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How Much Should You Feed a Kitten? (Kitten to Adult Feeding Chart)

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Last Updated on November 21, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Bringing your new kitten home is exciting, and you want the best for your tiny new friend. Selecting high-quality foods for your kitten and feeding them the right amounts will help them grow strong and healthy.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how much you should feed your kitten and how to adjust this as they grow. You might also be trying to decide between feeding wet or dry food, so we cover that as well. We also look at common issues that can strike, such as your kitten not eating or eating too much!

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Kitten Feeding Chart By Age

We’ve included brief notes on how and what to feed your kitten at each stage of their life. Your kitten’s food consumption may vary based on whether they’re still nursing from their mother or need formula feeding, as well as their breed and general health and condition.

We always recommend speaking to your vet if you’re unsure since they can develop a feeding plan for your kitten’s exact circumstances.

Feeding kittens that are 0-4 weeks old

a newborn kitten drinks its mother's milk
Image Credit: Rembolle, Shutterstock

At this age, a kitten will get all the nutrients they require from their mother’s milk. During the first few weeks of their lives, kittens will feed roughly every 2 hours. By the time they’re 4 weeks old, they’ll be nursing somewhere between six to eight times per day.

Carrying out daily weight checks is the best way to make sure your kittens are gaining weight. A kitten should put on ½ to ¾ of an ounce each day. If a kitten isn’t gaining weight as expected, ask your veterinarian for advice or consider supplementing their diet with high-quality kitten milk replacers, like the PetAg KMr Kitten Milk Replacer Powder.

Feeding kittens that are 4-8 weeks old

At around 4 weeks old, a kitten will start showing interest in eating something besides their mother’s milk. You can leave a bowl of kitten milk replacer out for your kittens to experiment with. Around week 5, you can introduce a small amount of solid food. The best way to introduce kittens to solid food is to mix wet kitten food with warm water to make a gruel.

You can offer this three to four times per day as your kitten gets used to the texture and taste of their new food. Somewhere around 5 or 6 weeks old, your kitten’s baby teeth will start to come through, and they’ll be able to start chewing their food.

Feeding Kittens That Are 2-3 Months Old

little ginger kitten eats wet food
Image Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

At 2 months old, your kitten should be almost fully transitioned to eating solid food and drinking water. Wet canned food is easiest for kittens to chew, and the high moisture content helps keep them hydrated. If you want to add dry food to your kitten’s diet, adding warm water can help make it easier for your kitten to chew.

Feeding Kittens That Are 3-6 Months Old

At this age, you can continue to feed your kitten wet and dry food as long as the dry food is moistened. You can gradually reduce the amount of water added to the dry food until you don’t need to add any. If you decide to feed dry food to your kitten, we recommend you invest in a cat water fountain to entice it to drink water.

Feeding Kittens That Are 6-12 Months Old

At 10 to 12 months old, you can transition your kitten onto an adult cat food. The time you make the switch will depend on your kitten’s breed and body build. If your kitten is prone to weight gain, you may want to switch them to adult cat food sooner, as this contains fewer calories, proteins, and fats than kitten food.

If your kitten is a larger breed, like a Maine Coon, they can benefit from staying on kitten food until they’re 12 months of age. If you’re unsure when to make the switch, your veterinarian can help by assessing your cat’s body condition in conjunction with their breed and overall health.

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At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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How Often Should You Feed a Kitten? — Kitten Feeding Chart

You can use this feeding chart to estimate what you should feed your kitten until they’re an adult cat. Remember that the amount will vary depending on the food you select and your kitten’s breed, body condition, and activity level. The caloric density of their food will also play a part.

We highly recommend monitoring your kitten’s weight and body condition score, so you can adjust the quantity of their feed if necessary.

Age of KittenApproximate Weight*Amount per DayFrequency of Feeding
0–1 week3–7 ounces25–65 ml kitten formulatwelve times per day
1–2 weeks5–14 ounces40–110 ml kitten formulaten to twelve times per day
2–3 weeks14 ounces–1 pound110–125 ml kitten formulaSix to eight times per day
3–4 weeks1–1.3 pounds11 grams dry or 40 grams wetsix to eight times per day
4–5 weeks1.3–1.8 pounds11 grams dry or 40 grams wetFive to six times per day
5–8 weeks1.8–2.6 pounds18 grams dry or 65 grams wetThree to four times per day
2–3 months2.6–4 pounds18–31 grams dry or 65–110 grams wetThree to four times per day
4 months4–5.5 pounds31–38 grams dry or 110–130 grams wetThree to four times per day
5 months5.5–6 pounds38–42 grams dry or 130–148 grams wetThree to four times per day
6 months6–7 pounds42–48 grams dry or 148–165 grams wetTwo to Three meals
7 months7–8 pounds48–52 grams dry or 165–185 grams wetTwo to Three meals
8 months8–9 pounds52–58 grams dry or 185–200 grams wetTwo to Three meals
9 months9–10 pounds58–62 grams dry or 200–215 grams wetTwo to Three meals
10 months10–11 pounds62–66 grams dry or 215–235 grams wetTwo to Three meals
11 months11–12 pounds66–70 grams dry or 235–250 grams wetTwo to Three meals
12 months12–15 pounds70–85 grams dry or 250–300 grams wetTwo to Three meals
5 years15–20 pounds85–105 grams dry or 300–365 grams wetTwo to Three meals
10 years15–20 pounds85–105 grams dry or 300–365 grams wetTwo to Three meals
15 years15–20 pounds85–105 grams dry or 300–365 grams wetTwo to four meals

Sources: University of Wisconsin, Maddie’s Fund, Pet Nutrition Alliance

  • * All weights are approximate and will vary depending on the breed of your cat. Seek veterinary advice for a complete nutritional plan personalized for your cat.

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What to Feed My Kitten: Wet Food vs. Dry Food?

You might struggle to choose wet or dry food for your kitten. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Wet Food Pros
  • Adds hydration
  • Easy to chew
  • Palatable
Wet Food Cons
  • Expensive
  • Packaging creates waste
  • Can spoil if left out
Dry Food Pros
  • Easy to store
  • Little wastage
  • Can be cheap
Dry Food Cons
  • Can contain high levels of carbohydrates
  • Doesn’t add any hydration
  • Sometimes not as palatable as dry food

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How Often Should I Feed My Kitten?

There are recommended feeding frequencies in the feeding chart above, but of course, they have caveats. Newborn kittens should be fed every 2 hours if they’re not nursing. By the time they’re a month old, this can be reduced to six to four eight feedings per day, and once they’re 6 months old, you can reduce this again to two to three times per day, which most cat owners then continue for the rest of their cat’s life.

You might decide to free-feed your kitten to start with, giving them as much food as they seem to want. Many cats enjoy being able to have a small snack during the day, so leaving dry kibble out can be a good way to make sure they always have something to eat. It’s not a good idea to leave wet food out all day since it can spoil.

Sometimes you may want to leave dry kibble out during the day and feed your kitten a smaller portion of wet food twice a day. If you do this, you’ll have to adjust the amounts in the feeding chart to reflect that your cat is getting both types of food.

How Much Should a Kitten Eat a Day?

If you’ve decided to leave dry kibble out for your kitten to snack on throughout the day, remember that it still needs to be rationed out! You can measure your kitten’s portion of food out in the morning and then leave a portion out. Once that’s gone, you can top their bowl up as necessary. If your kitten has eaten their whole portion before the end of the day, don’t be tempted to give them more. Obesity is a problem in domestic cats, and it’s thought that potentially 60% of pet cats are overweight.

It’s much easier to prevent it from happening in the first place than to deal with the consequences. Obesity can lead to arthritis, diabetes, and other health conditions. So, as cute as your kitten might look when they ask for more food, if they’ve already had their daily ration, think twice before cracking open that box of kibble.

If your kitten seems to inhale their food in one go, free-feeding may not be the right choice. Once you’ve measured their daily ration, you can split it into more small meals. If you can, and it’s practical, split their food into four to six meals and spread them throughout the day.

Cats are generally adapted to eating a few small meals per day, with periods of sleep and hunting/activity in between. Providing small meals can mirror this natural cycle and help your kitten feel satisfied.

a kitten eats food from a large plastic bowl
Image Credit: Maria Moroz, Shutterstock

Why Won’t My Kitten Eat?

Kittens will often stop eating when they feel unwell. This can be as simple as painful gums from new teeth breaking through to something more concerning, like intestinal parasites or constipation. We recommend speaking to your veterinarian first, as they’ll be able to rule out any conditions that need medical treatment.

These tricks can sometimes encourage your kitten to eat after they’ve been checked over by your vet but still aren’t wolfing their food down:
  • Use a wide, shallow dish that doesn’t touch your kitten’s whiskers.
  • Try differently flavored or textured food.
  • Warm canned food to room temperature before feeding.
  • Keep your kitten’s bowl scrupulously clean.
  • Feed your kitten in a quiet area with no other cats around.
  • Leave dry kibble out for your kitten to eat when they want to.
  • Make sure their food bowls, water bowls, and litter trays are in separate areas.

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When to Switch From Kitten to Adult Food

When your kitten reaches their first birthday, you’ll probably be ready to switch them to adult food. You may decide to feed them the same brand of adult food as the kitten food, which is a good idea because it’s likely to contain similar ingredients. We like the American Journey Grain-Free Minced Poultry in Gravy Variety Pack canned food and the American Journey Turkey & Chicken Grain-Free Dry Cat Food.

You can also get breed-specific adult cat foods, which may be worth considering if your cat has a specific facial shape. Certain breeds, like Persian cats, have flattened muzzles that can make it harder for them to pick up their food. You can get specific kibble and canned food designed to be easy for them to eat.

If your kitten is a heavier breed, like a Maine Coon, they can benefit from staying on kitten food until they’re 12 months of age. If you’re unsure when to switch, your veterinarian can help by assessing your cat’s body condition in conjunction with their breed and overall health.

Don’t be tempted to switch to adult food immediately, even if you’re using the same brand. We recommend mixing the new food with the old food gradually to give your kitten’s digestive system a chance to adjust to the new food.

How Much to Feed an Adult Cat

There are rough estimates for what to feed your adult cat in the previous feeding chart, but remember that they can vary depending on many factors.

Things to bear in mind include:
  • Your cat’s breed
  • Their body condition score
  • Their activity levels
  • If your cat is male or female
  • If your female cat is pregnant
  • If they have any health conditions
  • If your cat is spayed or neutered
  • If your cat has any allergies

We recommend feeding your adult cat two to three times per day. You can leave a small amount of dry kibble out during the day and feed them some wet food in the morning and evening. Your cat’s food will give guidelines based on the ingredients and caloric density. For example, our favorite American Journey kibble suggests using 1 cup per day for an adult cat of 15 pounds weight.

Checking the feeding guidelines on your brand of cat food is a great place to start. You can always ask your veterinarian if they recommend a different quantity or a different brand if your cat needs an adaptation to their diet due to certain factors.

You can also use this handy calorie calculator for adult cats, which considers their body condition score and whether they’ve been spayed or neutered.

Feeding Guide for Senior Cats

It might seem like a long time away, but your cute and bouncy kitten will someday be a cute and elderly cat. Cats are generally considered seniors when they reach 7 years, elderly when they reach 11 years, and geriatric when they’re 11–14 years.

You may decide to feed your elderly or senior cat food designed specifically for this age group. Before you do, schedule a check-up with your cat’s veterinarian. They will be able to evaluate your cat’s health and let you know if they have any health conditions that a specific food could help with.

As cats age, their ability to digest proteins, fats, and energy decreases. This means your elderly or geriatric cat may need food that has more calories to help them maintain their body condition. Some senior cat foods include additional vitamins, glucosamine to help joints, and antioxidants to help their immune system. We like the Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Mature Dry Cat Food.

a man feeding his domestic cat
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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What Foods Are Bad for Kittens & Cats?

The safest way to ensure your kitten doesn’t eat something inappropriate is to feed them only their wet or dry food. Sometimes it can feel tempting to share table scraps with them, but that can lead to them developing an upset stomach as their digestive system struggles to cope with the new food.

There are certain foods that your kitten or cat should never eat:
  • Chocolate
  • Raw dough with yeast
  • Garlic, onion, and chives
  • Dairy products, including milk and cheese
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Anything caffeinated
  • Fat trimmings and bones
  • Raw meat and fish, unless prepared as part of a raw diet
  • Dog food

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Feeding your new kitten can feel overwhelming to start. But remember that any commercial kitten food you choose has been developed to provide a complete and balanced diet. That means it should give your kitten all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they need to thrive.

If you’re concerned about adjusting your kitten’s quantity or type of feed, you should always ask your vet for advice.

See also:

Featured Image: Marian Weyo, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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