How Much Should I Feed my Cat?

There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on a variety of things, such as your cat’s breed, age, and neuter status.

Overweight Cat

Whether you’ve got a new kitten or an adult, knowing exactly how much you should feed your cat is key to making sure they have a happy, healthy life.

As a veterinarian, I get this question a lot. All too often, I see loving cat owners overfeeding their cats.

Being underweight and overweight can cause serious health problems, including a shorter lifespan, so getting a cat’s feeding schedule right is one of the most important parts of being a pet parent. [1]

In this article, I will help you learn more about how much you should be feeding your cat, as well portioning your cat’s food and why it’s important to maintain a healthy diet for your cat.

Obesity: Why is it important?

Some people think cats look cute when they’re fat or make jokes about them being ‘chunky’. But the truth is, it’s a severe, rapidly developing problem that needs to be addressed.

Obesity is one of the leading concerns among vets, with 52% listing it as a major concern and 86% thinking there will be more overweight pets than healthy pets in five years. [2]

In addition, feline obesity has been linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, skin problems, lameness, anaesthetic death, and oral disease. [3,4,5,6,7]

In fact, as a cat gets more overweight, they are more than twice as likely to get diabetes than a slim cat!

Not only do these things increase your veterinary costs, but the pain, irritation, and stress impact your cat’s quality of life.

How much should I feed my cat?

Once your cat turns a year old or is neutered, they can usually be fed two times a day, with their daily calories split evenly between two meals. 

Working out your cat’s daily calorie allowance is important, just as it is for humans. It would be so easy if cats all needed the same amount of food, but every cat is different, and unfortunately, every food is different.

Different brands of food have varying calories per cup as well as ingredients.

To work out your cat’s daily calorie allowance, you’ll need your cat’s healthy ‘ideal’ adult weight or their current weight and Body Condition Score (BCS).

Below is our Body Condition Score chart so that you can check your cat to see if they’re overweight.

Cat Body Condition Score Chart

The body condition score is a great way to determine how much excess fat your cat is carrying, a little like BMI in humans.

Whenever you visit the vet, ask them for your cat’s current body condition score so that you can spot any weight gain early and adjust their diet accordingly.

Once you’ve got your cat’s body condition score and current weight, you can use a calculator like this one to work out how many calories your cat needs. The second tab of this calculator lets you work out how many grams of your cat’s food that is, too! 

How Much to Feed a Cat Chart

Below is the average serving sizes based on a cat’s average weight and other varying factors. Keep in mind that each cat is different and their needs can vary from as much as 50 percent from the average.

Always speak to your veterinarian to help determine the appropriate food portions for your cat.

Cat WeightTypical pet, neutered or spayedTypical pet, intactTypical pet, prone to gaining weightPet in need of weight loss
5 lbs (2.3 kg)157 kcal / day183 kcal / day131 kcal / day105 kcal / day
7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)210 kcal / day245 kcal / day175 kcal / day140 kcal / day
10 lbs (4.5 kg)260 kcal / day303 kcal / day216 kcal / day173 kcal / day
12.5 lbs (5.7 kg)298 kcal / day362 kcal / day258 kcal / day207 kcal / day
15 lbs (6.8 kg)354 kcal / day413 kcal / day295 kcal / day236 kcal / day
17.5 lbs (7.9 kg)396 kcal / day462 kcal / day330 kcal / day264 kcal / day
20 lbs (9.1 kg)440 kcal / day513 kcal / day367 kcal / day293 kcal / day

What’s the best food for cats?

Whenever you choose the best diet for your adult cat, you’ll want to feed them a complete, balanced diet. This contains all the vitamins and minerals they need and in the correct proportions.

Either dry cat food or a canned diet is fine, with pros and cons to both. I tend to recommend a combination; mostly wet food with a small amount of dry cat food designed for dental care. [8]

Aim for an AAFCO or FEDIAF diet, as these will balance their nutrients according to scientific research. Also, consider the WSAVA; they contain some useful information on choosing good cat food.

Heres a video explaining some of the things you should be looking out for when purchasing cat food and some key facts and information about specific ingredients to look for.

How much should I feed my kitten?

When you bring your kitten home, they’re usually around 8 weeks of age. Over the next six months, they’ll do almost all of their growing, so getting their nutrition right is essential!

Your kitten also has a tiny stomach at this age, so you’ll need to feed them little and often.

According to a leading cat welfare charity, Cats Protection UK, four meals a day is usually about right for an 8-12 week old kitten. [9]

You can usually drop to three meals a day when your kitten is around four-six months old and down to two meals a day when they reach six-twelve months.

Just keep in mind you’ll need to tailor this to your kitten’s appetite and growth. Always consult a veterinarian if you have any questions or issues.

How much to feed your kitten depends on the calorie density of the food – how many calories are in each packet, cup, or oz. It also depends on their activity level and age.

The best option is to start off feeding them the amount recommended on the back of the packet, then adjust depending on their growth. Your veterinarian can help to measure your kitten’s growth and make sure it’s on track. 

Below is the average daily caloric intake for kittens. Keep in mind however that the data shown in this graph are averages and vary depending on factors such as your cat’s breed, age, and neuter status. Their individual needs can vary up to 50 percent from this data.

Always consult your veterinarian to help determine the appropriate food portions for your kitten.

Kitten’s WeightAverage Caloric Intake
4 oz (0.1 kg)31 kcal / day
8 oz (0.2 kg)52 kcal / day
12 oz (0.3 kg)88 kcal / day
1 lb (0.4 kg)104 kcal / day
2 lb (0.9 kg)162 kcal / day
3 lbs (1.4 kg)225 kcal / day
4 lbs (1.8 kg)272 kcal / day
5 lbs (2.3 kg)327 kcal / day
6 lbs (2.7 kg)369 kcal / day
7 lbs (3.2 kg)419 kcal / day
8 lbs (3.6 kg)457 kcal / day
9 lbs (4.1 kg)504 kcal / day
10 lbs (4.5 kg)541 kcal / day

What is the best diet for kittens?

Assuming your kitten is weaned, you’ll need to feed your kitten a diet specially formulated for growth. Typically, these will contain different amounts of protein, calcium, and phosphorus compared to adult foods.

Ideally you should feed your kitten a diet with the AAFCO (US) or FEDIAF (EU) statement as this will ensure the diet meets the current standards for nutrient requirements.

As I previously mentioned, the WSAVA also has some good tips for finding a good pet food.

Keep in mind that weaned kittens don’t need any milk or kitten milk replacer, and it’s best to avoid this to avoid diarrhea and digest problems.

What about treats? Can cats eat human food?

Treats are fine, but they need to come out of the daily calorie allowance. That means you need to reduce your cat’s meal slightly if they’ve had treats during the day.

To avoid reducing the healthy food too much and ending up with an unbalanced diet, don’t feed more than 10% of your cat’s daily calories as treats. That’s about 20 treat calories per day, for the average cat!

Cats can eat some types of human food, but it’s important to bear in mind that some human foods are toxic to cats, so avoid anything you aren’t confident about.

I would always recommend speaking to your veterinarian if you’re ever concerned about certain foods your cat may have consumed.

Healthy treats for cats include most fruits (but not grapes), skinless and boneless lean meats (such as chicken breast) cut into small pieces, and many vegetables. These foods come under your cat’s ‘treat portion’ of calories.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this guide helpful. Obesity is very common in cats and can lead to increased risk of diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, so doing everything you can to avoid your cat becoming overweight is essential.

It is something I have been concerned about for a while. Too often I see cat owners giving their cats too much food, leading to severe health complications for them!

It can be difficult to work out how much to feed your cat, but your veterinary team will happily help you work out how much to feed your cat.

Try the guide on 27 toxic human foods you should avoid feeding for your cat to find out more information about cat nutrition. Or to find out whether wet or dry cat food is better to see if you’re providing your cat the correct nutrition and appropriate dietary requirements.

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Dr Joanna Woodnutt MRCVS

Content Writer

I’m an experienced vet, working mainly with companion animals here in the U.K. I work two days a week in my local practice, and the others arming readers with the knowledge to understand and care for their pets!

Dogs and Cat
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