How Much to Feed a Kitten

Wondering how much to feed a kitten, what to feed a kitten, if there’s a kitten feeding schedule? See advice for feeding kittens (and check with your vet!).

A kitten meowing.
A kitten meowing. Photography ©annadarzy | Thinkstock.

If you’re thinking of adopting a kitten, whether three weeks old or six months old, he’s going to require proper nutrition and care. Feeding grown cats can seem like a simpler task, but knowing how much to feed a kitten can be a bit more complex. Here’s how much to feed a kitten:

How Much to Feed a Kitten — From Birth To Four Weeks

A newborn kitten in the palm of a human hand.
If a mama cat isn’t around or won’t take care of her newborn kittens, they’ll have to be hand-fed. Photography by Branislav Ostojic/Thinkstock.

Mama’s Milk: Hopefully a kitten is still with his mother during this time. But, even so, there can be problems. If the mother cat refuses to nurse, have the vet check her out. She could have mastitis or something, making nursing painful.

Hand-Feeding: If the mother cat refuses to take care of her kittens, you’ll have to bottle feed the kittens. One brand of kitten milk, KMR, can be found at major pet stores. Your vet may also have a suggestion for a formula. If at all possible, it is important for the kittens to nurse for at least the first two days.

How Much to Feed a Kitten — From Four to Eight Weeks

Weaning kittens: This is a gradual process. Give the kittens a mixture of dry kitten food (one part) mixed with cat milk replacement (three parts) or wet kitten food (one part) and milk replacement (two parts). Gradually reduce the liquid.

How much to feed a kitten — From Two Months To Three Months

Cat Food: Kittens should be feeding solely on kitten food by 10 weeks at the latest.

What to feed kittens at this time: During this time, kittens develop their food preferences which will stay with them for life. Wet food or dry food is up to you. Only in special circumstances decided by your vet should you give a kitten supplements.

How much to feed a kitten schedule at two to three months: Kittens this age should be fed at least four times a day because their stomachs are too small to contain the necessary amount of food for nutritional needs when less often. Wet food should be refrigerated between feedings and then warmed up. Dry food can be left out for kittens to free-feed. Mix a little water in the dry food if your kitten isn’t drawn to it.

How Much to Feed a Kitten — From Three Months to Six Months

Routine: Kittens start to really appreciate routine during this time. Make sure your kitten food is in a quiet, safe place and don’t move it around.

What to feed a kitten at this time: Check your kitten food label. It should have a guaranteed analysis of key ingredients including the minimum fat and protein and the maximum fiber and moisture. Cats and kittens can develop problems from too little protein in their diet. Keep your kitten’s diet constant — don’t switch foods unless necessary.

How much to feed a kitten schedule at three to six months: Toward six months, you can begin feeding your kitten three times a day. It’s best to weigh your cat every week and adjust amounts accordingly.

How much to feed a kitten who is three months to six months old: 1/3 to 1 cup at each feeding.

How Much to Feed a Kitten — From Six Months to a Year

Feeding cats: Though your kitten may continue to grow after a year, they’re generally considered cats by then.

What to feed cats at this time: Your cat’s food should, again, contain adequate protein as it highly digestible to cats. Also, look for taurine and arginine — these are essential amino acids. Most vets recommend against a vegetarian diet as cats are strict carnivores. As a grown cat, he has several choices for food:

  1. Dry food: There are many brands on the market. There are also special foods for specific problems such as hairballs and urinary tract infections.
  2. Wet food: Some cat owners feel this is best because it is lower in carbs than dry food. They also feel cats have less of a chance of obesity with wet food. But it has been found there’s no real difference between a dry or wet food diet.
  3. Raw food diet: Proponents feel this best approximates a cat’s diet in the wild. You can either make your own or buy a raw food diet. The key is to make certain your cat gets all the required nutrients. Some people add probiotics (which help maintain intestinal health) and supplements (check with your vet).
  4. Frequency: Twice a day.

How much to feed a kitten at this age: Check food label recommendations.

The Bottom Line on How Much to Feed a Kitten

Knowing how much to feed a kitten to insure his growth into a healthy cat is essential. Watch his weight (an overweight cat or kitten will have a hanging stomach, ribs you can’t feel and, perhaps, a double chin); watch his activity level; and watch his stools. By focusing on good nutrition from the start, you’ll most likely have a healthy and strong cat.

Concerned about how much (and what!) you’re eating? Here’s how to get your own healthy eating plan in place >>

Thumbnail: Photography ©annadarzy | Thinkstock. 

This piece was originally published in 2009.

Read more about caring for kittens on

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