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The Importance of Portion Control for Your Cat’s Health

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(Image from Deposit Photos)

If we want our kitties to live a long and happy life, we need to play our part in ensuring they get the best of everything.

That doesn’t always mean buying the most expensive food. It’s more about giving them healthy food they like. All while monitoring their calorie intake and ensuring they are getting enough food without overeating, of course.

And all of that comes down to portion control.

Knowing how much you should feed your cat is just as important as what you feed them.

As all cats are different, we’re going to discuss portion control rather than what food to feed them.

So, how much should you feed your cat and when?

Factors to consider when determining portion size

Maintaining a cat’s health means considering a lot of the same things as you would with humans.

If you don’t eat more calories than you burn, stay active and drink plenty of water, you should live a long and fruitful life.

It’s the same for our feline friends.

As pet parents, it’s our job to make sure we feed our cats the right type and amount of food for their lifestyle.

Taking into account:

Age – Kittens and younger cats will be much more active than older cats. That means they will need more calories.

Size/Weight – Smaller cats have smaller stomachs so should eat smaller portions. If your cat is a good weight, your portion control is correct. If your cat is overweight, portions need to be cut back a little.

Activity level – The more active your cat is, the more calories they will burn. More active cats will require more food to replenish.

Neutered or not – Cats that have been spayed or neutered might eat less but can also be prone to being overweight. Breeding cats should have unlimited access to food to give them the best chance of a healthy pregnancy.

Overall health – Underlying conditions can cause weight or appetite loss or gain. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet if your cat has underlying issues that may impact your calorie control efforts.

How much should you feed your cat?

Portion size is a key factor in helping your cat live a happy and healthy life.

As responsible pet parents, we need to factor in the considerations above with their current weight to decide how many calories to feed them.

As a rough guide:

Cat weight

Neutered or spayed

Typical cat

Typical cat - prone to weight gain

Overweight cat

2.3kg

157kcal

183kcal

131kcal

105kcal

3.4kg

210kcal

245kcal

195kcal

140kcal

4.6kg

260kcal

305kcal

210kcal

175kcal

5.7kg

300kcal

360kcal

225kcal

210kcal

All measures are approximate and per day. Divide accordingly depending on how many times per day your cat likes to eat.

This is just a rough guide to the average calorie requirements. If in doubt, talk to your vet before changing your cat’s diet. Or use an online Calorie Calculator for Cats.

Cat food manufacturers put the calorific content on the sides of the packet. It’ll usually broken down into kcal/portion weight, so there may be a little weighing to do until you get used to how much to feed your cat.

How often should you feed your cat?

How often you feed your cat depends on their preference. Some cats are content with one dinner per day and others will prefer more, while some cats are much more relaxed when they can graze throughout the day. So there’s no single right answer here.

Try three to four smaller meals per day and monitor your feline as they eat. They’ll soon let their preferences be known, so adapt accordingly.

You could use a single meal containing the kcals in the table, split it into multiple smaller meals or place a bowl for them to graze on as they like.

As long as you buy good quality cat food and maintain the correct caloric intake, your cat should be happy with what they get.

As for wet or dry, there’s no right answer here either.

Your cat will definitely have a preference and won’t be shy to let you know what it is!

Try a few food types and brands and see which your cat prefers. And remember to check the calorie content for each as they can vary significantly.

How can you control feeding?

Portion control and monitoring mealtimes is all very well if you’re home all day and have the time, but what if you don’t?

That’s when technology provides a helping hand.

If you have a single cat who likes to graze dry food, you need nothing more than a bowl for food and another for water.

If your cat is a little pickier or you have multiple cats, there are ways you can manage mealtimes even when you’re not there.

You could use an automatic cat feeder to help control mealtimes if you work during the day. It’s not the same as having you around, but it can help your cat stay healthy.

Once you know how they like to eat, buying an automatic feeder that can deliver on their schedule will help keep things running smoothly. Use wet or dry food as they prefer and divide it into the number of meals they like to eat.

A water fountain can also help to ensure that they always have fresh running water to keep them hydrated if they prefer to eat dry food.

If you have multiple cats and one likes to help themselves to the other’s dinner, you could try a microchip feeder.

It will only allow the cat wearing the correct chip to access it, meaning every cat can get the correct number of calories whether you’re at home or not!

Portion control and cat health

As you can see, working out portion control, caloric intake and mealtimes is a case of trial and error, much like being a pet parent in general.

Use our table to assess the average calorie requirements for your cat and use their food preferences and preferred mealtimes to decide the rest.

As long as they get roughly the amount of calories they need and you factor in treats, your cat should remain a healthy weight and get all the nutrition they need for a happy, healthy life.

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