A kitten’s first year can set them off for a lifetime of good health. During that time, your kitten will grow from infancy through the equivalent of childhood, and then on to young adulthood. Along the way, your kitten needs special nutrition that helps build a strong bone structure, good muscles, a well-developed nervous system and the vitality that will take her through her first year.
Years of research at the Purina® PetCare Centre show that a normal kitten’s weight practically triples during her first three weeks. In her first 20 weeks, a kitten can have a 2000% increase over her birth weight. At 26 weeks, the visible growth rate starts to level off and she may look like an adult cat. However, your kitten will continue to develop inside – her bones become stronger and her body fills out – until she is a year old. Kittens, like babies, need their own special food. Her rapid growth and high energy level requires food that provides extra nutrition and calories. And since she has a small stomach, can’t just eat more to get the calories they need. This is why kittens tend to be “occasional” eaters – they eat a number of small meals in spurts during the day. To meet the unique needs of this growth pattern, your kitten will do best on a food that is specially formulated for her. Dry kitten food is a good choice because it stays fresh and flavourful in your kitten’s bowl throughout the day.
Give your kitten three meals a day, if at all possible, until she is six months old. At six months, she will closely resemble an adult in size. But don’t be misled – she still needs to do a lot of growing up and filling out. At this point she can be fed only twice a day. Keep in mind that she’s still a kitten and should continue eating a diet made especially for them.
Don’t be worried if your kitten’s appetite decreases slightly between four to seven months of age. As she loses her baby teeth, she may eat a little less because her gums are sore. By the time she is seven months old, most of your kitten’s permanent teeth should have grown in. One of the advantages of feeding dry food, apart from the convenience, is that dry food can help to decrease the rate of tartar accumulation on teeth.
Be sure to provide a bowl of fresh water daily for your kitten. The water should be in a clean container and available to her at all times.
For a proper feeding program, check the package for the recommended amounts at various age levels. It’s also a good idea to get your veterinarian’s advice for your particular kitten’s needs. Once your kitten has reached her first birthday, she is officially an adult. The high calorie requirements she had as a kitten have gradually declined, and she can now switch to an adult cat food.