There’s no doubt that using pouches is a quick and convenient way to feed our pet cats but it’s very easy to lose track of how many the little rogues have eaten in a day. I expect you’ve already discovered that offering them additional dry biscuits as I have always done can confuse the issue even further. However, after years of being trained in feline cuisine by my two kitties, Jasper and Hollie, plus all their predecessors, I feel more than qualified to provide you with the answer.
How Many Pouches Should I Feed My Cat? An average of between three and five pouches should be served daily to provide sufficient nourishment. This amount will ensure they have a perfect balance of essential vitamins, minerals and oils to maintain both a healthy metabolism and an ideal weight.
I have had the pleasure of sharing my home with cats for a considerable number of years and I can tell you that feeding time is rather more complicated than just deciding if it’s three pouches or five. Numerous factors such as size, age and level of activity all contribute to having to make adjustments to the exact number of pouches our cats will eat. In addition, cats who are waiting to give birth and those that are nursing kittens have much larger appetites and need to eat far more than the average amount of pouches until their lives get back to normal. And of course, the major, uncontrollable influence in these calculations comes from the cats themselves who are invariably fussy eaters…
Learning Your Cat’s Feeding Habits
The expert advice that we should serve between three and five pouches per day to each of our feline friends is an excellent starting point. Pouches come in a choice of gravy, which my cats adore, or jelly. The dining area is important – If there are two or more cats in your household it’s more than likely that they will prefer to eat in separate areas. Many cats tend to favour a peaceful area of the kitchen preferably away from doors and whirring washing machines. They usually like to know where their dinner is being served so try to keep it in the same location to avoid confusion. Mine often sit in their dining area whenever they are hungry as if to drop me a hint. But what makes up a pouch?
- Meat or fish protein – usually at an average of 30%
- Vitamins A and D – for good eyesight and strong bones
- Zinc – helps maintain a healthy skin
- Calcium – for strong teeth and bones
- Taurine – an amino acid from meat that they can’t live without
- Moisture – at a level of approximately 80%
Hygiene is as important when feeding our cats as for ourselves. Plastic bowls are a popular, economical choice but they do need replacing after a while due to the cat’s sharp teeth etching a network of scratches into the surface which provide ideal hiding places for bacteria such as salmonella. Stainless steel and porcelain bowls are much easier to wash thoroughly and if they are heavy in the base they will stay in place more effectively while your cat eats.
The average serving of food is three to five pouches but there is no such thing as an average cat. And there is nothing like mealtimes for discovering something about your cat’s unique personality. Some cats like to eat in private until they want seconds while others are the opposite and see feeding as a social activity. Hollie was a few months old when I became her guardian and she was seriously underweight simply because her previous owners had completely failed to realise that she would only eat if someone stayed with her, a trait that’s still occasionally evident all these years later. Like many cats, Hollie and Jasper prefer to eat several small meals during the day which gives me the opportunity to see more of them. If you can’t always be around for your cat, consider investing in a timed feeder that springs open when it’s required or leave a dish of dry biscuits for them to munch on when they want a snack. It’s important that they can find a drink whenever they get thirsty so I always leave bowls of fresh water in different rooms and outside in the garden for them to use.
The size of your cat will largely dictate whether you feed them three or five pouches in a day. Both of mine are British shorthair moggies that are reckoned to have an average weight of 10lbs with an appetite for around four or five of those delicious pouches. However, even in distinct breeds, there can be variances in size and weight. For instance, Hollie is about 8.5lbs while Jasper tips the scales at 11lbs because he has a much larger skeletal frame. Hollie eats between two and three pouches of food each day depending on how many of her favourite biscuits she has eaten while Jasper regularly enjoys four or five. Fortunately, neither of them are overweight. Here are some examples of the average weights of some popular breeds which will give you an idea of how much they might eat:
- Maine Coon – 14.5lbs
- Persian – 11lbs
- Bengal – 9.5lbs
- Siamese – 9lbs
- Devon Rex – 8.5lbs
- Abyssinian – 6.5lbs
An Abyssinian will never eat as much as his cousin, the Maine Coon so their food has to be adjusted to around two pouches for the former and five or six for the latter. But the question of precisely how many pouches your cat will eat in a day doesn’t stop at just size.
Older Cats Will Eat Less
Although this statement can be taken as a general view of a supposedly average cat it doesn’t necessarily apply to all cats. My Jasper is almost fourteen years of age but shows no signs of slowing down yet. He still goes out on regular patrols around his territory and enjoys the odd skirmish with the cat a few doors away. He often comes home famished and wants to eat as heartily as he has ever done. I can imagine what he would say if I put him on half rations! Pet food companies define an older, senior cat as one that has reached the age of seven. From my own experience, my cats have always seemed as if they are still behaving like kittens at that age and the majority of pet cats these days reach fifteen to twenty years. Senior foods will often include extra oils to help the mobility in their limbs. However, some elderly cats lose their appetite a little due to poor dental health, illness or because they have become inactive but that’s another story.
Inactive Cats plus too many Pouches leads to Obesity
If you have an older cat who becomes inactive through arthritic joints, you might need to adjust the amount of food it eats. In a similar vein, younger cats who are confined to the house aren’t going to wear off their calories like their contemporaries who have the freedom to go outside to climb trees and chase mice. They need plenty of stimulating play to prevent them being bored and putting on weight. You can easily check your cat’s weight by standing on the bathroom scales while holding it and noting the figure then subtracting your own weight. If your cat’s weight has become around twenty per cent greater than normal it’s time to seek veterinary advice about a change of diet.
Obesity in cats has similar effects as in humans and can lead to harmful conditions such as diabetes which will reduce their quality of life. Obese cats still need to eat their regular portions but the ingredients have to be of a different composition to ensure that any weight loss is at a slow rate to prevent damaging their health even more. A fat cat might still have the dilemma of three or five pouches but what’s inside them is quite different. It’s always a problem when you decide to change brands without your cat’s permission but there are ways to encourage your cat to eat it.
Cats Are Fancy Eaters
The main trick is to mix a little of the new food with their usual brand to get them used to it gradually. It doesn’t always work at the first attempt as they often ignore it. Jasper usually gives in on the second try but Hollie will continue on hunger strike until normal service is resumed. Occasionally cats will go off their food because the weather is hot or they are bored with the taste. Introducing new flavours in small doses will stimulate their taste buds and make mealtimes fun. Active, healthy cats usually know by instinct how much food they need and seldom overeat. You will find this out soon enough whenever they leave half of their dinner inexplicably uneaten. Cats are great individuals with minds of their own and an unnerving ability to get the pouches they like. But would we want them any other way? Observing your cat’s habits during mealtimes in relation to its size, weight, age and most importantly, its own personal preferences, will enable you to judge how many pouches they have decided is normal for their requirements.