Feeding a kitten the proper food it needs will give it the best start in its cat life. A kitten’s body needs protein, calories, vitamins and fatty acids for its early development. Adult cat food and kitten cat food have different nutritional contents. Feeding your kittens adult cat food may lead to malnutrition because they won’t get the nutrients they’re supposed to get from kitten food.
Differences between kitten and an adult cat food
One of the main differences between kitten and adult cat food is the calorie content. Kittens need a lot of calories for their bodies’ growth, and they mostly get these calories from protein. Protein is an essential nutrient required for the development of almost every cell type in their bodies, including their muscles, eyes, brain, bones and reproductive organs.
Kitten food also contains more fatty acids from the protein compared to adult cat food. Fatty acids such as the Omega-3 complex are necessary for bringing fat-soluble vitamins to your fur-baby. Fats also give more energy, which is a primary need of your energetic kitten as they go through their year of rapid development.
However, kitten and adult cat foods do have almost the same amount of magnesium, taurine, water, and other minerals.
Other nutrient contents in kitten food are crucially important for their growth, such as minerals that are essential for developing their strong bones. Potassium, phosphorus, and calcium are also necessary for the early stages of your kitten’s growth.
Let’s take a look at the specific differences in the nutritional contents of kitten food and adult cat food. The protein content of kitten food is usually around 35%, and there’s only 30% protein content for adult cat food.
The fat in kitten food is about 20%, while the adult cat food usually contains a bit less, around 18% fat. But when it comes to fiber, kitten cat food contains only 3% fiber. In comparison, adult cat food has a higher fiber content of about 5%.
Read about the best cat food for my indoor cat.
What if kittens eat adult cat food all the time?
You shouldn’t be feeding your fur babies adult cat food as a regular part of their diet until they’re one year old. However, some cat owners start feeding their kittens adult cat food as soon as they begin to look like an adult cat, which isn’t good. Remember, even if your kitten looks like an adult cat, they still need the nutrients from the kitten food for their optimal growth and health.
If you continuously feed your kittens with adult cat food, they’ll need to consume more food to get their nutritional needs, which can result in weight gain and obesity. Feeding them with an adult cat diet can also lead to deprivation of nutrients and minerals they need for growing, which can cause malnutrition in kittens.
Health risks of malnutrition
If your kitten doesn’t get the right number of essential vitamins, protein, and minerals, they’re at risk of suffering from disorders including:
- Weight loss and diarrhea
- Poor fur quality
- Scaly and dry skin
- Poor eyesight
- Weak immunity
- Poor claw development
- Muscular weakness
- Poor coordination
You’ll also notice that the kitten’s stomach will become flatter or appear as if their abdomen is tucked or sucked in as his tummy’s capability to absorb nutrients also lessen.
You can easily tell the difference between a malnourished kitten from a healthy one. A healthy kitten has a well-balanced body structure that is characterized by a small belly fat on their stomach, a recognizable waist behind their torso, and a bit of fat covering their ribs.
A prolonged period of unattended malnutrition of your kitten can lead to serious organ failure. The primary organ that’s badly affected by malnutrition is their liver. Metabolic deficiency can result in an immense accumulation of fat in the cat’s liver. This can lead to hypoglycemia, which is a very low glucose level in the cat’s blood. The liver can no longer function the way it’s supposed to because of the decrease in insulin production.
This condition can escalate to Hepatic Lipidosis, a lethal feline liver disease caused by malnutrition. Unfortunately, the fatality level of this disease is at 90%. However, there are ways to reverse this disease, but it takes a lot of effort, such as intense feeding and insertion of a feeding tube to ensure the cat is getting the right amount of nutrients he needs.
Frequently asked questions kitten diets
When do I feed my kitten solid food?
A kittens’ first food is its mother’s milk. Mother’s milk is a fundamental food for a kitten from its birth until its 4th to 10th week. However, the time will come that the mother’s milk nutrients are insufficient to support the kitten’s early growth. This is the point where kittens will begin weaning – transitioning from a diet of only their mother’s milk to eating solid foods.
What happens if my kitten eats cat food by accident?
The first thing to do is to stay calm. There will be no adverse effects if your fur baby accidentally eats adult cat food. The next thing you should do is make sure that the adult cat food is in a separate feeding bowl. It’s best to feed adult cats and kittens in different rooms to avoid this from happening. Also, make sure that you have enough stock of kitten food so that you won’t resort to feeding your kittens with adult cat food.
How do I stop my kitten from eating my older cat’s food?
If you’re using the same food bowl for your kitten and adult cat, then it’s time to stop. You should feed them using two separate bowls. The best way to stop your kitten from eating adult cat food is by feeding them in separate rooms. You can also try feeding the adult cat on an elevated part of the house where the kittens can’t climb.
It’s a must that you keep in mind the things your fur-baby needs, especially during their early stages in life. The major and most important thing is giving your kitten a balanced and healthy diet to provide all the nutrition he needs. Though feeding your kitten with adult cat food once in a while probably won’t affect his growth, it’s still best to feed them with the right kind of food for their age. You can reverse malnutrition, but not the negative effects it causes on a cat’s general health.