Feeding kittens is usually not challenging, unless they are unweaned. In that case, special measures are necessary to maintain strong health because there isn't one best food that applies to all kittens.
Nutrition may mean something slightly different for each cat, but some general rules apply.
Feeding a weaned kitten:
- For weaned kittens, a person should start by feeding any commercial dry food especially for kittens. The food should be slightly moistened with water. Fresh water should also be offered at all times. The dry food should be moistened until your pet is about five to six months old. Do not moisten the food with milk. Cow's milk may give a cat or kitten diarrhea and is not healthy for them.
Some pet owners want to move a cat on to canned food. This should not be done until the cat is at least six months old. However, the canned food should still be supplemented with the kitten chow until the cat is 12-18 months old. The kitten chow provides extra nutrients that are essential for a healthy adult cat. Also, dry food should still be offered even if the cat eats canned food.
- The owner can move from kitten chow to adult dry food by mixing the two and gradually decreasing the amount of kitten chow, until the pet is changed over completely to the adult dry food.
Feeding an unweaned kitten:
- Feeding an unweaned kitten is a very different process. This usually involves the care of newborn kittens. The owner must take over the mother's job. The first thing to do is to take the kitten to a veterinarian for detailed care advice. Some vets keep a special kitten formula in the office, and this should be used, if available. If not, many pet stores sell kitten formula. The owner should also get a small bottle - marked in CCs - with a nipple especially for kittens.
- Kitten formula should be about room temperature for optimal feeding, and the kitten should receive about 8 ccs of formula per ounce of body weight per day. This should always be confirmed with a veterinarian. The kitten will need to be fed about every 2-3 hours, if under three weeks old. This means setting an alarm in the middle of the night. By the time it is three weeks old, the feedings can be decreased to every six to eight hours.
- The owner can start, with a veterinarian's advice, to wean the kitten when it is about eight weeks old. It may take a week or two to get it completely weaned, but once the animal is eating moistened kitten food, the worst is over and the owner can relax and enjoy watching it grow up.