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Published: Feb 23, 2024 5 min read

Quick answer

To maintain cats at healthy weights, owners must determine the appropriate amount of food based on factors such as age, health condition, weight, activity level, and dietary preferences, which can vary significantly. Consulting a veterinarian or pet nutrition expert is essential for tailoring feeding schedules and portion sizes to meet individual cat needs and ensure overall well-being.

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Determining how much food your cat needs

The amount of food a cat needs will vary according to their nutritional needs, which will in turn depend on their profile. Although we recommend consulting with a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM), below are just a few of the factors you or your vet will need to consider in order to ascertain just how much food your cat requires and how many times a day they will need to be fed.

Life stage of your cat

Your cat’s age is the first thing you should take into consideration when figuring out how much to feed them. The amount of food growing kittens need is drastically different from that of adult cats and senior cats, for example. The same applies to how many times they are fed in a day. Feeding kittens that are months of age will probably require you to do so at shorter intervals than older cats.

Your cat’s current condition

Your cat’s health is another factor that will affect their food intake and schedules. Cats with certain medical issues, such as obesity and hypothyroidism, might require weight loss in order to improve their health conditions, which could entail changing their diets to lower the number of calories they consume.

Food intake vs feeding guidelines

Your cat may be consuming what you consider a normal amount of food, but it may not be following feeding guidelines established by experts. Many veterinary clinics and pet nutrition experts have websites that feature general feeding guides, portion size calculators, feeding charts based on weight or age and other helpful resources for cat parents. You can also consult the food label on your cat’s kibble or canned food.

Your cat’s weight and activity level

If your cat is currently over or underweight, both the feeding schedule and portion amounts will vary significantly from those of a cat with an average body weight. Obese cats currently make up the majority of the cat population in the U.S, which speaks to a pattern of overfeeding and low activity levels.

Quality and type of food

The type of food your cat prefers will also affect their feeding routine. Wet cat food offers them higher hydration levels and fewer calories, but can’t be left in a food bowl at the same rate as dry cat food, which makes it more ideal for timed feedings and for overweight cats. High-quality cat foods, whether wet or dry, will more likely cater to your cat’s nutritional needs in lower amounts.

Feeding methods

How you prefer to feed your cat at mealtime will also affect their food quantity and at which intervals they receive it. Free feeding your cat — for which dry food may be better suited — might mean you only set down your cat’s plate occasionally, while scheduled feedings will entail timed plate setdowns.

How Much Should You Feed Your Cat FAQs

How much food should a cat eat in a day?

That will depend on your cat’s age, eating habits, current versus ideal weight, overall health, and more. We recommend consulting a licensed veterinarian or an expert in pet nutrition.

How many times per day should I feed my cat?

The amount of times owners need to feed cats in a day is contingent on how much food they need to consume daily, your chosen feeding method and the type of food they eat. It will also depend on their owners’ schedules and how many times they are able to feed them per day.

Summary of Money’s Guide on How Much To Feed a Cat

  • The food quantities and intervals at which a cat needs to be fed to remain healthy will depend on many factors.
  • Cat owners should consult veterinarians or pet nutritionists before settling on a feeding routine.
  • Cat obesity is a prevalent issue among cats in the U.S., which underlines the need for owners to improve their cats’ diets.
  • Not all feeding routines look the same nor cater to the same needs and circumstances, which is why cat owners need to follow the schedule that best works for them and their cats.

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