Last Updated on: November 20, 2020
Bringing your new kitten home is a super exciting time, and you want the very best for your tiny new friend. Selecting the best foods for your kitten and feeding them the right amounts will help them grow up strong and healthy.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about how much you should feed your kitten and how to adjust this as they grow. You might also be trying to decide between feeding wet or dry food, so we cover that as well. We also look at common issues that can strike, such as your kitten not eating or eating too much!
How to Feed Your Kitten at Each Growth Stage?
We’ve included brief notes on how and what to feed your kitten at each stage of their life. Your kitten’s food consumption may vary based on whether they’re still nursing from their mother or need formula feeding, as well as their breed and general health and condition.
We always recommend speaking to your vet if you’re unsure, as they can help develop a bespoke feeding plan for your kitten’s exact circumstances.
At this age, a kitten will get all the nutrients that they require from their mother’s milk. During the first few weeks of their lives, kittens will feed roughly every 2 hours. By the time they’re 4 weeks old, they’ll be nursing somewhere between four to six times per day.
Carrying out daily weight checks is the best way to make sure your kittens are gaining weight. Each day, a kitten should put on ½ to ¾ of an ounce.
If a kitten isn’t gaining weight as expected, speak to your veterinarian for advice or consider supplementing their diet with high-quality kitten milk, like the PetAg KMr Kitten Milk Replacer Powder.
At around 4 weeks old, a kitten will start to show interest in eating something in addition to their mother’s milk. You can leave a bowl of kitten milk replacer out for your kittens to experiment with.
Around week 5, you can introduce a small amount of solid food. The best way to introduce kittens to solid food is to mix wet kitten food with warm water to make a gruel.
You can offer this three to four times per day, as your kitten gets used to the texture and taste of their new food. Somewhere around 5 or 6 weeks old, your kitten’s baby teeth will start to come through, and they’ll be able to start chewing their food.
At 2 months old, your kitten should be almost fully transitioned to eating solid food and drinking water. Wet canned food is easiest for kittens to chew, and the high moisture content helps keep them hydrated.
If you do want to add dry food to your kitten’s diet, adding warm water can help make it easier for your kitten to chew.
At this age, you can continue to feed your kitten both wet and dry food, as long as the dry food is moistened to start with. You can gradually reduce the amount of water added to the dry food until you don’t need to add any at all.
At 10 to 12 months old, you can transition your kitten onto an adult cat food. The time at which you make the switch will depend on the breed and body build of your kitten. If your kitten is prone to weight gain, then you may want to switch them onto adult cat food sooner, as this contains fewer calories, proteins, and fats than kitten food.
If your kitten is a larger breed, like a Maine Coon, then they can benefit from staying on kitten food until they’re 12 months of age. If you’re not sure when to make the switch, your veterinarian can help by assessing your cat’s body condition in conjunction with their breed and overall health.
How Much Should You Feed a Kitten? — Kitten & Adult Feeding Chart
You can use this feeding chart to get an estimate of what you should be feeding your kitten until they’re an adult cat. Remember that the amount will vary depending on the food that you select and your kitten’s breed, body condition, and activity level. The caloric density of their food will also play a part.
We highly recommend monitoring your kitten’s weight and body condition score, so you can adjust the quantity of their feed if necessary.
|Age of Kitten||Approximate Weight*||Amount per Day||Frequency of Feeding|
|0-1 week||3-7 ounces||25-60 ml kitten formula||Six to seven times per day|
|1-2 weeks||5-14 ounces||40-110 ml kitten formula||Six to seven times per day|
|2-3 weeks||14 ounces-1 pound||110-125 ml kitten formula||Six to seven times per day|
|3-4 weeks||1-1.3 pounds||11 grams dry or 40 grams wet||Three to four times per day|
|4-5 weeks||1.3-1.8 pounds||11 grams dry or 40 grams wet||Three to four times per day|
|5-8 weeks||1.8-2.6 pounds||18 grams dry or 65 grams wet||Three to four times per day|
|2-3 months||2.6-4 pounds||18-31 grams dry or 65-110 grams wet||Three to four times per day|
|4 months||4-5.5 pounds||31-38 grams dry or 110-130 grams wet||Three to four times per day|
|5 months||5.5-6 pounds||38-42 grams dry or 130-148 grams wet||Three to four times per day|
|6 months||6-7 pounds||42-48 grams dry or 148-165 grams wet||Two meals|
|7 months||7-8 pounds||48-52 grams dry or 165-185 grams wet||Two meals|
|8 months||8-9 pounds||52-58 grams dry or 185-200 grams wet||Two meals|
|9 months||9-10 pounds||58-62 grams dry or 200-215 grams wet||Two meals|
|10 months||10-11 pounds||62-66 grams dry or 215-235 grams wet||Two meals|
|11 months||11-12 pounds||66-70 grams dry or 235-250 grams wet||Two meals|
|12 months||12-15 pounds||70-85 grams dry or 250-300 grams wet||Two meals|
|5 years||15-20 pounds||85-105 grams dry or 300-365 grams wet||Two meals|
|10 years||15-20 pounds||85-105 grams dry or 300-365 grams wet||Two meals|
|15 years||15-20 pounds||85-105 grams dry or 300-365 grams wet||Two to four meals|
- * All weights are approximate and will vary depending on the breed of your cat. Seek veterinary advice for a complete nutritional plan personalized for your cat.
What to Feed My Kitten: Wet Food vs. Dry Food
You might be struggling to decide whether to choose wet or dry food for your kitten. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
How Often Should I Feed My Kitten?
There are recommended feeding frequencies in the feeding chart above, but of course, this comes with caveats.
Newborn kittens should be fed at least six to seven times per day if they’re not nursing. By the time that they’re a month old, this can be reduced to three to four times per day, and once they’re 6 months old, you can reduce this again to two times per day, which most cat owners then continue for the rest of their cat’s life.
You might decide to free-feed your kitten to start with, giving them as much food as they seem to want. Many cats enjoy being able to have a small snack during the day, so leaving dry kibble out can be a good way to make sure they always have something to eat. It’s not a good idea to leave wet food out all day, though, as it can spoil.
Sometimes you may want to leave dry kibble out during the day, and then feed your kitten a smaller portion of wet food twice a day. Know that if you do this, you’ll have to adjust the amounts in the feeding chart to reflect the fact that your cat is getting both types of food.
Can I Feed My Kitten Too Much?
If you’ve decided to leave dry kibble out for your kitten to snack on throughout the day, bear in mind that this still needs to be rationed out! You can measure your kitten’s portion of food out in the morning and then leave a portion out. Once that’s gone, you can top their bowl up as necessary.
If your kitten has eaten their whole portion before the end of the day, don’t be tempted to give them more. Obesity is a problem in domestic cats, and it’s thought that potentially 60% of pet cats are overweight.
It’s much easier to prevent it from happening in the first place than to deal with the consequences. Obesity can lead to arthritis, diabetes, and other health conditions. So, as cute as your kitten might look when they ask for more food, if they’ve already had their daily ration, then think twice before cracking open that box of kibble.
If your kitten does seem to wolf their food in one go, then free-feeding may not be the right choice for them. Once you’ve measured out their daily ration, you may decide to split this into more small meals. If you can and it’s practical, split their food into four to six meals and spread these out throughout the day.
Cats are generally adapted to eat a few small meals per day, with periods of sleep and hunting/activity in between. Providing small meals can mirror this natural cycle and help your kitten feel satisfied.
Why Won’t My Kitten Eat?
Kittens will often stop eating when they feel unwell. This can be something as simple as painful gums from new teeth breaking through to something more concerning, like intestinal parasites or constipation.
We recommend speaking to your veterinarian first, as they’ll be able to rule out any conditions that need medical treatment.
When to Switch From Kitten to Adult Food
When your kitten reaches their first birthday, you’ll probably be ready to switch them onto adult food. You may decide to feed them the same brand of adult food as the kitten food, and this can often be a good idea because it’s likely to contain similar ingredients.
We like the American Journey Grain-Free Minced Poultry in Gravy Variety Pack canned food and the American Journey Turkey & Chicken Grain-Free Dry Cat Food.
You can also get breed-specific adult cat foods, which may be worth considering if your cat has a specific face shape. Certain breeds, like Persian cats, have flattened muzzles that can make it harder for them to pick up their food. You can get specific kibble and canned food designed to be as easy as possible for them to eat.
If your kitten is a heavier breed, like a Maine Coon, then they can benefit from staying on kitten food until they’re 12 months of age. If you’re not sure when to make the switch, your veterinarian can help by assessing your cat’s body condition in conjunction with their breed and overall health.
Don’t be tempted to make the switch to adult food straight away, even if you’re using the same brand. We recommend mixing the new food in with the old food gradually, to give your kitten’s digestive system a chance to adjust to the new food.
How Much to Feed an Adult Cat
There are rough estimates for what to feed your adult cat in the feeding chart above but bear in mind that this can vary depending on many different factors.
We recommend feeding your adult cat two times per day. You may choose to leave a small amount of dry kibble out during the day, and then feed them a portion of wet food in the morning and evening.
Your cat’s food will give guidelines based on the ingredients and caloric density of their food. For example, our favorite American Journey kibble should be fed at 1 cup per day for an adult cat of 15 pounds weight.
Checking the feeding guidelines on your brand of cat food is a great place to start. You can always speak to your veterinarian to see if they recommend a different quantity or a different brand if your cat needs an adaptation to their diet due to certain factors.
You can also use this handy calorie calculator for adult cats, which takes into account conditions such as their body condition score and whether they’ve been spayed or neutered.
Feeding Guide for Senior Cats
It might seem like a long time away, but your cute and bouncy kitten will someday be a cute and elderly cat. Cats are generally considered seniors when they reach 7 years, elderly when they reach 11 years, and geriatric when they’re 11-14 years.
You may decide to feed your elderly or senior cat a food that’s designed specifically for this age group.
Before you do, make sure to schedule a check-up with your cat’s veterinarian. They will be able to evaluate your cat’s health and let you know if they have any health conditions that a specific food could help with.
As cats age, their ability to digest proteins, fats, and energy start to decrease. This means your elderly or geriatric cat may need food that has higher calories to help them maintain their body condition.
Some senior cat foods will include additional vitamins, glucosamine to help joints, and antioxidants to help their immune system. We like the Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Mature Dry Cat Food.
What Foods Are Bad for Kittens & Cats?
The safest way to make sure your kitten doesn’t eat something inappropriate is to stick to feeding them only their wet or dry food. Sometimes it can feel tempting to share table scraps with them, but this can lead to them developing an upset stomach as their digestive system struggles to cope with the new food.
Feeding your new kitten can feel overwhelming to start. But bear in mind that any commercial kitten food you choose has been developed to provide a complete and balanced diet. This means it should give your kitten all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your little cat needs to thrive.
If you’re concerned about adjusting your kitten’s quantity or type of feed, then you should always ask your vet for advice.
Featured Image: Marian Weyo, Shutterstock
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.
- How to Feed Your Kitten at Each Growth Stage?
- How Much Should You Feed a Kitten? — Kitten & Adult Feeding Chart
- What to Feed My Kitten: Wet Food vs. Dry Food
- How Often Should I Feed My Kitten?
- When to Switch From Kitten to Adult Food
- How Much to Feed an Adult Cat
- Feeding Guide for Senior Cats
- What Foods Are Bad for Kittens & Cats?