How to Choose Food for a Kitten
A kitten can be a little ball of energy so it comes as no surprise it has different food needs than that of an adult cat. Offer your kitten age-appropriate food and learn how to spot a nutritious kitten food. Once you've purchased kitten food, you'll need to follow some simple guidelines for feeding your kitten the right amount of food throughout the day.
Determining the Dietary Needs of Your Kitten
Consider the age of your kitten.Your kitten won't need to start eating cat food until it's at least four to six weeks old. Before this point, the kitten should still be nursed exclusively by the mother cat. Kittens from seven weeks to one year old should be eating kitten food.
- Once your cat is a year old, you can transition to adult cat food. If you have a Maine Coon, you'll need to wait until it's 18 to 24 months to make the transition.
- Keep in mind that the age to transition any kitten to adult cat food is only a guide. Many vets recommend switching your kitten to adult cat food after you have them desexed. This is because kitten food is higher in calories than adult cat food, so a desexed cat may become overweight if kept on kitten food.
Take your kitten's activity level into account.Most kittens are incredibly active, so they'll need a lot of protein and calories from their food. As long as you choose a high-quality food that's designed for kittens and not adult cats, the food should meet your kitten's active lifestyle.
- It's important to give kitten food to a rapidly growing kitten, to supply the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and protein for the growth of muscles and bones. In addition, kitten kibble is smaller and easier for kittens to chew on. However, be aware that kitten food is high in calories, so keep a wary eye that they don't gain too much weight.
Talk to the vet about the best food for your kitten.Ask the veterinarian to recommend a few kitten foods to try. The vet will be able to recommend the best food for your cat's body type. If you plan on making homemade kitten food, the vet should be able to recommend a recipe that comes from a certified veterinary nutritionist.
- It's also a good idea to ask your vet to recommend an adult cat food for your kitten to transition to as it gets older.
Picking A Nutritional Food
Select a food with a good protein source.Choose a kitten food that lists a meat product as one of the first ingredients on the nutrition label. You may see chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, or seafood listed. Check the guaranteed analysis on the label and ensure that the kitten food contains at least 30% protein and 20% fat. Your kitten will need these nutritious calories to keep its energy up.
- Avoid choosing a kitten food that lists mainly grains in the first few ingredient listing slots. Your kitten may have a harder time digesting these foods.
Look for ingredients that help your kitten develop.The kitten food you choose should contain DHA, a fatty acid, and taurine, an amino acid. These will help your kitten's eyes, brain, heart, immune system, digestive system, and vision develop correctly.
- You should also see folic acid in the ingredients listing. This will ensure that your kitten's cells develop properly.
Check the expiration date of the food.Most dry cat/kitten foods will stay fresh for a year if it's unopened. Before you buy kitten food, check the expiration date on the package. If the food is expired or over two years old, avoid buying and serving it to your kitten.
- Wet food will keep for two years if it's unopened.
Choose a brand name kitten food.Most cat food manufacturers make a food specific for kittens. Choose a brand name kitten food so you can be sure that it contains high quality ingredients. It may be harder to research the ingredients in a generic kitten food.
- Keep in mind that you may need to try a few different brands to find one that your kitten enjoys.
Feeding Your Kitten
Create a calm feeding environment.Many kittens are used to being around other energetic kittens or an active household. To help your kitten focus on eating regular meals, place the food and water dish in a quiet place in your house. They should be away from your kitten's litter box and away from other pets so there's no competition for food.
- Clean the food and water dishes every day. If the containers get dirty, the kitten may not want to eat out of them.
Feed your kitten several meals a day.Instead of letting your kitten graze throughout the whole day, offer your kitten three to four small meals a day until the age of 12 weeks. Then, switch to three small meals per day after this point. Giving small meals will give your kitten a chance to digest smaller amounts of food. You should feed the three meals a day until your kitten turns six months old.
- Once your kitten is six months old, you can give it two meals a day.
Switch up the flavors.Just like people, your kitten may grow tired of the exact same kitten food every day. Don't be afraid to offer it different flavored foods or different textured foods. This can prevent your kitten from becoming selective about its food.
- For example, if you always feed your kitten dry chicken and brown rice flavored kitten food, you may offer it a salmon and chickpea flavored dry kitten food.
Offer wet and dry foods.You should offer your cat both wet and dry foods so that it becomes familiar with both. This can be helpful if you need to give the cat wet food as part of a medical treatment later on. Try alternating between serving wet food and dry food meals.
- For example, some diabetes treatment plans require the cat to have canned cat food.
- Also, keep in mind that how much you feed is almost as important as what you feed your kitten. Do not let your kitten become overweight because this predisposes them to health problems later in life, including diabetes.
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