How Long to Feed Kitten Food to Your CatLast updated: by Jessi Larson Affiliate Disclosure: We hope you love the products we've recommended! As an Amazon Associate we earn a small share from qualifying purchases.
Wondering how long to feed kitten food to your cat?
That’s a great question and an important thing to consider as your cat is growing.
Keeping your cat happy and taking good care of them is a top priority as a pet parent. And feeding your cat a diet that is nutritionally sound is a huge part of this.
If you got your cat as a kitten and have had them for a while, it might be time to consider switching from kitten food to adult cat food.
But how do you know when it’s the right time?
Here’s everything you need to know.
At What Age Is a Cat Considered a Kitten?
First things first, how old does your kitten have to be before it’s considered an adult?
That will help you determine how long to feed kitten food to your cat.
With the exception of the larger breeds, a cat is generally considered a kitten until it turns a year old.
Larger breeds often reach adult maturity later. The Main Coon, for instance, is considered a kitten until it is between 18 months and two years old.
Can You Feed Your Kitten Adult Food?
Adult food is not nutritionally sound for kittens, so unless the label on the package of cat food states that it is “for all life stages,” you shouldn’t feed it to your kitten.
If the label is marked “for all life stages,” it will give your kitten everything it needs. However, kitten food is specifically formulated to give your kitten everything they need to keep growing and developing every day.
As your kitten stops growing, it may not need high-energy food anymore, and you’ll need to start feeding it adult cat food.
Should Your Kitten Only Eat Soft or Wet Foods?
Kittens usually start off eating soft and wet food from a can. They can start this diet as soon as they start solid foods around four weeks of age.
Your kitten will develop their teeth while they get used to eating solid foods.
When you think your kitten is ready to start transitioning to hard, dry food, you should do it slowly. Mix a small amount of dry food, softened with water, into the wet food when you first introduce hard food.
As your kitten gets used to it, you can gradually increase how much dry food you put in.
Take at least a couple of days to do this so the transition isn’t too sudden for your kitten. Always make sure to follow whatever feeding instructions are on the back of the bag of cat food too.
When to Introduce Your Kitten to Adult Food
It can be hard to know exactly when to stop feeding your kitten food designed especially for young cats.
Unless your veterinarian tells you otherwise, it’s normally safe to start transitioning to adult cat food when your kitten turns a year old.
According to most veterinarians, this is how long to feed kitten food to a cat.
You still need to spread the process out, just like when beginning a new hard food.
Gradually increase the amount of adult food you give, decreasing the kitten food. The best way to do it is by continuing the process over a 4-10 day period.
How to Transition Your Kitten to Adult Cat Food
It’s important to take your time when you introduce your kitten to adult cat food. This is to avoid any discomfort or intestinal issues for your kitten.
The most important thing is to take it slowly, over several days.
If you are unsure about how to go about this, or if your kitten is of an uncommon breed, you can always ask your veterinarian for advice, too. They are experts on how long to feed kitten food to a cat and how to transition them to adult food.
You don’t need to follow a set schedule, but if you want a step-by-step process, you can use the one below:
On the first day, you can feed your kitten about 75% of the kitten food they are already used to. Mix in about 25% of the new adult cat food you are introducing.
On the second day, feed your kitten a mixture of 50% adult cat food and 50% kitten food.
On the third day, as long as your kitten seems to agree with the changes, feed your kitten a mix of about 75% of the new adult cat food and 25% of their old kitten food.
On the fourth day, you can skip the kitten food completely and feed your kitten 100% adult cat food.
Make sure to monitor your kitten’s weight and body condition during the transition.
If your cat is losing or gaining weight, adjust the feedings accordingly and weigh your kitten weekly.
You can always check with your veterinarian if you’re not sure how much food to feed your cat.
Free-Feeding or Portion-Controlled Feedings?
Many adult cats self regulate how much food they need, and free-choice feeding is a common option. This is where the cat has constant access to food and chooses when, and how much, to eat.
However, some indoor cats, specially those who don’t get enough exercise, can sometimes overeat when fed this way.
If your cat tends to overeat, or your veterinarian thinks the cat is gaining too much weight, it’s a better idea to feed controlled portions two times a day.
How Do You Choose The Right Food?
It’s essential that you feed your cat quality food, whether kitten food or adult cat food.
Kitten food provides different nutrition than adult cat food because kittens need more protein, fat and overall calories than adult cats do.
Food for Active Growing Kittens
Just think about it: Kittens are often more active and playful than adult cats, but they are also growing and developing at a rate that adult cats don’t experience. Because of this, they need nutrients that will sustain this growth.
Kitten food generally contains more omega fatty acid DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) that helps your kittens brain and vision develop properly.
Kitten food will also contain all the necessary minerals and vitamins necessary for developing your kitten’s immune system, plus the optimal calcium to phosphorus rate needed for your kitten to grow into a healthy adult cat.
This is not to say that adult cats don’t need high-quality food anymore. They absolutely do.
Food for Healthy Adult Cats
Downgrading your kittens food to a lower-quality nutrition brand as you transition your kitten to adult cat food is not a good idea.
In fact, it might upset your kitten’s digestion and provide him with less nutrition than he is used to.
When looking for an adult food to replace your high-quality kitten food, look for balanced levels of fat, protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals and moderately fermentable fiber.
Another thing to look for is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards.
Final Thoughts: How Long to Feed Kitten Food to Your Cat
So, as you ponder how long to feed kitten food to your furry friend, here’s the ultimate answer:
In general, most cat breeds are fully developed when they reach one-year-old and are ready to start the transition to adult cat food.
It’s not a bad idea, however, to double check with your vet to make sure the time is right and that you’re providing them with the proper type of food.
When you do transition to kitten food, taking it slow and providing high-quality food the whole way is key to making sure your kitten stays healthy and happy during the process.