Feeding cats does not seem all that complicated: after all, all you need to do is buy a bag of cat food, pour some of it in the bowl, and the cat will take care of it once they feel hungry. Well, such an approach might work but, even if it does, it is unlikely to optimally fulfill your cat’s or kitten’s nourishment needs.
In this guide, we will help you understand how a cat should be fed at different stages throughout their life, including how much to feed a 4-month-old kitten.
Feeding Your Cat during Each Life Phase
1) Newborn Kitten (0-4 Weeks Old)
A newborn kitten will extract all their nutrition from their mother’s milk. So, if the mother is present with the kitten, you do not need to put in any feeding efforts at all – the kitten and the mother will know exactly what to do.
However, if you have adopted an orphan, the kitten will have to be fed through bottled milk. Kittens without a mother would need something that can replace the mother’s milk – a substitute that will be able to offer all the nutrition that the mother’s milk would have offered.
Avoid using cow milk, as it does not possess the kind of nutritional balance that newborn kittens require.
How Much to Feed a Newborn Kitten?
As we mentioned, if the mother is present, the kitten will feed themselves according to their need. For bottled-milk, however, you will need to adhere to the instructions present on the package. Generally, though, you will need to feed around 2-3 tablespoons of milk for every 4 ounces of the kitten’s body weight.
How Often to Feed a Newborn Kitten?
A newborn kitten will generally latch onto their mother every couple of hours or so. If you are using bottled milk, make sure to replicate this schedule as closely as possible. You can gradually lower the frequency, and bring it to around 5-7 hours by the time your kitten reaches the three-week mark.
2) 4-8 Weeks
A kitten usually starts weaning at around the four-week mark. During this phase, they will gradually let go of formula or milk, and start turning to solider diets. These diets offer the quantities of fatty acids, proteins, and other nutrients required for a kitten’s early development.
If your kitten is consuming bottled milk, you can start introducing them to watered solid foods at around 4-5 weeks of age. Begin by replacing some of the meals with semi-solid slurry of formula and wet food in the bottle. Later, you can start using bowls to feed the kitten.
How Much to Feed a 4-8-Week-Old Kitten?
Kittens grow rapidly at this stage, and, for each pound, would require 3-4 times more calories. For each pound of your kitten’s weight, you should feed them around 50-70 calories.
How Often to Feed a 4-8-Week-Old Kitten:
Kittens that are more than 4 weeks old can spend around 7-9 hours between each meal. Having said that, frequent feeding is still required to meet the kitten’s energy demands, without distressing their small stomach.
8-16 Weeks Old
This is the personality development phase, during which the kitten’s natural predatory instincts start coming to the fore. Around the 10-week mark, the kitten should have fully weaned off the milk, and should be comfortably consuming meat-based foods and benefiting from the healthy amounts of protein, minerals, and vitamins. Also, the animal-extracted fatty acids help with the development of the eyes and the brain.
How Much to Feed an 8-16-Week-Old Kitten?
The growth phase is in full flow, and your kitten will require an abundance of calories to help that growth. A growing kitten would require around 250-300 daily calories; some larger breeds, such as Ragdolls or Maine Coons, might require close to 400 calories each day.
How Often to Feed an 8-16-Week Old Kitten?
Five daily meals are perfect, but kittens more than 8 weeks old can also be free-fed on dry foods. However, it is remember to stay cautious when free-feeding; while weight-gain at this stage is a good sign, you do not want to go overboard and cause obesity.
4-6 Months Old
At this stage, kittens start settling into their dietary routines – which is why you must establish good eating habits that will stay with your kitty into adulthood. Using different foods will not only help keep the kitten stimulated, but it will also keep them from becoming fussy about certain foods. Also, kittens consuming dry diets at this stage might become hooked, and may turn their noses at wet foods later on in life.
Canned or wet food contains rich amounts of animal-based, species-appropriate protein, has lower carbohydrates, and contains more moisture (around 60-80%) compared to dry food (around 5-10%). \
How Much to Feed a 4-6-Month Old Kitten?
Kittens, at this point, require twice the amount of calories required by an adult cat. Make sure to go through the cat food packaging to learn about the feeding guidelines.
Generally, 4-6-month-old kittens will need around 55-70 daily calories for each pound. This means that a 5-pound kitty should eat around 275 to 350 calories in a day.
Even though adult cats still a high amount of calories to ensure sustained growth, the metabolism starts slowing down and, as a result, their nutritional requirements will begin replicating those of adults.
By the time your kitten turns one, they can begin transitioning from kitten foods to adult diets. Remember that some larger breeds might continue to grow until they are around 3 or 4 years of age, and, until that time, may need a growth-focused diet.
How Much to Feed an Adult Cat?
Once the metabolism starts slowing down, you will notice your adult cat putting on some weight. Obesity is quite common in adult felines, and, if not corrected early on, can lead to various complications later on. Well-controlled diets, along with regular physical activity, will make sure that your cat stays in shape.
When deciding the feeding amount for an adult cat, you will have to consider variables like age, breed, reproductive status, and any health conditions. In general, though, and adult cat should be consuming around 20 calories for each bodyweight pound.
How Often to Feed an Adult Cat?
Beyond the six-month mark, your cat should be consuming around 3 (or maybe even 2) daily meals.
A senior cat will usually have unique dietary requirements. Since aged cats struggle at metabolizing protein, they often lose quite a bit of muscle mass.
Hence, senior cats would require higher amounts of digestible protein that can help them stay healthy and maintain muscle. At this phase of life, cats often develop inflammatory conditions like arthritis, which means that foods with omega-3 fatty acids can be particularly beneficial.
Since dental problems might make chewing difficult, it is best to stick to moist or wet foods.
How Much to Feed a Senior Cat?
Elderly cats need more per-pound calories. If you find that your cat’s muscle mass is diminishing, you could increase the per-pound calories to around 30 or even 40. Make sure that the bulk of these calories is coming from animal-based proteins, which can help prevent the loss of muscle mass during old age.
To sum up, alongside the right kinds and amounts of food, make sure that your cat also has access to plenty of fresh and clean water. Proper hydration can prevent constipation, urinary tract problems, and blockages.
If you feel that you need more advice regarding your cat’s nutritional needs, please do not hesitate to reach out to a veterinarian.
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