cat article detail banner
Is Your Kitten Ready for Adult Cat Food?

adp_description_block336
Is Your Kitten Ready for Adult Cat Food?

Providing your kitten with the proper nutrition goes way beyond just putting fresh food in a clean bowl. Your kitten’s nutritional needs will change as their body develops through adolescence and into adulthood. Proper nutrition during these critical growth periods will help your kitten mature into a strong, healthy adult cat.
 

The nutritional needs of kittens and cats are vastly different, and it’s critical to give your pet premium age-appropriate nutrition. Here’s everything you need to know about kitten food vs. cat food and how to feed your growing kitten.
 

 

What to Feed a Kitten at Each Stage of Development

Rapid Growth Stage: 2 to 6 Months

After kittens are weaned, they enter a stage of rapid growth, which lasts until they’re 6 months old. They need a high-quality, balanced diet with every bite packed with the nutrients and energy needed to sustain such rapid development. The best choice is a premium kitten food with animal-based proteins. It should be highly digestible, nutrient-dense and designed to meet kittens’ unique nutritional needs, such as Opens a new windowIAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Healthy Kitten with Chicken.

Kittens require twice as much energy as adult cats on a per-pound basis. But their smaller mouths, teeth and stomachs limit the amount of food they can digest during a single meal. It’s best to divide the total daily food amount recommended on the kitten food packaging into three or four smaller meals.
 

 

Adolescence Stage: 6 to 12 Months

As kittens approach adult size, their nutritional requirements begin to change again. Their rate of growth begins to slow, activity levels may decline and they can start eating fewer, larger meals each day. During this stage, kittens begin to look like adults, but they are still growing and need the special nutrition found in kitten food. Continue feeding your adolescent kitten a high-quality kitten food, such as Opens a new windowIAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Kitten with Chicken.

During the adolescent growth stage, many cat owners are tempted to change a kitten’s food for variety. But cats do not get bored with a consistent diet of high-quality dry food, and giving a kitten “human food” and table scraps can lead to undesirable behaviors, such as begging or stealing food.

 

Additionally, feeding homemade diets, food formulated for adult cats (especially formulas designed for weight loss) or supplementing an already complete and balanced diet with vitamins could cause nutritional disorders. You can, however, supplement your kitten’s dry food with a nutrient-dense Opens a new windowwet kitten or all-life-stages food for a nutritious — and tasty — 

 


 

Adult Stage: 12 Months and Beyond

At about 12 months of age, your kitten will reach their full adult size. Your young adult cat no longer needs calorie-dense kitten food to fuel growth and is ready for a diet of adult cat food.

 

 

When to Stop Feeding Your Cat Kitten Food

When your cat is about 12 months old, it’s time to switch to a maintenance formula adult cat food, such as Opens a new windowIAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Original with Chicken. At this age, cats no longer need the extra calories and nutrients found in kitten food. As with any change in a cat’s diet, remember to gradually transition from kitten food to adult food over a period of several days.

 

 

 

 

How to Transition from Kitten to Adult Cat Food

To avoid intestinal upsets, make the change from a kitten formula to an adult diet over a period of four days with the following method:

  • Day One: Fill your cat’s dish with 75% kitten food and 25% adult food.
  • Day Two: Mix adult and kitten food in a 50/50 ratio.
  • Day Three: Feed your cat a mixture that's 75% adult food and 25% kitten food.
  • Day Four: Switch to 100% adult formula.

Because cats generally eat only what they need, free-choice feeding is fine for most cats. (With free-choice feeding, you can provide food to your cat around the clock and let them eat when and how much they need.) Indoor cats that don’t get much exercise, however, may overeat if fed free-choice. For them, portion-controlled feeding twice a day is a better routine.


To determine how much food to give your cat, check the recommendations of the pet food manufacturer on the label. Use the guidelines, monitor your cat’s weight and body condition during the transition, and adjust feeding portions if necessary. If your cat is gaining or losing weight and shouldn’t be, slightly adjust their daily intake and weigh them again the following week.

 

 

How to Choose an Adult Cat Food

Make sure to choose an adult cat food that provides the same high-quality nutrition as a premium kitten food. Downgrading to a basic nutrition brand at this stage of your cat’s life may upset their digestive system and won’t provide them with the same type of nutrition they were raised on. Premium foods like IAMS™ are formulated to meet all of your cat’s needs and provide additional benefits. They’re specifically designed to provide your cat with a formula that features:

  • High-quality ingredients
  • Complete and balanced levels of protein, fat, moderately fermentable fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which make costly supplements unnecessary
  • High-quality recipes and great taste
  • Standards that meet or exceed Association of American Feed Control Officials standards
  • Nutrient-dense formulas that are right for each life stage
  • Product guarantees

 

All of these premium features add up to a happy, healthy cat. With premium dry cat food, you can expect to see these important indicators of good health:

  • Exceptional muscle tone
  • A shiny, luxurious coat
  • Healthy skin and bones
  • Clear, bright eyes and clean teeth
  • Small, firm stools

 

Founded on decades of research, premium formulas from IAMS™ help maintain your cat’s health and help provide her with the nutrition she needs for a long life.

Is Your Kitten Ready for Adult Cat Food?
  • Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?
    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

    adp_description_block115
    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

    An upset stomach is more common in cats than you might think. But how can you tell if it's a serious problem?

    Every cat owner recognizes the warning signs of an upset feline stomach: the mournful meow, gagging, and heaving retch. But in a flash, the cat seems to snap back to good health while you're left scrubbing the carpet.

    The scenario is a familiar one for Cynthia Bowen of Cleveland, Ohio. As the owner of four Maine Coons, Bowen has cleaned her share of messes. "It would happen every couple of months or so," she says. "Otherwise, they were perfectly healthy."

    Although it's not a pleasant subject, vomiting is something cats seem to do almost on cue. Many cat owners accept this as a natural part of owning a pet, but it doesn't have to be that way. Knowing what triggers an upset stomach and what you can do about it will make for a better relationship with your cat.

     

    Cause for Alarm?

    Repeated cat vomiting should never be ignored because it can lead to dehydration. But, because vomiting is common in cats, how do you know what's normal? "A general guideline is that if the cat is vomiting one to three times a month, we consider this 'normal,'" says Dr. William Folger, a DVM from Houston.

    He considers it serious if the vomiting occurs twice daily for two or three days. If your cat stops eating, seems to have stomach pain, or retches continuously, or if there's blood in the vomit, take her to a veterinarian. And, as always, if you're suspicious that a lingering problem could be harmful to your pet, call your veterinarian. A visit to the office can help relieve your cat's discomfort and your worries as well.

     

    Why Cats Vomit

    Many owners attribute their cat's vomiting to hairballs, but that's not the only culprit. "It's careless to assume that most cases of vomiting in cats are due to hairballs," says Dr. Folger. Two other frequent causes of an upset stomach are:

    • Eating too fast. Cats sometimes eat too much, too fast. When the stomach wall expands too quickly, a signal is sent to the brain to cause regurgitation. In these cases, the mess on your floor is from regurgitation, not actual vomiting. When a cat regurgitates, he brings up fluid and food from his esophagus by opening his mouth–unlike vomiting, where there's gagging and retching. Regurgitated food is still formed, and may smell fermented. "Cats that eat too quickly because they are gluttonous or stressed by food bowl competition can regurgitate right after eating," says Dr. Sara Stephens, a DVM from Montana. But don't assume regurgitation is always a case of eating too fast. It could be caused by esophageal problems, obstruction of the digestive tract, hairballs, or dehydration. If you've forced your cat to eat slowly and he still has problems, contact a veterinarian.
       
    • Curiosity. Grass, carpet, and toilet paper are just a few things cats may digest and later vomit. The vomiting is a protective mechanism–nature's way of cleansing your cat’s system. Sometimes, though, curiosity can lead to more serious problems. String, toy parts, and feathers are favorites of playful felines and can lodge in the stomach or intestine, causing repeated vomiting and severe distress. If your cat exhibits these symptoms, take her to a veterinarian immediately; surgery is often necessary to remove the object.

     

    Preventative Measures

    Often, owners accept their pet's vomiting as a natural part of their behavior, but just because cats seem to have more than their fair share of tummy troubles doesn't mean you have to sit idly by.

    One simple preventative measure is to get your fast-eating cat to slow down or to simply eat less. Stephens recommends smaller portions, elevating your cat's food dish slightly, or putting an object, such as a ball, into the dish. The cat will be forced to eat around the ball, and thus her intake will be slowed. If you do this, make sure the ball isn't small enough to swallow. And you may need to feed cats in a multiple-cat household at different times and places to reduce competitive eating.

    If simple solutions don't work, watch your cat's eating behavior and reactions. Bowen, for example, tried changing her cats' diets. "Since switching to IAMS®, they rarely throw up," Bowen says.

     

    "Usually, when you change to a higher-quality diet, there is no problem," Stephens says. Here are some tips for helping make sure your cat's change is as successful and comfortable as possible:

    • Go slowly. Make the transition gradually to allow your cat time to adjust. "Make sure the cat eats something every day," Stephens advises. "A cat that quits eating suddenly can develop liver problems."
       
    • Add appeal. Switching from wet to dry or vice versa should also be done gradually. Many cats find canned food more palatable. If you switch to dry, add water and warm it slightly for more appeal. Discard uneaten food after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage.
       
    • Measure up. How much should you feed? Your cat's age, sex, breed, activity level, and overall health need to be taken into consideration. Talk with your veterinarian, then read the manufacturer's recommendations. Premium foods like IAMS cat foods are more nutrient-dense than many non-premium diets, so don't be surprised if the recommended amounts seem low.
       
    • Pay attention. Beyond careful measuring, also regularly weigh your cat and adjust the feeding amount accordingly after switching to a premium food. Your cat may appear happy if you overfeed him. But over time, he may become overweight. Tummy troubles can be in the past with your veterinarian’s help and a little effort on your part.

both email signup

WANT MORE IAMS™?

Get pet care advice, product updates, event information and more when you sign up for the IAMS™ newsletter made with your pet in mind.

SIGN UP

Shop Dogs

Shop Cats

Why IAMS™

© 2022 Mars or Affiliates. US Patents Pending. Other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
chat icon

CHAT WITH AN EXPERT