Dont Prevent The Kittens From Nursing
It is paramount that you allow the kittens to nurse. Although many will eat a bit of solid food around week 4, they dont suddenly stop nursing once food hits their tongue. Their mothers milk will continue to be their primary source of nutrition for a bit longer.
If the mother starts making herself unavailable for nursing, you should let her. This is part of the normal weaning process, and she is responding to biological cues that we cant necessarily understand. She knows when her kittens can be weaned, and you should follow her lead.
Get The Right Supplies
Pick up some wet kitten food, making sure that it says “kitten.” Kitten food is higher in calories, fat and protein that the kitten needs to help grow big and strong. Wet food is the healthiest choice for kittens to start off with, as the moisture content will help them stay healthy and hydrated. However, some kittens may prefer dry food, and thats okay as long as you choose a healthy kitten kibble. You’ll also want to pick up some shallow food dishes so the kitten can easily access the food.
How To Wean Kittens
To begin weaning a kitten, mix the kitten food with formula so they recognize the taste. Smear the mixture around their mouth with your finger and let them lick it off. Once they get used to the taste, theyll seek it out elsewhere. Then you can introduce them to lapping from a bowl. Monitor them so they dont lap too fast, and never push their face into the bowl, which could cause them to inhale the mixture and develop pneumonia.
Between the fourth and sixth week, gradually transition the weaning kittens to dry food, supplementing with formula if needed. Use canned food or dry kitten food mixed with water at first, add a lot of water, and then reduce the amount of water as the kitten matures.
A general schedule for kitten weaning might be:
- Weeks 4-5: Give wet or moistened dry food, mixed with formula to form a slush. Supplement with formula if the kitten is not taking to the new food, to make sure it gets enough calories.
- Weeks 5-6: The weaning kittens should start to nibble on the kibble, slightly moistened with water.
- Weeks 6-7: By now, the kitten weaning process is complete, and they should be eating all solid food by week seven.
Don’t Miss: How To Keep Cats Out Of House Plants
How Much Wet Food To Feed Your New Kitten
Once kittens are weaned, wet food may be more appropriate than dry food for a while, as their teeth may not be ready for kibble yet, according to WebMD. The ASPCA says you can start feeding kittens kibble as supplemental to their mothers milk as early as five to six weeks old. Both wet food and dry food are appropriate for older kittens and adult cats.
The fact that its wet food is a giveaway, but wet food has more hydration properties than dry food. If you feed your adult cat dry food, youll want to make sure they have plenty of access to a regularly refreshed and refilled water bowl.
As far as how much wet food to feet your new kitten, youll need to read the label on your kitten food. For example, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Chicken Grain-Free Canned Cat Food advises that you feed your kitten as much as theyll eat in three or four daily feedings until theyre 20 weeks old. After that, ½ can of food per pound of body weight every day is appropriate until 30 weeks. And from 31-52 weeks, about ¼ can of food per pound of body weight. After that, you can start looking at adult foods.
Switching different flavored foods is useful when your pet is still a kitten, so cats dont develop an unshakeable preference for one flavor. WebMd vet suggests swapping foods regularly when your cat is still a kitten, but being careful not to mix the old food and new food. If your cat doesnt like the new food and theyre mixed, they could end up not liking either food.
Recognition And Treatment Of Illness In Kittens
If kittens cry excessively, or fail to suck, they are usually hungry or ill. Common signs of illness include the kittens being cold , lethargic , or regurgitating milk. Sick kittens respond poorly to their environment, they often lay separated from the other kittens, and are often ignored by their mother. They typically have either very empty abdomens from lack of food or very swollen abdomens from swallowing air. Since kittens can die very quickly, they should be examined by a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible to ensure that nothing serious is going wrong.
The most common health problems seen in young kittens are probably hypothermia , hypoglycaemia , dehydration, diarrhoea and constipation. Newborn kittens may die suddenly, or present as poor doers and fade within a few days. Unfortunately, the clinical signs of many kitten diseases are very similar and vague.
Read Also: Why Do Cats Roll On The Ground
Changing From Commercial To Homemade Cat Food
If your cat has been on commercial cat food for most of its life, his digestive enzymes and digestive system has most likely acclimated to this unnatural diet. Slowly transition over to raw food, 1 teaspoon at a time, over the course of a month.
You will want to follow the advice of your veterinary professional, but for many this will look like:
Day 1-5: Mix 1 teaspoon of raw food into whatever your cat normally eats.
Day 5-10: Increase the raw food by double.
Day 10-15: Feed your cat half raw, half what they were eating before.
Day 15 on: You may be able to switch to all raw food as your cat has had time for their digestive system to catch up. If your cat is fussy, continue the slow transition.
Basic Kitten Feeding Guide
The following information is general advice, but as each kitten is an individual, seek veterinary advice, particularly if your kitten has any special dietary needs or has a reaction to a standard diet.
The basis of your kittens diet should be a high quality balanced premium commercial kitten food that is appropriate for their life stage and health status. By reading the label, you can check that it complies with the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food AS 5812:2017 . It is best to start feeding wet kitten food and introducing dry kitten food as your kitten grows. Provide some moist foods in the diet regularly e.g., wet can food. Never feed puppy or dog food to your kitten as it will be deficient in taurine, an essential protein that cats can only obtain through food.
Kittens should be offered food at least 4 times per day.
Take care not to overfeed or underfeed your kitten. Your vet will be able to weigh your kitten, assess your kittens body condition score and provide advice.
Please ensure clean fresh drinking water is available at all times but do not provide milk as this can cause gastrointestinal upsets.
You May Like: How Is Senior Cat Food Different
What Should I Ask A Vet About Kitten Food
At your kittens first health check with a vet, you can discuss a range of healthcare topics, including nutrition. It can be helpful to take the kitten food packaging along to this appointment, as this will list the ingredients, composition and feeding guidelines for the vet to see.
Hetty is a vet and science writer. She qualified from the University of Cambridge in 2017, and also has a 1 st class degree in Natural Sciences . Hetty has worked in practice performing surgery and treating pets as well as sheep, goats and even alpacas. She is passionate about science education and currently works in a communications role that includes campaign work and writing articles. She loves animals and has volunteered on rhino and whale conservation projects.
Getting The Right Kitten Food
Kittens have very different nutritional needs compared to adult or senior cats. With that in mind, its important to purchase food that has been specially formulated for a kitten .
In particular, kitten food should have everything they need to help them grow well, including of course plenty of meat. Canned food also has the advantage of being lower on carbohydrates compared to dry food which means your kitten will have less risk of becoming obese.
If you are trying out a kitten food, monitor your kitten for a few days to make sure that he isnt going to have an allergic reaction to it. Sometimes you have to juggle brands and flavor to find ones that your kitten likes and can handle and will eat. And dont fall prey to assumptions!
The cat I had when I was growing up was allergic to all brands of food except for one or two and they couldnt have any fish in them and my current cat loathes seafood and doesnt care for chicken and so will only eat beef wet food and dry food that is of the grilled flavor variety!
What sort of ingredients should you look for in high-quality kitten food?
Also Check: Hurley Dog And Cat Hospital
Helpful Tips For Switching Your Cat’s Food
Switching cat foods can be challenging but it doesnt have to be. Cats should gradually transition to a new cat food. Follow these tips to help ensure success.
- Begin the transition by mixing both the current food with her new cat food together. Gradually decrease the amount of the current cat food while increasing the amount of new cat food. Continue to do this over a 7-day period. Transitioning slowly can result in fewer digestive issues and better acceptance of the new cat food.
- Remember to be patient. For finicky, older, or cats with health conditions, the transition time could take 10 days or slightly longer.
- Note: In some cases, such as acute gastrointestinal issues, your veterinarian may not recommend a transition and want you to immediately start feeding the new cat food.
To help you with the switch and cat food transition, refer to the 7-Day Transition Schedule below or watch this video.
Special times to transition your cats food
- Kittens should switch to an adult cat food at 12 months of age to ensure they are receiving proper nutrient levels for adult cats.
- For cats who are 7 years or older, they too should change to a mature adult or senior cat food that ensures that they are receiving the appropriate level of nutrients for that older lifestage.
- Pregnant or nursing cats need energy-dense foods with increased calcium content. Be sure to transition them during this special time to a kitten food.
New cat food feeding tips:
Start With Very Little Food
You only want to start with about 1 tablespoon of food per kitten. You likely wont be separating each kitten as you feed them. It is perfectly fine to measure out 8 tablespoons for eight kittens and then put it all on a single plate.
Some kittens might eat a bit more than a tablespoon, and others might not eat at all! Thats fine. The important part is that you arent forcing the kittens to eat or putting out so much food that they wean too quickly.
You dont want to throw substantial amounts of food out at the end of each feeding, though. A small amount is best, and you can always add more if they want it.
Read Also: How Much Does A Cat Eat A Day
Oily Cat Food Gravy Recipe
If you are looking to help your cat gain weight, this simple oil gravy recipe is a great option. It requires nothing more than the following ingredients:
- 2 cups water
- Place the dark chicken meat, broth, and water in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the stove down until the liquid is simmering, and let the stock simmer for about an hour.
- Add everything to the processor and mix until desired consistency is obtained. You can thicken it more using pre-hydrated gelatin or a few cubes of boiled potatoes.
- Turn the stove off, let the gravy cool, and serve!
Before Beginning The Weaning Process
When its at all possible, kittens should be exposed to some mothers milk, especially within the first 12 to 24 hours of life. The first milk, or colostrum, contains antibodies that the kitten can only absorb during this time.
If a queen has an extremely large litter of kittens and cannot produce enough milk, each kitten should still get some of her milk. Some milk is better than no milk, says Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan. If she cannot produce any milk due to mastitis or other issues, another nursing mother may accept the kittens if they are close to the size of her own.
If no nursing cat is available, you can feed a kitten milk replacement formula with a nursing bottle or syringe. In an emergency, Benson recommends mixing a cup of whole milk, an egg yolk, a drop of liquid multivitamin, and three Tums in a blender but this is strictly for temporary use, to get some nutrition into the kittens, and you should switch to formula as soon as possible.
Youll be bottle feeding for three to four weeks. Always warm the bottle in a cup of hot water and taste test it yourself to check the temperature and that it hasnt soured. If youre using a powder formula, store unmixed powder in the freezer.
Feed slowly but frequently: every two to three hours during the day. At night, dont worry about it theyll wake you when theyre hungry. If theyre sleeping, let them sleep, and get some sleep yourself.
Read Also: Blue Wilderness Cat Food Kitten
How To Get Nutritious Food For Your Kitten
To make sure youre getting food that meets all of your kittens nutritional needs, WebMD says you should be looking for a statement on the packaging that reads Meets the nutritional requirements of kittens established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials . Even better than that would be a sentence indicating the food has gone through trials, which would mean a statement like Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials.
Once youve found the right food for your kitten, youll want to take your early time together as an opportunity to set a feeding routine. Cats appreciate knowing when their food is coming, and it can stave off bad behavior like constantly begging for treats.
Transitioning From Wet To Dry Cat Food
Changing cat food can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be a huge disruption. The goal is to ease your pet into the change, especially if they are picky, older in age or have known health issues.
The trouble with transitioning from wet cat food to dry cat food is based on a few things. Cats like the consistency of wet food, along with the higher fat content. It tastes better in the same way we might crave a juicy cheeseburger or a fried option. Here are a few ways to make the transition as seamless as possible while keeping your pet happy and safe:
It may not be a perfect transition, but your cat won’t go hungry. Give them time to accept the change by helping them ease into the shift slowly and lovingly.
Don’t Miss: 40 Lb Bag Of Cat Food
What To Feed A Kitten
Weaning a kitten is the process of transitioning the kitten from mothers milk to solid food. Its an important part of the kittens development, and needs to be done at the right time and in the right way. Normally the queen, or mother cat, will handle kitten weaning on her own. But when the queen has trouble producing milk, or when a litter of kittens is orphaned, we need to intervene. Here are some tips for smooth and successful kitten weaning.
What To Feed Kittens
Choosing the right foods for kittens is essential for promoting healthy growth and development. Kittens should have a different diet from adult and senior cats because they have specific nutritional requirements. Providing a nutritious, tailored diet for your kitten will maximize the chances of them developing into a healthy, active adult.
Read Also: Why Do Cats Scratch Around Food
How Much Wet Food Should You Feed Your New Kitten
- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Kittens are too sweet for words. We love their little meows, their playfulness, the way their tiny little claws cling to us when we scratch their bellies. Speaking of their belliesits important to feed our kittens right, and that can feel complicated to do. Especially when it comes to wet food.
How much wet food should you feed your new kitten? We set out to answer that question and give you some other important knowledge when it comes to keeping your kitty healthy.
Fully Wean And Introduce Water
Once the kitten is confidently eating on her own, you can cease supplemental feedingit’s time to switch completely to solid foods! Be sure you’re feeding a high quality food formulated for kittens, and monitor to ensure that there are no concerning changes in weight, behavior, or condition.
At this time, it’s also appropriate to introduce water in a small, shallow dish. Never provide a large dish that can cause a safety hazard to a tiny kitten keep your water dish to about 2 inches high. It’s normal for kittens to struggle with water at first, but she should be drinking confidently within 1-3 days of introduction.
Read Also: Best Canned Food For Senior Cats