In order to ensure good health and the proper growth and development of your young pet, excellent nutrition is essential. Choosing the appropriate food for your kitten can however be complicated due to the numerous brands and multiple products available in stores and veterinary clinics.
There are two main forms of kitten food: dry food and canned food (either in pâté or stew). Some people choose to prepare home-cooked meals for their pet, but this can become difficult to manage and recipes may often become unbalanced, leading to nutrient deficiencies. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of food for your kitten to help you make an informed decision.
Dry kibble is often appreciated by kittens that like to chew. The fact that they chew and bite through the kernels helps with the development of teeth and also massages the gums allowing the reduction of tartar on their teeth. For the owner, dry food has the advantage of being easy to measure and portion meals based on the kitten’s weight and age. The only inconvenience is that dry food contains very little water, and the owner must always offer fresh water to the kitten in order to ensure proper hydration and to decrease the risk of urinary problems later in life. From a nutritional point of view, most dry food is balanced and meet kitten’s needs in essential nutrients for health and growth, but all diets are not created equal. Pet foods sold in mass-market stores may be of lesser quality, be too rich in calories or even be less digestible than those sold in veterinary clinics and pet stores. Kitten diets need to be well-balanced, provide all essential nutrients and be easily digestible.
Cans containing stews or pâté are often very attractive to kittens because of their yummy aromas. Canned food contains up to 80% water ensuring that kittens stay properly hydrated.
The primary inconvenience to canned food is that the food dries up quickly. Open cans should be kept refrigerated, which may change the texture, taste, or smell, something kittens love so much. Cans must therefore be consumed quickly (within 3 to 5 days). Containing mainly water, the quantity required to meet a kitten’s daily needs can be substantial, and several cans per day may be required. Just as with dry food, choose canned diets of higher quality brands sold at your veterinarian to ensure that your growing kitten receives all the nutrients they need.
The purpose of choosing a good quality diet to feed your kitten, or even your adult cat, is of course to meet all nutritional needs and promote growth, but also to please your pet. We recommend mixed feeding nutrition which consists in feeding a kitten 60% dry food and 40% canned food. Mixed feeding nutrition allows you to control unwanted weight gain from the start, promote hydration, reduce risks of urinary and renal problems, and to please the kitten with different types of meals. Everyone wins!