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A Guide to Kitten Nutrition

Published date: 08 March 2024

Kittens need a LOT from their diet to enable them to grow. Although they start off as tiny balls of fur and whiskers, our kittens don’t stay little for long. Cats quickly reach adulthood, with most (unless they are a large breed) maturing by the time they get to 12 months.

Getting diet right is essential for allowing your kitten to grow up into a healthy and flourishing feline.

What Do Kittens Need in a Diet?

To understand how to cater to your kitten, it is firstly important to understand the nature of our feline friends. Cats are Obligate Carnivores, which means they are a predator that eats meat out of biological necessity.

Although plant matter forms an important PART of our cats’ diets, they lack the physiology and anatomy to survive on this alone. They require a diet high in meat and animal nutrients, it is simply not in our cat’s nature to be vegetarian or vegan.

Proper nutrition is about providing kittens with the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly. The ideal kitten diet will have higher levels of the following:

  • Protein – which supports optimum cell and muscle growth, repair and provides energy.
  • Fat – which provides a concentrated source of energy to allow for healthy steady weight gain and a source of important vitamins.
  • Calcium – to allow for proper bone growth.

It is essential to feed kittens a food that specifically caters to them. Although many adult cat diets can seem similar, they have not been formulated to support growth. Instead, they are designed to aid in maintenance and keeping an adult cat healthy.

Most cats will need to be fed a kitten diet until they reach a year old. After this they can be switched onto an appropriate adult diet.

What to look for in a Kitten Diet?

The key to understanding kitten food is looking at the ingredients list. The composition will give you more information than any other part of the packaging.

Ingredients lists can be tricky to understand sometimes, so here are some quick tips on how to read and what to look for on kitten food packets.

  1. Look for Named Ingredients. Some foods will use vaguer terms such as ‘cereals’ or ‘animal derivatives.’ These can be difficult to understand and aren’t telling you exactly what your pet is eating. Instead look for straightforward clear and named terms. For example: Oats or White Rice rather than cereals and Chicken Meat Meal or Fresh Salmon rather than derivatives.
  2. High Level of Meat Ingredients lists go in descending order, with highest quantity first. For a growing kitten meat should be at the top of the list, as they need plenty of protein to build up muscle.
  3. Plenty of Supportive Ingredients. Ingredients such as Salmon or Insect Oil will aid your kittens brain health and promote healthy soft fur.

Alongside these, look for prebiotics (often listed as FOS and MOS), these feed the friendly bacteria in your kitten’s gut. This aids their digestive function and boosts their immune system!

Pssst: to discover more about ingredient quality and nutritional values, check out Pet Food Expert.

A natural high meat kitten food will provide a fabulous start for your young feline. Check out our range of Trusted Kitten foods for the perfect diet.

How often should I feed my Kitten?

Kittens need plenty of fuel to grow, so will happily munch through a lot of food.

However, it is important to note that our cats have small stomachs (although some greedy cats don’t seem to realise this!) and cannot cope with large meals.

The ideal way to feed your kitten is to give them around 4-6 small meals a day. As your kitten develops you can reduce their number of meals. However cats are grazers, it is natural for them to eat little and often, so smaller meals are always more suitable.

Pssst: Ditch the Bowl for a more enriching dinnertime. Use a handy Cat Treat Dispenser or create your own fun game using a cardboard box. Simply grab a shallow box, cut some paw sized holes in the top and sides, then fill it with their food. Exciting, mentally stimulating and very fun to watch.

Head into your local Pets Corner store for more kitten advice and check out the hand-picked essential products in our Kitten Shop.

Remember to take a peek at our cat blogs, for advice on everything from litter to where you can find advice on everything from litter to playtime.

Written by Lucy Marcham

Lucy teaches all aspects of the Pets Corner curriculum and specialises in animal nutrition, ensuring that our staff have the right knowledge and understanding of pet diets to assist customers with confidence and care.