They progressively become inactive and do not gain enough weight. “It’s easier to switch foods if a kitten has been exposed early on to different textures and flavors,” Larsen says. Over time, offer smaller and smaller amounts of the old food along with the new food. Remember to divide the portion accordingly if you feed … Start feeding with this amount and adjust according to your pet’s needs. Solid food should not be an issue for kittens of this age but they may still try to nurse on occasion. Set the food bowls on a surface that's easily cleaned, like a tiled floor or mat. Feeding Wet Cat Food vs. Dry Cat Food Most veterinarians recommend that cats eat primarily wet food. At the beginning start feeding the amount mentioned on the food label. Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: “Nutrition for the Growing Kitten.”. One way is by checking the label. Your kitty may hide at first, but it will explore when no one is watching, … To help guide you through those early stages of life, we broke down what and how much you should feed your kitty at each age. By the third week, you can tell if the kittens are boys or girls. If you have two cats, keep their bowls a reasonable distance apart to avoid confrontation or bullying. Between eight and ten weeks of age, a kitten should be fully weaned and preparing to leave its mother if you plan to find the kitten a new home. “So most kittens want to eat at least three or four meals a day,” she says. The amount and frequency of meals depends on your cat's age, health and preference. Feeding a kitten isn’t as easy as grabbing a bag of cat chow at the nearest convenience store. How to Prepare Your Kitten for Its First Vet Visit, Postnatal Care of a Mother Cat and Her Newborn Kittens. Kittens that are bottle-fed should consume about a tablespoon, or 15 ml, of special kitten formula at each feeding. Proper feeding is a big part of the health equation. Larsen agrees that it’s fine for young kittens to “free feed,” by making unlimited kitten food available to them all day long, and then to transition to meal eating around four to six months of age. Adrienne Kruzer, RVT, has worked with a variety of animals for over 15 years, including birds of prey, reptiles, and small mammals. “It’s also a comfort thing -- kittens are snackers at heart.”. This will be a messy stage of a kitten's life since it usually ends up walking in the food, but it is a necessary step to begin weaning it off of its mother's milk. As the kittens eat more food and less formula, you will need to have a bowl of fresh water available to them at all times to keep them well hydrated. By the end of week 3, a kitten will be able to stand up and will have begun to interact with its littermates. Kittens need different food from adult cats Feed your cat too little or the wrong kind of food, and he won't … A 2 to 3-week old kitten will still need to be fed every 2-3 hours and it should consume at least 1/2 tablespoon of formula or milk during each meal. Of course, it’s not the best option for overweight or obese kittens. A kitten’s weight may double or even triple during the first few weeks of life. Mindy Bough, senior director of client services for the ASPCA Midwest Office. Cats are often considered the epitome of the “picky eater.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Experts answer six common questions about kitten food and more. Kitten feeding and nutrition Feeding your kitten a nutritionally complete diet that is tailored to their specific needs is vital for supporting healthy development and laying the foundation for a healthy future. Most kittens do just fine without human intervention, but if a kitten needs to be bottle-fed, either because the mother cat is absent, ill, or rejects the kitten, you'll want to weigh the kitten regularly to make sure its weight reflects a healthy and normal growth rate of a kitten. How Much to Feed a Kitten — From Four to Eight Weeks Weaning kittens: This is a gradual process. “Young cats need more frequent feeding,” Bough says, “But as they get older, they can go to twice-a-day feeding.”. By the end of week 5, a kitten should only be nursing three times a day but at each meal it should be consuming about 3 tablespoons of milk or formula. It also helps underweight or slow-growing kittens. Even with the energy needs of kittens, overfeeding can become a big problem. How much to feed a kitten (4 weeks old, 8 weeks old, or 3 months) will be mentioned based on the age and weight. All rights reserved. It should at least contain the following: “Meets the nutritional requirements of kittens established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).” AAFCO is a group of state and federal officials who regulate pet food. If they’re only eating canned food, they should be fed four times daily. A kitten should weigh about 14 to 16 oz. Kittens’ needs for fat, some fatty acids, and most vitamins are the same as for adult cats, Larsen says. By 5-6 weeks of age, a gruel is no longer necessary because a kitten’s … The mother cat may need to be separated from kittens that are relentlessly trying to nurse more than they should, but by the end of week eight, a kitten should weigh about two pounds from the combination of limited nursing and eating regular kitten food. After the first four weeks of mother’s milk, a kitten gradually transitions to kitten food, and is completely weaned at about eight weeks. “A little bit of hunger will help them make the transition - and resign them to at least trying the new food.”. Use supplements only if your veterinarian recommends them. If you have multiple kittens, be sure to provide a few bowls of canned and dry kitten food so the kittens do not become food aggressive. Lay the kitten in a natural, belly-down position -- never, ever on her back. For the first several weeks of life, a newborn kitten will depend entirely on its mother to provide it with food. To support this explosive growth -- as well as high activity levels -- your kitten may have triple the energy needs of an adult cat. Check the pet food aisle at your local supermarket, and you'll find dozens of varieties of food to entice your cat. Very small kittens have very small teeth and can’t chew dry food well. Feeding your kitten up to four weeks old From birth to a month old, your kitten will be getting all the nutrition they need from their mother when they suckle. When it comes to cuteness, few critters can compare to kittens. Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot be vegetarian. Limited nursing sessions should still be allowed until the kittens are two months old, assuming they are all eating the kitten food that is offered to them three times a day. 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dry kitten food to eat during the morning; see how much she eats and increase if necessary According to the Association of American Feeding Control Officials (AAFCO), there is no right or wrong in terms of feeding only dry food or cat food. Also use caution with homemade diets. Guidelines on what to feed kittens at different stages (ages): less than a week, two weeks, three weeks, four … Ask your vet what you can and can’t feed to be on the safe side. The kind of food and how much a kitten consumes directly affects their growth rate and development. Weigh kittens at the same time daily, not only to ensure adequate weight gain but also to calculate the amount they should be eating with each feeding. Take a look at the feeding guides on the kitten food packet label. Just like human babies, kittens do a lot of growing in the first year of their lives. But this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to turn your leftover table scraps into treats for your kitten. Feeding your cat a proper diet is one of the most important aspects to help keep them at optimal health. Learn more about your cat's nutritional needs in our cat feeding guide. at birth but will gain weight rapidly from nursing. At the end of week six, decrease meal times to only three times a day. Mindy Bough, CVT, senior director of client services for the Midwest Office of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) emphasizes the importance of high-quality kitten food. If you’ve just acquired a kitten (or two), you’re probably learning all about kitten care. “If you use a homemade diet, make sure it’s been formulated by a reputable nutritionist,” Bough says. Check packages for suggested amounts. How Long Should a Kitten Stay With Its Mother? Feeding guidelines The amount of food you should feed your kitten will vary as it ages. Check the liquid’s temperature on your wrist – it should be heated until warm but not hot. In fact, feeding just once a day should be acceptable for the majority of cats. Daily weight gain is an indication that the diet is meeting the kittens’ nutritional needs. Bottle feeding kittens — the do’s Feed the kitten with his belly toward the ground. For these reasons, most experts recommend you feed your kitten specially formulated kitten food until age 1. Hold the … Pet food labels are required * to carry a statement identifying the life stage (or stages) for which the food is intended. To find the best dry kitten food for you, you’ll be needing a bit more … Playing, ear-biting, wrestling, and exploring behaviors will begin and are important parts of socialization. Remember that making rapid changes in food can cause stomach upset or “hunger strikes.” So you may need to make the transition to a new food over four to seven days. It’s important that very young kittens have at least some canned food to eat as part of their diet. Growing kittens need as much as three times more calories and nutrients than adult cats . © 2005 - 2019 WebMD LLC. This is very time consuming for someone who is bottle-feeding a newborn kitten, so if at all possible, you will want to try to keep the kitten with its mother or a surrogate lactating cat who can nurse it. The rest of the time will be spent sleeping. This can mean feeding your kitten at the same time and place every day. As you might observe, almost all cat feeding guides recommend feeding the pregnant cat kitten food. Feeding Newborn Kittens If the mama cat isn’t present to nurse a newborn kitten, you’ll have to feed it with milk formula during its first week. “I don’t recommend generic or store brands,” Bough says. Again, keep watch on the kittens stools to make sure they are tolerating the food well. This includes type of meat, dry food, and water. At about 3-4 weeks of age, kittens can start weaning, or transitioning to solid food. A kitten in good health will sleep between breastfeeding sessions and will wake up when their mother encourages them to so, when they start to scream and actively seeks the teat.. If diarrhea or constipation persists with the change in diet, contact your medica… Kittens should gain about ½ ounce (14 grams) per day or 4 ounces (113 grams) per week. Solid food should not be an issue for kittens of this age but they may still try to nurse on occasion. The first vaccinations are typically administered at about eight weeks of age, so when the kittens have a vet visit, you can be sure they have been growing appropriately. Its eyes and ears are sealed shut when it's born, so it will rely on the pheromones its mother gives off to find milk and warmth. By making sure a kitten is on a proper feeding schedule, you'll be able to monitor your kitten's growth and ensure they are receiving appropriate nutrition. And don’t forget to provide plenty of fresh water -- it’s a key to keeping cats of all ages healthy. How do kittens’ nutritional needs differ from those of adult cats? Create a Safe Atmosphere. If a kitten is nursing from its mother, you'll have to depend on how much the kitten weighs to know whether or not it is consuming enough food. Feeding guidelines, which list the daily-recommended portion, are included on all IAMS™ packages. After feeding for a period of time, you be the judge. Buy from a reputable company -- one that veterinarians recommend more frequently, she says. For example, all-meat homemade diets can be low in calcium, leading to a mineral imbalance that causes hyperparathyroidism, a disease more common in rapidly growing kittens. The higher water content in wet foods can help treat or prevent kidney and lower urinary tract disease as well as obesity and all its associated health problems. Feed your kitten in a quiet area, away from the hustle and bustle of your home. Between days 8 through 18, its weight should increase to about 10 oz. Get your kitten started off on the right paw. This is especially important when you're feeding a kitten and older cat together. and it will begin to crawl around shortly after its eyes open. Birth to four weeks: Kittens can eat as often as they like. How to care for kitten orphans without a mother: week-by-week care guide on bottle-feeding, weaning, solid food, as well as spay neuter and adoption. Since cats, in general, are creatures of habit, it’s important to establish some structure around feeding time for your kitten. How much to feed a kitten 9 weeks or 10 weeks is about four times daily since their belly is still too small to contain all those required amount of foods when less often. can of wet cat food; refrigerate remaining portion. When meals are not enough cats wake more frequently and moan. The food should graduate from being a liquid to eventually more of a gruel by using less and less water with canned kitten food over the course of a couple of weeks. But how can you be certain a kitten food is of high quality? “If exposed to the same food over and over, cats tend to get a fixed preference for a particular flavor and texture.”, If you’re trying to make a switch to a new kitten food, Larsen recommends not mixing it with the old food. Weight gain should be monitored with the use of a gram scale, such as the kind that is used for weighing food in the kitchen. The amount to feed your cat depends on her age, size and activity level. Several times a day, give them access to Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse in Sauce Wet Cat Food or a gruel made from warm water mixed into a high quality canned kitten food. From 2 months to 3 months; You will see some progression on kittens feeding when they finally reach at least 10 weeks. Without some canned food, they won’t get enough nutrition to grow properly. Instead, offer the new food and old foods in separate bowls. The Best Dry Foods For Kittens. Feeding not only satisfies a cat’s abundant energy needs, but also provides her with the right nutrients she needs to … Through evolution, cats have become dependent on the specific forms of nutrients found only in animal tissue. The feeding location will ideally be quiet and out of the way of foot traffic. By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD, Smart Grocery Shopping When You Have Diabetes, Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Dogs and Cats, Coronavirus in Context: Interviews With Experts, Sign Up to Receive Our Free Coroanvirus Newsletter, Kitten Care -- From Adoption to Kitty-Proofing Your Home, Weaning a Kitten from Mother’s Milk to Solid Food. Kitten Feeding. WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. By the end of the first week, the ear canals of a kitten will have opened and, if it is eating appropriately, it should weigh about 4 oz. Even better, look for this: “Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials.” “Complete and balanced nutrition” means your kitten will require no mineral or vitamin supplementation. 5 important things about feeding your cat Feed your cat a complete food that’s suitable for their life stage, eg kitten, adult or senior cat – the food packaging will advise which life stage it is aimed at. 1/3 to 1/2 of a 5-oz. by the time it is 4 to 5 weeks of age if it is eating enough food. By six weeks of age, a kitten should be eating the gruel four times a day and nursing less. Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, nutritional consultant and assistant professor of clinical nutrition, William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, UC, Davis. Pick up and discard any uneaten canned food after 30 minutes or so. A Simple Guide to Feeding Your Cat Mealtime is a special time for cats. Add some of the watered-down formula mix to the dry food to entice the kittens to eat it. Free-choice feeding has the additional benefit of reducing stomach distention resulting from rapid meal eating. Feeding a Kitten Over 8 Weeks of Age Once a kitten has surpassed eight weeks of age, they should be fed twice a day with normal kitten food. Make sure you never feed kittens “Cat Milk,” which is designed for adult cats, or cow’s or goat’s milk, which could give the kittens life-threatening diarrhea. This has a very simple explanation: kitten food contains more protein, fat and nutritional elements that are needed for the growth and development process. At first, they’ll receive colostrum – a milk-like liquid which helps support their immune system in early life – followed by milk. Gradually reduce the formula and let them eat the food dry. Feedings will occur less frequently and a bowl of formula or other liquid kitten food should be made available for a kitten to start drinking from. Sample this Feeding Schedule for your Kitten. If your cat is on a special diet advised by your vet, for weight loss or another medical condition, treats may be a no-no. Here’s what you need to know once you’ve brought your kitten home. Feed the Kitten. If you are feeding your kitten both dry and canned foods, then twice a day canned feedings are sufficient. Fill a puzzle feeder with approximately one-third of the daily dry kibble ration for the kitten to “hunt and play” with through the day. Feeding: Use specific kitten bottles to feed the kittens with kitten formula. Although some cat foods are labeled as appropriate for kittens and cats of all life stages, these aren’t appropriate for your kitten unless feeding tests support the label claim. Feeding guides on the food can or bag are just a starting point. What they do advise is that you feed them a variety of foods in moderation. Towards the end of week five, you should be offering the kitten more food from a saucer than it is consuming from nursing. In fact, remember that too much of a “good thing” can be bad for your kitten, causing severe medical problems. Morning Meal. Once a kitten has surpassed eight weeks of age, they should be fed twice a day with normal kitten food. A cat’s life stages for feeding are varied depending on food manufacturer, but this is a good guide: Kitten: 0-12 months Adult cat: between 1 and 7 years of age If not, check with your veterinarian about possible diet changes or ruling out any health problems. For example, kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein. Bottle feed the newborn kitten with about 2-6 ml of formula every 2-3 hours. At this time, you may also add dry food to their diet. There's a lot you need to know to make things go smoothly with your new friend. 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