Helping cats and dogs live their healthiest lives.
Sacred Birman kitten stood next to an adult Yorskhire Terrier in black and white.
Sacred Birman kitten eating wet food in black and white on a white background

Kitten feeding and nutrition

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.

Kittens need different food from adult cats

As kittens are growing rapidly, and their digestive and immune systems are developing slowly, they have very specific nutritional needs that are different from adult cats. In particular, kittens need a diet with a higher energy and protein content, plus nutrients that support the immune system and the right balance of vitamins and minerals.

Why your kitten's diet is so important

To help your kitten grow and stay healthy, it's vital to provide food suitable for their age, lifestyle and specific nutritional needs. They need the right balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Only a well balanced diet will provide essential amino acids such as taurine, which cannot be synthesized by the body.

Birth to 4 months

During this intense growth period, kittens need a diet rich in antioxidants to help build their immunity. They're ready to wean at four to eight weeks and, initially, their food should have a very soft texture to help them move on from mother's milk.

Sacred Birman kitten sitting indoors next to a red feeding bowl

4 to 12 months

Your kitten’s digestive and immune systems are strengthening but still fragile. Their growth rate and energy needs begin to slow, but they still need easily digestible food designed for developing kittens.

Tabby kitten standing indoors eating from a stainless steel feeding bowl

Adult cats

Once your kitten is 12 months of age, you can slowly switch to adult food. An adult cat's nutritional needs depend on factors including their breed, activity levels, and whether they've been spayed or neutered. It's worth getting advice from your vet about switching to the right adult food at the right time for your cat.

Abyssinian kitten standing indoors eating from a white feeding bowl

The science behind ROYAL CANIN® kitten nutrition

We specialize in health nutrition. For us, feeding your kitten isn’t just about building their body and providing energy – it’s about protecting them too. We provide the optimal balance of nutrients to promote health as well as for energy, cell growth, and maintenance.

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.

Kitten range of cat food

Your kitten's feeding schedule

Before bringing your kitten home, check the food they're used to and the quantity they're fed daily. Any sudden dietary changes can upset your kitten's stomach and they'll adapt more easily to their new home if their food's familiar.
Keep an eye on your kitten's weight to ensure they're neither losing weight nor becoming overweight – both of which can cause health issues. Follow the recommended feeding quantities on your kitten's food packaging and contact your vet for advice if you're concerned about their weight or growth.

There are three common feeding methods for kittens and cats.

  1. Self-service - This is the most natural style as, when cats have free access to food, they usually eat several small meals a day – as many as 16 in 24 hours. It's suitable for kittens who can eat dry food and aren't overweight or likely to overeat.
  2. Fractioned feeding - This is when you feed your kitten at specific times during the day. It's not as well-suited to their natural grazing tendencies, so it's best to divide their overall daily ration into smaller amounts offered several times a day.
  3. Combination feeding - For this feeding method, you provide kibbles on a self-service basis and wet food at set times. If you use this approach, it's important to control the amount of food provided overall to prevent your kitten becoming overweight.

After sterilization (neutering or spaying), a kitten's appetite tends to increase but they also become less active. Without careful management of their diet and exercise, this can lead to them becoming overweight.
Ask your vet for advice on adjusting your kitten's diet after sterilization. You may need to switch to a food designed for kittens that have been sterilized, so you can provide the same quantity but fewer calories.

Create the right environment for feeding your kitten

Cats are very sensitive and a variety of factors can create food aversion. They prefer to eat somewhere calm, out of sight, and with an easy escape route, and don't like their food bowl being near their litter box. Keep your kitten's food bowl away from their water bowl, too, to prevent the water becoming contaminated with food. And create their feeding area away from your own dining area so they're not tempted to nibble at your meals.

Events such as strangers arriving, arguments, changes in lighting, and sudden noises may all affect how much your kitten eats, so keep disturbances to a minimum.

Grey and white kitten standing inside eating from a white feeding bowl

How much should my kitten drink?

Cats generally need to drink around 60 ml or 2 oz per kg of body weight – either by drinking or through their food. The temperature, your kitten's exercise levels, and their physical condition affects how much they need to drink, as well as their diet. A kitten fed dry kibbles (which contain around 10% water) will drink more than one fed with wet food (which contains around 80% water).

Why can mixed feeding be good for kittens?

Mixed feeding is when you feed your kitten a combination of wet and dry food – either at the same meal or at separate meals. It can help to provide balanced nutrition and offer a variety of other health benefits, too.

Hydration

Two pouches of wet food a day can provide around 73% of your kitten’s recommended daily water intake.

Palatability

Our wet formulas are designed to be highly appealing to the fussiest of kittens.

Weight management

Wet food’s high moisture content means you can serve a larger portion for the same number of calories.

Dental hygiene

Dry kibbles can help to keep your kitten’s teeth clean thanks to the brushing effect on their teeth as they chew.

Natural grazing

Providing dry food to nibble on throughout the day enables your kitten to follow their natural instinct to eat several small meals daily.

When should I begin mixed feeding?

A cat's dietary preferences are influenced by the routines established in their first year. So it's good to offer your kitten a variety of foods early in life, while always introducing new foods gradually. An ideal time to start mixed feeding is between the ages of two and three months.

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Kitten standing indoors eating from a stainless steel bowl

How to change your kitten’s food

Any sudden changes in diet can cause digestive upsets and may make your kitten wary of their food. So it’s important to introduce new foods slowly during a week-long transition – whether you’re switching to adult food, changing products, or introducing mixed feeding.

Read the article
how to transition onto new food illustration

Kitten feeding quiz

Test your knowledge and find out how much you've learned by taking our quiz

Maine Coon kitten in black and white on a white background Bengal kitten in black and white on a white background

Question 1 of 4

How is the kitten food different to adult cat food?

Correct!

Kittens require higher protein and energy levels in their diet, to support their rapid growth and development. Without the appropriate balance of nutrients, your kitten may not be able to support the continuous changes they face through the first year of life.

or

Mother and kitten playing together outside in grass

Wrong

Kittens require higher protein and energy levels in their diet, to support their rapid growth and development. Without the appropriate balance of nutrients, your kitten may not be able to support the continuous changes they face through the year of life.

or

Mother and kitten playing together outside in grass

Question 2 of 4

Which nutrient is responsible for digestive comfort in kittens?

Correct!

Dietary fibers, sourced from plant materials, are useful in a kitten's diet may help prevent gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or constipation

or

Maine Coon kittens lying down next to each other on a sofa

Wrong

Dietary fibers, sourced from plant materials, are useful in a kitten's diet may help prevent gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or constipation

or

Maine Coon kittens lying down next to each other on a sofa

Question 3 of 4

How might a kitten's diet change after sterilization?

Correct!

After sterilization, a kitten's appetite tends to increase, while at the same time they become less active. If their calorie intake is not carefully monitored, then your kitten could quickly become overweight.

or

Grey kitten eating from a ceramic food bowl

Wrong

After sterilization, a kitten's appetite tends to increase, while at the same time they become less active. If their calorie intake is not carefully monitored, then your kitten could quickly become overweight.

or

Grey kitten eating from a ceramic food bowl

Question 4 of 4

Which environmental factor is likely to impact your kitten's eating behavior?

Correct!

Cats are very sensitive, so factors such as placement of bowls, household visitors, or loud noises can easily disturb your kitten's eating habits.

or

Grey kitten eating from a stainless steel feeding bowl

Wrong

Cats are very sensitive, so factors such as placement of bowls, household visitors, or loud noises can easily disturb your kitten's eating habits.

or

Grey kitten eating from a stainless steel feeding bowl

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Kitten nutrition explained

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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.

Kitten range of cat food