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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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How much to feed?

Hello all!

So it looks like I might be bringing a new cat home in the near future. My last cat, Annie, was the sort of cat who never had too much appetite so we never worried about her over-eating - she was fed as much as she wanted because any weight we could put and keep on her was always a good thing. Obviously, most cats aren't like this. So now I have to do some math I've never had to do before.

I'm definitely steering clear of dry food, however that's probably what the cat is being fed right now due to shelter constraints. I'll be transitioning onto a wet or freeze-dried raw food ASAP. Being in Canada, I only have access to certain brands, and a lot of brands are more expensive here I'm thinking I'd ideally like to stick with either Wild Calling, or The Honest Kitchen as those are the best brands I can come up with that are accessible to me and not terrifyingly expensive to feed on a regular basis. I know HK is a bit higher in carbs but them's the breaks, as far as I can tell something like Primal or Stella and Chewy's or Ziwipeak is just way too expensive here. ESPECIALLY Primal or S&C's, where according to their feeding calculations their largest sized bag which costs $20-$30 at least would last me less than a week!!!

I'm trying to figure out rough cost to feed, assuming the cat is ~10lbs and has an average activity level. Obviously these costs may vary in reality depending on the cat in question, but I'm trying for an estimate here.

I've also heard it mentioned that manufacturer's feeding guidelines are often too high. For example, Wild Calling recommends 3/4 to 1 full 5.5oz can every day for every 6-8lbs on an adult cat! This seems like a lot to me. I used to work at a vet clinic and most of the cats we had in were eating 1/2 a large can of food a day at most. If they were teeny cans it was another story but a 5-6oz can wasn't usually consumed entirely by an average cat in a day... I can't see a 6 or 8 pound cat eating an entire can of high-quality food just to maintain weight, and I can't see an average cat needing to eat more than that. Isn't part of the appeal of higher quality foods supposed to be that they're more calorie dense so you don't need to feed as much, even if they're more expensive per can/bag/packet?

I figure if a cat eats 1/2 a can of the Wild Calling a day, then it'll cost me about $40/mo to feed, which is do-able, but how on earth does anyone afford to feed that if their cat eats an entire can per day?! Or more, if your cat is over the 6-8lbs!

So if the manufacturer's guidelines ARE too high, how do you tell? And how do you figure out how much you should ACTUALLY feed? I've seen a bunch of estimates of # of cals/lb of body weight a cat should get, but most calorie info is listed in kcals if it's listed at all. I'd be worried about feeding too much or not enough and not necessarily realizing until the cat was either too fat or too thin and feeling terrible about it Maybe I'm over-thinking this....

In any case, any advice? Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-19-2016, 02:20 AM
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A 10 lb cat of average activity level needs about 200-220 calories per day. Foods can range from about 140 - 220 calories per 5.5 oz. can. Wild Calling Turkey is 189 calories per, yeah, at least a full can per day, maybe a little more.

That said, every cat is different and the numbers I gave above are a starting point and you adjust from there. Holly is 10.5 lbs and eats a full can of wet and 1/8 cup of dry per day....240 calories and she's on the thin side. Misty is about 13 lbs and eats the same amount and her weight is perfect.

So you will have to adjust for the specific cat, but only feeding a half can per day is way underfeeding. Also understand that the cat will dictate what you feed and it may not be the food with the highest calories per ounce. BTW, Wellness contains a hefty calorie'll need to check the specific flavor, but the chicken and the turkey are both around 210-220 per can. Wellness also sells larger cans (12-13 oz) and that's a cost savings...but the cat may not like eating the same thing 4 meals in a row, or even food out of the fridge. So you can't count on being able to do that.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-19-2016, 09:51 AM
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I have a rather quiet middle-age cat and he eats one 5.5 oz can of food per day, divided morning/evening. He cleans his plate. Vet says he should eat more, but when I give him more he leaves some so I guess he's just a skinny cat. I think it's better to be on the slim side than the plump side though. I admit I feel like I'm buying cat food *all the time*.

When he came here he was round as a tub, being overfed on people food, lots of it in addition to lots of cat food. So I know he *can* eat more..
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-19-2016, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'm trying to see if I can find a relatively high-calorie low-carb food that isn't going to cost an arm and a leg to feed.... I guess part of it too is that wet foods obviously have more water, so they're less concentrated as some of that weight and bulk is moisture. I guess I've mostly worked with cats who either had poor appetite or were eating dry, so a cat eating that volume of food seems really weird in my head? Back to the math I guess!! It seems like every pet store I can get to sells mostly garbage food and anything that isn't awful costs $80-$100+ to feed per month :/ Maybe I can find some cheaper deals online, if shipping's not too bad.... hmm.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-19-2016, 08:09 PM
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Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the classic Fancy Feast line a pretty nutritionally sound food?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-19-2016, 10:17 PM
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My senior cat is under 6 lbs and we go through 1 5.5-oz can (it's 200 calories) a day, though she actually only eats about 2/3 of the can (long story - she's fussy). She only likes Dave's, which is good quality though not top-of-the-line (I don't think it's available in Canada). It costs about $36 a case, so per month somewhere between $40-$45/month.

The quality of the ingredients in FF is not great (by-products), but the classic pates are grain-free, which can be hard to find, even in some better quality foods. One way to keep costs down might be to use FF in a rotation with higher quality food like Wild Calling or Honest Kitchen - a rotation would be good anyway, in case the formula of a food changes, or there's a recall, or who knows what.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-20-2016, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by GoEagles View Post
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the classic Fancy Feast line a pretty nutritionally sound food?
No, there are several people on the forum who like to convince themselves of that...but it's totally untrue. FF does not qualify as good, even the Classics that don't use wheat gluten: they use human food rejects, a lot of by-products, artificial dyes that are known carcinogens, use soy and soy protein concentrate, and say they source from "world suppliers" which usually means China.

And the price they charge for inferior ingredients in little tiny cans is criminal. The packaging probably costs as much as the food inside. And then there's the cost of advertising. When you buy FF you're paying for lots of stuff that has nothing to do with the actual food.

Holly, Misty & their friend, Jake, the dog.
Onyx, Callie May, Maggie & Kobi forever in my heart.
Yes, I know I need a new signature pic...someday...
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-20-2016, 01:03 PM
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So how can we cut back on cost? I am using Merrick, Weruva, Daves, Blue Buffalo and even bought one Purina Beyond to fill in. Is there any way I can cut cost in this rotation. I figure if they eat well 5 days a week, maybe I can cut cost on the other two days? My income will be reduced and I need a way to feed them without guilt.
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