How to Feed Your New Kitten
Bringing a new kitten into the family is both an exciting and challenging time. Knowing how to adequately care for this new addition is at the forefront of your mind. Feeding time with a new pet can be stressful - ensuring that they not only eat enough but eat the right nutrients is a top priority.
As kittens generally join human families between the ages of 6 to 8 weeks, they're around the age where they are weaned from their mothers and can begin eating more solid foods.
What foods should you feed kittens?
Like human babies and adults, the needs of kittens differ from those of an adult cat. Their first period of life requires a diet with adequate nutrition that provides the vitamins and minerals to support their growth.
In order for your kitten to grow strong and healthy, they'll require food that has:
- Higher levels of proteins
- More calories
- Higher levels of certain nutrients, including calcium
Should you feed your kitten wet or dry food?
Both wet and dry formulas are available in food appropriate for kittens. While there's positives and negatives to each option, however, it's always best to discuss with your veterinarian the best choice to meet your kitten's individual needs.
Wet cat food:
One positive aspect of wet food is the higher levels of moisture, which can be beneficial in keeping your kitten hydrated, their urinary tract flushed and their kidneys in a healthy condition. However, sometimes this can also contribute to bouts of diarrhoea so it should not be fed as a sole diet.
Wet food tends to stick to the teeth though, which can increase the likelihood of dental issues if the food is not removed properly.
Dry cat food:
One of the primary perks of dry food is easier distribution, which is particularly helpful if you have multiple cats living in your home. In opposition of wet food, dry food helps scrape tartar build-up off the teeth. Dry food also goes further than wet in food, in that, you need less of it to keep your kitten full and happy.
However, low quality dry foods can lead to some gut issues such as constipation. It is important to feed a good quality food to ensure the best health for your pet.
How often should you feed a kitten?
Between 6 to 16 weeks, kittens require feeding at least 3 times a day. More food is required during this period of time to assist in their growth and development. This is also the pivotal time to help your kitten develop a foundation of healthy eating habits.
Cats (especially indoor cats) have a tendency to overeat which ultimately leads to weight gain. Weight gain and obesity also puts them at risk of other health issues such as arthritis, heart problems, blood pressure issues, diabetes and respiratory issues.
To decide what's an appropriate amount for your kitten, it's best to consult your vet. Alternatively, a good place to start is following the feeding guidelines on cans or bags of food.
When should a kitten see a vet if it's not eating?
If your kitten is not eating or is experiencing bouts of diarrhoea, be sure to reach out to your vet and schedule in a check-up. There are several issues that can cause gastrointestinal issues in kittens, one of those being intestinal parasites.
Some parasites can also be transmitted to humans so it's important to keep hygiene standards high and preventative measures in place.
What foods should kittens or cats never eat?
There's many instances where human food is extremely dangerous for kittens and adult cats. Though this isn't an exhaustive list, they're common dangers to cats:
- Onion (including onion powder)
- Coffee and caffeine products
- Breads and doughs
- Raisins, grapes and sultanas
- Nuts (including macadamia nuts)
- Cooked bones and small pieces of raw bone
- Fat trimmings / foods high in fat