How much to feed a kitten
Kitten nutrition and food quality, are both vital, but the amount and calorie content of the food is important too.
From birth to adulthood, there are different ways you can support your cat to be happy and healthy. Their first food experiences can impact their relationship with food for their lifetime, so it is a critical milestone in your kitten's life. Most kittens and cats enjoy both dry and wet food, so introducing both types of food early on can help establish healthy habits.
To get you started, here's our guide on how much to feed a kitten.
How often should I feed my kitten?Kittens have small stomachs but big appetites, so they may eat many small meals throughout the day. Although they can eat up to 16 times a day, you should aim to give smaller meals 4-6 times a day during the early weeks of their lives.
Between 4 and 6 months, as they - and their stomach - grow, they’ll be able to take on more food in each meal. Over time, you can transition them to twice-daily meals, giving larger amounts of food but less often.
Some owners may decide to place their kitten's entire recommended daily feed amount out in one go to allow them to self-regulate their feeding. In this situation, what remains in the bowl should be discarded after 2 hours if it's wet food and 24 hours for dry food.
How much to feed a kitten from birth to 8 weeks
From birth to a month old, your kitten will be getting all the nutrition they need from their mother's milk. At first, they'll receive colostrum—the first milk of the mother which helps support their immune system in early life. You should ensure your kitten is fed:
- 8 meals per day during the first week
- 5 meals per day during the second week
- 4 meals per day during the 3rd week (and the same during their 4th week if needed)
Your kitten will gain weight steadily from birth as they grow into adult cats. This weight gain will be quickest during the first 8 weeks of their lives, decreasing the speed of growth at 6 months until they reach adulthood at 12 months.
During this period, you should weigh them every day. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a weight chart that maps out their optimal weight throughout kittenhood. If their weight stagnates or drops, or if you're concerned they're overweight, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
Between 3 and 5 weeks old, your kitten will start to show an interest in solid food, and you can begin weaning. This will generally last between 3 and 4 weeks. You can help the transition by feeding them wet food such as a Mother and Babycat mousse which is easy to eat. Or if you use dry kibble, mix it with a kitten milk replacer (or water if needed) to a mushy consistency so your kitten will be able to chew it easily.
How much to feed your kitten from 8 weeks to 4 monthsBy now, your kitten should be eating solid foods and be totally weaned from their mother's milk or kitten milk replacer. Choose food which is specifically designed for kittens, which will support their growth and development. Find out more about what to feed your kitten.
You can begin to set good eating habits by making sure you space out your kitten's food, play, sleep and litter areas, echoing what they would do naturally. Have plenty of fresh water available, too, to keep your kitten hydrated.
How much to feed a kitten from 4 months to 12 months
As your cat matures, maintain good feeding habits and avoid stress by letting it eat in peace in a calm place. Lots of kittens will self-regulate their eating, so you can leave out the total recommended portion of food for the day and allow them to revisit their bowl as many times as they like. Again, always discard wet food after it's been for over 2 hours and dry food for longer than 24 hours.
If you choose to get your cat spayed or neutered, there is the risk they'll gain weight rapidly after the procedure as their energy expenditure reduces by 30%, yet their appetite increases by up to 26%. Choose a food that's specially formulated for spayed or neutered kittens, which is appropriate for their breed and gender, and monitor their weight closely.
How much food for indoor vs. outdoor kittens and cats?
Indoor cats with sedentary lifestyles usually need less energy than outdoor cats, so it's important to give them an appropriate portion to avoid them gaining weight and suffering from health problems.
There are tailored indoor and outdoor cat foods available. Outdoor cat foods will generally be higher in fat and proteins which gives them the energy they need. However, it does put kittens at a higher risk of over-feeding, so keep an eye on their weight. Indoor cat food can have higher fiber content, and if an indoor cat is very active, you should consider adjusting their diet accordingly.
How much wet food should a kitten eat?
Using the weight of your kitten, look at the back of your kitten food or the product information online to find a feeding guideline that will tell you how much to feed your kitten per day.
Most kittens and cats enjoy dry and wet food, so introducing both types of food early on can help them develop healthy eating habits. If you're feeding a cat a mixed diet of wet and dry food, there are mixed feeding tables available to help you work out what your cat needs.
Setting up good feeding behaviors and providing your kitten with the right food for their needs can help them become a happy and healthy adult. If you're not sure of the right way to feed your cat, please contact your veterinarian for advice.
Tailored nutrition for your kitten
Nutritional formulas that help to build your kitten's natural defences, support healthy growth, and aid in digestive system development.
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