Whether the kitten you are bringing home is your first, or just the first in a while, there are some top tips on how to feed a kitten and what to feed them on. Normally, a kitten is around 12 weeks when you bring it home so while they are old enough to eat on their own, they will still need your patience and guidance to adjust to their new home.
What to feed
Kittens have different nutritional requirements from their food than a mature cat does so making sure you select proper kitten food is the first step to dealing with this. There are plenty of well-known cat food brands that have a dedicated kitten range and this is perfect for the start-up feeds. Some even specify which age of kitten they are designed for, so you can further personalise your furball’s diet.
When selecting food, once age has been dealt with, look for food that had been substantiated by a food trial. What this means is that it has been fed to real cats in a home environment, not testing in the laboratory and compared by men in white coats. It will state on the label that it is substantiated.
If you weren’t already aware, cats and kittens will easily let you know what they like and don’t like. If they like it, they eat it and if they don’t, they won’t. Kittens will adopt the same method though you have a better chance of them trying something new than with older cats who become more set in their ways.
Wet or dry?
Both wet and dry foods come in kitten ranges so you can try a whole variety of different foods on your new family member. Both have good points: canned food gets more moisture into the kitten to avoid dehydration, as cats aren’t the biggest water drinkers. However, dry food can be left out longer without worrying about spoilage and lets them eat at their own pace.
Watch out for carbohydrate content in dry foods, as this can be higher than in wet food and too many carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. Obesity in cats is currently the most common disease seen so anything to combat this from an early age is ideal.
When to feed?
Lots of people leave dry food out all of the time for their cats to help themselves but experts recommend getting into a feeding schedule with kittens. This lets you control their diet and food intake levels so they don’t get too much food and start gaining weight.
Morning, afternoon and evening feeds is the most popular schedule, though this can be amended to suit other household routines. Once you have established what works best for you and your kitten, then try to stick to this. Some cats do learn when it is meal-times and you will find within no time, they are patiently waiting for you as the clock ticks round to their feeding time. And if you forget, they will quickly remind you!
When you first get your kitten, take the daily recommended food for their size and age and split into the three meals. This also makes it easier to increase the amount you are feeding them, as they get bigger.
Most kittens are little balls of energy that are constantly investigating, playing and harassing anything they come into contact with – usually the things you would probably like them to leave alone like the curtains or nets!
However if your kitten isn’t the most active personality, it is good idea to start encouraging them to exercise from a young age as it will benefit them in later years. Some ideas for this include food puzzles that reward them with a treat for their efforts or hiding small amounts of food in different places so they have to find it. All of these measures will help them avoid obesity and keep them fit and healthy for years to come.