How do I calculate how many calories of food my cat needs each day?

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Figuring out how many calories a day your cat needs depends on a variety of factors. Employ a few simple guidelines that will provide your cat with exactly the amount she needs. This is especially important considering that about 54 percent of all cats in the United States are classified as overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

• Average cats: If your cat isn’t a kitten, pregnant, lactating, overweight or a senior or elderly, figuring out calories is pretty simple. Average cats needs about 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. So if you have a seven-pound cat, it needs about 210 calories a day (seven pounds x 30 calories per pound = 210 calories).
• Pregnant cats: If your cat is pregnant, she’ll need more calories than average. Feline pregnancies last about nine weeks. By the end of the pregnancy, your cat should be eating 25 percent more calories than she ate before she was pregnant. Slowly increase the amount of calories you provide your pregnant cat over the nine weeks. Your cat will develop a large, full belly at the end of pregnancy that can restrict how much she can comfortably eat. At that time, it’s best to provide her with the proper calories in several small meals. At the end of the nine weeks, your cat will stop eating, which is normal and indicates that birth is imminent.
• Overweight cats: Being overweight has a drastic effect on your cat’s health and happiness; in fact, it can shorten her life span by 2.5 years. If your cat needs to lose weight, restrict calories by 10 percent or less. Cats should lose no more than half a pound per month and this is definitely a time when you should have a discussion with the vet.
• Calories for older cats: Just like humans, cats also suffer from a lower metabolism as they age. At about seven years old, you might notice that she’s starting to put on a little weight, and you might reduce her calories per pound a little; again, discuss this with your veterinarian.

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