How much to feed a catCredit: morguefile.comCats are great pets and companions but taking care of them can create a few questions, such as how much to feed a cat? What type of food?  Canned or Dry?

Every cat is a little different, just like us humans some prefer dry food and others wet food.  It also depends on the life stage they are at, such as kitten, young adult and senior.  Each of these stages needs to be tweaked a bit to continue with good health and an ideal weight.

If you have been feeding your cat the same food for years, and now you have been told he is overweight, then chances are he doesn’t have the same calorie needs that he needed as a younger adult and you will need to gradually cut back. 

You will need to adjust your food regime at the different stages in their lives to keep them in good health.

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How Much to Feed a Cat that is Overweight? – Measure the food - If your cat is older, then you need to look at a senior line of cat food, and/or measure their intake for the day.  The senior line of foods have less fat and calories, but you still need to measure it out for your cat rather than just filling the bowl.

Most cats tend to graze when it comes to their meals, compared to a dog that basically eats at one sitting.  The cat will pick at their food most of the day if it is the dry food, and if you are just filling up the bowl when it is empty, he may be taking in more calories than he needs to.

You don’t want to starve him, but check the package for the amount your cat should be eating, and then measure it out for the day.

Canned Food – This is a good choice for any cat that likes meat or needs the extra calories.  One of the good things about canned food, is that you can get it in pre-measured cans, such as 3 ounce sizes, and this is measured out as one meal.

You should make sure and get food that is specific for the age group of your cat, such as kitten, young adult or senior.  The can will have suggested servings, but most cats will eat one of the smaller 3 ounce cans a day.

You can then leave them a small amount of kibble to nibble on during the day, but if your cat needs to watch his weight then you need to measure carefully.

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Young Adult Cats – If your cat is past kitten stage but still very active, then he will need more calories, and adding a can of food to their day is a great way to get protein.  If you prefer to feed them dry food only, then measure out the required amount for the day you may need more kibble if they are not eating canned food.

Does he need more? - If you find that he is eating it quickly and looking for more and he is a very active cat and slim, then you can give him a little bit more, but don’t’ completely fill the bowl again.  You will be able to gauge how much he needs in a day with a bit of experimenting! If the package says ¾ cup for the day and your cat does much better on one cup, then this will be his amount every day.  Keep a measure with the food. 

If you get your cat gets in the bad habit of assuming there will always be a full bowl then the chances of them overeating and gaining weight is high.  If you know your cat does well on one cup of food then measure it out each day.  

Worms – If your cat goes outside as well as indoors, and is eating and eating and not getting full and is on the skinny side, then you need to get him checked for worms, as this is common with outdoor cats and needs treatment.

How much to feed a cat? – Kittens, need to graze all the time, and if you are feeding them canned food for kittens, you don’t want to leave it in the bowl all day as it will spoil.  So you need to spread out the canned food over the day to keep it fresh. (Canned food once opened needs to be kept in the fridge)

Kibble should be in a separate bowl so as not to spoil from the wet food.  Most cats do not like getting the kibble wet.

Did You Just Adopt a Cat? - So, if you have just adopted a cat, get him to the veterinarian for a checkup and find out his age if you can, and then purchase good quality cat food based on his age and your availability for feeding him.

Canned or Dry? - Advice I received years ago from my Veterinarian was “If you are not around a lot of the day, then start your cat off with dry kibble based on his age, as canned food will spoil if not all eaten and the dish cleaned out. 

Cats don’t have to have canned food, there is kibble that has all the nutrients necessary for a complete diet.  So, if you don’t like the idea of canned food or the smell, then make sure and get a well balanced quality dried kibble and start by following the chart on the package.

How much to Feed a Cat? – Find out their weight and age, and then use the chart on the package as a guide and then monitor your cats behavior. 

For most cats that will be enough, and make sure to have fresh water close by at all times (cats hate stale water).

If your cat is looking for more, and is a very active slim cat, then add another 1/8 of a cup of kibble at a time, until he seems satisfied, and then that is the amount you need to feed him every day.

But remember after a few years, this may be too much that is why it is important for checkups, to see where your cat is in his or her life cycle.  Your veterinarian will tell you if he thinks your cat is too fat or slim.

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Get to know your Cat – Their personalities are so different.  Some cats simply take a bit of food and get on with their day, while others (like my cat) will spend all day at the food bowl if they could.  So I need to measure out her food for the day.

Use good quality food, if you are not sure get a recommendation from your veterinarian or friends who have healthy happy cats.  You may need to pay a bit more, but it will show in your cat’s glossy coat and good health.

Using the guidelines on the side of the package is a great place to start when trying to figure out how much to feed a cat if you are using kibble and if you prefer canned food or it was recommended to you, just make sure and clean the dish well afterwards as spoilt canned food can make them sick.  Don’t leave uneaten canned food out for the day.  If you don’t think you can deal with the canned food and will not be around much of the day, then start them from the beginning with the dried food in the measured amounts and then adjust! 

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