Feeding Your Kitten: Some Food for Thought
Kittens will rely solely on their mama cat’s milk (or kitten milk replacer) until about 4 weeks, when their “baby teeth” start coming in and they are ready to be gently introduced to some solid foods. Because of this, adoptions typically happen when the kitten is around 6 weeks old and has been weaned.
Here are some tips on what to feed your new kitten after bringing them home for the first time.
Switching to a new food?
Find out what food the kitten was eating before you became their new pet parent. If you’re happy with that food and your vet approves, you can continue to use it.
However, if you want to change your kitten’s food, you’ll need to do it gradually. A sudden change can cause tummy trouble, so don’t rush it. Mix a small amount of the new food in with your kitten’s regular food, and gradually increase it over 5 to 7 days until only the new food is left.
Speak to your vet for advice on the best food to support your kitten’s nutritional needs and overall health requirements.
How often should you feed a kitten?
Because your kitten’s stomach is so small, they can’t eat much food in one go, so they need small meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
On average you should feed your kitten 4 to 5 times a day, using nutrient-rich kitten food recommended by your vet. A “complete” kitten food will provide a good balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals to help little cats grow up strong and healthy.
Make sure you provide fresh food in a clean bowl for each feeding. Follow the feeding guide on the pack, to ensure you don’t overfeed or underfeed your kitten.
How long should a kitten be on the same food?
Kittens’ and cats’ nutritional needs change with age. From 2 to 6 months, your kitten will be in a “rapid growth” phase. At 6 months they will start to need fewer meals but larger portions. By 12 months, they will likely have reached their adult size and be ready for the transition to adult cat food.
Consult your vet about when you should make the switch to adult food, and how to make the transition easy for your young cat.
What about liquids?
Believe it or not, it’s a myth that kittens continue to need milk after weaning. In some cases, regular dairy milk can even upset your kitten’s stomach. What they do need is access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Make sure you have plenty of fresh water available for your kitten to drink. Use a shallow water dish until your kitten is big enough to safely use a deeper bowl. Some cats prefer water from flowing sources, in which case you can get a water fountain specially designed for felines.
If you’re concerned your cat isn’t drinking enough water, speak to your vet immediately – proper hydration is an essential part of good health.
Is it normal for cats to eat grass?
If your kitten or cat has indigestion or needs to bring up a hairball, they will eat grass to induce vomiting. This is quite natural and normal behaviour. However, if the vomiting persists or you notice other worrying symptoms, make an appointment with your vet.