How Often Should You Feed a Cat?

Should your cat be on a feeding schedule or be allowed to graze all day? See how often you should feed your kitty as she grows and her nutritional needs change.

The good news is that putting some thought now into how often you feed your cat can help ensure a healthy life for your feline friend. Her best advice is remembering that your cat‘s diet is going to depend on your specific animal and making a plan for what nutrients they need at that stage of their life.

Serving your kitten (or cat) wet or dry food at a certain time of the day is the best way to closely monitor how much your pet is eating.

How much and how often should you feed a cat?

Cats should eat at least two meals each day, about 12 hours apart. But a breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner, and right before bed schedule is an equally great option. If more than 12 hours elapses between meals, the stomach can become hyperacidic causing nausea.

How much should cats eat in a day?

If we assume the average cat weighs approximately 10 pounds (5 kg) then the average indoor cat needs 250 calories a day. If the cat owner is feeding a good quality dry food, that has a good quality protein, then the indoor cat needs only approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of food each day.

Is it OK to feed a cat once a day?

The bottom line. While kittens should be fed up to three times a day, once a cat becomes an adult (at about one year of age) feeding once or twice a day is just fine, says the Cornell Feline Health Center. In fact, feeding just once a day should be acceptable for the majority of cats.

What are the best times to feed a cat?

Most cats will eat their main meals at dawn and dusk, when they would normally be hunting and catching prey in the wild, so those are often the best times to feed them.

Cats are carnivores, which means they eat mostly meat. House cats evolved from hunters who ate high amounts of protein and some fat and carbohydrates. They still need the same type of diet today.

Sometimes cats have health conditions like diabetes or hyperthyroidism , which involves the overproduction of thyroid hormones, that can cause undereating or overeating. This mixture is dried into small bite sizes and is often coated in fat, which helps with taste.

Homemade food often doesnt have the right balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. Sources American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Cat Nutrition Tips. Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences: Choosing the best diet for your kitten.

Every pet owner wonders if they are taking good care of their pet (spoiler: youre doing great sweetie!), with questions about feeding being one of the number one concerns. Cats are mercurial much of the time; they often do what they want and can switch between being a cuddler and a distant loner in a second. Talk about mixed signals! It makes it hard to determine their basic needs, like how often they need to be fed.

Kittens need to eat more than adult cats to support their growth. That way, your kitten wont overeat and still gets the right amount of food to grow big and healthy.

There is a relatively easy way to find out how much you need to feed your cat: find a chart that outlines cat food requirements. If you are feeding a combination of wet and dry food, it is a good idea to start with the wet food. Cats are not big fans of drinking enough water (lets face it, most people arent either).

If you are feeding with wet food, control how much your cat has access to at one time. Your cat will continue eating far past when they normally would stop if you let them. Check out this chart to see how much wet food to feed your cat:

Dry food diets can be adequate for your cats health as long as you pick a quality food and your cat stays hydrated throughout the day. Otherwise, incorporating wet food into your cats diet may be needed. Here is a chart to help you stay on track with your cats feeding schedule:

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Cats are often the king or queen of the household, with their adoring owners waiting on them hand and foot ready to meet their every need. For this reason, it can be tempting to feed your cat whenever they demand to be fed, rather than sticking to a feeding schedule. However, this isnt always healthy for your cat, and can quickly lead to weight gain. So, how many times a day should you feed a cat? Royal Canin investigates

As kittens have a lot of growing to do, they need to eat up to four times the calories per pound of body weight as adult cats. However, as their stomach is a lot smaller than that of an adult cat, kittens need to be fed numerous small meals a day to give them the correct calorie and nutrient intake.

As your kitten gets bigger, you can gradually reduce the number of meals you give them per day until they reach adulthood, or around one year of age.

Free Feeding a Cat

If you feel like your cat is hungry all of the time, you might consider free feeding. This method allows your pet to eat multiple small meals per day when she decides she is hungry because food is sitting out at all times—obviously dry food only, since wet food can spoil. But proceed with caution. Free feeding is more likely to lead to overeating and obesity, which Heinze said should be a major concern for cat owners.Free feeding also makes it difficult to notice changes to your kitty’s eating habits, which can be signs of distress. If you decide to go this route, measuring out the food you give your cat on a daily basis is still important. Fill the bowl only once per day to help your cat learn to graze instead of gobble. If you choose free feeding, keep in mind that it may be tricky to transition to scheduled feedings should the need arise.

Scheduled or Meal Feeding a Cat

You could go with scheduled feedings, sometimes called meal feeding, starting when your cat is young. Serving your kitten (or cat) wet or dry food at a certain time of the day is the best way to closely monitor how much your pet is eating. This is particularly helpful in multi-cat households. You may find your feline begging for food in between meals, however. Many experts say that a kitten should be fed up to three times a day, but once a cat turns one, feeding them twice a day is acceptable.

Cat Diet

Cats need meat — you shouldn’t feed them a vegetarian diet. They also need a good balance of fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids, which are building blocks for protein. Cats’ dietary needs change with age and health.Kittens can start to eat wet food after their eyes open and they can move around well on their own. You can start to introduce dry food at 6 weeks, but the main food should be wet food that is high in protein.A balanced meal once or twice a day for adult cats is best in most cases. This is also best for senior cats 7 and older. Sometimes cats have health conditions like diabetes or hyperthyroidism, which involves the overproduction of thyroid hormones, that can cause undereating or overeating. This condition can be treated so that your cat will return to eating normally.There are lots of types of cat food. The most important factor in choosing the best food is reading the labels and making sure the type of food is balanced with the right amount of nutrients.