Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Cat Feeding Schedule – Vet-Reviewed Advice on How Often to Feed Your Pet

Cat Feeding Schedule – Vet-Reviewed Advice on How Often to Feed Your Pet

Cat paws in a bowl of delicious dry cat food

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

There are a lot of approaches to feeding a pet cat, with some people doing things as blasé as filling up a bowl every couple of days, while other people are so structured that they carefully weigh and measure every meal for their cat.

What is common, though, is that many people are undereducated on the appropriate feeding schedule for a cat and just how much food their cat should eat. The number of obese and overweight cats is on the rise, which goes to show just how uneducated many people really care about a cat’s diet.

divider-cat

How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

The amount of food your cat needs is based on multiple factors, including your cat’s age, current weight, goal weight, activity level, and health conditions, as well as the nutrient density of the food your cat is eating.

A cat whose food contains 400 kcal per cup won’t need nearly as much food in a day as a cat whose food has 200 kcal per cup. Wet foods are often lower in calories than kibble due to their high water content, so oftentimes, cats need significantly more food if they exclusively eat wet food.

The best way to determine how many calories your cat needs in a day is to use a veterinary calculator. In order to use this calculator, though, you’ll need to know a few things about your cat. You will need to have a decent understanding of a body condition score (BCS) and where your cat falls on the BCS scale. By making an honest assessment of your cat’s weight and body condition, you can determine their appropriate caloric intake.

The exact amount of calories an individual animal needs to maintain a healthy weight is variable and influenced by many factors including genetics, age, breed, and activity level. This tool is meant to be used only as a guideline for healthy individuals and does not substitute veterinary advice 

woman feeding cat food to two cats at a pet hotel
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

What Is the Best Cat Feeding Schedule?

Cats, in general, prefer to eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of a couple of large meals. Your cat may get full quickly during a meal, causing them to eat too little. By providing them with multiple opportunities throughout the day to eat, your cat will be able to get enough to eat. Frequent, small meals will also hopefully teach your cat that food will regularly be available to them, preventing binge eating at every mealtime.

At a minimum, your cat should be offered two meals per day. If you’re home during the day, you may have the opportunity to offer your cat three or four meals every day. This means breaking up their meals into smaller, more manageable portions. The average adult cat can thrive with two meals per day, but you need to ensure they are no more than 12 hours apart.

If your cat is good at self-regulating their eating habits, you may consider allowing them to graze on a bowl of food throughout the day. This isn’t always possible in multi-pet homes or with cats that will overeat, but it is a good option for some adult cats.

It is best to feed kittens under 6 months of age at least four times per day. Kittens under 9 months of age should be fed at least three times per day.

Meals should be far more frequent for kittens that are being bottle-fed or weaned. They need to be fed every 2 hours during their first 2 weeks of life, every 3 hours at weeks three and four, and every 4 hours after they become 1 month old. At 2 months or 8 weeks of age, they can be fed every 6 hours, which means you need to distribute those four daily meals evenly. Developing kittens need nutritional support for their healthy growth.

However, remember that cats are creatures of habit, so regardless of your cat’s age, it is best to feed them on a semi-regular schedule to help maintain a comfortable routine for them.

Important Considerations

If you have determined that your cat needs to lose weight, know that you should not suddenly cut your cat’s calories. Cats should only lose weight gradually; otherwise, they become at high risk of developing fatty liver disease.

Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
  • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
  • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...
  • CHEW-SAFE MATERIALS - Kittens and cats love chewing on silicone and soft rubber - but it's a choking...

Pet parents are faced with a few challenges when it comes to selecting new food and water bowls for their feline companions. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl combines cat-friendly features, such as shallow bowls and slight elevation that promote whisker relief, good posture, and digestion, with a beautiful modern design geared to keep floors free of mess during meal time. This bowl is entirely dishwasher safe, making life as a pet parent as simple as possible. Click here to learn why the Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is right for you and your cat.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

divider-catIn Conclusion

Your top resource in determining how many calories your cat needs to eat in a day and how often you should feed them is your cat’s veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. However, if your cat is a generally healthy adult cat that doesn’t need to gain or lose weight, you can use a calculator to determine how many calories you should be feeding them every day.

Ensuring your cat eats enough during the day or doesn’t overeat throughout the day, as well as preventing binging and food hoarding behaviors are some of the reasons that it’s important to feed your cat on a schedule. Remember that cats love routine, especially when it comes to mealtime.

Related Reads:


Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets