Cat Care

Feeding a Kitten as It Grows to Adulthood

Cat Care > Cat Diet > Feeding a Kitten as It Grows to Adulthood

feeding a kitten

As noted previously, a kitten should be about eight weeks old (or even a little younger) before it arrives in its new home. At this age, it should be used to feeding and lapping milk and no longer be dependent upon its mother for nourishment. The golden rule in feeding a kitten is to offer a 'little and often'. Between the ages of seven to twelve weeks, three to four teaspoonfuls of good quality, high protein food should be given as four meals each day along with small drinks of milk. It is best to offer the food that the kitten is used to at the start and to introduce changes very gradually. If the kitten develops diarrhea, the new food should be stopped and if the condition persists veterinary attention is needed.

Manufacturers produce tasty foods for kittens, and these are easy to give as they contain exactly the right nutritional elements. If a kitten is being fed exclusively on home-produced foods, it may be necessary to add one or two drops of cod liver oil and a small quantity QU teaspoonful) of yeast and sterilized bone meal to one of its daily meals to ensure that it receives the necessary vitamins and minerals. Alternatively, proprietary vitamin and mineral supplements can be obtained from a veterinary clinic, but it is essential to seek expert advice before one of these is used. At first, the milk offered to a kitten can be a proprietary make formulated for cats, with a gradual change to ordinary cows' milk as the animal becomes older.

Between the ages of three to six months, the amount of food offered at each feed can be increased slightly, and the number of daily meals reduced to three. After this age, slightly more food can be given and the number of meals reduced to two. The young cat is now well on its way to adulthood, and, while there are no hard-and-fast rules about this, many owners like to give their cat one small feed in the morning and a larger main meal in the evening. In fact, surveys have shown that the majority of cats, given unlimited access to food, eat small quantities every two to three hours. If food is left out for a cat, it may well choose to eat in this way, regardless of the decisions of its owner.

As with all young animals, kittens require a proportionately greater amount of food relative to their body weight than adult cats as they are growing so rapidly. As a guide, a young, weaned kitten aged six weeks needs about 3 1/2 ounces of food each day, increasing to 7 ounces at ten weeks. Adult cats generally need between 7-9 ounces of food every day but individual requirements vary considerably, depending upon their level of activity, age and living conditions. Also, at particular times an individual cat may require more or less food. Examples include a mother cat nursing new kittens, which needs about three times as much food because of the tremendous demands being made upon her. In contrast, a cat forced into inactivity, perhaps as a result of a limb injury, needs slightly less food until it is able to resume its normal lifestyle. An aged cat that spends most of its time sleeping in the sun needs less food than it did when it was young and active. Neutered cats need less food than intact ones and have an increased tendency to become obese.