How Much Food Should a Cat Eat Daily?

by Francine Richards, Demand Media
    Fresh water is essential to aid in digesting cat food.

    Fresh water is essential to aid in digesting cat food.

    It is challenging to determine how much and how often your cat should eat daily. Food intake can depend on age, health, weight and type of food. Rely on your vet’s advice and instructions on the food packaging to determine how much to feed each cat.

    Food Quantity

    A cat’s daily food intake will depend on several factors such as age, environment, health conditions and nutrient needs. For example, a kitten may require feeding up to three times per day while an adult cat may require just one or two feedings per day. Cat food packaging will contain average feeding guidelines. Additionally, review the caloric content of the food and factor in that adult cats, without special needs, require about 30 calories per pound of body weight per day.

    Types of Cat Food

    Commercial cat food is either dry, semi-moist or canned. Some cats prefer a combination of the three. Dry food is often least expensive and allows you to leave it in the bowl for cats to free feed when they're hungry. However, it may be less palatable and the least digestible of all food types. Canned food is often 75 percent water and easier for your cat to digest, making it more palatable for him. Semi-moist food is a hybrid between dry and canned foods, but may be the most expensive.

    Special Diet Needs

    Prescription cat food is available through veterinarians for cats with allergies, sensitive digestive systems and conditions such as diabetes. As an alternative to commercial cat food, these foods can be more expensive, but may address your cat’s special needs and appeal to his palate. Additionally, specialty commercial cat foods are available to address special needs associated with growing kittens, senior age, pregnancy and those with heart or kidney diseases.

    Obesity

    Feline obesity, caused by overfeeding, can greatly shorten a cat’s life. Obese cats may develop diabetes, arthritis, liver and heart disease, skin disease and breathing and digestive issues. If you allow your cats to free feed, monitor the amount of food each cat eats. Cats may hoard food or overeat if free fed. Feed an obese cat separately from other household cats and limit his access to other foods, treats and table scraps.

    About the Author

    Francine Richards began writing in 1998 with a specialty in health-care technical writing. Her experience includes authoring policies, training materials, Web articles and marketing materials. Richards' work has appeared on several Blue Cross Blue Shield plan websites and newsletters. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.

    Photo Credits

    • A cat eats from a dark blue bowl on a white background image by Kapu from Fotolia.com