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Caring for a New Kitten: The First 6 Months
Caring for a New Kitten: The First 6 Months

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Caring for a New Kitten: The First 6 Months

Raising a kitten is one of the most enjoyable experiences a pet owner can have, but it can also be as challenging as it is rewarding. When it comes to your kitten’s diet, it’s important to set up a solid foundation to make sure your kitten grows into a healthy, well-adjusted cat.
 

Feeding Your Kitten during the First 6 Months

The timeline for feeding your newborn kitten changes rapidly during the first six months. The following is a broad overview of the key development milestones your kitten will experience to help you learn what and how you should feed the newest member of your family.

 

Common Milestones for Kitten Development

 

AGE

MILESTONE

7-10 days old

Kittens begin to urinate and defecate on their own.

10-18 days old

Kittens attempt to stand.

Kittens double their birth weight at about day 14.

Kittens’ eyes begin to open.

Kittens’ ears begin to open.

18-21 days old

Kittens hear and respond to noises.

Kittens begin to walk.

3 weeks old

Begin weaning process for orphaned kittens.

Kittens begin responsive vocalization.

Deciduous (baby) teeth will begin erupting.

4 weeks old

Begin weaning process for mother-fed kittens.

3-6 months old

Kittens’ adult teeth erupt.

 

Due to breed differences and animal individuality, it is impossible to predict exact dates for growth and development milestones for kittens. However, by using these milestones as a guide for healthy growth, you can spot and possibly prevent developmental problems early on.

 

How to Wean Kittens with IAMS™

When your kitten reaches 4 weeks old (or 3 weeks old for orphaned kittens), you can begin the weaning process. Follow this step-by-step process to wean a kitten using IAMS:

  1. Introduce a small amount of water in a shallow dish. Most kittens will play in the water; however, within four or five days, they begin to develop drinking skills. Some kittens may require longer periods for training, so don’t be discouraged if they resist bowl training.
  2. Begin mixing IAMS™ Proactive Health™ Mother and Kitten with water. Be sure to also provide a separate dish for fresh water.
  3. Gradually increase the amount of soft food while decreasing the amount of water in the mixture until the kitten is eating soft food only.
  4. Repeat the process, mixing dry food with the soft food, and then increasing the solid food while decreasing the soft food until the transition is complete.

The entire process should take approximately three weeks.

 

  • Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Try These Cat Feeding Tips!
    Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Try These Cat Feeding Tips!

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    Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Try These Cat Feeding Tips!

    Cats are known for being a bit choosey about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.

     

    Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.

     

    Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat 

    Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats 

    Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!

     

    Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).

     

    Review Your Cat’s Food Routine 

    Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.

     

    It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!

     

    Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding 

    If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.

     

    Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!

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