how-much-to-feed-cat

“How much should I feed my cat?” is a question I’m frequently asked, and the answer isn’t as simple as it would seem. Even though every can and bag of cat food provides feeding instructions, they’re pretty much useless.

Think about this for a moment: could you definitively answer the question “how much should a person eat?” Of course not. If you’re a fairly sedentary office worker, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t!) eat the same amount of food as a professional athlete. Your 80-year-old grandmother won’t eat the same amount as your 10-year-old daughter. The same is true for cats: the amount a cat should eat varies with age, health, activity level, metabolic rate, gender and genetic make up, to name just a few factors.

The most common mistake: feeding too much

The most common mistake cat parents make is feeding too much – and frequently, that’s because they follow the manufacturer’s feeding instructions on the label. Feline obesity is an epidemic, with more than 50% of America’s cats being considered overweight or obese, and it comes with all the same health problems in cats as it does in humans: diabetes, arthritis and other joint problems, heart and respiratory problems, a compromised immune system, and gastro-intestinal problems.

How much food does a cat need?

Calorie content can vary widely from one brand of cat food to another. Not all brands will disclose calorie counts on the label, and you may need to visit the brand’s website to find the information. General recommendations range from 24 to 35 calories per pound of body weight per day to keep an average adult cat at a healthy, normal weight. The body condition chart below can help you determine whether your young to middle-aged adult cat is at a normal weight.

feline-body-condition-chart
Click on image to enlarge

In older cats, muscle condition is a better indicator. You will be able to feel bones in senior cats who are overweight if they’re starting to lose muscle mass.

feline-muscle-condition-score
Click on image to enlarge

If your cat is overweight or underweight, calculate the amount to feed based on her target weight.

Since nutritional needs can vary considerably depending on the factors mentioned above, it’s a good idea to weigh your cat regularly and adjust the amount you feed accordingly.

How often should cats eat?

Leaving food out for your cat all the time is the single biggest factor in causing obesity in cats. Free choice feeding goes against the cat’s natural habit of being a hunter who may only eat two or three small meals a day. For most people, feeding two meals a day is the most practical solution, but if you work from home, you may want to consider dividing the total amount of food for the day into three or four meals.

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Special considerations for kittens

Kittens need more food per pound of body weight than adult cats, and they will need more frequent meals. Use label recommendations as a starting point, and feed your kitten as much canned or raw food as she will eat until she is about four to six months old, in three or four meals a day. Since a kitten’s nutritional requirements vary even more than an adult cat’s, remember to monitor your kitten’s weight and body condition and adjust accordingly. Once your kitten reaches six months of age, you can start feeding her as an adult cat.

Always provide plenty of fresh water

You hopefully already know that dry food is not a good choice for cats. Not only does dry food not provide enough moisture for cats to stay properly hydrated and prevent urinary tract problems, it is too high in carbohydrates for an obligate carnivore like the cat. Cats do not have a high enough thirst drive to compensate for the lack of moisture in a dry diet by drinking more water. However, even cats who eat raw or canned food should always have plenty of fresh water available.

What should your cat eat?

The optimal diet for a cat is a properly formulated raw, home-cooked or grain-free canned diet. Please read The Best Food for Your Cat for more information.

This article was first published in 2015 and has been updated.

Image Pixabay stock photo

159 Comments on How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

  1. Oh this boy is about 11.6, I feed him twice a day he gets 4 ounces of wet and 4 ounces of dry. but he is still hungry, he will bite to make you get up and give him more he also goes after my dog who is smaller 5lbs then him. The first thing you hear when I come in the house in the evening is Groot leave the dog alone. You can’t see his ribs he might be closer to 12lbs now any suggestions. to keeo him from biting us for more food? by the way he is a tabby/siamese

    • Eliminate the dry food and feed the appropriate amount of a premium canned or raw food. He will feel fuller longer on a high protein diet.

  2. Ugh, where do I begin? I got princess from a rescue center last year. Her 4th birthday is coming up. Right out of the box, I was told to feed her Canidae dry tuna with a small portion of the wet food they were feeding her. When the wet food was gone, I was told to stay with dry Canidae. She ate the tuna for awhile, but soon turned her nose up. I switched to chicken and she seemed to like that. I keep her water up with fresh filtered water (I am not giving chlorinated city water to my cat bleh). Anyway, a few days ago she decided she had enough of the chicken. I tried wet food and she wouldn’t eat any of it. She would smell it, lick it, then look up at me and meow…then walk away. I wish I knew exactly what they were trying to communicate. A few days ago I broke down and bought (get ready to cringe) Friskies dry cat food. She loved it. I was happy (or so I thought) that I found a food she liked. SIGH…Within 2 days, I noticed something odd. Yes odd sounds just about right. She is addicted. I have seen this in drug addicts as well as myself. I started doing some reading and found out something that pissed me off.
    As part of the production process, the baked or extruded kibble is sprayed with animal digest (and yes, it’s pretty much as disgusting as it sounds: digest is material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and non decomposed animal tissue.) Cats love the taste of these digests; for some cats, it’s like kitty crack and actually causes them to be addicted.

    My cat wanders around the house meowing constantly. She will devour her food, turn around and want more. She has been getting worse. Her attitude tonight made me really worried. She gave me the low pissy meow growl sound. At this point she sits in the corner and stares at me. Every so often she will get up and do her cute purr meow and walk towards her dish. I have an addict I need to clean up now…I have unknowingly fed my cat kitty crack, and I am stuck with a very very very annoying animal…I came across your article, and tomorrow I am beginning the stages of getting her back off of Friskies. It basically took 4 days for her to flip on me. Now it will most likely take me weeks to get her off of Friskies…all to save a buck…

  3. Hi there! My wife and I have a 5 year old, tripod Siamese mix who we adopted two years ago. The vet recommended she stay around 10-11 pounds as any extra weight can cause strain to her hip joints and to her remaining hind leg as she ages. We’ve been feeding her one 5.5 oz can, per day of Merrick or Natural balance over the years but it seems like she’s always hungry (on occasion we’ll give her a little bit more or some treats) but she meows a lot like she’s hungry. Are we feeding her enough? Every time we visit the vet she’s gained an ounce or two (at her last visit in December she was 10.8, having gained .2 ounces since the previous June). She’s somewhat active (loves chasing her crinkly balls and toy mice around the house), but because of her anatomy isn’t as active as a four-legged cat. She’s an indoor cat in a small one bedroom New York apartment so there’s also not much room for her to really be super active anyway (although for a three legged wonder she can sure get around when she wants to!) Should we be feeding her more?

    • It sounds like she’s maintaining her weight right where it should be. You may want to try splitting her daily rations into three or for meals to see if that helps with her acting like she’s always hungry. The advice to feed “one can a day,” unless given for a specific formula, is not really all that helpful since calorie content can vary widely from one brand to another.

  4. Hi Ingrid! I adopted two rescue kittens after my beautiful 17 year old cat died – she was very sick in the end, with cancer, hyperthyroidism, and ultimately dehydration as she stopped eating and drinking. Strangely enough, my vet and I had never discussed feeding regarding my cat. In the end, when she realized I was feeding her dry food (her entire life), she was adamant that dry food is a no-no. So when I got the kittens, I made sure to only feed them high-protein canned kitten food.

    Anyway, as of now they eat a combo of kitten Fancy Feast, Merrick, and Holistic Select that I order online. I know I could be doing better, but between the two kittens, it’s very expensive as it is, and I’m not sure I could swing more, even though feeding them raw is very tempting!! I don’t want to repeat the mistakes I obviously made with my previous kitty, but I do feel that the “perfect” diet isn’t realistic for everyone financially.

    Additionally, they eat night and day – they are now almost 8 months old and I feed them 4 times a day, ranging from probably about 11-16 oz per day. They always act as though they are starving!!! My male, Cinder, is definitely bigger than his sister Ella – when he’s done with his food, he pushes her aside and eats the rest of hers! I’m afraid he’s getting a little overweight, but as he’s still growing and is just a bigger cat in size, I’m not sure really. They are both indoor cats but play together a lot, are very curious, get into everything, and run around the house at light speed.

    Any advice you can offer regarding the amount I’m feeding them at this point and feeding them a healthy diet on a bit of a budget would be appreciated! Thank you so much!!

    • Feed the best grain-free canned food you can afford, Helen. As far as quantities, use the formula offered in this article as a guide, but realize that kittens will need to eat more than adult cats. You may want to consider feeding them separately so Ella can eat her portion in peace and Cinder stays at a healthy weight.

  5. Hey, if I had one average sized cat, roughly how many Kilograms of food would I have to feed my cat per month or even per year.

    • Since calorie contents vary greatly from brand to brand, you’ll have to calculate calories and then do the rest of the math based on how many calories per pound (or kilogram) each particular food has.

  6. Hi Ingrid,

    I’ve learned so much from your blog–thank you! My kitten Lucy just turned six months old. She’s been eating about two 5.5 oz cans a day and I think it’s time to cut it down to adult portions. First, I have heard from the vet that we should ONLY be feeding her food labeled for Kittens. However, I had been feeding her Soulistic (no specific age, not sure if they make kitten food) and she loved it. Do you think, overall and at this point, six months in, that it’s important to feed her kitten food (does it have more nutrients/minerals/etc.)?

    Aditionally, for a pretty small cat, what exact adult feeding guidelines would you suggest? I’ve seen about a half ounce per pound–does that seem correct?

    Thanks for all the help!

  7. Hi! I just have a quick question about feeding, if you don’t mind.

    I have a indoor cat, who is 6.5 y/o and is overweight, currently weighing in at just shy of 17lbs. She is somewhat active, but probably only runs around for less than 30 minutes per day now. She has recently developed feline asthma, so helping her lose some weight is a big issue for us. Ideally, I need to get her down (for starters) to about 14lbs to help her asthma according to her vet.

    She had been on a diet of dry food for almost her entire life, but in the last 2 years has been switched completely to a freeze-dried diet, namely Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels. According to the bag, which I realize must be an over calculation, it says that there are 125kcal/oz, but it recommends feeding 2cups of un-rehydrated food for a 14lbs cat.

    If I calculate vet recommendations, however, at the low end of 24kcal/day aiming at an ideal weight of 14lbs, this means she would need roughly 336kcal/day. If there 125kcal/oz in S&C’s, this would mean that a 14lbs cat would actually only need to be fed 2.7oz/day (roughly 1/3cup per day) of S&C’s food. Although I don’t feed her the recommended amount as is, instead measuring out about 1cup/day, I was shocked this morning when I did the calculations and realized how little food the kcal-based vet recommendations would equate to. Is this little of an amount of food correct?? I anticipated that the bag recommendations would be over-estimations, but I certainly never expected them to be SO much higher than what is actually healthy. Despite this diet, she has not lost any weight, which has concerned me, and now I am wondering if this may be why. Please help!

      • Thank you so much, this is very helpful! In terms of reducing the kcals at a safe rate, do you think that calculating how many kcals to feed her with her “target weight” at 14lbs (from her current 17lbs) is safe to start off with? If not, is there a better/safer way to reduce how much I feed her?

  8. Hello!
    I feed my cats instinct raw in the morning, and instinct grain free canned OR Weruva in the evening, I find that one brand every day my female kitty gets bored and stops eating, by mixing the two brands of canned food I have found she eats all of it and hasn’t stopped eating it (going on 6 months!). Is this okay to do two different brands? Some people seem to say this is not good for their stomachs, but they have normal bowel movements, no vomiting etc.
    Thanks!

      • Hi Ingrid,

        I’ve learned so much from your blog–thank you! My kitten Lucy just turned six months old. She’s been eating about two 5.5 oz cans a day and I think it’s time to cut it down to adult portions. First, I have heard from the vet that we should ONLY be feeding her food labeled for Kittens. However, I had been feeding her Soulistic (no specific age, not sure if they make kitten food) and she loved it. Do you think, overall and at this point, six months in, that it’s important to feed her kitten food (does it have more nutrients/minerals/etc.)?

        Aditionally, for a pretty small cat, what exact adult feeding guidelines would you suggest? I’ve seen about a half ounce per pound–does that seem correct?

        Thanks for all the help!

  9. Hi, Great blog.
    I am going to stop feeding my cat dry food immediately.
    The section on best food for your cat seems to be american based brands, do you know the best wet food brands in the UK?
    Also is it safe to feed my cat a little raw meat occasionally?

    • Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with what’s available in the UK. Raw meat by itself is not a complete meal, but is certainly fine to feed occasionally. If you’re interested in feeding raw, you may want to consider feeding a raw diet. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with commercially available raw diets in the UK, either, but they must be available. You could also make your own raw food, following an appropriate recipe.

    • TOM, If you are interested in a raw food diet (UK) then look at Nature’s Menu website. They offer both lightly steamed sachets of food (which are c. 96% pure meat) and raw food in frozen “nuggets” which can be defrosted as required. They also offer advice on changing onto a raw diet.

  10. Hi there. What do you think of Fromm cat food? I’d like to feed my cats a high quality food. I have always used dry as I thought it was better, but it seems like wet is better. Can you recommend a wet and dry cat food?

  11. I have 2 tabby brothers about 9-10 years old. I adopted them when they were around 4 and although they are long cats, Big Dude has always been the heaviest, hence his name. I would like to switch their food to a better brand and for them both to lose some weight but they will ONLY eat pate. I’ve tried the shredded etc but all the do is lick up the juice. Is there a pate wet food you would recommend? Thanks so much

  12. My cat is a little on the chunky side. I feed my 2 cats separately but they both get 1/4 cup twice a day. My cat isn’t very active and she’s very shy/agoraphobic. She likes me but if anyone else approaches she’s really scared so she hardly ever leaves my room. Is there a way to combat these issues and get my fur baby back at an ideal weight? (She’s a 1.5 year old snowshoe siamese weighed at 12lbs.)

  13. Hi I have a Devon Rex he is now 8months old now
    I feed him half a 85 grams can of ziwi peak can cat food in the morning and I have earthborn grain free dry cat food all day but every 4 days I have to refill which is about 1/3 a cup and gets 75grams of raw meat ranging from kangaroo, beef and lamb pre frozen every night he is a really great weight he was quite small for a while not boney but just small he has filled out a lot more. He is very active about 3X a day he goes bonkers for about and hour and I do play with him also. He also has cat grass that he has a bit of every morning as he’s an inside only. I know dry food isn’t the best but I also mix his can food with a tablespoon of water and have placed 4 water bowels throughout my home to make him drink more water. Which seems to work but I do notice he drinks less on colder days. Is this enough meat ? Or should I be feeding him more which is my main question
    Also if people find it hard to switch from dry food try raw meat but freeze before feeding as I’ve been told/researched

    • You’ll have to do the math and calculate calorie content for the various foods you feed, Ashleigh. Feed your kitty on the high end of the recommended range since he’s so active. Raw meat by itself is not a complete diet, you need to make sure you mix in the appropriate vitamins and minerals. Eliminate all dry food.

    • Ashleigh, I don’t know if you will see this, but my cats have dined on everything but the ZIWI PEAK canned food. !!! I love it. I did the research and know it is wonderful for them. I feed my kitten and two adult cats 2 cans in the morning, 1 afternoon, 1 evening. Plus refill a fine quality dry all day long. Believe it or not they are the healthiest ever

  14. I think it’s very easy to say which foods – canned or dry – and which brands are “best” for kitty based on ingredients. The reality is that many cats have digestive or other health related issues that make it nearly impossible for them to eat the perfect foods. I’ve been there. I’m still there. Let’s feed cats what their systems tolerate and not guilt ourselves that they’re not all eating grain free carb free canned raw foods.

    • Of course every cat is an individual, and health issues need to be taken into consideration. Given that many health issues are caused by diets that are inappropriate for an obligate carnivore like the cat, such as highly processed dry diets and diets with inferior quality ingredients and fillers, it’s up to cat guardians to educate themselves on what’s best for their cat.

  15. I have 2 4 month-old kittens that I just brought home five days ago. The foster mom who had her is part of a very reputable cat rescue operation called Cat’s Cradle and sent them home with Rad cat.

    I work all day so I feed them about about 1/2 cup in the morning and in the evening. I also put probiotic in the morning meal. I leave freeze dried cat food by a local all-natural company that has been moistened with water for when I’m gone.

    I think they would eat all the time if they could. Can you recommend mixing it with another high-quality cat food to stretch things out?

  16. Hello! I adopted a tortoiseshell cat (probably about 2 years old at the most) in January who is FeLV positive and also pretty thin. We took her to the vet within the first week and she was at 7 pounds. Yesterday I had her at the vet and she weighed 6.8 pounds. I’ve been feeding her Merrick limited ingredient canned food since we’ve had her (she really doesn’t seem to like anything else) and she seems to be a great eater. I feed her 3-4 times a day and she eats about a can a day. She doesn’t always eat when I feed her and if she doesn’t touch it I take the food away after 20 minutes. I’m concerned because while she is not rail thin and does have a small frame, I would prefer her to be a couple pounds heavier. Do you have any suggestions for how I can get a somewhat picky eater with FeLV to put on a little more weight? Thank you!

    • Look for brands that are high in calories so that she’ll get more calories even if she only eats a smaller quantity of food. You’ll have to read labels or check websites – calorie count is not always available on the cans.

    • Hi Christina,

      What about trying a product called Nutri Cal? It is calorie dense and good for cats who are a bit on the thin side. I used it when my new kitten wasn’t eating enough. You can buy it on Amazon.

      • I don’t recommend Nutrical. It may be calorie dense, but it’s the wrong kinds of calories for cats. The first ingredient is corn syrup, and it goes downhill from there.

        • Hi Ingrid and Liana –

          I used this post http://consciouscat.net/2012/03/22/the-best-food-for-your-cat/ and researched each brand to see which canned food had the most calories and that my cat might like based on the fact that she enjoys Merrick limited ingredient duck but only has 131 kcal per 5 oz. can. I tried Weruva TruLuxe (Glam ‘n Punk), Nature’s Variety Instinct Duck, Soulistic Duck, and ZiwiPeak Rabbit and Lamb. My cat enjoyed Soulistic and ZiwiPeak the most and since Soulistic contains A LOT of seafood, I decided to switch her to ZiwiPeak. It’s a little expensive but it’s the only food that she gets excited for when I start opening the can (the smell is STRONG) and she eats everything on her plate. The ZiwiPeak doesn’t have a lot more calories than Merrick (for 5oz, ZiwiPeak is about 156 calories) but my cat seems to eat a lot more of it so I’m happy.

  17. Hi,
    We have a 12 yr-old DSH cat who lives indoors and is fairly inactive. She’ll only eat dry food. She’s always just free-fed, which has worked fine, but lately her weight has been advancing along with her age. I realize it depends on multiple factors, but is there a standard calorie-per-pound chart we could use to start rationing the food? Thanks for all your advice.

  18. I have 4 adult Tabby cats. Any suggestions for feeding time? One runs away from her food I have to put her in a separate room and sit with her to get her to eat.

  19. Also is it normal for my cat to try to cover her food up? She paws at the ground like she was burying it. I think it’s instinct as I know cougars hide food they don’t eat and she doesn’t eat all of her food in one serving she eats some of it in the morning and some in the afternoon then I’ll feed her again and she eats some of it then and the rest of it throughout the night.

    • A lot of cats try to “cover” their uneaten food, and you’re right, it is a leftover instinct from when they lived in the wild.

  20. Hello I’m Carly I have an active 3 or 4 month old domestic short hair kitten and I feed her a full can of wet food with a little of dry food mixed in the morning and just wet food before I go to bed. Is that good for her? I’m not sure about her weight as our skale stopped working I think she’s 3 or 4 pounds. My sister says I shouldn’t be feeding her wet food everyday but I disagree. Am I right or is she? I’m a first-time cat owner but I know a lot, I’m trying to keep her fit but I’m not sure how much and what to feed her, Please help me!

  21. I have 3 cats that my girlfriend and I adopted together. They will not touch canned food at all. I have tried setting it out and leaving it with no other options for them. Nothing….. They smell it and walk off. Later in the day I will put out a bowl of meow mix “the only brand of dry they will eat”, and they speed to it a eat like they are starved. They will not even eat canned tuna. Im at a loss. My girlfriend likes to leave a bowl with about 2 cups out all day and throughout the day the three eat all of it. I dont think this a good idea. When the three cats are as selective as they are I am not sure of other options.

  22. Hi
    I have an 1 year old and 4 months cat but when I give him food he leaves and vomits it all out! And then he goes to his food bag and eats more in there.This has been happening for 5 days in a row. If you reply it would help me a lot

  23. Hi I have 2 cats and feed them 3times a day around 3/4 cup of dry food each but my smaller cat seems to vomit atleast once a day leaving her hungry any suggestions? Also she eats really fast then trys to eat my other cats food what should ido?

    • Daily vomiting is not normal – if your cat hasn’t had a veterinary exam recently, you need to take her to the vet.

      I’d eliminate all dry food, and you may need to feed the fast eater in a separate room to give the other cats time to finish their meals.

  24. Hi! Your blog is god send for me.

    Also I was wondering, do you have a formula for a 8 week old kittens diet?

    Thank you!

    • Kittens can be fed the same food as adult cats, as long as it’s high in protein, they just need to eat more frequently, and on the high end of the calorie suggestion.

  25. Hey! I’m just wondering is the calorie calculation of “24 to 35 calories/lb” a per meal calculation, or per day? Thanks for the help!

  26. My cat weighs 23lbs and is rather a long cat. I would like to feed her 4x a day and feed her based on 12lbs.I’m not good at math how much canned food does that come out to per feeding?

    • You’ll have to do the math, Bobbi. The amount of canned food will vary since each brand and formula will have different calorie contents. Also, please check with your vet before reducing your cat’s diet by that much. You may need to reduce the amount you feed more gradually if you’re aiming for an 11 pound weight loss – that’s a lot of weigh, and you want to be sure that your cat loses the weight safely.

      • I also have the same problem and I think my cat is obese. His name is Eddie and he’s 2, and about 20 lbs! I’m afraid of him getting diabetes or arthritis.. What do I do? Slowly give him only wet food or dry food and wet food? How many times a day and how much?? I don’t want to have the trouble for getting Eddie into the car and drive to the vet. Sorry for all the questions. I just want my cat to live a long, healthy life. 🙂

  27. Ingrid, I have discerned from the article very clearly, that cats to not need or do not benefit from dried food and that, in no way, is a necessity for good dental hygiene. My cat is a prime example of that. She is a Calico and while she should be 11 lbs (max) she is 15. I have given her dried food (via automatic feeder set for 3 times a day and just over 1/2 cup for the entire day’s consumption) for some time now under the premise that it was helpful for her weight loss and dental care. She JUST had 3 teeth extracted last week due to severe gingivitis so that myth was busted.

    Being that I’m not often home at regular intervals and travel from time to time overnight, an automatic feeder is essential for me. I need to know that 3+ days worth of food can be stored there without inviting ants et al in the event that someone can’t stop in 3x/day to feed her for as many as 4 days at a time. (I can often get someone to come in 1x/day but not 3x/day.)

    Any suggestions? Also, we were told that she could only eat fish because she’s allergic to chicken. We feed her only Blue Wilderness and another all natural brand and want to stick to that.

  28. I need help for my 21 lb. cat. He’s been tested and everything is good right now. My vet told me to have him eat my diabetic cat’s diet of Prescription M/D food as it would be good for his weight. He’s still fat and from what I’ve been reading this is not good food to begin with. He loves canned food so I’m sure he would do good on switching over. Do I calculate his calories based on his 21 lbs or on a weight loss goal? Please help. I’m desperate for him to be healthy. Thank you.

  29. What about big cat breeds? For instance, a Norwegian Forest Cat or Maine Coon. I have been unable to find out how often she should eat. I’ve been having trouble with understanding her food intake and how much she should weigh. The vet said that she is overweight but he had no knowledge for these type of breeds. She weighs about 19lbs, and she constantly wants to eat. (I feed her about 3 oz, 3 times a day).

    Can you inform me what to do?

    • 19lbs isn’t overweight for a maine coon if they are big boned…. can you feel the ribcage and spine or do you have to “dig for it?” Our MC is 20lbs and not overwight.

      • I have a Maine coon, and he’s 14 years old and 23-24 lbs. he’s definitely overweight. How much, and how often should I feed him?

        • Follow the instructions in this article and calculate the amount to feed based on his target weight, Alice. Feed him twice a day, no dry food.

  30. I plan to get a couple of “barn” cats…although they will have a very warm, insulated cat home in our garage and we spend as much time as possible outdoors so we will be out with them often. I know that it is important to feed our little hunters but should I be accounting for the calories they are getting from that? How am I supposed to know what and when they are eating in addition to the meals I give them? There are plenty of mice around now, as we have farm field all around, but I worry about once they are adult and here for a while and the population depletes.

    • That’s a tough question to answer, Krisa. I would feed on the low end of the recommended range and monitor their weights closely. You will probably need to adjust and increase what you feed during low mousing times, and decrease when the supply is plentiful. You also don’t want to overfeed or they may not be interested in catching their own dinner!

  31. I am still a little confused. My cat is definitely in the #9 category, very overweight. I want to change that and have recently switched him to a freeze-dried raw food (can you still call it raw if its freeze dried? I am also confused about that). Should I feed him 24 calories per pound twice a day or divide that 24 calories per pound over the whole day? Should it be less than 24 calories per pound since we are going for weight loss?

    • The 24 to 35 calories per pound of body weight are for one day’s amount, so divide into two meals. Good question about the freeze dried food. I guess technically it’s still raw food, although some raw food purists probably disagree with me.

      • Calculate the amount to feed based on your cat’s target weight, not his current weight. Just make sure he doesn’t miss a meal. If he’s very overweight, he’s at risk for hepatic lipidosis if he doesn’t eat anything for 24-48 hours.

        • Ok, so he is currently 18 lbs and I would like him to be more like 12. So I should feed 24×12 or 288 calories a day. I think the freeze dried is at least better than dry…

    • I believe there is an error in your calorie consumption calculations. You recommend 40-50 Kcal per Kg, but then state that preferred diet for a 10 pound cat would be 108-157 Kcal. Shouldn’t that number be 180-220 Kcal (4×4.5=180)? I’m feeding my 11 1/2 pound cat about 170 calories/day, trying to get her down to 10 pounds.

      • The recommendation is 24 to 35 calories per pound of body weight, so a ten pound cat should get between 240 and 350 calories a day. If you’re feeding for weight loss, feed the lower amount and calculate based on target weight, not current weight.

  32. I have a active 1 year old tabby that is overweight. I am reading above that dry food should be eliminated from his diet. I feed him 1/2 cup of science Hills Indoor dry and 1/2 in the evening. Then I also feed him half a can of wet (Fancy Feast). I am very worried about his heavy breathing and his overall health. He always seemed to be hungry & begs for food so it’s my fault for him being overweight. I want to make changes before it is too late. How should I adjust his diet so he can start losing weight?

  33. I feed my cats both wet and dry. They get a half a can of wet a day mixed with dry spread out into 3 meals. I have a 10 month kitten and a 16 yr old with stage 4 kidney disease and is on a prescription diet. Is this enough canned for them or do I need to increase there amount?

    • Use the calorie calculation provided in the article as a guideline, Sonya. You’ll have to adjust for your cats’ individual needs. And I’d encourage you to eliminate the dry food altogether and feed enough canned food to meet their requirements.

  34. My cat is a British Shorthair mix, about 3-4 years old (a stray). She is overweight at about 11.5 lbs (should be 9-10). I have been feeding her about 175 calories a day, composed of low calorie dry food and less than a 3 oz. can of wet food. She’s lost about half a pound in three months–kind of disappointing. I expected better results with that low calorie count. She gets a fair amount of exercise also. Any ideas?

    • You’ll see faster and healthier results if you eliminate the dry good completely and increase the amount of wet food you’re feeding so that you’re back to around 175 calories a day.

  35. My cat Sam Wise is four years this month. He loves his dry cat food. He will go days without eating, refuses wet food. Tried every brand on the market. He seems happy and is not over weight. He will only eat Deli Cat dry cat food. Should I be concerned he will not eat wet food?

  36. I feed my 6 months old cat with canned food for dogs. I don’t think the producer put diferent content in those for cats. Am I wrong?

    • You are wrong, Marian. Dog food does not contain taurine, which is an essential amino acid that cats, unlike dogs, can’t make on their own. A lack of taurine can lead to severe heart disease and other health problems. Cats also require a different form of Vitamin A than dogs do.

  37. ok so, I have a more breed specific question. I adopted an orange and white tabby from the ASPCA about a year ago. when i got him i believed he was 6 months old, when in fact he was only 3 months. He weighed about 6 pounds at the time, not a fat kitty, just big for his age. We’ve come to think he is a maine coon because he just keeps growing, now he’s between 16 and 20lbs. He’s not super big, id say probably a 6 on the scale above, but I’ve been at a loss of how much to feed him. We use a high quality dry food, but because I’m away at school and class at weird hours so I’m unable to provide him a solid feeding schedule. I’ve been giving him a bowl of food and refilling it when its empty, usually once a day, I’d say he’s probably getting 2 cups of dry food daily. Is that too much? I read online that coons keep growing for 3 years, and he is definitely still getting bigger at a 1 1/4 years old, I just don’t want to give him too much.

    • Discontinue the dry food and put him on a grain-free canned or raw diet, Sarah. Even with an erratic schedule, you should be able to feed two meals a day.

  38. I have a three year old Persian cat that’s been losing weight since I got her on wet food. She has food out all the time. She’s really thin now, with her shoulders sticking out. She’s a very small cat from the start so she doesn’t need to lose a lot of weight to look thin. I’m thinking about offering her kibble on the side to get her to gain some weight. Would that be ok?

  39. Hello!

    I just adopted a 3 month old male kitten. I know that at the shelter he was being fed Friskies wet and dry food – the dry food left out all the time. I followed your recommendations as far as acceptable foods (Soulistic, Weruva) for cats and have been feeding them to him since he came home with me – 5 days ago. He loves all varieties so far and his stool looks good. The one thing freaking me out is that he whines for food a lot (stands at the bowl and whines) and he is in my face wanting my food. He has been eating a whole can, 5.5 oz in either 3 or 4 meals a day. I’ve ordered the pro-biotics as well and will give them to him when they arrive. I’m also giving him 4 treats twice a day. They are turkey treats made by Red Barn and seemed like a healthy version.Should I be worried about his seemingly maniacal need to eat everything whether it’s his or mine? Thank you, Melissa.

    • I would increase the amount you feed at each meal, Melissa. At 3 months, he’s still growing, and he’ll need more than one 5.5 oz can a day. I would double the amount you’re feeding and continue to divide into 3 or 4 meals each day. I bet you’ll see a difference in his behavior.

      The stink of his stools should be diminishing over the next few days as his system adjusts to the better quality diet.

      • Thank you so much, Ingrid! It’s been so long since I’ve had a kitten and I get nervous trying to do everything right. I’m sure Beardsley will be so pleased to have more food. <3

  40. I was told that a diet of all wet food wasn’t good for cats. The vet said that cats should eat some nutritional dry food to help clean their teeth and also the formulation of dry food has a healthier combination of ingredients they need. I feed my rescues a taste of the wild dry food. Grain free. My little one came from the streets and is not interested in canned food except to lick the gravy my other one came from the spca and craves the canned food. When I got her she was overweight. They both are free Fed dry food and the one who came from the shelter gets 2forks full of canned a day is down to a God weight. They are both fit for their sizes.

    • The myth that dry food cleans cats’ teeth is one that just won’t die, and unfortunately, many vets mistakenly contribute to keeping it alive. Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in. What little they do chew shatters into small pieces. Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole. Additionally, dry food actually leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

  41. Hi! Really good article, just in the perfect moment, because i’m dealing with food issues, and i need some help. 😀
    Like Elines, i have 2 cats, one (raised with bottle since day 0) is a slow, delicated eater. The other (adopted at 1 year old, body condition 2 of 9, and with permanent hunger) is a gluton and inhaler. Both of them are male, 1,5 years old, neutered, now in body condition 5/9, indoor but active, healthy…but food time is a struggle for me every day to keep them fine! Delicated eater used to eat ad libitum (he simply does not like raw food, or home made food. He does not like canned food either!! He eats dry food, and with no passion at all…hahaha), but when the other cat arrived, with all the hunger in the world, delicated and fancy cat begun to lose weight, while new cat grew huge boobs in no time.
    We also have an epileptic dog, and because of the medication (plus being a dog), she is super hungry all the time, and to improve water intake and a better saciety sensation, we mix dry food with a little bit of water, so it is like a soup of dog dry (weight control) food. She eats 4 times a day, what producer indicates in the bag, and she is super fit.
    Finally we decided to feed them (1 dog + 2 cats) 4 times a day, at same hours, trying to avoid food steeling between them, and it’s been easy with hungry dog and hungry cat, but no with delicated eater 🙁 he is sooooooooooooooo slow!!! he eats 5 or 6 pellets, then leave, then 2 hours later 6 more pellets, and so on. I can’t wait for him to finish (i work and study outside home), and if i leave his leftovers, hungry cat makes them disappear in a blink. It occured to me that maybe, if i use the “soup” trick on hungry cat, he will leave the rests of slow eater cat alone, and apparently is working, and i did it on delicated eater too, and he eats bigger portions each time. They of course have ad libitum fresh water all the time.
    It’s been a month of this feeding system. The 3 of them are fit, but i’m going crazy. It is winter time in my country, and with cold temperature they want to eat all the time, so the meeeeeeeewwww and mooooooooooooowwww besides empty bowls had been like a daily concert.
    What do you think? Am i doing things right? Does anyone know a better way? They are alright now, but it seems to me that they are hungry all the time (none of them had lost weight since they are fit, buy they cry looking empty bowls, and it kills me looking at those poor “puss in boots” eyes!…of course i prefer that than look at them suffering from overweight), and well, that makes me wonder…they are my first cats, and i want to do things right.

    Thanks a lot for reading, excuse me for writting faults (english is not my first language), and i hope you can help me! 🙂

      • Hi again!! I wanted to tell you that my slow feeder is still superslow, but he is starting to like canned food, so, we are happy about it, although a little worry, because he is a little bit thinner now (he already was in ideal body condición). We tried to give him bigger portions, but the day is too short to finish them. So, we are thinking about the microchip pet feeder, but we have a question: if one cat is eating, and the other one “insert” his head before the first cat goes away, does the gate close anyway? Or does it stay open, because that is my cat M.O. to steal my other cat’s food…
        Thanks for reading!

          • Hi!
            Well, i reached a dead end here…sure flap has the way to stop thieves from get their hungry heads into others cats bowls. The problem is they don’t ship to Chile :(.
            Then i look for all the list of dry food you recomended, and none of them is selled here, and is almost impossible to find suplements to home made cooking (they are for industrial use)…so, finally i found 2 brands of grain free dry food (i did not find canned yet): Earthborn holistic and Nutrience. Both poultry and fish only. Do you know these brands? Would it be better than feed my cats with royal canin young male (dry) and hill’s m/d (canned)?
            Thanks a lot!

          • I took a quick look at the Earthborn Holistic line – while the dry food’s ingredients look okay, they don’t look great. If you can find the canned Earthborn, I’d go with that – that actually looks really good. However, if it’s a choice between any dry food and Hill’s m/d canned, much as it pains me to say this, just about any canned food is better than dry food, even Hill’s with its less than stellar ingredients.

            Will Amazon ship to Chile? A lot of the brands I recommend are available through Amazon.

          • Yes…Amazon ships to Chile, but for every can i would be paying in diamonds. I will keep on the search for canned Earthborn. You gave me a lot of hope 🙂
            Thank you!

          • You could always try contacting Earthborn, Andrea. Maybe they know of a distributor in Chile that you’re not aware of? Stranger things have happened! 🙂

  42. You are right about the labels-useless-go with the calories per pound. Mr. M. would eat all day if I let him. We put out his food am and pm only.

  43. It depends on the cats eating habits too. My first cat Katy we used to feed her twice a day. She was a slow, delicate eater. When we got Sheldon, we had to seperate the cats during feedings because he was a gluton and inhaled his food and everyone elses when he could. He would break into food bags and containers and gorge himself and he got fat. None of our previous cats ever got so fat. I moved out of my home and my sister takes care of Shelly and her new cat Kristen and they both over eat if they are allowed so she has to control their food intake. On the other hand, I have 2 cats now that I actually free feed and my tortie girl Romy looks ideal while my lean boy Mugi appears under ideal. They only eat one or two bites at a time so if we only fed them controlled amounts twice a day they would not eat very much at all. We alternate between junk cat food, grain free dry and wet food to try to keep them interested and eating cause they seem to get bored with food.

  44. I adopted a 7 year old cat about 3 weeks ago that will eat nothing but kibble. I transitioned him to a high quality grain free kibble but he absolutely refuses to eat canned or raw, cat appropriate, food, which my other cats eat. I’ve never had a problem transitioning cats to other food before. Anyone have some good ideas?? He spent over three months in the shelter and had different canned food available every day but refused it there also.

  45. this is a never ending adventure in our house….we have some “seniors”, the baby is just a year old, Ivy could lose a pound or two and Mozart is probably underweight….we’re still working on it though

  46. Thank you so much! I’m concerned about keeping my kitty at a healthy weight and the visual is a great way to stay on track. Much appreciated!

  47. Good advice ! We eat wet food, and Mum gives us four small meals a day. Fortunately, we eat what we need and not more, she doesn’t have to always control which amount of food each of us is eating. Purrs

  48. For the longest time, Binga, Boodie and I all ate the exact same amount of food – and we all have completely different weights! I’m the smallest and Boodie is the largest, and there is a nearly four pound difference between us! Which is okay because Boodie is a larger cat than I am. Binga, the oldest, was starting to look too thin, and my human guessed that this was because at nearly 15, her body wasn’t metabolizing her food as well as it used to, so now she gets a snack for lunch, and it is helping her put a few ounces back on.

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