Hearts melt at the sight of a kitten. But that adorable bundle of fluff you’re bringing home is going to need looking after for her whole life. And because cats can have nine lives, that’s a long time! Giving your kitten a good start in life is the best way to make sure you’ll both enjoy many years of fun together. During those early, vulnerable months you’ll need to give her lots of care and attention to help her settle smoothly into life with your family.
Food for thought
Cats are not small dogs, especially when it comes to nutritional needs. Kittens need different levels of certain nutrients, like protein, taurine and fats when compared to dogs or puppies. Choosing an appropriate kitten food is a big responsibility. After all, it’s what will help her grow and develop to her full potential. But to help her feel secure, it’s best not to change her diet straight away. Remember to find out what your kitten was eating before you became her new owner, and feed the same food for at least a week.
Not all kitten foods are the same – some have much better quality ingredients than others. This is why you might want to change your kitten’s food to one recommended by your vet. You’ll need to do this over a period of five to seven days; your vet will advise you on this process. Mix some of the new food into her usual food, and gradually increase the amount until only the new food is left in your kitten’s bowl.
As you can imagine, a kitten’s stomach is tiny, so to begin with, she’ll need small but frequent meals. This means putting out fresh food in a clean bowl often. Kittens aged from eight to 12 weeks need four meals a day, three meals from three to six months old, and two meals when they are over six months old.
Food for kittens
By far the easiest and most successful way to ensure your growing kitten is getting a healthy, balanced diet is to feed a complete premium food for kittens. There are two types of complete foods available: dry or wet. With dry food, your kitten can visit her food bowl as often as she likes throughout the day. Wet foods in cans or pouches, on the other hand, are likely to lose their freshness quickly once in the bowl, so need to be given as separate meals throughout the day.
But just like with human food, not all kitten foods offer the same quality and value for money. A ‘complete’ kitten food will provide all the vitamins and minerals your kitten needs. Hill’s Science Plan Kitten food is scientifically formulated to meet the specific needs of kittens up to one year old. Science Plan Kitten dry food comes in two variants, chicken or tuna, and the selection of wet food comes in pouches, cans, mousse and a stew.
If you’re unsure which to buy, your vet will advise you about which is best for your pet. But whatever food you choose, follow the feeding guide on the pack, and be careful not to overfeed your kitten.
Believe it or not, kittens don’t need milk. And for some cats, cows’ milk can actually cause upset tummies. Make sure your kitten has a bowl of fresh, clean water at all times. Some cats may even prefer to drink from flowing water sources, like dripping taps or specially designed water fountains that you can buy. If she’s eating dry, crunchy food, she will drink more water than if she is eating wet food.
* Dr Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Affairs Manager at Hill’s Pet Nutrition