Feeding Guidelines for Your Cat
Feeding Guidelines for Your Cat

Feeding Guidelines For Your Cat

How can you make sure you’re feeding your cat the right food at the right time and in the right quantities? If you’re choosing new cat food, deciding on a feeding schedule, concerned about a food-related health condition, or wondering about supplements or treats, check out our feeding guidelines for cats.

Cats are obligate carnivores, and this means that they cannot survive solely on a plant-based diet as they won’t get all the required nutrients from it. To stay healthy and survive, cats require at least 70% of the nutrients found in animal meat. So, your cat’s diet and choice of food should be prepared accordingly. To start off, you can begin by making a feeding plan for your cats to ensure they get the nutrition they require.


How do I make a feeding plan for my cat?

You can divide your cat’s daily diet into two main meals which are spaced no more than 12 hours apart. Alternatively, you can divide the food into multiple meals such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, do ensure that these meals provide the cat with enough calories and other nutrients - not more or less than recommended.

How to identify my cat’s feeding habits?

Once your cats are set on a regular feeding schedule, you will slowly begin noticing their usual feeding habits. Habits such as playing with their food, eating alone, and hoarding food are quite normal for cats. So, if you notice any of these, you don’t have to be worried. A few habits that you may have to be mindful of are:

  1. Not eating all the served food (served as per regular amount)
  2. Sudden gain in weight
  3. Cat going more than 24 hours without eating

If you notice your cat showing either of these habits, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

How do I pick which food to feed my cat?

Before making a meal plan for your cat, it is important to understand which pet food is right for them. This is because there are a few factors upon which your cat’s basic calorie and nutrient intake depend. While a vet can help you with a detailed cat feeding guide, here is a quick look at factors that you need to keep in mind. 

  1. Life stage

    Life stage refers to the cat’s age - is your pet a kitten, an adult or a senior cat? Cats need the most amount of calorie intake when they are young kittens for proper growth. After 10 months of age, cats can be switched to a diet consisting of adult cat food. This diet can be continued even after your feline friend crosses 11 years of age, which is when cats begin to be considered seniors.

  2. Lifestyle

    Lifestyle refers to how active your cat normally is. Cats who stay active and agile need more calories than cats who prefer to be idle.


  3. Life stage

    Life stage refers to the cat’s age - is your pet a kitten, an adult or a senior cat? Cats need the most amount of calorie intake when they are young kittens for proper growth. After 10 months of age, cats can be switched to a diet consisting of adult cat food. This diet can be continued even after your feline friend crosses 11 years of age, which is when cats begin to be considered seniors.

  4. Body condition

    Body condition concerns the animal’s overall health and body weight. For a cat who is overweight, you need to prepare a diet that is low on calories. With regards to the overall health condition, if your cat is facing any kind of ailments, their food intake may change or need to be changed. Your vet will advise you on what foods your pet may need to consume or avoid. They may also suggest changes in the cat’s feeding guidelines per the animal’s unique health requirements.

  5. Breed size

    Cats that are naturally larger in size need more calories than their smaller counterparts.

  6. Reproductive status

    Spayed and neutered cats usually have reduced metabolic rates and, hence, require fewer calories. Pregnant cats will naturally need more food than other cats. 

How often should I feed my cat?

A practical guideline to follow is that kittens should be fed three times a day from weaning (three to six weeks) right up to four months of age. After four months, they should be fed twice a day. Most cats should continue to be fed twice a day throughout their life, although some pets do well with one feeding.

How much should I give my cat to eat?

The amount to feed your cat depends on your pet’s age, size and activity level. Feeding guidelines, which list the daily-recommended portion, are included on all IAMS™ packages. Start feeding with this amount and adjust according to your pet’s needs. Remember to divide the portion accordingly if you feed more than once a day. 

What is the best way to introduce a new diet to my cat?

When changing your cat’s diet, it’s important to introduce the new food slowly. Start by offering your cat’s daily portion in a ratio of 25% new food to 75% old food. During the next three days, gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old.

Cat feeding guide for wet and dry food

Once you have understood your own cats’ feeding guide based on age and other factors, it is important to figure out what kind of food to pick - wet or dry. Both these types of foods have their unique benefits, and each one can prove necessary for different stages of a cat’s life to fulfil nutritional requirements. Since each of these types of food finds its place in a cat’s feeding guidelines, let’s take a closer look.

Benefits of wet food for cats

Wet food is an excellent treat that can be fed alone or mixed with dry food. Wet food is good for cats for the following reasons:

  1. Ensures that cats stay hydrated
  2. Keeps their urinary health in check
  3. Has a delicious taste that cats love
  4. Comes with more variations than dry food

Benefits of dry food for cats

Dry food comprises kibbles made with ingredients that are generally preferred by cats. Dry food is easier to use to feed cats and can be given with a food dispenser. This type of food also has a longer shelf life. Here are some more benefits of dry food for your feline friend. 

  • Serves as a grazing snack to have in between meals
  • The crunchy texture of dry food also promotes healthy teeth and gums and provides overall good oral hygiene

Is it necessary to feed both wet and dry food?

Although our wet cat foods are nutritionally complete and balanced for a cat’s diet, it is not necessary to offer wet food at every feeding. Our dry foods are formulated with high-quality protein sources such as chicken, lamb or fish and contain all the essential nutrients pets need.

You can also consult your vet regarding your cat’s feeding guidelines, and they will make changes if necessary. Also, it is best to consult your vet before making any major changes in your cat’s meals, like adding or switching to raw food diet for cats. Your vet may conduct a nutritional evaluation of your cat to determine what food they require.

Will my cat be bored eating the same food all the time?

No — boredom with food is a human trait. Cats are creatures of habit and usually are content with just one food. Cats generally eat to meet their energy or nutritional needs. They have very short digestive systems, and if their diet is abruptly or constantly changed, digestive disturbances can occur. Also, constant changes can make your pet a finicky eater.

Is it ok to moisten dry food?

Adding water will not change the nutritional value of dry cat food. However, once moisture is added the food should be eaten relatively soon, and any uneaten portion should be discarded to avoid spoilage. Feeding your cat dry food is usually encouraged because of the benefit to your cat’s dental health. 

Will it hurt cats or dogs if they eat each other’s food?

Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements and should not eat each other’s food. For example, cats require a much higher level of taurine in their diet. An occasional venture into each other’s bowls will not be harmful but is not recommended on a regular basis.

Can I supplement your pet foods with vitamins, minerals, oils, etc.?

Our foods are nutritionally complete and balanced. Adding vitamins, minerals or oils can offset the balance the food provides. One of the benefits of feeding a high-quality product is that it has been carefully balanced in proper ratios to provide optimal nutrition, so nothing needs to be added.

How can I learn more about pet nutrition?

Contact the IAMS Pet Care and Nutrition Specialists toll-free at 1-800-675-3849.

Frequently asked questions

  1. How much should a cat eat daily?
  2. A cat should be fed at least two meals a day. However, do ensure that you don’t wait for more than 12 hours to feed your cat, or they might suffer from acid reflux and hunger.

  3. How much food should I feed my cat?
  4. A cat’s daily food requirement depends upon these factors - their age, size, activity level, body condition, health status, reproductive status, and if they prefer being indoors or outdoors. Based on these factors, you can prepare a feeding chart for your cats. You can also consult your vet for your cat’s nutritional evaluation and feeding chart.

  5. How often should cats eat wet food?
  6. The amount of wet food your cats should eat also depends upon their age, size, reproductive state, and activity level. An adult average-sized cat can be fed one 3-ounce can of wet food for every 3 - 3.5 pounds of their body weight, on a daily basis.

  7. Do cats need feeding every day?
  8. Yes, cats need to be fed daily. They can eat one large meal or a few smaller meals per day, depending upon their activity level, age, and their body type. If your cat suffers from an ailment, your vet may suggest changes in their daily feeding schedule.

  9. How do I know my cat is hungry?
  10. A hungry cat may start meowing at a high pitch, try to lead you towards their food bowl, or sit by their food bowl and claw at it.

  • Your Cat’s Language: What Meows, Chirps and Yowls Mean
    Your Cat’s Language: What Meows, Chirps and Yowls Mean
    Your Cat’s Language: What Meows, Chirps and Yowls Mean

    Listen up, Mom or Dad, because your feline definitely has something to say. Cats use more than 100 different vocal sounds to communicate. Here are nine of the most common sounds you’ll hear and what your cat’s unique language means.




    While your cat’s purrs are usually a sign that they’re happy, comfortable or content, it’s important to point out that your cat might also purr when they are anxious, agitated or sick — because purring soothes them. The key to figuring out if it’s a “worry purr” is to check if their ears are folded back, if they seem tense or if they just aren’t acting normal. (If that’s the case, call the vet and grab the cat carrier.)



    Why do cats meow? It’s simple: It’s their way of communicating with us!

    Meows are your cat’s most common “word,” and every one means something different. For example, your cat might meow to greet you when you come home, to ask you to open your bedroom door so they can curl up on your pillow, or to say, “I’d like some more tasty kibble or a second serving of IAMS® PERFECT PORTIONS™ paté, s’il vous plaît.


    Chirps and Trills

    Chirps and trills are the loving language of cat mothers. Chirps, or chirrups, are staccato, bird-like sounds mother cats use to say to their kittens, “Follow me.” Trills are higher-pitched chirps your cat uses to say hello or “Pay attention to me.” When your cat directs these sounds at you, chances are they want you to give them some love or follow them somewhere, usually to their food or water bowl. (Shocker, LOL.)

    If you have more than one feline fur baby, listen closely. You’ll likely hear your cats talk to each other with these sounds.




    When your kitty spies an unsuspecting bird or squirrel frolicking outside the window, they might make a chattering sound at it. This distinctive, repetitive clicking noise is caused by a combination of lip smacking and your cat rapidly vibrating their lower jaw. This odd behavior looks like teeth chattering, and a lot of cats also chirp when they chatter.

    This clickety sound is thought to be a mix of predatory excitement and frustration at not being able to get to the elusive feathered or furry prize. Some animal behaviorists even think the sound mimics a fatal bite used to break the bones of their prey. Who knew your li’l feline was so ferocious?!

    Regardless of the exact reason cats chatter or chirp at birds and other small animals, most feline parents find it fascinating and amusing to watch.




    The unmistakable sound of a cat hissing is like a steak hitting a hot skillet, and it can only mean one thing: Your cat feels threatened and will put up a fight if they have to. Just as important as the hissing sound, however, is the cat body language that comes with it. Your cat will flatten their ears, arch their back, puff their fur, twitch their tail and usually open their mouth to flash their fangs — aka the classic defensive pose.



    Snarls and Growls

    In addition to a hiss, if your cat makes a deep, guttural growlsound, they’re saying, “Back off.” Similar to a dog’s growl, this noise means your cat is annoyed, scared or angry. Some cats even make short, higher-pitched snarl sounds before launching into a full-blown growl.

    While these sounds usually signify an unhappy cat, it’s important to note that some cats growl because they’re in pain from an injury or a health problem. If you suspect this is the case, a trip to the vet is in order.

    If your feline snarls or growls at you for any reason, though, it’s best to leave your feisty friend alone.



    A yowl, or howl, is a long, drawn-out meow that almost sounds like moaning; it’s your cat’s way of telling you they’re worried or distressed, or that they need you. They might have gotten locked in a closet, can’t find you anywhere or, heaven forbid, have discovered their food bowl is empty. Your cat might also yowl when they don’t feel well or when a new neighborhood cat trespasses on their turf.

    Whatever the reason, make sure you immediately help your cat whenever you hear a yowl. Trust us — you’ll both be glad you did.


    Your Cat’s Language: What Meows, Chirps and Yowls Mean