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How Many Calories Does a Cat Need?
The number of calories a cat needs to eat in a day depends on a set of factors like age, sex and activity level. A good rule of thumb though is that an average adult cat should eat between 20 to 34 calories for each pound they weigh. Of course, that is just a rough estimate, if you want a more accurate answer then you can enter their weight into the cat calorie calculator located above.
Age
One of the most important factors you have to take into account when you calculate a cats calorie needs is their age. The younger a cat is the more calories they will need in order to fuel their rapid growth and development. This is especially important for kittens that are less than 4 months of age. During this 4 month period, a kittens energy needs can be more than double that of an adult cat.
Once that initial growth spurt tapers off a kitten will still need more calories, but the number of calories they will need will slowly reduce until they reach their final adult weight.
When your kitten reaches full maturity at about 8 to 12 months of age their caloric needs will finally start to taper off. At this point, the main contributors to their caloric needs will be their weight and activity level.
The one other thing that can influence a cats caloric requirements is if they are neutered or not. A cat that isn’t fixed will have a slightly greater calorie requirement then a cat that is not fixed. If you have a cat that isn’t neutered you can select that option from the feline calorie calculator located above to get a more accurate answer.
Activity Level
Once a cat is an adult their activity level will make the largest contribution to their caloric needs beyond what they need at rest. A very active cat can need up to three to four times more calories than a sedentary cat.
A cat that engages in a moderate amount of daily activity, on the other hand, will need twice as many calories as an ordinary house cat. Moreover, even a cat that just plays around the house all day might need twenty percent more calories than a less energetic cat.
If you have noticed any changes in your cat’s activity level than you should consider adjusting the amount of food you give them. If your cat has suddenly become more active then you might want to increase their calories slowly in order to prevent any wild swings in weight. Conversely, if your cat is starting to slow down a little with age, then you probably want to cut back on the amount of food you give them.
Of course any time you change your cat’s diet, you should keep track of their body composition in order to make sure they aren’t getting too thin or overweight.
How Much Should a Cat Weigh?
In order to figure out a healthy weight for a cat, you have to consider their breed and their age. First, a cats breed will influence their final adult weight more than any other factor. For example, a small dwarf Munchkin cat will weigh considerably less than a Main Coon cat.
For the most part, though an average domestic cat should weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds when they are an adult. Of course, every cat is different and just like with people some will be ‘big boned’ and others will have a lighter frame.
A good way to judge if your cat is overweight or underweight is to inspect their body shape. If their ribs are showing and their midsection is sunken in, then they are definitely underweight. Otherwise, if you can’t even feel their ribs and their midsection is bulging out, then they would generally be classified as overweight.
How to Get a Cat to Lose Weight
In order to get a cat to lose weight, you will need to slowly reduce the amount of food you give them. A good way to do this is to reduce the number of calories you give them until your only feeding them enough to maintain their resting energy requirements. Introducing a diet this way will be easier on your cat’s body, and it will make it less stressful for your cat to lose the weight.
If you want a quick way to figure out how much to feed your cat in order for them to lose weight choose the weight loss option from the cat calorie calculator above. If on the other hand you just want a rough calorie range then you should feed your cat 18 to 20 calories per pound in order for them to lose weight.
Otherwise, if you prefer to do the calculation by hand, you can figure out your cats resting energy requirement, and that will be the number of calories they need to eat each day in order to lose weight.
How Many Calories Should a Cat Eat to Gain Weight
If you have a skinny cat it can seem almost impossible to get them to put on a little weight. A cat can be underweight for a number of reasons that go far beyond their food intake. If a cat is chronically underweight it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. If you believe that your cat might be sick then take them to a veterinarian immediately to rule out any health issues first.
Once you are sure your cat is healthy then you can try and alter their diet in order to help them put on a little weight. All you will need to do is add a little more food than usual to their bowl until you are feeding them five percent more calories than they would need to maintain their weight.
For example, if you were feeding an average 10pound cat 349 calories per day in order to maintain weight, then they would need 370 calories per day in order to gain weight.
Read More: Best Cat Food for Weight Gain
Calculate Cat RER (Resting Energy Requirement)
If you want to know how to calculate your cats RER (resting energy requirement) you will need to know how much they weigh. Once you know their weight you will need to convert their weight into kilograms.
If you know your cat’s weight in pounds all you will have to do to convert their weight into kilograms is divide that number by 2.2 to get their weight in kilograms. For example, if your cat weighs 9 pounds then they weigh 4.09 kilograms (9 lbs / 2.2 = 4.09 kg ).
Once you have your cats weight in kilograms, then you will need to raise that amount to the power of 0.75. For example, if your cat weighs 4.09 kilograms then 4.09 to the power of 0.75 will equal 2.88 (4.09^{0.75} = 2.88).
After you calculate that number then you will need to take that number and multiply it by 70, and that number will be your cats resting energy requirement, which in this case is 201.66 calories. This is the number of calories your cat needs to eat just to maintain basic bodily functions like respiration, digestion, and circulation.
Resting Energy Requirement (RER) = 70 * (body weight in kilograms)^0.75
Cats Maintenance Energy Requirements
Once you calculate your cats resting energy requirements you then need to figure out their maintenance energy requirements (MER). A cat’s maintenance energy requirements takes into consideration a number of factors including their age, activity level, and weight, in order to calculate the total amount of calories they will need each day.
Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) = Maintenance Multiplier * RER
Maintenance Energy Multipliers 

Neutered Adult  1.6 
NonNeutered Adult  1.8 
Weight Loss  1 
Weight Gain  1.7 
Kitten 04 Months  3 
Kitten 4 Months to Adult  2 
How Much Should a Kitten Eat
The amount of food a kitten needs to eat each day is highly dependent on their weight and developmental needs. There are two distinct growth stages a kitten will go through, one is when they are less than 4 months of age and the other is when they are approaching their final adult weight.
During the period when they are less than 4 months old they will need more calories per pound then they will need for the rest of their life. The second stage of their growth will continue until they are an adult, during which their caloric needs will slowly start to level off.
How Much to Feed a 3 Month Old Kitten
An average 3 month old kitten who weighs about 3 pounds, will need to eat 265 calories a day in order to grow and gain weight. A slightly larger 4pound kitten will need to eat 329 calories per day. Finally, a very small 2 pound 3 month old kitten will only need to eat 196 calories a day.
How Much to Feed a 5 Month Old Kitten
An average 5 month old kitten that weighs around 7 pounds will need to eat 334 calories a day until they are an adult. A smaller 5 month old kitten that weighs closer to 6 pounds will only need 297 calories a day. Otherwise, if your 5 month old kitten weighs 8 pounds then they would need 369 calories per day as they quickly approach their final adult weight.
How Much to Feed a Cat
How Much to Feed a 5 Pound Cat
Average  Weight Loss  Weight Gain 
207 calories  130 calories  220 calories 
A small 5 pound adult house cat will need to eat 207 calories a day in order to maintain their body weight. If your 5 pound cat is underweight then they will need to eat 220 calories a day in order to pack on a little weight. If, on the other hand, your 5 pound cat is somehow overweight then they will only need to eat 130 calories a day to lose weight.
How Much to Feed a 9 Pound Cat
Average  Weight Loss  Weight Gain 
322 calories  201 calories  342 calories 
Your average 9 pound house cat will need to eat 322 calories per day in order to stay a healthy weight. If you think your 9 pound cat could stand to lose a little weight then you should reduce the amount you feed them to 201 calories per day. If your 9 pound cat could stand to add a few pounds then you might want to give them 342 calories a day until they put on a little weight.
How Much to Feed a 10 Pound Cat
Average  Weight Loss  Weight Gain 
349 calories  218 calories  370 calories 
A normal 10 pound house cat will need to eat 349 calories per day in order to stay fit and active. A slightly overweight 10 pound cat should have their calories limited to about 218 calories per day until they lose some weight. Otherwise, if you think your cat is a little on the light side you can feed them 370 calories per day until they show signs of gaining a little weight.
How Much to Feed a 12 Pound Cat
Average  Weight Loss  Weight Gain 
400 calories  250 calories  425 calories 
A 12 pound cat will need to eat at least 400 calories per day in order to maintain their body weight. If your 12 pound cat is slightly overweight then you might want to consider reducing the amount you feed them to 250 calories per day. In some cases, a large breed 12 pound cat might be considered underweight. In that case, you can increase the amount you feed them to 425 calories until they reach their ideal weight.
How Much to Feed a 13 Pound Cat
Average  Weight Loss  Weight Gain 
424 calories  265 calories  451 calories 
A large 13 pound cat will need to eat 424 calories each day just to maintain their current body weight. If you think your 13 pound cat might be a pound or two overweight you can reduce the amount you feed them to 265 calories per day until they lose the weight. A large breed cat might be slightly underweight at 13 pounds. In that case, you should feed your cat 451 calories a day until they reach a healthy body weight.