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Just as how human babies are unable to eat adult human food, so do kittens as compared to adult cats. Cats and kittens have different nutritional requirements and should be fed accordingly.
What Do Kittens Need In Their Diets?
As kittens grow at a rapid rate and are more active compared to adults, they need a diet that is able to support that high growth rate, while also being easy on their digestive system which is still developing. Adult cat food may not contain the necessary nutrients developing kittens need to grow up healthy and strong.
The exception to that is if the cat food label states that it is formulated and suitable for all life stages, this means that it is safe for both kittens and adult cats to consume.
Kitten food has higher calories, proteins and fats to support their energetic lifestyles and developing needs. Kitten food is also usually formulated with DHA to support brain and vision development along with additional vitamins and minerals required for developing their immune systems.
Apart from DHA, kittens also require a balanced diet that is rich in protein for growth and development, calcium for strong teeth and bones. Generally speaking, kittens should get about 30% of their energies from proteins.
Feeding wet kitten food to your kitten is a good start before introducing dry kitten food as they grow older. While seemingly obvious, it is important to note that kittens should never be fed puppy or dog food as they are deficient in Taurine, a protein necessary for cats and that can only be obtained through their food.
It is important to remember that a kitten’s weight can double or even triple during the first few weeks of its life which means that it might need that much more energy than the needs of an adult cat whose weight largely remains the same. This means that your kittens should generally be fed 3 to 4 meals a day to support their growth while also providing them a source of comfort.
It is also not recommended to feed bones or raw meat to your kitten as their teeth are still developing and could potentially break. Furthermore, raw meat could also carry bacteria that make your kitten ill.
What Do Adult Cats Need In Their Diets?
Most cats are only considered kittens until they reach around 12 months (with the exception of breeds like the Maine Coon that can take up to 18 months – 2 years to reach maturity). Once they mature, adult cats tend to be less energetic and do not require as much calories. If they are continued to be fed kitten food, this may result in unnecessary weight gain.
Considering cats belong to the same family as lions and tigers (The Felidae Family), it is no surprise that our cats are carnivorous by nature. This means that they need a source of animal protein to be in optimal health and get the necessary nutrients they require.
While meaty bones or fresh meats are great sources of protein, making sure that they are made with human-grade ingredients ensures that they do not contain any sort of preservatives that may be harmful for your cat.
It is also common knowledge that cats love fish. That being said, feeding fish as your cat’s main diet on a day to day basis is not a good idea. This is because fish contains high levels of fatty acids that can lead to a Vitamin E deficiency in cats and painful conditions.
As cats grow older, they may start to develop health conditions that may be worsened with the wrong diet. One such issue is being unable to digest and absorb nutrients as well compared to when they were younger. This means that they will require food that are more easily digestible such as a wet diet of canned or fresh cat food. (Added bonus if they help to increase the amount of fluid intake of your cat!)
It is always important to remember that each cat’s needs is unique and will depend on their weight, size, age and respective health conditions. Overfeeding your cat or providing a diet that is too high in calories can lead to your cat developing obesity. Obesity can contribute to a shorter life span which no cat owner wants.
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