How much should I feed my indoor cat? For most new cat owners, this is a question that is quite common. Contrary to the simplicity of the question, the right answer is much more complicated. There are numerous answers to this questions. Answers usually vary depending on the cat.
Regardless of the answers, you can get on the internet, a trustworthy source of the information you are searching for is your veterinarian. This should also be your first step. Since this doctor has lots of experience with your cat, it will be easy to give more accurate information. You can also get answers to any question on your mind. If you are searching for feeding tips which apply to all cats, then this article provides all the necessary information.
The quantity you feed your cat depends on various factors. These include the following:
- Is it an outdoor or indoor cat? Or both?
- Is it dry or wet food? Or both?
- The age of the cat
- Is your cat nursing or pregnant?
- The weight of the cat
- The nutritional content of the food
- The energy level of the cat
Adjusting your feeding schedule and changing the food you give your cat
If you are adding a cat to your family, there are certain steps to take. These adhering strictly to the previous schedule, food, and quantity which the cat is familiar with. You can then slowly change the schedule and food to suit your preference. Changes can have a huge impact on a cat. To reduce the stress which comes with making drastic changes to the environment, consistency in the schedule and food can be very helpful. In addition to preventing any intestinal upset, it can also ease the transition phase.
If you feel it is the right time to change the cat food and schedule to your own, then you also have to decide on the type of food to give the cat. Will you opt for raw, dry, or wet food? Or will a combo be a better option? You also have to decide on the right quantity to feed the cat. This will be determined using the calorie count of the food.
Should I go for a wet food or dry food when feeding my cat?
Determining what to feed your cat is quite important in answering the basic question, “How much should I feed my cat?” A healthy cat diet is largely made up of animal proteins rather than plant proteins. Poultry, fish, and meat are excellent sources of animal-based proteins. Cats cannot properly digest plant proteins while the diet you choose should contain a maximum of 10% carbohydrate.
In a wet food, meat should be the main content while the fillers and other by-products should be as reduced to the minimum.
It’s time for an assessment
Examining your cat is necessary before you start reading various cat food labels. Studying the body condition of a cat can provides lots of vital information. Is the cat a very slim cat with a waist which is well-defined? Or is it one with lots of tummy fat sweeping the carpet? Is it an indoor cat? Or does it love going on outdoor adventures? For a cat that stays outdoors a lot, the quantity of food will increase during the winter period. Another factor is age. The quantity of food which a kitten will consume during the first twelve months will be a lot more than what you will need to feed an adult cat during this same period.
Another aspect to take note of is the energy levels of your cat. Is it a very active cat or one that enjoys sleeping a lot? Depending on the activity level of the cat, the daily calorie requirement will vary.
According to nutrition experts, the daily calorie requirement of an adult cat which is active, healthy, and weight 10-lb is 270-320 calories. This value will vary for nursing cats, obese cats, inactive senior cats, and kittens. Your veterinarian can be very helpful in this situation. All you need to do is schedule another appointment. For a recommendation which is specific to your cat and its health, your veterinarian is always your best option.
What does the food package say?
Going through the cat food label is another important step. This is after getting advice from your veterinarian and also carefully observing your cat. This label should contain a feeding guide. This should help you in determining the quantity to feed the cat.
Various cat types are usually taken into consideration on most labels. A range of feeding amount will be available.
On to the big question, what range does your cat fall in? This is where you have to make the right choice. If you don’t get it on the first try, you can always adjust for the right quantity.
The label on the package on a commercial cat food usually provides all the necessary information you need. A caloric calculation will be necessary for cats that are not on a commercial cat food diet.
The National Research Council provides a standard which is easy to follow. For a lean cat, you should provide 100 × Weightkg0.67 kcal per day. The exact value may vary depending on a lot of other factors.
Using the age and weight of a cat, both wet and dry food packages usually have a table which gives an estimate of the quantity of food which you should serve your cat.
Below are some approximate values which you should serve an average cat, usually 4 kg or 8.8 lbs of body weight:
- 100 to 200 grams (3.5 to 7 oz) of raw food.
- Dry food of about 50 to 70 grams (1.7 to 2.5 oz)
- Wet food from 150 to 250 grams (5.3 to 8.8 oz)
It is possible to use different foods for your cat. All you need to do is to serve each food as a separate meal for the cat.
Using a cup to weigh the cat food is much easier with wet food. Each cup will be equal to the daily amount of the food which you are to serve the cat. All you need to do is to weigh the first time. Once you do this, you can mark the cup, take note of the number of spoons, or depend on your memory.
After measuring the daily amount, you can spread it into different meals.
If you are serving canned cat food, then the best option is to use a single can for the daily amount. This is a lot easier to distribute. It is also better to avoid storing for long periods after opening the can.
For a cat food package that uses range, start serving from the lowest value. This will give an easier means of adjusting the quantity until you get the right effect on the weight of the cat.
It is important to note that if you notice your cat stealing food from the table, it is not a true sign of hunger. The same applies to a cat constantly meowing at an empty bowl. The best indication is the changes in weight. Is it gaining weight or losing?
Other things to note about nutrients and water
Protein is Key
As obligate carnivores, meat is a necessity in the diet of a cat. The high quantity of protein which cats need is also noticeable in wild cats. The diets of these cats consist mainly of small animals. Compared to dogs, the diet of an adult cat usually has three times the protein content. This is according to a study by Debra Zoran, who is a veterinarian and also a professor at Texas A&M University. Hunting is not an option for indoor cats. This is why you need to provide a diet containing the necessary nutrients. To get protein in high quantity and of the best quality, you should provide a raw diet. Canned food is the other alternatives. Vital and Primal Essentials are some excellent raw diets to use. If you are going for canned foods, then you can use any of Dave’s, Wureva, or Fussie Cat. Although it should only be a last resort, you can make use of dry kibble. In this case, you also have to ensure the kibble contains a minimum of 5% protein while also being grain-free.
Fats are Important
There are certain things that are good for humans but have a negative effect on cats. An example is low-fat. Fats are very important in cats as a main source of energy. It takes the place of carbohydrates. Some essential fats include fatty acids like Omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9. These are very important for the proper development and growth of the cat. Omega 3 also improves skin and joint health, development of muscles, and immune function. Flax and fish are the main sources of the Omega 3 fatty acids. The daily requirement of Omega 3 in cats is 250 mg. This fatty acid can be added as a supplement to the cat food.
Carbohydrates have no nutritional value to cats. It is quite rare to find a cat eating grains in the wild. The same applies to vegetable and fruits. These foods are mainly for survival. To cut costs, grains serve as the main contents in lots of dry kibble products. In truth, both the long intestines and enzymes for carbohydrate digestion is not present in the cat’s body system. This means that cats excrete grains the same way they ingest them. Providing a diet which consists mainly of carbohydrates, the cats lack the most important nutrients. Instead, the excessive quantities of grains result in muscle weakness, obesity, irritable bowls, diabetes, and other health problems. Indoor cats depend on their human owners for their food. This means that it is your responsibility to eliminate grains from their diet. Go through the cat food labels when you need to make a purchase. Ensure that you avoid foods with soy, wheat, corn, and other grains as components.
Add Moisture for Best Health
Unlike lots of other animals, cats do not thirst easily. This is a result of the environment in which they evolved from. The evolution of the indoor cat can be traced back to the wildcats which lived in the Middle East and Northern Africa. These were regions which offered more arid conditions. To survive such conditions, cats absorb water from their prey. They can get up to 75% water from some prey. On the other hand, using a diet based on Kibble will provide only about 10% of the water they require. Understanding that your cat will most likely not drink the right amount of water from a bowl, it is important you add moisture to the cat’s diet. In a diet consisting of kibble, raw food is necessary to provide water to the cat. You can also use grain-free canned food. The cat will end up dehydrated if you provide only dry kibble.
The first phase is to determine the right amount of food to give your cat. After completing this phase, you need to observe how effective it is on the cat. This assessment should be done after a few weeks. Some areas you should consider include:
- Is the cat looking healthy and happy while eating?
- Despite emptying the bowl, is the cat getting thinner or fatter?
- Does the cat wake up at night looking for more food? Or is there usually leftovers from previous meals?
Spreading the daily amount into different meals can be very helpful to the cat. The meals will be smaller and can help in building a healthy weight for the cat. Always visit your veterinarian if you notice any negative changes resulting from the diet.
A cat will always be happy eating the correct amount of the proper food. It will also grow healthy. Providing food for the cat will also help it grow closer to you.