From bottle feeding to choosing the right food, caring for kittens is a learning experience. Kittens need to get enough nutrients to grow, and they can’t eat regular cat food until they’ve been drinking milk or formula for a while. If you’re planning on raising a kitten, you need to know how often to feed kittens, what kittens eat, and more.
Kittens need plenty of nutrients to grow up strong and healthy, so you need to make sure you’re feeding them enough. Unfortunately, overfeeding can also lead to health problems in kittens and cats. The good news is, there are some pretty simple rules when it comes to how often to feed newborn kittens. The amount you need to feed your kitten depends on its age and weight.
If you’re taking care of a kitten for the first time, you might want to talk to a veterinarian about the best food for growing kittens. A healthy diet is an important part of making sure your kitten grows up healthy, and your vet can help you decide what to feed your kitten and when to switch to regular cat food. Keep reading to learn more about how often to feed kittens, what they should eat, and how telemedicine can help with kitten care.
How Often Should I Need to Feed Kittens?
You might wonder, how often do I need to feed kittens? How often and how much to feed kittens are two important things to know if you’re planning on raising a kitten. The amount of food a kitten needs depends on its age, which is also an important part of making sure you’re feeding kittens the right food. As kittens grow into adulthood, it’s important to try to stick to a consistent feeding regimen, according to Cornell University..
If your kitten is less than six months old, you may need to feed them three or more times each day. Kittens that weigh more may need to eat more than smaller kittens. Once a cat is at least six months old, they usually only need one or two meals each day. Keep in mind that kittens eat smaller quantities because they may eat several times per day.
When it comes to getting your kitten on a good feeding schedule, you need to consider what you’ve got going on in your life. Try to structure your kitten’s feeding schedule around your schedule, that way you can feed them at the same times every day. Getting your kitten into a routine helps them eat the right amount of food at the right times.
You should also keep in mind that your kitten’s feeding habits may change as they grow older. Cats’ eating habits tend to vary quite a bit, so you can keep your cat healthy by feeding them according to their preferred feeding schedule.
What to Feed Kittens
As important as it is to feed kittens the right amount of food, the type of food they eat is even more important. Growing cats need a complete and balanced diet, so you need to know what to feed kittens as well as how often to feed them.
In the beginning, kittens need milk or a milk replacement to get the nutrients they need to survive and grow. Once your kitten is four to six weeks old, you can start feeding them solid foods. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, you should feed your kitten a specially formulated kitten food that contains the calories, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals that growing cats need.
While your cat needs a nutrient-dense diet in the rapid growth and development stages, maintenance becomes an important part of feeding practices as they grow older. Most inactive adult cats can be fed a diet that’s lower in fat, which may also require an increase in insoluble fiber. Treats should account for less than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake. Of course, it’s important to consider activity level when it comes to your cat’s diet as they age.
When Can You Start Bottle-Feeding a Kitten?
You can’t give kittens solid food right away, so when can you start bottle feeding a kitten? In general, kittens can start being bottle fed when they’re about a week old. However, this timeline may vary a bit. It’s also important to keep in mind that kittens 3 weeks or younger aren’t able to feed themselves, which means you’ll need to manually bottle feed them.
In order to bottle feed a kitten, you’ll need to have baby bottles with nipples as well as a suitable milk replacement. KMR powder is a popular choice for a kitten milk replacement. Simply mix one part KMR to two parts water (or follow the instructions on the milk replacement you’re using), combining it until there are no clumps left. Make sure you keep the opened container of powdered milk replacement in the fridge, and don’t keep premade formula for more than 24 hours.
When it’s time to feed your kittens, you’ll need to wake them up. Kittens don’t typically cry or wake up when they’re hungry, so it’s up to you to decide how often to feed kittens and keep them on a regular feeding schedule. Most young, nursing kittens should be fed every 3-4 hours.
As your cat gets older, you can try putting a bit of milk replacement in a bowl for them. If they learn to eat on their own, you can add small bits of wet food when it’s appropriate for their age.
When Can Kittens Start Eating Regular Cat Food?
While milk and milk replacements are an essential part of a kitten’s diet, switching over to specially formulated cat food is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet as kittens age. Once your kitten is old enough, you should slowly introduce regular cat food to get them used to it.
Soft, wet food is the first thing your kitten can eat, and they can start having that at about three weeks. You can introduce your cat to wet food by putting small amounts of it in a bowl with formula when they’re learning to eat on their own. Choosing wet food that’s appropriate for kittens is important.
Once your kitten is about five to six weeks old, they can start eating regular dry food. Again, you can introduce your kitten to dry food by mixing a little bit in with a bowl of milk replacer. Transitioning from milk replacer to wet food to dry food is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet for kittens.
You can wean your kitten off of milk by teaching them to drink that milk out of a bowl. Once they’re comfortable with that, try mixing in some wet or dry food. You should never push your cat’s nose into the bowl to try to get them to eat on their own. Your veterinarian can give you more tips on how often to feed kittens and how to wean them off of milk.
Special Considerations When Feeding Kittens
While there are general rules when it comes to feeding a kitten, it’s important to keep in mind that health conditions can impact the way you feed your kitten. Conditions such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism can lead to changes in appetite and other symptoms that may affect a cat’s diet. You may want to talk to your veterinarian about how your cat’s medical condition may affect their diet and feeding schedule.
You might be concerned if you notice your kitten isn’t eating normally. In some cases, you may notice an irregular diet in kittens as a result of tapeworms, which live in the intestines and absorb nutrients from food. However, an irregular diet may also be a result of pet anxiety, especially if you notice other signs of anxiety.
Irregular eating may be caused by anxiety or tapeworms, but there are other potential causes. Your cat may simply need time to adjust to the food you’re feeding them, or you may need to switch the location of their food bowl so they feel more comfortable while eating. It could even be that your cat has simply eaten too much that day.
How to Help Prevent Your Kitten from Becoming Overweight
According to a statistic from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, approximately 50% of cats seen by vets are overweight—40% of which likely fall into the obese category. So, how do you know if your cat is obese and what can you do to help prevent your kitten from becoming overweight?
In order to determine if a cat is obese, you can perform a rib check, profile check, and overhead check. A rib check involves running both hands across a cat’s rib cage, while a profile check requires you to get a side view of your cat. An overhead check is simply looking at your cat from above. If you can’t feel your cat’s ribs, can’t see their waistline, or there are heavy fat deposits around the face and limbs, those are signs of obesity.
You can prevent your cat from becoming overweight by making sure you’re feeding them a healthy diet. Start by choosing the right food, then carefully measure quantities and stick to a feeding schedule to prevent overfeeding. You should also avoid giving your cat any human food. Consider using cat toys and other objects and activities to keep your kitten active; exercise is an essential part of preventing kittens from becoming overweight.
You’ve got a lot to learn when it comes to taking care of kittens, but with a few fundamentals under your belt, you can make sure your kittens grow up happy and healthy. While you need to start with bottle feeding, it’s important to switch to solid food at the right time and keep your kitten on a feeding schedule.
If you’re raising a kitten, you need a vet you can consult for help. Dutch can connect you with vets who can help you get the care your kittens need when they don’t need a visit to the vet. To find out more about how often to feed kittens, what to feed kittens, and more, contact Dutch today.