Raising a kitten is one of the most enjoyable experiences a pet owner can have, but it can also be as challenging as it is rewarding. When it comes to your kitten’s diet, it’s important to set up a solid foundation to make sure your kitten grows into a healthy, well-adjusted cat.
Feeding Your Kitten during the First 6 Months
The timeline for feeding your newborn kitten changes rapidly during the first six months. The following is a broad overview of the key development milestones your kitten will experience to help you learn what and how you should feed the newest member of your family.
Common Milestones for Kitten Development
|7-10 days old||Kittens begin to urinate and defecate on their own.|
|10-18 days old||Kittens attempt to stand.
Kittens double their birth weight at about day 14.
Kittens’ eyes begin to open.
Kittens’ ears begin to open.
|18-21 days old||Kittens hear and respond to noises.
Kittens begin to walk.
|3 weeks old||Begin weaning process for orphaned kittens.
Kittens begin responsive vocalization.
Deciduous (baby) teeth will begin erupting.
|4 weeks old||Begin weaning process for mother-fed kittens.|
|3-6 months old||Kittens’ adult teeth erupt.|
Due to breed differences and animal individuality, it is impossible to predict exact dates for growth and development milestones for kittens. However, by using these milestones as a guide for healthy growth, you can spot and possibly prevent developmental problems early on.
How to Wean Kittens with IAMS™
When your kitten reaches 4 weeks old (or 3 weeks old for orphaned kittens), you can begin the weaning process. Follow this step-by-step process to wean a kitten using IAMS:
- Introduce a small amount of water in a shallow dish. Most kittens will play in the water; however, within four or five days, they begin to develop drinking skills. Some kittens may require longer periods for training, so don’t be discouraged if they resist bowl training.
- Begin mixing IAMS™ Perfect Portions™ Kitten Premium Pate with Chicken with water. Be sure to also provide a separate dish for fresh water.
- Gradually increase the amount of soft food while decreasing the amount of water in the mixture until the kitten is eating soft food only.
- Repeat the process, mixing the appropriate dry IAMS kitten food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Kitten, with the soft food, and then increasing the solid food while decreasing the soft food until the transition is complete.
The entire process should take approximately three weeks.
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Confused by the ingredient list on your kitten’s food? You’re not alone. Marketing pet foods that have “human-grade ingredients” is becoming commonplace. While appealing to many pet owners, it is important to be aware that the term “human grade” has no legal definition and is used primarily for marketing purposes.
Foods, typically meats, are labeled either as “edible” or “inedible, not for human consumption.” Once a food leaves the human food chain, even if it is of outstanding quality, it has to be labeled “inedible, not for human consumption.” Therefore, meats used in pet food must be labeled as “inedible,” regardless of the source or quality of the meat. The only way to make a pet food with ingredients deemed “edible” is to never let the meat leave the human food chain and actually manufacture the pet food in a human food facility and transport it using human food trucks. Therefore, advertising a product as containing “human-grade ingredients” is untrue if it is not manufactured in a human food facility. However, just because a pet food isn’t marketed as being “human grade” does not mean that the ingredients are poor quality.
Here are some tips to help understand ingredient labels:
- The ingredient list is not the only method you should use to select a pet food, because it doesn’t provide pet owners with enough information about the quality of the ingredients or the nutritional adequacy of the overall diet.
- Instead of concentrating on ingredients, pet owners and veterinarians should look at the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement and the quality control protocols of the manufacturer. For more information, see the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s brochure “Selecting the Best Food for your Pet,” available at
Opens a new windowwww.wsava.org/nutrition-toolkit.
- The ingredient list may be arranged to make foods as appealing as possible to consumers by the order of the ingredients (e.g., having lamb first on the ingredient list) or inclusion of seemingly desirable ingredients in the diet, but often in such small amounts that they have little or no nutritional benefits (e.g., artichokes and raspberries listed after the vitamin and mineral supplements).
- Having more ingredients does not make a diet more nutritious.
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