Why Feeding Your Feline the Right Food Is Important

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

A healthy diet makes a solid foundation for your pet’s overall health – and the sooner you start with the right food, the greater the benefits are. Cats are notoriously picky when it comes to their food, which is yet another reason to start with the right food while they are young, so they can get used to healthy food rather than turn up their noses at everything that isn’t the feline version of junk food.

If you’ve gotten your first kitten, you’re probably wondering when to transition them to the right food, what the best food for kittens actually is, and how to know if their nutritional needs are met. Stick around, because we’re going to go over all of the basics of the kitten diet.

Developmental Stages and Kitten Growth Rates

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While growth rates will vary from kitten to kitten, there are some basic rules of thumb for all felines. The first three weeks of a kitten’s life are considered the neonatal stage, and that’s the period when they are still nursing, slowly opening their eyes, and making their first steps as the neonatal phase comes to an end. In the next few weeks, they’ll be learning about the world around them, mostly from their mom, who will be nursing them the whole time. Most kittens are ready to be introduced to solid foods around 6 to 9 weeks of age, although they will still be transitioning to eating solid foods only, as they will continue to nurse even though they have meals of solid food offered. In that period, kittens usually gain a pound of weight per month (although the numbers may vary), until they hit the 4-month mark and their growth rate slows. Incidentally, that’s also when their activity levels skyrocket, and they are considered to be in their second developmental age which lasts until their first birthday.

Now when your kitty is a bit older, their nutritional needs will also be different. In the early beginnings, their mother’s milk was all they needed to sustain them, and regular kitten food would be the first solid food they tasted in the process of weaning. But at 4 months of age, kittens burn off a lot of energy, their bones are developing, and muscles growing, all of which require more nutritionally-dense food to support their growth – and as their adult teeth develop, they can now eat kibble.

This is the perfect moment to introduce them to a high-quality, healthy formula tailored to their exact nutritional needs and to set up a well-balanced diet that will nourish your cat throughout their life.

How To Transition Kittens to Solid Food and Kibble

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Most kittens are lucky enough to be nursed by their mothers, and those that are not are usually fed special kitten formula. But, when they are a little over a month old, kittens can be gradually and slowly introduced to solid foods. Some are ready around 6 weeks of age and others take a bit longer to start the weaning process at around 9 weeks. Either way, the first type of food you should offer to your kitten should be the so-called kitten gruel. Kitten gruel is any high-quality solid cat food (either dry or wet) that is mashed and mixed with kitten milk replacement formula. This way, you ensure that the kitten likes both the taste and the texture of the food and that it is safe for them to eat it – remember, at this stage, they still have tiny baby teeth and are learning how to eat solids and not suckle their food. After that initial stage, you can start offering them kibble, first, a bit moistened, and then completely dry – again, this might be 9 weeks for some kittens or 12 for others.

Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Food for Kittens

The first stages of kitten nutrition can be tricky as you’re trying to get them to eat solid food for the first time – and you want them to eat healthy, as well. But it’s 4 months of age when it gets the trickiest, as their developmental and nutritional needs change more, you need to be particularly mindful about the food they eat.

The food should be nutrient-dense to support their growth and tailored to the unique needs of kittens in the second developmental stage. This is why we love the formula of Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Food for Kittens – it is made specifically for kittens of 4 to 12 months of age, and is nutritionally precise enough to suit their needs. It contains an exclusive blend of antioxidants and vitamins to support their still-developing immune system, highly digestible proteins, fibers, and prebiotics to nurture their fragile digestive system, and optimal levels of protein and nutrients to support the needs of their growing bodies. What’s more, the shape, size, and texture of the kibble are all made with kittens in mind – they’ll have no problem chomping this food up before all their adult teeth have developed.

Feature Image by Volodymyr Plysiuk/Shutterstock.com

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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