How Much Should I Feed My Cat: Daily Calorie Needs
Pet obesity is a major problem in the U.S. According to the 2013 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), almost 53% of dogs and 58% of cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Perhaps even worse, 17% of all dogs and a whopping 26% of all cats are considered obese. Studies in some other countries, like the United Kingdom, show that this problem exists globally as well.
The APOP statistics show that Americans are overfeeding their pets. By a lot. Yet, as bad as it seems to be for our companion pets as a whole, it is even worse for cats. Almost 6 out of 10 cats are overweight and more than 1 out of 4 are obese. This feline weight problem is a costly one. Overweight cats live shorter, lower quality life spans, and health care costs associated with conditions related to feline weight problems, like Type 2 diabetes, are budget busters.
If you want to make sure that your cat does not become one of the estimated 55 million fat cats in the U.S., the most important thing you can do is to learn how to determine proper feeding portions. In order to determine proper food portions, you will first need to estimate how many calories your cat needs each day and then use this information to develop a feeding plan.
Calories Burned by a Cat
A normal cat’s energy requirements, in calories (kcals), can be estimated by a simple formula:
Kcals = (weightkg ^ 0.75) * 70 * factor
where factor is an adjustment based on the cat’s activity level and weight is in kilograms
To convert pounds to kilograms, multiple the weight in pounds by .4536.
For most normal cats, the factor is 1.2, so the calculation becomes:
Kcals = (weightkg ^ 0.75) * 70 * 1.2
Using a 10 lb. cat as an example, we would first convert pounds to kgs
Weightkg= 10 * .4536 = 4.54 kgs.
Now we can estimate the cat’s daily calorie needs by
Kcals=(4.54^.75) * 70*1.2 = 525 calories
The table below shows the daily calorie requirements for a normal cat of different sizes.
|Weight (lbs)||Daily kcals for Cat at Target Weight||Daily Kcals For Weight Reduction|
The calculated number assumes that you cat is at a healthy weight. If your cat is overweight, you would adjust the number in two ways. First, use the cat’s ‘desired’ weight as the input into the formula. If the cat currently weighed 15 lbs. and their target weight was 10 lbs., you would have a target calorie of 525 per day. Second, adjust this further to ensure timely weighty loss. Most vets recommend using around 75% of the daily calories at the pets target weight. In our example, that would mean 525 * .75 = 394 kcals per day.
Feeding your cat this lowered amount will slowly and steadily allow for weight loss. As your cat’ actual weight nears their target weight, you can begin to increase their daily feedings to the normal value (i.e. 525) that they would need at their target weight.