Nutrition in the early stages of a kitten’s life is of the utmost importance, as it is in virtually any animal. From the mother’s milk to the time they’re fed regular cat food, cat owners need to be on top of their kitten’s nutritional intake. Here, a Fayetteville, NC veterinarian offers tips on what, when, and how to feed your kitten.

First Month: Mother’s Milk

The mother’s milk will contain all the nutrition your kitten needs for the first four weeks of life. You don’t need to give a kitten any food at all. Just make sure they’re safe, warm, and that the mother is in fact producing the milk her offspring need. Sometimes a mother cat doesn’t produce the proper amount of milk due to illness—contact your Fayetteville, NC veterinarian if you think your kitten isn’t getting the nutrition she needs.

1 Month to a Year Old

After the initial stage of only relying on mother’s milk, your kitten will look to you to provide a lot of nutrition for a growing body. Kittens need two to three times the amount of energy as an adult cat needs. Until the kitten is about 1 year old, she’ll need to eat specially-formulated kitten food, available commercially and at pet stores. Ask your Fayetteville, NC vet for a recommendation.

Gradually Introduce Food

After the initial month, your kitten will still suckle from her mother, but also needs to be nibbling on kitten food to get her used to eating once she’s weaned. Allow your kitten to inspect and nibble on a good-quality dry cat food in the last stages of suckling. Consult your Fayetteville, NC veterinarian for more information on introducing dry food to your kitten’s diet.

Make Food Available

You can leave dry food out at all times for your kitten. There’s no need to take it away. Your kitten should be able to eat whenever she needs to.

Don’t Overdo Treats

It’s okay to feed your kitten a few treats here and there once she’s old enough, but don’t overdo it. Your kitten needs the nutrition from her real food, and too many treats at too young an age can lead to health problems and behavioral issues down the road.

Talk to your Fayetteville, NC veterinary professional for a more in-depth look at the nutritional requirements of newborn kittens and what you should be feeding them. If you do it right, your kitten should grow up happy and healthy!