The Ultimate Guide to Feeding Kittens: What, How Much, and When

Bringing home an adorable little kitten is an exciting moment for any pet parent. As you embark on this new journey, it’s essential to ensure that your furry friend is getting the right nourishment for healthy growth. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about feeding kittens – from choosing the right food to determining portion sizes and feeding methods.

The Best Food for Your Growing Kitten

Kittens require a special diet tailored to their unique nutritional needs. Unlike adult cats, they need higher protein levels, more calories, and specific nutrients like calcium to support their rapid growth. According to Margie Scherk, a renowned veterinarian, young cats need an increased proportion of animal-based protein and additional calcium and phosphorus.

To provide the best nutrition for your kitten, consider both wet and dry food options. Wet food, while higher in moisture, helps keep your kitten hydrated and supports urinary tract health. On the other hand, dry food can aid in dental health by reducing tartar buildup. It’s best to consult your veterinarian to determine which option suits your kitten’s needs.

Choosing High-Quality Kitten Food

Selecting the right kitten food may require some effort, but it’s worth it for your kitten’s long-term health and happiness. When comparing different brands, pay attention to the protein source and avoid foods with excessive filler ingredients. To ensure the quality of the food, consult with your veterinarian, who can recommend the best options for your kitten.

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How Much to Feed a Growing Kitten

Kittens have an insatiable appetite due to their growth and activity levels. While feeding guidelines vary, a good starting point is to follow the directions on the food packaging. Your veterinarian can also calculate the daily caloric requirements based on your kitten’s weight.

It’s important to strike a balance between satisfying your kitten’s hunger and promoting healthy eating habits. Generally, kittens may consume about ¼ to ½ cup of food per meal. If your kitten is too thin or gaining weight too rapidly, adjustments can be made. Your veterinarian can assess your kitten’s weight using a body condition score.

Understanding Kitten Growth Rate

As your kitten grows, you’ll notice them gaining approximately one pound per month. By the age of four to five months, their growth rate begins to stabilize. At this point, your veterinarian will likely recommend transitioning your kitten to an adult cat diet.

Feeding Methods: Free-Feeding vs. Meal-Feeding

There are two primary ways to feed kittens – free-feeding and meal-feeding. Free-feeding involves leaving a bowl of dry food available at all times, allowing kittens to eat whenever they want. While convenient, this method can lead to overeating, particularly in multi-cat households. Additionally, more dominant cats may control access to the food, leaving the kitten hungry.

Meal-feeding, on the other hand, involves providing specific portions of food at scheduled times. This method is suitable for wet food and allows for better monitoring of each cat’s intake, especially in multi-cat homes. It may require more time and a routine schedule, but it ensures that each kitten receives their fair share of nourishment.

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Feeding Schedule for Kittens

Younger kittens, aged between 6 and 16 weeks, require several meals throughout the day. Their growing bodies need a steady supply of energy, so aim to feed them every 6-8 hours. As your kitten reaches 4-5 months of age, you can reduce the frequency to two meals per day, maintaining the total daily caloric intake.

What if Your Kitten Isn’t Eating?

If your new kitten isn’t showing a healthy appetite or is experiencing digestive issues, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian for guidance. Intestinal parasites can commonly affect kittens and cause gastrointestinal upset. Proper hygiene and preventive care are essential as some parasites can be transmitted to humans.

Bottle Feeding and Orphaned Kittens

In rare cases, when a mother cat is unable to care for her kittens, bottle feeding becomes necessary. This demanding but rewarding task involves feeding the kittens every few hours with special milk replacer formulas. It’s important to stimulate their urination and defecation using a cloth until they can do it themselves.

These bottle-fed kittens require extra attention for socialization since they miss out on learning acceptable play and biting behaviors from their mother. If you find yourself in this situation, seek guidance from your veterinarian to ensure the best care for these precious little ones.


Providing the right nutrition and feeding routine is key to raising a healthy and happy kitten. Remember to consult your veterinarian for personalized advice and recommendations. Enjoy this special time with your furry bundle of joy and watch as they thrive on a well-balanced diet. For more information on pet supplies and accessories, check out Karen’s Kollars.

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