Choosing a kitten food can seem scary. Most pet shops and supermarkets sell a wide range of wet and dry food, and many are for specified age ranges. Choose a good quality food, whether this be wet, dry or a mix and try and stick to the same brand. Check the box or packet for the age range, and make sure it’s appropriate for your kitten. Most brands will specify how many grams or pouches should be fed per day, or per kilogram of body weight. Most kittens do well on small meals spread throughout the day, so 3-4 meals should be appropriate. Divide your daily portions into 4 meals, and try to stick to similar feeding times each day.
Regular weight checks and body condition scoring is important to make sure your kitten is growing at a healthy weight - and isn’t too chubby or underweight! You’ll need to regularly adjust your feeding amount based on weight, so keeping an eye on your kitten and the packets is essential! Be prepared to change food depending on their age. Significant weight loss should always be checked by a vet.
Some kittens are couch potatoes, and others are super active! Encourage healthy play and exercise to develop good musculature and prevent obesity.
Verify your kitten’s age
If you bought your kitten from a breeder or a reputable rescue you should have been told its age. Very young kittens, especially if under a month old require specialist care and often require hand rearing. Kittens shouldn’t be separated from their mum before 7-8 weeks of age, when they are successfully weaned. Be careful about taking a very young kitten home!
Knowing your kitten’s age is important when choosing the correct diet, and feeding the right amount,
Kittens over 8 weeks of age should be weaned entirely onto solid food, and it’s a good idea to keep them on the same food as the breeder or rescue for at least 7 days before slowly changing over. Sudden changes in diet can cause problems!
Quality cat food
To give your kitten the best start in life you need to choose a good quality, nutritious and complete diet. This doesn’t always have to be the most expensive! Pick a commercial kitten food with the right levels of protein, fat and vitamins. Most commercial diets are perfect for a growing kitten, and have been designed to give your pet good nutrition.
The best type of dry or wet food kitten food, is one that has been designed specifically for their age. Kitten foods readily available will contain the right levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Home cooking your kitten’s diet can be very challenging, and isn’t recommended. If their nutritional needs aren’t met, you could have a sick kitten on your hands.
How many feeds while weaning takes place?
Most mother cats are very capable of weaning their own kittens, but kitten food should be available for when mum starts to push them off the teat! At 4-5 weeks of age mum will start to discourage feeding, and kittens should start to show interest in solid food. This process, called weaning, is what gradually introduces your kitten to what will be his adult diet.
Weaning should be done gradually, and takes place over a number of weeks. You can assist this by offering dry or wet kitten food and small amounts of milk replacement and encouraging kittens to try the solid food. Mother cats will generally help in the process, and tell their kittens when they’ve had enough. Occasionally mothers allow kittens to feed well past the weaning period, and removing kittens or giving them breaks from the mother may be required.
Young kittens should be allowed to feed whenever they are hungry. Food should be available all the time.
How many times a day to feed a kitten aged: 2 – 3 months
Kittens this age often suit being fed 3-4 time per day. Some cats are grazers, and like to eat small meals throughout the day. Dry food can be left out to snack on all day, but always measure out the amount for the day. Wet food shouldn’t be left out for too long - this should be fed in meals and removed if not eaten entirely within 30 minutes. You don’t have to throw the wet food away. Just wrap it up and bring it out for the next meal time. Remember to allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
How many times a day to feed a kitten aged: 3 – 6 months
Young cats can be fed similarly to kittens, but this can be reduced to 3 times per day if required. Dry food can be left down for ad-lib grazing, but ensure correct calories are given. Don’t double portions, measure out both wet and dry!
How many times a day to feed a kitten aged: 6 – 12 months
A kitten is assumed to be a ‘cat’ at around one year old. They are still growing but the rate at which they grow has slowed significantly. Young adults and adults should have meals split into at least 2 feeding sessions per day, more may be appropriate depending on what suits your pet. Ad-lib feeding is still OK for adults, as long as portions are correct. Meals may suit some cats, but many prefer to take small meals throughout the day.
Your kitten is growing at an astonishing rate. The cells of his body are multiplying constantly and for this they need a lot of energy and a lot of protein. Kittens and adult cats can be left to graze on biscuits throughout the day, but at all life stages their weights and body condition should be checked meticulously. Both overeating and undereating can be detrimental to your cat’s health.
Whilst adorable and sometimes ferocious, young kittens can be fragile. Any signs of illness should be checked with a vet. Left untreated kittens can get very sick, very fast!