Key nutrients for kittens

We select ingredients according to their nutritional profile, the quality and their sustainability. Those ingredients are a means for ensuring kittens get the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. Like a complex puzzle, a complete and nutritionally balanced diet offers the precise combination of the nutrients that a kitten needs to develop healthily.

Kitten standing indoors licking its lips next to a stainless steel feeding bowl

Your kitten’s diet must support its growth

As kittens are going through an intense period of growth, they need higher proportions of protein in their diet. Proteins are important for building muscle, skeleton and other tissues, and an unbalanced diet can cause serious problems such as bone and joint issues.
Your kitten’s rapid growth also puts a strain on their delicate digestive system. So, as well as having the right nutritional balance, their food needs to be very easy to digest.

Bengal kittens playing on a white sheet while their mother stands behind

The developmental needs of kittens

The needs of growing kittens are very different from those of adult cats, and not remotely similar to those of humans. Their diet must provide them with the nutrients needed to maintain body condition, and with the right nutrient mix to develop their bodies and ensure correct growth. It must also take into account their immature digestion, immunity and dentition. A perfectly tailored nutritional solution supports the body’s growth, energy needs and immune function.

  • High energy provision and quality proteins to aid growth
  • Strengthen immature immune system
  • Easily digestible
  • Tailored to mouth size and dental structure
  • Aids cognitive, skeletal and cell growth

Different nutrients play different roles in your kitten’s first weeks and months of life. Over the last 50 years, our nutrition and research teams have spent countless hours researching the nutritional needs of kittens and the role they play in healthy growth and development.

The term “carbohydrates” mostly includes sugars, fibres and starch. They play an essential role in enhancing body function. Carbohydrates that are used in ROYAL CANIN® diets, are useful and easily digestible form of energy for growing kittens.

Dietary fibres can be found in carbohydrate-like substances, such as pectin, cellulose and lignin. They are sourced from plant materials, such as wholemeal cereals, root vegetables, fruit and gelling agents. Limited amounts of dietary fibre in a kitten’s diet can be useful in the prevention of gastro-intestinal issues, such as diarrhea and constipation.

Dietary fats serve as the most concentrated source of energy in a balanced diet, and lend palatability and texture to kitten foods. As well as providing energy, fats (also known as lipids) deliver essential fatty acids that are vital to body functions, while also positively affecting coat quality and a healthy nervous system.

Protein plays a vital role in healthy kitten development by forming and renewing tissue, muscle and the skeleton. Protein is a precious raw material for both the human and animals food chains, and one that should be used as efficiently as possible. Proteins are composed of chains of hundreds (or even thousands) of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids present in proteins and they are classified into two different types: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids can not be made by the kitten's body in sufficient amounts for healthy functioning and development, and therefore must be present in food. Non-essential amino acids can be derived from an excess of essential dietary amino acids, but they are still vital to healthy function and should form part of a balanced diet.

While taurine is an amino acid, it’s worth a special mention due to its importance to the healthy development of kittens and the lifelong health of cats. Unlike most other animals, cats cannot synthesize enough taurine to meet their needs, and this is exacerbated by the fact that taurine plays a central role in digestion and excretion of toxins. All cats therefore need a dietary source of taurine to maintain healthy function of their digestive, cardiovascular, reproductive and neurological systems.

There are two types of minerals required for healthy development. Macro-elements such as calcium, phosphorous and potassium enable a number of key functions in the kitten’s body, including healthy bone growth, transmission of nerve impulses and muscle metabolism. Trace elements, such as iron, copper and manganese contribute, amongst other things, to healthy skin, bones, blood and coat.

Vitamins are needed for a wide range of biological and developmental functions including:
  • Immune and cognitive function
  • Cell function and repair
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Fat metabolism
  • Blood clotting
  • Brain and liver function
There are two types of vitamins: water soluble and fat soluble. A kitten is less able to store water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin B, thiamine and riboflavin, in its body and therefore it is critical that these vitamins are part of their regular daily diet.

The animal’s water requirements are mainly, but not entirely, met through drinking.
The diet also contributes, first through its water content and second through the water produced as nutrients are assimilated. For example, when a kitten uses in one gram of lipids it produces a little over one gram of water in the body.

The diet you feed your pet during kittenhood will influence their health and eating habits for the rest of their life. So, ensuring they maintains a healthy, balanced diet during this stage is vital. A nutritionally complete and balanced diet tailored to their specific needs plays a vital part in that. For further advice and information on choosing an appropriate diet for your pet, speak to your veterinarian or search for a veterinarian here.

Our Kitten Ranges

ROYAL CANIN® kitten nutrition supports growth and development by providing all the nutrients essential to a kitten's needs in the first year of life.

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Explore more about feeding

Feeding your kitten a nutritionally complete diet that is tailored to their specific needs is vital for supporting healthy development and laying the foundation for a healthy future.

Feeding your kitten
Sacred Birman kitten eating wet food in black and white on a white background