It is a widely accepted fact that kittens are one of the cutest pets you can have. They are tiny, super energetic, and very playful. Adopting a kitten will give you a loyal friend, as kittens bond with their owners better than adult cats. It’s no wonder why pet parents want to ensure that their babies remain healthy and a considerable contribution to their health is the food they eat.
How Long Should Kittens Eat Kitten Food? Kittens should start kitten food with their mother’s milk during weening. Once they are entirely weaned off their mother’s milk, which is around 6-8 weeks, they should be fed kitten food several times a day until they are one year of age, then gradually move to adult cat food.
This article is all about what and how to feed your baby pet to ensure optimum growth and a healthy fur-ball.
What’s the Difference Between Kitten Food and Cat Food?
There is a markedly huge nutritional and caloric difference between both types of food. Each caters to the respective growth phase they are in.
Kittens are baby cats. They have an entire rapid growth stage (from 2-6 months) and an adolescent stage (from 6-12 months) to go through. They are also exceptionally playful and active. Adult cats, on the other hand, are more laid back. They spend most of the day sleeping (12-20 hours, to be exact), and even when awake, they are not jumping around as kittens do. Therefore, both kitten food and cat food have different nutritional compositions.
Food for kittens is higher in calories, protein, and fat. It also has adequate levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain and vision development, increased amounts of some vitamins and minerals, and optimal calcium-to-phosphorus ratios. All this is to accommodate the rapid growth of kittens and is not required in high amounts for adult cats.
Find Out: Do Kittens Need Wet Food?
When to Stop Feeding Kitten Food and How to Switch to Cat Food?
Most breeds reach adulthood at one year of age, except for the Maine Coons. They don’t reach maturity until 18 months to 2 years of age. This is the time when you should slowly start introducing adult cat food into your feline’s diet. Never make an abrupt change from kitten to cat food. Not only will this cause gastrointestinal upset, but it can also keep your pet away from food altogether. Given that cats have a keen sense of smell, they will be highly suspicious of new foods.
Instead, incorporate cat food into kitten food gradually in increasing proportions over the course of 10 days.
- Day 1-3. The first step is to mix 75% of the kitten food with 25% of the new adult cat food.
- Day 4-6. Then, mix 50% kitten food and 50% adult cat food.
- Day 5-9. Then, serve 25% kitten food and 75% adult cat food.
- Day 10. Finally, serve only the new adult cat food.
This is the best way of switching out kitten food for cat food without your pet noticing.
Interesting Reading: When Do Kittens Start Eating Food And Drinking Water?
How to Find High-Quality Kitten Food?
Look for the label on pet food that says it has gone through AAFCO feeding trials. AAFCO stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials. It sets standards through scientific research by feeding cats certain formulations to ensure the food will cause no nutritional deficiencies. This is vital as nutritionally imbalanced kitten food can hinder your pet’s growth and cause various illnesses. Many pet food companies market their products with no prior testing, so be careful about that.
Avoid homemade pet food as it can be deficient in certain nutrients your kitten needs. Over time, notice your pet’s health. Look out for an alert, energetic kitten with a glossy coat, steady weight gain, and small, firm stools. If this does not describe your pet, check with your veterinarian, and they will tell you which nutrients are deficient and suggest any diet changes.
Also, Check Out: Sugar Water For Kittens
How Do Kittens’ Nutritional Needs Differ from those of Adult Cats?
Kittens are tiny cats, meaning they need bone growth, muscle growth, and brain development to be fully grown. All of which require protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Additionally, kittens are way more energetic and playful than fully-grown cats. So kittens require a nutritionally rich diet and need to be fed around 5-6 times a day, whereas cats are lazier and need to be provided only twice a day.
How Often Should I Feed My Kitten?
The suggested amount is available on the can/packet. Generally speaking, young kittens need to be fed 5-6 times per day. For busy cat parents, so many feeds and tracking time between feeds can be hard to do. Free feeding might be the best option for them. Free feeding is simply making food available to your kittens at all times, although they should be switched to meal feeding at around four to six months of age. Free feeding has the added benefit of preventing abdominal pain from eating too fast and is ideal for underweight kittens. However, overweight kittens should only be meal fed.
Also Read: How Much to Feed a Kitten?
Can You Feed a Kitten Adult Cat Food?
No, you should not feed your kitten cat food. Although cat food is not toxic to them (which means if they have taken a bite out of your other cat’s bowl, there’s nothing to worry about), cat food does not meet the nutritional and caloric requirements of kittens. If given regularly, kittens will develop deficiencies and will get very sick over time.
Check Out: Can Cats Eat Chicken Broth?
What Type of Food Should I Give to my Kitten?
Giving your kitten canned/wet food is recommended as kittens have softer, developing teeth and have a hard time chewing on dry kibble. Additionally, canned food meets its nutritional and hydration requirements better than dry food.
You might be in an unfortunate situation where the mother cat is unavailable, and you have to take care of days-old kittens. These little creatures may not even have their eyes open, or remain of their umbilical cord may still be present. In this case, you have to arrange a kitten milk replacer and give the kitten a warm kitten milk replacer through a baby bottle or a dropper a minimum of every two hours, even at night. You will also have to wipe their genitals so that they urinate and defecate, as they cannot do it unassisted.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Bottom Line on How Long Should Kittens Eat Kitten Food
Kittens should be provided kitten food during the weening process from 4 to 8 weeks, then
excluded from the age of 8 weeks to one year of age, 5-6 times a day. Free feeding is a great
option, especially for underweight kittens. Make sure the packaging says it is AAFCO-approved.
Only give your pet kitten food until one year of age, then gradually change it to cat food by
gradually mixing both over a period of 10 days.
Who is Isabella?
My name is Isabella, and I am a dedicated and knowledgeable cat enthusiast. With years of experience caring for cats and a deep love for felines, I made a mission to help other cat lovers navigate the challenges of cat ownership.