Kittens usually wean off their mother’s milk when around eight weeks old and depend on a pet parent or other sources of food for further survival. Feeding a young kitten with ample nutrition lays a foundation for a healthy body and adulthood. To ensure positive growth, optimized immunological function, and reduce the risk of obesity, proper nutrition is necessary.
What Does Healthy Growth Imply?
Kittens mature rapidly and reach adulthood between ten and twelve months. At thirty weeks old, the growth becomes gradual as the cat achieves 80% of its adult body size. Finally, when a cat hits forty weeks of age, it attains the adult body size, and further growth stops.
However, the growth rate and time for all cats are not the same. It ranges for some species, which is a consequence of a complex interaction between heredity, nourishment, and habitat. Nutrition is essential for a kitten’s healthy growth and directly impacts their immunity and body composition regardless of their breed.
The quantity of food provided and the nutrient content of the meals can play a crucial part in optimum and maximum growth. The optimum growth rate is the one that allows ideal adult body conditions for a kitten while it grows and avoids obesity.
Rapid maturation is frequently the consequence of excessive fat meals, overfeeding, and/or free-choice meals. A kitten’s likelihood of becoming obese and overweight increases with its maximum growth rate.
An efficient tactic for keeping your kitten’s growth on track is a regular weigh-in and body condition examination. A veterinary healthcare provider can show you how to conduct an at-home examination of your cat.
How to Prevent Obesity?
In contrast to grownup cats, young kittens require more of all nutrients, but excess calories and calcium might cause significant complications. Obesity prevention should start in the weaning phase and continue throughout adulthood and old age.
Being obese puts the cat at risk for various health problems, including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, heat intolerance, and a weakened immune system. Free-choice eating raises the chances of gaining weight and becoming obese.
Kittens function optimally when their whole daily quantity of food is delivered in 3-4 servings or more each day. Portion feeding provides a better chance to prevent obesity. Also, keep in mind that dried foods are higher in calories than canned meals, and canned foods are generally more flavorful.
What Are the Necessary Nutrients for a Growing Kitten?
Back in the day, cats were predators that consumed high protein, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate prey. Their diet necessitates these proportions nowadays as well. Alongside these, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are the additional nutrients required by cats.
While your cat requires precise proportions of every element to be healthy, more is not necessarily better. This is especially true for minerals and vitamins. Thus supplementation usually is unnecessary if your cat eats a well-balanced and well-rounded diet.
Supplements can be unhealthy for your cat, so only administer them with your vet’s permission. Kitties should always have access to adequate fresh water. Always remember to check any recommended cat food for the three critical nutrients mentioned below:
A kitten requires considerably higher protein amounts during the weaning phase, and this amount decreases gradually as the cat ages. The suggested protein range for healthy and optimum growth is 35-50% dry matter, with 9% dry matter of this proportion being from an animal source.
However, it is recommended not to surpass these ranges because they encourage good growth. Adult cat food should not be given to kittens that are still growing. Even if the dry matter protein content is acceptable, the other minerals and caloric density will be unbalanced, preventing healthy growth.
Fatty acids are a product of fats. They contain fat-soluble vitamins and are a significant energy source. The fat content of a kitten’s meals should be restricted to 35-50% dry matter. Excessive energy consumption could lead to obesity and developmental orthopedic disease in your cat.
Based on dry matter, kitten growth formulas should comprise 0.8-1.6% calcium. No other multivitamin supplements should be administered after selecting a suitable nutritional item. Foods that cause a urine pH of less than 6.2 should also be avoided.
Different types of Cat Foods
Manufactured cat products are available in three different formulations: dry, semi-moist, and canned. The moisture content, protein levels, caloric density, consumer acceptability, and digestibility of these goods vary.
Dry Cat Food
Water makes around 6-10% of dry food. A combination of ingredients is blended, extruded, and dehydrated into bite-sized portions, depending on the recipe.
These dry food particles are sometimes coated with flavor enhancers like animal fats. Dry cat food is reasonably inexpensive, and it allows owners to feed their cats “at their leisure.” Make sure to keep the unused amounts in a cool and dry place.
Avoid feeding dry food to your cat if it has passed the expiration date. Owners frequently purchase huge quantities of dry food, which can be stockpiled for weeks, so double-check the expiry date before feeding the cat.
Semi-moist Cat Food
Animal and meat derivatives are the main constituents in semi-moist foods, with about 35% moisture content. Further ingredients such as soybean meal, cereals, grains, and stabilizers are added to manufacture the finished product.
Semi-moist food is often priced in the mediocre range. Semi-moist products might be more enticing to certain cats than dry cat food, and they can also be served freely. However, you cannot store it once the can is opened because it can dry out or go bad.
Canned Cat Food
Canned food has a water content of around 75%, making it a valuable hydration source. Most cats find it to be quite tasty.
There are numerous variations to choose from, which might be beneficial if your kitty is a picky eater. Unopened canned food has the most extended shelf-life, but it must be refrigerated to avoid spoiling if the can is opened.
Meats like kidney, liver and, whole meat derivatives are common ingredients in premium canned cat meals. Some products, on the other hand, could be nutritionally deficient. Therefore it is crucial to check the nutritional information on such specialist cat-food products to ensure a nutritional guarantee.
You can set the basis for your kitten’s ideal health through adequate planning and by paying attention to the smallest of the details. Consulting the veterinary healthcare professionals alongside the care you provide can also prove beneficial for your feline friend.