How Many Calories Does a Cat Need? : A Furry Guide

How Many Calories Does a Cat Need? : An Introduction

Do you calculate your daily calorie intake to stay fit and healthy? Have you ever wondered what it would be like for a cat to eat a sugary diet every day?

Your furry little friend also needs control over their calorie intake to protect from certain diseases. So, you need to ask yourself whether you are feeding your cat the right and nutritious food or making any mistake in feeding?

Cats have individual dietary requirements. It’s important to find a healthy feline diet and feed the right amount. On average, an adult cat requires to eat 24-34 calories to gain one pound. However, calorie intake depends on several factors.

Let’s understand in detail what factors affect calorie intake and the right method to feed your cats. Now, it’s time for you to provide your furry companion with the required amount of calories for a healthy and active life.

Average Calorie Requirements of Cats

Cats may have specific tastes, or they may want more food than what you are feeding them. As a cat parent, you should make sure that your cat gets the right amount of calories to fulfill daily energy requirements.

Calorie requirements are different for different cats. So, the cat owner should consider the weight to determine the regular calorie intake. It will connect the health, age, and activity levels of the cat.

Senior Cats

When a cat turns 10 or 11 years old, you should include about 25 calories per pound in the diet. However, the quantity may differ due to activity levels or health concerns.

Senior cats lose weight as they age. Therefore, you should provide them wet food to regain the weight.

Adult Cats

Cats that have crossed the age of one year are adult cats. You should provide them with 25 to 30 calories per pound as they are in the most active stage of their life.

It would be best to start from the low end and slowly move above the calorie intake scale. The active cats will compensate for the extra food intake with exercise.


What about kittens? Kittens require calories the most to grow, and you should give them at least 20 calories per pound. Generally, kittens eat wet food with high-fat content to quickly gain weight.

However, it would be best not to overfeed your kitten as it may result in various health problems. Thus, you should observe their weight and adjust the diet accordingly.

Factors Affecting the Calorie Intake of Cats

Apart from weight, two more factors affect the calorie intake of a cat. The factors include activity level and age. Let’s discuss the two factors in detail.

Activity Levels

An adult cat with high activity levels will require more calorie intake. Here, activity level will contribute more to the caloric requirements than what they need while resting. So, an active pussycat might need three times more calories compared to a sedentary pussycat.

On a similar note, a feline always engaged in some daily activity will need two times more calories than an average house feline.

You can make changes in the diet if you find any significant change in the activity level of your feline friend. Furthermore, if your cat’s activity levels begin to slow down as they age, you can switch back their diet to what you provided them before the change.


We have described above how the calorie intake differs from kittens to adult and senior cats. So, your kitten might need more calories for active development and growth. Especially when your kitten is no more than four months old, the energy requirements of a kitten are more than an adult feline.

Once the kitten reaches maturity at 12 months, the calorie requirements begin to slow down, depending on weight and activity levels.

How to Determine Calorie Intake of Your Cat?

It would help if you always read the label on the food container to check the calories. Sometimes, it also mentions how much you should feed your cat according to the weight. However, it does not differentiate between activity levels and age.

So, the labels cannot accurately determine how much the daily dietary requirement of your cat is.

Indoor cats have more calorie requirements compared to spayed and neutered cats. On the other hand, outdoor cats require more calories in comparison to indoor cats. That’s because cats that roam and bounce around the house every day need more energy than those who spend the day sleeping on the couch.

So, if you can calculate your cat’s exact calorie requirement, you can feed the right amount of food for their healthy life. Also, it gives you an insight into adjusting the feeding requirements according to medical changes, life changes, and weight changes.

Using the Calorie Calculator

You should know the exact weight of your cat to calculate the accurate calories. If the weight is not accurate, you might end up feeding your cat inappropriately. Given below, you have the mathematical equation to calculate the resting energy requirements of your feline.

RER (Resting Energy Requirements) in day/kcal = 30 x (weight of body in kilograms) + 70 OR (target or ideal weight in kilograms ^ 0.75) x 70

You can divide the total weight in pounds by 2.2 to calculate the weight in kilograms.

With this calculation, you will know the baseline calorie that your pussycat needs to burn the energy while resting. So, it estimates the time when your feline is almost sedentary during the day except taking few walks to different rooms, food bowls, or litter boxes.

You can also take help from online calculators, which provide results in a minute. However, they may not take activity level, current weight, or age into account.

So, it’s better to have your cat checked by a vet before making any changes in the diet. Some overfed and underfed cats can develop health concerns due to sudden changes in calorie intake.

Additional Factors that Alter the Calculation

By now, you might have an idea how many calories your furry friend should take based on their weight, age, and activity levels. But, there are certainly other factors as well which can alter the calculations. These include:


Neutered cats cannot produce estrogen and testosterone hormones. As a result, the metabolism levels decrease, making it difficult to produce muscles in females and males.

You can calculate the calorie intake required for a neutered pussycat using the RER x 1.2 equation.

Obesity Prone/ Sedentary

A cat with a healthy weight but lazy behavior gets included in this category. These cats usually spend their time performing routine tasks and sleeping. In contrast, if your cat can make few trips to the food bowl, then they won’t probably be falling in this category.

You can use the RER previously calculated to determine the caloric intake for a sedentary cat.

Intact Adult

The fixed cats have lost the hormones, but an intact adult can retain those hormones and not gain excess weight. They have high-calorie requirements due to higher metabolism.

You can calculate their caloric intake using RER X 1.4 equation.

Weight Gain and Weight Loss

Always consult with your vet before you put your sweet little cat on a weight gain diet. Sometimes, people are not truly familiar with understanding the body score and overfeed their cats due to their thin body structure.

Using the RER x 1.8 equation, you can determine the desired weight gain requirements for an underweight feline.

You can calculate the weight loss requirements for weight loss using the equation RER for desired weight X 0.8.

How to Feed Your Cat Adequately?

It is crucial to know how much you can feed your cat depending on their weight. So, we will now discuss the calorie requirements of cats with varying weights.

Feeding a 13 Pound Pussycat

Average Calories: 424

Weight Loss: 265

Weight Gain: 451

To maintain the current body weight, a 13-pound cat will require a 424 caloric intake every day. However, you can reduce the calorie count to 265 calories if you think your cat is two or more pounds overweight.

For underweight cats, you should feed 451 calories to enable them to attain healthy body weight.

Feeding a 12 Pound Cat

Average Calories: 400

Weight Loss: 250

Weight Gain: 425

A minimum of 400 calories is required for a 12-pound pussycat to eat to maintain a healthy body weight. You can reduce to 250 calories if the cat is overweight and increase to 425 calories if the feline is underweight. The aim is to make them reach their healthy body weight.

Feeding a 10 Pound Cat

Average Calories: 349

Weight Loss: 218

Weight Gain: 370

As the weight decreases, the caloric intake requirement also changes. For a 10 pound feline, you should provide 349 calories every day. However, if your cat is slightly overweight, you can limit the caloric intake to 218 calories.

For weight gain, the amount of caloric intake will increase to 370 calories. You can continue the diet until your cat begins to gain weight.

Feeding a 9 pound Cat

Average Calories: 322

Weight Loss: 201

Weight Gain: 342

To stay active and healthy, a 9-pound cat requires a 322 caloric intake every day. If you want to add few more pounds, you can increase the diet to 342 calories per day.

For weight loss, the ideal caloric intake will become 201 calories per day.

Feeding a 5 Pound Cat

Average Calories: 207

Weight Loss: 130

Weight Gain: 220

The tiny 5-pound kitten needs some calories to sustain a healthy body weight and an active lifestyle. You should provide them with 207 calories every day. Besides, if your kitten is overweight, you can reduce the caloric intake to 130 calories.

For underweight 5 pound cats, they should eat 220 calories per day to gain weight.

Mistakes People Make While Feeding a Cat

You know how to take care of your diet, what you should include, and whatnot, right? However, your cat cannot tell you and explain it to you when they are feeling sick. So, it’s your responsibility to feed them right and avoid making the following mistakes.

Overfeeding Your Cat

In most countries, the common nutritional disease among cats is obesity. Fluffy and pudgy cats might look cute, but obesity can result in several illnesses such as urinary tract disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

By nature, cats are couch potatoes who love to spend their days doing nothing but resting. In that case, their nutrition needs get lower down, and they will gain weight when overfed.

Avoid Canned cat food if you have an overweight cat. To maintain ideal body weight, you should feed fewer calories.

Not fulfilling the Water Requirements

Water is as crucial for cats as it is for humans. About 70 percent of the body weight of an adult feline is water. So, if there is a water deficiency, your cat might have to face serious repercussions.

Wet foods fulfill your feline’s water requirements, but you should also provide various approachable water sources in your home.

Feeding Only Homemade Diets

A feline doesn’t eat or drink voluntarily, which makes them different from dogs. So, a diet low in nutrition might result in nutrient deficiencies in cats. Homemade food isn’t always necessarily healthy for everyone.

A diet too heavy in liver oil or tuna can cause vitamin A toxicosis. It is a disease that causes dry skin, pain in joints and bones, and brittle bones.

To avoid such health problems, provide a nutrient-rich diet. A feline should eat meat with the right proportion of phosphorus-to-calcium ratio.

Final Thoughts

When you know how to work around and use the calorie equation, you can easily calculate the calorie requirements of your cats.

However, you should check with your vet before making any changes in the diet. It is essential to switch from wet food or kibble to some other food type.

Apart from that, your love and care with the right amount of feeding will make sure that your furry friend always remains happy, active, and healthy under your supervision.