How many treats to give a cat a day?

We all like to give our cat a treat. We know that we should not overdo it. Treats should never exceed 20% of a cat’s total daily food. I believe that that is a good guideline. I have more or less answered the question. So what is the required total daily food intake for a domestic cat?

With respect to adult cats the amount of food they need must vary even among cats of the same weight because of differences in metabolic rate and activity levels. And labels provide guidelines only. The amount should be customized to suit the individual cat. Spayed and neutered cats have a lower metabolism than intact cats. However, in general, an active adult cat needs about 30 to 35 calories per pound (.45 kg) of body weight per day. An inactive cat needs about 18 calories per pound of body weight per day. Many cats will be at the lower estimate.

The average adult cat weighs approximately 10 pounds but of course weights vary substantially. If your cat weighs 10 pounds he or she should have a daily calorie intake of 300-350.

The next question is how many calories are in cat food? The labels typically do not provide the answer. A website1 that I have found does provide some useful numbers. Science Diet Savory Cats Ocean Fish canned (wet) cat food contains 79.5 cal per 100 g of food or 22.6 cal per ounce. That’s one example. If your cat is on this cat food he or she should eat 377-440 g of it daily.

Science Diet Light dry cat food contains 304.2 cal per 100 g of food or 86.3 cal per ounce. If your cat is eating Science Diet Light and is a standard size cat he or she should eat a bit more than 100 g daily.

Eukanuba Kitten Chicken and Rice contains 396.2 cal per 100 g of food or 112.4 cal per ounce. If your cat eats this cat food then he should eat around 80 g daily.

Of course, these are examples but they are probably quite typical and I hope that they provide a good guideline.

Petfinder provides alternative information as follows. A single cup of dry cat food contains between 350 to 500 cal. Wet cat food contains between 120 – 190 cal for a 5.5 ounce can.

Please note that one kilocalorie (kcal) is the same as 1 Calorie. I’m told in America ‘calorie’ is synonymous with ‘kilocalorie’ on labels. The same applies to Europe.

I hope this helps to understand the amount of food that a cat should receive daily together with the percentage of that food which should be in the form of treats.


2 thoughts on “How many treats to give a cat a day?”

  1. Treats in my case are actually high quality protein supplements which overcome the deficiencies of the usual dry and canned cat food which are mostly second grade protein sources from grains. I no longer have the time every day to make them 1/3 dry food, 1/3 canned food, 1/3 lightly cooked chicken liver or fish, so they often get the dry stuff and a good lump of chicken liver or fish which I think of as treats. Having said that they also get chicken liver gravy poured over their dry food.


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