Kittens are cute and cuddly creatures that need constant care and attention. To guarantee that they grow up to be strong and healthy cats, they must be properly fed during the first few months of their life. If you’re curious to discover the best soft food to feed kittens, you’ve come to the right place! In this Waldo’s Friends post, you’ll find answers to the questions:
- When is a cat considered a kitten?
- What should I feed a kitten?
- Which ingredients should be in my kitten’s soft food?
- What are the best soft food brands for kittens?
- Other kitten feeding reminders
This blog post is meant to equip first-time kitten owners, foster parents, and even longtime pawrents with all the information they need to raise kittens under their care. It is not meant to replace regular visits to the veterinarian. As a reminder, consult with your vet to create a customised meal plan that fits your kitten’s ever changing needs.
When is a cat considered a kitten?
A cat is referred to as a kitten as soon as she is born and until she reaches six months old. In this first stage, she is highly dependent on her mother for survival—from maintaining body temperature to receiving much-needed nutrients. With her mother’s assistance, a kitten learns how to eat, pee, and poop. She also picks up her mother’s social skills and behaviours throughout this period.
What should I feed a kitten?
A kitten rapidly grows during the first few weeks of her life, gaining double or triple her body weight in this stage. Initially, a newborn cat should drink her mother’s milk to receive essential nutrients and antibodies. When her mother is absent or unable to provide milk, kitten supplement formula or kitten glop may be given instead. Kittens cannot just drink any kind of milk produced by animals or derived from nuts because these may cause unwanted side effects.
Milk can be consumed by kittens until they are 3 to 4 weeks old. After that, they must transition to soft food to compensate for their rapid growth and active lifestyle. Since they are still unable to chew properly, a combination of milk and wet food can be fed to kittens about 3 to 4 times a day until they are 6 weeks old. They should be able to consume high-quality dry food by the time they turn 1 and a half months old. Specially made kitten formula food should be served to your pet until she reaches 1 year old.
Which ingredients should be in my kitten’s soft food?
Always choose commercially produced cat food labelled specifically “for kittens” or “for growth,” which have been approved by your vet. It must be nutritionally complete and balanced to ensure the healthy development of your kitten’s growing organs and body systems. Refrain from buying cheap and generic wet food brands that may not contain premium ingredients. If a product lists whole grain cereal, cereal byproduct, or meat byproduct as its primary ingredient, do not purchase it.
When looking for soft food to feed your kitten, make sure that (1) it is packed with high quality ingredients, and (2) a balanced amount of protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fat, and carbohydrates:
- Protein: As carnivores, kittens should receive at least 30% of protein in their daily diet to assist with tissue and muscle growth. It should contain real meat such as chicken.
- Amino acids: Ingested protein turns into amino acids that are absorbed by the intestine and transported through the bloodstream. Taurine is an example of an essential amino acid needed by kittens, which they cannot produce sufficiently. This amino acid aids in vision, digestion, heart muscle function, and immunity.
- Vitamins: Food with vitamin E and selenium will help your kitten develop a stronger immune system. Meanwhile, vitamin A is needed for muscle and neurological development. Kittens also need vitamin D for bone growth and maintenance by helping manage calcium levels in the body.
- Minerals: Look for kitten food packed with phosphorus and calcium to aid in bone and teeth growth.
- Fat: Because of their active nature, kittens need fat in their diet, which they can efficiently transform into energy. Omega-3 fatty acids contain arachidonic, linoleic, and docosahexaenoic acid, which kittens need for their overall development.
- Carbohydrates: Kittens do not need to consume a high amount of carbohydrates, but eating a small amount can work as an additional source of energy and fiber. Carbohydrates can also help stimulate your pet’s immature gut tissue.
What are the best soft food brands for kittens?
Aside from the use of premium ingredients, nutrient balance, quality assurance, palatability, and digestibility are also important factors to consider in choosing the right soft food for your kitten. If you’re living in Australia, check the nutrition facts label to make sure that the product complies with the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food AS 5812:2017. If you’re residing in the USA, look for kitten food brands approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Try these trusted brands and see which ones your kitten will enjoy eating:
Other kitten feeding reminders
Do not feed your kitten food that’s created for adult or senior cats since these contain different levels of nutrients, which may not be enough for your growing kitten. These adult formulated meals may cause indigestion, or worse, prevent your kitten from achieving her ideal height and size.
Also, refrain from feeding your pet homemade kitten meals. The ingredients you use may cause allergies or intolerances, or may even be toxic for her. More importantly, these home cooked meals may not be nutritionally complete and balanced.
TIP: Check out our “can cats eat” category to discover which ingredients in the kitchen may be safe for your kitten to consume.
Ask your veterinarian which kitten food brands to try, and how many times a day you should feed your pet. Since your kitten’s stomach can only hold small quantities of food, you may need to feed her many times throughout the day. Doing this will also help prevent her from gorging and vomiting. Aside from feeding her right, keep her hydrated with fresh water via drinking bowls or a running fountain.