Getting a new kitten is an exciting time, but choosing a food for them might feel overwhelming because of the amount of choice available these days. But don’t worry, I’m going to talk you through all you need to know about what and how much to feed your new addition.
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Bringing your kitten home
When you bring your new kitten home, it’s best to feed them what they are used to for at least a week. This will prevent them from getting a tummy upset, and help reduce the stress of moving home. Once they have settled into their new routine (this usually takes about a week), you can swap them over to your preferred food.
You will need to do this slowly over approximately 7-14 days. Adding slightly more of the new food to their usual diet each day, until you have fully transitioned them. Of course, if they are already eating a suitable diet there is no need to change it.
Kittens have different nutritional requirements and need approximately 3-4 times more energy from their food than an adult cat! That is why it is important to feed your kitten a “complete” kitten diet until he/she is around 9-12 months old.
A “complete” kitten food will provide all the energy and nutrients he/she needs, and include essential ingredients, such as taurine and vitamin A, that cats can’t manufacture themselves. It’s often best to give your kitten a mix of wet and dry food, and provide them with at least 3-4 meals per day. There are many reputable brands of kitten food available these days to suit a range of budgets.
How much to feed?
Knowing how much food to give your kitten can be tricky, especially as they are constantly growing! As a rough guide, follow the instructions on the back of the food packet and split their total allowance into several small meals throughout the day.
Cats love to graze. So it’s likely that your kitten will revisit their food bowl several times rather than eating everything in one sitting. If you are unsure whether you are feeding your kitten the right amount, always speak to your vet for advice.
Milk or water?
Contrary to popular belief, once a kitten has stopped feeding from their mother (at about 4-5 weeks old), they don’t need any milk at all. The only fluid that they need is water. You may not see your kitten drinking much because they will get most of the fluids they need from their food, but it’s important to make sure they always have access to a bowl of fresh water.
Treats are fine, but try to stick to healthy options, such as freshly cooked meat. It’s best to limit the amount of commercially made treats you give your kitten and avoid feeding them any processed human foods. Make sure you are aware of potentially toxic foods such as onions, chocolate and grapes.
Ethical and eco-friendly considerations
If, like myself, you are conscious of your environmental and ethical impact, you may want to consider which cat food you buy based on its packaging and the welfare of the meat it contains. If possible, try to source food supplied in recyclable materials (paper, card and tin tend to be more widely recycled than pouches). Ideally, bulk buy to reduce your packaging even further.
Additionally, if your budget allows, try to find a food that contains high welfare/free range meat. Most foods containing high welfare meat will advertise it readily. But failing that, a quick dig around on their website should give you the information you need.
Cats and kittens tend to much prefer shallow food bowls that don’t irritate their whiskers. There are plenty of options available these days that you will find at your vets, pet shops and online.
- Feed a good quality, “complete” kitten food, and give a mix of wet and dry.
- Use the recommendations on the packaging when deciding how much to feed.
- When swapping your kitten over to a new diet, do it slowly over a week or two.
- Feed several meals throughout the day – cats like to graze.
- Always have fresh water down.
- If possible, try to be environmentally conscious and ethical about their food choices.
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