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Feeding

Kittens should receive kitten food until around 1 year of age. Premium nutrition is critical for growth and life-long health.

What brand should I feed?

We recommend that you pick a brand made by a reputable pet food company that makes research on their food a priority, adheres to strict quality control measures, has a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist on staff, and has a deep interest in advancing the health and well being of pets. Many health and growth problems can be minimized or prevented simply by feeding your kitten high quality food that has been carefully formulated with appropriate concentrations of nutrients. Don’t be fooled by fad diet trends or marketing schemes. Our clinic carries and recommends Hill’s Science Diet. Other high quality food brands that meet the above criteria include Iams, Eukanuba, Purina, and Royal Canin.

What is the AAFCO Statement?

This statement is an important component that should be on every food label. It will help you evaluate the food quality. By reading the AAFCO statement, you will learn whether or not the food was tested in a food trial. Selecting a food that successfully passed a feeding trial means actual cats ate the food and liked it. If a food is simply formulated on a computer but never tested on real cats, it is hard to know whether cats will actually eat and like the food. The AAFCO statement will also tell you which age ranges can eat the food. For kittens, the AAFCO statement should say it was formulated for kittens. If the food is labeled for ‘all life stages’, adults, or seniors, this is not the best food for a kitten. Growing kittens have very specific growing needs that will be addressed with kitten formulas.

Dry or canned?

Most owners seem to prefer the convenience of dry food. However, cats are carnivores and do best eating higher animal-based foods (such as canned food), versus higher plant-based foods (such as dry food). Additionally, the higher water content in canned foods can help support kidney and urinary health. For some owners, a blend of dry and canned food meals can work well if the owner prefers not to feed a canned food only diet. If your new kitten is not eating well, perhaps because of a new change in environment after adoption, then canned kitten food might help the appetite.

When should I feed my kitten?

Kittens do best when they are offered multiple small meals (as opposed to fewer, larger meals or food left out for ‘free feeding’). When kittens have at least some food in their stomach, they are less likely to chew and ingest inappropriate items.

Between six and 12 weeks of age, it is best to offer three meals per day. After that time period, kittens can be trained to take two meals per day. As adults, cats do best with the daily allowance of food divided into two meals offered twice daily. Measuring food and feeding on a meal schedule can be the first step in preventing obesity.

How much should I feed?

The volume to offer per meal depends on the size and age of the kitten. The recommendations on the kitten food bag can be used as a guideline, but often the label suggests more than a kitten really needs. As a common sense approach, try to visualize the size of the kitten’s stomach and feed enough to comfortably fill that space.

Can I share table scraps with my kitten?

We encourage owners to avoid sharing table scraps with their kitten. This can set up some bad habits for the kitten, which may contribute to future obesity. Additionally, certain human foods can cause gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, or even become lodged as a foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract (e.g., bones). Some human foods are also toxic to cats and can make them very sick.

How much water should I offer my kitten?

Always provide fresh, clean water for your kitten. Some cats enjoy drinking water from water bowls made into fountains.

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS