You’re probably here because you’re raising a kitten and you want to give them the best care. First of all congratulations on your new bundle of cuteness. Being here already shows you’re a good cat parent.
A kitten’s needs are similar to that of a human baby. Their nutrition is very instrumental in their growth rate and development.
What’s more, feeding them the right kind of food in the right portion is one of the most effective ways to guarantee a happy and healthy growth journey.
In doing this, you’re able to monitor their growth while making sure they are receiving proper nutrition. So read further and let’s find out what works!
From Zero – Four Weeks
Newly born kittens mostly depend on their mothers for food. Exclusive breastfeeding from the mommy cat is the best nutrition for kittens right after birth.This is because their little ears and eyes are sealed up at that stage and so during breastfeeding, the kittens depend on pheromones from their mother for warmth and milk.
If, for some reason, the mother dies or takes ill you may have to hand-feed your kitten with a bottle. Experts suggest between 2mL -15mL or a tablespoon of special kitten milk formula per feeding. It’s best to follow the instructions on the product’s label. You can get kitten milk recommendations from a certified veterinary practitioner if you’re not sure the type of formula to use.
Because baby kittens feed so frequently (about 45 -50 minutes every two to three hours) during their first week alive, you need to be diligent with their feeding schedule.
If the feeding is done appropriately, the ears and eyes of your kitten should be able to open after about a week, and should weigh about 4 ounces.
It’s important to weigh your kitten frequently to keep track of their growth and make sure they are on the path to being a normal and healthy kitten.
From Four – Six Weeks
At about three-four weeks, your kitten should be ready to switch over to solid food. Weaning a kitten requires a lot of patience because it’s a gradual process. You have to feed them within a four to five hours interval alongside dry food and water.
Preferably, in the fourth week, you can then feed them with a mix of three parts of kitten milk replacement formula with one part of dry kitten food, and feed it to your little one. Feed them this way for about a week. Then in the following week (the fifth week), go ahead and mix two parts of kitten milk formula with one part of dry kitten food. The idea is to slowly reduce the portion of milk within this period, gradually lessening the fluids.
It’s also worth noting that ¼ to 1/3 cup of kitten food is enough at each feeding. That said, we also advise consulting with a vet on the right kind of measurement for your kitten as every kitten is different.
Going on the fifth week, your kitten should be able to eat or drink gruel (a thinner type of porridge made from various cereals boiled in milk or water) from a shallow dish. Feed this about four times daily and thicken each dish as you go along.
They should be lapping from a bowl at this point.
From Six – Eight Weeks
At this stage, your little one should be nursing or bottle feeding less and in place of that, you can feed them some more gruel, about three to four times a day.
Going into the sixth week, your kitten’s baby teeth (premolars) should be setting in. That only means they’re ready for more solid food and can chew their food better.
And so you can make the gruel less and less watery while introducing more portions of dry kitten food alongside a bowl of water. Also try feeding them dry food soaked in 3-4 tablespoons of warm water to help make the transition easier.
At this stage, a typical kitten’s stomach is roughly about the size of an acorn and can fill up quickly. That’s why they eat at frequent intervals all day because they can’t eat much at a single sitting.
The next step is to reduce meal times to three times a day, nearing the end of week six. By the time your kitten is eight weeks old, they should be taking in a lot more water and independently eating with little to no help.
Even if your kitten eats all of their three meals a day, you should however, still allow nursing sessions or hand-feeding milk formulas, but in limited periods until your kitten is about two months old.
If you’re doing everything right, your eight week old kitten should weigh about two(2) pounds(lbs) or nine hundred and seven (907) grams(g). That means they should be ingesting an average of about one hundred and sixty two (162) kilocalories(kcal) per day.
From Two Months To Three Months
At this stage, your kitten should have significantly transitioned to kitten food such that in about the end of the two months going on three, they should be solely on dry kitten food and water.
This is when your kitten will start developing food preferences, that will be with them forever.
You can then decide whether or not you want to feed your kitten just dry food, wet food or both. But, generally we’d recommend the best wet food within your budget.
You can also leave dry-food out for your kitten to free-feed or mix it with a little water if that’s what your kitten prefers.
This is subject to change on occasions when your veterinary doctor prescribed something specific or supplements.
Also, try to give your kitten about 1/3 to ¾ cups of kitten food per feeding. Feeding at this stage should be about three-four times a day because their stomachs are still small to contain lots of food in a sitting.
From Three Months to Six Months
While feeding your kitten, you should be periodically monitoring their weight to make sure they are growing in a healthy way.
Every kitten food brand comes with instructions on their labels because they carry different amounts of calories per cup.
Kittens within this age group require about 30 calories per pound of their body weight daily.
Also try to evaluate the key ingredients on the labels. It should contain a minimum amount fibre, moisture, protein, calories etc.
The right amount is very important if you want to prevent your kitten from having problems relating to imbalanced nutrition. Inadequate protein in your kitten’s diet, for instance, could cause some problems and you want to avoid that.
Also, try not to switch your kitten’s food unnecessarily, keep it constant. If you’re unsure about what measurement to use per meal, you can always refer to the feeding guidelines on the label or talk to a veterinarian.
For example, if your cat despite being accurate in their feeding turns out under-weight due to a body condition, your veterinarian is likely to suggest more calorie intake. But this can only be ascertained after chek-ups and diagnosis. That’s why a visit to the vet is vital.
Although the average kitten could be given about 1/2 cup of dry kitten food a day, during this age range, you can give them between 1/3 to 1 cup per meal, three times daily.
And if it’s wet food, you can give, for every pound of their body weight, about 2/3 of a 3-ounce on a daily basis.
The rapid growth window occurs normally within the first six months of your kitten’s life.
From Six Months – Twelve Months
After six months, your kitten’s growth rate slows down, and that means their nutritional needs also change. When your kitten nears 12 months, he/she can generally be considered a cat.
You can then alter the number of meals daily from thrice to twice. Serve about a half of a 3-ounce can of kitten food for every pound of their body weight every day.
Some kittens at about 10 months in, even get their meals switched to adult cat food. But adult cat food has far less fat, protein and calories than kitten food. So you might want to wait it out until at least they’re a year old to effect that transition.
However, if you have a cat that’s prone to excessive weight gain, then they might benefit from this switch earlier.
Again, consult your vet before you take any such step as they can offer advice on when the switch from kitten food to adult cat food could take place.
How Much To Feed a Kitten Summary
Studying your kitten and knowing how much food they need at a sitting is very important. But what’s more critical is the portions you serve. So make it a point to be on your game in that regard. Do so, and you’ll save yourself a lot of troubles regarding kitten health complications.
Understandably, this is a demanding task but very rewarding if done right. And if you ever feel overwhelmed, just know you’re not alone. There are several other cat parents out there also putting as much effort.
Just like human babies, kitten’s needs change very quickly as they grow. So, it’s great to research all the needed information to make the right decision at the right time.
Monitor your kitten’s weight frequently because an overweight cat can be very dormant. Unhealthy with characteristics like a hanging stomach, ribs can’t be felt or difficulty in walking and heavy snoring. Also, an underweight cat would become very vulnerable and prone to a lot of health problems.
This is why investing time and money in good nutrition for your kitten from birth, is the way to go!