CAT'S CORNER

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Kittens Eat... and Eat... and Eat

Growing up is a very energetic business. A young kitten needs up to four times as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult cat. On the other hand, the kitten's stomach is much smaller than that of a grown-up cat -- at first not much larger than a human thumbnail.

A kitten's food must be especially rich in calories and nutrients. In this case, small amounts of food are enough to supply the young kitten with all nutrients, and her small stomach won't be unnecessarily burdened. To make sure your kitten gets enough food, let her eat as much as she can. And always provide her with plenty of fresh water.

Kittens need more proteins than adult cats do, and those proteins must contain all the right amino acids for growth. They also need certain vitamins and minerals in the right amount and balance, for healthy bones and teeth.

At six to eight weeks, kittens should be fully weaned. During this time you can begin to feed your kittens nutritionally complete commercially prepared cat food. Talk to your veterinarian or breeder about choosing a high-quality product.

If your kittens are restless and start crying after they have been nursed, they are still hungry. You can give them a little additional food. It is best to feed your kittens a specially manufactured cat-milk substitute. At about four weeks, kittens can begin eating solid food. Start with small portions and gradually feed them more. Always provide fresh water.

At eight to nine months, young kittens can be gradually introduced to food designed for adult cats. Mix the new food for adult cats into the kitten food, ever increasing the proportion of the new to the old. Most cats reach their mature weight by their first birthday, although males take slightly longer than females.

By the first year, your cat should be eating adult foods. At this point you can also reduce the feeding times to twice a day. Remember, however, that several small meals throughout the day suit the cat's natural eating behavior.

The following table shows the number of meals per day and quantity of food per meal:

Age Meals per day Weight of the cat in kg.
approx. 6 to 8 weeks 6 1.3
3 month 5 2.0
4 month 4 2.6
5 month 3 3.3

From the sixth month on, your cat can be fed 1-2 times daily.

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