As with humans, both the quality and quantity of food are essential for maintaining a perfect healthy cat.
The right balance of nutrients should be given to cats in the right amounts at the correct times.
Should I regulate the quantity of food given to the cat?
Cats are not among those animals that can self-regulate their intake of food.
Given the opportunity, they tend to overeat.
The plethora of overweight cats around us is ample evidence of that.
Hence, it becomes the cat’s owner’s responsibility – its adopted parent – to ensure that the cat eats just the right quantity of food that is good for it and not more.
Is there a simple formula to determine the right quantity?
Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, determining the right quantity of food for the cat will not be an easy task.
To start with, there is the question of deciding what the correct amount is.
It will depend on many factors. The cat’s breed is one of them.
Even this is not a deciding factor.
There are no standards that can be applied to each breed of cat.
What are the factors that determine how much a cat should eat?
In addition to breed, other factors, like the cat’s age and size, must also be considered.
The food required also depends on its metabolism and the level of activity.
An active cat will naturally need more food than an idle one.
Environmental factors such as temperature will also influence the quantity of food that the cat requires.
The type of food that is given is also another essential factor.
That looks complicated. Is there no simple way?
Looking at so many variables, the task of determining the right quantity of food for the cat might appear daunting.
It need not be so. With a few generic guidelines, abundant common sense, and a bit of trial and error, one can quickly determine the right quantity of food that should be given to the cat.
This may take a while but is certainly not unachievable.
What are the general guidelines?
The cat’s requirement of food will depend on its weight.
A cat that weighs 5 pounds (2.3 Kg.) will require about 30-40 grams of standard dry cat food per day.
Cats weighing ten pounds will require about 45-65 grams, and cats weighing 15 pounds will require 65-95 grams.
It must be remembered that these are general guidelines and not a set of rigid rules.
What about calory intake?
A better approach would be to go by the calories of intake.
This is easier and more reliable.
The information about the calories contained in the food is easily available from the packing details.
A rule of thumb is that a fully grown cat should be given 30 calories for every pound of its weight.
The actual requirement can be calculated by multiplying the cat’s weight by 30 to arrive at the calories required.
For example, a cat weighing ten pounds should be fed 10*30=300 calories.
To ensure that the right quantity is given, it is better to measure the food before putting it in the cat’s bowl.
Assessment and review
You must remember that the rule of thumb stated above is a generic guide.
There are other factors to consider.
One important factor is the existing weight of the cat, relative to its weight and size.
If the cat is too thin, it can be fed a little more than the recommended quantities.
This will fatten it a bit. If the cat is overweight, its quantity may be reduced.
However, this may have to be implemented in a phased manner.
Is it enough to do this once?
This is not a one-time exercise but a continuing one.
The cat’s weight should be periodically reviewed, and the quantity of food should be adjusted accordingly.
How can quality be ensured?
Cats require meat-based proteins such as those derived from fish and poultry.
They do not need a large number of carbohydrates, and hence these should be kept to a minimum, maybe around 10%.
Fillers should also be avoided or maintained to the barest minimum.
What is the ideal frequency of feeding?
Smaller quantities of food given at frequent intervals are better than larger amounts given infrequently.
Determining the right amount alone is not sufficient. Feeding the cat three to four times a day is ideal.
If this is not possible for some reason, you can reduce the frequency a bit.
Is it wrong to leave the food outside and let the cat eat when it wants?
Can I leave the food outside so that the cat can eat whenever she wants?
That is a strict NO.
Under no circumstances should food left available all the time.
While this may save you some trouble, it is certainly not suitable for the cat and may make it obese.
Cats should be fed with the right quality and quantity of food.
The amount can be determined from the cat’s weight either in terms of weight or calories.
Feeding should, preferably, be done 3-4 times a day.
Feed the cat regularly under human supervision.