Kittens are just a bundle of cuteness overload, agree? However, if you've got one or a few, you will probably need to know how to take care of your new adorable feline friend: how often to feed her or him? what to feed her? And also the best kitten foods just to mention a few.
Trust me it’s more complicated than it sounds, actually, if you're worried about getting it right, well if your concerns are among the ones mentioned above then you are on the right track!
Properly feeding is among the kitten care tips to ensure your adorable baby cat develops into a fully-grown, healthy adult.
Essentially, it will gradually transition from mother’s (or any nursing cat’s) milk after the first 4 weeks to food designed for it, the complete weaning process takes about 8 weeks.
What to feed them or the best foods for a kitten
The nutritional need for kittens significantly differs from those of adult cats. This is because of the growth spurt which occurs within the first few weeks in addition to high activity levels.
Therefore, it’s important to consider calories, vitamins, and fatty acids intake. Moreover, they require higher amounts of proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals as compared to adult cats.
When it comes to selecting the best food between canned or dry, both are great and have their advantages.
- For canned kitten food, the moisture comes in handy since it keeps your cat hydrated while dry one is more suitable to feed them and takes longer to spoil if left in a bowl.
- Additionally, dry foods are richer in carbohydrates as compared to some of the canned ones -which basically increases the potential of your cat to gain weight easier while on dry food than wet. Nonetheless, cats can gain weight whether on dry or wet food if allowed to overeat.
Feeding plan for your kitten
Ideally, in order for your kitten to eat a proper diet to sustain the explosive growth pattern during the first few weeks and obtain sufficient calories to match the high energy levels, it's important to create a meal plan.
- Your kitten needs to eat three times on a daily basis for instance, in the morning, at noon and in the evening, can be the feeding schedule or you can arrange it to fit with your normal routine.
- Consider the food labels for feeding guidelines in order to determine the amount you need to feed your kitten. Depending on the daily amount it requires, divide this amount into 3 equal portions and feed each portion to it at the pre-planned time.
- Additionally, it's important to keenly monitor your kitten generally and continuously adjust the food quantity accordingly: this basically means if you notice it is gaining too much weight-reduce intake and if it seems too thin increase the portion of food.
- If you are feeding it with canned food, it should be left out for a maximum of 30minutes, the remaining amount if any after half an hour should be thrown out. However, dry foods can stay out for longer periods of time.
How much should I feed a kitten?
According to catster HQ, the amount of food to feed it depends on how old the kitten is as explained below:
Birth - 4weeks old
During this period, it's essential for a kitten to feed on a nursing cat's breast milk.
However, if the mother cat refuses to nurse or is absent for whatever reason, it's important to get a foster nursing mother or buy a kitten milk replacer-KMR which basically replicates the nutritional benefits in similar quantities as those present in the mother's milk such as carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
4 - 8weeks old - weaning begins
During this stage it is gradually weaned, meaning that the mother’s milk is replaced with either dry or wet kitten food.
According to ASPCA, the weaning process is usually the responsibility of the mother cat but in cases where it is missing, it may be your responsibility to wean it.
However, it's important to refrain from trying to wean a kitten very early on- the process should start when it can comfortably stand on his feet and his eyes are open and able to focus.
How to wean a kitten
It's important to consider that kittens generally learn through observation- observing their mother. Typically, they will pick up on how to feed, play or how to use the litter box by observing their mother. Hence, abruptly removing them from the mother can affect them negatively both socially and health-wise.
Preferably if possible, it should stay in their mother’s custody during the weaning process:
- Once it has reached 4 weeks you can alienate them from their mother for a short period of time to reduce their dependency on the mother’s presence as well as milk.
- Place the kitten in their own place which is completely set up with food, water, and a litter box. With time it will become more independent meaning that they can stay for longer periods of time away from their mother.
- To wean it off the mother’s milk or bottle, use a KMR in a shallow bowl- insert your fingertip, syringe or the nursing bottle into the solution and allow it to lick, then guide him by moving your finger deeper into the bowl.
- When the kitten becomes acclimatized to lapping liquids, create a thin mixture of high quality dry or wet food with KMR to form the consistency of oatmeal.
- While it is still learning to feed on solid food, aid his transition by giving him the bowl of gruel followed by the bottle.
2 - 3 months
During this stage, the kitten develops food preferences- wet or dry food. Additionally, within this period of time, a feeding schedule should be devised in order to ensure it obtains the maximum nutritional needs.
Normally, the kitten should feed at least 3-4 times since they have very small stomachs to hold up all the nutritional needs they require.
3 - 6 months
During this phase, it appreciates routines.
Considering the kitten food label will help you determine whether the feed contains all the necessary ingredients such as minimum fats and proteins and the maximum fiber and moisture. Ensure the kitten diet remains constant to avoid problems caused by too little proteins in the diet.
6 months – 1 year
During this time, it is typically considered a cat.
The cat's food should again contain adequate amounts of proteins, taurine, and arginine- which are vital amino acids.
Basic tips for feeding a kitten
Selecting the type of food
It's vital that kittens get some canned foods included in their diets. More so because, when they are very small they have very tiny teeth and hence cannot chew properly especially when it comes to dry food.
Canned food ensures that they get proper nutrition and growth. In case you chose to feed your cat on both dry and wet foods it's advisable to alternate the food and offer canned food at least twice daily, but if you are feeding your cat on canned foods only then feed it 4 times in a day.
Switching kitten foods
While cats are masters at being picky-its possible to alter their usual kitten feed. The trick is to expose it to different food textures and flavors early on.
However, if you are trying to introduce your cat to a new flavor, avoid mixing this new flavor with the old one- just in case your kitten doesn’t fancy the new flavor, because this may make him dislike both flavors all together.
Switching will be a gradual process, but over time together with hunger will help the cat with the transition, however, it’s advisable to continuously offer the kitten both the new and old food.
Foods to avoid giving your kitten
- Raw meat or liver due to the possibility of parasites and harmful bacteria.
- Raw eggs because they can possibly reduce proper intake of vitamin B which can affect the kitten’s skin and hair coat as well as may contain salmonella.
- Raw fish causes the loss of appetite, may lead to seizures, lead to vitamin B deficiency or even death.
- Milk may cause diarrhea in weaned kittens and cats because they lack the enzyme required to break down milk.
Additionally, avoid onions, garlic, coffee, raisins, tea, chocolate or grapes since they are toxic to kittens and cats.