How Many Calories Should A 10 Lb Cat Eat


How many calories should a 10 lb cat eat? The answer depends on a number of factors. Most important is whether your cat is active or sedentary, the age, and the overall health and well-being of your pet. In general, cats that are more active would need more calories to fuel them through regular activity. Older cats usually require fewer calories than younger ones. Just remember that you should feed your cat what they need as opposed to what they want because they’ll get into trouble if they have too many treats.

Cat Calorie Calculator: How to Calculate Your Cat’s Daily Calorie Intake

How to Calculate How Much Your Cat Can Eat Per Day

Feeding too little food can deprive your cat of necessary energy and feeding too much can result in obesity. To determine how much food your cat should eat per day, follow these steps.

1. Weigh your cat.

You can weigh your cat at your veterinarian’s office or at home. The most accurate way to weigh your cat at home is to weigh yourself while holding your cat, then weigh yourself alone and subtract the second total from the first total. For example, if you and your cat weight 161 pounds and you alone weigh 150 pounds, then your cat weighs 11 pounds.

2. Use a cat calorie calculator to calculate resting energy requirements (RER). (Table 1):

 Body weight (lbs)Body weight (kg) RER ( calories per day) 
 1 0.5 39
 2 0.9 65
 3 1.4 88
 4 1.8 110
 5 2.3 130
 6 2.7 149
 7 3.2 167
 8 3.6 184
 9 4.1 200
 10 4.5 218
 11 5 234
 12 5.5 250
 13 5.9 265
 14 6.4 280
 15 6.8 295
 16 7.3 310
 17 7.7 324
 18 8.2 339
 19 8.6 353
 20 9.1 366
 25 11.4 433

Table 1. The cat calorie calculator that many veterinarians use to calculate RER calorie requirements is provided by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. NOTE: The “calorie” we refer to is actually “kilocalorie.”

3. Choose a factor (Table 2) based on your cat’s energy needs and multiply it by the RER.

The RER fulfills the cat’s basic needs, but does not account for things like activity level or other factors. To do so, the RER number is multiplied by factors to estimate the cat’s total daily energy needs. Some cats need less than the RER and some need nearly double the RER. Choose the factor below that fits your cat.

Factors to estimate feline daily energy needs:
 Neutered adult cat = 1.2 x RER
 Intact adult cat = 1.4 x RER
 Inactive/obese prone cat = 1 x RER
 Weight loss for cat = 0.8 x RER for ideal weight
 Weight gain for cat = 1.8 x RER for ideal weight
 Kitten 0 to 4 months = 2.5 x RER
 Kitten 4 months to 1 year = 2 x RER

Table 2. Factors used to calculate calorie needs in cats.

4. Determine how many calories are in your cat’s food and treats.

You can find this information on the food package or online. In general, dry food has more calories per ounce than canned food. You may see the calorie listing as “calorie” or as “kilocalorie,” which is the same thing. Once you know the calories in what you are feeding, you can figure out how much your cat needs. Treats should account for less than 10% of your cat’s calorie intake.

Every food has a unique calorie count. Take human food, for example: 1 cup of cooked green beans has about 44 calories, but a cup of macaroni salad is around 360 calories. Cat food is the same way in that some formulas are more calorie dense than others (so you need to feed less).

5. Figure out the amounts to feed.

If you feed your cat two meals a day, subtract the calorie count of any treats and divide the remainder by 2 to determine how many calories your cat should get for each meal. Use the calorie count for your cat’s specific food to measure properly.

Examples of How to Use the Cat Calorie Calculator

Here are a couple examples of how to use the cat calorie calculator:

Example 1

Let’s pretend you have a 9-pound adult cat. First, look at Table 1 for the amount of basic calories your cat can eat then look for the factor in Table 2 to determine real needs. When you look at Table 1, you can see that they can eat 200 calories per day. Your cat is a normal indoor and not particularly active cat, and you look at table 2 and see that the factor for calculation of their daily energy needs is “1,” so you multiply 200 x 1, which is 200 calories. You don’t feed treats and only feed a dry food that is 200 calories per cup. So… your cat can eat 1 cup of food per day.

Example 2

You have a 12-pound, very active, intact male cat. When you look at Table 1, you can see that he can eat 250 calories per day. Because he is intact and active, you see in Table 2 that the factor to use to calculate calorie requirements is 1.4 x RER. So, you take 1.4 and multiply by 250 = 350 calories per day. So, this cat can eat 350 calories per day.

Example 3

You are calculating calorie intake for a 4-pound, 7-month-old, very active female kitten. When you look at the cat calorie calculator in Table 1, you can see that she can eat 110 calories per day. Because she is a kitten (4 months to a year old), you see in Table 2 that the factor you use to calculate calorie requirements is 2 x RER. So, you take factor two and multiply by 110 = 220 calories. This kitten can eat 220 calories per day.

How to Calculate Calories for Weight Loss

If your cat is overweight, it is healthier to help them reach an ideal weight.

Here is an example of how to calculate calories for weight loss. During a recent visit to the vet, they point out that your cat’s body condition is considered too high. Their belly is sagging and when you view it from above, there is no “hour-glass” to their figure. The cat’s weight was 19 pounds. When we look at Table 1, the basic RER requirements for a 19-pound cat is 353 calories. When you look at Table 2, you want “weight loss” which gives us a factor = 0.8 x RER to attain an ideal weight.

The calculation is 353 calories x 0.8 = 282 calories. For this 19-pound cat, 282 calories is the appropriate amount for losing weight.

How Many Calories Does My Cat Need?: Calculating a Cat’s Calories Per Day

Assuming your cat is at a healthy weight and average activity level, you can use a formula to estimate the amount of calories (also called kilocalories or kcal) your cat needs in a day:

Calorie (kcal) needs = 1.2 [70 x (weight in pounds ÷ 2.2)0.75]

A healthy, 10-pound cat with an average activity level will need to eat around 260 calories a day to maintain his weight. This amount is only an estimate and should be based on the cat’s needs – if he is overweight, he will need less calories. If he is very active, he will need more. If this is a pregnant or nursing cat, she will need a lot more calories. Sick pets, such as those with cancer or kidney disease, will likely need more calories as well. Feeding kittens is a little more complicated because of how quickly they grow. Your veterinarian will be able to discuss ideal ways of meeting your cat’s calorie needs further if needed.

Calories in Cat Food

After figuring out your cat’s ideal weight and calories you need to feed him each day, you can determine how much of his regular cat food you should be feeding him. Each bag of cat food should label how many calories are in the food. This information is often on the side of the bag,usually below the ingredients and percentages of protein, fat, etc. If you can’t find this information, you may need to check the cat food company’s website or give them a call. The food calorie label may look like this:

Calorie Content: 3515 kcal ME/kg (319 kcal/ cup)

This means that one kilogram of this cat food contains 3,515 calories (kilocalories of metabolizable [usable] energy) and one standard measuring cup of it has 319 calories. This works the same way for canned food as well. If our 10-pound kitty from the example above needs roughly 260 calories a day, one cup of this food will be too much for him to eat in a 24-hour period. Half a cup would be only 160 calories, which is not enough. If you feed ¾ of a cup, you would be feeding 240 calories, which puts you closer to meeting his calorie needs, but you will probably need to offer just a bit more to ensure he gets enough.

Quality of Food

Remember that the quality of food is JUST as important as the number of calories. The nutritional needs of a cat include adequate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, amino acids, etc. Even if you were able to calculate calories perfectly, if you feed your cat a diet that is unbalanced, he won’t have his needs met and can’t benefit from the calories you feed him. If you are not sure whether the cat food you are feeding is right for your pet, ask your veterinarian. If you have concerns about your pet’s current weight and health, get a check-up and make sure you and your cat are on the right track so issues can be addressed and managed quickly.

How Much to Feed a Cat Chart

The chart below presents average serving sizes based on a cat’s weight and other factors. Keep in mind that an individual cat’s needs can vary by as much as 50 percent in either direction from the average, so talk to your veterinarian to determine the proper food portions for your cat.

How Much Wet Food or Dry Food to Feed a Cat

Once you’ve determined how many calories your cat needs every day, you need to figure out how much food to feed a cat to provide those calories. Thankfully, manufacturers now have to list a food’s caloric content on the label. It will be written as kcal/kg and kcal/can (wet food) or kcal/cup (dry food). In nutrition circles, a kcal (kilocalorie) is the same as a calorie.

Divide your cat’s caloric needs (kcal/day) by the food’s caloric content (kcal/can or cup). The answer will let you know how much wet food to feed a cat or how much dry food to feed a cat. To figure out how much food to feed a cat at each meal, simply divide the daily amount of food by the number of meals you plan to offer each day.

For example, let’s say your cat is 10 pounds and very active, and they are on a diet of Tiny Tiger Pate Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Wet Cat Food. According to the chart, your cat should consume 346 kcal/day.

how much to feed a cat

Since the calorie content of the wet cat food is 95 kcal/can, you would determine how much wet food to feed your cat by dividing 346 kcal/day by 95 kcal/can.

346 kcal/day ÷ 95 kcal/can = 3.64 cans of Tiny Tiger Pate Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food per day.

EDITOR’S TIP: If you don’t use the whole can of wet cat food and want to store the rest, ORE Pet can covers can help keep the cat food fresh.

Feeding Wet Cat Food vs. Dry Cat Food 

Most veterinarians recommend that cats eat primarily wet food. The higher water content in wet foods can help treat or prevent kidney and lower urinary tract disease as well as obesity and all its associated health problems. High quality wet foods like Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals tend to contain more meat and protein and be lower in carbohydrates than dry foods and this better matches a cat’s nutritional needs in comparison to dry.

The chief benefits of dry foods are their lower cost and the fact that they are the best option when food needs to be left out for extended periods of time. If you choose to feed dry, opt for a quality, high protein cat food, like Solid Gold Indigo Moon with Chicken & Eggs Grain-Free High Protein Dry Cat Food, and try to maximize your cat’s water intake. If your cat likes to drink from running sources of water, consider purchasing a kitty water fountain like the Catit Flower Pet Fountain.

Why Do I Need to Calculate My Cat’s Calorie Needs?

To determine how many calories a cat needs in a day, we usually refer to the label on the food bag or can. It spells out, based on weight, how much to feed. Sometimes, those labels even differentiate between age groups or activity levels. What those labels can’t take into account is each individual cat’s needs. Neutered and spayed cats often have lower caloric needs than intact cats. Indoor cats require less than outdoor cats, and a cat that spends all day bouncing around the house requires far more than the cat that sleeps on the couch all day.

By learning how to calculate your cat’s calorie needs, you’re identifying the correct amount of food your cat needs to stay healthy. You can always tweak up or down if needed, but a base knowledge of what your cat needs will help you have a baseline to work with. It also gives you the knowledge of how to adjust your cat’s feeding with life changes, weight changes, and medical changes.

Calculating Calorie Intake for Your Cat

To calculate your cat’s calorie needs, you’ll need an accurate weight on your cat. Guessing their weight or going off of their vet visit from last year can lead to inappropriate feeding. The following equation allows you to determine the resting energy requirements, or RER, for your cat. This is the baseline calorie need for the energy your cat burns while at rest, so it basically accounts for your cat staying relatively sedentary most of the day except for a few trips to the litter box, food bowl, and different locations in the home.

RER in kcal/day = (ideal or target weight in kg ^ 0.75) x 70 OR 30 x (body weight in kg) +70

To determine your cat’s weight in kilograms, divide its weight in pounds by 2.2. A 10-pound cat is 4.5kg.

The calculator itself does not consider your cat’s age, current weight, or activity level, but the site does provide additional recommendations based on these. It’s extremely important that you consult your veterinarian and have your cat health tested before you make significant dietary changes. Underfed and overfed cats can develop health issues, and sudden changes in calorie intake can lead to some dangerous problems. Also, your veterinarian will be able to give you a target weight for your cat that you can use in the equation.

Credit: Viktor Lugovskoy, Shutterstock

Additional Factors That May Alter Your Calculation

Spaying/Neutering: Cats that have been fixed produce fewer hormones, like testosterone and estrogen. This causes a dip in their metabolism and when testosterone levels decrease, muscle production is more difficult in both males and females.

  • To determine the calorie needs of a fixed cat, use this equation: RER x 1.2

Intact Adult: Intact cats retain the hormones that fixed cats have lost, so they are less likely to gain weight. In fact, they usually have a much higher metabolism than fixed cats, which significantly increases their calorie needs.

  • To determine the calorie needs of an intact adult cat, use this equation: RER x 1.4

Sedentary/Obesity Prone: Is your cat lazy but at a healthy weight? If they spend most of their time sleeping or they’re up performing routine tasks, then your cat falls into this category. If your cat parkours to the food bowl twice a day, then they probably don’t fit this category.

  • To measure the calorie needs of a sedentary cat, use the RER you already calculated.

Weight Loss: If your cat has been cleared by your veterinarian for weight loss, use the following equation and run the results by your vet for verification: RER for ideal weight x 0.8

Weight Gain: Don’t put your cat on a weight gain diet without checking with your veterinarian first. Many people are unfamiliar with how to determine the body score of a cat and may think a healthy weight cat is too thin.

  • Use the following equation to determine the weight gain needs of an underweight cat: RER for ideal weight x 1.8

Kittens Under 4 Months: Tiny, growing kittens have high calorie needs.

  • Use the following equation: RER x 2.5

Kittens 4 Months to 1 Year: Older kittens and juveniles have a greater calorie need than adults.

  • Use the following equation: RER x 2

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