As a new pet parent, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out the right care when it comes to feeding. For your kitten to grow healthy and thrive into their adulthood, they need healthy, balanced food. In this comprehensive guide, we show you how much to feed a kitten depending on their age and weight.
Understanding Kitten Feeding Needs
Kittens have special feeding needs different from cats. This is because their digestive and immune systems develop gradually. They need special nutrition that will help with the development of their muscles, skeletons, and healthy organs.
Their diet should consist of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Also, it should have Calcium. This is important for their teeth and bones.
Usually, kittens should be nursed by their moms until eight weeks. However, the nutrients from the mother’s milk may not be enough. Other times, the mother is unable to nurse the babies or isn’t in the picture. In such instances, you can bottle-feed them. You should consult your veterinarian for the appropriate formula.
Once you understand the feeding needs of your kitten, it’s important to have a feeding chart. This chart will help you keep track of how much to feed a newborn kitten and avoid overfeeding.
Transition to food
Every 2 hours
Every 2-3 hours
Every 3-4 hours
Every 4-5 hours
Every 5-6 hours
Every 6 hours
Feeding Newborn Kittens: Birth to 4 Weeks
From birth, newborn kittens get their nutritional needs from their mother’s milk. From birth to 4 weeks is a crucial moment in their development. This is the period where intense growth happens. During this period, they should be regularly fed to help with the development of well-built skeleton and muscles.
Transitioning to Solid Food: 4 to 6 Weeks
This is the period when weaning starts. And you start introducing wet food. But, you may be wondering how much wet food to feed a kitten? The answer is to start with small portions.
The transition should be gradual to allow your kitten to adjust to the new changes. Kittens are sensitive and changes may come with consequences. As you transition, keep a close eye on their bellies and how they respond to the changes.
You can start the transition with soft wet food or dry food dampened with water. The moistening helps your kitten ease onto their new diet. To encourage your kittens to eat, the mother and her babies can eat the same food.
Gradually eliminate formula during this period until your kitten is comfortable eating solid food.
Growing Up: 6 to 8 Weeks
At this point, kittens can comfortably eat wet or dry food. Fortunately, there’s a variety of options to choose from that suit your kitten's needs. Since kittens are naturally adventurous, you can experiment with the different flavors and textures available on the market.
Make sure that the food you choose is formulated specifically for kittens. Look at the ingredients and labels. Avoid pet foods with preservatives, artificial colors, flavours, and other filler ingredients. Pick foods with high nutrition value and ingredients that will help with the overall health and quality of life for your kitten.
As you introduce your kitten to solid food, don’t give them large portions. Start with small portions as you monitor their response. Once they fully adjust to it, you can increase the portions.
If your kitten is struggling to adjust to solid food or is unable to eat on their own at this point, consult your veterinarian.
Adolescence: 8 Weeks to 10 Months
At this period, your kitten is active and energetic. Their feeding needs should be able to maintain their energy levels. They should have adjusted to solid food and can eat on their own. The food should be accompanied by clean water to help them stay hydrated.
The nutrition requirement should be food rich in proteins, particularly animal-based proteins and fish oils. The omega fatty acids in the fish oils and proteins helps with maintaining their overall health and energy levels.
Due to their energy levels, they can handle feeding on large portions, at least twice a day.
Young Adults: Over 10 Months
Now, you can transition to feeding your kitten adult cat food. This varies however depending on your kitten’s breed, individual needs, and weight. Some cat breeds like Maine Coons for instance take a longer period to mature compared to other breeds. And so they feed on kitten food a bit longer than other breeds.
Wet Food Vs. Dry Food: What’s Best for Kittens?
Majority of pet parents find themselves debating between wet food and dry food for their kittens. There’s no straight answer for this as both foods have their advantages and disadvantages.
Wet food has a high water content compared to dry food keeping kittens hydrated. Dry food lasts longer, is affordable, and less messy. But they have lesser water content. When you choose to feed your kitten dry food, make sure you give them water to keep them hydrated.
Dry food is good for your kitten’s dental health and boosts energy. However, feeding them strictly dry food can lead to obesity. Wet food on the other hand is rich in proteins and less carbohydrates. It’s good for your kitten’s immune system and the kidneys.
The better option is to alternate your feeding between wet and dry food. For instance, you can choose to feed wet food in the morning and dry food in the evening.
Pros and Cons of Wet Kitten Food
The advantages of wet food include:
Helps with weight loss
Aids with eliminating constipation. Wet food has high water content keeping your kitten hydrated
Available in different flavors and textures
It’s good for urinary health as it lowers the risk of urinary tract disease
The disadvantages of wet food include:
The Benefits of Dry Kitten Food
Dry foods have high calories and can lead to obesity if not checked. The quantity depends on your kitten’s needs, breed, and weight.
Dry kitten food has the following benefits:
It helps with cats' natural grazing. Unlike wet food which has specific meal times, dry food allows free-feeding.
It aids with dental health. The food’s texture helps reduce plaque accumulation and tartar formation
It’s non-perishable and can be left out for longer periods
It supports mental stimulation as they can be used with food dispenser toys
It’s less messy and affordable
It has a high energy density that’s good for your kitten’s energy levels
Meal Frequency for Kittens
As newborns, kittens should be fed every 2 hours and in small quantities. Their bodies are fragile and stomachs too small. But, as they grow older and start transitioning to solid food, they can be fed 2-3 times a day.
Creating a Feeding Schedule for Your Kitten
Kittens will eat more frequently than adult cats since they are growing, energetic, and active. Ideally, they should feed between 3-6 meals in a day. As they grow older, they eat 2-3 times a day.
Feeding schedule will differ for different cats. Consult your veterinarian to come with a schedule that suits your kitten’s needs.
An ideal feeding schedule looks like this:
Amount per day(Dry food)
⅔ to 1-⅓ lbs
¼ to ⅓ cup
7 weeks - 5 months
1-1/2 to 5-¾ lbs
⅓ to 1 cup
6 months - 1 year
5-¾ to 12 lbs
⅔ to 1-¼ cups
Additional Considerations for Kitten Feeding
When it comes to kittens, it’s not just about the food or the quantity. It’s about their special nutritional needs and quality of the food. As a pet parent, you should consider the following info.
Kitten Nutritional Needs
Kittens’ nutritional needs differ from senior cats. Their diet should consist of food that’s specifically made for kittens.
Their diet should be rich in calcium, proteins, vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Kittens need all the nutrients for their bone development, dental health, and immune system development.
Safe Treats and Supplements for Kittens
Vets recommend supplements for kittens to aid with the health of their skin, joints, digestive, immune system, and mobility issues. Treats are also good for mental stimulation. However, look out for food irritants that can lead to allergies. This includes onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, and raisins.
Transitioning to Adult Cat Food
Transition to adult cat food should be gradual. Don’t immediately eliminate kitten food as drastic change of diet can affect their tiny stomach. Also, be patient with your kitten, give them time to adjust.
As a pet parent, you want the best for your kittens in terms of overall health, development, and longevity. To achieve this, you need to feed them on a healthy balanced diet and formulated for kittens specifically.
Kittens have special nutritional needs that depend on their age and weight. With the help of our comprehensive guide, you can rest easy as you now know how much to feed a kitten.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to feed a kitten milk?
Ideally, newborn kittens will feed on their mother’s milk. But in situations where this can’t happen, they should be bottle fed.
Which milk to feed a kitten?
A mother’s milk is the best for kittens. If the mother is unavailable or can’t produce milk, you should use a milk replacer or special formula.
When to feed a kitten dry food?
From 6 weeks, kittens can be introduced to dry food. But it should be done gradually to allow their bodies to adjust. Cats are sensitive to change and they need time.