Is your cat a finicky eater who turns up a nose at kibble? Or perhaps you have a well-fed, chunky cat that is constantly begging for more treats? For many pet owners, keeping their feline at a healthy weight can be a struggle.
Health and weight issues
Your cat's weight can have a huge impact on its overall health. For one thing, overweight felines are more likely to develop high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes than a normal-weight feline. Even worse, a cat's lifespan may be shortened by being overweight. And if you're like most pet parents, you definitely want your furry best friend around as long as possible.
On the other hand, if your cat is too thin, it may not be getting the nutrition it needs or could require a specialized diet.
How often are cats fed?
Felines are truly creatures of habit. Most want to be fed at the same time each and every day. In fact, some cats will even wake up an owner who has the nerve to try and sleep through the morning meal.
One of the factors that determines how much to feed a cat is its age. The following are general guidelines for how much should you feed a cat during the different stages of its life.
Kittens experience the most rapid period of growth during the first six months of their lives. And that is why they require specialized kitten food that can provide them with the extra nutrients and calories they need for their growing bodies.
As far as how often to feed a kitten, there are two schools of thought: Some pet owners believe in allowing their kittens to free feed, eating as much food as they want all day long. While that works fine for most kittens, it could lead to some long-term issues in some cats, such as obesity or binge eating. So, instead of free feeding, some veterinarians recommend giving a kitten at least three or four meals a day.
Once a cat reaches 10 months of age, you can begin switching it over to adult food.
Adult cats should be fed at least two meals a day. For most cat families, that means breakfast and dinner. These meals should not be more than 12 hours apart. Waiting too long could cause your cat's stomach to become hyper-acidic, spurring nausea. If your schedule allows, you could also feed your cat smaller portions three to four times a day.
A cat is generally considered to be a senior when it reaches 11 years of age. Because many cats today live indoors, they tend to have a sedentary lifestyle, which could lead to weight gain. If you've noticed that your cat is getting a bit chunky, it may be time to switch it over to a specialized senior food. But before you do, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that is the right move to make for your cat.
How much food should you feed a cat?
The amount of food your cat needs each meal depends on a number of factors, including the breed and size of your cat, as well as its activity level. To determine how much you should feed your cat, check out the label on your feline's food. This will give you a starting point that you can then tailor to your cat's specific requirements. For example, your cat may need more or less food than indicated on the label if it is
Pregnant or nursing
Overweight or obese
An indoor or an outdoor cat
Sick or injured
Once you have determined the quantity to feed your cat, always use a measuring cup or digital scale to ensure that you are giving it the correct amount.
Feeding your cat the right amount of food two or more times a day will help keep it at a healthy weight. But if your cat continues to struggle with weight issues, make sure to take it to see your veterinarian to rule out any serious health issues.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.