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How often should I feed a kitten?

You've just welcomed an adorable kitten into your home. To ensure that she grows up in optimal conditions and becomes a healthy adult, you'll need to meet her energy needs with a balanced diet and at a frequency appropriate to her age. Our advice.

Feeding a kitten before weaning

At birth, kittens begin by drinking their first milk (colostrum), rich in antibodies, which protects them from infectious diseases. During the first weeks of life, they will continue to feed exclusively on their mother's milk, a source of nutrients essential to their growth. From the fifth week of life, the female cat begins to distance herself from her offspring and rebuke her when she wants to suckle. As her teeth grow, nursing becomes more and more painful for her and weaning starts gradually and is usually completed between the 6th and 8th week.

Feeding an orphaned kitten

If you need to care for an orphaned kitten, the ideal solution is to find a surrogate mother. If that's not possible, you'll need to bottle-feed the kitten until it's able to eat solid food. Before he's a month old, he can't digest or excrete anything other than milk. You'll need to get a special kitten bottle and replacement milk from a pharmacy or veterinarian (not cow's milk, which he doesn't digest well). Then, it will be advisable to feed him every 3 hours, including the night, by taking care of :
  • Sterilize the bottle and the teat in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes;
  • Dry the utensils before use;
  • Prepare the milk according to the instructions on the package;
  • Place the teat in the kitten's mouth and let him drink until he stops on his own;
  • Massage the kitten's perineum at the end of meals because at this age, it cannot relieve itself.

Feeding the kitten during weaning

A kitten that is ready to be weaned will start chewing on its mother's nipple (or the nipple of the bottle) at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. This painful behavior causes the female cat to push her kittens away and this is when the transition must take place. When it's time to wean, you should consider changing the young cat's food gradually to avoid digestive problems. To facilitate the weaning process, it is recommended to
  • Gradually reduce the proportion of milk in favor of solid food;
  • Place a small amount of special kitten food in a bowl. You can find protein foods on the market that your kitten will digest very well during weaning;
  • Offer a daily ration based on the manufacturer's instructions;
  • Add a little formula, water or meat juice to the bowl to soften the contents. Crush if necessary;
  • Leave the meal out as kittens eat mini portions throughout the day (but be sure to discard what has not been eaten within 24 hours);
  • Monitor the amount of solid food ingested daily and adjust the doses depending on whether the kitten is eating all of it or on a leash;
  • Give a few extras, such as small pieces of cooked chicken or tuna;
  • Make water available at all times.

Kitten growth: something to watch for

Kittens grow very quickly. At birth, she weighs about 100 grams, then gains 10 to 15 grams a day (about 100 grams a week). At this rate, he doubles his birth weight in 10 days and multiplies it by 6 in about 2 months. Monitoring weight during growth can be used as an indicator of a healthy kitten. To make sure your kitten is growing well, it's best to weigh her every day at set times for the first two weeks, then every week until she's 3 months old, and then twice a month. His weight should always be higher than the previous weighing. At the end of the growth period, the weight gain slows down. If it is stable for several weeks in a row, it means that your cat has finished puberty and reached its adult size. Note: before the age of 5 months, a stagnation of weight should alert you and make you consult a veterinarian.

Nutrition: the kitten's specific needs

The energy requirements of a growing kitten are higher than those of an adult cat, and remain high until 12 weeks of age, when they gradually decrease. She should be given a specific food to strengthen her muscles and bones. Each of his meals will thus include a diet composed of at least one third of animal proteins (meat, fish). In addition, it's a good idea to change the type of food regularly, otherwise the kitten may get bored or refuse the new flavors you offer her later on. At one year of age, your kitten is ready to give up the special kitten diet. There are premium adult foods available that perfectly meet the dietary needs of felines by using quality raw materials. You can choose to feed your pet at set times (two or three meals a day) or leave his bowl out all the time so he can eat whenever he's hungry.

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