Caring for a kitten is like caring for a baby or even a puppy. You’d really have to pay close attention to its essential needs especially its nutrition as this provides the basic foundation for optimum growth and development. Feeding kittens can be quite complicated because of several factors that have to be considered. Knowing how much you should feed your kitten requires an understanding of these factors.
Nutrient Requirements of Kittens
It is important to understand that like all mammals, the first year of life is characterized by explosive growth and development. For kittens, their weight typically doubles or even triples in just a matter of a few weeks after birth. This growth spurt requires tremendous amounts of energy. As such, you can expect kittens to require more energy. Unfortunately, they will not be able to obtain the needed amount of calories on a single feeding alone. Most adult cats are fed once or twice a day. Kittens, on the other hand, will require three to four times a day.
Kittens also require more proteins, minerals, some vitamins, and amino acids for building cells and tissues especially the nervous system and muscles. Experts actually recommend that kittens obtain 30% of their energy needs from proteins. This is in addition to the main function of proteins as structural building blocks. When it comes to fatty acids, most vitamins, and fats, the levels are almost the same as in adult cats.
It is hence not surprising that some folks would give kittens adult cat food. As much as possible, this should be avoided since the formulation of adult cat food is not the same as the nutrient requirements of kittens.
Wet or Dry?
The issue with dry cat food is that the kibbles may be too hard for the little teeth of kittens to break down into smaller pieces. Additionally, it contains too little moisture that will not be helpful for your kitten’s hydration needs. If one really has to give dry cat food, this should be softened with water to allow kittens to chew on the food properly and provide them with water at the same time.
A much better option is to give kittens canned wet foods as these are generally considered to be more nutrient-dense than dry food. They contain more moisture and taste a lot better, too. The downside is that wet cat food is usually expensive. As such most cat owners typically combine wet cat food and dry cat food. This helps provide for a more balanced nutrition for your growing kitten.
So the deal here is to feed your kitten at least 4 times a day if you intend to give it wet kitten canned food. If you prefer giving it a combination of wet and dry kitten food, then twice-a-day feeding is often substantial.
Feeding Your Kitten in Stages
Here’s a simple guide to help you determine how much to feed your kitten.
- 0 to 4 weeks
Exclusive breast milk from mommy cat is best. If this is not possible, you may have to hand-feed your young kitten with a bottle. The current guideline is to give 8 mL of milk formula for every ounce of your kitten’s body weight.
- 4 to 8 weeks
Mix 3 parts of kitten milk replacement with 1 part dry kitten food. Give for the first week. For the following week, mix 2 parts milk replacement with 1 part dry food. The idea is to gradually reduce the amount of milk replacement in this period. The current recommendation is ¼ to 1/3 cup of kitten food at each feeding.
- 2 to 3 months
Feed your kitten at least 4 times a day, giving it 1/3 to ¾ cup per feeding. Its tummy is still too small to contain the much-needed amounts of food that will give it the right amounts of nutrients if fed as frequently as adult cats.
- 3 to 6 months
By this age you can give your kitten 1/3 to 1 cup of kitten food per feeding three times a day. If giving wet food, you can give 2/3 of a 3-ounce can for every pound of body weight on a daily basis.
- 6 to 12 months
Give ½ of a 3-ounce can of kitten food for every pound of body weight per day.
The best person to help you determine the right amount of food to give to your kitten is your vet. He will make the necessary assessments to provide you with more definitive answers as to how much to feed your kitten.