A kitten grows rapidly for the first few months and needs extra, yet balanced, sources of nutrients during this growth phase. Excesses, deficiencies and imbalances of certain dietary nutrients can predispose your kitten to many problems such as diseases of the central nervous system, heart, kidney and bones. Excess calories consumed by growing kittens will stimulate the formation of excessive numbers of fat cells and lead to obesity in adulthood. The following tips will get you off to a good start.
1. When to wean?
Kittens should be weaned at 4 to 6 weeks to a diet specifically designed for growing kittens. Kittens should not be weaned on baby foods, cows milk or other human foods.
2. Choose your kitten's diet carefully.
The diets we recommend are scientifically designed and tested to promote health, vitality and longevity. Optimal nutrition contributes to the health and well-being of your pet and can help reduce the likelihood of illness and disease. If a dry food is selected, it may be advisable to moisten the dry food with warm water for a period of time while your kitten is very young. We recommend feeding some canned food to accustom your kitten to both types of food.
3. How much? How often?
Most kittens are initially fed 4 times daily until 3 months of age. After three months of age, it is best to feed your cat a measured, daily allotment divided into two or three meals. To select the amount of food required for each meal, consult the feeding guides provided by the pet food manufacturer or those calculated by your veterinarian. The amount of food recommended in the manufacturer's feeding guides should only be used as a guideline. Each individual pet needs to be monitored and fed appropriately to achieve an optimal body weight. If you have more than one kitten or cat, it is best to feed each cat a measured portion in their own dish. If your kittens or cats are significantly different in body weight (one heavy, one light), try feeding a specific amount of food to both, with an "extra" small meal for the thinner kitten or cat. NEVER reduce your kitten's or cat's caloric intake by more than 20%.
4. Avoid feeding your kitten "human food".
Additions of any human food will cause an imbalance of nutrients in your cat's diet and could be detrimental. It is particularly important to avoid feeding raw fish, raw eggs, large amounts of liver or small bones. Table foods not only cause nutritional imbalances but may contribute to bad eating habits, nutritional deficiencies and obesity.
5. Change diets slowly.
Sudden changes in diet can cause digestive disturbances such as diarrhea. Even when changing from one high quality diet to another, gradually increase the proportions of the new diet and decrease the old one, over a one-week period. Be sure your kitten is eating the new food. Do not let your kitten go without eating for more than 48 hours.
6. Dogs and cats have different requirements.
The diets formulated for dogs and cats are significantly different. It is dangerous to feed your cat dog food. Cats require specific nutrients, which are not included in dog foods. In addition, cats require significantly more protein.
7. Always have fresh water available.
This is particularly important for cats, as most cats tend to drink more if the water is fresh, clean or moving (i.e. dripping from the tap). If you live in an area where water has a significant odour or taste (chlorine, iron, sulfur, etc.), you may want to consider giving your cat bottled or Brita water (cats are more sensitive to odours and tastes than we are!).
Your cat's nutritional requirements may never be more demanding then when it is a kitten. Therefore, it is essential that you choose a high quality food that is nutritionally complete and balanced for optimum nutrition during this critical growth stage.