Are you feeding your kitten too much? Too little?
Read on to find out how to properly feed your kitten and determine how much food you should be giving to your pet.
A Quick Rule of Thumb
Kittens don’t require much food, but they will require more as they grow. The first few weeks of their lives, kittens can survive on their mother’s milk. After that, try allowing your kitten to eat when he or she is hungry.
If don’t like allowing your cat to free range, we recommend 3 meals per day. Kittens are often active, so don’t worry too much about overfeeding at this stage. The most important thing is that he or she has enough food.
What Are A Kitten’s Nutritional Requirements?
Kittens require a higher level of nutrition compared to adult cats. These infant animals still have a lot of growing to do, so they need plenty of nutrients to be able to do so in only a short period of time.
Compared to human babies, kittens grow 15 times faster and they reach the adult stage when they are 6 months old.
Although kittens demand a large amount of nutrients, they have small stomachs, which is why they need to be fed with only a small amount of food but with a large amount of nutrients. It’s also for this reason why most kitten foods are specially formulated to be energy-dense and nutrient-dense.
At only three weeks old, kittens will start rejecting their mother’s milk. At eight weeks, they’ll start craving for solid foods instead of milk. At this age, you can start feeding your pet with kitten food.
Cats that are pregnant and lactating will also require a higher amount of nutrition and energy. Therefore, you need to feed them with foods that can supplement their additional needs.
Feeding at Different Ages
Here’s how you should feed your kitten at different ages.
0-4 Weeks Old
From birth, until your kitten reaches one month old, it’ll be getting most of its nutrition needs from the milk of its mother. When feeding on milk, they’ll be getting colostrum. This is a milk-like liquid that supports the cat’s immune system during the early stages of its life.
Sometimes, your cat’s vet might advise you to feed it with kitten milk to ensure that it’s getting everything it needs. This is especially necessary for kittens whose mother doesn’t have enough milk.
You’ll notice your kitten will lose weight at the start as it’s still trying to learn to suckle. But after a while, it should start gaining weight steadily. It’s best to weigh your kitten every day and if you notice that its weight drops significantly or that it starts to stagnate, consult with your vet immediately.
4 Weeks to 4 Months Old
When your kitten reaches the age of four weeks, it will begin showing interest in solid foods. At this point, you can start weaning your pet.
In doing so, rehydrate a dry kibble by adding a small amount of water or kitten milk. Mix the food well until you achieve a mushy consistency. This should be easy for your kitten to eat.
Make sure you look for solid foods that are designed especially for kittens. The food should be able to support their growth and must be rich in antioxidants that can stimulate their body’s ability to produce antibodies.
As early as now, teach your kitten with proper eating habits by making sure that you space out its meals evenly. When scheduling your kitten’s meals, consider its playtime, sleep schedule, litter areas, etc. Make sure you have enough fresh water available to keep your pet hydrated.
4 Months Onward
As your kitten starts to mature, maintain proper feeding habits and don’t stress your cat out during feeding time. Allow your pet to eat in peace and in a calm environment.
Cats are grazers by nature and would prefer to eat small meals about 15 to 20 times a day. Some cats self-regulate when eating. You can leave the recommended amount of food for its daily meal and they will just revisit their feeding bowl.
If you neuter your cat at this age, there’s a risk they’ll gain weight fast after the neutering procedure since their energy expenditure will be reduced to 30% but their appetite could increase to about 26%.
When feeding neutered cats, choose food that’s formulated especially for sterilized cats. It should be something that’s also suitable for their gender, breed, etc.
Wet Food vs. Dry Food
Kibbles might be hard for kittens that have delicate little teeth. Furthermore, dry foods don’t have enough moisture that’s necessary for the hydration needs of a kitten. If you really need to feed your kitten with dry food, you may want to soften them first and add a small amount of water to it.
A better option would be to provide your kittens with canned foods that are wet since these foods are nutrient-dense compared to dry food. Furthermore, they have more moisture and taste a whole lot better, making it easier for you to feed on your pet.
The only downside with canned foods is that they’re usually more expensive. Some pet owners add a small amount of dry food to wet food before feeding it to their kitten, which provides more balanced nutrition to your pet.
When feeding your kitten with wet canned food, it’s highly recommended to feed it at least four times a day. If you prefer to combine dry and wet kitten food, feeding your pet twice a day should be enough.
If your cat is going to give birth soon, you should learn how to properly feed and take care of a kitten. Remember that proper feeding is essential to the growth of your cat. Keep a close watch of your kitten’s weight so you will know if you are feeding it with the right food or if you need to modify its diet.
Observe your cat’s daily activities and check its stools as well. By feeding your kitten with proper nutrition at an early age, you’ll end up with a strong and healthy pet in the coming years.