How Much Should I Feed My Cat: Cat Food 101

how much should i feed my catFirst time cat owner? When you find that perfect furball to be an addition to your house you want to make sure you’re caring for her right. One of your first questions is probably going to be: how much should I feed my cat? This is not only a good question, it’s a very common one (even for previous cat owners). You don’t want to feed your cat too much or too little, so what is “just right”? In the Happy Cat Course find out tips for bringing your cat home and caring for it properly.

So the breed of cat doesn’t really matter, what does matter however is the age of your cat, weight, activity level, whether or not the cat is pregnant or nursing and the type of food you plan on feeding your cat (wet or dry). The brand of food you end up choosing will also make a difference as denser high quality dry food will contain more nutrients than say a lower quality food will. Thus, you would need less of the higher quality food to give your cat the nutrients it needs than in a lower nutrient rich food.

Eating Habits

Many cat owners let their cats have free access to their dry food so when the cat is hungry – it can eat. Typically dry food diets are supplemented by canned food once or twice a day. The more dry food your cat eats, the more you should encourage it to drink water. Dry food is, well, dry and it’s dense. With wet food the cat is taking in more water content so you don’t need to compensate with as much drinking water.

Bringing your new cat home can be a bit scary for the feline. Depending on where you got the cat from, they were likely on some sort of schedule (with supplemental food) where the received a specified amount and type of food at a certain time of day. This schedule may or may not work for you but it’s recommended for the first week or so you keep your cat on the schedule and feed the same kind of food and amount to ease the transition into your home. After the first week you can begin to wean the cat off of the old schedule, old food and old food amount to create your own feeding regiment. Your kitty will thank you for giving them some time to adjust, and, you will prevent upset stomachs that lead to messy floors. Cat lovers are a unique breed. They live and breathe by their cats. Check out some of the cat quotes to feed your cat-loving-nature.

How Much to Feed Your Cat

There is no easy answer to this. You may be thinking… what? But it’s true. Think about us humans. How much do you eat a day? How much does your spouse eat? No one is the same. Everyone’s metabolism, genes, amount of exercise, weight and age is different and therefore so are the “correct” proportions of food. Humans have guidelines set forth by the FDA (remember the food pyramid?) showing us how many vegetables, how much meat, and how much dairy we should consume a day – hardly anyone follows this.

The same goes for cats. The recommended calorie intake is 240 calories per day. If your cat eats less or more, it’s okay, as long as it’s okay with your cat. If you’ve owned cats before you’ll notice that each cat has its own sleeping habits, activity habits, maybe one drinks more water than the other and one tends to eat more. There is no cookie cutter answer to this question. Really, you just need to observe your cat and adjust the food amounts accordingly.

Cat food bags will tell you to feed your cat ½ cup twice a day, or ¼ cup twice a day. The best way to find the right amount for your cat is to track the food you put in the bowl over the course of 24 hours. Write down how much you fed them, how much is still in the bowl 24 hours later (if any). That is how much your cat – on average – eats. You also want to weigh your cat periodically during this trial and error period to see if they are overeating and gaining too much weight, or if they seem to eat and eat and aren’t gaining weight. If you don’t have a pediatric scale (not many of us do) weigh yourself on a regular scale and then pick up your cat and weigh yourself again. Subtract your standalone weight from the weight with the cat in your hands and that’s approximately how much your kitty weighs. Do this process for a couple of weeks to determine how much your cat eats and what seems to be working for the cat’s weight.

Types of Food

Cats are carnivores. They need a high meat diet to give them the best nutrients and energy possible. The meat should be high in animal proteins and low in carbohydrates (no more than ten percent of total ingredients). Plant proteins are not digested well by cats so make sure the food you pick has a very low concentration of these. Wet foods should consist of primarily meat and not a lot of filler junk. Rule of thumb: high meat = good food. High carbs and plant proteins = low quality food. Some cat owners have their cats on vegetarian diets because they say the cat either can’t digest other food or they falsely believe that this is “healthier” for their cat. Vegetarian diets lack the taurine and omega 6 fatty acids that are necessary for a cats health. Cats are carnivores. Just remember that.

Many cat owners and vet’s argue that dry food is in fact terrible for cats. Some of the reasons include: dry food contains meat by-products and bone meal, sometimes even non-meat parts from farm raised animals, or dead animals left to decompose partially before being used (yuck); processing under high heat denatures meat proteins; most contain high carbs which cats are ill-equipped to digest or turn into fat (like humans and dogs); pesticide contamination; dehydration and preservatives. Read more about the 10 reasons why you shouldn’t feed your cat dry food. Raw food is a popular choice for cat owners but remember that ground beef and other raw meats don’t have the high taurine needed for your cat. So find a working combination of foods. Learn raw food recipes in this raw food recipe for beginners course.

In the end, how much you feed your cat really depends on your cat. It takes discipline and organization to properly identify the needs of your kitty but it’s well worth the work. Ensure your cat is not experiencing any drastic weight loss as hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome) can develop and be fatal to your feline friend. Although learning pet first aid isn’t going to stop a disease like hepatic lipidosis, it can prevent minor injuries from becoming equally deadly. Teach yourself pet first aid in this online course to be prepared for any situation.