Maybe you thought you could just dump some cat food in a bowl, feeding your cat was taken care of and you can get on with your life, right?
Well, there's a bit more to the process than this. To keep your kitten healthy, you will need to be sure that you meet all of his nutritional needs.
For the first few weeks of his life, your kitten received all of his nutrition from his mother.
As he reached four to six weeks of age, the cat breeder probably began supplementing the mother cat's milk with canned kitten food or with hard kitten chow moistened with water.
By the time your kitten reached eight weeks of age, he was weaned and eating a diet of kitten food.
Your breeder should have given you some of the food your kitten was eating or at least the name of the kitten chow so you can continue with this recommended diet.
If you want to change the kitten chow brand that your kitten is eating, you should still buy a small bag of the brand he is currently eating so that you can mix it with the new food.
This way your kitten will be able to gradually adjust to the new food without upsetting his digestion.
Young kittens need to eat quite a bit of food. After all, they are growing incredibly fast from the age of eight weeks to about six months.
This means that your cat will need to eat more than once a day.
In fact, kittens under six months of age do best with four small meals a day, since they do not have very large stomachs, but need plenty of fuel. You should give your kitten an unlimited water supply so he can drink as often as he likes.
Once your kitten reaches six months of age, his rate of growth slows down dramatically. At this age he will become a bit less active as well.
You can cut his feedings back to two to three meals a day.
However, you should not change his food from kitten chow to adult food yet because he is still a growing cat.
Once your cat is a year old, he can finally eat adult cat food. Since adult cats usually eat when they are hungry, you can simply keep his dish filled with dry food.
However, if he overeats and begins to grow overweight, you will need to feed him twice a day instead.
If you feed your cat canned food, you should still offer dry food as well, since canned food should not be left out for your cat to eat all day in case it goes off and spoils.
When you shop for cat food, look for foods that have the protein source in the first few ingredients.
You should also make sure the food is nutritionally balanced. If your cat has health problems, such as hair balls or urinary tract infections, you should look for cat foods that help control these problems.
Although most cats prefer soft food, dry food can help them maintain better dental health.
If your cat refuses to eat dry food, you may want to have your dentist to check his teeth every year or so to be sure they are not too covered in tartar.
To read more about owning cats and kittens, click here to return to the Cat Ownership Tips home page.