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How many times a day should you feed a kitten?

Two black and white kittens eating advice © Shutterstock

Kittens are fed a certain number of meals according to their age. Find out how many times a day you should feed your kitten, and how best to plan ahead. 

By Nick Whittle

The first thing to remember is: if you have specific questions to ask, consult your vet. But before doing that, read on to find out our tips. 

Browse shops for good quality dry and wet food. Also, depending on what life stage your kitten is at, it is important to read the labels. Once you have studied the packet guidelines plan ahead. Measure out a daily portion of food and split it into four meals a day (you will see later four meals a day for a weaned cat is a good starting point). 

As your kittens grow, you will need to watch their body condition and make sure their diet progresses according to their different life stages. You should check his weight to ensure that the weight he gains is neither too much nor too little but is according to the accepted average. It is unlikely that your kitten will lose weight and a little weight gain above the median is no cause for concern. 

However, losing lots of weight can be a sign of illness, so be vigilant! 

You should of course encourage your kitten to exercise. Some kittens naturally want to lie on a couch and soak up the sun; others will be out until the wee hours causing trouble. For those kittens that lie down a lot, try to encourage their movement. If they used to lying down for long periods of time they may become obese in later life.

Verify your kitten’s age 

If you have bought your kitten from a breeder you should have been told its age. Kittens under one month need specialist care and, if there is no mum around, will require hand-rearing. Knowing your kitten’s age is essential when it comes to your thinking about the diet regimen.

Some breeders do not sell kittens until they are about 3 months old. By this time they will have been weaned and are reasonably happy with their feeding ritual.

Quality cat food 

If you want a kitten to have the best start in life you must seek out the most nutritious food: but that doesn’t have to be the most expensive! It is the one that has the right levels of protein, fatty acids and vitamins a kitten needs to grow up healthy.

The best type of kitten dry, wet food or kitten milk, is one that has been designed specifically for their age. An ideal kitten food should contain at least the following

  • Calcium
  • Fat
  • Fatty acids
  • Fibre
  • High levels of protein 
  • Iron 
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Taurine
  • Vitamin A, C, D, E
  • Zinc

How many feeds while weaning takes place? 

When he reaches one month old you should begin to train your kitten to eat food rather than to suckle his mum. This process - called weaning - is concerned with gradually introducing the kitten to what will be his adult diet and at the same time withdrawing the supply of his mother's milk using kitten milk. 

Weaning has to be done gradually: to properly wean a kitten takes around eight weeks. Give your kitten either: 1) one part dry kitten kibble with three parts cat milk replacement, or 2) one part wet kitten food with two parts milk replacement. 

A kitten this age has a small stomach and should therefore be allowed to feed whenever he wants. And he will do: a kitten is an eating machine! Leave food out to allow him to eat when he feels hungry.

How many times a day to feed a kitten aged: 2 – 3 months

Kittens this age should be fed four times a day. Dry kitten food can be left out for him to come and go as he pleases but wet food should be removed and put in the fridge, if not eaten within half an hour after serving. 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 heat it up to room temperature before serving it though.

How many times a day to feed a kitten aged: 3 – 6 months

His four meal time regimen up until your kitten is 12 weeks old should be a precursor to your plans for a standard mealtime when your kitten reaches cat-hood. When he is between three and six months old you can reduce his feeding to three times a day.

How many times a day to feed a kitten aged: 6 – 12 months

A kitten is general assumed to be a ‘cat’ at around one year old. They are still growing but the rate at which they grow has slowed significantly. During this time you should reduce the daily meal times from three to two. You should begin to look at how much food you are giving your cat and take away the come and go option. Your cat can over-eat if bowls of food are left out for him all day.

Your kitten is growing at an astonishing rate. The cells of his body - brain, organs, muscles and bones – are multiplying constantly and for this they need a lot of energy and a lot of protein. However, kittens do not have big stomachs and it is due to this that they should be allowed in the early years to graze and to eat whenever they feel hungry.

If your kitten seems unwell in some way you should waste no time and take him to be checked out by a vet. Kittens are prone to illnesses and go downhill very fast when they are struck by certain conditions. Their bodies are not as strong as those of the adult cat and they will need expert help and support to recover.

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