Taking care of a kitten is quite different than caring for an adult cat. Many cat owners wonder what’s the right time to switch from kitten to cat food? There’s no exact rule for when to make the switch, but the general rule is that all cats less than 12 months old are considered kittens. It’s essential to feed your young fur baby a kitten formula during their first year. The exception would be larger breed cats, which don’t mature to adults until they are 18+ months old.
You should feed your kittens a growth-formulated diet until they’re at least 90% of their adult weight. If you’re unsure, it’s best to double-check with your vet before making any significant lifestyle changes for your kitten or cat.
When Can Kittens Eat Cat Food?
Kittens should switch to an adult cat food at 12 months old to ensure they’re receiving the proper nutrient levels for adult cats. Even the most (c)athletic adult pets will gain weight if fed kitten food. Pet food labels are very helpful. If the label reads “for all life stages,” then it’s nutritionally sufficient for kittens and cats.
Although pop culture may have you believing that cats love milk, cats are actually lactose intolerant, and should never be given dairy milk. Stick to cat food, and if you do decide to give your kitty human food, stick with lean beef, cooked chicken, or plain lunch meat, and always avoid onions.
Introducing Cat Food to a Kitten
We’re not kitten’ around, young cats have different nutritional needs than adult cats, so it’s important to eventually switch from kitten to adult cat food when they’re ready. Just like human babies, kittens need different kinds of foods at various stages of their lives to develop and grow properly.
Unlike their pawrents, pets eat the same diet every day and develop microbes to digest that specific diet. When the diet is suddenly changed, the microbes do not have time to adjust and digest the new food. This can result in severe tummy trouble that may include vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid this, spread out the transition process over a 7 to 10 day period, gradually incorporating more of the new food in with the old.
Tips to Help With the Transition from Kitten to Cat Food
- Switching your kitten’s food too quickly can make the process more difficult. Provide privacy and a quiet eating area away from loud noises and other cats.
- Hand-feed your cat, at least initially. The person offering the cat food should have a good relationship with the cat.
- Offer moist or canned cat food along with dry cat food.
- Ensure you store all of your cat foods appropriately to maintain the quality and freshness of the cat food.