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.
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.
|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.
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:
The entire process should take approximately three weeks.
Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten and cat foods. This important amino acid is essential for cats of all ages, and critical for healthy development, normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. It even aids in digestion!
Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues, such as the heart and eyes, and is not incorporated into proteins.
Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids, but cats and kittens need more than their bodies can produce and rely on their food to make up the difference. Pet food’s animal-based protein ingredients are natural taurine sources, and the amino acid can also be added to pet food recipes on its own.
All IAMS™ kitten and cat foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins that are naturally rich in taurine as their primary ingredient. So why supplement these foods with additional taurine? Two reasons: natural variability and the production process.
IAMS™ dry cat and kitten foods include taurine to supplement each food’s primary source of the amino acid — an animal-based protein like chicken, egg, lamb or fish. These natural sources naturally vary in their nutrient content, so adding supplemental taurine helps ensure your cat or kitten is getting enough in their diet every day.
For wet food, the canning process itself may affect the complex taurine balance of the food. That means IAMS™ wet cat foods must contain more taurine, as much as twice the taurine found in dry food, to ensure cats are getting enough.
Cats and kittens need their taurine! Kittens need taurine for healthy growth and development, and adult cats that don’t get enough taurine can develop serious health conditions. Low levels of taurine put your pet at risk for preventable health conditions that can become serious over time.
Taurine is essential to the proper development and ongoing health of feline eyes, particularly the retinas. Without enough taurine, retinal cells can’t function properly and may die, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness (a process called feline central retinal degeneration).
Taurine plays a key role in supporting cardiovascular health, too. A lack of taurine weakens the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.
Optimal reproductive health and growth also rely on taurine to complete a number of important health processes. Maintaining adequate levels during pregnancy, nursing and early growth helps ensure proper structural development for kittens and wellness for the mother.
Feeding your pet well is an important part of taking care of them. Learning the importance of ingredients like taurine is one way you can ensure you’re giving them exactly what their body needs. By giving your kitten a healthy start and understanding their nutritional needs, you’re giving them the best shot at a long, healthy and happy future. Your cat would thank you if they could!