A black and white kitten eating food from a bowl.

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Yay or Nay – Can Kittens Eat Adult Cat Food?


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They say you are what you eat. But how does this translate to pet food and to kitten food in particular? Can kittens eat adult cat food, for example? When do kittens start eating food and drinking water? And how much wet food to feed a kitten, or is dry food best?

As much as it seems like the questions are endless, the answers are all right here. Let’s dive in to unpack all you need to know about being a new kitten parent and feeding them well.

five kittens lined up in a row eating kitten food since they're still too young to switch adult cat food

When do kittens start eating food and drinking water?

Kittens aren’t born with teeth; in any case, not visibly so. They’re there but just hidden under the gums. These baby teeth start emerging around three weeks and are fully out by roughly six to eight weeks. In between this time at around the five week mark they start to gradually drink less and less of mummy cat’s milk.

In other words, kittens can start taking their first taste test of kitten food at about five weeks old. Kibble will be too hard for them to eat properly but you sprinkle a bit of water on it to soften it. Be sure to also give them some wet food because they won’t be able to pack in enough nutrition with dry food alone.

To sum it up kittens start to gradually move onto eating food and drinking water from five weeks onwards. But it’s still baby steps here as they need mum’s milk and the maternal antibodies this provides.

Between seven and 12 weeks they’ll become fully weaned. Their milk teeth will have completely emerged and they can happily move onto a diet of kitten food. Read all about keeping cat teeth good as new their whole life long.

Biting is bad. These little teeth are sharp and they might want to bite you, which isn't a good idea. Read all about how to stop a cat biting you. 

Vaccinations are good. Make sure kittens are vaccinated once weaned as they'll lose natural immunity. Our kitten and cat health checklist includes your kitten's vaccination schedule. 
two kittens start eating food and drinking water

Can kittens eat adult cat food?

When it comes to the big question of whether kittens can eat adult cat food the answer is no. Here’s why:

  • Phase one. Kittens have very specific growth phases that need individualised diets to keep them healthy now and into the future. Their muscles, tendons, bones and connective tissues are growing at lightning speed, especially up until they’re four months of age.
  • Phase two. Once kittens are through this warp-speed growth phase they enter their second kitten phase that runs from four months to about a year. Again, get the right kitten food that caters to your kitten’s growing needs during this phase so they’re less vulnerable to health conditions now and later on.

Felines are obligate carnivores so at least 70% of their food needs to be protein. By choosing carefully you can get kitten food with the right mix of protein that provides nutrients, calories and fibre in the correct quantities.

Avoid overfeeding. If you share your home with a cat and kitten, your kitten may want to try out your adult cat's food. The main problem here is that your kitten may end up eating too much food, which could put them in danger of obesity.
A cat stands on the countertop watching to see how much wet cat food its owner will dish

Choosing great pet food for happy healthy pets

There are lots of pet costs a pet parent forks out for, from bedding and toys to health and grooming supplies. Then there’s food. No matter how much you invest in feeding well and matching your pet’s food to its breed, age and so on, it will never go to waste. Lots of breeds have genetic predispositions to being more prone to certain health conditions.

Safeguard against illness and hereditary conditions

For example, Siamese cats are more prone to food allergies than many other cats. Persian cats often have breathing issues as they’re a brachycephalic breed. Things like hip dysplasia can affect bigger cats like the Maine Coon.

Food can be a wonderful way to do your best to help protect your pet against these potential health risks.

Quality of kitten food and beyond = quality of life

When it comes to pet health and wellness, quality food really isn’t something to skip. It’s the bedrock of what your pet will grow up to be from kitten to cat and from cat to super cat.

Good pet food brands will cater to the rapid developmental phases of early kittenhood. They supply the optimum energy levels and correct amounts of essential vitamins and minerals in just the right balance.

this black cat with orange eyes sitting in an orange pot looking enjoys kitten food

Let pet food guidelines guide you

When you’re looking for a pet food among the myriad options, it can be confusing making the right pick. However, you can easily get it right by choosing cat food that meets the Association of American Feed Control Official (AAFCO) or European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF) pet food guidelines.

A quick Google search should tell you if the pet food brand you’re buying meets any of the above.

How much wet food to feed a kitten or cat?

If you’re wondering how much wet food to feed a kitten or cat then you’re probably choosing between wet and dry foods. Both dry cat food and wet have benefits and drawbacks.

For example, wet food contains water and that can help your cat avoid urinary tract infections. This is because they’re likely to be better hydrated. However, dry food is good for their teeth.

As you can see, it’s probably a good idea to feed your feline a mix of both and work towards the ideal balance based on their food preference. But whether you feed wet food only, dry food only or a mixture of both, don’t exceed the packet feeding guidelines.

For example, if you’re feeding a mix of wet and dry cat food, be sure to cut both down by half if you’re feeding half of each. The last thing you want is to accidently give a double portion by giving one wet and one dry.

And as companion animal vet Dr Cath Watson explains in this vlog post, if your pet is still heavier than healthier, gradually cut back on how much you’re feeding:

How to safeguard against obesity in pets

Obesity is a growing problem with pets – partially due to the rise in popularity of chunky social media pet-stars. Unfortunately it can lead to all kinds of serious chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes in dogs and cats. Not to mention being physically uncomfortable for them.

Sadly, it’s super-easy to overfeed your cuddlesome cat. If you’re already feeding them the prescribed amount of food according to the package guidelines and treating them on top, you’ve got a problem.

Scale back on their serving quantities. Especially if you’re using treats for positive reinforcement reward based training. You don’t have to feed them all their food in one go, you simply need to ration it right.

Read up on our National Pet Diabetes Month for tips to maintain your feline’s average cat weight.

Give your cat pet insurance for a soft landing

In addition to great food, a great way to keep kitty safe and healthy is to take up cat insurance. A pet plan helps ensure you’re not in the red when the unexpected happens and you land at the vet.

Your pet’s pawlicy can help pay for all sorts of medical procedures, from surgery and vet hospital stays to dental operations and medication – depending on the level of cover you opt for. Did you know that with PD Insurance third party liability cover is included in all our plans? And that you might be able to get discounted pet insurance for multiple pets on the one policy?

Click below to get one or more months of FREE pet insurance too!

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