As pet parents, we all have a duty to provide for our companions.
This role is an exciting and unique chapter of our lives, but for newborn kittens, it is a role that comes with a lot of responsibility.
I have no doubts that you have plenty of questions in regards to keeping your feline safe and healthy.
How can I keep my kitten warm?
How can I give my fluffy creature cuddles without hurting it?
Most importantly, how can I keep my kitten healthy and full of the nourishment it needs for growth?
Luckily, this comprehensive guide has all you need to know about keeping your fur baby well-looked after. From whether you should feed them dry food, to when you should be seeking veterinary care for their appetite, you can now have peace of mind knowing that their nourishment is cared for.
Why Has My Kitten Stopped Eating?
Unfortunately, there are a multitude of reasons your kitten may stop eating.
This can be as harmless as them feeling full and satisfied, to cotton balls getting stuck in their throat, to the not so harmless medical problems such as Kidney Disease or other infectious diseases that can be detrimental to the appetite of kittens.
That sentence alone is probably enough to make pet parents panic, but don’t worry straight away.
Plenty of other symptoms will be present if the latter problem is stopping your feline friend from eating. The body temperature of your pet will drop, and the litter box usage of your kitten will change, accompanied by discharge from the nose and ear canals.
If you notice any of these, then your pet may require human intervention. This will be in the form of veterinary care, which will provide an analysis of your pet and medicine.
Like human babies, kittens do most of their growing in the early stages of their life. If you notice your fur baby is eating but not growing as much as expected, you may still need to seek medical care.
A vet will provide you with special growth food supplements to help with their development.
How Long Can A Kitten Go Without Food?
Whilst an adult cat can go for weeks without food, a healthy kitten will require a consistent feeding schedule, especially when they are just a few weeks of age and starting their weaning process.
Pet owners should provide their feline friends with a source of food every 3-4 hours a day. This can equate to approximately 5-6 meals per day, depending on your pet’s type of cat food and medical conditions.
A cat owner will need to provide a kitten with the correct number of calories so that the pet can undergo adequate weight gain from its birth weight. It is also important to make sure cats have plenty of water throughout the day. If these calorie goals are not met, then a life-threatening illness known as Hepatic Lipidosis could occur, which results in liver failure.
The periods of time in which a kitten can go without eating are not always set in stone.It will depend on the kitten’s weight, body size, and, most importantly, age. Below we have compiled a list of the time a kitten can go without food compared to their weeks of age.
A kitten at birth will likely be fed by their mom regularly. On the other hand, you may have orphan kittens who need to be bottle-fed with kitten formula. You will need to feed them every 2-3 hours, which includes waking up in the night, to increase their chances of survival without a mother and increase the kitten’s weight.
2-4 Week Old Kitten:
These kittens should be fed between 3-4 hours. They can usually only go around 12 hours without food and the kitten’s weight should be increasing drastically. If this is not the case, feed the weaker kittens more often.
4-6 Week Old Kitten:
At this age, the feeding of kittens should become a little less regular. You should still be using kitten milk replacer (and a little bit of wet food to begin weaning), but this should be every 4-5 hours, without the need for night feedings if they are asleep. They should be able to go a day without food.
6-8 Week Old Kitten:
At this age, you should be toward the end of the weaning process. By gradually increasing the ratio of wet food in the formula, or soaking solid food in kitten milk, they should start eating meals from a food bowl, whilst being provided with a bowl of fresh water. They will eat around 4-5 meals per day.
Older Than 8 Weeks:
The type of food you choose is now up to you. You can carry on with wet food, or switch to solid food. The feeding should be a bit more of a schedule, with them being provided with about 3 meals per day. As they start to get bigger, your cat will be able to last up to 2 days without food, as long as the kitten is provided with a water bowl.
What Should My Kitten Eat?
What to feed your kitten can be a very tough decision.
This will largely base itself on the size of your cat, your budget, and whether your kitten has been weaned or not.
If your kitten is still young and has not been weaned yet, then our recommendation is to allow it to feed from its mother’s milk exclusively. This will not only provide nourishment and hydration, but the body heat from your cat will keep kittens warm. If this is not possible, then bottle feeding using kitten formula is recommended.
When your kitten has been weaned, it is recommended to stick to wet food at first. This is perfect for keeping them healthy and hydrated. If this isn’t possible, then dry kitten food is fine, as long as you start by soaking the food in kitten milk and providing them with plenty of water.
Most of the kitten food you can purchase from pet supply stores, such as canned kitten food, or solid kibbles, has been carefully engineered to provide the correct macronutrients to your feline without you having to think twice about it.
The main consideration you have to make is the serving size.
You need to provide your pet with adequate calories – not too little that it can’t gain weight, and not too many that it can become unhealthy. Usually, you should just follow the advice on the packaging for your kitten’s size.
What Should I Do If My Kitten Stops Eating The Food I Serve?
To put this bluntly, change it.
Just like you and me, if your kitten doesn’t like the food you are providing anymore, or is particularly fussy, then they may stop eating it.
It’s then a good idea to substitute for a different brand, from wet to dry kitten food, or maybe even just a different flavor.
If the problem persists and your furry friend decides they still do not want to touch their food, then observe for other symptoms.
If the symptoms we discussed above occur, or the kitten seems to be dropping in weight, then seek veterinary advice.
The only other dilemma that could be occurring if your kitten isn’t eating your food, and they are still putting on weight, is they are subsidizing their calorie intake somewhere else. It may be a good idea to try and discover where this is coming from and ask your neighbors kindly to stop feeding them as it can disrupt their eating schedule.
3 Signs Your Newborn Kitten Is Eating Enough
There are 3 easy methods to recognize whether your kitten is consuming all of the nutritional requirements they need:
Weighing your kitten:
By weighing your kitten, you can monitor whether they are gaining weight and staying healthy.
Tracking how much they eat:
If you are conscious of how much they are eating and leaving, you can develop an understanding of how much nourishment they are getting, and their food preferences.
Notice whether they are begging or scrounging for food:
Even though you may think you provide your kitten with enough food, it may not have the full nutrition they need. If this is the case, they may cry for food when you are making your own.
Looking after your newborn kitty is tough but rewarding.
The best thing you can do is work out their preferences, ease them into it, and feed them on a consistent schedule, so you can avoid worrying about how long your kitten can go without food.
Do not go into a frenzy straight away if your kitten has stopped eating, as this can be harmless.
Try and observe them for a few days, and if the problem gets worse, and your cat’s health seems to deteriorate, seek medical help.
With all the information in this article, you are pretty much set to be successful on your nutritional journey with your feline friend.
Is there anything we missed?
Are there any specific questions you need to answer about your kitten’s nutritional requirements?
Let us know in the comments below!