What Can Kittens Eat – A Great Guide To Feeding Baby Kittens

Posted: May 3, 2021 by Anita

what can kittens eat

Your first time feeding a baby kitten can be scary and a bit frustrating. Neither you nor the kitten has ever done this before, so it’s all trial and error with the first go at it.

Have you found a lost kitten, and now you’re not sure what to do with it? If you were like me, perhaps you ended up with a baby kitten unexpectedly. Before you feed your wee little kitten, there are a few things you should know first.

In this article, I discuss:

  • what do kittens eat
  • the nutritional needs of your kitten
  • where to go for answers when you’re totally clueless
  • kitten supplies you will need to make this feeding thing work

What should kittens eat?

Kittens should be eating good quality food with good quality calories. Kittens have triple the energy needs of an adult cat, so their food must deliver the energy source needed.

Kitten food should include 3 key energy enriched nutrients:

  • protein – 35-50% (at least 9% from an animal source)
  • fat – between 18-35% ( but don’t overdo it because you don’t want kitty to get fat)
  • calcium – 0.8-1.6%

A good indication that your kittens are progressing is through their growth and development. To ensure your kitten growth stays on track, it is essential to keep track of your kitten’s weight.

Keep track of your kitten’s weight by downloading my form – click here.

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to the growth rate of kittens. So, again keep an eye out on your kitten’s growth progression. If you feel your kitten isn’t developing as it should, do not hesitate to contact a Veterinarian. It’s best to introduce your kitten to healthy eating to develop into a healthy cat with a happy long life.

Ensure your kitten stays healthy through a good wellness program provided by your local Vet. Pet’s Best InsuranceCover up to 90% of your pet’s vet cost; check out their wellness plans; click here for more information!

What to feed kittens 4 weeks and younger

What can kittens eat? Kittens 4 weeks and younger must be bottle-fed. And you might be surprised to know (as I was) that kittens should not be fed cow milk. They need to be fed kitten formula known as KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer). Click here to check out the brand of KMR I used for Theo.

Kitten milk replacer contains all the good stuff that is good for baby kittens, such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, calcium, and necessary vitamins and minerals. It also contains probiotics and prebiotics for easy digestion.

How much should kittens eat 4 weeks and younger

You calculate how much to feed your kitten by its weight. This is why it’s vital to keep track of your kitten’s weight.

To be honest calculating Theo’s kitten formula kept me up at night with anxiety. I was so scared about not feeding him enough. Thank God for the Kitten Lady because I was so clueless. You can access her article on how to feed kittens (because, Honey, it’s a whole process – from eating to pooping) by clicking here.

Below is a chart you can go by. However, I take no credit for the calculations – calculations are from the Kitten Lady.

Age/WtAmountFrequency
1 week old/50-150 gm4 – 6 mlevery 2 hours
2 weeks / 150-250 gm6-10 ml2-3 hours
3 weeks / 250-350 gm10 ml – 14 ml3-4 hours
4 weeks / 350-450 gm14 -18 ml4-5 hours
0-4 weeks kitten feeding chart

What to feed kittens beyond 4 weeks

At four-five weeks, you can start slowly weaning your little kitten off kitten formula and begin introducing solids in the form of gruel.

What is gruel? Gruel is a mixture of kitten formula (not milk) and soft kitten food. The kitten food can soften dry kitten food or wet (canned) kitten food. Make a daily batch of gruel the night before and store it in the refrigerator to make it easier on you.

At 4 weeks, a kitten might still have to be bottle-fed. You want the gruel to be a mixture of mostly kitten formula with a small amount of soft kitten food. The gruel will be a bit thicker, so you might have to make a bigger hole in the bottle’s nipple.

Below is a chart for kitten formula for kittens 4 weeks and older. Note: Between the 4th and 5th week of age, you can add soften dry or wet food to the KMR. I take no credit for the calculations – calculations are from the Kitten Lady.

Age/WtAmountFrequency
4-5 week old/450-550 gm18 – 22 mlevery 5-6 hours
5-8 weeks / 550-850 gmWeaningevery 6 hours
4-8 weeks kitten feeding chart

Once the kitten starts getting used to introducing solid food (through the gruel), you can slowly ease back on kitten formula while increasing the amount of solid food (dry or wet kitten food).

Of course, the gruel will become thicker to the point where to should start introducing the kitten to eating the gruel from a bowl.

what can kittens eat

How to get kittens to eat

As stated in the introduction, kittens are a bit clueless when it comes to using a bottle or eating from a bowl – they have to be taught to do so.

How to get kittens to eat from a bottle or syringe

  • Never feed a kitten on his back – this can cause the kitten to aspirate formula. The kitten should be on its stomach.
  • Formula should be warmed to room temperature. Make sure to test the temperature of the formula before feeding.
  • Ensure the size of the hole of the nipple is adequate for the formula to drip out slowly.
  • Try out different positions. You can hold the kitten upright swaddled in a warm towel. Or have the kitten lay in your lap – towel draped in your lap.
  • To motivate the kitten to latch on to the nipple, turn the bottle upside down and allow a drop on the lip line (mouth line?). Rub the nipple on its mouth until your kitten opens its mouth. Insert nipple and let it rip (or drip/suck, etc.).
  • A syringe might work better for your kitten and you. Grasp your kitten around the head, tilt it and insert the syringe along the side of the mouth.

Check out my video of awkward handling Theo while feeding him with a syringe.

Note: Yes, I know I look horrible… I shot this video before going to work…my bad. I had originally made this instructional video for my son-in-law, who volunteered to feed Theo while I was at work!

How to get kittens to eat from a bowl

You would think eating from a bowl is sort of intuitive for kittens, but no. Again, kittens have to be shown how to eat from a bowl.

Start off using KMR first. Pour KMR in a bowl; dip your finger in the KMR and let your kitten lick the formula from your fingertips. Do this a few times to get her use to licking the formula off your finger.

Next, slowly move your fingertip to the bowl of KMR. Your kitten hopefully will follow your fingertip and begin licking the formula from the bowl. It might take a few passes before your kitten gets the point.

Kitten supplies

Kitten feeding faq

  • When can kittens be weaned completely from kitten formula? You can start weaning your kitten between 4-5 weeks old. By week 7-8, the kittens should be completely weaned.
  • When can kittens eat dry food? Kittens can start eating moist, dry kitten food between 4-5 weeks old. However, your kitten should still be getting its main source of nutrition from kitten formula.
  • Can kittens drink water? Kittens can began drinking water at about 4 weeks old.
  • Can kitten eat tuna? I don’t recommend feeding kittens canned tuna. Tuna is high in mercury which can be toxic to your kitten.
  • Can kitten eat catnip? Yes but make sure the catnip is free of stems that can caught in your kitten’s throat.
  • What can human food kittens eat? Kittens that have been completely weaned and on solids can eat salmon, eggs, bananas, pumpkin, and cheese.

Where to go for answers

I thought I knew how to take care of cats. But baby kittens are a whole different species…don’t let anyone tell you anything different. I wasn’t prepared for the work involved with taking care of baby kitten Theo, so these websites are where I went for answers.

Here’s a couple of websites that helped me tremendously with baby kitten Theo:

  • Kitten Lady – a really dedicated queen of kittens who’s down for the cause and about that kitten life. I learned a whole lot from this site! And she has amazing how-to videos.
  • Best Friends – another great site to go to when you’ve found an orphaned or abandoned kitten.
  • Alley Cat Allies – has a series of posts on kitten growth and progression that was an eye-opener. This series of posts is beneficial if you’re not sure how old your kitten is.

Having pet insurance on Theo helped me with the cost of getting him neutered, kitten shots, and wellness exams. Ensure your kitten stays healthy through a good wellness program provided by your local Vet. Pet’s Best InsuranceCover up to 90% of your pet’s vet cost; check out their wellness plans; click here for more information!

Conclusion

Your first time feeding a baby kitten can be scary and a bit frustrating. Neither you nor the kitten has ever done this before, so it’s all trial and error with the first go at it.

Kittens should be eating good quality food with good quality calories. Kittens have triple the energy needs of an adult cat, so their food must deliver the energy source needed.

What can kittens eat? Kittens 4 weeks and younger must be bottle-fed. And you might be surprised to know (as I was) that kittens should not be fed cow milk. They need to be fed kitten formula known as KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer).

Kitten milk replacer contains all the good stuff that is good for baby kittens, such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, calcium, and necessary vitamins and minerals. And it also contains probiotics and prebiotics for easy digestion.

You calculate how much to feed your kitten by its weight. This is why it’s vital to keep track of your kitten’s weight.

At four-five weeks, you can start slowly weaning your little kitten off kitten formula and begin introducing solids in the form of gruel.

Have you found a lost kitten, and now you’re not sure what to do with it? If you were like me, perhaps you ended up with a baby kitten unexpectedly. In this article, I discussed how to feed your new kitten.


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