How Often to Feed Kittens

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    Dr. Joanna De Klerk
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  • Updated on: 04/05/2020

The experience of taking a new-born kitten into your care can be an extremely rewarding one. However, it is important to know exactly how to look after something so fragile and young. If you would take a new-born kitten into your home, you must very carefully care for them.

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Since most kittens only go to their new homes when they are 8-12 weeks old. Feeding a kitten is not the same as feeding your average fully-grown cat, so it is important to do your research before taking on the challenge. Kittens need the perfect food and feeding schedule in order to grow and build up their strength and nurse them into healthy adults. How long can new-born kittens go without eating?

Cat’s livers are not designed to sustain long periods without eating food. Adult cats cannot live off their body’s energy stores alone for more than three of four days. Within a week, the vast majority of adult cats would perish if not given a source of food. For kittens, this number drops even lower than that. You should be providing your kitten with constant sources of water, but be careful you must make sure what the water or milk is not in a position where the kitten could fall in and drown. From a few weeks old you should be providing your kitten with food to ensure that they remain healthy and to promote growth.

What age should you stop bottle feeding kittens?

Much like you would treat a human baby, kittens need to be bottle fed during the early period of their life. Kittens are used to drinking milk from their mothers when they are young, but if you have rescued an abandoned kitten, this may not be an option. Bottle feeding is necessary for the first four to five weeks of care, using special kitten milk solutions that can be bought in pet shops or veterinary practices, mimicking all the nutrients and goodness they would receive directly from their mother.

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How do I wean my kitten from bottle?

Weaning a young kitten can require plenty of patience and a lot of persistence. If you are unsure whether your kitten is ready to be weaned, look out for the tell-tale signs. If they begin to bite and chew on the nipple of the feeding bottle, then place some solution onto your finger and see if they lick it off. If they do, they are ready for the weaning process. Start by putting some formula on a spoon and encouraging them to lick it off, as they did with your finger. Once they have completed this task, but some formula in what you intend to be their feeding bowl. If they do not feed from it straight away, dip your finger into it and let them lick it from your finger. Repeat this until they make the connection between the bowl and the formula. You can warm the solution to make it more appealing to them. Some young kittens like to be held, so pick them up when first introducing them to the bowl. If all else fails, you can begin the feeding session with a bottle before moving it away and encouraging them to continue feeding from the bowl.

Can you overfeed a kitten?

Their growing bodies are craving nutrients so much that they welcome any amount of food. But overfeeding will cause diarrhoea, which is dangerous as kittens get badly dehydrated. Kittens should be fed according to the instructions on the packaging, but each pet is individually and better consult with veterinarians.

If your kitten starts turning their nose up at food or goes hours without eating, this should be cause for concern. Keep an eye on the kitten and call your local vet to seek advice. The time span to catch a serious problem is a very small window for kittens.

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How much dry food should I feed my kitten?

After the weaning process, you should be looking to feed your kitten four small meals per day. When first weaned onto solid food, dry food needs to be soaked a little. Unlike dogs, cats have developed to eat little and often, so they enjoy dipping in and out of their food source throughout the day. This is where dry food can be valuable, as it does not go off when left out for hours, but the owner can feed absolutely dry food only kittens 8 weeks old. If your work life or lifestyle means that you cannot manage four small meals per day, then try for three but leave dry food out as a snack in between. These meals should ideally be a mixture of dry and wet food. As your kitten gets older, you can permanently reduce their meals to just three per day. Once they hit the six-month mark, you can reduce again down to two meals per day.

Lots of people like to leave food down for their cats to graze on. But in this way cat may become overweight, which can lead to diabetes.

Bottle feeding, wet food feeding, and dry food feeding for kittens

Bottle feeding should only occur for the first four to five weeks of your kitten’s life. As we stated above, once you notice that they are ready for the weaning process, you should move onto teaching them how to eat and drink from bowls.

Dry foods are easy to measure and use to feed your kitten, while also having a superior shelf life. The nature of dry crunchy food also keeps your kitten’s teeth healthy, which is an added bonus. The active chewing associated with dry food can help remove plaque. Smaller kibbles are also easy for kittens to chew and swallow. Dry food allows you to cater to your individual kitten in terms of the amount you give them. But you must remember what kittens should always be fed kitten food until they are fully grown, and then they can move to adult food.

Wet food also comes with added benefits. Some kittens simply prefer the taste, smell, and texture of wet food and will eat it far more readily. Although it can have a shorter shelf life, wet food often removes the need to measure, as it comes in ready-made pouches and trays. This makes it very easy and quick to serve, as well as keeping it fresh. Not only this, but wet food increases a kitten’s water intake, keeping them hydrated.

It is important that you take a responsible attitude to the diet of a small kitten, allowing the young organism to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Your pet will thank you for such care and give you love and a good mood.

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