How Much Food Should I Feed My Cat?

Some general rules to help you determine how much to feed your cat.
July 12, 2006 By
Here’s my cat waiting to be fed.

Hill's Science Diet's recommended daily feeding guide for its Adult Original dry food for cats between 1-6 years old.

Find out the type and flavor of pet food that your cat prefers and try to stick with them.

If you are new cat owner, you may be wondering how much food you should be feeding your cat each day. The amount of food your cat needs will vary depending on its age, weight, physical activity, metabolic rate and whether it's pregnant or not. Since every cat is different, you should tailor the amount of food it's given on your cats own individual needs. Here are some general rules you can follow.

  1. In general, cats tend to be overfed and under-exercised, so if you're unsure about the correct amount to give your cat initially, it's a good idea to start with less food. However, if your a new cat owner and your cat is constantly meowing for food, make sure that it gets enough food to put the cat at ease.  A cat that is thrust into a new environment, may become nervous and want more food than it would typically. Once your new cat becomes comfortable with its new surroundings, which may take anywhere from 1 to 6 months you should start reducing the amount of food it gets to normal levels.
  2. Check the product label on the cat food you buy for the pet food makers recommended guidelines on how much to give your cat.
  3. Try to feed your cat wet and dry food each day. Split up the meals by giving your cat dry food in the morning and wet cat food at night. A cat might not eat all of its food in one sitting, so by giving your cat dry food in the morning, your cat will be able to nibble on whatever he doesn't eat during the day. As long as your cat does not gain excessive weight, leaving dry food out all day is not a problem. This should be avoided with wet food, because of the spoilage factor.
  4. In general, an Adult cat that weighs between 5-10 lbs should have between 2 to 4 oz (¼ to ½ cup) of dry food, or 5 to 9 oz of canned food per day. Kittens, senior adult and pregnant cats will typically require more food than these amounts.
  5. Feed your cat Premium pet food whenever possible. Premium foods contain higher quality ingredients and will provide your cat with better overall nutrients that make for a healthier cat.
  6. Avoid feeding your cat table scraps. Feeding table scraps can disrupt the balance of your cat's diet, which can lead to obesity. It may also encourage your cat to beg for food, or even to stop eating its own pet food and want to eat human food only.
  7. Try to establish a specific feeding schedule, so your cat will know when to expect its next meal. Most often this schedule will be based around your work or school schedule. Because of this, it usually makes sense to feed your cat once in the morning, and once when you get home from work or school.
  8. Lastly, always provide fresh water for your cat. Make sure you do not allow your cat to drink from unsanitary sources of water, such as the toilet bowl or a fish tank.

In general, most adult cats weigh between 6 and 14 pounds, so if your cat weighs much more than this you should consider putting it on a diet. To get an accurate measurement of your cat's weight you should take it to a veterinarian and have them weight it. However, to quickly determine your cat's weight using your bathroom scale, try the following. Step on your scale and weigh yourself while holding onto your cat, then weigh yourself without your cat. Now subtract the difference and you will get your cat’s approximate weight.

Foods that you should not feed your cat include: dog food, raw fish, raw eggs, large amounts of tuna or liver, chocolate, and any bones. You should avoid feeding your cat people food from your own meals. Also, while most cats like drinking milk and it is a nutritious snack, you should only offer it to your cat after it has eaten its solid food. You should also be aware that a surprising number of cats are lactose intolerant, and milk will often cause them to develop diarrhea if they drink too much. So if you suspect that milk is causing your cat to have an upset stomach, then you should avoid giving it milk or any other types of dairy products.

 


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19 Comments

anonymous by Kimmy on 12/27/2007
Wow this really helped me and my Cami!!!
Thanks a lot!
anonymous by priscilla on 1/24/2008
Adult cat only eating kitten food!
I have an adult cat and a kitten. Which means two different types of food. The adult cat only seems to be interested in the kitten food. I have changed the brands and he still only goes to the kitten food. I have tried seperate eating times, but he will just leave his food and wait until the kitten food comes out. I don't know what else to do. please help
Doug by Doug on 1/25/2008
Priscilla, I'm not a veterinarian so take this with a grain of salt, but it seems as though the adult cat really likes the taste of the kitten food. So for the time being, until the kitten gets older, you may just want to give the adult cat what he likes (kitten food). In time when the kitten grows older, you'll eventually start giving both cats regular cat food, so it would only be a short period of time. If giving your adult cat, kitten food for a few months is not something you want to do, then try as many cat foods as you can to see what he likes the best (maybe you can get samples from the pet stores or contact the pet food makers for samples). If that doesn't work then you'll have to seperate the cats at meal time, let the kitten eat all his food first, then give the adult cat food (don't allow the kitten food to be out when the adult cat is around). Within a week or so the adult cat may realize that he won't be able to eat the kitten food anymore, and will resort back to eating his adult cat food. Good Luck! Let us know how you made out.
anonymous by Emma on 2/19/2008
wow thanks your info really helped me. im doing a project on cats and this helped big so thanks.... xxxxx
anonymous by moomoo on 2/22/2008
i really dont think kennards idea is aproprieate as if a cat eats kitten food it can b extreamly bad for the older cats needs as the food contains so many nutrients which r only sutible 4 kittens the best thing 2 do is separate them at meal times always feeding the adult cat first as she is the boss, but still dont let her get sight of the kiten food make sure the kitten has eaten all of his food and u've washed the bowl up b4 u let the big cat out gook luck xxx
anonymous by dave on 7/26/2008
ive got two cats and lately they both seem to be vomiting not straight after they have eaten i admit we have changed there brand of wet food but they have had it before also they are a miniature breed of cat and we got told that they should have half of the food an average cat does is this true??? they are also house cats and don't go out therefore they could not have caught an illness.
anybody with some answers please feel free because they messing up the carpet.
Doug by Doug on 7/27/2008
Dave, I'd recommend you take them to the Vet, and have them checked out. Especially, since both cats are vomitting (this does not seem right). It may just be that you're feeding them way too much food at once, and they are gorging themselves. It could also be some sort of reaction to the food you're feeding them. I'd recommend 'Science Diet' as the cat food brand you should be using. I would also recommend you comb them out, to get rid of any hair balls that may be causing them to throw up.
anonymous by Alexi on 9/6/2008
This is probably late to Dave - but I just found this site. Maybe a year or so ago, my two cats were vomiting as well. They had been eating Friskies salmon dinner. I changed meals and they seemed to get over it. Went back to salmon dinners again - a different batch this time bought at a different time - and they started up again. Haven't given them salmon since - except as treats - and haven't had that problem since. Don't know if they just developed a sensitivity to it or what.
anonymous by Kitties are yummy! on 9/15/2008
I want to eat my neigbors cat what do I feed my nieghbors cat so he tastes good when I cook him?
anonymous by kittinveil on 10/22/2008
reply to: i want to eat my neighbors cat
id recomend feed your neighbors cat lots of grain based foods. put bread drenched in salmon juice to attract the cat to eat it. id also recomend doing that several times a day to get the cat a bit heavtier which in turn will make it more tender and enjoyable to eat. if your real sadistic id recomend catnapping the cat and putting him in a box in your home and feed him constantly. after several months he will be as tender and tasty as veil. good luck man hahah
anonymous by Kaitlyn on 11/8/2008
Thanks! This helped alot with my new cat Shadow. I've only had one cat before him, and that was a long time ago. Thanks!
anonymous by Rachel on 11/12/2008
My cat was vomiting after eating also so know he gets feed in the morning and in the evening. He has not vomited since!
anonymous by Sushi Q on 11/20/2008
This is in response to Alexi's comment and to anyone else who has had a similar experience. I also have two cats who have vomited after eating Friskies salmon dinner, specifically. This has happened on several occasions, which made me suspicious of the salmon dinner. Has anyone else experienced this? And does anyone know, is it the salmon that would cause this or something that Friskies is doing to it?
anonymous by Mike C on 1/15/2009
Science Diet Wet... Look at the ingredients of their wet food. Next to water the largest ingredient is PORKBYPRODUCT!!!!! Do you know what kind of meat can be classified as byproduct for pet food? Pretty much anything. Rancid, moldy, cancer ridden meat, roadkill, even your own pets that have died and been recycled. Don't believe me? Do your own research and understand what you are feeding your pets before you just take their word for it.
anonymous by Courtney on 1/21/2009
One of my cats barfs if she eats any kind of fish-flavored food...especially salmon. Fish flavors aren't good for cats anyways and studies are showing that fish diets cause hypothyroidism in cats.

Friskies is a terrible brand to feed to your cats. Its full of animal by-products, fillers, and cheap non-nutritious ingredients. The reason cats love cheap foods is because the food companies coat the food with an animal digest spray that smells and tastes delicious to cats. They do this to cover up the garbage that their food contains. If you love your cats, switch to a better food. It may be more expensive, but you'll be saving a heck of a lot of money on vet bills down the road by keeping your cat healthy.
I have a small black cat that was dumped off with a hip fracture a year ago. $1,300 dollars later you would never know she had any problems. She was always a small build cat, when found she only weighed 4 lbs.
she's now 8 lbs, but doesn't eat too much? I've tried top brands, canned, cheap stuff, kitten, everything.
She acts normal, active and playful when awake! should I even be concerned? I have no Idea how much she really eats because I have a chow hound cat that lives here too! I play food police when I feed them canned food on the weekends. She will eat about a dime size amount and walk away. She loves milk? should I let her drink more milk since I don't see her eat much canned food? Her name is Jo Jo
anonymous by Beth on 2/8/2009
I have a 2 2/1 year old cat who I mistakenly was feeding fat free turkey and she quit eating her dry food. When she went in for her check - up she had lost 3 lbs. Now she hardly will eat anything and is very sick. We've been instructed to syringe feed her - if she doesn't eat enough wet cat food. She refuses anything dry. Any suggestions? She has to gain weight or she won't live. Please help.Her blood labs are normal and so was the ultrsound.
anonymous by sally on 12/11/2012
Organic is NOT regulated by the FDA!! Therefore you never know if it is truly organic, Raw fresh food is ALWAYS BETTER, JUST KNOW WHAT TO PUT IN IT! No cats do not need vitamins when fed properly! They need certain nutrients added, commercial food it is added already. Bones are very good for cats just make it bone meal, or grind them up. Very healthy for cats to get bone meal. Never use the bag or canned food instruction labels as a baseline for feeding, they always insist on overfeeding by design. DONT FEED KIBBLE IT IS LOADED WITH CARBS AND OTHER UNHEALTHY THINGS, AND IT IS A FALLACY THAT THEY ARE GOOD FOR THE TEETH, I RESEARCHED ALL OF THIS AT GREAT LENGTHS. So, what to feed. I feed my cats wellness canned cat food. Or, you can feed them any high quality canned food if you dont want to go to homemade......blue buffalo, wellness, etc. But even the high quality foods that are kibble are too high in calories, dont have enough water in them, and are NOT good for the teeth or gums as some people would have you believe. Any crappy canned supermarket food is better than the best high quality dried food.
anonymous by sally on 12/11/2012
also, kitten food is fine for an adult cat, as a matter of fact it is preferable, it does NOT have a ton of calories more, what it does have is more protein. That is what cats are supposed to have and if you have to choose a high quality mix of anything, kitten food is preferable for an adult cat, all cats should have higher protein contents.

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