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Nurturing your New Kitten: A Guide to Kitten Nutrition

Have a new kitten? Congratulations! Give them the best start with the right nutrition. 

Ah, the pitter-patter of tiny paws! Welcoming a kitten into your home is like adding a dash of joy to every day. But with small purrs comes a big responsibility, especially when it comes to nutrition. Providing the right nutrients during their formative months lays the groundwork for a lifetime of health and vitality.

Why does kitten nutrition matter?

Choosing the right kitten food isn’t just about meeting their immediate needs; it’s an investment in their long-term well-being. The nutrients they consume during these early stages of life play a fundamental role in their growth, development, and overall health. From building strong bones and muscles to supporting cognitive function and immune system strength, every nibble counts towards shaping a healthy future for your furry friend.

Why do kittens need kitten food?

Because they grow and develop at a rapid pace, kittens must have complete and balanced food that is specifically formulated for their needs. There are critical nutrients that are either missing or provided in lower quantities in adult formulas that kittens require for proper growth and development.

What nutrients do kittens need?

High Protein – Like adult cats, kittens are obligate carnivores. Their bodies require high quantities of animal-based protein. Kittens, however, need even more protein than adults. The recommended protein range for optimal kitten growth is 35-50% on a dry matter basis.

High Fat – Kittens expend a lot of energy growing, developing, and playing. They need healthy fats for providing a concentrated source of energy and supporting various bodily functions.

DHA – This essential omega-3 fatty acids plays a crucial role in kittens’ brain and vision development.

Taurine – This vital amino acid plays a crucial role in maintaining heart health, supporting vision, and promoting proper digestion. Since cats cannot synthesize taurine on their own, it’s essential to provide them with adequate amounts through their diet.

Calcium and Phosphorus – Kittens require higher quantities of these two minerals ensure proper bone development

What to Feed Your Kitten

Kittens grow quickly, and their needs change just as fast. Use this guide to select the right food for your kitten at each stage of development:

Newborn to 4 weeks:

New baby kittens get all their nutrition from their mother’s milk. If they are separated from their mother, they will need a milk replacer, which comes as a powder or ready-to-feed formula that is fed via syringe or bottle. Milk from another source, like cow’s milk, is not an adequate replacement.

4-8 weeks:

Around 4 weeks old, kittens begin weaning from their mother’s milk, and you can begin introducing solid food. Solid does not mean hard, however. At this stage, kittens’ mouths are still tiny and they are accustomed to liquid nutrition. For this transition, choose a complete and balanced wet kitten food specially made for kittens 4+ weeks old. These come in smooth, easy-to-eat textures, like mousse, mousse and shreds, and soft paté. This is a critical stage in development, and some kittens can struggle to gain weight for various reasons. If your kitten is underweight or losing weight, talk to your veterinarian and consider adding a high-calorie supplement, like Tiki Cat Baby Thrive, to promote weight gain, energy, and growth.

8+ weeks:

As your kitten grows and is fully weaned, they can begin to eat larger pieces of food. After about 8 weeks, you can offer them whole food wet meals for kittens, like Tiki Cat Baby Whole Foods, or a dry kitten formula with a wet meal topper, like Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Baby Dry Food and Tiki Cat Baby Born Carnivore Functions Topper.

How much should kittens eat?

To determine how much they should eat in a day, refer to the feeding chart on your kitten’s food packaging, and then carefully monitor your kitten’s body condition and energy level. Generally, kittens should gain around 1 pound per month. Sometimes you may need to feed more or less than the recommendation to ensure they are gaining the appropriate amount of weight. Consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure how much to feed.

How often should kittens eat?

There are two basic ways to feed kittens: free feeding and meal feeding. Free feeding means that dry food is left out for the kitten to graze on when they want. This type of feeding can lead to overeating, weight gain, and sometimes dehydration. We recommend meal feeding by dividing up their daily food allotment into multiple meals of wet or dry/wet mixed food. This ensures that they receive all the nutrients they need and provides beneficial hydration. Kittens require more food per pound of body weight to support their growth than adult cats, so they need several meals a day, usually every 6-8 hours. By around 6 months they can be transitioned to two meals a day, morning and evening.

When should kittens switch to adult food?

Kittens should eat kitten food until they stop growing, which generally happens around age 1. If you have a large breed cat, like a Maine Coon, you’ll feed kitten food for longer, as they don’t reach full size until around 2. Providing your new kitten with a balanced and nutritious diet is one of the most important responsibilities of pet parenthood. By selecting kitten foods that are formulated for their unique needs, you can give your precious baby the best possible start in life and set them up for a lifetime of good health and happiness.


  1. Thank you for this insightful guide! As a new kitten owner, I found the information on kitten nutrition incredibly helpful. It’s reassuring to know how to properly nourish my furry friend for a healthy and happy life.

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