Can You Overfeed a Kitten?
9 January, 2013

My sister has two kittens, Gracie & Wyatt, who are now approaching eight months old.  She has been feeding them both wet food- a measured amount and dry food all day long.   Her kitties are thriving!  She is concerned, however, that Wyatt, the boy, might be getting too chunky and wants to know if she is over-feeding her kittens.

Below are some of the general guidelines for feeding your kittens.

Kitten’s nutritional needs

A kitten’s weight may double or even triple during the first few weeks of life. To support this explosive growth, your kitten might have triple the energy needs of an adult cat.  In fact, kittens have a higher requirement for protein, amino acids, and minerals, as well as for some vitamins. Kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein.

For these reasons, most experts recommend you feed your kitten specially formulated kitten food until they are one years old. Although some cat foods are labeled as appropriate for kittens and cats of all life stages, these aren’t appropriate for your kitten unless feeding tests support the label claim. And don’t forget to provide plenty of fresh water — it’s a key to keeping cats of all ages healthy.

Buy a high-quality cat food

Make sure that your cat food has the right amount of protein, fat and other carbohydrates for your cat.  Your veterinarian can give you a recommendation or someone at your local pet store can help you.

Ultimately, you and your kitten are the judge.  If your kitten enjoys the food, wet or dry, that is the ultimate test.  And if your kitten is healthy and alert, has a steady weight gain, and a clean, glossy coat, your food is working well.  If not, check with your veterinarian about possible diet changes or ruling out any health problems.

Wet or Dry Food

It’s important that very young kittens have at least some canned food to eat as part of their diet. Very small kittens have very small teeth and can’t chew dry food well. Without some canned food, they won’t get enough nutrition to grow properly. If you are feeding your kitten both dry and canned foods, then twice a day canned feedings are sufficient. If they’re only eating canned food, they should be fed four times daily.

Feeding Schedule for Kittens

Young kittens are encouraged to eat freely and have unlimited kitten food available to them all day long, and then to transition to meal eating around four to six months of age. Free-choice feeding has the additional benefit of reducing stomach distention resulting from rapid meal eating. It also helps underweight or slow-growing kittens.

Of course, it’s not the best option for overweight or obese kittens. For these kittens, measured portions offered as meals or until gone is a better choice. Check packages for suggested amounts. Even with the energy needs of kittens, overfeeding can become a big problem.

In summary, you can over-feed your kittens.   As mentioned above, in Wyatt’s case, who is becoming a little chunky, my sister might need to ration the dry food during the day.  Since she is not home all day, the best method would be to put a controlled amount of wet and dry food in the morning and feed both cats again, only dry food, when she arrives home.

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