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    Feeding kittens faq

    Authored by Jodi Helmer

    Your tiny ball of fluff is growing fast. A complete and balanced diet will help her transform from a tiny mewing kitten into a healthy adult cat—but knowing what, when and how much to feed your kitten can feel overwhelming.

    Kittens need different nutrition at each stage of their development.

    Newborn kittens

    Newborns depend on their mother for all their nutritional needs. Nursing moms provide nutrient-rich milk that provides important nutrition. At this early stage, kittens shouldn’t need any supplemental foods. It’s a good idea to weigh kittens daily to ensure they are gaining weight—a sure sign that their mom is providing adequate nutrition.

    Kittens will start to wean around three to four weeks old. Although they may still go to mom looking for a meal, they will also start to eat kitten foods.

    4 to 8 weeks

    It’s time to introduce kitten food. Since kittens are just starting to develop tiny teeth at this age, stick with wet food or add water to dry kibble; moistening it will make it easier for kittens to chew. Mix one part warm water with three parts kitten food to make a mash. Each week, decrease the amount of water and increase the amount of food. By eight weeks old, kittens should be eating undiluted wet food or kibble.

    Kittens should also have access to fresh, clean water at all times.

    8 weeks to 1 year

    Most kittens are fully weaned by eight weeks old. Without the nutrients from mom’s milk, fast-growing felines depend on you to meet their nutritional needs.

    Choosing a complete and balanced kitten food ensures that they are getting the right nutrients, in the right amounts, for optimal growth and development. When choosing a kitten food brand, look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) seal; it’s a third party certification that guarantees food meets optimal nutritional levels.

    1 year old and beyond

    After your kitten celebrates her first birthday, she transitions from being a kitten to an adult cat. This milestone signals that it’s time to transition from kitten food to a food formulated for adult cats. (Some larger breed cats, like Maine Coons and Persians may need to stick with kitten food for up to two years to support their growth and development; talk to your vet about the best time to make the switch).

    Just like kitten foods were specially formulated to support your kitten’s nutritional needs during her early years, adult foods were also designed to help adult cats look and feel their best. Choosing a food designed for your cat’s specific life stage will ensure healthy growth and development.

    Wet food or dry food

    There is no “best” option for kittens. As long as the food you choose is complete and balanced—look for the AAFCO seal—your kitten can thrive on kibble or canned food. Some kittens show a strong preference for one type of food. For example, wet food has a stronger odor, which can make it more appetizing for kittens. You might need to experiment with wet and dry food to see which one your kitten prefers—or offer a little of both.

    How much to feed your kitten

    Kittens are hungry little creatures. The “feeding guide” on your wet or dry cat food will give you a guideline on how much food to offer based on your kitten’s age and weight. Remember, these are just guidelines: An active, fast-growing larger breed kitten will need more calories (and food) than a petite, laid back kitten even if both are the same weight. Your vet can make specific recommendations for how much to feed your kitten.

    How often to feed your kitten

    Your kitten needs multiple small meals every day. Instead of filling her food bowl to the brim in the morning and allowing her to nibble all day, divide her daily portion into several smaller meals.

    Kittens under six months old should eat three times per day. Offering smaller portions ensures that your kitten has the calories she needs to sustain her rapid growth and high level of activity throughout the day. After six months of age, when her growth starts to slow, it’s ok to cut back to two meals per day.

    Aim to feed your kitten on a set schedule so she knows when to expect her meals; the predictability will also help her settle into a routine in her new home.

    Providing your kitten with proper nutrition ensures that she will grow into a healthy, happy adult cat.