Got a new little furry one at home? Congratulations to you, proud parent!
Many people are asking what I would choose for kittens food-wise. My official answer is surprisingly simple.
Marketing gimmicks and the one thing you need to know
One of my cat nutrition heroes, Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, says in her book, Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life, that the “life stages” foods are an unnecessary marketing gimmick. And she used to be a lead nutritionist for one of the biggest cat food manufacturers around! (Until she went renegade and spilled the beans.)
Instead, after weaning, cats and kittens of all ages should be eating high protein, low carb, grain-free foods.
The only catch is serving size: kittens typically need twice as much food per day as an adult cat.
So when someone says kittens need a bit more of a particular nutrient, the truth is your kitten should get that simply by eating the kitten-appropriate amount of a good cat food every day.
In other words, all high-quality cat foods are good for kittens after they’ve weaned, but here’s what’s most important:
Be sure to follow the kitten feeding amounts instructions on the label to make sure they get enough food.
How often to feed a kitten?
Because of their small tummies, it’s generally advised that kittens may need to eat 4 times per day to get all the nutrition they need.
As you may know, I believe wet food is much healthier for cats than dry food. But, busy people may need to have some dry food around if they can’t always be at home to feed their kitten around the clock.
I’m just being realistic here.
I wouldn’t worry about letting your kitten nibble throughout the day because he’s a growing boy who should instinctively know how much to eat. Exception: If your kitten has a food obsession rooted in a starvation experience, as some “lost and found” kittens (like our Joel) do, then you will want to control portions more. This is rare though.
If your kitten has sensitive digestion (many do)
Seeing loose stools in the litter box? Sometimes this happens simply because kittens need to transition to a new food more slowly.
Because of all the vaccines and meds shelter kittens are often subject to, and because they may not have received healthy gut flora from their mom, all of which can damage digestion, my personal favorite cat foods are always the foods that have the most simple ingredients.
It always helps to serve simple high-quality formulas like Stella and Chewys (raw) and Life’s Abundance Instinctive Choice (canned), Hound & Gatos, and Tiki Cat Koolina Luau canned and Puka Puka Luau.
More about all those on the Today’s Best Cat Foods page.
Transitioning your kitten to a raw food
A great food for your kitten, after they are weaned, is a raw food like Primal raw frozen cat food. That’s because raw food still has the live enzymes that make nutrient assimilation easy.
Here are Primal’s instructions for transitioning kittens to raw as they wean off milk.
- At 4-5 weeks of age, you can begin to introduce your kitten to a packaged raw cat food.
- Kittens should be fed one to two small (1 teaspoon) raw-food meals daily in conjunction with either the milk they consume from nursing and/or other foods you may be supplementing.
- Gradually increase the quantity every 2-3 days until at 8 weeks of age, when the kittens are consuming two tablespoons twice daily.
- At 8 weeks, the kittens should be fully weaned and can be fed a diet solely of Primal Feline Formulas.
- Kittens 8 weeks to 1 year of age should be fed approximately 4% of their body weight daily in Primal Feline Formulas. Use the super-handy feeding calculator.
- Monitor your kitten’s dietary needs and adjust the feeding quantities accordingly.
One last tip
After kittens are weaned, get started early – and gradually- introducing variety into their diet. They are more open to different types of food when they are little, and will be more open to those foods when they’re older if you start introducing them now.