. Although this is in one way a benefit, it can also be an issue, especially for cats that are not able to regulate their energy intake because they can become obese. These foods are however good for thin cats.
How much should I feed my cat?
You definitely don’t want to feed your cat with too little or too much and it is obvious you have been looking forward to the answer to this. Striking the right diet balance for your feline friend is important. Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to the amount of food that you can feed your cat. Note that, apart from considering the factors mentioned above, you should also have in mind that a similar volume of different diets may have varying nutritional and caloric contents. According to PetMD, for dry foods, you should feed a cat that weighs 2 to 3 kg with 30g to 40g which is equivalent to ¼ to 1/3 cup respectively per day. If your cat weighs 4 to 5kg, you should feed it with 45g to 65 g, which is equivalent to 3/8 to ½ a cup respectively. You should feed 65g to 95g, which is equivalent to ½ cup and ¾ cup respectively, to a cat that weighs 6 to 8 kg. You should lower this amount if you are feeding your cat with a wet diet.
Should I use the amount of food listed in the cat diet bag?
According to Preventive Vet, the instructions given on the bag with the cat’s food bag are rough guidelines. They aim at covering all life situations. These amounts can be significantly less or more compared to what your cat needs. You can however use it if you are starting out but make adjustments as you continue feeding your cat based on the information you have already read.
Measure the food appropriately
You can measure the food in grams and mark where it reaches in the cup of your choice. Alternatively, you can use a digital scale that never lies.
How often should I feed my cat?
Frequency also determines how much you feed your cat. How often you feed your cat is determined by the type of food you are feeding it. According to Vet Cornell, your schedule can also determine how often you feed your feline friend. If you have several things to attend to such as your kids, you should feed the cat early before you start your other chores as you wait to give it the second meal in the evening. You should come up with a schedule that will be convenient for you and your feline friend and stick to it. As aforementioned, kittens need roughly twice the amount of nutrients given to adults for both energy and growth. Their tummies cannot also handle a lot of food and just like small kids they should be fed more frequently. Kittens between zero to six weeks should remain with their mother. If this is not possible they may be bottle-fed. You can choose to introduce canned food to your kitty gradually at five weeks. At six weeks, you should feed the cat three times or more but consider its weight to know the right amount of food to give it. At 12 weeks you can stick to feeding your cat three times if you were feeding it more. At around 6 months, you can feed your cat only twice with the right proportions depending on its weight. Even after settling on a feeding routine and a menu that works for your cat, it is important to evaluate it often to see if it needs to be adjusted. It is also important to weigh your cat regularly and make adjustments on the amount of food you’re giving it accordingly. You should also visit your veterinarian regularly. He or she will help you to monitor changes in the weight of your cat and also help you solve dietary or feeding issues.