Kitten Food - All You Need To Know To Help Your Kitten Grow And Develop

If you’ve just gotten a kitten, you are probably learning how to take care of them. These cute creatures grow quite fast and proper feeding is needed to ensure that they grow into healthy adult cats. Here’s all you need to know about kitten food.

What do kittens eat? 

Kittens are carnivorous by nature. They will wean off their mother’s milk at around 8 to 12 weeks and are able to start eating food when they are around 8 weeks old. 

Kittens have a high requirement for protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Essentially, 30% of their energy should come from protein. 

High quality wet kitten food and dry kitten will usually be able to fulfil these nutritional requirements. 

What is best to feed a kitten? 

You can start to introduce wet kitten food to your little kitty followed by dry kitten food as it continues to grow. This is because kittens have very small teeth and are not yet able to chew dry food properly. Most vets will recommend that you feed your kitten food that is specially formulated to meet daily nutritional requirements. 

Besides the usual commercial kitten food, you can also offer kittens some natural foods such as human-grade raw meat. Kittens love diced up raw lamb and raw chicken meat. If you do decide to give your kitten raw food, make sure that it is fresh. 

You should also avoid giving your kitten too much raw meat until it is at least 20 weeks of age as it may contain parasites and harmful bacteria.

Raw meat products are also marketed as pet food and can easily be bought at pet stores. Do remember to check if they contain sulphite preservatives as these can affect your kitten's health. Sausages, and cooked manufactured meats may also contain these preservatives so it's best to avoid giving them to your kitten. 

Kittens also need clean, fresh drinking water. Ensure that there is drinking water available at all times. Moist foods, such as wet can food can also help to keep your kitten hydrated. 

What kittens should not eat?

Avoid giving your kitten foods such as onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee, avocado, bread dough, grapes, raisins, nuts, tomatoes, and mushrooms as these can be toxic. Also be sure not to feed your kitten puppy food. 

Do kittens need milk? 

Kittens drink their mother’s milk for the first few weeks of their life. If the mother’s milk is not available, they can be given kitten formula milk that is specially formulated for very young cats. Almost all kittens will be weaned by 8 weeks of age. 

Kittens can digest the milk sugars from their mother’s milk because they have an enzyme in their stomachs that works to break down the lactose. However, adult cats do not have this enzyme and therefore, their body is unable to properly process milk.

Because of this, most adult cats are lactose intolerant. Dairy products can cause diarrhoea and vomiting in cats. Nevertheless, cats love the taste of milk because of the high fat content and will often drink milk even if it causes an upset stomach. 

When can kittens start eating food? 

Kittens can start eating food when they begin to wean. This normally happens when they are around 4 weeks of age. You can smear some kitten food around their mouth and allow them to lick it off. You can also mix kitten food with formula and introduce it in a bowl for them to lap from around this time. 

Dry kitten food can be introduced by the time your kitten is six weeks of age. You will need to mix it with water so that it turns a little slushy at the beginning. Reduce the amount of water as your kittens get better at chewing and swallowing. 

Your kittens will still be taking some amount of mother’s milk during this stage. If mother’s milk is not available, you can supplement dry food with some formula. 

Do monitor your kitten when they are starting out on solid food so that they do not lap or eat too fast causing the food to go down the wrong way. 

When can kittens eat wet food?

Kittens can be introduced to wet food from 4 weeks of age onwards. You will have to mix it with formula so that the food is soft enough for your kittens. If your kitten does not seem to be interested in the new food, make sure that you supplement with formula. This will ensure that your kitten is still taking in enough calories for growth and development. 

By week 6, your kitten will be much better at eating wet food; and by week 8, they should be fully weaned and regularly eating wet food that is formulated for kittens.

How much to feed a kitten?

Kittens grow really fast and this can make it rather tricky to determine how much food a kitten needs. The food portion largely depends on its age and size. It also depends on the type of food that you are feeding it. 

Be sure to check labels and packaging for instructions on meal portions. It is important not to overfeed your kitten as this can cause cat obesity which can result in numerous health issues. It is much easier to prevent obesity compared to having to put your can on a diet later on. 

The following kitchen feeding chart will help you to estimate exactly how much your kitten needs each day. 

Kitten feeding chart 

The following chart is based on averages of healthy kittens. As individual kitten needs may vary, it’s a good idea to consult your vet on how much your kitten should be eating each day. 

Kitten’s weight

Average Calories/Day

0.1kg (4 oz)

31 kcal/day

0.2kg (8 oz)

52 kcal/day

0.3kg (12 oz)

88 kcal/day

0.4kg (1 lb)

104 kcal/day

0.9kg (2 lbs)

162 kcal/day

1.4kg (3 lbs)

225 kcal/day

1.8kg (4 lbs)

272 kcal/day

2.3kg (5 lbs)

327 kcal/day

2.7kg (6 lbs)

369 kcal/day

3.2kg (7lbs)

419 kcal/day

3.6kg (8lbs)

457 kcal/day

4.1kg (9lbs)

504 kcal/day

4.5kg (10lbs)

541 kcal/day


How much wet food should I feed my kitten? 

As mentioned above, your kitten’s weight determines how many calories they need each day. Once you’ve checked how much calories your kitten needs, have a look at the label on your kitten food. You will be able to see how many kilocalories per kilogram or kilocalories per can that the kitten food provides. 

Take your kitten’s total daily calorie needs and divide it by the food caloric content to figure out how much wet food your kitten needs. Then, divide this amount by the number of meals you plan to give your kitten each day to get the portion size of each meal. 

How often to feed kittens?

Most kittens will eat multiple small meals throughout the day. Kittens who are 4 to 6 months old need to be fed a minimum of three times daily. You can also leave some food out for kittens to feed on anytime they want to graze. 

However, leaving food out for your kitten to free feed will increase the risk of unhealthy weight gain once they reach about 6 months. This is especially so if they are spayed or neutered. To avoid this, you can switch to a meal based kitten feeding schedule. 

If you do leave food out throughout the day for your kitten to free feed, the best choices are high quality dry kitten food as it can be left out longer.

Kitten feeding schedule

Week One

Kittens are usually below 4oz. at birth but will gain weight fast in the next few weeks from nursing on its mother’s milk. If a kitten needs to be bottle fed, it will have to be weighed regularly to ensure that it is growing well. 

In the first week, kittens normally nurse about 45 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Bottle fed kittens should be taking in about 15 ml or a tablespoon of special kitten formula each feeding. 

Week Two and Three

In week 2 and 3, kittens who are bottle fed should still be given kitten formula every 2 to 3 hours. The amount they are taking in should increase to at least ½ tablespoon. 

In order to know whether kittens who are nursing from their mother are feeding well, they need to be weighed regularly. 

A kitten’s weight should reach about 10oz by the end of the 3rd week. 

Week 4 and 5

Kittens will slowly start to consume more food each meal in week 4 and 5. Feedings will be less frequent and by the end of the fifth week, a kitten should be taking 3 tablespoons of milk or formula 3 times a day. 

If the kitten is eating well, it should weigh between 14 to 16 oz. by week 5. You can also offer it some wet kitten food mixed with formula or water to encourage the weaning process. 

Week 6

At week 6, kittens will be nursing less. Dry kitten food, along with a bowl of water can be introduced at this time. By the end of this week, meal times should decrease to three times a day. 

Week 7 and 8 

A combination of regular kitten food and limited nursing is recommended this week. If the kitten is still wanting to nurse frequently, they might need to be separated from the mother cat to wean them. 

Kittens should weigh about 2 pounds by the end of the 8th week. 

Over 8 weeks

Kittens who are over 8 weeks should be fed twice a day with regular kitten food. They may still want to nurse occasionally but should be fully weaned between 8 to 10 weeks of age. They should be able to eat solid food without any issues by this time.

Remember that a cat’s daily caloric needs depends on its ideal weight. Make sure that you do not overfeed or underfeed your kitten so that it develops into a healthy adult cat. 

How to feed a kitten?

One of the best things you can do for your kitten is to get into a regular feeding routine. Feed your kitten at the same time, in the same place every day. A quiet area where they can eat their meal peacefully would be ideal. 

Make sure that the bowl you use is clean. Some kittens may prefer a flat bowl or saucer. Using a saucer will also slow down kittens who tend to gulp everything down at one go. If your kitten is a messy eater, a kitten feeding mat will help you clean up the mess after mealtimes. 

If you have more than one kitten, placing their feeding bowls some distance apart will help to avoid confrontation, especially if your kittens don’t get along during meal times. 

To ensure that food is not contaminated in any way, make sure that the area where your kittens eat is clean. Ensure that the litter tray is far away. 

When to switch from kitten to cat food? 

Kittens need to keep on eating nutritious kitten food until they are about 12 months old. Although they might look like fully grown cats around 6 to 8 months, their bones are still growing. Their bodies will also continue to fill out in the next few months. 

You can help them to make the switch to adult cat food once they hit 12 months. 

Wet kitten food vs dry kitten food

Wet kitten food is popular among cat owners as it has several significant advantages over dry cat food. Wet kitten food usually contains more meat and protein, which are essential for growth. They are also usually much lower in carbohydrates compared to dry kitten food. 

Wet kitten food is easier for kittens to chew and swallow, especially when they are just starting to eat solids. It will also help keep your kitten hydrated. For these reasons, many vets will recommend having most of your kitten’s diet be made up from wet food.

Dry kitten food also has its advantages. It is less expensive and can be left out for a longer period of time without going rancid. Dry food can also be used in cat food dispensers, providing a convenience for cat owners who have busy schedules. 

Kitten food

Cats develop a taste for the types of food they prefer early on in life. To avoid food rejection later on, you can expose your kitten to a variety of foods. Offer your kitten wet, and dry food in different flavours. If your cat passes the kitten stage and seems to be rather finicky, Petcubes’ meticulously crafted raw diets for cats will appeal even to the fussiest of cats.

Conclusion

Few creatures are cuter than a kitten. Ensuring that your kitten gets proper nutrition in the first few weeks may be quite a lot of work especially if you’re working. However, with proper food and a feeding schedule, kittens will grow into healthy adult cats. Do consult your vet if you are not sure about what to feed your kitten or if your kitten does not seem to be putting on weight. 

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