Using A Commercial Kitten Milk Replacer
If a mother cat is unable to feed her little ones, the kittens will need human help to get the nutrients they need. To feed a kitten, skip the standard milk in your fridge! This will cause tummy upset and will not give the kittens what they need to survive. You’ll need to purchase a commercial kitten milk replacement to get them the special nutrients they need. This product is available at local pet stores or at your veterinarians office. Never use cows milk or any other dairy alternative. Kitten milk replacer is formulated to provide the same nutrition that a mother cats milk offers, and it comes in two forms: dry or canned.
Types Of Homemade Cooked Cat Foods
As cat owners, we want the very best for our feline companions. Part of ensuring that your cat is healthy includes offering them a complete and balanced diet, rich in beneficial foods.
Preparing cat food yourself can be a convenient option for you. Not only are the ingredients easy and affordable, but cooking your own cat food at home can save you money against purchasing commercial cat foods. However, designing a recipe that meets all of your cats nutritional needs is quite difficult, and the recipes in this article were not formulated by veterinary nutritionists.
Some of these recipes have great reviews for being able to help cats who suffer from certain conditions, such as digestive or skin and coat issues. With so many different homemade cooked cat food recipes available, you may want to give them a try and see if your cat enjoys them. Please keep in mind that these recipes dont tick all the boxes in terms of nutrients your cat requires for a healthy diet. These recipes should be seen as an occasional treat for your cat alongside a properly balanced diet.
A Word of Caution: We put the following 10 recipes through formulation guides for nutrients and they were all lacking in some way for long-term feeding. Should you prefer to cook for your cat on a long-term basis or your pet has health needs requiring a special diet, we recommend you consult with a qualified veterinary nutritionist to help you.
When To Stop Feeding Kitten Food
Kittens grow fast and before you know it, youll need to switch to adult cat food. For most cats, this transition should happen around her first birthday.
Large breed cats like Maine Coons, however, take a little more time to mature. They may need to continue eating kitten food until between 18 months and 2 years of age.
Your kittens first year goes by fast, but ensuring she’s getting the right nutrients during this time will help support her in the years to come.
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What Else Do Kittens Require As They Get Older
During the early days and weeks of your kittens life, mothers milk is a crucial source of nourishment, but as they grow older, its critical that they develop a healthy taste for solid foods and begin to wean. Most kittens will gradually wean themselves off of their mothers milk and onto kitten food.
The kitten loses interest in their mothers milk and instead shows an interest in her meals, stealing mouthfuls and preferring meat over milk. Weaning usually occurs around the age of four weeks, thus good quality kitten food should be offered at this time.
Best Wet Cat Food For Kittens
Now we understand why wet cat food is vital for kittens. However, choosing the right wet food is extremely important in facilitating your kittens healthy optimal growth. Purchase cat food not intended for youngsters and they might struggle to grow into healthy adult cats. Therefore, you need a specific kitten formula packed with everything your kitty needs.
You should ideally steer clear from pouch food when feeding kittens because most of them are not a replacement for real meals. They are usually high in sodium and may contain flavor enhancers. The majority of pouch foods are more suitable for adult cats as food toppers, treats, or to boost their appetite. Therefore, canned food is a much better and more nutritious option.
Here is a special selection of the top choices for wet kitten food on the market. I have tried and tested these all with my kittens, so see which you like the look of and give it a go. Theyre healthy, delicious, and a great first step on your kittens journey to solid food.
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When Are Kittens Weaned
“A tremendous amount of growth takes place in the first year of life, with the majority being in the first six months,” Anthony, owner and medical director of Aurora Cat Hospital and Hotel in Aurora, Colo., tells Daily Paws. “During that initial half year, kittens will grow from an average birth weight of around 100 grams to around 6 pounds. In the first two weeks alone, their body weight doubles.”
What do kittens eat from birth to about 4 weeks old? Exclusively mother’s milk, so as a pet parent, your job is to make sure Momma cat is as comfortable as she can be. “Make sure mom has easy access to food, water, and a litter box since she will be the main source of nutrition for the kittens,” Anthony says. Momma cat should eat multiple times per day to keep up the energy needed to produce milk and feed her kittens. If you’re fostering kittens or caring for strays, you’ll assume the role of Momma cat with bottle feeding for roughly the same amount of time.
Anthony adds that kittens aren’t able to go to the bathroom by themselves until about 3 weeks old. Until that time, their mother will stimulate them by licking their little rears. Consult a veterinarian on how to encourage your young wards to urinate and defecate if they’re without a mom.
Weeks Seven And Eight Feeding Schedules
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. 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.
The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy
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How Much To Feed A Kitten
Kittens are growing rapidly at this young age and eat a lot of food compared to adult cats. We want to provide their bodies with everything necessary for growth, but we also want to develop healthy long-term eating habits.
Feeding guidelines are variable by kitten. However, most often, using the feeding directions on the bag or can of food is a good starting place, and then you can adjust as needed for your kitten. Your veterinarian can use metabolic formulas to calculate the number of calories required per day based on your kittens current weight.
We want kittens to come hungry for their meal, but we also dont want them to be feeling so hungry that they devour the entire meal in a few seconds. Often, young kittens may eat ¼ to ½ cup of food at a time.
If your kitten is thin, we may need to increase the caloric requirement per day. If your kitten is gaining too much weight too quickly, we may need to cut back. Your veterinarian will use a tool called a body condition score to assess your kittens weight.
Start At The Correct Time
Starting at the correct time is essential for the weaning process. You dont want to start too early or too late.
When Do Kittens Start Eating Food?
You should not introduce solid foods until the kittens are 4 weeks old. Starting before that may prompt early weaning.
Forcing the kittens to wean early can cause physical and mental issues later in life. Kittens that wean too early are more likely to be aggressive and may continue kitten-like behaviors into adulthood, like sucking on soft objects.
Furthermore, kittens need to become steady on their feet and open their eyes entirely before solid food will do them any good. Starting too early may mean more work for you!
When Do Kittens Stop Nursing?
Kittens usually stop nursing for good around 1012 weeks. Longer is typically better! Some kittens do stop around 8 weeks, but preferably, you should stretch it to at least 10.
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How Much To Feed Your Cat
As your kitten approaches their first birthday, you can start to think about transitioning them to an adult cat food. These should be labeled as formulated for the maintenance stage. Use these quantities as a guide, but remember to adjust them depending on the activity levels and health of your cat.
We recommend the following amounts as a starting point. Always double-check the quantities advised by each individual manufacturer, and ask your vet for more advice if youre unsure.
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As your cat ages, you may decide to switch them to a brand designed specifically to meet the needs of older cats. These are supplemented with ingredients like glucosamine and omega-3 oils, designed to help your cats joints. Your vet will be best placed to advise you about what will work best for your cat.
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When To Wean Kittens
Normally, the kitten weaning process begins at about four weeks of age. With mom, theyll start to try to eat her food, and shell push them away from her, says Benson. But if youre weaning a kitten that has been orphaned, you can start a little earlier, between three and four weeks.
When they start biting and chewing on the bottle, theyre ready, says Benson. At this point, you can start to introduce kitten food.
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Feeding Kittens Solid Food
Be Cautious When Caring For Your Kitten
Figuring out what to feed kittens at each stage of life can be daunting. Fortunately, our helpful list compiled using expert guidance can make the process much easier. You may have to try different brands of kitten food to find one your kittens enjoy, but as long as it provides the essential protein, fat, and amino acids your kittens require, youll be able to keep your fur babies healthy and happy.
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When Can Kittens Eat Wet Food
Kittens can start eating wet food anytime within four to six weeks of agethat’s when it becomes easy for them to lap it up and digest. If their mom hasn’t done so already, lead them to the dish and gently put a smidgen of food on their mouths a couple of times. Soon, they’ll totally take over getting in their nom-noms.
Hills Science Diet Indoor Kitten Food Chicken
This is a chicken-based dry food with small-sized kibbles suitable for kittens. Because the pieces are small, your kitten can eat them without the worry of her choking. The pieces are also pelleted and have fewer sharp corners and edges, so wont hurt your kittens teething gums. Kitten teething toys can also help soothe the gums and make eating dry kibble easier.
I also love that this cat food contains fish oil and whole foods such as carrots, cranberries, apples, and broccoli. Along with the chicken, these ingredients provide all the essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that kittens need for healthy development.
However, this Hills Science dry food is not grain-free, as it contains whole grain oats and barley, as sources of fiber. By the 8-10 week mark, your kittens digestive system should be able to handle this small amount of fiber. But I advise keeping an eye on any intolerances or digestive discomfort just in case!
- High in protein and made from chicken
- Contains fish oil and whole foods for well-rounded nutritional value
- The pieces of kibble are small and easy for kittens to chew
- Pelleted pieces which are gently on kittens teething gums
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What Foods Can Harm Cats
Believe it or not, cats can become poisoned by many of the same foods that dogs can. So if you ever hear of a flavor of these foods, or think you may want to give them things as a supplement please avoid it. They can literally kill your kitten and cat. Some of these are:
- Grapes extremely toxic for cats.
- Raisins Theyre still grapes.
- Onions and Garlic You want to avoid letting your cat have this at all. Some dogs may benefit from small amounts of garlic for control of pests but it is deadly to cats.
- Chocolate Just like a dog, chocolate is a potentially fatal toxin that can harm your cat too.
What Do Kittens Need To Eat
Once kittens are weaned off milk by their mothers, they start to enjoy a more varied diet. If youre wondering what to feed kittens or what kittens eat, its wise to search for products that are specially formulated for young cats and to opt for high-quality foods that are packed with essential nutrients. Kittens need a balanced diet rich in protein for growth and development and increasing energy levels, calcium to develop healthy, strong teeth and bones and DHA to promote brain development and vision.
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Serve The Correct Food
Kittens need very soft food to begin with. They wont have the ability to chew kibble, so typically isnt an option.
Instead, look for wet food that is designed for kittens. Kittens need different food than adults, so it is paramount that they are provided with food specifically designed for them. The mother cat should already be consuming kitten food for the extra nutrition.
If her food is wet, you can use hers. However, if youre feeding kibble to her, you may find switching to wet food most helpful.
Alternatively, you can make kibble soft enough for kittens to eat. If your mother cat is already consuming kibble, this may be the easiest option. You can slowly serve less watery kibble as the kittens get older, making it much easier to switch them to dry food later!
To do this, add water to a small amount of kibble and then microwave it. The kibble should start soaking up the water and getting warm. Typically, kittens will take easier to warm food because theyre used to warm milk.
You can adjust the water amount to make the kibble as runny or solid as youd like. Add more water as needed.
How Often To Feed Your Kitten
Wondering how often to feed your kitten? Kittens need to eat little and often, so offer at least 4 small meals a day initially. It is very rare for kittens to over-eat, so they can also be fed ad-lib, as long as you change the food regularly to keep it fresh.
You should monitor your kittens weight daily, to be sure they are getting adequate nutrition. Kittens should gain at least 10grams per day, on average. If your kittens weight gain is less than this or is dropping, contact your vet for advice. Similarly, if their belly looks tucked in, they are crying excessively, or seem cold or weak, you should call your vet straight away.
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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.