Healthy portions are smaller than you think

Many pet owners think their cat needs more food than it really does. This means that many cats are overfed; not only can this cause weight gain, but may lead to other health issues.

What is the correct portion size for my cat?

Healthy weight is achieved by maintaining the correct balance between the energy your cat takes in through their food, and the energy they use.

The starting point is to follow the feeding guide given by the cat food you have selected. However, a number of factors may also need to be taken into consideration when determining the portion size, recommended feeding quantities for cats are often just guidelines. 

Firstly, consider the activity levels of your cat; are they often on-the-move, do they spend a lot of time outdoors, or are they more sedentary indoor cats? How much exercise a cat gets will determine the energy they need throughout the day.

Next, has your cat been spayed or neutered? These procedures can impact the portions needed by your cat. Sterilisation changes their metabolism and means they digest their food in a different way. It's important to pay close attention to their shape or any changes in activity and adjust their portions to account for this.

How a cat's eating habits impact their portion sizes

What cats eat, as well as how they eat and how they live, greatly impacts their well-being and their health.

Domestic cats have distinctly different feeding habits from humans or dogs. Instead of two or three large meals, some cats prefer to graze over the day. It is important, therefore, not to overfeed during these meals. Instead, measure out your cat's correct portion for the day and then either divide this into smaller meals, or leave the bowl out during the day and allow your cat to revisit whenever they like, depending on your cat's preference. 

Feeding puzzles are another great way to engage your cat's hunting instincts and encourage them to be more active during meal times.

Why is my cat begging?

Does your cat keep asking for tidbits of your food? Despite appearances, this might not mean that they are hungry. Their behaviour may instead be a habit, boredom or an attempt to seek attention. Giving in to these behaviours only serves to reinforce the action.

Having said this, continuous begging can also be an indication of illness and your cat may not be getting the required nutrition from their food. Infestations of parasites, for instance worms, can cause increased appetite, continuous hunger, sometimes combined with weight loss.

If food seeking behaviour or consistent hunger continues,  consult your vet who will be able to identify or rule out any underlying concerns or conduct a full nutritional assessment.

Tips for maintaining the correct portions for your cat

It may seem challenging to maintain a healthy portion size for your cat, however there are a few of things you can be aware of to prevent overfeeding.

Firstly, divide their ration into small, frequent meals. If you feed your cat dry food, measure out each meal carefully using scales, and leave it available for them to come back to until the next meal. 

Second, If your cat eats all of their food before their next meal time, avoid simply topping up the bowl whenever it is empty. This can help to prevent overfeeding. Similarly, avoid feeding your cat any human food as even small amounts can represent a large percentage of their daily energy requirements.

If you give your cat treats, it's important to take those additional calories into account when calculating their daily rations. Treats should represent no more than 10% of your cat's daily food allowance. Using kibbles from your cat's portions as a treat means you can be confident that your cat is getting the right balance of nutrients while maintaining the correct number of calories.