Choosing the Right Food for your Kitten
On: 13 December 2017
Unfortunately, picking the right food for your kitten isn’t as easy as it might initially seem. You might feel a little confused when walking into a pet store and seeing hundreds of types of cat food all claiming to be the best.
Just Adopted a Kitten/Cat?
When you adopted your cat you would have purchased a bag of kitten food, most likely being Royal Canin or Hill's Science Diet. It's important to continue using this food for the length of the health guarantee (if applicable) as per the agreement.
Remember as your kitten grows they will need to eat more. Refer to the table on the bag of food as this will show you exactly how much you need to feed!
If you wish to change your pets diet, you will need to weight until the Health Guarantee period is finished. It's best to do this slowly, over a course of 5-7 days with slowly introducing the new food in 25% intervals. This is to avoid digestive issues that can otherwise occur when suddenly giving your kitten new food.
What a Obligate Carnivore Needs
First, we need to understand more about our pet’s biology. What are cats meant to eat? The cat has evolved over thousands of years to consume whole, raw prey, including mice, birds, rabbits and other small creatures. Therefore ideally, this is what our cats should be consuming every day. Yes, your cat will thrive on eating whole prey. However, to most people this is not particularly convenient nor very fun to prepare.
What Pet Food Options Are There?
Raw Food - You can purchase this as BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) where the weighing of ingredients and portioning of nutrients is done for you. If you can provide your pet with this, know that you are providing your pet with the absolute best, expect your pet to be in tip-top health. Pet City sells BARF for Cats in three different flavours!
Canned Food - The next best option for your pet is a whole, premium canned-food diet. While most canned-food is cooked, this can still be very nutritionally beneficial to your pet for many reasons. Firstly, it contains a high percentage of water, much like their natural diet. Most canned foods use a couple of meat sources, some carbohydrate and vegetables too. Always look for premium food and buy the best that suits your budget!
Dry Food - Next is the a dry biscuit. A completely dry food diet is convenient but should not make up their whole diet. Cats do not drink enough water, dry food is healthiest when water is added or fed in conjunction with a high quality canned food.
Therefore it’s recommended to always feed moist food (cans or BARF) with your pet's dry food, at least 30% as a general rule. You can also provide a fountain to encourage your cat to consume more water. If your pet refuses to eat moist food, you’ll need to add water to their dry biscuits.
Doing your own independent research on pet foods and brands can help you to understand more about what you are buying.
Toxins and Dangers
There are many things out there that could harm your kitten very seriously. These aren’t just foods, but plants, other animals, and every-day objects too.
While some foods we class as simply unhealthy, some can be downright deadly to a cat. Some of these foods are:
- Some types of nuts
- Onion & garlic
- Raisins and grapes
- Artificial sweetener, Xylitol (found in some human foods, toothpaste etc)
- Irradiated pet treats
It’s best to only give your kitty their daily cat food and approved cat treats. Remember you cat is a carnivore and does not benefit from anything that isn’t meat.
Some plants can also be toxic to cats. For example the Lilly is highly toxic, consuming any part of the plant can be fatal. Many other plants and flowers are dangerous to cats, so it’s worth doing some research before buying a bouquet.
Live animals can also be toxic, like spiders, snakes and other venomous creatures. However, one of the biggest concerns as Australians is the Cane Toad. These pests contain a lethal toxin; if your pet consumes enough it can be fatal. Fortunately, most cats are intelligent enough to know these creatures aren’t worth the hunt, but its best to keep your cat indoors just in case. Other wildlife that can seriously harm your pet is rats. These rodents are just about everywhere and are a natural part of your cat’s diet. However, a rat that has consumed rat poison is not. If you have a rodent problem, be sure to use traps rather than poisonous bait.
As a kitten, your pet will likely experiment and play with everything around them. A kitten’s mouth and throat are very small, and can easily get foreign objects lodged in there. Things like bottle caps, string, wrappers, stationary and other small items can find their way into your pets stomach as fast as lightning. Be careful about leaving these little objects around the house while your kitten is young.
If your pet has eaten a foreign object or come into contact with something toxic, be sure to contact your emergency vet immediately.