Feeding Kittens The Right Diet In The Right Way
When you adopt a kitten, or kittens, ideally they should be at least eight weeks old.
Before this time they need to be with their mother who expertly takes care of their nutritional needs.
After eight weeks those delightful little bundles of fluff are your responsibility.
A big part of that responsibility is of course, ensuring that the kittens are correctly fed.
But don't worry, feeding a kitten correctly is not too complicated, it is just a matter of following a few guidelines.
Kittens grow, grow and grow . . . fast. Plus, when they are not sleeping, which they do a lot, they are little energy burning powerhouses.
They are here, there everywhere, exploring this, exploring that.
All this means that they need food which gives them plenty of protein, calories and fats. They also need their food to help them develop strong bones and healthy muscle.
Properly formulated kitten food supplies kittens with their needs.
Cat food is formulated to supply the needs of adult cats. Feeding kittens adult cat food will not supply the nutritional requirements of kittens.
Being the tiny creatures that they are, kittens have tiny stomachs that cannot hold much food. When they are very young they need meals four or five times a day. As they age, this can be reduced to three meals a day, then when they are just about fully grown, to two meals a day.
If possible, find out what your new kitten is used to eating (hopefully it will be kitten formula food,) continue to feed your kitten the same or similar.
If you feel the need to change, to a better brand for example, do so bit by bit mixing in a little of the new with the old.
Abruptly changing your kitten's diet could cause digestion problems.
There are experts that champion dry foods and experts that champion wet foods. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
One of the big advantages of dry kitten food (kibble) is that it can be left out for the kittens to graze on when they feel the need. With kittens, there is a slight danger however, that they may be tempted to overeat if food is there for them all the time.
It is often suggested that dry food helps keep kittens teeth clean and in good order. However, some experts say that there is little evidence for this.
Cats, and kittens, are natural carnivores, meat eaters. Wet kitten food (canned) will usually contain some meat.
This can be as much as 95% for cans labeled “ Chicken Kitten Food” for example, to 25% for cans labeled “ Lamb Kitten Dinner.” Cans labeled "Chicken Flavor" may not contain any meat at all.
Check the label to find out how much meat the kitten food contains.
It is possible to feed your kittens a diet of both wet and dry food. Whatever you decide, the food must be kitten formula, feeding kittens anything else will not do.
When it comes to feeding kittens that are new born, mom cat will take care of that, all being well, there is little for you to do.
But what if mom cat rejects one of her kittens, or even the whole litter? Sadly this does happen occasionally.
Mom cat usually takes care of newborn kittens nutritional needs.
The mother cat didn't exactly plan her pregnancy, the pregnancy was the result of cats doing what cats do.
Usually the mothering instinct kicks in when the birth happens, mom takes care of her litter and feeds them, but it doesn't always happen. Sometimes the mother cat can be coaxed into caring for a litter that she initially rejects.
It could just be that mom is not completely happy with her nest. Making her more comfortable could result in her starting to feed her kittens.
If one of the litter is born with a severe deformity, or is sick, it is likely to be rejected by the mother who will concentrate her efforts on the rest of the litter who are more likely to survive.
When a queen delivers a very large litter, she may not be able to produce sufficient milk for them. As long as all the kittens are getting some milk, you may only need to give them supplemental hand feeding.
For feeding kittens that have been rejected, follow the advice for raising and feeding orphaned kittens.
It is time for the kittens to start weaning at around five weeks. Introduce them, very gradually, to solid food.
Offer them a little kitten formula food, dry or solid, mixed with cat milk replacement in a shallow dish.
Gradually reduce the milk replacement until they are eating solid kitten food.
The kittens will still be suckling at mom's nipples until around ten weeks. At this time she will likely decide that it is time they left her alone and she will not allow them to suckle.
Remember that mom cat's food is important too. Nursing her litter will take a lot out of mom, so it is recommended to feed her kitten food because it contains more calories than adult cat food. She will need fresh water available at all times. (See Newborn Kitten Care. )
Some sources say you can start to feed your kitten adult food at around six months old if the kitten has reached adult weight.
An adult can weigh in the region of eight to ten pounds depending on the breed, male cats are likely to weigh more than female cats.
A six month old kitten-cat may weigh something approaching it's adult weight, but will likely still have a little growing left to do and is still very much kitten like in some of its behavior.
The six month kitten-cat will likely still need the extra protein, calories and fat she gets from kitten food because she is still burning up lots of energy.
It is for this reason that the ASPCA and most other authorities recommend waiting until the kitten-cat is twelve months old before switching to adult formula food.
As cats are individuals this figure is flexible of course.
If your kitten is showing signs of being overweight, she can start to move to an adult cat diet and feeding schedule a little sooner.
(If the weight of your kitten concerns you – especially if it seems underweight – seek the advice of your veterinarian.)
If you try suddenly feeding kittens adult formula food from kitten formula you may find they refuse it.
Try mixing just a little adult food in
with the kitten food they are used to, then gradually introduce more
adult food until that is their complete diet.
Two more things about feeding kittens. A can of kitten food that has been opened should be kept in the refrigerator, but not for too long before being used. Kittens do not take to cold food however, so it should be warmed just a little.
It is likely that your kitten has been fed a dry food by its human birth family and it is important that you continue with that same food no matter what it is in the beginning. You can gradually convert your kitten to a better food by introducing it slowly. Just add a bit of the new food mixed in and increase the amount of the new food while decreasing the amount of the old food each day until the kitten is eating the new food entirely.
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food is a high meat protein food that has all the nutrients your kitten needs to grow strong and healthy without grains, meat by-products, soy, wheat gluten, artificial flavors, and artificial coloring.
Introduce canned kitten food gradually mixing it with the dry food at first. If your kitten doesn't eat chunks you can teach it to eat them by picking up a small chunk and offering it by hand. Cats like this for some reason and your kitten will likely take it and eat it.
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food is a kitten food formula with all the right nutrients. It doesn't have fillers, grains, meat by-products, gluten, or artificial colors or preservatives.