What Do Kittens Eat
In 2020, over 2.2 billion units of cat food were sold in the United States. With so much food flying off the shelves, feline nutrition takes on a whole new level of importance. And when we think about cat food, a common question that follows is: What do kittens eat?
Nutrition is key for kittens in preventing serious health consequences and promoting healthy growth. Read this article to understand what kind of food your kitten should eat, how much, and how often.
The Importance Of Switching From Kitten Food To Cat Food
Kitten food is designed to support rapid growth and development. In comparison to adult cat food, kitten food generally has:
- More calories, protein, and fat
- Adequate levels of docosahexaenoic acid , an omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain and vision development
- Increased amounts of some vitamins and minerals
- Optimal calcium to phosphorus ratios
Weight gain is the biggest danger associated with continuing to feed kitten food to an adult cat. While a chonky cat might sound cute, a healthy weight is going to help your cat live a happier, healthier life! The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that almost 60 percent of pet cats are overweight or obese, which puts them at increased risk for many health problems including diabetes, arthritis, and hepatic lipidosis .
Feeding Schedule For Your Kitten
Many people feed their new kitten by simply filling a bowl with dry food and leaving the food available the entire day. However, establishing a feeding schedule for your kitten is a good idea. A feeding schedule for your kitten allows you to control the kittens diet more easily and make sure your kitten does not overeat and gain too much weight.
Your new kitten should eat three times daily. Morning, afternoon, and evening is a good choice. You can arrange the schedule to fit in with your own routine, although it is best to keep a consistent routine from day to day.
Use the feeding guidelines on the food label as a starting point to determine how much to feed your kitten. Split up the daily portion into three equal parts and feed 1/3 at each feeding. The feeding guidelines provide a starting point but youll need to monitor your cats body condition and adjust the feeding amount accordingly. If your cat is gaining too much weight, decrease the amount of food. Conversely, increase the amount of food offered if your cat is too thin or is not gaining weight as expected.
Encouraging your kitten to exercise may not be a problem. However, as your new kitten ages, it may become more difficult to get him to exercise. Some cats do become couch potatoes and these cats are at risk of becoming overweight or even obese. Here are some tips that you can use in feeding your kitten that may aid in keeping your kitten lean.
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From bottle feeding to choosing the right food, caring for kittens is a learning experience. Kittens need to get enough nutrients to grow, and they cant eat regular cat food until theyve been drinking milk or formula for a while. If youre planning on raising a kitten, you need to know how often to feed kittens, what kittens eat, and more.
Kittens need plenty of nutrients to grow up strong and healthy, so you need to make sure youre feeding them enough. Unfortunately, overfeeding can also lead to health problems in kittens and cats. The good news is, there are some pretty simple rules when it comes to how often to feed newborn kittens. The amount you need to feed your kitten depends on its age and weight.
If youre taking care of a kitten for the first time, you might want to talk to a veterinarian about the best food for growing kittens. A healthy diet is an important part of making sure your kitten grows up healthy, and your vet can help you decide what to feed your kitten and when to switch to regular cat food. Keep reading to learn more about how often to feed kittens, what they should eat, and how telemedicine can help with kitten care.
When To Stop Feeding Your Cat Kitten Food
When your cat is about 12 months old, its time to switch to a maintenance formula adult cat food, such as . At this age, cats no longer need the extra calories and nutrients found in kitten food. As with any change in a cats diet, remember to gradually transition from kitten food to adult food over a period of several days.
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When Can Kittens Eat Dry & Wet Food
Although kittens shouldnt eat adult cat food before theyve fully matured, they can begin eating dry kibble and wet kitten food much earlier.
By three to four weeks, kittens can begin eating moistened dry kibble or wet food. Between six and eight weeks, kittens are fully weaned from their mothers milk and can eat dry or wet kitten food.
Feeding Kittens Wet Versus Dry Food
Wet and dry cat food are commonly available in kitten formulations, and there are pros and cons to feeding each. To decide which option best suits your kittens needs, talk with your veterinarian and get their recommendation. Here are some pros and cons of each:
Wet cat food is higher in moisture, so it can be beneficial in keeping kittens hydrated, flushing out the urinary tract, and helping kidneys stay healthy. However, wet food tends to stick to the teeth more, which can be associated with dental disease and painful cavity-type problems for cats.
Dry cat food is easier to feed in mutli-cat homes and can help scrape tartar from the teeth. However, some cats can overeat with dry food and gain excessive weight, which can be associated with arthritis, heart problems, blood pressure problems, respiratory problems, or diabetes mellitusjust to name a few.
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When Should I See A Vet
A kitten should see a vet at around nine weeks of age for their first vaccination and at 12 weeks old for the second part of this primary course. After this they will need an annual booster. When you bring a new kitten home, it is worth having them checked over by a vet to make sure that they are fitand healthy. Usually it is beneficial to book this appointment for a few days after they have been brought home, as this gives time for you to notice anything unusual about their behaviour or appetite. Yet they should see a vet sooner if they appear unwell or if their second vaccination is due. If your kitten has not received their first vaccine with the breeder, this will need to be booked in at the same time as their health check.
Offer A Young Kitten Dry Food That Has Been Wet Down
If your kitten is young and has only been nursed by its mother, you will want to begin by offering your kitten dry food that has been soaked with kitten formula or water to make a very wet mash called gruel.
This step introduces your kitten to the idea of eating something other than milk and helps your kitten to practice chewing and swallowing solid food while building a taste for dry food.
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When Switching From Kitten To Cat Food Causes Problems
If at any point your cat loses their appetite or develops signs of digestive upset, you can go back to their old kitten food for a few days and then restart the transition at an even slower pace.
Here are some other ways to deal with difficulties transitioning from kitten food to adult cat food:
What To Feed Your Kitten
Kittens have nutritional needs that are different than those of mature cats. Feed your kitten a food that is made specifically for kittens. Pet food labels are required* to carry a statement identifying the life stage for which the food is intended. Choose a food that is intended for growth.
Also look for a food that has been substantiated by a food trial. The means of substantiation will be stated on the label too. Foods substantiated through a food trial are preferable to those substantiated via laboratory analysis or through comparison with a similar product.
As for what to feed your kitten when it comes to choosing canned or dry food, kittens can do well eating either. Each has advantages. Canned food provides more moisture than dry, which can be useful in keeping your kitten well hydrated. This may become very important for your cat later in life. Dry food tends to be more convenient to feed and can be left for a longer period in the bowl without having to worry about spoilage.
Dry food does tend to have a higher carbohydrate content than some canned foods, which means that your cat may gain weight easier on dry food than wet, if allowed to overeat. However, cats can gain excess weight on either dry or canned food. Obesity is currently the most common nutritional disease seen in cats. Feeding your cat to remain lean is an important part of keeping your cat healthy.
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When Can Kittens Eat Dry Food & Wet Food
As kittens begin to wean, they can start to nibble solid foods. Starting with wet kitten food or moistened dry kibble will help through the transition.
Start by combining one part of warm water and three parts of dry or wet kitten food . Over the next two weeks, gradually decrease the amount of water and increase the amount of food.
Once your kitten is fully weaned and eating solids, choose whichever option is recommended by your veterinarian and works best for your situation.
Above all else, make sure the wet or dry food you choose is specifically formulated for kittens.
Can Baby Birds Eat Cat Food
Dry cat or dog food moistened with water, for example, can be fed to baby birds. Puppy chow is high in protein, which is essential for baby birds as they grow. If you do not have dry cat or dog food, wet cat or dog food can also be used. Insects and mealworms are also acceptable for use in emergency situations as baby bird food.
Feeding baby birds is one of the most contentious topics in society. Cats can feed moistened cat food to babies, and dry cat food to them as well. Protein, vitamins, and potassium can all help to boost the immune system of a cat. If youre raising baby birds, make healthy cat food treats for them. Baby birds require a consistent diet, so make sure to provide them with food, which is high in protein. You should check to see if the baby bird is a young or a nestling before feeding it. When a fluttering baby bird sees food nearby, it will eat it as soon as it happens.
How often should you feed your pet cat food? The baby birds can consume cat food once a day for 45 to 70 minutes as their first food. You can also include other food items, such as baby bird food, hard-boiled eggs, fresh vegetables, and applesauce mixed with cat food, to give them a unique flavor. If you store cat food pouches and cans in a dirty bag, the ingredients may not be as safe as they should be. If your baby bird is a young bird, dry cat foods formulated specifically for it will be ideal. If your baby bird is unable to eat itself, you can hand-feed it instead.
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What Animals Can Eat Dry Cat Food
Cats are not the only creatures drawn to cat food. They can also be found in cats, including raccoons, coyotes, and rats.
The Pros And Cons Of Grain-free Diets For Cats
Because cats lack the amino acid taurine, which can cause heart problems, veterinarians discourage them from eating grain-free diets. Some veterinarians are concerned that failing to provide enough protein may have long-term health consequences. Dry cat food is mostly made of starches, which are more digestible for cats, but there is concern that they will be insufficient for their needs.
When To Feed A Kitten
Once you know what to feed your kitten and how much, its time to create a feeding schedule that works for you both.
Use your kittens name when feeding to help her learn her name, while also associating you with a pleasant activity.
Creating a routine and feeding her at the same time each day can help your kitten feel secure and will aid in forming a bond between you two that will last for many years to come.
You can feed your kitten one to three times a day, as long as you dont give her more than her total daily calorie needs.
For example, you can put dry kibble in her bowl in the morning and she can graze throughout the day. If a twice-a-day schedule works better, give half her daily amount in the morning and half in the evening.
Same for wet food or a combination of wet and dry food. Just make sure the wet and dry food combined meets the total amount of calories she needs in a day.
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Try Adding Broth Or Serving Two Foods Side
If mixing the food isnt working, try adding a little unsalted chicken broth to the kibble.2 Sometimes water isnt enough, but the broth can tempt your kitten to try the dry food.
Some experts recommend serving the new and old foods side-by-side rather than mixing them.3 You can always try this first, then switch to mixing the foods if it doesnt work. If you try the side-by-side method, serve a bowl of canned food next to a bowl of dry kibble. Slowly decrease the canned food over time and increase the kibble.
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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When Can Kittens Start Eating Regular Cat Food
While milk and milk replacements are an essential part of a kittens diet, switching over to specially formulated cat food is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet as kittens age. Once your kitten is old enough, you should slowly introduce regular cat food to get them used to it.
Soft, wet food is the first thing your kitten can eat, and they can start having that at about three weeks. You can introduce your cat to wet food by putting small amounts of it in a bowl with formula when theyre learning to eat on their own. Choosing wet food thats appropriate for kittens is important.
Once your kitten is about five to six weeks old, they can start eating regular dry food. Again, you can introduce your kitten to dry food by mixing a little bit in with a bowl of milk replacer. Transitioning from milk replacer to wet food to dry food is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet for kittens.
You can wean your kitten off of milk by teaching them to drink that milk out of a bowl. Once theyre comfortable with that, try mixing in some wet or dry food. You should never push your cats nose into the bowl to try to get them to eat on their own. Your veterinarian can give you more tips on how often to feed kittens and how to wean them off of milk.
Special Considerations When Feeding Kittens
While there are general rules when it comes to feeding a kitten, its important to keep in mind that health conditions can impact the way you feed your kitten. Conditions such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism can lead to changes in appetite and other symptoms that may affect a cats diet. You may want to talk to your veterinarian about how your cats medical condition may affect their diet and feeding schedule.
You might be concerned if you notice your kitten isnt eating normally. In some cases, you may notice an irregular diet in kittens as a result of tapeworms, which live in the intestines and absorb nutrients from food. However, an irregular diet may also be a result of pet anxiety, especially if you notice other signs of anxiety.
Irregular eating may be caused by anxiety or tapeworms, but there are other potential causes. Your cat may simply need time to adjust to the food youre feeding them, or you may need to switch the location of their food bowl so they feel more comfortable while eating. It could even be that your cat has simply eaten too much that day.
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