What Should I be Feeding my New Kitten?

Nutrition and obesity play a large role in how long an individual will live. So, investing some time in learning what and how your new kitten will be eating is very important as it can set them on the right path for life-long health! It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to read a pet food label so that you can look past the extensive marketing gimmicks to chose a diet that is best for your little friend – check out our Nutrition page for more information on this. 

Kittens need growth diets designed specifically for kittens.  Every organ, including the brain, is growing rapidly in a kitten, and therefore, they have higher requirements in many areas: They need more energy (more energy dense foods) for growth and keeping their body temperature regulated; higher levels of protein to allow the rapid growth; increased fat (essential fatty acids for brain development and fat to allow specific vitamin uptake); and minerals such as calcium and phoshorus for muscle and skeleton development. For example, diets for kittens should have a minimum crude protein of 30% dry matter basis, and 18-35% of fat on a dry matter basis. The chosen diet may be a combination of dry food, wet/canned food or home-made food. 

What is an “All life stages” diet?

These diets are marketed as being suitable for animals young and old, including lactating and pregnant animals. So, these diets are typically quite energy dense and will meet a growing animal’s needs. However, these diets are often formulated to meet minimum requirements only, and added components such as essential fatty acids are often not included in these diets. This is why diets specifically designed for growth and development are still ideal. Also, because these diets are so energy dense, they are often NOT best for grown, adult animals who have much lower energy requirements and can result in obesity. 

Most nutritionists do NOT recommend raw food diets for growing animals.

This has mainly to do with food safety issues as kittens are more susceptible to disease caused by harmful bacteria that can be present due to contamination and improper handling and storage of the raw diets. Furthermore, many raw food diets are not properly balanced, and will not meet the nutritional requirements of a growing animal. 

Once the growth phase is complete, there are some pets with individual food sensitivities and/or gastrointestinal issues that can do very well on these foods BUT there are some dogs and cats that do not tolerate raw food.  We recommend that people using raw food diets are very cautious with handling these foods, especially if there are very young, or very old family members or household members with chronic illnesses or are immunosuppressed (including other pets!) in contact with the dog eating the raw food diet.

General Guidelines

Your kitten’s nutrition will routinely be assessed during your visit with the vet, considering it is such an important aspect to their health and wellness. If your kitten is neither underweight or overweight, is having approximately 2 solid bowel movements a day, has a lot of energy, and has a shiny hair coat, it is likely on a diet that is meeting his or her demands! If your kitten has loose stools or more than 2-3 bm’s per day, flatulence, vomiting, a dry, flakey skin and haircoat, is overweight or underweight, has behavioural issues and has not been diagnosed with an underlying medical condition, you should consider switching their kitten food, as these are all signs that they may not be getting enough nutrients from their current diet, or may not be tolerating their diet for other reasons, leading to health and/or behavioural problems.

If you have any questions, please let us know!  We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about your kitten’s diet and help you chose a diet that is right for you.