Human babies begin their lives on a milk-only diet, before progressing onto small quantities of soft food. As they grow, their diet becomes more diverse as more foods are added and they need larger quantities for their development. Their dietary needs will continue to change until they reach adulthood. Similarly, a cat’s dietary needs are continually changing throughout their life, so a cat owner should not assume that they can feed the same foods in the same quantity to their pet from it being a kitten to a geriatric pet. Therefore, it is essential for a cat owner to know what and how much they should feed their cat at different stages of its life. Here is how much you should feed a kitten.
What, How Much, and How Often Should You Feed a Kitten?
What you kitten should eat and how often depends on its age as it will need more food as it grows. Royal Canin offers the following guidance for feeding your kitten at different stages:
- 0 to 4 weeks- In the first four weeks of your kitten’s life, they should have nothing but mil from their mother. This will completely meet your kitten’s nutritional needs. The best thing you can do if your kittens are being fed by their mother is to leave them alone while they are feeding. If you have a large litter of kittens that the mother is struggling to feed or if you have taken in a stray kitten, you can get special milk from the vets that will fulfill the nutritional needs of your kitten.
- 4 weeks to 4 months- When you start to wean your kitten onto solid food, you can introduce them to solids by combining a dry kibble with a little water or kitten milk to give it a mushy consistency. This will get your kitten accustomed to the texture of food and to the experience of swallowing solids. Alternatively, use a wet food that is specifically manufactured for kittens in that age category. These foods are made with ingredients, including antioxidants, that will protect your kitten and aid its development. Regardless of which you choose, you should follow the rand guidelines in relation to quantity.
- 4 months onwards- When your cat reaches four months old, it is considered an adolescent cat. By this time, your kitten’s digestive tract has matured enough to move on to adult food. Therefore, you can gradually switch from kitten food to adult food. Kittens and cats generally graze at their food and can eat up to 20 small meals a day. This does not mean that you need to feed the cat 20 times. By putting out the recommended amount of food for the day according to the brand guidelines, the cat will self-regulate and feed a little and often from the food you have provided.
Drinks for Kittens
Whiskas says that you also need to think about what your kitten drinks. It is a misconception that cats love milk, as once they are past the weaning stage, they lose the ability to digest milk. This means that if you give your kitten milk to drink, it will give it a tummy upset. The only thing that you should give your kitten to drink is water. Make sure they always have access to a fresh supply of water, and you should change the water in their bowl at least once a day.
Foods to Avoid
It is also important to know which foods you should avoid giving to your cat. Some foods can make your cat poorly, and others are potentially fatal for your kitten. Michicka offers the following advice:
- Unfavorable foods – Pork, dog food, goose, duck, maize, tomatoes, wheat, potatoes, fruits, and fish skin.
- Forbidden – Unground bones, sausages, salami, pate, spices, fried foods, smoked foods, onion, garlic, avocado, sugar, salt, human canned food, chocolate, and nuts.
- Human food – Any manufactured foods that are made for human consumption are probably unsafe for kittens. It is likely that they will include ingredients such as salt, sugar, fat, and spices.
Other Tips for Feeding Your Kitten
The following are some more tips for feeding your kitten to make sure you keep your cat safe and healthy:
- Introducing new foods – As your kitten grows, you may decide to introduce some new foods into their diet. This is something that you should do gradually and observe whether any of the foods cause a reaction or tummy upset.
- Avoiding the litter tray – Cats are naturally very clean creatures, and they do not like eating in the same places where they pee and poop. Therefore, you should not keep the litter tray near the food and water bowls. Likewise, keep your kitten’s sleeping area and toys away from its feeding bowl.
- Clean bowls – Also due to the clean nature of cats, they will instinctively avoid food that has gone off. If you leave the bowls out and cat food dries onto the side, your kitten will start to avoid the bowl until it is cleaned.
- Preventing inappropriate eating – Kittens like to climb and this means they can access food even if you think that it is out of reach. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent your cat from getting any food they should not have. Do not leave food out on the work surfaces. If you have leftover food, either throw it away or wrap it up and put it in the refrigerator. Make sure your bin has a secure lid.
The Final Verdict – How Much Should You Feed a Kitten?
To make sure you keep your kitten well-nourished and healthy, it is important that you feed them the right diet. Kittens do not need solid food until they are around four weeks old when you can introduce them to rehydrated kibble or wet cat food. You can gradually increase the amount they eat until they are four months, and then move them onto cat food for adult cats. Avoid feeding them more than the guidelines as this can lead to obesity in cats. It is important to avoid giving them foods that are not intended for kittens and to always make sure they have plenty of fresh water.