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How much raw food do I feed my cat? Is there a raw feeding guide for cats? These are two of the questions we’re often asked by readers transitioning their cats to a raw food diet.
Some raw feeders are guided by their cat when it comes to how much raw food they should feed. Whilst this is okay in theory, it only works if you have a cat who walks away from their food when their stomach is full. If you have a greedy cat with an insatiable appetite you need to measure and monitor your cat’s raw food.
How much to feed an adult cat
Unfortunately, raw feeding is not an exact science when it comes to how much raw food to feed cats. Every cat has individual calorific requirements to maintain a healthy body weight. There are recommended raw feeding guidelines though, that you can follow and adjust to suit your cat.
If 12 months or older, it is generally recommended that cats eat between 2% and 4% of their ideal bodyweight, split into 2 or 3 meals a day.
What influences raw food portion sizes
Every cat is different, so when determining how much raw food to feed your cat you need to take into account factors such as their:
- Current weight
- Activity and exercise levels
- General health
As cats get older, their metabolism slows down and they usually have a smaller appetite. A senior cat who lives indoors and spends his day napping in the sun and walking only as far as his food bowl and litter box, will not require as much food as a young and healthy active cat who spends his days playing and running outdoors in the fresh air.
Other factors that influence how much to feed your cat
In addition to whether you are raising an indoor or outdoor cat there are other factors to consider when determining how much to feed your cat.
The time of the year will impact your cat’s metabolism and how much they eat. In summer, when the temperatures are warmer, cats often have smaller appetites and eat less food. In winter when it’s colder, cats tend to eat more to keep warm.
Hairless or large cat breeds
There’s also a difference between breeds. Hairless cat breeds such as the Sphynx, Donskoy, Peterbald or Bambino tend to require more calories and eat more frequently than other cats to help maintain their body temperature.
Large cat breeds such as the Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest cat, Ragdoll, Turkish Van, Siberian or Savannah take longer to fully mature and have different dietary needs. The Maine Coon cat for example, can take 4 years to reach their full physical size, so will require extra raw food to support steady growth and development.
The type of raw food you feed
Keep in mind too, that not all cuts of meat are equal. A portion of lean chicken breast, will have fewer calories than a equal size portion of chicken thigh meat or duck breast which naturally have a higher fat content.
Raw feeding guidelines for cats
The charts below include the recommended amounts of raw food to feed your cat based on 2% to 4% of your adult cat’s body weight. You should also take into account any other food that your cat is fed throughout the day, including treats.
The per meal amount for a raw diet is based on feeding 2 meals per day. Although some people prefer to divide the daily amount into 3 daily meals. For example, if your cat weighs 3kgs and you want to feed them 2% of their bodyweight, you would adjust the daily amount of 60 grams into 3 meals of 20 grams each, rather than 2 meals of 30 grams each. Make sense?
I have provided the daily and per meal feeding amounts in grams, but it is EASY TO CONVERT these numbers into ounces.
How to calculate raw food (grams to ounces)
To convert into ounces manually simply divide the amount in grams by 28.35
–> OR use an online grams to ounces Conversion Calculator.
Raw feeding guide for healthy adult cats or maintenance – 3% body weight
If your cat is a healthy adult with normal activity levels OR you want to maintain their current weight, use the 3% body weight chart to determine how much food feed your cat.
Raw feeding guide for overweight, inactive or senior cats – 2% body weight
For an inactive OR older cat OR a cat that needs to lose weight, 2% of your cat’s current body weight is a good place to start.
If your cat is extremely overweight you should start by feeding 3% of their body weight and monitor how effective this is for weight loss. You want to avoid your cat losing weight too quickly as sudden weight loss in cats increases their risk of developing fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) which is potentially life-threatening.
Raw feeding guide for active or underweight cats – 4% bodyweight
If you have an active OR younger cat OR a cat that needs to gain weight use the 4% of body weight chart to calculate how much to feed your cat.
How much to feed a growing kitten
Relative to their body weight, kittens need more raw food than adults cats to support their growth and development. Kittens should also be fed smaller, more frequent meals to maintain their energy levels throughout the day.
Many people feed kittens on demand. When our cats were kittens and until 12 months of age, we fed 5 meals per day – pre-breakfast on rising, breakfast, lunch, dinner and one last meal before bedtime. We also let our kittens guide us as to how much food they wanted to eat, ensuring that they maintained a healthy, age appropriate weight.
Raw feeding guide for kittens
If you prefer to follow a guide, kittens should be feed between 3% to 13% of their body weight depending on how many months of age they are. Kittens will usually be hungrier and eat more when they are experiencing a growth spurt and eat less at other times. It is important to ensure that kittens are eating a balanced raw food diet, such as the homemade raw recipe we use and recommend, which has been modified to include instructions for feeding growing kittens.
Follow this guide for raw feeding your kitten:
- 2 to 4 months old – 10% to 13% of their body weight daily
- 4 to 8 months old – 6% to 10% of their body weight daily
- 8 to 12 months old – 3% to 6% of their body weight daily
How much raw food we feed out cats
Our cats are indoor only and range in weight from 5kgs to 6.4kgs (11 to 14 pounds). The two brothers have healthy appetites but are very different in terms of activity levels and metabolism. Max is active and athletic, always running up and down the hallway and up the cat tower. By comparison, Charlie is slightly overweight and more of a couch potato. He’s happier relaxing in a sunny spot or sitting alongside his favourite human.
To make meal times easier in our multi-cat household, we prepare and freeze all raw food meals in advance in 55 gram portions. This is the balanced raw cat food recipe that we follow.
All the cats are fed exactly the same amount which is based on 2% bodyweight of a 5.5kg adult cat. That means they get 55 grams in the morning and 55 grams again at night.
The girls (who each weigh 5kgs and theoretically only require 50 grams per meal) often walk away leaving a mouthful on their plate. Max eats the leftovers! Charlie would love to eat the leftovers too, but with inflammatory bowel disease and food intolerances we are extra careful about what he consumes.
In addition to feeding our cats 2% of their body weight spread over two meals a day, we also supplement their diet with additional food at certain times throughout the day including early morning, lunchtime and at night, before bedtime. The treats we feed include:
- freeze dried chicken, turkey, beef or lamb
- freeze dried chicken hearts
- chicken wing tips
- pieces of human-grade raw meat (left-over from our dinner preparation).
Watch your cat’s weight and adjust how much you feed
We recommend you monitor your cat’s weight with regular checks or weigh-ins, especially when you first transition to a raw food diet.
If your cat loses weight after switching to raw food you may need to increase the amount of raw food you are feeding. If your cat gains weight, you may need to reduce how much you feed your cat.
Use a body condition score chart for cats
To some degree you can assess your cat’s weight based on how they look and feel. Does your cat feel heavier or lighter when you pick them up or when they sit on your lap? Can you feel the bones of your cat’s ribcage – are they protruding or is there plenty of extra padding?
>> You can refer to a Body Condition Score Chart for Cats to assess whether your cat is an ideal weight, or slightly underweight or overweight.
Weigh your cat using digital scales
You can use the scales at your local vet to weigh your cat, or simply use digital bathroom scales at home.
- Stand on the bathroom scales yourself and write down your weight.
- Pick up your cat and write down the new weight (you and your cat).
- Calculate the difference between your weight when standing alone and your weight holding your cat.
Based on the scale readings and how much your cat weighs you can adjust how much you feed your cat to help them reach their ideal weight.
Remember, these raw feeding guides are exactly that – a guide. Every cat is different, so the best approach is to monitor how much your cat eats and adjust how much raw you feed your cat to ensure they maintain a healthy weight that’s right for them.