Kitten Feeding Tips

There are few animals that are as cute as young kittens and this is the reason why they are among the most popular pet worldwide. If you’re thinking about adopting a young cat from a breeder or if you have just purchased one, there are a number of aspects to consider in order to raise a healthy and happy pet. Nutrition is one of the most important factors contributing to a cat’s well being. This article will help you understand how to choose the best kitten food for your new furry friend.

A Kitten's First 8 Weeks

Kittens should never be separated from their mother until they are at least 3 months old. The first 8 weeks of a young cat’s life will be the foundation for their level of health and social skills as an adult. This is why responsible breeders and animal shelters will rarely offer cats that are under 12 weeks.

During the first month, a kitty cat will survive through its mother’s milk and will feed every 2-4 hours. This is when the important antibodies are transferred to the newborns to help them fight any potential illness or infectious disease. After the first month, a kitten will begin the weaning process and will slowly begin the transition to solid food. If you’re a cat owner who is raising a litter of kittens you’ll want to make sure they are gradually adjusting to solid food which should be specifically tailored for kittens as they require a much higher protein intake than adult cats. By the time your pet is two months old, it should be eating kitten formula and no longer have the mother’s milk.

Kitten Dietary Requirements

Kittens are very small in size and their tiny mouth and baby teeth can only chew so much food at once. This means that the digestion process will also be affected and your small pet will require multiple small meals every day.

Although a young cat will spend majority of the day sleeping, it will require a high-protein diet in order for its muscles and brain to grow healthy. In fact, a kitten may double or even triple in size during the first 3-4 months so you can easily understand how it may have triple the energy needs of an adult cat. Be mindful not to overfeed your little furry friend as it will easily become accustomed to a high-protein diet.

The range of kitten food available in pet stores can be overwhelming so you may want to start researching before you welcome your fur baby in the house. Ask the breeder who has weaned your kitten or maybe contact the vet who will be able to confirm the advice once you bring your new pet for a complete checkup. Just remember to understand the label on the food packaging as you’ll want to know the ingredients that go into your pet’s meal and don’t be ashamed to ask for assistance if you’re feeling puzzled. The goal will be to purchase a highly digestible, nutrient-packed food for your growing kitty.

Kittens should not switch to adult food until they are one year of age at least as this is when they normally reach physical maturity.

And remember to always provide your cat with fresh and clean water in order to keep hydrated as it grows.

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Wet or Dry Kitten Food?

One of the most common question amongst cat owners: “Should I feed my cat wet or dry food?”.

While this can be our choice as pet owners once our cat is an adult, kittens are unable to follow a dry food-only diet as they have small baby teeth that are not that resistant to hard kibble. So if you’re tossing over this dilemma and you own a young kitten stop questioning yourself and research good quality wet food that you can alternate with dry food for your furry friend.

If you’re mixing the two types of food be sure to check the recommended amounts to ensure your pet is getting all of the necessary nutrients without overeating.

Some pet owners prefer to only feed their furry babies homemade meals however, especially when raising a young kitten this choice can be risky and quite demanding. Preparing home-cooked food for your cat can take hours or preparation as all ingredients should be used in the exact quantity required by its growing body and you could unknowingly be underfeeding or overfeeding your kitty causing serious deficiencies and health issues.

So always best to choose high quality pet food under veterinary advice as the manufacturing companies will follow exact formulas to provide the best food for your pet.

cats, kittens, cat food

Harmful Foods for Kittens

Many pet owners will unknowingly create bad habits for their kittens by allowing them to have access to table food scraps or excessive amounts of treats. Although young cats require a higher amount of proteins in order to develop their muscles and brain, it is important to monitor their daily food intake. So, if you have an underweight or slow-growing kitten it is fine to allow it to free-feed until it reaches 4-6 months of age as this will also help with stomach distension caused by quickly ingesting large quantities of cat food. After this time however, you’ll need to gradually introduce a feeding schedule so that you won’t need to worry about your own meal disappearing from the table while you’re having dinner. Cats that are regularly fed human food scraps will quickly develop a tendency to jump on kitchen tables and counters to grab the delicious “treat” they’ve tasted before or even start begging for your dinner by constantly meowing at you.

Furthermore, many of the human-grade foods can be dangerously harmful for our little furry friends. Be mindful not to leave raw meat or liver laying around as your cat could be tempted and catch certain parasites and bacteria from it. Raw eggs and raw fish are also a no-no for kittens as they could cause salmonella, skin and coat issues and even seizures. Unbeknownst to many of us, majority of cats are lactose-intolerant and milk can be quite a dangerous food for kittens after they’ve been weaned as they lose the enzyme required to break it down and digest it. As for many other pets, kittens should never ingest chocolate, alcohol, coffee, tea, raisins or grapes, garlic and onions.

High Quality Kitten Food 

Once your kitten is weaned and accustomed to only eating solid food it is essential that you only feed your pet high quality kitten meal. You may want to ask the breeder from whom you adopted your pet or the vet who has been performing its health checkups.

Either way, try not to settle for supermarket brands or pet food companies that list too many ingredients on the label or, even worse that don’t advertise their product as a “complete and balanced nutrition”. Look for those brands that state something similar to “Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials” on their packaging as this means your kitten won’t require any supplements or vitamins. Do some research, chat to other cat owners and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure or overwhelmed by the number of options on the market. 

Give your pet a little time to adjust to the food you chose and monitor its appearance and behaviour: is your kitten looking healthy and fit? Is it growing and gradually putting on the right amount of weight? Is your kitty’s coat shiny and smooth? If the answer is yes to all of these questions and your pet seems to appreciate its food then stick to the same brand until it is time to switch to adult formula. However, some cats may not like the food you offer them or even have adverse reactions to some of the ingredients contained in it. This is when you’ll need to contact the vet who will most likely recommend to change the type of food. Your kitten may need a little time to slowly adjust to the new formula so switch it gradually over a period of 4-7 days. Because kittens have such a well-developed sense of smell which they use to pick the food that smells better, it is important not to mix the new food with the old one but instead to serve the two in separate bowls allowing your pet to tell the difference and choose the one it prefers. Exposing your young cat to different flavours and textures early on will make the transition to a new food a lot easier and prevent it from turning into a fussy eater.

The stages following the weaning process all the way to the further switch to adult cat food are extremely important for your kitten’s physical and mental development so consider maybe spending a little more money to ensure you are taking care of your pet as it deserves.

Author Marino
Author: Marino Tilatti
Member of PetsForAll Editorial Stuff
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