Weaning a kitten is an important part of kitten’s development; it is the method of transitioning the kitten from mother’s milk to solid food. It must be done at the right time and in the right way in order to ensure their proper growth.
Usually, the mother cat handles kitten weaning on her own, but when a mother cat finds it difficult to produce milk or when a kitten gets separated from her mother, we have to interfere; we have to majorly concern about their feeding food, keeping them warm, and teaching them some necessary skills.
But, what to feed kittens? It is a difficult question to answer. Animals can’t speak; they share their emotions with their actions. In this situation, it becomes challenging to know which type of food your beloved kitten is going to like, no matter whether you are a beginner or an expert.
Also, feeding kittens may feel like a full-time job. In the early days, the kittens may look very tiny, but within a few months, they are going to grow-up. The kittens will attain 75% adult body mass in six months. Hence, they need to be fed with nutritional foods and a proper diet, especially in the initial few weeks, but it is highly rewarding.
However, to start with nutrition, the kittens must be accustomed to a variety of foods. Practicing them to consume only one food type may lead to the deficiency of proper nutrients and minerals, which will become a barrier in their proper growth. Moreover, changing this habit later can be challenging.
If you are confused about what to feed a kitten, then don’t worry. To help you with the process of feeding, in this guide, we are going to tell what type of food you should feed to your beloved kitten for its proper development. Without wasting much time, let’s get started.
What to feed before the weaning process?
There is no substitute for mother’s milk; it is the best nutrient for humans as well as animals. Hence, kittens should be exposed to some mother’s milk if possible, especially within the first 12-24 hours of life. The mother’s milk contains antibodies that help kittens to fight with external viruses and bacteria. In case, the queen can’t produce milk, due to some issues, another nursing mother can feed them.
And if no nursing cat is available, you can feed a milk replacement formula with a syringe or bottle. Formulated food is the best choice of food for kittens until they become fully weaned. Almost all the kittens become fully weaned in the eighth week of their cycle. The formulated food is a combination of high-level protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
With all the necessary nutrients, they help in nurturing the growth of the kitten. Vitamin C and E are the two essential elements of kitten food as it improves their immune system. PetAg KMR Powder and Petlac Milk Powder for Kittens are the two most preferred formulated food for kittens. However, always check whether the formula contains all the nutrients, minerals, and proteins or not when buying the formulated food for kittens.
Understand the feeding chart for kittens
Cats are creatures of habit. You can make them follow or practice any method easily during the early kitten phase. Not only it will be beneficial for you, but for the kitten as well. In the beginning, you can start with following a feeding routine. For this, the first and foremost things you need to decide are:
- Where to feed them?
- The size of the utensils
Choose a clean, calm, safe, and secure place and try to feed them at the same place and same time every day. Not only it will develop a routine but also reduces your burden; you need not worry about your beloved pet being hungry.
After this, you need to choose appropriate utensils for your kitten as per her size and age. For newbies, you may have to use syringes or bottles & for others, you may need a plater or flat bowl or saucer. The size of utensils also helps in developing good eating habits.
Make sure to give them sufficient time for food. Check out the following table that will help you to maintain a routine. The table mentioned above clearly explains the feeding protocol. It is common for all the breeding varieties, and you must follow it for their healthy growth.
|One week||Formula||Every 2-3 hours interval – 8-12 times a day||3-4cc per feeding|
|Two weeks||Formula||Every 3 hours once – 8 times a day||5-6cc per feeding|
|3-4 Weeks||Formula||Every 4 hours once – 6 times a day||13-17cc per feeding|
|4th Week||Formula and gruel||Every 8 hours – 3 times a day||½ cup gruel and 13-17cc per feeding|
|5th – 8th Week||Kibble, gruel, solid food||10-12 hours – twice or thrice in a day||½ cup|
Things to remember
- Until the third or fourth week, you usually get to feed them only with the formula. So, there is no need to be worried about the food mixture. But after 4-weeks, you have to add a little bit of wet and solid food to their diet.
- Kittens must be introduced to kibble at 3-5 weeks.
- Kittens can be given kibble by mixing them in any wet food when it is 5-6 weeks old
- In the seventh week, kittens can eat dry kibble.
Gruel feeding: During the fourth week, the bottle-feeding sessions take place. While you are feeding, it introduces gruel to them with the spoon or tongue depressor. Slowly increase the number of gruels day by day for eight weeks. In the fourth week, start giving the kittens practices to discreet on their own. Provide a litter box, and they can eliminate waste in them at this age.
Solid food: Fifth to eighth weeks are known as transition weeks. At this time, the food must be well mixed. There are numerous chances for the kittens to get stomach upset. It is either because of the change in diet or because of the low-quality kibble or gruel. Therefore, ensure that you gradually introduce them to the transition of solid food. You can slowly increase the food that they will eat by decreasing the amount of food they were eating. It will help the kittens follow a pattern of eating for seven days.
Types of kitten food
It may look like that there is a large variety of kittens’ food available in the market, but there are only a few choices available. However, the good news is that there is a food type available for every age and every breed. As discussed above, in the beginning, formulated food or mother milk is the best food for kittens, but for 4-weeks old kitten, only formulated food is not sufficient.
Wet and Dry food are the two significant types of food that need to be given after the fifth week. Unless there is any medical condition, you can decide if you want to treat them with wet or dry food. Sometimes, the mixture of both can help them to be fully nourished.
What are the benefits of feeding Wet food?
- The wet foods have good texture and smell. The wet food usually smells stronger and is softer to chew.
- It is effortless to serve a wet meal every time as it comes in single-serve pouches and trays. Hence it is convenient and looks fresh every time.
- A kitten will have increased water intake.
What are the benefits of feeding Dry food?
- Dry kitten foods can be easily measured, and importantly, they have a longer shelf life. Because when wet food pouches are open, you need to serve them as soon as possible.
- Most people prefer to purchase dry fruit because it does not affect the kitten’s teeth. You can see that they chew and munch gently. It will keep their eating habits healthy and remove plaque from the teeth. Even in older kittens, you can see the difference when they actively chew the dry food conveniently more than wet ones.
- The digestion becomes easy because of the excellent chewing. The smaller dry kibbles are recommended to be part of the diet even though you want to feed them with wet foods.
- After three weeks, you know exactly how much your kitten wants. Based on the quantity, you can feed the kittens that they need.
How do you feed a kitten?
A feeding mat and clean bowl is an essential part of feeding. Cats develop habits from the heart, so you must clean the place and provide a cloth if you don’t want them to mess with the place. Make sure that the bowl is properly cleaned after use. While feeding, you can see that if the kittens like to eat in a flat bowl or saucer because it will slow down their eating if they are not comfortable.
Suppose if you have more than one kitten, ensure the feeding bowls are kept individually and feed them with a reasonable distance apart from each other. It will help them not to quarrel while eating even after they grew up. If you have a yard, you can give them individual areas for feeding.
What can you feed them after eight weeks?
Kittens can chew well after the 5th week. But after the eighth week, you can provide them some solid nutritional foods. The following are some of the foods that you might give them twice a week for the great growing.
· Canned Cat foods
Even many grocery stores nowadays have canned foods. These have different flavors and tastes. For example, shrimp, fish, and types of poultry are also available. If you want them only vegetables in the first few weeks, you have a choice for that as well. You can offer a spoonful of these canned foods as part of the diet. Most of the experienced pet owners use canned foods before solid food for practicing the kittens.
· Fresh and saltwater fish
Fish is always a favorite meal for the kitten. It enhances their hair growth and also provides essential nutrients at the same time. Check for trout, salmon, tuna, or catfish as they boost immunity. Apart from this, even cooked fish can make the kittens healthy. However, make sure you gradually increase the quantity because if you practice feeding fish daily, then it may affect their health. Hence, provide them in chunks or mix them along with the gruel to change the flavor.
· Scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs can be given weekly once or twice. Just cook them as you prepare for yourself and provide them with a spoonful of melted cheese. It contains proper nutrition and necessary fat. Kittens will love it. However, make sure not to add any seasoning, salt, or pepper as it may cause stomach problems for them.
· Squash or Pumpkin
Even many pet clinics suggest squash or pumpkin for the kittens. Also, when you make it occasionally, cook extra for the kittens. It is very simple to prepare because all you need to do is grate them into small pieces. Place them on a plate and cover it with the damp paper or towel. Microwave them for few seconds and serve them. Serve this smashed pumpkins or squash after they cool off. You can even refrigerate these and serve it later that week.
· Cooked Meat
We hope you know that kittens can’t survive only with flavored meat. Sometimes you need to offer them real meat as well. By nature, they are accustomed to eating, and it is one of the staple foods, especially when they are fully whined. Veterinarians strongly suggest only lean meats other than fatty meats. It is suitable as you avoid fatty or greasy fried meat from the beginning of the growth. Cooked or boiled chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and venison are preferred for the kittens.
Never serve them with bacon, hot dogs, or sausage as it will affect their digestive system. Most of the foods also have nitrates and preservatives that are not suitable, especially for the kittens. So, when you provide them non-veg food, shred the meat into very tiny pieces. Sometime large pieces may choke on the kittens.
· Cat Grass
It is very commonly found in the pet clinic or grocery stores. You can see in the name of growing cat grass or cat grass kits. Usually, this grass belongs to wheat or oat family, although the kits contain a different mixture. You can grow them at home. It is not mandatory, though, but it provides natural fiber, minerals, and vitamins for the kittens. Importantly it can be a new food type for kittens & they will have more fun while they eat it from nature.
· Salad Greens
It is important to provide greens as much as you offer them meat. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means adding vegetables along with the meat, is essential for the diet. The salad greens include broccoli floret, diced lettuce, and spinach. If possible, a pinch with daily meals can help them to have a healthy food habit.
Transitional in kitten food
The digestive system can be very sensitive to the kittens. It is always best to avoid changing diet unnecessarily. Even after 6 top 8 months, make sure you follow the routine. Though they look grown-up, they are still kittened inside. Because their bones and digestive system are still growing inside. If you want them to grow naturally stronger, avoid junk or fancy food items. Always look for the best or clinic recommended for the kittens. Switching from a wet to dry food is agreeable; however, not immediately. Whenever you change diet, make sure you carry the transition gradually.
At least for the first three weeks of transition, provide a small quantity of food, and increase the quantity slowly. Also, understand that both dry food and wet food cost the same number of calories. Hence, offer them both or with which they are comfortable. Do not switch anything immediately.
While offering the kitten with these food types mentioned above, keep a 10% rule in mind. You can regularly purchase them good kibble and gruel from the right brand. Take clinic opinion if you have access to them usually. And add 10% of the extra calories from the salads, meats, and other canned food to the daily routine. Because any more calories may cause adverse reactions in their health. Ensure a nutritional balance for the kitten all the time. There are so many factors explained above; however, it is not as complicated as it looks. Just for the initial few weeks, put them under routine, and see that the kittens grow healthy naturally on their own. For more information, explore the internet.