Transitioning From a Kitten Diet to an Adult Diet

cat 4For a 4-week-old kitten, diet changes become necessary. Solid foods rich in protein replace kitten formulas. Kittens need time to adjust to this dietary change. Learn how to ensure the switch from formula to canned cat foods and dry cat foods.

Kittens' Nutritional Needs

Until a kitten weighs approximately 5 pounds, he requires 200 calories, ten grams of crude protein and four grams of fat. Compare that to a 9-pound adult cat that needs 170 to 180 calories, 12 ½ grams of protein and 5 ½ grams of fat.

For the first 3 weeks of life, a mother cat's milk is enough to meet a kitten's needs. After this point, they do need a different kitten diet to ensure they get enough calories, fat and protein. By the 9th week of life, a kitten no longer ingests the mother cat's milk. Allow 6 weeks for the kitten's weaning process.

The best kitten diet includes proper amounts of Vitamin A, B1, B6, B12, D, E, K, Folic Acid, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Riboflavin. Canned cat foods and the organic cat health food options include these essential vitamins. Do not feed a kitten liver. Vitamin A overdoses cause bone growth problems.

Kitten Foods versus Adult Foods

Kitten foods have higher fat, protein and calorie counts because of their activity levels. Many commercial kitten foods suggest switching a kitten diet to adult foods at 6 months to 8. A good guideline to use is to switch your kitten's diet when you have him neutered.

Look for foods that are high in protein-- by-products are not good forms of protein-- look for poultry, beef or lamb to be the first listed ingredient. Avoid cat health foods that have wheat, corn or white rice.

Always check to see that taurine is in the ingredient list. Taurine is essential to a cat's eye and heart health.

Canned Cat Foods are Best

Cats instinctively do not drink a lot of water. If you can afford to feed your pet canned cat food, it is the best option. Canned cat foods have a high water content and great sources of protein. In addition, most cats love eating canned food and take quickly to it. Canned cat food rarely causes stomach upset providing you limit the amount your cat is eating to prevent overeating.

Danger of a Vegetarian Cat or Kitten Diet

Never feed cats a vegetarian diet. Vegan and vegetarian foods are not safe cat food options. Cats need protein and essential amino acids to survive. A vegetarian cat or kitten diet does not provide the correct nutrients because the amino acids a cat needs are found in meat sources like poultry and beef. Without these amino acids, cats will develop blindness, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses. Companies that manufacturer vegan or vegetarian foods add synthetic nutrients instead, and they are not proven to be safe or effective in the long run.

Switching your Kitten to Adult Food

Never switch your kitten diet quickly. It will lead to digestive upset. Instead, start by mixing a quarter cup of the new adult food in with your kitten's food. If the kitten's digestive system handles the new food, double the amount of the adult cat food every week and gradually increase the amount until the kitten is only eating the adult food.