How to Determine the Right Amount of Food for Your Cat

Cat with a bowl of food

Is that enough?

Some cats always seem to be hungry. But how much food does a cat need per day? This article helps you to find out the right amount of food for your cat. 

Is your cat running back and forth between you and its empty food bowl? Is it looking at you reproachfully with its big round eyes and miaowing miserably? This can only mean one thing: It's hungry! 

Nowadays, many cats eat more than is good for them. Obesity and secondary diseases like diabetes are no longer uncommon in cats. But what amount of food does a cat actually need to neither be hungry nor become too fat? 

How much food does a cat need?

An adult cat needs roughly 300g of wet food each day. However, this is only a rough guideline. The amount of food that a cat actually needs each day depends on many different factors. Calorie requirements and therewith the amount of food depend, among other things, on the cat's size, age and weight.

Activity plays a role too. Lively cats need more food than calm felines. Outdoor cats that get a lot of exercise and cover a wide territory usually have higher requirements than indoor cats.

In addition, the higher the quality of the food, the less your cat needs of it. Good food generally has a high meat content and satiates your cat perfectly. If you buy a high-quality cat food, the bottom line is that you probably won't pay more than someone choosing cheaper products.

Table of food quantities for cats

Important: This table contains average amounts that should act as guidance for you. In individual cases, your cat may need a higher or lower quantity of food.

Weight of the cat in kilograms Daily portion of wet food in grams
Up to 2 120 to 160
2 to 3 160 to 210
3 to 4 210 to 260
4 to 5 240 to 320
5 to 6 250 to 360

A cat's calorie requirements 

A cat's calorie requirements depend, amongst other factors, on how much exercise it gets. In this sense, our four-legged friends aren't too different to us humans. 

A very active cat burns around 80kcal per kilogram of body weight per day. A cat with an average activity level reaches 70kcal, and a lazy couch potato merely 60kcal per kilogram of body weight. 

However, these values are only helpful to a limited extent for everyday practice, because calorie content is usually not noted on cat food packaging.

The manufacturer's feeding recommendations 

Another reference point for the amount of food for cats is the manufacturer's feeding recommendation, which is printed on the packaging. 

These amounts too refer to the average calorie requirements and aren't set in stone. However, they are quite helpful for orientation purposes. 

In the zooplus online store, the feeding recommendation is listed for all cat food varieties as well as the composition of the food.

Example: Wet food 

Here is an example with the wet food Animonda vom Feinsten Adult: The manufacturer recommends an amount of 165 to 215g per day for cats if the cat weighs between 2 and 3kg. Cats weighing from 4 to 5kg should get between 265 and 310g per day. 

Example: Dry food 

Dry food provides more energy than wet food, therefore your cat needs significantly less of it. According to the feeding recommendation for the dry food Purizon Adult Fish, the amount for a cat weighing 2kg is just 20 to 40g. A cat weighing 5kg needs 60 to 80g per day.

Quantity of food: How often should you feed your cat? 

On average, an outdoor farm cat catches 15 mice per day. It doesn't eat them all at once but – depending on its success hunting – spreads them throughout the day. 

Even indoor cats, which don't have to catch mice for their subsistence, have maintained this habit: they don't empty their whole bowl at once, but split their serving into several small portions. 

A portion like this corresponds roughly to the volume of a mouse. Once the cat has eaten it, it first retreats to digest its meal. If you give your cat a large bowl filled to the brim with food, this is equivalent to two to five mice, which your cat can't manage all at once. 

At least three times per day 

Hence, you should offer your cat a fresh meal at least three times a day. Wet food will go off at some point if it is sitting around all day because your cat only eats it bit by bit. Food can soon spoil, especially in summer when it's hot. 

If you work and aren't at home during the day, automatic feeders can help you. These can come with cooling elements for wet food too. 

You can find different automatic feeder models in the zooplus online store. 

Some cats eat everything at once 

There are exceptions to the rule when it comes to eating behaviour too: Not all cats are so disciplined at spreading out their food. Some cats will eat the entire contents of their bowl at once and quite often have to vomit shortly afterwards. 

Especially with dry food, we can observe cats bolting down the entire portion. 

Tip: Fill an intelligence toy with your cat's portion of dry food. Intelligence toys have small hollows and indentations which your cat first has to fish its food out of by using its paws. This automatically makes it eat slower. 

Find intelligence toys for cats in the zooplus online store. 

Kittens eating food
Kittens have to grow and need plenty of food.

Amount of food for kittens, pregnant and nursing cats 

There are some rules for young cats regarding food quantities. 

Up to four weeks of age, kittens solely feed off their mother's milk. Afterwards, they can slowly be accustomed to solid food. 

You can't give a kitten too much food. They need to grow and should significantly gain weight week on week. Kittens have a very small stomach, so feed them several times a day. Five meals are quite appropriate up to the age of five to six months. 

Pregnant cats and mother cats nursing their cats also need extra energy. Make sure that there is always enough high-quality food available. 

Find out more in our article on kitten nutrition about the right way to feed kittens.

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