Feeding Kittens : What to Feed, How Much, and How Often

Bringing a new kitten into your home is a delightful experience, but it comes with the responsibility of ensuring proper nutrition for their growth and well-being. Most kittens are adopted at around 6 to 8 weeks old, already weaned from their mother and consuming solid food. This article will guide you on what to feed your kitten, how much to feed them, and when to transition to adult cat food.

What to Feed Kittens

Kittens have different dietary requirements compared to adult cats. To support their rapid growth and energetic play, their food should have:

  1. Higher protein levels: Essential for growth.
  2. More calories per cup: To fuel their active lifestyle.
  3. Higher amounts of certain nutrients (like calcium): Vital for bone development.

Dr. Margie Scherk, a Feline Behavior Counselor, emphasizes the importance of animal-based protein and increased levels of calcium and phosphorus for growing cats.

Wet vs. Dry Food

Both wet and dry cat food are available for kittens, each with its pros and cons. Wet food helps in hydration but may stick to teeth, potentially causing dental issues. Dry food is convenient but can lead to overeating and weight gain. Consult your veterinarian to decide which option suits your kitten’s needs.

Selecting High-Quality Kitten Food

Compare different kitten foods, considering protein sources and minimal filler ingredients. Consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations. A nutritious diet contributes to a healthy, happy kitten.

How Much to Feed

Kittens eat more than adult cats due to their rapid growth. Follow the feeding directions on the food packaging, adjusting as needed. Your veterinarian can calculate the daily caloric requirement based on your kitten’s weight. Monitoring their body condition is essential to ensure healthy growth.

Healthy Kitten Growth Rate

Kittens typically gain about 1 pound per month, stabilizing after one year. Growth plates in their bones close around this time. Your vet will transition your kitten to an adult diet based on their growth milestones.

Feeding Methods

Two main feeding methods exist: Free-Feeding and Meal-Feeding.

  1. Free-Feeding (Dry Food): Convenient but may lead to overeating, especially in multi-cat households. Consider microchip-activated feeders for controlled access.
  2. Meal-Feeding (Wet or Dry Food): More time-intensive but beneficial for monitoring intake. Various interactive feeding options engage your kitten.

How Often to Feed Kittens

Younger kittens (6-16 weeks) need several meals per day to meet their energy demands. Feed every 6-8 hours. Around 4-5 months, transition to two meals per day.

Reasons Your Kitten May Not Be Eating

If your kitten exhibits poor appetite or diarrhea, consult your vet, as intestinal parasites might be the cause. Maintain good hygiene, as some parasites can be transmitted to humans.

Bottle Feeding/Orphaned Kittens

In cases where the mother cat is unavailable, bottle-fed kittens require special care. Feed them every few hours with kitten milk replacer formulas and stimulate urination and defecation with a washcloth. These kittens need extra attention for socialization.

In summary, providing a balanced and nutritious diet, monitoring growth, and considering feeding methods are crucial aspects of kitten care. Regular veterinary checkups ensure your kitten’s health and well-being throughout their developmental stages.

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