Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements

It is imperative to provide your feline companion with a well-rounded and nutritionally balanced diet to promote their overall health and well-being. It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of their daily nutritional needs, as well as the appropriate amount and types of food, to ensure that your cat receives the essential nutrients they need to thrive. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet primarily consists of meat, and they have specific Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements that differ from other animals.

In this exploration of cat nutrition, we will delve into the key components that make up a cat’s daily nutritional needs, discussing the optimal amount of food and the various sources that contribute to a wholesome and satisfying diet for your cherished pet.

Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements Quantity and Sources of Food

A cat’s daily nutritional requirements can differ based on various factors, such as age, activity level, and overall health. However, there are general guidelines that can help ensure your feline companion receives the necessary nutrients for their well-being.


  1. Protein: Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require protein from animal sources to survive. Their diet should consist of at least 26% protein on a dry matter basis. Good sources of protein for cats include chicken, fish, beef, and lamb.
  2. Fat: Fat is another essential nutrient for cats as it provides energy and aids in vitamin absorption. Their diet should contain approximately 9% fat on a dry matter basis. Chicken fat, fish oil, and canola oil are good sources of fat for cats.
  3. Carbohydrates: Cats have a limited need for carbohydrates, and their diet can contain as little as 5% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. However, certain carbohydrates like fiber can be beneficial for digestion. Brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes are good sources of carbohydrates for cats.
  4. Vitamins and minerals: Cats require a variety of vitamins and minerals to maintain good health. Key vitamins for cats include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and thiamine. Important minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients can be obtained from foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and vegetables.


The amount of food a cat should consume each day depends on their individual needs. As a general guideline, start with 1/4 cup of dry food per 5 pounds of body weight per day, and adjust the quantity based on your cat’s activity level and weight. If you are uncertain about the appropriate amount to feed your cat, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian.

Sources of Food:

There are several options available when it comes to providing a nutritious diet for your cat. You can select from commercial dry food, wet food, or a raw diet. Each type of food has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is crucial to conduct thorough research and choose the option that suits both your cat’s needs and your lifestyle.

  1. Commercial dry food: Commercial dry food is the most convenient and cost-effective choice. It is also formulated to meet a cat’s nutritional requirements, making it a reliable source of nutrients. However, some dry foods may contain high levels of carbohydrates and lack moisture. To ensure your cat receives a high-quality diet, opt for dry food made with real meat and poultry.
  2. Wet food: Wet food is an excellent source of moisture for cats and can be beneficial for picky eaters or those with dental issues. However, it tends to be more expensive than dry food and has a shorter shelf life.
  3. Raw diet: A raw diet consists of uncooked meat, bones, and organs. It can be a highly nutritious option for cats, but it is crucial to ensure the food is properly balanced and sourced from a reputable supplier. Before transitioning your cat to a raw diet, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian for guidance and advice.


It is crucial to ensure that your feline companion has constant access to clean and fresh water, in addition to their food. Cats are prone to dehydration, hence it is vital to keep a close eye on their water consumption and ensure they are adequately hydrated.

Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements

Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements Chart

Below is a comprehensive chart outlining the daily nutritional requirements for cats.

NutrientMinimum Daily RequirementSources
MacronutrientsProtein (dry matter basis)26%
Chicken, fish, beef, lamb, eggs, dairy
Fat (dry matter basis)9%
Chicken fat, fish oil, canola oil, meat fat
Carbohydrates (dry matter basis)5% (non-essential)
Brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes (primarily for fiber)
MicronutrientsVitaminsVitamin A5,000 IU
Liver, fish oil, eggs, carrots
Vitamin D400 IU
Fatty fish, eggs, sun exposure (synthesized)
Vitamin E15 IU
Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds
Thiamine0.7 mg
Meat, poultry, fish, legumes
MineralsCalcium0.7 g
Dairy products, fish bones, leafy greens
Phosphorus0.6 g
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs
Magnesium100 mg
Meat, poultry, fish, legumes, leafy greens
Sodium170 mg
Meat, poultry, fish, commercial cat food
OtherWater40-50 ml/kg body weight
Fresh, clean water

Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements by Age

Cats’ nutritional needs vary throughout their life stages. Below are some general guidelines for cats at different ages:

Kittens (up to 6 months):

During their rapid growth, kittens require higher amounts of fat and protein. They should be fed five meals a day, gradually reducing the frequency as they approach adulthood. A high-quality kitten food specifically formulated to meet their unique nutritional needs is recommended.

 Adult cats (7 years and beyond):

Compared to kittens, adult cats require less fat and protein. Most adult cats need approximately 22 calories per pound per day for maintenance. It is crucial to provide a well-balanced diet that includes essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help ensure that your cat’s diet is appropriate for their age and overall health.

Senior cats (7 years and older):

Due to changes in health and activity levels, senior cats may have different nutritional requirements. It is important to seek guidance from a veterinarian or cat nutritionist to determine the suitable diet for your senior cat.

Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements Calculator

To determine a cat’s daily nutritional requirements, several factors need to be considered, including age, weight, activity level, and health status. While I can offer general guidelines, it is essential to seek personalized advice from your veterinarian based on your cat’s specific needs. Here is a basic overview of the process:

1. Determine Basic Information:

  • Weight: Cats have different nutritional needs based on their weight, so it is crucial to weigh your cat accurately.
  • Age: Kittens, adults, and seniors have varying dietary requirements.
  • Activity Level: An active cat requires more calories than a sedentary one.

2. Calculate Resting Energy Requirements (RER):

  • RER represents the number of calories your cat needs at rest.
  • For weight maintenance: RER = 70 x (weight in kg)^0.75
  • For weight gain or loss: Adjust RER based on the desired weight.

3. Determine Daily Caloric Requirements:

Multiply RER by the appropriate factor:

  • Sedentary (little to no exercise): 1.2
  • Lightly active: 1.4
  • Moderately active: 1.6
  • Very active: 1.8

4. Example for a moderately active cat:

  • Daily Calories = RER x 1.6

5. Distribution of Nutrients:

  • Protein: Cats require a higher percentage of protein compared to many other animals. A good cat food should contain around 25-40% protein.
  • Fat: Approximately 10-20% of a cat’s diet should come from fat.
  • Carbohydrates: Cats are obligate carnivores, so their carbohydrate requirements are relatively low (5-10%).

6. Consider Health Conditions:

  • Cats with specific health conditions like diabetes or kidney disease may require special diets. It is important to consult your vet for specific recommendations.

7. Monitor and Adjust:

  • Regularly monitor your cat’s weight and make necessary adjustments to the diet.
  • If there are any health concerns or significant changes in weight, consult your veterinarian for guidance.

Remember, consulting with your veterinarian is crucial to ensure your cat’s nutritional needs are met appropriately.

Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements Quantity and Sources of Food

Kitten Nutritional Requirements Percentage

The nutritional needs of kittens generally consist of a suggested protein range of 35-50% on a dry matter basis, with a minimum of 9% dry matter derived from an animal source to promote healthy growth. Furthermore, the fat content for kittens should be limited to 18-35% on a dry matter basis to prevent excessive energy intake and the risk of obesity. Adequate calcium intake is also vital, with kitten growth formulas recommended to contain 0.8-1.6% calcium on a dry matter basis. Providing a well-balanced diet that fulfills these specific macronutrient requirements is crucial for ensuring optimal growth and development in kittens.

Cat Nutritional Requirements Through 4 Stages of life

NutrientKitten (<1 year)Adult (1-7 years)Mature Adult (7-10 years)Senior (>10 years)
ProteinHigher (30-40%)Moderate (25-30%)Moderate (25-30%)Moderate (25-30%)
FatHigher (20-30%)Moderate (15-20%)Moderate (15-20%)Moderate (15-20%)
CarbohydratesModerate (10-15%)Moderate (10-15%)Moderate (10-15%)Moderate (10-15%)
Vitamins & MineralsHigherModerateModerateModerate

FAQs About Cat Daily Nutritional Requirements

What are the nutritional requirements for a cat?

Cats, being obligate carnivores, depend solely on nutrients derived from animal products. Throughout their evolution, cats have developed as skilled hunters, consuming prey that is rich in protein, has moderate fat content, and contains minimal carbohydrates. Even today, their diet necessitates these specific proportions.

What are the nutritional needs of indoor cats?

Domesticated cats exhibit a preference for a nutrient composition consisting of 50% protein, 40% fat, and 10% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis. Additionally, they derive approximately 33% of their metabolizable energy from protein, 62% to 63% from fat, and 1.3% to 7% from carbohydrates.

What are the nutritional standards for cats?

The cat’s diet can contain a relatively high amount of fat without any known negative consequences. In numerous cat food products, over 50% of the energy is derived from fat. Research suggests that cat foods with even higher fat levels are still considered safe. However, cat foods should have a minimum fat content of approximately 9% of dry matter.

What nutrition do cats need daily?

Cats have evolved as predators that feed on prey rich in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbohydrates. Even today, their diet necessitates these specific proportions. Additionally, cats require over a dozen other essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.

What is a natural fiber for cats?

Pumpkin seeds and apple cellulose are rich in insoluble fiber, which aids in enhancing the volume and frequency of stool in cats suffering from constipation and hairball problems. Additionally, Vet’s Best® Hairball Control Supplement for Cats includes apple fiber, papaya extract, psyllium seed, marshmallow root, and slippery elm, providing an alternative solution for these issues.

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