How much do you feed baby kittens
Bottle Feeding Kittens | Best Friends Animal Society
This resource provides instructions for caring for bottle-feeding kittens (“bottle babies”) – very young kittens who have been abandoned or orphaned. It includes information on feeding, weaning, medical care, developmental milestones and more.
Table of Contents
1.) Warmth and bedding
4.) Weight and hydration
5.) Elimination and litter box training
6.) A clean kitten is a happy kitten
7.) Medical care
8.) Kittens’ developmental milestones
9.) Loving care
Warmth and bedding
For their safety, bottle babies should be kept in a cat carrier when you are not feeding or caring for them. The kittens must be kept warm. Use a heating pad designed and approved for pets (such as a K&H or Snugglesafe pet bed warmer), wrapped in two or three layers of towels. The top layer of bedding can also be a soft fleece blanket instead of a towel. Make sure the carrier is large enough for the kittens to have an area to move away from the heating pad if they are too warm. Kittens will need the heating pad until they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
Cover the carrier with a towel or blanket and keep it in a warm, draft-free room, securely away from other pets. Check the bedding several times a day for messes. Bedding should be changed at least once a day, more often if the kittens soil the bedding.
A kitten’s ideal body temperature is 100 to 102 degrees. A kitten who feels cold and is unresponsive should be warmed immediately. Never attempt to feed a cold kitten. Place the kitten on an approved heating pad safely wrapped in two or three layers of towels. Turn the kitten side to side every 5 minutes. To stimulate blood flow, you may, ever so gently, massage the kitten with hand-rubbing. If the kitten does not respond within 20 to 30 minutes, contact your medical staff immediately.
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Do not feed cow’s milk to kittens, as it does not have the proper nutrition for them. Cow’s milk will also cause diarrhea, a possibly life-threatening condition for young kittens. Only feed your kittens an approved kitten formula. Kitten Milk Replacement (KMR) formula is ideal. The instructions for mixing KMR are below.
KMR powdered formulaUse 1 part formula to 2 parts water. A part is whatever you are using to measure with. For example, if you’re using a tablespoon for measuring, this would mean 1 tablespoon of powdered KMR and 2 tablespoons of water.
Formula that has been in the refrigerator must be warmed to 98-102 degrees Fahrenheit before feeding. Heat a mug of water and place the bottle in the mug of heated water. Never heat the bottle in the microwave. Before feeding the kittens, always test the temperature of the formula by placing a few drops on your inner wrist to be sure it is not too hot. Always wash your hands well with soap and water before and after feeding the kittens. Bottles and nipples should be cleaned thoroughly before each use.
When bottle nipples are brand new, you may need to cut a hole in the top. Cut an X in the tip of the nipple using small, sharp scissors. Or you can burn a hole in the nipple using a large needle. Heat the needle with a match, then poke it through the nipple tip. It may take a few attempts to make the hole the correct size. Once the hole is made, test it by placing the nipple on a bottle of formula and turning the bottle upside down. The formula should drip slowly out of the hole. If the hole is too big, the kittens will ingest too much formula too fast; if it is too small, they will have to work harder to eat and won’t eat as much as they should.
To prevent the possibility of spreading viruses between the kittens and other pets in your house, keep a “kitten gown” (a robe, sweatshirt, etc. ) in the kittens’ room to wear during feeding and handling of the kittens. You may also wear gloves if you wish, and remember to always wash your hands well before and after feeding your bottle babies.
Because kittens under 4 weeks old aren’t able to pee or poop on their own, you’ll need to help the kittens do that by stimulating them before or after each feeding, or both. Using something soft and absorbent, like tissues or toilet paper, rub each kitten’s genital area in a circular motion. (For more details, see the section on elimination below.) Keep records of their eliminations in case an issue arises. After a kitten has eliminated, weigh him or her before feeding. You should also keep records of the kittens’ weights before and after each feeding.
After recording the kitten’s elimination and weight, it’s time to feed. Never feed a kitten on his back. The kitten should be on his stomach in a position similar to how he would lay next to his mother to nurse. You may try holding the kitten upright swaddled in a warm towel or have the kitten lay on a towel in your lap. Experiment with what position works best for you and the kitten.
Turn the bottle upside down and allow a drop of formula to come out. Place the bottle nipple in the kitten’s mouth and gently move it back and forth, holding the bottle at a 45-degree angle to keep air from getting into the kitten’s stomach. This movement should encourage the kitten to start eating. If at first you don’t succeed, wait a few minutes and try again. Usually the kitten will latch on and begin to suckle. If the bottle appears to be collapsing, gently remove the nipple from the kitten’s mouth and let more air return to the bottle.
Allow the kitten to suckle at his own pace. If a kitten refuses to suckle, try stroking the kitten’s back or gently rubbing her on her forehead. This stroking is similar to momma cat’s cleaning and it may stimulate the kitten to nurse. If this doesn’t work, try rubbing some Karo Syrup on the kitten’s lips. If the kitten still doesn’t want to nurse, contact your medical staff immediately.
Do not attempt to feed a kitten who is chilled because it can have serious health consequences. Try warming the kitten as described above. If you are unable to warm the kitten, contact your medical staff immediately.
A kitten should eat about 8 milliliters (mls) of formula per ounce of body weight per day. The chart below provides guidance on when and how much to feed kittens.Courtesy of the Kitten Lady
Nursing bottles are marked with measurements, so this is another way to know how much you’re feeding the kittens. Please note that some bottles use ml for measurement, some use cubic centimeters (cc). They are the same: 1 cc = 1 ml.
Using a kitchen or small postal scale, weigh the kittens daily to calculate the amount of formula they need. Keep a log listing daily weights and amount of formula consumed at each feeding.
If you are feeding multiple kittens, feed the first kitten until he stops nursing, then begin feeding the next kitten, and so on. Once you have fed all the kittens, feed the first kitten again and repeat with all the kittens. Usually one to three nursing turns will suffice. When a kitten stops nursing, he/she has had enough. A well-fed kitten’s belly should be round, but not hard and distended. Smaller or weaker kittens may eat less per feeding and will need to be fed more often.
Kittens need to be burped, just like human babies. Lay the kitten on his stomach, on your shoulder or in your lap, and very gently pat his back until you hear a little burp. You may need to burp a couple times per feeding.
Young kittens may suckle on each other. If you notice a kitten doing that, you should separate the kittens because this can lead to many medical issues.
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Weaning may begin around 4 weeks of age. Start by offering the kittens formula on a spoon. Once they are lapping off the spoon, try putting some formula in a saucer. As they master lapping up the formula out of the saucer, you can gradually add a small amount of canned food to the formula in the saucer, making a gruel. Increase the amount of canned food slowly, adding more food and less formula. Some kittens catch on right away, others may take a few days. To be sure the kittens are getting enough food, you may need to continue bottle feeding them a few times a day, until they are eating well on their own. Be sure to feed them what they need to be full, but don’t overfeed them.
Never force a kitten to wean. Some kittens continue to enjoy their bottle past 4 weeks. This is fine as long as you keep a close eye on them and ensure that they’re not chewing on the nipple. Now that they have teeth, they could ingest part of the nipple.
Monitor the kittens’ stools to make sure they are tolerating and digesting the gruel mix well. If the kittens have loose stools, reduce the amount of canned food and increase the formula until their systems have adjusted. As the kittens adjust to the gruel mix and you are adding more canned food to their diet, you can also add more water to the formula mix. If you are using KMR formula, add an extra measure of water when preparing the formula. Instead of 1 part formula to 2 parts water, mix 1 part formula to 3 or 4 parts water.
As the kittens eat more food and less formula, you will need to have a bowl of fresh water available to them at all times to keep them well hydrated. At this time, you may also add dry food to their diet. Add some of the watered-down formula mix to the dry food to entice the kittens to eat it. Gradually reduce the formula and let them eat the food dry. Again, keep watch on the kittens’ stools to make sure they are tolerating the food well. If diarrhea or constipation persists with the change in diet, contact your medical staff. (Spoiler alert: There’s always some diarrhea when kittens wean.)
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Weight and hydration
Weigh your kittens before and after each feeding using a kitchen or postal scale. Kittens should gain about ½ ounce every day or 3 to 4 ounces per week. By 8 weeks, most kittens weigh about 2 pounds. Enter their daily weights in the logbook. If the kittens are not gaining weight or are losing weight, contact your medical staff right away.
A well-fed kitten should be properly hydrated. To test a kitten’s hydration, pull up on the skin at the scruff of the neck. The skin should bounce back easily. If it doesn’t bounce back, or goes back down slowly, the kitten may be dehydrated. If the kitten appears dehydrated, contact your medical staff.
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Elimination and litter box training
As mentioned above, young kittens cannot eliminate on their own. A momma cat will clean her kittens, stimulating them to urinate and have a bowel movement. As their human caregiver, you now have the honor of performing this duty. Before and/or after each feeding, use a tissue or soft cloth to gently rub and clean the kitten’s lower belly, genital and anal area. The kitten should begin eliminating within a minute.
Kittens should urinate after each feeding and have a bowel movement one to four times a day. Do not continue to rub the kitten for more than a minute or so, since this could irritate her delicate skin. Gently wash the kitten after she is done eliminating using a clean, damp, soft cloth. Record the kittens’ elimination type and frequency in the logbook.
When they are between 3 and 4 weeks of age, kittens can be introduced to the litter box. Use a small cardboard box or plastic litter box with just enough clay litter to cover the bottom. Don’t use clumping litter. Adding a used tissue from when you helped them urinate to the box will help them get the idea of what to do next. Put the kittens in the box, allowing them to get the feel for the litter. Natural instinct will generally prevail and the kittens will begin investigating, scratching, and, within a few days, using the box.
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A clean kitten is a happy kitten
After feeding, clean any formula, urine, feces or other messes off the kitten using a clean, soft, warm, damp cloth. This action simulates how the momma cat would clean the kittens. If more cleaning is required, you may use a wetter washcloth dipped in warm water to loosen up caked-on messes in the kitten’s fur. Do not use soap or pet shampoo directly on the kitten. If you must use a shampoo to clean the kitten, add one or two drops of shampoo to a cup of warm water, then use the cloth dipped in this mixture to clean the kitten. Rinse the cleaned area with another cloth dipped in clear, warm water. Gently dry the kitten with a soft towel or hair dryer set on low and not held too closely. Do not allow the kitten to become chilled. Once the kitten is clean and dry, place her back in the carrier on the covered heating pad, which should be covered in clean layers of bedding.
Kittens’ ears should be clean and dirt-free. If the ears are dirty, gently clean the area with a Q-tip; you may need to dampen it in warm water. Do not use ear-cleaning solution because it could be harmful to the kitten. Only clean the outer area of the inside ear, just the part that you can see; do not push the Q-tip down into the ear. If the ears are extremely dirty or you see signs of ear mites (specks that look like coffee grounds), contact your medical staff about treatment options.
Kittens may have some discharge in or around their eyes. To cleanse the area, gently wipe around the eye with a warm, damp, soft cloth. If the discharge continues, is cloudy, or the eyes are gooped shut, clean the eyes as directed above, then contact your medical staff for treatment options.
All kitten bedding should be washed separately from other household laundry using detergent and ¾ cup of bleach per load. To clean carriers and litter boxes used for the kittens, use a mixture of ¼ cup of bleach per gallon of water. You may add a tablespoon of laundry soap to the wash water. Do not use any cleaning agents that contain ammonia or are not approved to mix with bleach, since it could cause hazardous fumes. Be sure the carrier and/or litter boxes are completely dry and free of bleach fumes before putting them back with the kittens.
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A veterinarian should be consulted for kittens showing any of the following symptoms.
Do not medicate kittens without consulting a vet first.
- Straining to urinate, or not urinating
- Upper respiratory symptoms: goopy/watery eyes, runny nose, constant sneezing, coughing, wheezing or labored breathing
- Not eating
- Change in attitude or behavior
- Hair loss
- Anything you are worried or concerned about
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Kittens’ developmental milestones
Kittens weigh about 2 to 4 ounces at birth. They are blind, deaf and totally dependent on the mother cat for survival. Some developmental milestones:
- At 7 to 10 days, their eyes start to open. Kittens’ eyes are fully open by 20 days. Their eyes stay blue until they are 6 to 7 weeks old.
- They will begin to play with each other at 3 to 4 weeks.
- By 3 to 4 weeks, solid food can be introduced, their first juvenile teeth are cut, and litter box training begins.
- At 6 weeks, kittens are well-coordinated, running and climbing and full of mischief.
- Kittens are ready for their first vaccinations at 4 weeks and spay/neuter surgery at 6 weeks.
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Physical and emotional contact with you is extremely important for the growing, developing kitten. Early cuddling and gentle petting of kittens helps them to bond well with humans, allowing them to grow up feeling safe and secure with their human family. Playing with the kittens with a variety of toys will stimulate their minds and help them develop good motor skills.
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Kitten Feeding Week by Week
Feeding orphaned kittens can feel like a full-time job, especially in the beginning when they need to be fed the most. But it’s also incredibly rewarding, and before you know it, your kittens will be eating on their own and soon ready to find homes. The feeding protocols below are provided by the Kitten Nursery of Salt Lake County Animal Services, in partnership with Best Friends Animal Society–Utah.
Kittens one week old or less: Bottle-feeding
- Food type: Formula
- Frequency: Every 2 – 3 hours (8 – 12 times per day)
- Amount: 3 – 4 cc per feeding
Two-week-old kittens: Bottle-feeding
- Food type: Formula
- Frequency: Every 3 hours (8 times per day)
- Amount: 5 – 6 cc per feeding
Three- to four-week-old kittens: Bottle-feeding
- Food type: Formula
- Frequency: Every 4 hours (6 times per day)
- Amount: 13 – 17 cc per feeding
Four-week-old kittens: Begin feeding gruel – Weaning stage
- Food type: 1/2 can per kitten of gruel (gruel instructions below) in a dish and dry kitten food in a dish, and dish full of water at all times. Plus formula three times per day.
- Frequency: Keep kibble, water and gruel in cage at all times.
- Give 13 – 17 cc of formula every 8 hours (3 times per day).
- During bottle-feeding sessions, try to get the kittens to also eat gruel off a spoon or tongue depressor and from a dish (see instructions on making gruel for more tips). It is important to start getting small amounts of gruel into their stomachs.
- Note: At this time, also introduce litter box; kittens can eliminate on their own at this age and do not need to be stimulated to go anymore.
How to mix gruel
Small batch (for one kitten): ½ can of wet kitten food mixed with ¼ can of formula (use an empty food can as a measuring cup).
Large batch: Whisk 8 cans wet kitten food with 4 cans of fresh, warm formula (use the empty food can as a measuring cup). At this age, kittens like their food a little lumpy so they can chew.
Note: Substitute the warm water for formula in gruel for kittens 5 weeks and older.
Helpful tips when using gruel:
- When introducing kittens to gruel, put gruel in a flat dish and place kittens near the dish. If they do not start to eat on their own after a few minutes, use tongue depressor or spoon to scoop gruel into kitten’s mouth. You may have to open their mouth and put a little in. You can also put a little gruel on their nose and see if they will lick it off. Sometimes the kittens need to adjust to the new taste.
- Once kitten starts to eat gruel off the spoon or tongue depressor (may take a few feedings for them to figure this step out), slowly start to lower it towards the dish of gruel. The kittens should easily transition from the spoon or depressor to the dish (may take a day for them to start eating out of the dish regularly).
- During the weaning process, kittens still need to be bottle-fed three times per day (about every 8 hours) to ensure they are receiving proper nutrients.
Five- to eight-week-old kittens: Solid food
Food type: ½ can per kitten of kibble in a dish and wet food in a dish at all times, and a dish full of water at all times
- Kittens 3 to 5 weeks should be given baby cat kibble.
- Kittens 5 to 6 weeks should be given kitten kibble and kibble should be mixed into the wet food.
- Kittens 7 weeks and older should eat mainly dry kibble.
- Weeks 5 and 6 are transition weeks where the two foods (what they were eating and what they will be eating) should be mixed together so their tummies do not get upset by the change in diet. Gradually decrease the amount of food they were eating while increasing what they will be eating over the course of 7 days.
Spay or neuter and adoption
Eight-week-old healthy kittens are fully weaned and should soon be ready to be spayed or neutered and to find their new forever homes. It is much easier to find homes for eight-week old kittens than it is if you wait longer, so start setting a plan early on. Sharing photos of the kittens with friends and family as they grow, and telling everyone you know that you’ll be looking for homes for the kittens is a great way to find homes. For more advice on finding homes for the kittens, see this guide on finding homes for homeless pets.
It is also important to ensure that all the kittens are spayed or neutered, so they don’t accidentally add to the thousands of unplanned litters of kittens that enter shelters each year. Find a low-cost spay/neuter clinic near you.
While caring for orphaned kittens is a lot of work, it’s also a lot of fun. The most rewarding part is watching your charges grow up and go into new homes. And the best part is that you can feel good knowing that you helped keep kittens — the most at-risk animals to enter shelters — safe and sound.
More about abandoned baby kitten care
Note: This article is the last in a four-part series on caring for baby kittens who are abandoned.
Photos by Sarah Ause Kichas
CatCaring for Pets
How to feed a kitten | Pick a Friend Foundation
1. Gather the necessary supplies. To feed a newborn kitten, you will need some kind of specially designed device. If possible, use a bottle with a kitty teat set, such as Hartz. This bottle itself is small and made of transparent plastic with markings for more accurate measurement of liquids. The nipple is made of special rubber and has an appropriate comfortable shape to fit in the kitten's mouth. This allows him to suckle the bottle as if he were suckling his mother.
If you don't have a dedicated feeding device, then another alternative is a syringe that can be used to dribble milk into the kitten's mouth. However, the kitten does not have the ability to suck on a syringe, so try to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible.
2. Sterilize the equipment. It is critical to maintain sterile equipment. A simple wash is not enough for this. Consider using a steam sterilizer (like for baby bottles) or immerse the equipment in a bowl of cold sterilizing liquid, such as Chicco.
Cold sterilization fluid can usually be found in pharmacies in the children's section. Follow the instructions on the packaging. If you decide to use such a liquid when sterilizing your kitten's feeding equipment, do not forget to rinse everything with boiled water afterwards so that there are no residues of the sterilizing agent on the inventory.
3. Prepare and heat the mixture. If you are using liquid formula, open the jar and measure out the required amount of mixture according to the instructions. When using a powder mixture, follow the instructions on the packaging regarding the required number of scoops per volume of water. Always follow the directions exactly, as a mixture that is too strong can lead to stomach upset, while a formula that is too dilute will not provide the kitten with the required amount of nutrients.
Always prepare a fresh batch of formula for every feeding. The mixture does not contain preservatives, and the immune system of a newborn kitten is still weak, so getting bacteria from the environment into the milk can be a disaster for his health.
Do not microwave; because of this, too hot and too cold areas can form in the mixture. Instead, simply place the mixture in a container and place it in hot water to heat up.
Make sure the milk is at the right temperature – neither too hot nor too cold. Ideally, the mixture should be at body temperature, so when you apply a couple of drops of it to the back of your hand, their temperature should seem to be about the temperature of your skin. If you use too hot mixture, you can burn the kitten's mouth.
4. Check your kitten's body temperature. When you are ready to feed your kitten, make sure it is warm. To some extent, a kitten's ability to digest food depends on its body temperature. If the kitten is cool, his digestion will slow down, and the mixture will linger in the stomach and ferment. Newborn kittens usually cling closely to their mother and therefore remain quite warm. For the first three weeks of their life, a temperature of about 35. 6-37.8 degrees will be considered ideal.
Try to keep the kitten at this temperature by placing a heating pad under a well-insulated kitten nest. If you don't have a heating pad, use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to prevent the kitten from coming into direct contact with the hot water and getting burned. Refresh the hot water as needed to keep the kitten warm.
5. Feed the kitten. Sit in a comfortable chair with a folded towel on your lap. Place the kitten in the same way as it would be fed by its mother: lay it on its stomach with its paws down and with its head slightly raised. The first time you try to feed the kitten, squeeze a drop of the mixture onto the tip of the nipple or syringe. Bring it very close to the kitten's mouth. The kitten has a rather acute sense of smell and, most likely, having smelled milk, he will try to kiss the nipple or syringe.
When using the pacifier at this stage, you should help the kitten a little by inserting it into its open mouth. Natural instincts should take over and the kitten should start suckling.
When using the syringe, gently press the plunger to release a drop of milk into the kitten's mouth. Let the kitten swallow between drops. Never fill your mouth with milk completely, as the kitten can inhale the milk, it will enter the lungs and develop pneumonia, which is usually fatal for kittens. Just take your time and go slowly.
The position of the kitten is very important. Never feed it upside down like a human baby and make sure the kitten is lying on its stomach during feeding. Make sure that his head is not up, as this can lead to inhalation of the mixture into the lungs, which is very dangerous and can lead to the death of the kitten.
6. Feed your kitten the correct amount of formula. Kitten formulas are usually accompanied by instructions on how much and how often to feed. Follow these instructions. The following are only generalized indications of the volume and frequency of feeding mixtures of kittens in the first weeks of their life.
At the age of 1-3 days, give 2.5 ml of cat's milk replacer every two hours.
At the age of 4-7 days, give 5 ml of the mixture and organize 10-12 feedings per day.
At the age of 6-10 days, give 5-7.5 ml of the mixture and organize 10 feedings per day.
At the age of 11-14 days, give 10-12.5 mixtures and feed the kittens every three hours.
At the age of 15-21 days, give 10 ml of the mixture 8 times a day. At the age of over 21 days, give 7.5-25 ml 3-4 times a day simultaneously with the introduction of solid food.
7. Pay attention to important signs while feeding your kitten.
When learning and practicing formula feeding a kitten, remember that improper feeding can lead to breathing problems. Make sure that milk does not flow out of his nose during feeding, and his stomach does not swell.
In terms of feeding volumes, if your kitten is greedy enough to continue sucking on the pacifier even after exceeding the recommended dose, examine his belly. If it swells up and becomes tight, stop feeding. This is a sign of a full stomach, it's just that the kitten hasn't realized it yet. Don't overfeed him.
If your kitten eats less than the recommended amount, don't panic. This may be his personality. If you're worried about your kitten being malnourished, instead of trying to force more formula into him at the risk of choking his lungs, stop, let the kitten rest, and try feeding the kitten again in about an hour.
8. Remain calm. It is very important not to lose patience and remain calm when you feed the kitten so that he is also calm. In addition, allow the kitten to eat as long as he needs to avoid overeating or digestive problems.
Stimulate burping by placing the kitten's back against your body and stroking its belly. When a cat cares for kittens, she licks them and thereby stimulates urination and defecation. Don't be surprised by any of the possible results - these are good signs!
9. Clean the kitten's bottom. The mother cat usually licks the kittens' bottoms and genitals immediately after feedings to stimulate urination and defecation. She also eats their excrement, which is a natural way to keep the nest clean, as a dirty nest can attract predators. In the absence of the mother, you need to intervene in this process. Take a damp cotton swab and wipe the kitten's anal area, imitating licking movements. As soon as the kitten goes to the toilet, wipe off the excrement with a cotton swab. Finish the procedure with an additional wipe of the kitten's buttocks with a clean cotton swab, and you will be free until the next feeding.
This is an important step in the successful feeding of a kitten. If the mother's stimulation of urination and defecation is not imitated, the kitten will not empty its bladder and bowels normally, which can cause it to become seriously ill.
10. Return the kitten to its warm nest or box to rest. Continue to follow a regular daily feeding schedule for the coming weeks until weaning and proper transition to solid foods. Additionally, consult your veterinarian regarding a suitable diet at the time of weaning.
Introduce solid foods in the form of soft canned food and solid kibble when the kitten is about four weeks old. Some kittens prefer to bottle feed for up to eight weeks, so the progress of the transition to solid food should be monitored by a professional veterinarian.
What to feed small newborn kittens
A kitten grows and develops very quickly - its immunity and digestive system have an increased load. A kitten needs a complete balanced diet that takes into account the needs of an emerging and not yet strong organism. It must contain proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins in the right amount and ratio for healthy growth and development. All these qualities are possessed by industrial feeds of a super-premium class.
The best option is special food for kittens. A combination of dry and wet food in the daily ration will be correct, taking into account the pet's needs for nutrients and energy. This diet is varied and has significant health benefits for your pet:
- wet food provides more than 70% of the required daily fluid intake;
- chewing dry food pellets maintains dental hygiene with a toothbrush effect;
- dry food can stay in the bowl all day and allows the kitten to eat small meals throughout the day, following her natural instinct.
Do not place dry and wet food in the same bowl. In one feeding should be one of the options. It is desirable that the feed be of the same brand and one line, selected according to the age characteristics of the animal and the needs of its body.
When should complementary foods be started and what should they contain?
In the natural environment, a kitten consumes only mother's milk until about 3 weeks of age. During this period, his body is not yet ready to digest solid food. The transition to "adult" food should occur gradually, over several weeks, in small portions.
A kitten grows very fast: on average, starting from the third week of life, he gains about 100 g of weight every week. It is important to provide the body of the animal with all the necessary resources during the period of intensive growth. For complementary foods, both wet food (canned food) at room temperature and dry croquettes soaked in water are used. The main thing is that the food is high-calorie, with a balanced mineral composition and a protein content of 35%. Also, the kitten's food should be saturated with omega-3 fatty acids for the development of vision. Excellent options that meet all of the above requirements are PRO PLAN Junior NUTRISAVOUR wet kitten food and PROPLAN Original kitten dry food. The composition of the feed includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals that ensure the full feeding of babies, their healthy growth and development. The OPTISTART® complex includes elements important for a growing organism: minerals and vitamins that contribute to normal digestion, support of immune defense, development of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system, as well as sources with a high content of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Don't forget that a portion of food should be fresh each time so that it does not become weathered and does not spoil. Dishes - clean, otherwise there is a risk of reproduction of pathogenic microorganisms. A bowl of fresh water is available - the cat needs to receive approximately 60 ml of water per 1 kg of body weight per day.
By the age of 2 months, the kitten already does without mother's milk and completely switches to self-feeding. The daily food intake is indicated on the food packaging. It is calculated according to the age and weight of the animal.
What should not be fed to a kitten?
There are foods that should not be given to a cat. Their use in food leads to acute and chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary system. For small kittens and for adult cats, this list is approximately the same:
- fried, salty and fatty foods,
- meat with bones,
- sweets and chocolates,
- whole cow's milk,
- raisins and grapes,
- sausage and canned food from your table,
- smoked meats,
- legumes (only in very limited quantities, e. g. in a balanced prepared food),
- river fish.
What to feed kittens?
If you took a kitten not immediately from a cat, but from other owners, be sure to ask what the baby is used to eating. A sudden change in food can lead to digestive disorders. If necessary, change your pet's eating habits gradually. To do this, gradually mix the new food with the usual one, increasing its proportion within 5-7 days.
It is extremely difficult to create a balanced diet for an animal without being a professional. After all, you need to consider what nutrients, and most importantly, in what quantity, should be supplied to the cat's body for healthy development and life. In addition, home food has a number of significant drawbacks:
- Expensive. A healthy diet should always include fresh, high quality foods that are suitable for a particular animal. Essential vitamins and minerals must be purchased separately. For example, a kitten definitely needs: taurine (maintaining the functioning of internal organs, vision and skeleton formation) and biotin (hair quality), Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, the amino acid Arginine and much more.
- Not stored for a long time. You will have to cook constantly, because eating stale food will lead to poisoning. Also, for example, when traveling, you will need to find a time and place for cooking a four-legged friend.
- Does not take into account the changing needs of the animal. Ready-made feeds are produced taking into account age characteristics and health status. Keeping track of all the nuances yourself is quite difficult.
Therefore, a ready-to-eat, balanced food is best. At the same time, you should not independently select vitamins and mineral supplements for a kitten - be sure to consult a veterinarian. Ready meals already include all the necessary substances, and their excess in the body is as harmful as the lack.
Monitor your pet's condition and behavior at all times. With proper feeding, the kitten is active, curious, cheerful and playful. A healthy animal is moderately well-fed, has a beautiful shiny coat. The kitten's stool should be well shaped and light to dark brown in color. If all these indicators are normal, then everything is in order - you have chosen the right nutrition for the kitten.
Kittens have their own dietary habits at every age. Let's consider them step by step.
10 times a day, including at night, evenly distributed throughout the day. Night feeding is a must.
What to feed?
Milk feeding by a cat lasts up to 60 days, sometimes longer. The first portions are colostrum, which contains all the useful substances and antibodies to protect the cubs from various diseases.
Motherless babies need special food. It is necessary to buy artificial mixtures that replace milk at a pet store or veterinary pharmacy. It is convenient to feed a kitten with a medical pipette. There is also milk. It is convenient to feed a kitten with a medical pipette. There are also special kits for feeding kittens, which already include all the necessary equipment. Please note that not only the mixture itself, but also the bottle should be warm in order to more resemble a mother-cat kitten.
8-9 times a day, also at night. But now you can say goodbye to one night feeding.
What to feed?
During this period, the kitten's eyes open - the baby begins to take an interest in the outside world. At the age of 15-20 days and up to 2 months, kittens are teething. The amount of milk decreases in a cat - babies may not eat up and squeak. Milk feeding must be continued, as its use is important for the formation of immunity. But it's time to feed your pet with other food. At first, it should be wet food, diluted with warm water to the consistency of low-fat sour cream, or dry food, well soaked in warm water. You need to give complementary foods in very small portions, a teaspoonful, while carefully monitoring the well-being and stool of the pet.
When choosing complementary foods for cats, keep in mind that taste preferences are formed early in life. What kind of food you teach a small pet to, he will eat like that in adulthood. It is recommended to choose super-premium-class feeds, since they are made only from natural products, they contain all the necessary nutrients, and super-premium class, since they are made only from natural products, they contain all the necessary nutrients, and harmful there are no additives.
A great food option for little kittens, already in the right consistency, PRO PLAN® BABY KITTEN chicken mousse for the first feeding:
- tastes great and will satisfy even the most capricious fluffy babies,
- contains milk proteins that are easily digestible by a fragile body: A-lactoalbumin and B-lactoglobulin,
- is rich in milk protein with essential amino acids that promote healthy muscle growth and development.
Contains a complex of useful substances:
- vitamins A and B,
Kitten at 2-3 months
From 1 month to 2 months - 7-8 times a day. From 2 months to 3 months - 5-6 times a day or the daily allowance of food should be constantly available.
What to feed?
By the age of 2 months, the kitten should completely give up mother's milk or artificial formula, and switch to canned food or dry food. For a variety of food, it is good to combine different types of feed in approximately equal proportions. Dry granules can no longer be soaked. Do not forget only that the kitten should always have access to clean water. A good example of a suitable dry food for kittens is PROPLAN Original Kitten dry food. The product was developed with the participation of nutrition scientists. It contains all the necessary ingredients to keep kittens healthy: protein, essential nutrients, including vitamins C and D, and omega-3 fatty acids. The OPTISTART formula supports the kitten's natural immunity thanks to colostrum in the composition. The food is suitable for sterilized and neutered kittens. Promotes a healthy brain and vision with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Supports healthy growth of bones and muscles.
Kitten at 4-7 months old
at least 3-4 times a day or the daily allowance of food must be constantly available.
What to feed?
During this period of life, kittens grow and gain weight very quickly - it is necessary to provide the most balanced nutrition. Dry food PROPLAN Original, which we talked about above, is just right for a growing organism. It can also be combined with wet kitten food such as PRO PLAN® original kitten with chicken.
Kitten at 8-12 months old
During the period of 8-12 months, the body has already finished forming, and the kitten switches to the “buffet type of food”: the animal 10-20 times a day is suitable to a bowl and eat in small portions, as needed. It is worth remembering that frequent approaches to the bowl is the norm for a cat, and this behavior can be observed in very young kittens. It is important that the animal receives the recommended amount of food indicated by the manufacturer on the packaging.
What to feed?
Already at the age of six months, a kitten has almost the same body weight as an adult cat. Active growth begins to slow down from 6 months. Meals become less frequent, and milk is no longer present in the diet. The animal plays less and expends energy. Until the age of one year, you can continue to feed the kitten with specialized kitten food. From the year you need to transfer it to adult nutrition. It is better if an adult cat also eats super premium food, as they provide a healthy life and support immunity. All PRO PLAN foods are developed in cooperation with scientists and taking into account the characteristics of different cats. You can learn more about feed options by going to our website.
Peculiarities of feeding kittens of different breeds
Many owners wonder what to feed a thoroughbred kitten. A breed is a stable combination of phenotype (appearance) and genotype (a set of genes obtained by targeted selection). That is, there are 2 significant differences between breeds: appearance and origin. These differences practically do not affect the nutritional habits.
Individuals with special health needs are more likely to need specialized feed. PRO PLAN products include lines for sterilized and neutered cats and cats, as well as for cats with sensitive digestion. For example, PRO PLAN® DELICATE KITTEN dry food is formulated for kittens with sensitive digestion or special eating habits. Prebiotics and specially selected protein sources support digestive health and food tolerance. The high calcium content promotes healthy bone and muscle growth. Wonderful taste qualities will appeal to even the most capricious kittens. It is possible to transfer a kitten to such food at the age of 3-4 weeks. In order for the animal's body to adapt more easily to new food, the food should be mixed with water. As the kitten becomes accustomed to dry food, the amount of water for soaking decreases.
PRO PLAN® STERILISED KITTEN is formulated for castrated and neutered kittens. In addition to the above properties of PRO PLAN food, specially developed for cats and cats by a team of scientists, this food has additional qualities: it helps maintain healthy growth and weight due to its high protein content, it helps maintain a healthy urinary system, because neutered animals may be at risk of developing urolithiasis. illness.
There are several types of prepared feed:
- Economy class
Everyday food for cats and dogs, designed for average data, without taking into account the special needs of different groups of animals. May contain dyes and preservatives allowed in food. As a rule, they contain different sources of protein, including vegetable proteins, meat and bone meal. Daily feeding rates are high (more feed is required per day than in the medium and premium segments), feed digestibility is lower than in diets of higher classes.
- Medium and Premium
The most widely represented segment in pet stores. In different classifications, they may differ from each other or be combined into one class. These are feeds that take into account the different needs of animals and contain ingredients allowed in food products. The digestibility of rations is high, food for pets with special health conditions (a tendency to cystitis and urolithiasis, castrated animals, a tendency to gain weight, etc.) can be allocated.
- Super and premium segment
These are diets with specially selected animal protein sources free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. They are clearly divided according to the special needs of pets in different age groups, health status, hormonal status, and so on. Differ in high digestibility. As a rule, they are sold in pet stores and veterinary clinics.
Relatively young diet group. Clear criteria have not yet been spelled out. The main trends in this food group are grain-free, with specially selected protein sources, highly digestible, taking into account the individual needs of pets. It is not allowed to use ingredients not permitted in food products, artificial preservatives, flavors, dyes. may not take into account the vital status and / or special needs of the animal, not suitable for everyone.
- Therapeutic diets
This is a separate class of food prescribed by a veterinarian as part of the treatment of various diseases. They can be used for a long time, sometimes for life. Completely cover the pet's need for various nutrients and contribute to the healing and recovery after illnesses.
Now you know how and what to feed a kitten.