Deciding what to feed your kitten is an important decision. Here is everything you need to know to ensure your kitten has a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet.
Kittens develop rapidly, both physically and mentally. Your pet requires a great deal of sustenance during their first year of life. You need a food to support this growth and help strengthen their immune system to give your kitten the best possible start.
The First Few Weeks
In the first six weeks, your kitten should obtain its nutrition exclusively from their mother’s milk, as it contains the major nutrients needed in that early stage of life. After about the seventh week though, it’s time to wean your kitten off its mother’s milk and start introducing kitten food.
How to Choose the Best Kitten Food
- Check the range available and select a food marked as a “kitten” diet. These diets are specifically formulated to meet the needs of cats less than 12 months old. However, the quality of the range will vary. In most instances, you will pay more for food that contains the best quality vitamin and mineral ingredients.
- Choose a food that contains real meat such as chicken as the first ingredient. As a rule, kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein, so provide a diet that contains a quality source of protein.
- Check the label and look for a balance of real proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates. Labels that list wholegrain cereals, or cereal/meat by-products, as the first ingredient contain less quality protein compared to a kitten diet with ‘chicken’ as the first ingredient.
- Do not feed food meant for adult cats, as kittens have very different dietary needs than their adult counterparts.
Dry Kibble Versus Canned Food
It’s common for owners to provide their kitten with a combination of kibble and canned food. You should follow the above guidelines when choosing the best dry or wet kitten food. If you decide to feed a mixture, ensure you convert the feeding requirements so you don’t overfeed your pet.
Foods to Avoid
Pets are often fed leftover human food that we consider dietary staples. However, some of these foods can actually be poisonous to your kitten. You should avoid giving your kitten foods including onions, garlic, coffee and tea, grapes and raisins, chocolate and dairy products – even milk may cause problems such as diarrhea for kittens recently weaned off their mother’s milk.
Some people choose to feed their kitten a home-made diet. While many pet owners feel they are providing the right nutrients, the diet is often based largely on protein and can be extremely unbalanced and unable to meet the needs of a growing pet. The best kitten food available at Petbarn is scientifically proven to provide a balanced diet to benefit your pet.
What Should Your Cat Drink?
Your kitten needs access to fresh water at all times. It’s best to provide more than one water bowl to encourage more fluid intake. We’re all familiar with commercials and TV shows depicting cats and their love for milk. While that may be true, it’s something you have to be careful with. Avoid giving human milk to kittens as it can cause stomach upsets for your pet.
A Regular Feeding Schedule
Kittens grow at an amazing pace during those first six months and during that time you should be feeding your pet four regular meals per day. It’s in their nature to snack, and that’s okay, because they’re burning large amounts of energy as they play. After those first six months their growth rate will begin to slow down and at that point it’s normally best to reduce their meals to twice per day. Follow the feeding guide on your kitten food label.
Read the Label
There are two different types of labels you should be paying attention to on your kitten or cat food: government or veterinary approval labels and lifecycle labels. The reason you want to look for kitten or cat food that’s endorsed by government departments and veterinary associations is because these organisations have a lot of expert knowledge and they’ve tested the food to ensure it’s healthy for your kitten or cat. Lifecycle labels indicate the stage of your cat’s lifecycle a particular food is meant for, so that you can make sure you’re buying the right food for your kitten, cat, or senior cat.
From 12 Months on…
After the first year, it’s time to switch your kitten over to adult food as it will have reached full size at that point. Your pet will need to continue with a balanced diet, but its overall nutritional needs will be different. Choose an adult cat food that is specifically formulated for your pet’s life stage, breed or desired health benefit.
Choosing the right food for your kitten is vital at this stage of development. Provide your pet with high quality proteins, vitamins and minerals so they can continue to grow into a healthy cat.