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Feeding Young Cats

on July 2, 2012 - 7:18pm

The clinic has been open 8 weeks tomorrow.  They say time flies when you’re having fun and we can certainly confirm this to be the case!  One of our favourite ‘jobs’ is meeting (and cuddling) kittens and giving advice to their excited new owners.  We have a unique opportunity to help out before bad habits take hold, but also begin preventative healthcare routines that will help these kittens’ lead long, happy and healthy lives.  Of course the cuddling part is great too!

One of the most important things to get right is diet. We know that cats are carnivores and have a strict requirement for lots of animal protein, but not many people realise that kittens need different food from grown up cats.   The most obvious reason for this is growth.  If you’ve ever had a kitten, you’ll know that they almost appear bigger on a daily basis!  New muscle and bone requires lots of calories and good quality ingredients, in the right proportions.  A correct vitamin and mineral balance is also very important.

Digestive function changes dramatically in young kittens after weaning, where their diet shifts from mother’s milk to meat proteins and starch.  A diet that addresses this, by including easily digestible proteins, is very helpful for maximum absorption of nutrients. Some kitten foods include extra pre-biotics and anti-oxidants which help enhance immune defence mechanisms in the young kitten.

We supply Royal Canin Vet Care Nutrition diet range (only available through vets) and would strongly recommend the paediatric weaning followed by the paediatric growth diets for young kittens. 

We would always suggest that a combination of wet food and dry kibble suits most kittens and the use of feeding toys, such as the Kong © wobbler (available at the clinic) can encourage normal play behaviour and satisfy natural hunting instincts.

Kitten growth rates start to slow down from around 6 months of age, until they reach adult body weight at around 12 months, depending on the individual or breed.  Many studies have shown that neutering reduces the energy requirements of cats (by around 30%).  We advise that all cats not intended for breeding are neutered after they have got over their vaccinations, at around 4 months of age.  We would therefore recommend changing a cat’s diet at around 6 months, to one that is lower in calories to prevent them gaining excess weight.  It is not news to most of you, but it turns out that boys and girls are different! Classically, male cats are beefy and bigger and so would require even more protein calories to maintain their physique.  Diets formulated for neutered male, neutered female and entire cats are all available at the clinic.  This summer, we are celebrating Summer of the Cat.  As part of this event, we are offering a week of free food when a month’s supply is bought, plus a money off voucher for future purchases of Vet Care Nutrition diets.  We are also running a competition to win up to a year’s supply of free food, you just need to pick up a form from reception.  Please note, the offer and competition is available for all lifestage diets, until September or subject to availability.

Of course, kittens need more than just food.  For information regarding vaccination, microchipping, neutering, parasites and insurance, see our relevant pages on the website.  Our friends at the feline advisory bureau have a great guide to kitten care, which is definitely worth a read.