DIET FOR KITTENS AND CATS
Kittens need a diet that is very high in protein and fat.
In fact, a 12-week-old kitten should have a diet consisting
of 35% protein and 17% fat. She needs three times the number
of calories per pound as an adult cat.
There are different schools of thought about feeding. One
school believes that kittens from 12 weeks old, should fast
in-between meals, i.e. not have free access to food throughout
the day. This is because wild cats (from whom our gentle pussycats
are not so far removed) eat their fill and then go up to several
days without eating. The constant presence of food for our
domestic cats keeps gastric juices continually pumping and
never really gives the digestive system a needed rest. It
is not healthy for humans to snack all day...why should it
be healthy for our cats?
The other school of thought believes that some food should
always be available for free feeding during the day. Whichever
school of thought makes sense to you, kittens from three to
five or five and one half months old need to be fed three
times per day, all they can eat. This is a time of major growth
and development. Feed your "baby" in the morning (before you
go to work, perhaps), early evening and before you go to bed.
Leave the food down for no longer than 1/2 hour and do not
distract your kitten from her meal (no playing) until she
Kittens are not generally finicky, but they may not like food
straight from the refrigerator. Mix in a little hot water
to warm it up. Make sure her food is fresh and her dish is
washed with soap and hot water before each meal. At 5-6 months
of age, gradually decrease the third meal until you are serving
2 meals per day at 6-6 1/2 months.
Adult cats do best if fed twice daily. There are different
schools of thought. One is regarding free feeding i,e., leaving
some food down at all times and the other is scheduled feedings
i,e., feeding twice daily, leaving food down for no more than
one half hour and then removing it.
Many cats will overeat if food is constantly available. They
may also be more finicky about their food because they are
never really hungry at mealtime. Wild cats, which are not
so removed from their domestic cousins, do not "snack" all
day long. They eat their fill and then give their gastric
juices a rest. This way, their digestive systems are not constantly
Free feeding is bad since cats tend to over eat thus making
them fat and so ought to be discouraged. To change a "free
feeder" to a "scheduled feeder" takes some discipline on your
part. Your cat may not eat her whole meal the first few times
you feed her this way because she is expecting to nibble on
it all day long. However, when she sees that there are no
in-between-meal snacks to be had, she will learn to take full
advantage of mealtime. Until she has adjusted (usually within
two weeks), you will have to listen to loud protests. Stick
to it and you will soon get her on schedule.