Caring for a kitten is one of the most rewarding things about cat ownership. These tiny, adorable bundles of fun give so much affection. If you’ve had a kitten, you’ll know that they are little balls of energy. The only way they can keep that up, and keep growing is if they get the right food.
But when you come to choose kitten food, the choice can be confusing. It’s important to make sure that your kitten gets all the nutrients that they need to grow and develop properly. If you’re worried about what to feed your kitten, here is our guide to the best kitten food. You will need a mix of wet food like Hill’s Science Diet, and dry food like Blue Wilderness Kitten Food.
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For around the first four weeks of their lives, kittens will live entirely from their mother’s milk. It’s the perfect food for a newborn kitten and will give them everything they need. You will notice that as the four-week mark approaches, the kittens will start trying to eat their mother’s food. She will probably bat them away from it at first. When you see that, it is time to start offering some other food for your kittens.
If your Queen isn’t able to feed her kittens for some reason, then you will need to feed them with kitten formula instead. There is a complete guide to doing this at PetMD, and your vet will be able to offer advice if you find yourself in this situation.
The feeding schedule should go something like this:
- After 4 weeks – Wet some dry kitten food with kitten formula milk until it is mushy, let your kittens try this.
- After 5 weeks – Offer kibble that has been moistened with formula or water.
- After 6 weeks – The kittens should be eating solid food.
As your kittens begin to eat more solid food, they will nurse less from their mother. If you are feeding them with formula, you will need to keep a close eye on how much the kittens are eating to ensure that they get enough nutrition.
Weaning is a natural thing for kittens, and they shouldn’t need too much help from you. It will get messy, though, so make sure that you keep them in a warm, high-sided box and give them plenty of towels or other washable and warm bedding to nest in. Share any concerns you may have with your vet.
This starter pack includes all you need to successfully wean kittens, starting with formula and a bottle and finishing with some 2nd step food. It also contains a book, ‘Saving Little Lives’, which gives full information on how to care for kittens who don’t have access to their mother’s milk.
Feed the entire litter at once with minimal excuses for squabbling! This easy to clean dish has six separate food compartments so you can see more easily which kitten has eaten what.
Why Kittens Need Special Food
Kittens grow very quickly in the first six months of their lives. As such, they need a food that has high amounts of calcium (to build bone strength) and protein (to build muscle). And of course kittens are also tiny balls of furry energy, so they need plenty of calories to burn off as they play and learn more about the world.
All of this means that regular cat food isn’t the best for them. Although for financial reasons it may be tempting to feed them the same food as your adult cats, you won’t be doing the best for your kittens. In fact, it’s fine for the nursing Queen to have kitten food, as she is using lots of extra nutrients making milk for her babies.
Kittens need to be fed more often than adult cats, so offer little and often. It isn’t a problem if a kitten declines a single meal, but if they go for several hours without food it’s worth keeping a close eye on them. Any kitten that seems overly thin or has a pot belly should see a vet as soon as possible.
Wet Kitten Food
Wet or canned kitten food is an important part of a kittens diet. It contains Taurine, a vital element that is only found in the meat of other animals. Kittens won’t be able to get all their nutrition from dry food alone, so they should have at least two meals a day from a can. If you are only feeding wet food then you will need to feed more often than if you are offering a mix of wet and dry.
Popular Wet Kitten Food
Your older cats may enjoy the pat? style texture of regular Fancy Feast, but it’s perfect for kittens. This version mixes white fish with milk to give a texture for your cat that is perfect for them to eat. It also comes in turkey flavor. There is some discussion about additives in Purina brand products, so read ingredient labels before purchasing.
A grain-free formula, Healthy Kitten comes in small portions to help you keep the food fresh for your kitten. Enriched with Vitamin E to help the immune system and DHA to help your kitten’s brain develop well. There is some discussion about additives in IAMS brand products, so read ingredient labels before purchasing.
Cooked in America, this kitten food’s primary ingredient is protein from chickens. The makers pride themselves on including only natural ingredients.
This food comes with a money-back guarantee! Made by pet experts Purina, it has meat as the first ingredient and has been reinforced with vitamins and minerals to make sure your pet gets all it needs for a healthy start. There is some discussion about additives in Purina brand products, so read ingredient labels before purchasing.
Hill’s Science Diet is often recommended by veterinarians. This one also comes with a money-back guarantee. Each can contains over 50 nutrients including 25 vitamins and minerals to help your kitten grow and thrive.
Dry Kitten Food
As we said in the wet food section, kittens should be fed at least two meals a day of wet food. One of the downsides of wet food is that it loses its freshness within about 2 hours, and can attract flies in the summer. If you have to leave your kitten during the day, you may prefer to feed them dry food while you are away.
Dry food has other advantages too. It takes longer to eat, so helps keep your kitten occupied and prevents them from eating too much. It also keeps your kitten full for longer. And the crunching action can help clean plaque deposits from the teeth, to help with oral hygiene. Dry food is also often cheaper than wet food, and because it has a long life you can stockpile when you see a bargain.
For kittens up to about 9 months, being able to eat when they are hungry is important. So having some dry food available at all times is helpful.
Popular Dry Kitten Food
Combining chicken and sweet potatoes, this dry food is grain-free. It includes Taurine, and Blue Wilderness’ ‘Lifesource Bits’ which are vitamin packs pieces of kibble.
This food is made with prebiotic fiber, which supports your kitten’s digestive system and helps make the litter box more pleasant to clean. Contains no artificial ingredients.
The shapes of natural balance have been specially selected for a kitten’s smaller jaws. Gluten-free, this formula includes protein and fiber from different sources to help the digestive system.
This food has been formulated to include the nutrients found in a mother cat’s milk. Its primary ingredient is chicken, and it has added DHA and Taurine to help your kitten reach its full potential. There is controversy over IAMS products, so read the label thoroughly before buying and decide for yourself.
This food not only has the fish flavor that cats crave, it also includes ‘garden greens’ to add to its visual appeal. A 100% nutritionally balanced food, with a crunch that your kitten will love. There is controversy over Purina products, so read the label thoroughly before buying and decide for yourself.
Making your Own Kitten Food
For some pet owners, concerned about the environment or the effect that certain ingredients may have on their pet’s stomach, home-made food is the answer. Although there are recipes for making your own kitten food, because of the dietary needs of younger animals it is more complicated than just mincing up some chicken.
To make your own food, you would need to either grind up meat including bones or add bone meal to ensure your pet has the calcium it needs. You would also need to source the various vitamins and minerals that should be added. By far the simplest solution is t buy pre-made food from a reputable supplier.
The Most Important Choice you can Make
As you can see, choosing what food to give your kitten is one of the most fundamental choices to helping that ball of fun grow up into a healthy and loving pet. We hope that this guide has been useful to you in understanding why we would recommend feeding your pet a mixture of wet food, such as Hill’s Science Diet, alongside dry food like Blue Wilderness Kitten Food.