When To Switch From Kitten Food To Cat Food
Most cats are considered kittens until around 12 months of age. Large breeds, like the , 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.
How Do Kittens Nutritional Needs Differ From Those Of Adult Cats
A kittens weight may double or even triple during the first few weeks of life. To support this explosive growth — as well as high activity levels — your kitten may have triple the energy needs of an adult cat.
These high energy needs make it harder for kittens to get enough calories in one meal, says Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, nutritional consultant and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. So most kittens want to eat at least three or four meals a day, she says. Its also a comfort thing — kittens are snackers at heart.
Kittens needs for fat, some fatty acids, and most vitamins are the same as for adult , Larsen says. But kittens have a higher requirement for protein, amino acids, and minerals, as well as for some vitamins. For example, kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein.
For these reasons, most experts recommend you feed your kitten specially formulated kitten food until age 1. Although some cat foods are labeled as appropriate for kittens and cats of all life stages, these arent appropriate for your kitten unless feeding tests support the label claim.
And dont forget to provide plenty of fresh water — its a key to keeping cats of all ages healthy.
Reasons Your Kitten May Not Be Eating
If your new kitten is not eating well or has diarrhea, call your vet and schedule another checkup.
Sometimes intestinal parasites can cause gastrointestinal upset in kittens. It is common for kittens to come home already infected with parasites. They can get some parasites through the placenta before birth as well as in the milk from the mother cat.
Some of these parasites can also be transmitted to people, so good hygiene and preventive care are important.
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How Do I Feed A Newborn Kitten
Kittens under 4 weeks of age cannot eat solid food, whether itâs dry or canned. They can drink their motherâs milk to get the nutrients they need. The kitten will rely on you to survive if their mother isnât around.
You can feed your newborn kitten a nutritional substitute thatâs called kitten milk replacer. Itâs essential that you avoid feeding a kitten the same milk that humans consume. Typical cowâs milk can make cats very sick. If youâre unsure of which kitten milk replacer to choose, talk to a veterinarian. They can help you select the right one.
For many dry milk replacers, refrigeration is not always required. But if extra milk is prepared, it should be stored in the fridge. To feed your kitten, follow these steps:
Prepare the formula. Warm the kitten formula to slightly above room temperature. Test the temperature of the formula right before you feed your kitten. Do this by placing a few drops of the formula on your wrist to ensure itâs not too hot.
Keep things clean. Before and after each feeding, you should wash your hands and the bottle that you used to feed your kitten. Itâs also recommended that you use a âkitten gown.â This could be a robe or a shirt that you only wear when youâre handling or feeding your kitten. Using a kitten gown helps reduce the possibility of spreading germs.
If for any reason you canât get your kitten to eat, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How To Switch From Kitten Food To Cat Food
Transitioning from kitten food to adult cat food must be done gradually. A cats digestive system is home to lots of bacteria and yeast that aid in the digestion of food, fight off potential pathogens, make vitamins and other nutrients, and bolster the immune system. These microbes must be kept happy!
When the diet is abruptly changed, gastrointestinal microbes may not have time to adjust, which can lead to signs of digestive upset including vomiting and diarrhea. Further, when suddenly faced with a new food many cats will refuse to eat.
Slowly transition your kitten to an adult diet over seven to 10 days as follows:
- Days 1 and 2, add ¼ of the new diet to ¾ of the old diet
- Days 3 and 4, add ½ of the new diet to ½ of the old diet
- Days 5 and 6, add ¾ of the new diet to ¼ of the old diet
- Day 7 to 10, complete transitioning to adult cat food
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Introducing Solid Food To An Orphan Kitten
If your kitten is an orphan, the introduction of solid food is a similar process: you should gradually decrease bottle-feeding while introducing wet food into their diet during the course of a few weeks.
The weaning process of orphan kittens can happen a little earlier, between 3-6 weeks of age.
The major hurdle in this situation is to overcome your kittens dependency on being fed from a bottle. Just like kittens nursed by their mother are dependent on their mothers presence, closeness, and the physicality of being fed by her, orphaned kittens also grow dependent on their milk bottle and being held by you. Therefore, you should first familiarize them with drinking milk replacer from a convenient bowl.
The way to go about this is to lead your kitten to the bowl by using the bottle. Dip the tip of the bottle into the bowl with the milk replacer and have her lick it. This way, your kitten will grasp that the bowl is the source of the milk. Have her follow the tip of the bottle into the bowl. You may also use the tip of your finger and repeat this process until your kitten grows familiar with the bowl.
Make sure you choose a shallow bowl that is easy for your kitten to eat/drink from. Dont ever push her head into the bowl. In addition to scaring her away, this can also be dangerous if your kitten accidentally ingests the milk through her nose.
How To Switch A Kitten From Kitten Food To Cat Food
Introducing adult food to a kitten can be tricky, especially if your pet is picky or has strict diet needs. In this case, the help of a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist will help a lot. But in general, the following are the steps in switching a kitten to cat food.
The transition should happen in seven days or more if your kitten has a sensitive tummy.
- For Day 1 and 2, the diet proportion of your kitten food should be ¼ adult food and ¾ kitten food.
- On Day 3 and 4, the proportion is ½ adult cat food and ½ kitten food.
- For Day 5 and 6, your kittens meal should be ¾ adult cat food and ¼ kitten food.
However, this is only a rough guide, and you should conduct the transition pace based on your kittens specific needs. For cats with sensitive digestive tracts, you can add two more days for each proportion to make it gradual. You can also make smaller increments for a more holistic approach.
No matter how fast you conduct your kittens transition to cat food, it would be best if you always observed it for potential side effects. If your kitten develops diarrhea or vomiting, its best to see the vet for a consultation. Its possible that the cat food isnt suitable for the kitten or that you need to take it slower. This period is also the perfect time to diagnose your kittens potential intolerances and allergies.
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When Do You Change From Kitten Food To Adult Food
You waited until your was at least 12 weeks old before you brought her home. You made sure you had plenty of toys and treats. You never missed a veterinary appointment and youve fed her the proper kitten diet. Now you have to decide: When do you begin switching to adult cat food?
Growing kittens have different dietary requirements than adult cats and should only be fed a high quality growth-type diet. You can allow your kitten to eat as much as she wants, because overeating is not a significant concern in kittens, like it is in puppies. Supplementation with vitamins and minerals is not usually recommended as it can cause serious illness. Supplement only on the advice of your veterinarian.
For most cats, leaving dry food out to nibble on through the day and offering small amounts of canned food twice daily should work. If your kitten does not eat the canned food within 20 minutes, remove it and offer it in the evening as normal. Soon your kitten will catch on and eat when the canned food is offered. Even if your cat does not like canned food, the dry food that is left out is sufficient.
Once you have chosen a good quality kitten food, continue feeding it until your cat reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most cats, this occurs around 9 months of age.
If you have any concerns about changing your kittens diet, consult your veterinarian for advice.
What To Feed A Kitten
Weaning a kitten is the process of transitioning the kitten from mothers milk to solid food. Its an important part of the kittens development, and needs to be done at the right time and in the right way. Normally the queen, or mother cat, will handle kitten weaning on her own. But when the queen has trouble producing milk, or when a litter of kittens is orphaned, we need to intervene. Here are some tips for smooth and successful kitten weaning.
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Can A 6 Month Old Cat Eat Regular Cat Food
Its a diet suitable for any age group every stage of life. An increase in kitten food growth can typically be attributed to fewer resources they must eat and fewer hours required to survive than a human. The food I feed these kittens usually begins as kitten food. Eventually, it will become adults food.
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, 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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How To Wean Kittens
To begin weaning a kitten, mix the kitten food with formula so they recognize the taste. Smear the mixture around their mouth with your finger and let them lick it off. Once they get used to the taste, theyll seek it out elsewhere. Then you can introduce them to lapping from a bowl. Monitor them so they dont lap too fast, and never push their face into the bowl, which could cause them to inhale the mixture and develop pneumonia.
Between the fourth and sixth week, gradually transition the weaning kittens to dry food, supplementing with formula if needed. Use canned food or dry kitten food mixed with water at first, add a lot of water, and then reduce the amount of water as the kitten matures.
A general schedule for kitten weaning might be:
- Weeks 4-5: Give wet or moistened dry food, mixed with formula to form a slush. Supplement with formula if the kitten is not taking to the new food, to make sure it gets enough calories.
- Weeks 5-6: The weaning kittens should start to nibble on the kibble, slightly moistened with water.
- Weeks 6-7: By now, the kitten weaning process is complete, and they should be eating all solid food by week seven.
How Long Should Kittens Be On Kitten Food
Kittens should be on kitten food until they are about a year of age. After that, you want to ensure that you choose quality cat food with plenty of protein, arginine, and taurine to give them the best healthy adult life possible.
An important part of understanding your kittens dietary needs is to keep their weight in mind. Vets will often use their weight to decide how much food your kitten will need. Its also important to keep this in mind for the number of times you need to feed: smaller kittens need more meals spaced out over the day while larger ones can probably handle fewer, but larger meals.
Breed matters too while most cats are ready to move to adult food after one year of age, some of the larger breeds like Maine Coons and Rag-dolls might need kitten food until they are eighteen months because they are still growing after one year.
This nice chart, courtesy of pet-central.chewy.com gives a breakdown of how many calories a needs, based on their weight. As you can see, theres a definite jump between two and nine pounds! This coincides with roughly two to six months of age when kittens do most of their growing.
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What Do Kittens Need To Stay Healthy
Kittens have different nutritional needs from adult cats which is why they need different food. A major aspect is that, just like humans, kittens will gain a lot of weight very quickly. They have to in order to stay healthy!
Kittens also have a lot more energy than adult cats, so they need food that will help them both gain weight and muscle and let them keep up a high energy lifestyle. As a result, most kittens will want more meals than adults and they need quite a bit of quality protein and water.
Just like adults, kittens also need fatty acids, fats, and vitamins, but in the case of kittens, they require more amino acids and minerals to support their growth.
Because kittens burn through their food quickly and cannot eat more than a little bit at a time, young kittens usually need to be fed several times a day. Forgetting to do so can lead to a blood sugar crash which can make your kitten sick.
What Your Kitten Needs
Teresa Keiger, Creative Director at The Cat Fanciers’ Association told Newsweek about the importance of understanding kittens’ digestive needs.
“Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they cannot synthesize the essential amino acid taurine they must get it from the food that they eat. In the wild, this is meat in the not-so-wild it’s their cat food. Taurine is essential for growth and development at every stage. Also, without taurine, the cat can develop vision and heart issues,” she explained.
A kitten’s diet should include: taurine and “high quality food with lots of protein and just enough fat.”
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Get The Right Supplies
Pick up some wet kitten food, making sure that it says “kitten.” Kitten food is higher in calories, fat and protein that the kitten needs to help grow big and strong. Wet food is the healthiest choice for kittens to start off with, as the moisture content will help them stay healthy and hydrated. However, some kittens may prefer dry food, and thats okay as long as you choose a healthy kitten kibble. You’ll also want to pick up some shallow food dishes so the kitten can easily access the food.
When Should I Switch From Kitten Food To Adult Cat Food
Kittens should be fed a growth-formulated diet until they are at least 90 percent of their adult weight. In general, kittens reach this milestone at about 10 to 12 months of age. The exception is for larger breed cats. Some larger breeds are recommended to be on growth diets for a longer period of time because they do not reach maturity until 18 months to 2 years of age. Always speak with your veterinarian regarding how long your kitten should be on a kitten diet.
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Kittens Are Ready To Try Solid Foods At 4 Weeks Old
Weaning a kitten from a 100% milk diet to solid food is a delicate business. Some kittens might start showing interest in their mothers food from 3 weeks of age. Most will be ready to be introduced to kitten gruel by 4 weeks of age. At this stage, you should be actively encouraging kittens to eat solid food. Kitten gruel is a mash of high-quality kitten food mixed with kitten replacement milk formula. It is designed to be easy for the kitten to lap up.
As kittens get used to the gruel, the amount of milk added can be reduced gradually. It helps to serve the gruel in a flat dish. Such as a saucer or even an upside-down Tupperware lid if there is one to spare. This allows easy access to the food. Expect feeding to be very messy for the first few days. But most kittens should complete the transition to kitten food by 6 weeks of age.