Feeding Kittens - Kitten Care

homemade kitten foodWhat to feed kittens?

When feeding Kittens, their diet does not vary in comparison to the adult diet. Once 3 or 4 weeks old, start feeding kittens some solid food in the form of our fresh raw meat diet.

It appears that the vast majority of people believe that cats should be fed in accordance with different life stages, one nutritional profile for feeding kittens, one for adults, and another for seniors. This concept has been popularized by commercial pet food companies, who provide these specialized foods in the form of dry kibble or canned concoctions. This belief has also been adopted by veterinary nutritionists, who receive much of their training from the commercial pet food companies. The reasons behind this concept are based on varying nutritional levels of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins at differing life stages. This concept is a complete mystery, and appears to be based on marketing, rather than on the nutritional needs of the feline.

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Is there any difference between kitten food and adult cat food?

Cats have evolved in their natural environment to eat the same prey diet for an entire lifetime. They do not eat a different diet when they are kittens than they do by the time they reach old age. Once feral kittens are weaned, they eat exactly the same diet as their adult counterparts. This includes rodents and small mammals, lizards, birds and insects. This diet does not vary, except to the degree of availability in the natural environment. The only difference between the wild kitten diet and the wild adult cat diet is that the kitten requires more calories per unit of body weight, due to the fact that the kitten is growing at a fairly rapid pace.

Studies done on nutritional profiling of typical prey animals, show that the average approximate dry matter protein is 55%, fat is about 35% and carbohydrates are less than 2%. The typical commercial kibble diet, on the other hand runs at about 33 – 37% protein and 28 – 36% carbohydrate (dry matter). Commercial canned diets weigh in at about 49% protein and 15% carbohydrate. Obviously, canned cat food is preferable to dry kibble, but it is still a very heavily processed protein source, and in most cases the meat source is of very questionable quality.

Keeping it Simple...

By the time a kitten is three or four weeks old and still nursing, it is time to introduce some solid food in the form of a fresh raw meat diet. It may be necessary to take a small amount of this new food and finger feed, in order to induce it to eat, but once the kitty has tasted this delicious new food, it should devour it with no hesitation. Transitioning kittens to their new diet should not pose a great challenge, as kittens tend to identify with raw meat as a natural choice. Adults, on the other hand, may show some reluctance with transitioning, because they do not necessarily recognize raw meat as food. They may have been programmed to eating only canned or dry foods. This reluctance is just a survival mechanism. It is important to keep in mind that kittens do not usually wean until at least six weeks of age and should not be parted from their mother until they are about twelve weeks old.

How much to feed kittens?

A growing kitten can be fed about as much as they choose to eat, when feeding a balanced raw meat diet. A kitten of 3 – 4 weeks should be fed this diet several times per day, in small quantities. By the time it is six months of age, these meals can be reduced to two per day. An adult cat of average size will eat about 4.5 ounces of raw meat mix per day, divided into two servings. When feeding kittens, it is a good idea to freeze the prepared food in ice cube trays – this reduces waste, and makes it easy to measure.

Feeding your kittenSome final thoughts...

Make it a habit to feed your furry little kitten friend in a quiet space, away from kitchen or dining room. This will help to avoid future problems with begging for food, as they should not identify with human eating areas as their own dining territory! It is a good idea to make a habit of feeding at about the same times every day. Feed a kitten in a very shallow dish, not a deep bowl, and be sure to warm the food to at least room temperature. Do not leave the raw meat mix out at room temperature for longer than ½ hour or so, to avoid bacterial growth. Always make fresh, clean water available. Filtered water is preferable to chlorinated tap water. Cats do not require much water when fed on this species-appropriate diet, but fresh water should be available nonetheless.

Some good meat choices for introducing your kitten to this optimum diet are fresh, ground chicken or turkey, rabbit or game. Beef and lamb tend to have a strong odor and should be left to a future time. Leaner meats are preferable, however some fat in the diet is essential. Fat should not exceed 20% of the total diet. It is best to avoid the temptation of cooking the meat, as many essential nutrients will be destroyed, and this can lead to nutritional deficiencies and health challenges in the future.