Bringing a kitten into your home is an exciting time, but it can also raise some questions for pet owners, particularly when it comes to knowing which food is best for the new addition to the family.
Walk into any pet store or vet clinic, and you’ll notice just how many options there are available. Speaking to your vet is a good first step in choosing a balanced diet formulated to help growth and good digestion. Outside of that, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right diet for your new pet.
What to Look for in Kitten Food
Kittens need a different diet from a fully grown adult cat. Much like a human baby, they have different nutritional needs and should eat products that have been formulated to meet these. Selecting a food that is specifically marked as kitten food is an excellent place to start. You can research which manufacturers make food for kittens by looking at a few different brands online before you purchase.
There are six main components that your kitten needs in their diet:
- Protein – to build new tissues and support healthy growth
- Fats – to support nervous system, brain and vision development as well as keep their skin and coat healthy
- Carbohydrates including fibre – to provide energy and support digestive health
- Vitamins – to support body processes such as sight, immune and nerve function as well as blood clotting
- Minerals – to support healthy development such as ensuring strong bones and teeth
- Water – for hydration
You should choose a food that contains nutritious meat or meat meal – chicken or fish is a good choice. We know that kittens need to get around 30-35% of their energy from protein, which is why it is essential to choose food and a diet with good quality sources of protein.
How Much Should I Feed my Kitten?
Aim for a mixture of dry food (kibble) and wet (can, pouch, tray or fresh) so your kitten gets the benefits that each feeding format offers. Ensure all formats fed have been formulated specifically for kittens to ensure they are complete and balanced. With kittens, feeding starts out with small amounts regularly throughout the day. Use the feeding advice listed on the pack as your guide to the amount required. Hydration is important too, and wet food provides additional moisture which can help support urinary tract health as well as provide essential nutrients. . If you’re unsure of following the guidelines on the pack, call the manufacturer for advice or ask your vet at your next appointment.
Can a Kitten Eat Human Food?
High-quality cat food should always be the main component of your kitten’s diet, however, there may come a time when you’ve run out and are unable to go to the shops and get some. If you do need to resort to feeding your cat human food, there are three things that are essential to keep in mind:
- Does the food contain a lot of salt and fat?
- Does the kitten have any special dietary requirements that may be affected?
- Is the food dangerous for my kitten?
Cats and kittens are obligate carnivores – they primarily need animal protein in their diet, and this requirement is higher than plenty of other domestic animals.
While there is some human food that is safe for your kitten to have every now and then, there are foods that they need to stay away from, including:
- Green tomatoes
- Raw green potatoes
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions, garlic and related vegetables
- Xylitol (a sweetener found in some foods)
While these foods are okay for human consumption, the smallest amount can be toxic to your kitten (and cat).
Starting your kitten off on a healthy diet is imperative for setting them up for a lifetime of health and wellbeing. Remember that transitioning to a new food should be done gradually, ideally over a period of seven days. This can be achieved by mixing the previous brand with the new one to avoid tummy upsets and refusals, to which cats can sometimes be prone. Always speak to your vet with any concerns about your kitten’s reaction to the food you and your family are feeding.