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Healthy Cats

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Feeding Kittens: What, When, How Much

Experts answer six common questions about kitten food and more.

2. How can I know I’m selecting a high-quality kitten food? continued...

But how can you be certain a kitten food is of high quality? One way is by checking the label. It should at least contain the following: “Meets the nutritional requirements of kittens established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).” AAFCO is a group of state and federal officials who regulate pet food. Even better, look for this: “Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials.” “Complete and balanced nutrition” means your kitten will require no mineral or vitamin supplementation. In fact, remember that too much of a “good thing” can be bad for your kitten, causing severe medical problems. Use supplements only if your veterinarian recommends them.

Also use caution with homemade diets. For example, all-meat homemade diets can be low in calcium, leading to a mineral imbalance that causes hyperparathyroidism, a disease more common in rapidly growing kittens. “If you use a homemade diet, make sure it’s been formulated by a reputable nutritionist,” Bough says.

After feeding for a period of time, you be the judge. With proper nutrition, your kitten should be healthy and alert, have a steady weight gain, and a clean, glossy coat. If not, check with your veterinarian about possible diet changes or ruling out any health problems.

3. What type of food does my kitten need, wet or dry?

It’s important that very young kittens have at least some canned food to eat as part of their diet. Very small kittens have very small teeth and can’t chew dry food well. Without some canned food, they won’t get enough nutrition to grow properly. If you are feeding your kitten both dry and canned foods, then twice a day canned feedings are sufficient. If they’re only eating canned food, they should be fed four times daily.

4. How do I switch from one kitten food to another?

Cats are often considered the epitome of the “picky eater.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Get your kitten started off on the right paw.

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