How Much Food to Feed a Cat?

Updated February 21, 2017

Your cat's age, overall health, activity level and the type of food you feed are all factors to consider when deciding how much food to put in your cat's bowl. Here are some guidelines to use as you decide how much to feed your cat.

Calories Count

The rule of thumb is that cats need 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight a day.

High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet

An adult cat should have about 12.5 g of protein and 5.5 g of fat each day. While carbohydrates will provide a quick burst of energy, cats don't use plant-based carbs efficiently, and in many cats they turn to fat. Low-carb foods are best for your cat.

Wet Food Is Best

Cats convert animal protein (meat) to energy. Since wet food is mostly moisture and meat, it should not cause your cat to gain weight. Most cats need two 3-oz. cans or one 5-oz. can a day. If your cat is very large or very active, more food will be needed.

Feeding Dry Food

The feeding instructions on the bag will tell you how much dry food your cat needs to meet its daily caloric requirements. The cat will require less food if you use a high quality brand that has meat as its main sources of protein.

Frequent Small Meals

Free-feed wet food or offer your cat several small meals every day. Cats' bodies are designed to consume about 15 small meals in a 24-hour period.

Is Your Cat Too Fat?

Look down at your cat. If you can see a waist, or slight indentation, behind his ribs, and if you can feel its ribs through some padding, it's probably at the ideal weight. If it seems overweight, transition it to an all-wet food diet.

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