Similar to newborn humans, kittens experience rapid growth during their first year of life. The kind of food a kitten eats and how much of it they eat have a big impact on how big and how healthy they become.
By keeping your kitten on a regular feeding schedule, you can keep an eye on their development and ensure they are receiving the proper nutrition.
Week One Feeding Schedule
Typically, a kitten weighs between 3 and 3.7 ounces at birth, but nursing speeds up weight gain. For the first few weeks of life, a newborn kitten will only rely on its mother to give it food. It depends on the pheromones given off by its mother to find food and warmth because it is born without eyes or ears. Although most kittens do well on their own, if a kitten needs to be bottle-fed because its mother cat is absent, ill, or rejects it, you should weigh the kitten periodically to make sure that it correctly reflects a healthy and normal growth rate for a kitten.
A kitten will nurse for roughly 45 minutes at a time every 2 to 3 hours for the first week after birth. The rest of the time will be spent sleeping. A tablespoon, or 15 ml, of special kitten formula should be given to bottle-fed kittens each time. A newborn kitten must be bottle-fed for a long period of time, therefore if at all possible, try to keep the kitten with its mother or another nursing cat who can nurse it.
By the end of the first week, a kitten’s ear canals should have opened, and if it is eating regularly, it should weigh about 4 oz. To monitor weight gain, a gram scale, such as the kind used in the kitchen to weigh meals, should be utilized.
Feeding schedules during weeks two and three
Every two to three hours, a 2- to 3-week-old kitten will still need to be fed, and each meal should contain at least a half-teaspoon of formula or milk. If the kitten is nursing from its mother, you must rely on its weight to establish whether it is receiving enough food. Between days 8 and 18, it should weigh about 10 ounces and start to move fairly quickly after opening its eyes.
By the end of the third week, a kitten will be able to stand up and have begun playing with its littermates. Playing, ear-biting, wrestling, and exploring will be the first steps in the process because these are all essential aspects of socializing.
Feeding schedules during weeks four and five
During weeks four and five, a kitten gradually increases the amount of food it consumes at each meal. A bowl of formula or other liquid kitten food should be placed out for a kitten to start drinking from as feedings will become less frequent. By the end of the fifth week, a kitten should only be nursing three times per day, but it should also be taking around three tablespoons of milk or formula with each meal.
By the time it is 4 to 5 weeks old, a kitten should weigh between 14 and 16 oz if it is eating enough food. The kitten should be eating more from a saucer than it is from breastfeeding by the end of the fifth week. Over the course of a few weeks, using progressively less water with canned kitten meals should lead the food to change from being a liquid to finally more of a gruel. It will be messy, but weaning the kitten off of its mother’s milk is an important first step because a kitten usually ends up walking in the food during this stage of life.
Week 6 feeding schedule
By the time it is six weeks old, a kitten should be eating the gruel four times a day and nursing less frequently. A dish of water and dry kitten food should be added to the gruel, which should progressively become less watery.
At the end of week six, shorten mealtimes to just three minutes per day. Provide a couple bowls of both canned and dry kitten food to prevent food aggression in many kittens.
Weekly feeding plans for weeks seven and eight
Limited nursing sessions should still be permitted until the kittens are two months old if all of the kittens are consuming the kitten food that is provided to them three times per day. A kitten should weigh about two pounds by the end of the eighth week after stopping breastfeeding and eating regular kitten food. However, because the kittens are frequently actively trying to nurse more than they should, the mother cat may need to be separated from the kittens.
Feeding an Older Kitten (Over Eight Weeks)
Once it is older than eight weeks, a kitten should be fed with regular kitten food twice a day. At this age, kittens shouldn’t have any trouble consuming solid food, though on occasion they might still attempt to nurse. By the time the kitten is eight to ten weeks old, it should be fully weaned and preparing to leave its mother if you want to find it a new home. Since the initial vaccines are frequently administered at around eight weeks of age, you may be sure that when cats visit the veterinarian, they have been growing regularly.
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