Kittens start life with a tiny stomach, about the size of a human thumbnail. However, their bodies develop at such a rapid rate that they require different amounts of nutrition during specific growth phases. In this article, Whiskas answers some common questions kitten owners have around how often they should feed their kittens and how much wet or dry food to give them.
Can you overfeed a kitten?
From a kitten’s first few weeks of life up until they reach four months, their metabolism is at its all-time high as they are constantly growing and using larger amounts of nutrients. It’s almost impossible to overfeed your kitten during this time. However, keep in mind that feeding kittens should be done frequently but in small amounts throughout the day, in order not to overload their tiny stomachs.
How often should I feed my kitten?
- Newborn to seven weeks old
From the time that they are born, up until they are seven weeks old, kittens should be getting plenty of nutrition from their mothers’ milk. As long as their mother is eating a healthy diet, cat milk is the best kitten food over this period. In the case that your kitten’s mother is not able to feed their kittens during this time, you should feed the kittens about eight times a day at regular intervals, using cat milk from a small bottle. Take care not to substitute cat milk with cow’s milk because cats have difficulty digesting lactose.
At two weeks old your kitten’s baby teeth should start coming in, then by three to four weeks they may want to try bites of solid food, which is a good time to get them familiarised with a food bowl. If you’re unsure about weaning your kitten off cat milk, ask a vet for advice.
- Two to four months old
By eight weeks old your kitten should have all their baby teeth and be weaned off cat’s milk. Wet kitten food is best to start out with while their stomach and teeth are still tender.
When your kitten is over three months old, you should add one and a half pouches of kitten wet food to their daily diet of four to five meals. If your kitten is ready for a mixture of wet and dry food, reduce the amount of wet food to between half a pouch and one pouch (one pouch = 100 grams). Then feed fifteen to twenty grams of kitten dry food accordingly.
- Four months to six months old
At four months old a kitten is growing rapidly and requires more energy from their food. Increase the kitten wet food pouches to two and a half to three times a day, and reduce the number of meals in a day to four or five.
When feeding kittens a mixed diet at this age, reduce the amount of wet food to two pouches and give fifteen to twenty grams of kitten dry food.
- Six months to twelve months old
From six months, your kitten’s growth rate will slow down, meaning their nutritional requirements change. The number of meals per day can be decreased to two to four. Feed your kitten three pouches of kitten wet food per day or in a mixed diet, only two pouches and twenty to twenty-five grams of kitten dry food.
Can kittens eat dry food only?
Considering kittens’ baby teeth are small and tender, it can be difficult for your young kitten to eat dry food only. Kittens have two sets of teeth: baby teeth and adult teeth. Their baby teeth start showing at two weeks old and fully come in at eight weeks old. At four months old, kittens’ adult teeth start coming in and should be fully grown in by around six months old.
While dry food has advantages such as being more convenient to serve, not spoiling as fast as wet food and helping to remove plaque on adult teeth, it also has disadvantages. For example, cats often become dehydrated because they do not think about drinking as often as they should. All cats have different food preferences including texture and favourite flavours, so if your kitten prefers dry food then you can feed them a dry food diet, as long as you make sure they are getting the right amount of nutrition their body needs.
For two months and upwards, Whiskas recommends that kittens get two-thirds of their daily calories from kitten wet food and one-third from kitten dry food. However, if you prefer to feed your kitten dry food only, always provide fresh drinking water for your kitten. To make dry food easier and more appealing to eat, mix it with a little fresh water and warm it up slightly to make it mushier and bring out the aromas. It’s also good to mix in a little fresh water if your kitten is not drinking enough from their water bowl. For further advice on achieving the best kitten food diet, contact a vet.
Can kittens eat cat food?
Before your kitten reaches adult age, you should not feed them cat food, as the nutritional balance won’t be right. However, at one year old, your feline friend no longer needs kitten food. You should wean them onto adult cat food to ensure they get nutritionally balanced meals every day. Learn more about when kittens can eat cat food at WHISKAS® Kat Institute of Technology.