When Can Kittens Start Eating Soft Food?

Cute kitten picture

Cats can be considered kittens until they get to be 1-year-old. Larger breeds might have to receive kitten food until they reach 18 months or 24 months of age. Kittens have different feeding schedules depending on their specific age.

In today’s article, we’re looking at when you can start feeding kittens soft food in the form of pouches or canned varieties.

Weaning a Kitten

In most cases, kittens should be fully weaned by the time they reach four weeks of age. However, that does not happen in every situation depending on the number of kittens that a cat has given birth to. If she had just one, she might be less keen to wean her kitten simply because they are not inflicting as much abuse on her mammary glands.

On the other hand, if a cat had three or more kittens, by the time they reach 2-3 weeks of age, she begins to experience local irritation, which is why she’ll sometimes refuse feeding her offspring.

When the kittens are 2-3 weeks of age, you should begin introducing soft food into their diets.

That does not mean that you should start exclusively feeding the young cats pouches or canned pet food; it is merely the perfect moment to give it to them and see whether they might be interested in it or not.

For two more weeks following that, the kittens will have a diet composed of their mother’s milk and the food that you give them.

By the time they are 8-weeks-old, most kittens should only eat solid food, whether pouches or canned diets or dry food.

Getting Started

Although weaning can be more or less difficult, patience is the key to doing it successfully. If the kitten doesn’t seem to be too interested in the type of food you’re offering, perhaps it’s not the right time yet.

It’s also worth noting that kittens can be more or less clumsy in their living space, mostly because during the first weeks of their life, they are consistently improving their reflexes and the way they interact with the things around them. As such, they might step into the food or water bowl, so you will have to manage these messes.

If you are caring for one or more kittens who have lost their mothers, what you can do is mix the formula with a bit of the food.

Even though it might be the only thing that you have available, you should probably avoid giving dry food to your kittens. Most kibble tends to absorb a lot of liquid, and although it does turn into a mushy meal, it is not as appealing as a pouch.

Gradually make changes to the amount of wet food that you mix into the formula by increasing the quantity of cat food once every couple of days. This will make the process easier for everyone involved.

What Type of Food Is Best for Weaning Kittens?

You can use virtually any type of canned cat food for this purpose, but for the sake of keeping your kittens’ health up to par, we do not recommend using varieties made for adults.

Kitten diets are typically richer in various nutrients, such as calcium and other minerals, which young cats need for normal development. If you really have nothing else available, one or two meals containing adult cat food are not going to hurt your kitten. However, this is not the best option in the long term, so do keep that in mind.

Wet kitten food is also different depending on the brand and, most importantly, its ingredients. If possible, opt for the best you can afford and look at the label to make sure that it doesn’t contain any ingredients such as grains or artificial preservatives, binders, or other substances that should not be part of a healthy cat’s diet.

Since they are obligate carnivores, cats are not supposed to have grains because they can have negative outcomes especially in terms of their digestive transit. It is not uncommon for kittens to be bloated, gassy, or have a bout of diarrhea after eating food that contains grains. A healthy source of fiber (and that you can look for on the kitten food label) is pumpkin, for example, but not grains.

As for the other substances that we have mentioned, a very high-quality diet is particularly important as the kitten is still developing. Any added chemical can negatively influence a kitten’s health, so try to choose the best natural alternative you have available.

Should Kittens Drink Milk?

It depends on the type of milk you want to give to your kittens. Cow milk is perhaps the worst because (and not a lot of people might know this) this species is actually lactose-intolerant.

Goat milk is a little better, but it’s still not cat-appropriate in every way. Therefore, the best type of kitten milk would be a formula that you can order online or purchase from any pet store.

When Can Kittens Start Eating Adult Cat Food?

Your kitten should be at least 1-year-old before you start making the change. We’d also like to note that you should gradually switch your pet to an adult diet by mixing the new food with the old one.

During the first week, your kitten’s diet should be composed of 20% adult cat food and 80% kitten food. In the second week, you can increase the 20% to 40% or even 50% if you’ve noticed that your cat is interested in it and more importantly, has experienced no digestive distress. You can continue to do this until you fully replace the kitten diet with the adult one.

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