Kittens are adorable and playful creatures that bring joy to any cat household. They love to purr, crawl, and cuddle with their owners. However, feeding and caring for kittens can be challenging as they demand attention from owners and mama cats.
If you plan to adopt a kitten or just need some tips to help, your queen care for her kittens. There’s no need to worry; we’ve got you covered! Here are 10 helpful tips for effectively feeding your growing kitten.
Feed Them Kitten-Appropriate Food
Like adult and senior cats, kittens have specific nutritional needs that cater to their growing bodies. These include a balance of nutrients and food specially formulated for kittens. These can take the form of milk from their mother or formula milk at around 1-3 weeks of age, wet food with milk at four weeks, and solid foods of dry or damp kibble at 5-8 weeks.
A kitten’s diet should also consist of high levels of protein, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, and iron for bone and teeth health. Their diets also need Vitamins E and C to aid their immune systems as, at this age, they are prone to bouts of lethargy and infections.
Feed Small Frequent Meals
A kitten’s stomach can only manage 70ml of milk daily. This means their stomachs require them to feed on small but frequent meals daily and at regular intervals. Scheduling feeds also helps them properly digest and absorb their food.
Dividing feeding times at 3-6 times daily is ideal for kittens, depending on their appetite, diet, and age. As kittens grow, their meal frequencies lessen, and they may start eating 1-2 daily.
Small and frequent meals can also help you, and your cat sticks to a routine to stop them from asking for more food, leading to kitten obesity. If you observe that your kitten cannot handle larger feedings in one sitting, try breaking their meals to several times a day until needed.
Introduce New Food Gradually
As kittens age, they will need changes in their diet to complement their growing bodies. Depending on age, they may need milk, kibble, and wet or dry food. Adding variations to their diet will also help them get used to different textures and flavors.
When introducing a novel food, don’t give it to them entirely. Try gradually incorporating it in their food bowls until they fully adjust to the new meal.
Some kittens may need time to adapt to new food. Don’t worry; if your kitten needs extra help, try giving them a hands-on approach by feeding them directly with your hands.
Monitor Portion Sizes Carefully
Kitten’s stomachs are tiny, yet their appetites are through the roof, which makes them prone to obesity. Over time their stomachs expand, and you can start increasing their diets with food portions. Allocating specific amounts per feeding helps monitor their intake without worrying about over-eating.
The ideal portion size of kitten food is ¼ to ½ cups daily. You can divide these into set meals in a day or free feed this amount to your kitten.
Portion sizes also ensure that kittens receive appropriate amounts of food they can handle and swallow without problems, avoiding overfeeding and underfeeding during meals.
Consider Giving A Complete And Balanced Diet
It’s common to think that kittens only need their mother’s milk to survive until adulthood. While milk is healthy and provides ample nutrients, it’s insufficient in supporting rapid growth and development. Introducing solid foods into their diet is crucial for a well-balanced kitten diet,
A balanced diet for kittens needs 50% protein and less than 10% calories. Protein is a nutrient that all cats need, and kittens need this more to compensate for their liveliness. You will know if your kitten is eating low-quality food as they will show symptoms of diarrhea and poor energy.
Avoid Feeding Human Or Adult Cat Foods
Kittens have special dietary needs and are not yet accustomed to human or adult cat food; consuming these can harm their growth and may stunt them.
Kittens need high-calorie and protein-dense meals, and adult cat food has fewer. Giving non-kitten food can cause nutritional deficiencies that inhibit proper growth and development.
Check Their Teeth
At an advanced life stage, kittens may need to wean from kitten milk to meaty wet food until they can eat mature cat food. One way to know this is to check their mouth for molars. Once their molars erupt, they are now ready for solid food.
Be careful not to wean them too early. You may be excited to give them solid food, but they still need milk. If a kitten is offered solid food prematurely, it may stop eating, causing malnutrition and starvation.
Early weaning from milk to solids can also cause kittens to develop anxiety issues, such as sucking on blankets or tails.
Provide Fresh And Clean Water At All Times.
Kittens aren’t typically fond of water, so they need to stay hydrated as much as possible. They mainly obtain hydration through drinking milk and consuming wet kibble. The lack of water intake can lead to dehydration, and kittens may have difficulty defecating.
To promote optimal health, provide a constant supply of fresh and clean water for them to drink whenever needed. If you notice that your kitten is not drinking enough water after transitioning from a milk-based diet, consider offering them gruel as an additional source of hydration. Kitten owners can make gruel by mixing kitten milk with wet food until well combined.
Consult And Follow Expert Advice
Kittens have delicate bodies, and sometimes giving them food and care might not be enough. When you have a litter of kittens and a queen, bringing them to pet clinics for regular check-ups is best for keeping track of their development.
The veterinarian can guide you with what to look out for when caring for kittens and supplement you with information to ensure the overall well-being of your litter.
They will also provide kittens with appropriate medications and vaccinations to help with feeding and growth development.
Just like human babies, kittens require much help and attention. They depend highly on their mothers and carers for food, protection, warmth, and love. Kittens thrive in these environments and can quickly feel if their carers are doing less than they should.
If you are caring or nursing for a kitten or kittens, be patient, as they are still learning to feed and adjust to new sensations outside the womb.
A healthy environment helps kittens grow faster and happier.
A Little Bit of Warmth and Love
Caring for kittens is a challenging but rewarding bonding task that only a few can manage. Once you start caring for and feeding kittens, they will let you know if you’re doing a great job when they give you hugs and kisses at the end of the day.
Signs of a happy and healthy kitten are friendly, chirpy, dynamic behavior, and a good appetite.
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