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Congratulations on Your New Kitten!

September 14th, 2020
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Are you welcoming a new kitten into your world and are wondering how to get them on the right track towards a healthy and happy life? In this post, we cover common questions regarding kitten nutrition to help you choose the right diet for your purry one.

How is cat food different from dog food?

Because cats are obligate or true carnivores, they possess a higher protein and energy metabolism than dogs who are omnivores and, therefore, require a diet that is higher in protein, fat, minerals and vitamins. Cats also require the essential amino acid, Taurine, which is not found in adequate amount in dog food. Taurine deficiency leads to heart disease, degeneration of the retina in the eyes, and digestive disturbances.

What is the importance of feeding kitten food vs adult cat food?

Because kittens are rapidly growing, their energy requirements are much greater than adult cats. To achieve optimal muscle and skeletal development, kittens require more protein, calcium and phosphorus than their adult counterpart.

How much should I feed my kitten?

Similarly to puppies, the amount of food required is based on your kitten’s age and body condition score. Ask your veterinarian for assistance at the 8-week check-up!

By the age of 12 weeks, kittens no longer require their mother’s milk. In fact, they cannot properly digest it because they lose the ability to digest the milk sugar, lactose. If they do continue to consume it, it can lead to intestinal upset or diarrhea.

At 8 weeks of age, your kitten should ideally be on a high quality kitten diet and fed approximately 5 meals per day; this is due to their small stomach capacity. For this reason, a free-choice regime works well where your kitten is provided food in a bowl all day and all night. By 6 months of age, you can decrease the number of feedings to 2 meals a day.

You can feed your kitten wet, semi-moist or kibble as long as it is specified for kittens. Be sure to check that the bag specifies that it is complete and balanced, and has the AAFCO seal on it.

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How do I transition from kitten to adult food?

Cats have a rapid skeletal growth. They are almost completely done growing at 6 months and, therefore, can be transitioned to a high quality cat food at 8-10 months of age.

Transitioning to a new food should be done gradually in order to avoid a gastrointestinal upset. Over the course of 7 days, mix a little of the adult food into the kitten food and gradually increase the amount of adult food in relation to the kitten food each day until all that is left is adult food.

  • Day 1 and 2: Feed ¾ kitten food, ¼ adult food
  • Day 3 and 4: Feed ½ kitten food, ½ adult food
  • Day 5 and 6: Feed ¼ kitten food, ¾ adult food
  • Day 7: Feed all adult food

If, during the transition period, your kitten has soft stool, do not increase the amount of adult food until the stool becomes normal and firm again.

Which diets do you recommend?

Based on the previous information presented, there are a few kitten foods that we carry and recommend: Royal Canin Developmental, Hills Healthy Advantage Kitten and Purina Pro Plan Kitten. These diets are available in kibble and canned format.

If you have any questions regarding kitten diets, give us a call today!

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References

Life Learn: Puppy-Recommendations for New Owners Part 2-General Care Contributors: Ernest Ward, DVM; Updated by Amy Panning, DVM

Life Learn: Feeding Growing Puppies Contributors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM

Life Learn: Deciphering Dog Food Labels Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM

Life Learn: Recommendation for New Kitten Owners Contributors: Lisa Restine, DVM; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

Life Learn: Feeding Growing Kittens Contributors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM

Canine and Feline Nutrition for Veterinary Technicians Continuing Education Correspondence Course

Life Learn: Nutrition-General Feeding Guidelines for Cats Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

Life Learn: Feeding Your Young Adult Cat Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, DAAPM