By Julie Lauzon, agr, MSc, Pet Nutrition
8 Weeks – 6 Months
First, Congratulations on Your New Kitten!
You’re at the start of a wonderful adventure and we wish you many years of love and health together. You are reading this because you are a well-informed pet-parent who wish to offer the best nutrition possible to your kitten, and we would like to support you in your journey of raw feeding for the life and health of your cat.
Feeding raw for the lifetime of your cat has many advantages. The very first thing you’ll notice is during the litter training stage that raw fed kittens produce a lot less poop than kibble fed kittens. Not only is there less, but the texture is more firm making clean up much easier, especially in the case of an accident in the house. Because raw has no added salt, most raw fed kittens drink less water making it easier to train them to pee in the litter box. Pointing to other health benefits later in life, there are also more and more studies supporting the early life raw diet for the health of skin and joints, cancer prevention and overall gut health (see blog about weaning kittens onto raw for reference).
During the first few days with your new kitten you may notice a reduced appetite and loose stools. These effects are not necessarily a result of the diet but more likely a result of stress because of the huge life changes. Be patient, things will return to a healthy normal soon. You can offer our Raw Fermented Goat Milk to support any digestive upset and to increase interest in food. Feeding the same proteins as the breeder can also help with the environment adaptation.
What Should I Be Feeding?
Until your kitten is 4-5 months old, the amount of food to offer will seem huge compared to your kitten’s current weight. The reason for this is that there is no such thing as kitten food when feeding raw: it is simply whole food put together with no filler!
Kittens should be fed at will, or 10% of their actual weight, which should correspond roughly to 2.5% of their expected adult body weight. This means that your kitten, usually around 12-16 weeks old is eating their full adult portion of food daily. We recommend feeding 3-4 meals daily until about 6 months of age because they are growing rapidly and need a more constant supply of calories than a full-grown cat. If your kitten seems to be excessively hungry at mealtime and a little on the lean side, the best thing to do is to feed a little more. If you are noticing an increase in body condition score, or an excessively pudgy kitten, reduce a little. Obesity in a kitten is just as harmful as malnutrition.
In raw feeding, variety is key! We recommend a rotation of 3-5 proteins per month, a combination of red meats and poultry. The more variety you offer at a young age, the less likely your cat will become a picky eater or suffer from neophobia – the fear of new food. Offering a huge protein rotation also helps eliminate the risk of developing food intolerances or allergies.
Did you know that you can already be offering raw meaty bones to your kitten? Your breeder may have already offered some meaty bones at 7-8 weeks old because they know that the younger your cat learns how to chew on raw bones correctly and safely, the easier it will be to feed them bones once they’re an adult! Bones for kittens should be soft, thawed and served only 2-3 times a week. We don’t want to unbalance the diet and we want to be gentle on those baby teeth. Some great options are necks and feet (chicken being the smallest). For now, weight baring bones aren’t a great choice because the bone is very dense and hard. Feeding raw bones is an essential element of feeding raw for dental health, and it’s best to teach them early on how to eat bones safely.
Do you feel like you need some support to create the perfect kitten diet? We’re here for you. Simply ask for a personalized meal pan, it’s free!
SUBMIT REQUEST FOR A MEAL PLAN
6 months to a year old are better known as the teenage phase! During this phase, you might notice that some undesired behaviours are making a comeback, but don’t worry, it will pass and before long you’ll have your cat back. Just keep going, reinforcing the training and teaching you’ve done so far.
As far as the diet is concerned, there are a couple changes that can be made during this teenage phase. By now, most of your kitten’s growth is done, and if you haven’t already, you can drop down to two meals per day – one in the morning and one in the evening. Some kittens will naturally drop the middle of the day feed by showing no interest in food, making it easy to start the twice daily feeding regimen.
Most cats continue to grow until 1.5 years old but the growth from 6 months onward is much slower and often not noticeable. At this age, the joints aren’t yet fully developed and there is still room for a lot of muscle mass, commonly called “filling out”. During the 6 months to 1 year timeframe, your kitten could eat up to 5% of its actual body weight, which should still be 2.5% of their expected adult weight.
During this phase, it’s still important to keep a close eye on body condition. If your teenager is on the chunky side, reducing food portions slightly, even for a little while, will help keep those joints healthy. And if you can see and feel ribs, it might be best to increase food portions a little – often as little as an extra 10% in the food bowl is all it takes. We suggest adding a Quail Egg a couple times a week as a meal topper to increase calories simply.
This teenage phase is also a great time to introduce interactive bowls and toys. Your kitten will need a lot of mental stimulation and bringing out some toys at mealtime is an excellent way to rid some of that excess energy. Simply thaw the food, fill your favorite West Paw Toy or Big Country Raw Lick Mat with raw and refreeze it to offer it frozen at mealtime. This type of mental stimulation can tire your kitten even more than physical exercise!
And we want to remind you, if you have any questions about a product we offer, or need suggestions for supplements or a meal plan, never hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to help make raw feeding a choice you can be confident in.