Why is kitten food so important?

Written by Tanya Whipps RVN
July 24, 2022

Feeding your kitten correctly will mean you end up with a healthier adult cat. The growth of your kitten typically lasts until they are an adult, at around 10-12 months old.

Your kitten’s growth is complex, and nutrition pays a large role in ensuring their future wellbeing. Body condition and weight have been shown to directly affect your kittens health. This also directly affects their future quality of life.

Kitten food is formulated to meet the exact nutritional needs of their growth phase. This ensures the best possible growth and development for your kitten. This means they have the optimum energy required for their growth and daily needs. This also ensures they have the correct number of vitamins and minerals.

It’s useful to discuss your kitten’s growth and nutritional needs with your Veterinary healthcare team. This will allow you to learn to monitor their weight and body condition score. This will arm you with the best information to guide your kitten through those important formative months of their development.

Weight, Energy and Body condition

Your kitten’s food must contain protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. If your kitten is fed a complete balanced commercial kitten food, they will not require any supplementation.

Your kitten will require more nutrients and energy than an adult cat simply because they are growing. Both growth and daily maintenance require energy. As your kitten grows more of their daily energy needs will become used for maintenance and the nutrition allocated for growth will decrease. While in this growth phase it’s a good idea to monitor your kitten’s body condition score every couple of weeks. This will allow you to track their growth rate and adjust their feeding amounts as needed. Getting this right now is vital to ensure a heathy weight for your kitten as they grow. If they develop an over ideal body weight it can lead to the development of joint and bony abnormalities. This will contribute to health issues as an adult cat.

Your kitten is unique

Cats are true carnivores. Due to this their diets are specifically adapted for their differences in metabolism. There are several amino acids that must be found in your kitten’s food to ensure their health and suitable growth. Examples of these are taurine and arginine. These amino acids can not be produced by your kittens own body. To keep them healthy they must be provided in their food. This is unlike dogs for example who are omnivores, and are able to produce some of these amino acids themselves. Your kitten is also very sensitive to the taste, smell and even the texture and shape of food. Early choices and preferences shape the future tastes for your kitten. Unlike puppies your kitten does not have such high needs for calcium as they grow. All kitten foods have a safe level to facilitate growth.

Consider your kitten’s breed

Although different breeds of cats have varying nutritional needs the differences are less marked than in puppies. Breed specific kitten foods consider specific breed traits, characteristics and risk factors for health problems. These can help you to better understand and provide for your kitten. For example, some breeds are more prone to urinary issues. Foods for those breeds often balance specific minerals to maintain bladder health and pH. Breeds like the Maine coon are known to be large with strong powerful muscles. Recommended changes in food for this breed include joint health and cardiac support. Other considerations are things like the shape and texture of the kibble. This can help some breeds such as Persians pick up and chew their food.

In summary it is important to understand how many areas nutrition can impact in your kitten’s growth and development and how you can directly influence this. We have shown how important kitten food is for growth and your kittens future health. There is a varying array of choices and options, and a good understanding of your pets needs and collaboration with your veterinary team can help you to make informed choices in their diet.

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  • Nutrition