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During the important development months and years of your kitten, their diet is incredibly important and therefore knowing what and what not to feed your kitten is vital knowledge for every cat owner, ensuring your pet gets the level of nutrition they need to grow up strong, healthy and full of vitality.
Being the pet lovers we are at Swell Pets, we make a habit of helping customers with this knowledge as much as we can, and we thought we’d throw our tuppence in on the topic in the form of this blog.
Variation in breed
It’s important to note that while this feeding guide works beautifully for most types of cat, there is of course variation between breeds and between individual cats. When you are getting your kittens, you are best off consulting with your vet about a more precise diet for your cat, and make sure they are weighed regularly to ensure the diet is keeping their growth and development at optimum levels.
Early development and kitten weaning
For the first 3 to 4 weeks of life, there is no real substitute for mother’s milk. Cat’s milk benefits from thousands of years of evolution to deliver just what the kitten needs to get that early essential growth and development just right, including transferring essential antibodies to support their developing immune system.
After the 4 week mark, you can begin slowly weaning them onto solid food. This is a gradual process and will certainly take some time to do, often involving a certain amount of mess and wastage, but altogether worth it in the end!
There are a few different techniques to weaning, including mixing a little of the new kitten food in with some evaporated milk, creating a consistency your kittens can lap up. Slowly increase the amount of solid food in the mixture as time progresses, and you’ll soon have your kitten munching down on a healthy meal of solid food.
Other techniques include letting them suck a little of the mixture off your finger (although this can be a little painful if they get too enthusiastic and decide to chomp down!) and smearing a little bit on their paws or around their mouth. Natural instincts will cause them to clean this off with their tongue, suddenly causing the realisation that this stuff tastes great!
Kitten food vs Cat Food
As you begin to wean, it’s important to use Kitten food and not Adult cat food. Adult cat food is likely to be far too rich by itself for your kitten, causing upset stomachs and the likelihood of diarrhoea.
Kitten food is specially formulated for youngsters, and will give them just the right levels of nutrition they need to grow at a healthy rate without overdosing on the heavy meats and things that their stomach isn’t ready to handle yet.
Once onto solid food, you want to be giving them around 4 meals per day, evenly spaced throughout the day to ensure they have the building blocks needed for healthy growth. Litter training at this point becomes a little more important too.
By about 7 weeks old, your kittens should now be on mostly solid food, but added with a little warm water if needed to make it more palatable, and by 12 weeks they may be ready for dry food for kittens (still not adult cat food though), or simply full meals of wet kitten food from a pouch.
That should do them for around the first 9 months, by which point your cat will have grown into around 90% of their full adult body weight, at which point you can begin gradually adding adult cat food to their diet, slowing transitioning them again.