How To: Feeding Your Kitten

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Just as children’s dietary needs differ from those of healthy adults, your new kitten’s optimum diet is different from that of a mature cat.

What kind of diet does your kitten need?

Kittens require a diet that is higher in protein than that of an adult cat and the largest portion of the protein should be derived from an animal source rather than a plant-based protein. Kittens also require larger amounts of calcium and phosphorus than grown cats.

While it is possible for a kitten to survive on a diet formulated for adult cats, they are more likely to thrive on a diet that is formulated specifically for growth. These foods contain the increased protein, calcium and phosphorus needed by your kitten.

Dry, canned, semi-moist, homemade, raw: what is best for my kitten?

There is a dizzying array of options for pet owners to choose from when it comes to food. And kitten food is no exception. The most important consideration is making sure that your kitten’s diet is complete and balanced. For commercial diets, check the label to be certain that the food has been tested in actual feeding trials instead of by nutritional analysis.

There is a great deal of discussion about carbohydrates and grains in cat and kitten food. While kittens and adult cats can metabolize carbohydrates, there are plenty of choices that are grain-free if you prefer to feed your kitten in that manner.

If feeding a homemade diet, make you’re working with your veterinarian and/or a nutrition expert to be certain that the diet is complete and balanced. Do not simply throw together kitchen scraps to feed your kitten and do not feed an exclusively meat diet.

Feeding a raw diet is controversial. If you elect to do so, realize that there may be an increased risk of intestinal infections that could be passed to you and your family. However, many people feel that raw diets are more “natural” than other diets. There’s not necessarily a right answer, so do your research to make an informed decision.

How much and how often should I feed my kitten?

This will depend on the type of food and on your individual kitten. Dry foods can be left down for your kitten to graze on throughout the day. However, canned, semi-moist and other types of diets can spoil if left out too long. In this case, feeding three times daily is ideal for most kittens.

Kittens should be fed to maintain a lean body condition. If your kitten is gaining weight too quickly and is in danger of becoming overweight, you will need to restrict his food consumption by measuring his food daily. This is especially true after your kitten has been neutered or spayed.

Don’t forget to provide fresh water for your kitten

It is easy to forget that water is an essential nutrient also and just as important as protein or any other nutrient. Make sure your kitten has access to clean fresh water at all times.