What should you feed a kitten (beginner’s guide)

Welcoming a new kitten into the family is a time for joy and excitement. It can also be an incredibly daunting time, with 101 questions swirling around your head as you get to grips with life as a pet parent.

Reveal knows just how stressful these first few weeks can be – especially when it comes to feeding your new addition – so we’ve put together this handy little beginner’s guide.

Wondering what you should be feeding your kitten?

Newborn kittens get all the nutrition they need in the first few weeks from their mother’s milk. The weaning process generally starts between the first and second month.

After weaning, kittens should have a wet or dry complete food to ensure they have all the daily nutrition they require.

As they grow, they need to be eating high-quality food made with real animal protein. They require a much higher level of protein than adult cats in order to support healthy growth, and increased energy levels.

The right amount of vitamins and minerals is also vital for rapidly developing digestive and immune systems.

Food should be easy to digest and delicious.

Dry food is an excellent protein-packed choice, especially when it’s grain-free.

How often does a kitten need to be fed?

Kittens have tiny stomachs, but huge energy demands. They need to be fed small portions at regular intervals.

Newborn kittens feed all the time, every one to two hours. By three months, you should be feeding them four meals a day.

This can be reduced to three meals a day up until six months, dropping it down to two meals before their first birthday.

A feeding schedule is a good way to keep track of how much, and how often, you are feeding your kitten. Watch their weight, and keep a close eye on activity levels.

Kittens enjoy consistency, so try and stick to a daily routine. When they’re eating three times a day, set their meals out morning, afternoon and evening. This way you can spread out portion sizes evenly, ensuring they are getting the right mix of calories and nutrients throughout the day.

Always make sure they have easy access to fresh water.

Does the diet of a kitten need to change regularly in their first 12 months?

Kittens do a lot of growing in the first 12 months.

As their bodies change, so do their nutritional requirements.

Even though you will be reducing the amount of meals they eat, you still need to make sure they are still getting the right amount of calories and nutrients.

  • 8 – 12 weeks: Your kitten will have finished the weaning process by now, and should be moving on to solid foods. Starting them off on wet food is a good idea until teeth strengthen. Make sure you feed them wet or dry complete food to ensure they have all the daily nutrition they require.
  • 3 – 6 months: Dry food can now be added to their diet, keeping protein levels up to match their high energy levels. If you are giving them a mix of dry and wet food, three meals at between 80g to 100g per serving is a good starting point.
  • 6 – 12 months: A kitten’s metabolism will be starting to slow now as they approach adulthood. Mealtimes can be twice daily, with a servings of 100g – 125g (dry/wet combination) per meal.

These are average guidelines, and will vary depending on size and breed.

Be careful not to overfeed your kitten. Problems with obesity can start at an early age, and are difficult to set right later on in life. Consistent weight checks will keep them on track. Neutering a kitten may also have an effect on their weight. Regular checks by yourself or your vet will make sure some their calorie intake is controlled.

Can I feed my kitten dry food? 

Kittens can certainly eat dry food. Its high energy density is perfect for growing bodies.

Look for dry food that boasts 80% protein, is rich in taurine, and has the perfect balance of vegetables and fruit. Your kitten’s body will soak up every single nutrient, vitamin and mineral.

Some very small kittens have really tender teeth, so they can find it a struggle to chew dry food. Make certain their young mouths are ready when you introduce it into their diet.

If you’re feeding them a dry food only diet, plenty of water should always be nearby. You can even add a bit of warm water to the kibble in order to soften it up.

Dry food portions can also be easily measured out making it simpler to divide meals evenly.

For a complete and balanced diet, try adding a serving of wet food to your kitten’s mealtime menu. The softer offering introduces different tastes and textures, and an even wider variety of body-boosting nutrients.

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