What To Feed Kittens
Kittens experience a very rapid growth rate in the first six months of their life, so this is the main reason the food you chose counts. Ensure it is complete and balanced. When deciding what to feed a kitten, look for a balance of proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates. While you can choose from wet or dry kitten food, the best kitten food will be the one that your kitten enjoys.
Choosing a food specifically formulated for kittens and following the feeding guide on the packet will ensure that they receive all the nutrients to grow into healthy adult cats. In order for them to absorb all the nutrients they need, its important to feed them four times per day. Once they are six months old, you can reduce the number of feeds to two per day. Some people leave food out for the entire day this is ok providing they are not overfed.
What Would Happen If I Constantly Fed My Kitten Cat Food
Most foods include a label that specifies which ages they are appropriate for. Many kitten meals are suitable for feeding until your cat reaches the age of 6-12 months. Always examine the foods box or packet for the manufacturers recommendations. These diets are designed to assist your cat in growing and staying as healthy as possible.
Kittens require more calories and protein than adults, which adult diets may not offer. If your kitten isnt getting enough food, he or she may be underweight, malnourished, and begin to show indications of disease or delayed growth.
The following are signs of a bad diet:
- Foraging for food
- Losing weight or being underweight
- Poor quality of coat and skin
- Poor oral hygiene
- Weakness or sluggishness of the muscles
- Untreated malnutrition is another drawback
If your kitten does not receive appropriate nutrition for an extended length of time, you may notice that it appears to be in bad health. Your kitten could be skinny, have a bad coat, and not be as playful as youd want. Malnutrition has the potential to cause major health problems and even death. If youre worried that your cat is too slim, take a body condition score.
Although poor nutrition and its consequences can be resolved, there can be long-term repercussions on immunity and overall health.
Switching From Kitten Food To Cat Food: The Why When And How
Just like you definitely wouldnt hand over adult food to sweet gurgling babies, kittens shouldnt be fed adult cat food before theyre ready. Thats because cats have different nutritional needs depending on their stage in life. As kittens, they eat nutrient-dense food that helps them grow, but as they near the end of their growth period, its important that their diets change to meet the demands of their new, almost adult bodies. Switching from kitten food to cat foodat the right time and in the right wayis the best way to do this.
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Understanding The Different Life Stages Of Cats
Felines live through many life stages, and the acceleration of aging varies from one cat to the next. The speed of aging is dependent on genetics, environments, and health care. Each life stage comes with its health risks a cat age classification defines cats life stages:
- Kitten Birth to 6 months
- 5 months to 2 years old
- Prime 3 years to 6 years of age
- Mature 7 to 10 years of age
- Senior 11 to 14 years old
- Geriatric age 15 and older
Cats over 11 years of age are officially in their senior years. For pet parents, this means that they will need to repay a decade of cuddles with some additional cat care and be on the lookout for any changes in behavior and signs of aging. Nurturing your cat during their prime and mature years will set you on the right path once your cat reaches senior age.
When To Switch From Kitten Food To Cat Food
Most cats are considered kittens until around 12 months of age. Large breeds, like the Maine Coon, can take 18 months to 2 years to reach maturity, though.
During this period of growth and development, kittens need a complete and balanced kitten food. Once theyve reached adulthood , its time to transition to an adult cat food.
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How To Read A Cat Food Label
To really understand what is in your cat’s food and to compare one brand to another, you’ll need to navigate its nutritional content.
Calorie content statement: The calorie content of cat food is listed in kilocalories, or k/cals. A cat food’s calorie content should be clearly listed on its packaging.
Guaranteed analysis: The guaranteed analysis on a cat food label is not at all straightforward, especially if you’re attempting to compare the nutrients in a wet food to those in a dry food. Because the two types of food have vastly different moisture contents , the percentages of fat, protein, and fiber in wet food must be converted to “dry matter basis.”
To convert the moisture-containing guaranteed analysis to dry matter basis, check out these directions from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. You can also call the food manufacturer or ask your veterinarian for help.
AAFCO complete and balanced statement: To ensure that a cat food is nutritionally complete and balanced, it must contain one of three AAFCO statements on its label.
1. The first AAFCO statement confirms that the food’s minimum nutrient profile has been verified via a third-party laboratory analysis. It reads:
is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that provides complete and balanced nutrition.
Taste Of The Wild Rocky Mountain Grain
Our Top Pick for the Most Popular Cat Food: If youre not sure what the healthiest dry cat food might be, you cant go wrong with a popular option like this Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Cat Food recipe. This formula features real roasted venison and smoked salmon along with other whole-food ingredients to ensure balanced nutrition and maximum flavor. This recipe is naturally grain-free, so it doesnt contain any corn or wheat ingredients, and it is free from artificial additives as well. With a minimum of 42% protein and 18% fat, this formula is just what your cat needs and the fact that it is loaded with fresh meat means that it is full of delicious flavor as well. Youll also be glad to know that it is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics.
- Pros: Several sources of premium protein, grain-free carbohydrates, high in protein and fat, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, supplemented with enzymes and probiotics
- Cons: Contains some plant proteins
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We Looked For Foods That Were Free Of Potentially Harmful Ingredients And Additives
The Best Cat Food Is Free Of Carrageenan.
This natural seaweed extract is a great binder and thickener for canned cat food, but it has a bad reputation. Studies have shown that carrageenan creates inflammation in the body and may exacerbate cancer.
The Best Cat Food Doesnt Contain Artificial Ingredients.
Artificial flavors are unnecessary if the food is made with nourishing meat ingredients. No cat needs artificial colors. In addition to being unnecessary, food dyes are tied to behavioral issues and cancer development in both humans and animals.
BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are popular preservatives that are associated with serious problems. Most pet foods have replaced them with natural alternatives including Vitamin E , rosemary extract, and other antioxidants. Although ethoxyquin rarely appears on the ingredient list, it may enter your cat food as a fish preservative.
At What Age Are Cats Fully Grown
Reviewed for accuracy on September 30, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
When a child finally turns 18 years old, they are generally considered to be an adult.
But what about our feline family members? At what age are cats fully grown? How do you know when to start feeding them adult cat food?
Your cat will hit several different milestones that signify that shes becoming an adult cat, but theres no one magic age where a cat stops growing and maturing.
Although theres no definitive age, there are general age ranges where most cats generally stop growing and reach adulthood. Heres what you can expect as your cat makes that transition.
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Are Kittens Nutritional Needs Different From Adults
Nutritionally, kittens have slightly different needs than older, adult cats. Most importantly, kittens require nutrient-dense foods with plenty of easily-digestible protein.
Most kitten foods need to be higher in calories than adult foods because kittens are using significant amounts of energy to play, grow, and develop.
In general, you may also find most kitten foods come with extra minerals, nutrients, and vitamins to assist with development. DHA and similar substances can help with brain development, while Vitamin E assists with immunity.
Keep in mind, adult foods are intended to maintain the healthy weight of your adult cats, which may mean they dont contain the high nutrient content your kitten needs.
Notably, certain breeds of cats may have unique requirements, so it might be helpful to seek guidance from a veterinarian or breeder if youre not sure exactly what your feline friend needs.
When To Switch From Kitten Food To Adult Cat Food
In general, kittens should eat kitten food until they are around 90 percent of their adult weight. At this point, they are at their full adult height and just have some final filling out to do.
- Most kittens reach this milestone at about 10 to 12 months of age, making this the ideal time to switch to adult cat food.
- An exception to this rule may apply to large breed cats. Larger breeds, like Maine Coons, dont reach maturity until they are 18 months to 2 years of age. Keep feeding these big kitties kitten food until they are at least 18 months old.
Always speak with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about when to switch from kitten to adult cat food.
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At A Glance: Best Cat Food To Buy In 2022
In the comparison table below, weve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. Youll find more detailed information about each product later in the article
- Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
- Real, high-quality animal protein
- Contains 92% fresh muscle meat, organs, and bone
- Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
- High-quality source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Primarily animal-based recipe with low carb content
- Rich in moisture to support your cats hydration
- Plenty of omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health
- Ultra-soft pâté texture is easy for kittens to eat
- Rich in protein and calories
- Hydrating canned food
- Rich in nourishing animal protein
- Extraordinarily low in carbohydrates
- Food is made from responsibly-harvested fish
- Animal protein sources are the foods primary ingredients
- Contains herring oil and salmon oil as rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids
- Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
- Contains guaranteed levels of probiotics to support the immune system and digestive health
- Added prebiotic fiber helps to prevent the constipation that some raw-fed cats experience
- Rich in nourishing animal protein
- High moisture content helps to flush the urinary tract
- Low ash shouldnt contribute to crystal formation
- Primarily made with animal-derived protein
- Free of vaguely-named ingredients
We Looked For Brands With Excellent Reputations
Remember that youre relying on the cat food company to provide your cat the nutrition they need to stay healthy and vibrant potentially for the rest of their life.
You need a company and a brand that you can trust. While it doesnt tell us everything about the brand, a companys recall history provides key insights into its ethics, safety standards, and the quality of its products.
If a company faces voluntary, or worsemandatoryrecalls every five years, purchasing from that company could subject your cat to three or more potentially harmful slip-ups during their lifetime.
A communicative, transparent company isnt afraid to share information with their customers. We gauged the quality of cat food companies by contacting their customer support lines and evaluating their customer service. We gave preference to companies that responded promptly and were willing to provide key information.
Additionally, we paid attention to what other customers were saying about the brand. Through social media, blogging, reviews on retail platforms, and sites like Consumer Reports, consumers can easily share their complaints or praises with the world.
We read these reviews and used them to assess the customer experience.
Understanding Cat Food Labels
These are the main parts of a pet food label you should understand:
The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a non-profit corporation that establishes pet food labeling guidelines and minimum nutritional requirements. Cat food with an AAFCO statement is considered complete and balanced.
Cat food should include an AAFCO statement that states the recipe was:
- Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for kittens, adults, seniors or gestating/lactating cats. This means the company tested the food’s nutrient profile and compared it to the minimum nutritional values established by AAFCO.
- Underwent animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures to substantiate that it provides complete and balanced nutrition.
- Provides complete and balanced nutrition for a specific life stage and its nutritional adequacy is comparable to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests.
However, do note that AAFCO doesn’t test food, so it can’t fully guarantee its safety and adequacy. Manufacturers are responsible for running lab tests or feeding trials to ensure their products meet AAFCO standards.
The guaranteed analysis includes the minimum or maximum percent of protein, fat, fiber, moisture and ash within a food. Some manufacturers will also list specific vitamins and amino acids.
How Can I Prevent My Kitten From Eating My Older Cats Food
When you have an older cat, raising a kitten presents a number of obstacles, one of which is the feeding process. Use the method below if you want to prevent a kitten from eating an older cats food:
- Establish a Feeding Routine
Having a regular mealtime routine is essential whether youre feeding an adult cat, a kitten, or both. While a predictable life with a daily routine may not be your ideal situation, it is ideal for cats. Knowing when theyll be fed gives them a sense of security.
Meals become the days central event, around which other activities are built. A feeding regimen helps your cat survive when there are changes in the home.
A routine may be adequate to keep the hungry kitten under control for some, but if the kitten likes the older cats food, separating them is the best option.
Also keep older cats alone in a separate room with their bowl for much longer. This is a fantastic opportunity for both cats to eat without fear of food theft, fighting, or stress.
Keep a watch on them until the younger cat has matured enough to eat the same kibble and wet food as your older feline friend!
- Organize a Feeding Station
This is an excellent solution for kittens and cats who are shy about feeding, particularly strays who may need to feel entirely safe in order to eat.
Opt to use the Kittens carrier place to feed them, so they can have their meal without the fear of theft by an older cat.
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Top Kitten Food Products
One of the best recommendations for kitten foods is this Fancy Feast Pate Wet Kitten Food. The product is formulated with essential minerals and vitamins to support the growth and development of your cat.
Theres also the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Variety Pack, a grain-free, poultry-free, and salmon-enriched kitten food thats as delicious as its nutritious.
Lastly, we have the Purina Pro Plan Focus Pate Wet Kitten Food thats made with real liver and chicken to whet your kittens appetite, while nourishing its immune system.
What Are The Options
Once your kitten is ready to eat solids, youll have the following options to choose from:
- Dry foodTypically the most affordable product and the favourite of many cats. If nutritionally adequate, cat biscuits are a great option for kittens but must be moistened with KMR, chicken soup, or broth to compensate for the lack of moisture. Avoid milk as it causes stomach disturbance in cats
- Wet foodRicher in protein than dry food and easier to chew and swallow, its the closest thing to a natural feline diet in texture and moisture content. You can mix it with tiny amounts of KMR to make the transition smoother
- A mix of wet and dry foodThe best option nutrition- and budget-wise. It ensures your kitty gets the benefits of both food types. You can mix them or serve them as separate meals throughout the day
- Semi-moist foodDespite its convenience, semi-moist food is often packed with sodium, sugar, grains, undefined meat sources, and artificial colouring and flavouring
- HomemadefoodIf you have the time to research recipes, consult with your vet, and cook for your kitten, an occasional homemade meal can be a delicious treat
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What Protein Should A Kitten Eat
Crucially, its not just the amount of protein that matters when youre feeding your kitten a healthy diet.
Youll also need to ensure the type of protein is correct too.
Kittens needs access to the specific amino acids and nutrients found in animal protein. Its not possible to give a cat a healthy diet with plant-based proteins alone.
Although some protein from plants is suitable for kittens, it must always be combined with a highly digestible source of animal protein.