How many grams of cat food per day should I feed my cat?

“How much should I feed my cat?” is one of the most common questions our patients ask. As a veterinarian and cat behaviorist, we must often answer cat food-related questions, such as “what is the best cat food“, “is dry food better for cats”, and others. No matter the type of food, the key question is how much should I feed my cat?

The only straight answer to this question is: Provide them enough food to maintain a healthy weight. Isn’t that brilliant? But how do you do that? Glad you asked.

In this article, you’ll learn how much to feed your cat.

Orange kitten with green eyes staring lovingly at a red food bowl with dry cat food in it
The only thing that tells you whether you feed too much or too little is whether your cat puts on or loses weight.

How to calculate daily food servings

The easiest way is to weigh your cat and check how many calories are in a serving of their food. There are additional factors to consider when determining how much they should eat each day. These include their age, activity level, body condition, health status, and physical activity. It’s important to use feeding guidelines specific to your cat’s weight, age, and life stage (for more on life stages, please see the next section).

For adult cats, a general rule of thumb is that an average healthy adult needs approximately 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. So an adult 9 pound cat needs between 180 and 270 calories per day, and an 8 pound one needs around 160 to 240 calories a day.

Kittens have different nutritional requirements than adults. Kittens should eat food designed specifically for them until they reach six months of age. At that point you should transition your kitten to regular food. Most need around 25-30 calories per pound of body weight per day.

For senior cats, a decrease in caloric intake is necessary to maintain an ideal body weight and avoid obesity. They should eat at least 10-15% fewer calories than they did when they were younger.

How to choose a quality cat food

To make sure that the food you are buying is a quality one, check that it meets the minimum nutritional requirements. It’s easy to do, just check the label for the statement:

“[Name of food] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for [life stage(s)].”


This statement means that it’s been tested and meets the nutritional requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for each specific life stage of your cat. The life stages are:

  • Growth and reproduction: For kittens, pregnant, or lactating cats (nursing).
  • Adult maintenance: For adult cats.
  • Senior: For older cats. Usually 7 years and older.

If you see this statement on the label, you can be confident that the what you are feeding your cat is nutritionally balanced and will meet their needs.

Here are some other things to look for on the label of pet food

  • The first ingredient should be a high-quality protein, such as chicken, beef, or lamb.
  • It should be low in carbohydrates and fillers.
  • It should contain none or as little as possible of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  

When we got our first cat, she had some allergies. We went to the pet store and looked at the list of ingredients. We choose one with the least amount of things in it and wouldn’t you know? Our little girls allergies improved dramatically. This is why you want to choose a food that not only fits your budget, but has the least amount of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. If you are unsure about whether a particular commercial food is right for your cat, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian. They can help you choose something that is both nutritious and safe.

How do I weigh my cat?

There’re a few different ways to do this. The most accurate way is to use the pet scale at your veterinarian’s office. These scales are designed to weigh small animals and are very accurate.

If you don’t have access to a one, you can try using your bathroom scale. To do this, weigh yourself first. Then weigh yourself again holding your cat. Subtract your weight from the combined weight to get your cat’s weight. This method isn’t as accurate as using a pet scale, but it can be a good option.

Another option is to weigh your cat in their pet carrier. To do this, weigh the carrier empty, then weigh the carrier with your feline friend inside. Subtract the weight of the empty carrier from the weight of the carrier with your cat inside to get their weight. This method also isn’t as accurate as using a pet scale, but it can be a good option if your cat doesn’t like being held. 

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to be patient and gentle when weighing your cat. If they are stressed or scared, it may be difficult to get an accurate weight.

Here is a table summarizing the different options for weighing your cat and their accuracy:

Option For WeighingAccuracy
Vet’s office pet scaleMost accurate
Bathroom scaleLess accurate
Weighing in a carrierLeast accurate

How many grams of food should a cat eat per day?

The average adult needs 50 to 70 grams of dry food per day (1.7 ounces to 2.5 ounces) or 150 to 250 grams of wet food (5.3 ounces to 8.8 ounces). The easiest way to determine how much to give is to check the feeding guide on the package. If your cat isn’t on a commercial diet, you’ll either need to do some caloric calculations or go by feel (provide a tablespoon per meal and see how your their weight changes).

Note: According to the American Animal Hospital Association, a lean cat needs 70 × Ideal Body Weight (in kilograms) x 0.75 kcal per day. Therefore an average cat weighing 4 kg (8.8 lbs) needs about 210 kcal/day. Please understand that this number depends on many things and is a guideline to start with. This does not apply to a kitten, pregnant cat, or overweight cat.

How much should a cat eat a day chart

There’s usually a table on every cat food package (dry or wet) with an approximate amount of food necessary depending on their weight and/or age.

Dry FoodWet FoodRaw Food
1.7 to 2.5 oz (50 to 70 grams)5.3 to 8.8 oz (150 to 250 grams)3.5 to 7 oz (100 to 200 grams)
Adult cat of 8.8 pounds or 4 kilograms

An average cat (4 kg or 8.8 lbs of body weight) needs about:

  • 50 to 70 grams (1.7 to 2.5 oz) of dry food
  • 150 to 250 grams (5.3 to 8.8 oz) of wet food
  • 100 to 200 grams (3.5 to 7 oz) of raw food

These numbers are only examples – always check the label.

If you provide your cat different types of food, divide those amounts into meals. For example, if you serve three meals, then one meal is 20 grams of dry, 50 grams of wet and 35 grams of raw food. From there you can change from food to food as you think appropriate.

wet cat food measuring in cups
It’ll be easier for you to weigh wet food in cups so that one cup contains a daily amount of your cat’s food.

How to measure out cat food

Weigh once and either use a measuring cup or note the number of spoons or visually remember the amount. The easiest way is to measure a daily amount in the morning and then serve it in different meals until the cup is empty in the evening. That’s one nice thing about dry (kibble) as it can be left out without fear of spoilage. For canned food it’ll be easier if you round the daily amount to full cans, cups or trays.

If the package states a range instead of a specific number, always start with the lowest amount of food and modify the amount depending on how your cat’s weight changes.

IMPORTANT: The only thing that tells you whether you feed too much or too little is if your cat puts on or loses weight. Your cat meowing at an empty bowl or stealing from the table is not necessarily a sign of hunger. See here for more help if your cat is constantly begging for food, despite being well fed.

Pros and cons of wet cat food


  • High moisture content. Wet food has a moisture content of about 75% to 78%, which is much higher than dry which is about 10% to 12%. This is important for cats because they are obligate carnivores (survive on mostly meat protein) and get most of their hydration from their food intake. A high moisture content can help to prevent dehydration, constipation, and urinary tract problems.
  • More protein. Wet food typically contains more protein than dry. This is because the protein in wet is not as processed as much when made. Protein is essential for your cats’ health as it helps to build and repair tissues, muscles, and organs.
  • More flavorful. Wet is often more flavorful than dry. This is because it contains more water, which helps to bring out the flavor of the ingredients. Wet food can also be more appealing to cats who are picky eaters. Most of our cats we consider picky and only eat wet.
  • Better for cats with dental problems. Wet food is easier for cats with dental problems to eat. This is because it’s softer and doesn’t require as much chewing. 


  • More expensive. Wet is typically more expensive than dry. This is because it is more difficult to produce and has a shorter shelf life.
  • More perishable. Wet must be refrigerated after opening and can spoil quickly if not eaten. This can be inconvenient for busy owners who may not have time to refrigerate their cat’s food right away.
  • Can be messy. Wet can be messy to feed and clean up. This is especially true if your cat is a messy eater.

Pros and cons of dry cat food


  • Convenient and easy to store. Dryis easy to store and can be kept in a cupboard or pantry for a long time. This makes it a convenient option for busy owners who may not have time to prepare fresh food every day.
  • Less expensive than wet food. Dry is typically less expensive than wet. This is because it is less processed and has a longer shelf life.
  • Can help to keep teeth clean. Dry can help to remove plaque and tartar from your cats’ teeth. This can help to prevent dental problems.
  • Can help to control weight. Dry is more calorie-dense than wet which can help to control weight in overweight or obese cats.


  • Lower moisture content. Dry nhas a moisture content of about 10%, which is much lower than wet which is 70% or more. This means that your cat may not get enough hydration from kibble alone.
  • May contain less protein than wet. Dry may contain less protein than wet especially if it’s made with low-quality ingredients. Protein is essential for your cats’ health, so it’s important to choose a kibble that is high in protein.
  • May not be as flavorful . Dry food may not be as flavorful as wet which can make it less appealing to some cats.
  • Can be difficult for cats with dental problems to eat. Dry can be difficult for cats with dental problems to eat, as it requires more chewing. 

Which is better: dry or wet?

The best type of food for your cat depends on their individual needs and preferences. If your cat is prone to dehydration, then wet is a good choice. If your cat is overweight or has dental hygiene issues (plaque buildup), then kibble may be a better option. However, if you are on a budget, kibble may be a better choice.

Ultimately, the best way to decide which type of food is best for your cat is to talk to your veterinarian. They can help you create a feeding plan that meets their individual needs. 

Here are some additional tips:

  • Choose a food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
  • Avoid ones that contain artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
  • Serve kibble in a shallow bowl to prevent choking. Watch your fur baby eat and if they inhale it (like a few of our kitties do), a shallow bowl will help. There are also bowls on the market that make your cat work a bit more for the kibble due to the shapes in the bowl.
  • Monitor your cat’s weight and adjust the amount of you give them accordingly.
  • Make sure your cat has access to fresh water at all times.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your cat is getting the nutrition they need.

How much should a kitten eat?

Kittens nutritional needs are different than an adult. They need more calories per pound of body weight than when they are full grown. As cats in the wild hunt, then consume their prey, they are used to eating many meals per day.

A research paper by Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine states that a growing kitten should be given 3 meals per day up to 6 months of age. Their stomachs are smaller than that of an adult so they can’t consume as much food at each meal. They still need the calories to grow up strong and healthy. As kitten food is usually higher in calories, protein, and fat to support growth, make sure to follow the guidelines on the packaging.

After 6 months of age to one year of age, a kitten will do well on 2 meals per day. From one year of age (which is adulthood), once a day feeding should be enough to maintain an ideal weight. This assumes your four legged fur ball is healthy and free from disease. If your cat has health issues, please work closely with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate course of action.

How much should I feed my senior cat?

Once your feline friend reaches the age of 7 years of age, they are considered a senior cat. You’ve probably seen cat food marketed as “Senior Cat Food”. Sounds perfect right? Well, a research study done by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine found the products that were marked as “Senior Cat” had similar nutritional profiles (e.g. calories, minerals, protein, etc.) except the “Senior Cat” one had more fiber. This difference is important as an older cat will feel fuller for a given amount of food due to the fiber content. Further, the paper suggests that this will help promote weight loss or make maintaining your cats weight easier.

Should you free feed your cat?

Free feeding is one of the most common ways to have an overweight cat on your hands quickly. This is where dry kibble is left out all the time giving unlimited access to food. It’s difficult to monitor their caloric intake with this method. This is further complicated by the fact that indoor cats usually get less exercise in general. Not surprisingly, when we see a chunky cat in our clinic, the owners usually reveal that they free feed.

Additional considerations about feeding

The following are things to consider when talking about their nutrition.

  • If you are feeding kibble only, your cat will require more fresh water. This is even more critical if your cat is prone to urinary tract infections.
  • Monitor your cat’s behavior. If they are eating everything in sight and still acting like they are starving, there may be a health issue causing this. Please bring this to your vet’s attention right away.
  • As a loving cat owner, you’ll want to watch your their weight closely to avoid weight gain. Set feeding times have many benefits especially when you have a multi cat household like we have. This makes it easier for you to monitor each one’s caloric intake.
  • For a complete list of our articles we’ve published on feline nutrition, please see our complete list of articles on Cat Nutrition.

You are now an expert on feline nutrition and know how much to feed your cat. You can feel happy that you are feeding your cat the appropriate amount. This way you’ll be happy and your pet cat will be happy. And keeping your Pet happy is what we all want.

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