cat article detail banner
cat article detail banner mobile

Kitten Feeding Tips

Providing your kitten with the proper nutrition goes way beyond just putting fresh food in a clean bowl. Your kitten’s nutritional needs will change as her body develops through adolescence. Proper nutrition during these critical growth periods will help your kitten mature into a strong, healthy adult cat. Discover four essential kitten-feeding tips you need to know in your kitten’s first year.


Tip 1: Know Your Kitten’s Development Milestones

Learning what development milestones your kitten will experience in her first year will help you decide what and when to feed her.


Rapid Growth Stage: 2 to 6 Months

After kittens are weaned, they enter a stage of rapid growth, which lasts through the sixth month of life. They need a balanced diet to deliver the nutrients and energy to sustain such rapid development.

Kittens have twice the energy needs of adult cats on a pound-per-pound basis. But their smaller mouths, teeth and stomachs limit the amount of food they can digest during a single meal. Therefore, it may be best to divide their total daily food amount into three or four smaller meals.

Because every bite must be packed with nutrition, kittens require a diet specifically formulated for growth. The best choice is a food with animal-based proteins that is highly digestible, nutrient dense and designed to meet kittens’ unique nutritional needs.


Adolescence Stage: 6 to 12 Months

As kittens approach adult size, their nutritional requirements begin to change again. Their rate of growth begins to slow, activity levels may decline and they can start eating fewer, larger meals each day. During this stage, kittens begin to look like adults, but they are still growing and need the special nutrition found in kitten food.

The adolescent growth stage is a time when many cat owners are tempted to change a kitten’s food for variety. But cats do not get bored with a consistent diet of high-quality dry food. You can supplement your kitten’s dry food with a nutrient-dense canned food for a nutritious change of pace.


Tip 2: Know When to Transition from Kitten to Adult Cat Food

When your cat is about 12 months old, it’s time to switch to a maintenance formula adult cat food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Adult with Chicken. At this age, cats no longer need the extra calories and nutrients for growth supplied by kitten food. As with any change in a cat’s diet, remember to gradually transition from kitten food to adult food over a period of several days.

Monitor your cat’s weight and body condition during the transition, and adjust feeding portions if necessary. Because cats generally eat only what they need, free-choice feeding is fine for most cats. However, some indoor cats that don’t exercise much may overeat if fed free choice. In this situation, portion-controlled feeding twice a day is a good alternative.


Tip 3: Avoid Feeding Human Foods

Giving a kitten “human food” and table scraps can lead to undesirable behaviors, such as begging or stealing food. Feeding homemade diets or food formulated for adult cats (especially those designed for weight loss), or supplementing a complete and balanced diet with vitamins could cause nutritional disorders.


Tip 4: Make Sure Your Kitten Gets the Nutrients She Needs

Kittens and cats are strict carnivores and need the nutrients found in meat. For example, sufficient amounts of taurine, an essential amino acid provided naturally through meat, help cats maintain healthy eyes, heart and reproduction. All IAMS kitten and cat food formulas have optimal levels of taurine for every life stage.

Kitten Basics: 4 Kitten-feeding Tips
Kitten Basics: 4 Kitten-feeding Tips
  • Understanding Kitten Food Product Codes
    Understanding Kitten Food Product Codes-mob

    Understanding Kitten Food Product Codes

    Understanding and learning how to decipher kitten food product codes will help you choose the right kitten food. While selecting the right ingredients is important, making sure those ingredients are fresh is just as vital to your young cat. Learn how to read the product codes of kitten food packages and cans with our handy guide.


    What Is a Product Code?

    A product code is a series of numbers and letters printed on the outer package of each product a manufacturer produces. This code provides information about when and where the kitten food was made.

    As part of the product code, IAMS™ products include a “Best Used By” date, or the date at which the product is no longer considered fresh and should no longer be sold. This date is expressed in “ddmmyy” and “ddmmmyy” formats.

    The second line of the product code represents company internal information for use in traceability and inventory control.

    Line 1: (ddmmyy) (ddmmmyy)

    Example: 040220 04FEB20

    Line 2: 60351111## QQQQQQQ

    This product should be used before February 4, 2020.

    Depending on the production line, pouch products* may have code date information in a single or double line. By recognizing and understanding these codes, customers can make sure they are receiving a fresh product.


    What Is Shelf Life?

    Shelf life is the duration, measured in months, during which a properly stored kitten food product maintains its freshness. This means if a product has a 16-month shelf life, it is fresh for up to 16 months from the date of manufacture.

    The shelf life for IAMS dry kitten foods is 16 months. All canned formulas have a shelf life of 24 months.


    How to Properly Store Dry and Wet Kitten Food

    Unopened dry kitten food products are best stored off the floor in a cool, dry place. Open bags of kitten food should be stored in a clean, dry container with a tight seal. Dry kitten food products may also be frozen without loss of nutrients.

    Opened wet kitten food products are best kept refrigerated in tightly sealed containers for no more than three days after the container has been opened. Wet products should not be frozen in unopened cans. However, wet kitten foods can be frozen if removed from the container, packed in freezer containers and frozen immediately.

    *IAMS has no kitten pouch products at this time.

    Understanding Kitten Food Product Codes

Shop Dogs

Shop Cats

Copyright © Mars 2022, Trademarks of Mars Incorporated and its affiliates