f your kitten could speak, what food do you think they would ask for at mealtimes? Wet food from a pouch? Dry food? Or more likely, fresh tuna or salmon delivered on a silver platter every couple of hours?
While most of us aren’t able, or willing, to deliver fresh fish to our kittens on demand, the question of what to feed them will inevitably arise once your little bundle of fun arrives.
Kittenhood is a formative time for a cat, like childhood for children. You need to balance their diet so it delivers the energy and nutrition they need to grow and stay healthy.
Kittens and kitten food
There is specific food for the kitten stage of growth and for once it isn’t marketing.
Kitten food is designed to deliver a balanced diet without stressing their tiny systems. To help them get the nutrition they need and the energy to help them grow.
There is no ‘perfect’ kitten food. As long as it contains lots of moisture, animal protein and modest amounts of carbohydrate, it should be fine.
As you’ll learn, your kitten will soon let you know if they don’t like what you’re feeding them!
How to choose the best kitten diet
Most kittens will eat anything you put in front of them. They won’t necessarily be able to tell you whether they like it or not!
That means you have to make the choice for them. Which is what this post is all about.
Here are some tips to help feeding a kitten.
Quality over quantity
If you’re going to be partners for the next 10-15 years, you want to give your kitten the best possible start. That’s why we strongly recommend buying quality kitten food.
It will cost you more but consider it an investment rather than cost. An investment in giving your little furry friend the best possible start in life. A start they richly deserve.
Go for a recognised brand, read reviews, check ingredients and be prepared to invest a little in your kitten’s food.
Feed them kitten food, not cat food
As mentioned earlier, kitten food is designed to deliver the calories and nutrition a kitten needs to play, develop and grow.
Kitten food is also designed to be easy to digest and to help them transition from mother’s milk to solid food.
It’s essential to feed your kitten the correct type of food for their life stage. In this case, kitten food.
Your little bundle of fun needs extra calories, protein, fat and nutrients to grow and develop. Kitten food is designed to deliver that.
Wet or dry kitten food?
As long as you buy quality and buy kitten food, you can choose either wet or dry.
Vets often recommend starting your kitten on wet food as it’s easier to digest and closer to what they would eat in the wild. Wet food also contains the moisture cats need to stay healthy.
You could mix wet and dry food, either together or a bowl of each too. This can help get your kitten used to the different tastes and textures which may benefit them in later life.
How much food?
If this is your first kitten, you’ll quickly find it will eat almost anything you put in front of them. They are perpetually hungry and seem to do nothing but eat, play and sleep.
However, you need to monitor a kitten’s food intake to make sure they eat enough to deliver sufficient nutrition.
Your vet can advise on how much your kitten needs to eat. Otherwise, weigh your kitten regularly and check the feeding instructions for your particular food.
A little extra shouldn’t be an issue but continual overfeeding isn’t healthy.
How often should you feed your kitten?
Kittens are tiny and have tiny stomachs, so little and often will usually work best.
Smaller meals 3-5 times per day should deliver the nutrition they need without overfilling their stomach or making them sick.
Some kitten foods will recommend particular feeding schedules. This can be done using an automated cat feeder from Closer Pets.
It’s fine to experiment with them as long as your furry companion gets the energy and nutrition they need every single day.
Treats are not kitten food
Treating your kitty is all part of the fun and can to bond you closer to your pet. But treats should not replace food in their diet.
Most bought treats contain little nutritional value. They are fine for training and bonding and you can use treats for playing games but they shouldn’t replace food.
Be careful how many treats you give too. You don’t want to fill up your kitten with treats so they don’t eat their food.
If you want to treat your kitten, playing with them or cuddling up with them has the same effect. Affection is a very powerful treat and won’t disturb their diet!
Kitten life stages and diet
A kitten has several distinct life stages in their first year. How much you feed can depend on how old your furry bundle of joy is.
From 8 weeks to 4 months – Feed little and often, mainly wet food to help their system adapt.
From 4 to 6 months – Reduce mealtimes to 2-4 times per day to help them adjust to their future life. You can add some dry food for extra texture if you like.
7 to 12 months – Slowly reduce meals to two per day and feel free to mix wet and dry food as you see fit.
Keep using kitten food until your furry friend is a year old. Then you can transition slowly to cat food in whatever form you choose.
Feeding a kitten
Deciding your kitten’s diet may seem complex but it really isn’t. Buy quality kitten food, feed them as much as recommended each day, make sure there is always fresh water, as we know cats and kittens prefer running water, so its worth investing in a cat water fountain early.
Keep an eye on their weight, keep life fun, let them explore and you should deliver the best possible start a kitten could ever want!