Last Updated: March 23, 2022
A kitten’s activity level is much higher than an adult cat’s. So choosing the right food for a kitten is essential for promoting healthy growth and satisfying their energy requirements. And providing a nutritious diet can ensure that your cat will grow into a healthy adult. But what do kittens eat? This guide answers this question and addresses essential feeding-related concerns about kittens.
What Do Kittens Eat?
Once kittens stop feeding on their mother’s milk, they should eat a varied diet. Vets advise that if you’re unsure which food is suitable for a kitten, it’s best to search for products specially formulated for young cats, containing all the essential nutrients a kitten needs. So what’s the best food for kittens? The best foods include those rich in protein, calcium, and Omega-3 fatty acids—the essential nutrients for a kitten’s healthy development.
Mother’s Milk and Water
Here how much they need from these depending on the stage they are in:
Typically, the mother cat will feed its kittens until around four to six weeks old because mother’s milk contains the essential nutrients needed during the first stage of their lives. This milk also helps kittens in their transition from milk to solid food.
If you’re taking care of an orphaned kitten, you should know what to feed a newborn kitten, including:
Mother’s Milk Replacement
Kittens up to four weeks old should be given kitten milk replacement formula, as they are too small to eat anything else. You’ll also need a bottle with a nipple to feed your kitten. Remember that kittens should not be fed cow’s milk, as it lacks the necessary nutrients and could cause stomach aches.
Once kittens reach four weeks of age, provide them with continual access to water. Keeping a shallow bowl of fresh water in reach is just as essential as knowing what to feed kittens. Cats are naturally poor drinkers but, of course, need water to stay hydrated. Ensure your kitten drinks enough water. Providing your cat wet food is also a good idea, thereby digesting water unawares.
So what can kittens eat regarding meat? Of course, like dogs, cats appreciate getting a piece of their owner’s food. But be careful to provide only the kind of meat that’s good for your baby cat, including:
- Bits of cooked beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and other lean meat.
- Tinned fish—such as sardines, tuna, and salmon—or a piece of any fish you’ve cooked for yourself. They should, however, be only given fish occasionally as a treat and not as a replacement for their diverse diet.
Meats you should avoid giving to your kitty include:
- Foods with fat, including greasy or seasoned pieces of meat, have no nutritional value and could contribute to health problems.
- Hot dogs, bacon, and sausage (all containing fat), are likely to upset your kitten’s digestive system and cause diarrhea.
What else can your kitten eat? If you feed them meat, dice or shred it into tiny pieces first. Kittens are greedy at times, causing them to choke on larger food pieces.
Raw Food and Bones
Raw meat and bones are not recommended for kittens, as they can break their teeth or cause internal blockages. In addition, raw bones may also carry bacteria that could cause illness.
If you wish to give bones to your cat, you may ask, what kind can I feed a kitten? The bones you provide your kitten should be raw, meaty ones and introduced gradually. But never feed your kitten-cooked bones. When cooked, bones are prone to splintering, which can cause intestinal obstruction or fatal internal damage.
|DID YOU KNOW? The size of the bone should be large enough for the kitten not to swallow it whole. Some smaller bones are suitable for kittens, such as raw wings and chicken necks, but always supervise your kitten while they eat raw bones.|
What Else Can I Feed My Kitten?
There are other nutrient-rich foods you can feed your kitten to supplement their diet. So then, what food can kittens eat besides fish and meat?
Canned Cat Food
The ingredients in canned kitten food help introduce your kitty to different foods and tastes. Other than canned fish, you can offer them shrimp, poultry, and various types of vegetables. Adding a teaspoon of canned food to their daily diet also helps introduce a varied diet. You could also use the canned food as a treat when training your cat.
Many cat owners give their kittens scrambled eggs for breakfast. Not only are eggs good nutrition, but kittens seem to love them. What should kittens eat in regards to the type of eggs? You should only offer unseasoned eggs without salt or pepper.
Although cats are carnivores—consuming meat is essential for them—offering them vegetables will enrich their diet with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So feel free to feed your kitten a few broccoli florets once in a while, or perhaps diced lettuce or other salad greens.
Squash and Pumpkin
What else do baby cats eat that can be found on our menus? The next time you cook pumpkin or squash, set aside a portion for your kitten. You can place pieces on a paper towel or plate, cover it with a wet towel, and microwave it. Serve it to your cat once it cools, and refrigerate the rest for another day.
|Kittens require a nutritional diet—essential for growth and development.|
|If a mother cannot provide milk, you should feed them mother’s milk replacement formula.|
|Raw meat and bones are not recommended for small cats due to GI obstructions that might occur.|
|You can offer your kitten some of your own food, such as eggs, salad greens, and pumpkin.|
How Many Meals per Day?
What should I feed my kitten? This question also depends on how many times a day you should feed them. Baby cats have more significant energy requirements, which proper nutrition should meet. Consider the following timeline, which includes the frequency and type of food you should feed your cat as they grow.
0 – 4 Weeks
What do newborn kittens eat in their first month of life? The mother cat feeds them with enriched nutrients in her milk that help form their immune systems. It also helps in their transition from milk to solid food. If you have a newborn kitten not being fed by its mother, you should bottle feed it kitten milk replacement formula every two to four hours. You don’t need to worry about overfeeding it, as it will turn its head and reject the bottle when it’s had enough.
4 – 5 Weeks
A new developmental stage begins after the kittens reach the age of four months. So what do kittens eat and drink during this time? Most kittens are ready to be introduced to some solid food at this stage. During this transition period, it’s advisable to combine kitten food with their milk formula until they’ve adjusted to eating only solid food. It sometimes helps to gently rub a bit of canned food on your kitten’s lips. The kitten should be fed every four to six hours during this stage, but make sure you weigh them frequently to ensure they’re gaining weight and developing correctly. What should kittens eat or drink additionally? You must also provide a fresh bowl of water at all times.
6 – 8 Weeks
When your kitten reaches six weeks of age, it should be completely weaned from the bottle and fed only solid food. You should choose wet and dry foods specially formulated for kittens and sometimes mix them so that your kitten can become familiar with both types at a young age. As it gets older, you can switch to an all-dry or all-canned diet, depending on the kitten’s preference. You may feed your kitten three to four times a day during this stage.
What food do kittens eat when they reach eight weeks of age? From this point, you should feed your feline friend high-quality kitten food three to four times a day until it’s six months old—subsequently gradually reducing feeding to two times per day.
|DID YOU KNOW: When it comes to choosing kittens’ food, quality is essential. Make sure you buy food that’s been certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), meaning that the food has been tested to ensure it’s complete and balanced—precisely what you need to give growing kittens to eat.|
When to Transition to Adult Food
Kittens should switch to adult cat food when they’re around one year of age. Some larger breed of cats, however, take more time to mature and might need to be fed kitten food until about 18 months old.
We know now what kittens should and can eat. But what do kittens like to eat, and how much? It’s advisable to keep an eye on what your kitten likes, but it’s better to observe how much your cat eats. Try establishing a routine in your cat’s feeding schedule and avoid leaving food out all day for them to snack on. If they’re not eating enough, you could change their food or contact your veterinarian.
What Should Kittens Not Eat?
The question, what can kittens eat, naturally entails what they cannot eat. First, make sure your kitten is provided with food that suits its nutritional needs. You may, however, be tempted to offer your kitten some of your food, some of which might be poisonous to them. So consider the following toxic foods to avoid.
Onions and Garlic
In general, these foods are poisonous for cats. So you should be extra careful not to give them any. Feeding your cat foods that contain onions and garlic can cause damage to their blood cells, which can lead to anemia.
Chocolate and Caffeinated Drinks
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs and just as poisonous for cats because it contains methylxanthines—substances that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and even seizures. Methylxanthines are also found in caffeinated drinks.
What should kittens eat when they’re older? Some think that cats love milk and can drink it continually. But cats have trouble digesting the lactose in milk, resulting in an upset stomach and diarrhea. Additionally, baby kittens only drink milk for a few weeks and cannot handle being reintroduced to lactose when they’re older.
Grapes and Raisins
A small number of grapes or raisins can make your cat ill, as these foods can lead to kidney failure. Even though not all cats show signs of poisoning, all cats should avoid grapes and raisins.
What do kittens eat and drink compared to dogs? Even though dog food is not necessarily toxic to cats, it doesn’t satisfy their nutritional needs; therefore, never trade your kitten’s food for dog food.
|DID YOU KNOW: If your cat shows food poisoning signs (lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea) or has swallowed something toxic, take them to the vet immediately. (Obtaining pet insurance is also a good idea, as it mitigates the stress of unexpected vet bills.)|
What kind of food do kittens eat is an important question if you decide to adopt a baby cat. Always make sure to tailor your kitten’s diet and meals according to their nutritional needs and be meticulous about not feeding them anything that might be toxic.
Kittens lack the proper enzymes for digesting lactose in milk—they only consume their mother’s milk in their earliest stages of development. Therefore, feeding your kitten cow’s milk can quickly cause diarrhea and dehydration. So it’s essential to avoid feeding your baby cat milk.
A list of what not to feed kittens includes onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, spoiled foods, avocado, grapes, raisins, nuts, tomatoes, mushrooms. Make sure to always keep kitten-toxic foods out of their reach.
Some foods kittens can consume from our diet include fish, bananas, berries, melon, carrots, boiled rice, pumpkin, and salad greens. If you wish to share some of your food with your cat, ensure they aren’t toxic for it.
Included in the question, what do kittens eat, are eggs. Feeding your kitten scrambled or boiled eggs may benefit them, but only if they’re given small amounts. Baby cats need a complete and diverse diet, and eggs could give them the nutrients required for growth.
Non-fat, plain yogurt is typically considered safe for cats and dogs. You can give your cat yogurt as a snack but read the product’s label to ensure no dangerous ingredients for your cat.