In my previous articles, I explained what a raw diet should be composed of, but I didn’t talk about quantities yet.
People often try to guess how much they should feed their cat by looking at the bowls of Néline and Praline that I post on social media, but that is not a good way to find out how much your cat should eat.
The ones that I present here are generic guidelines: you may need to adapt the quantities in this article to your cat, especially if it’s very active or very lazy.
These guidelines are to be used when beginning to feed raw: start with the suggested quantities, then adapt to what your cat can eat. This means that after you started feeding raw, you should not come back to this article, but instead focus only on adapting the quantity your cat is eating.
A lot of cats are able to regulate their appetite, especially when they are raw fed. Therefore, you could feed them as much as they want. However, it is useful to start feeding them with a reasonable and well defined quantity of food, in order to calculate a balanced composition of the different elements in their daily ration, such as the amount of organs, bones, etc.
Healthy Adult cats
When you start raw feeding a healthy adult cat (a cat that is more than 1 year old), the general recommendation is to feed it with a daily quantity of meat (approximately) equal to 3% of its weight.
To know if this quantity is adequate for your cat, weight it regularly. If your cat gains weight, try to lower the daily ration by 10%. If, on the other hand, your cat loses weight, you should increase the daily ration by 10%.
Your cat is 2 years old, healthy and at its ideal weight of 3.5kg
. You will start raw feeding with a daily ration of 3%
of its body weight: 3.5 kg x 3/100 = 105 g
If, after two weeks:
- Your cat is still at 3.5 kg: everything’s perfect, don’t change anything!
- Your cat gains weight: reduce the daily ration by 10%: 105 g x 10/100 = 10.5 g, so the new daily ration should be 105 g - 10.5 g = 95 g.
- If your cat loses weight: increase the daily ration by 10%: 105 g x 10/100 = 10.5 g, so the new ration is 105 g + 10.5 g = 115 g.
The majority of cats will eat between 2-4% of their body weight.
Néline with an example of dinner
An overweight cat is a cat above its ideal weight. If you don't know your cat ideal weight you can ask your vet what it should be. In order to make it lose weight, you need to feed your cat less than if it was at a healthy weight. I have seen two feeding recommendations for overweight cats:
- Feeding 2% of the cat’s current body weight
- Feeding 3% of the ideal body weight of your cat. However, if your cat is very obese this is not a good approach, as it could make your cat lose weight too fast.
An underweight cat is a cat below its ideal weight. If your cat is underweight and needs to gain some weight you will need to feed it more than a healthy cat. Like for the overweight cats, they are two strategies:
- Feeding 4% of the cat’s current body weight.
- Feeding 3% of the ideal body weight of your cat.
Sphynx cats and hairless cats
Sphynx cats and other hairless breeds have higher calorie intakes requirements than normal cats. In fact, without fur they need a lot of energy to keep their body temperature constant, so they need to eat more to compensate for this extra expenditure of energy. A general guideline for hairless cats would be to feed them with around 5-6% of their body weight.
4-month-old Praline was eating more than 2 years old Néline.
The values which are generally recommended for kittens are the following:
- Until 3 months old: feed at your kitten’s will, or with 10% of its body weight
- 4 month old: around 8% of its body weight
- 5-6 month old: around 7% of its body weight
- 7-8 month old: around 6% of its body weight
- 9-10 month old: around 5% of its body weight
- 11-12 month old: around 4% of its body weight.
Important note: These are starting values, meaning that after you started raw feeding your kitten, you don’t need to recalculate the values when your kitten gets older. In fact, as your kitten is growing, its body weight is increasing and the % they should eat is decreasing. It means that the quantity of food will stay quite constant.
These are general guidelines, so I would advise you to regularly weight your kitten and adjust its ration as needed. If your kitten is growing too slowly increase the ration by 10%. Likewise, if your kitten is growing too fast decrease the ration by 10%.
Finally, most kittens will be able to control how much they eat, so you can feed them at will until they finish to grow, and the above percentages can help you to calculate the amount of bones, organs, fish and meat.
If your cat is a slow growing-breed such as Maine Coon, Ragdoll or Norwegian Forest cat you can still use these guidelines as the growth after the first year is very slow.
- If you don’t manage to make your cat stay on a balance, or your cat is too light for the balance to detect it, I advise you to use the following method: weight yourself while holding your cat, then weight yourself without the cat and subtract the two readings.
- If you don't know if your cat is at its ideal weight look for a cat body condition chart on the internet or ask your vet.