How much should I feed my cat?
Credit: By jlinczak, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (, via Flickr

A question common to first time cat owners is “how much should I feed my cat?” And even if you’ve owned cats for years you may sometimes wonder if you are feeding him too much or too little food.

However the amount of food you should feed your pet will depend on a variety of factors, such as the weight, age and activity level of the cat, as well as the type and brand of food you are giving him. But there are some general guidelines you should stick to; so in this article I’ll look at what type of food you should feed your cat as well as how much you should feed a kitten and an adult cat.

What Should I Feed My Cat?

It’s important to choose a high quality cat food, as this will be much better for the health of your pet, and it will contain more nutrients than a lower quality food. So this will mean you will not need to feed him as much of it. A specific type of meat should be the first ingredient on the label – not meat by-products.

A cat will be healthier if you feed him canned food rather than dry food, as dry cat food is generally much too high in plant based proteins and carbohydrates, and it is far too low in water.

Cats are total carnivores and they can’t digest and utilise plant based proteins very well. And a high carbohydrate intake will wreak havoc with their insulin/blood sugar balance, and this could possibly lead to diabetes.

Also it’s important for cats to get a good amount of water with their food as cats do not have much of a thirst drive. And although a cat will drink more water when fed dry food, it will not be enough to make up for the lack of water in his food. So over time this could lead to kidney problems.

Having said that, dry food can be very convenient, so many cat owners like to feed their cats a little dry food to supplement their normal canned food. But if you do this, make sure you choose a very high quality brand that consists of mostly animal protein and provides no more than 10% of its calorie content from carbohydrates.

How Much Should I Feed My Kitten?

A kitten will need about twice the amount of calories and nutrients per pound of bodyweight as an adult cat will (see below). And he’ll also need more frequent feedings.

A kitten can leave its mother at the age of 6 weeks. At this age give him at least four feedings of kitten food per day, and let him eat as much as he wants at these feedings. At 12 weeks you can reduce this to three feedings per day; and at 6 months you can reduce it to twice per day if you wish.

When you first bring your new pet home you should feed him on the same food as he was already eating. And then gradually change over to your food of choice.

How Much Should I Feed My Adult Cat?

A kitten becomes a mature cat at the age of one year. You can now feed him adult canned cat food twice per day – morning and evening. And if you wish you can supplement this with some dry food during the day.

An adult cat needs about 30 Calories per pound of bodyweight per day if he is fairly active. So an average 9lb cat will need about 270 Calories per day. This means you will need to divide up this amount of Calories between the number of feedings you are giving him.

A normal canned cat food contains about 30 Calories per ounce, so a 6oz can will contain about 180 Calories. This can vary quite a bit however, so do check the labels. Dry cat food usually contains about 350 – 400 Calories per cup, but again it can vary quite a bit.

So you could give your cat half a can of food in the morning and the same again in the evening. And make up the Calories with some dry food left out during the day. Or you could just give him 9oz of canned food per day, spread out over two or three meals.

This is assuming your cat is of average size. If he is larger he will obviously need more. Or if he is smaller he will not need so much. Keep your eye on his weight, and if he starts to get too fat, reduce the amount of food you are giving him. Or if he seems a bit thin, feed him a bit more.

So although you can see that it’s not easy to give exact instructions, you now have the answer to the question “how much should I feed my cat”, and you also know what sort of food you should feed him. Stick to the advice given here and you should have a happy, healthy pet for many years to come.

If you'd also like information on how much to feed your dog, click here.