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How Often Should I Feed My Kitten? Diet and Nutrition Needs Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Maine coon kitten eating

Bringing a kitten into your home is a huge responsibility. These tiny furballs require lots of time, attention, training, and most importantly, love. Like with any pet you bring into the family, ensuring your kitten is well-fed and healthy is one of your most important jobs. This is why learning as much about your kitten’s needs as you possibly can is such a great idea.

Many pet parents find themselves asking the question, how often should I feed my kitten. While most experts suggest feeding your kitten 3 to 4 times daily to ensure it gets the nutrition it needs, understanding why they require this many feedings and what types of foods are best are also extremely important. Read on below to learn the ins and outs of bringing home a new kitten to help make your new fur baby feel welcome.

Understanding a Kitten’s Nutritional Needs

A kitten’s dietary needs are not the same as an adult cat. These cute bundles of fur are more active and therefore require more calories to stay healthy. While a kitten’s need for fats, vitamins, and certain fatty acids are similar to those of its adult counterparts, its need for minerals, amino acids, and proteins is higher. Most kittens get around 30% of their energy from protein alone. Along with always having fresh water available, seeing to your kitten’s nutrition is the best way to give them a great start at a healthy life.

Persian kitten eating
Image Credit: Inna Astakhova, Shutterstock

Finding the Right Kitten Food

You may find yourself standing in your local pet store, staring at the shelves, trying to determine which food is best for your new kitten. Trust us, most first-time kitten owners go through the same struggles. It’s difficult to determine which kitten formula is best when each bag promises the same thing. Luckily, there are ways to find the right foods for your tiny companion.

The American Association of Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, works diligently to regulate our pet’s food. High-quality kitten foods that meet their standards are often your best option for providing your kitten with everything they need. When checking labels keep your eyes open for, “Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials.” Foods with this statement on them have the vitamins and minerals your kitten needs to stay healthy.

Should My Kitten Eat Wet or Dry Food?

As a new kitten owner, you want the best for your feisty feline. Due to their tiny teeth, kittens may have an issue eating only dry cat food.  This is why it’s best to offer your kitten the best of both worlds. If you plan to feed both wet and dry foods, two feedings a day of wet food, and access to dry food is the best method. If you only offer your kitten dry food, they may miss out on some of the vitamins and minerals they need to grow up healthy and strong due to their inability to chew their food properly. If you prefer only canned food, your kitten should eat four times a day. This will give them enough calories to help replenish themselves as they go through their active days.

kitten eat wet food for breakfast
Image By: taffpixture, Shutterstock

What Are the Best Feeding Methods?

When it comes to feeding a hungry kitten you may see fast, uncontrollable eating. To help avoid this type of issue while they are young, keeping dry food constantly available is a great idea. With your kitten feeling as though it can eat whenever it is hungry, they will not feel the need to gorge themselves and cause their tummies to distend. If your kitten is struggling with its weight at an early age, however, this free-feeding method should not be implemented.

Feeding methods with wet food should vary according to how much dry food your kitten receives. If you’re feeding your kitten both food types, they should only eat their wet food twice daily. Offering this as their breakfast and dinner is a great way to get your kitten used to schedule feedings. If you are only offering wet food to your kitten, spread their four feedings out in proper intervals to help avoid overfeeding and upset stomach.

What Should I Avoid Feeding My Kitten?

There are things out there your kitten should not eat. Treats are good for your little one, but they should be pet store-bought treats, not things from your table. Always be careful when feeding your kitten foods like raw liver and other meats, raw eggs, raw fish, and even milk. These types of foods can cause vitamin B deficiencies, diarrhea, and even seizures in kittens.

Some foods are considered toxic to cats and kittens. Here’s a list of foods you should never allow your kitten to eat even once they reach adulthood.

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Grapes

A Happy and Healthy Kitten

Asking yourself, how often should I feed my kitten, is a great starting point on learning the best ways to keep your kitten happy and healthy. By offering them the right types of foods 3 to 4 times daily, your kitten will thrive in its new home. Together, the two of you will have years of friendship and love ahead of you.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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