Kittens are known to grow rapidly in the first few weeks of their lives. They are also very energetic at this point. This means that they need an adequate amount of calories to fuel their growth and their high-energy activities. For this to happen, kittens have to eat more than grown cats. However, they require not just any food. Kittens need nutrient-dense meals rich in amino acids, protein, minerals, fatty acids, and vitamins.
So, what exactly should you feed your kitten? In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best foods for kittens, things to do if you have a fussy eater, guidelines for feeding kittens, and other relevant details. Read on.
What Should I Feed My Kitten?
Kitten Food vs. Adult Cat Food
As we mentioned above, kittens have different nutritional needs from those of adult cats. As such, cat experts/vets recommend that they are fed only specially formulated kitten food until they reach one’s age.
Avoid feeding very young kittens foods claimed to be “suitable for all ages of cats” as, despite their labeling, they usually are not without adverse effects for the kitten. You may only feed such meals if feeding tests support the claims of the meal. Very young kittens should only be bottle-fed.
Guidelines for Bottle-Feeding Kittens
- Kittens 2 weeks and under should be fed every 2 hours.
- Kittens around 3 to 4 weeks should be fed every 3 or 4 hours. Unless they wake up for food, you should let them sleep the entire night undisturbed.
- The kitten must be kept warm. Our kittens are not able to properly digest food if their body temperature drops too much.
- Do not overfeed or underfeed kittens. Follow the recommended feeding instructions on the powdered formula.
- Pay extra attention to weak kittens/kittens that do not eat as much as the others.
- Not all kittens will eat as much as the others. And it’s not because they are unwell. It’s just how they are, and forcing them to eat more will do no good.
What You Can Feed Your Kitten
Here are some of the foods you can feed a kitten.
Foods Specifically Formulated for Kittens
Your kitten can be fed quality commercially-formulated food for kittens. These types of food usually contain all of the nutrients needed by your kitten to thrive. Even though you plan to introduce the kitten to other food, this food should remain a primary food as too sudden and too many changes at once can result in stomach upsets. If you want, you can switch flavors, but try as much as possible to continue on one brand until your feline no longer needs kitten food. Whichever formula you go with, make sure you do your research to ensure you go for the best quality kitten food.
Canned Cat Foods
Feline canned foods come in several varieties, and they are some of the best ways to have your cat get used to the several food types and their tastes.
Some canned foods are formulated with feline-friendly ingredients such as fish, shrimp, beef, and poultry. Some are also formulated with ingredients such as vegetables and fruits. Some are made with just meat. If your feline is on a primary diet for kittens, you can feed these canned foods as occasional treats.
Like their humans, young felines can enjoy scrambled eggs. Just a spoonful or two as a treat should do. Eggs are rich in beneficial nutrients needed by the growing kittens. However, ensure that you only offer it before adding pepper and salt.
Kittens enjoy cooked fish and can be fed on both fresh and saltwater fish. This can include bits of catfish, salmon, trout, and tuna. Remember, the kitten only needs a small amount of the cooked fish; less than two tablespoons will do just fine even if it wants more.
Young felines can enjoy some cooked chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, venison as treats. However, you want to ensure that these meats do not contain preservatives, salts, nitrates and are free of excess fat/grease.
Fatty/greasy fried meats and other meat-based foods like hotdogs, sausage, and bacon can upset the feline’s digestive system and cause diarrhea and other digestion-related conditions. And even when feeding your kitten meat, only offer them tiny shredded pieces. Cats can easily choke on large meat pieces, and with young felines, choking is a hazard you do not want to risk.
Vegetables and Fruits
While cats are obligate carnivores, they can still enjoy some vegetables and fruits. These are high in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Veggies your feline will love include cauliflower and broccoli, celery, spinach, or any other vegetable you think the kitten would enjoy.
Edible Grass for Cats
You can find cat grass for purchase in grocery stores and pet shops online and in physical stores. You can even purchase the kits to grow at home for your cats’ use. These grasses include wheatgrass, oat grass, and even a mix of grasses.
In the right amounts, edible grasses provide the fiber, minerals, and vitamins needed by your growing cat to thrive. And, they can be a great way to introduce your cat to a new, beneficial and fun activity; uprooting and snacking on the grass.
What If My Kitten Is Fussy?
Kittens can be fussy, and it can be a frustrating experience for any pet owner. Fact is, like us, our felines can have many favorites flavors and textures and are likely to reject the food offered if not what they are used to.
Even though this behavior is normal, you should be concerned about a kitten that suddenly becomes fussy over meals it previously enjoyed. And if you suspect that your kitten’s fussiness is a result of an underlying health condition, have a vet examine it for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Ways You Can Encourage a Fussy Kitten to Eat
Keeping the Food and Water Bowls Clean
Cats are very clean, finicky animals, and a dirty plate can be a massive turnoff for many. Don’t leave food out for too long to discard, and then wash the feeding and drinking bowls before feeding your cat a fresh one. And only serve the feline the quantity it can consume at once instead of constantly having food lying around.
Change the Feeding Time and Area
Consider feeding your cat only after everyone in the house has eaten to prevent it from begging your meals. Also, a quiet area with minimal noise/distraction from human traffic can be a great way to get your feline to eat. They can be easily distracted by a noisy environment causing them to abandon their food.
You can try changing your kitten’s food from wet to dry or from a different flavor or even mix up flavors. While cats can have several favorite textures and flavors, they can grow tired of a particular food type when fed consistently. Try a new flavor or texture if your cat no longer seems eager to eat its everyday meal, and watch how it goes from there.
No one likes stale food, not even our furry friends. Dry cat food can become stale if it absorbs moisture. This is particularly common in warm weather. If your kitten eats dry food, replacing it on time can be an effective way to get it to eat more.
Serve Food at Room Temperature
Not only do room-temperature feline meals smell better, but it is also never a good idea to serve wet food cold or too hot.
Stop the Outdoor Roaming
Unless your cat is fully feral and comes home at will, you may want to consider stopping the outside roaming. In hot summer months, it is not unusual for outdoor cats to feed on their catches and, as a result, avoid food when offered.
Very young animals are not the easiest to care for, but they can still be done. Kittens are no different. With feeding, it can seem challenging to get it all right, but it is possible. We discussed some of the possible meals your kitten can enjoy, how to get your kitten to defecate and urinate, and things you can do with a fussy kitten, and other details we hope you find helpful as well. Kittens grow fast with good food, care, and of course, plenty of fresh, clean water, and soon, you’ll be free of the demanding but rewarding task of caring for the new kitten. Know more about kittens.