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How Much Food Does a Cat Need, and How Expensive is it?

Costs: $ 8-120 a month

How much food a cat needs depends on the following:

• How Big Is the Cat?

How much food a cat needs depends on their body size. Especially big cats such as the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Norwegian Forest Cat or Siberian need more energy.

• How Old Is the Cat?

Older cats don’t need as much food as growing cats.

• How Active Is the Cat?

A cat that prefers lounging around on the windowsill won’t burn as many calories as a cat that spends all day roaming outdoors. So, you can give active cats a little more food.

Is Expensive Food Better?

Yes, most of the time. Cheap supermarkets offer food at low prices. Cheap cat food can be good, but often contains far too much plant matter. High quality usually doesn’t come cheap. You can use this table to work out roughly how much you’ll have to spend on food. Please note that costs may differ depending on age and energy needs. It’s best to use a balanced mix of wet and dry food.

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Wet foodFood per dayCheap foodExpensive food
Adult female cat 7-9 oz (200-250 g) $ 30 $ 100
Adult male cat 9-10 oz (250-300 g) $ 35 $ 120
Dry foodFood per dayCheap foodExpensive food
Adult female cat 7-9 oz (200-250 g) $ 8 $ 40
Adult male cat 9-10 oz (250-300 g) $ 10 $ 50

(Valid: January 2019)

There is a big difference between monthly costs. By the way: treats aren’t included in the calculations. You shouldn’t give an overweight cat too many treats, but you can feel free to give an underweight cat a few more.

Food Costs vs. Vet Costs

Paying so much for pet food can be a shock at first. But: if your pet’s food is nutritious, they have a lower risk of age-related health problems or even organ damage due to improper nutrition. This doesn’t just save on vet bills; it also saves your pet stress and pain. Of course, you can’t rule out all illnesses, but you should consider that even “minor” operations like dental treatments require general anesthetic, which puts a lot of strain on little bodies.

High-Quality Food = Healthy Cat?

Of course, feeding your cat high-quality food isn’t a guarantee for a permanently healthy cat. On the other hand, a cat that only eats poor food isn’t necessarily going to get sick. Genetic predisposition, digestion, lifestyle etc. play a significant role. However, when you’re checking the food label, it’s useful to know what your four-legged friend actually needs and what tricks you can use to filter out low-quality food.

What to Keep In Mind When Choosing Food:

• Grains

Cat food without grains is easier for most cats to digest, and reduces the risk of allergies, long-term organ damage or intolerances. The food also shouldn’t contain any plant oils (a very small amount is ok), rice, corn or soy. Grain-free food is usually sold as “sensitive” or “grain-free”. You can even filter search results on online shops to find grain-free food.

• Sugar

Cat food should NEVER contain sugar, inulin or caramel. Apart from the fact that it’s bad for their teeth and can cause cavities, the only purpose of these ingredients is to make bad-quality meat taste and smell better. Good food doesn’t need that.

• Ingredient list

Good food generally lists all its ingredients. Especially the meat. If the packaging just states “meat and animal products”, then the company may have mixed abattoir byproducts or even indigestible parts such as beaks and claws into the food.

Thanks to Dani for all the tips and information!

Cat food Cat food - Photo: Hasloo Group Production Studio/Shutterstock