Kittens really depend on excellent nutrition when they start out. Their start seems more rapid to that of a puppy – they gain 75% of their adult size in the first six months,
which explains why kittens don’t seem to stay as kittens for very long!
Kittens create a fully developed immune system very quickly. (This possibly relates to the fact that A third of all UK pets are overweight, so if we are getting a new kitten or giving a home to a rescue cat isn’t that the ideal time to start as you mean to go on?
Getting it right from day one will not only give your kitten or cat the right start but it will also get you both into some really good habits. Cats were originally wild; if they couldn’t survive very quickly in the wild then we would never have the domesticated cat we have today.)
They need to quickly become independent from their mother, and these days we humans can help them by providing a good start. So their fur, teeth, bones and senses all become adult very quickly. Kittens may be busy little souls but they seem less frantic than puppies.
Whereas puppies bound about and play in unbridled joy, kittens are more inquisitive about what is happening around them and they like to explore the unknown. They will of course play and not much beats the sight of little kitten joyfully chasing a pencil end or ball of wool offered by its owner!
Despite seeming to expend less energy, the task of exploring needs a lot of energy and that in turn comes from good nutrition. Specialist kitten food needs to supply everything our quickly growing cat needs. In particular, kittens need taurine, an amino acid that aids the heart and eyes. (Adult cats will also find taurine in nibbling on a bird they have caught!)
Also, the chasing of socks and other rolled up objects of fun needs a steady release of energy so it may be best to feed your kitten four small meals a day.
Reduce this to three and two times a day as the cat reaches adulthood but even then once a day is not good as cats are natural grazers, which explains why if you feed your cat in the evening he or she rarely licks the, bowl clean and often returns.
Fresh water is better than milk. We mentioned at the beginning
of the article that obesity is a problem for our pets and you can start off with some good habits
from the day your kitten arrives.
If your rescue cat is a little tubby (happens to us all!) then the centre and your vet will probably offer advice to help you get the cat back on track to a healthy weight. With kittens, do not worry if a meal is ignored and don’t be tempted to seek out what you consider to be tastier morsels for kitty. He or she will quickly learn that they can control what food arrives in their bowl so don’t let them manipulate you from day one. If a bowl of food is ignored in the morning it is probably that they just don’t feel hungry and when they do they’ll return to it.
They are not like us: we say we are full then somehow manage to eat a pudding! Always remember that your pet just doesn’t have the same emotional relationship with food that many of us humans have, they don’t eat for fun or comfort. Of course if nothing is eaten for 24 hours it could be a sign of a problem so contact your vet.
With adult rescue cats, take advice as to what the cat prefers to eat. If you are asking it to adapt to a new home, new people and new smells etc etc., then offer some comfort in the continuation of the food it prefers. There’s no harm in, as your cat settles in, to offer something new but don’t change their diet in an abrupt fashion.
Vets and often nutritionists at food companies will advise you. Now you are ready to give your kitten or rescue cat a really good start, and wish you lots and lots of fun together! Remember
veterinary and expert nutritional advice is out there so you really can put your best paw forward.
“With adult rescue cats, take advice as to what the cat prefers to eat.”