I was recently thinking about how important it was to bring up a baby on the right foods and the positive impact it has on their later life. Then it started me thinking, what if the same applied to cats? If we feed our kittens with the best possible food then it might have the same positive impact as it does with us! It certainly wouldn’t hurt, so I started doing some research into what to feed kittens that are 8 weeks old.
What should you feed kittens that are 8 weeks old? At 8 weeks old, your kitten can start eating both canned food and also dry food. However, they may still be using their mother’s milk until around 12 weeks.
Remember they still have a very small stomach at this age so don’t feed them very much! The best advice would be to feed frequently but in small doses. We would suggest a combination of tinned wet food (specific for kittens) and other plain foods such as cod or chicken, don’t add anything to these and use them only as a treat, occasionally. Food should be offered at least four times a day.
Other foods Your Kitten Can Try
It’s a very good idea to introduce many food-types whilst the cat is still young. Similarly to humans, they can become easily (and without reason) very fussy eaters if you have stuck with the same food for months and years and then suddenly decide to change things. I could have the same argument here with my son and his love for chicken nuggets, chips, cucumbers and tomatoes.
It seemed like all he lived on for ages and he just didn’t want to try anything else, he’d decided he didn’t like the new food before it even touched his lips! Persevere, or start early. Try your kitten on different ‘treats’ whilst sticking with the staple diet.
Natural foods are always (generally speaking) a good idea but be careful to not include the foods lists in the section later in this article.
You may also like to try some tuna, salmon (tinned) or even sardines (make sure they are in spring water though). You should inspect these before you put them down though and ensure you’ve found all the bones.
Home-Made Kitten Food
If you’re thinking of developing home-made foods then you can do this and it is a nice thing to do. However, consider that foods that have been commercially produced will typically have the right amount of calcium etc for your cat. If you go down this route (and homemade food recipes for cats is a topic in itself) but you should ensure that the author of the recipe knows what they’re doing and it does include everything that your little kitten needs!
Raw Foods for your Kitten?
Meats that are human-grade such as raw chicken or lamb can, in theory, be used but always ensure the food is fresh if you’re going to go down this route. Bear in mind though that research suggests a mixed opinion and I would go with the majority here that say leave the raw foods out of the kitten’s diet until they are around 20 weeks. There are so many alternatives these days.
One argument for introducing raw foods is that the animals in the wild would eat it raw. This is true. It is also true that animals in the wild have a significantly lower life-span than domesticated cats. Talking of raw foods, I went to a school fete over the weekend and had a beef burger. I bit into it and was greeted with something that was red and juicy. Not in a good way I should add. I think I may have been put off burgers for life. How people can eat meat like that I don’t know.
Kittens and Feeding Them Bones!
Bones can be fed to kittens but please, not at this age! You should wait until they are around six months old to try this. Their permanent teeth should be growing quickly at this point. The general rule is that cats can only eat raw bones and if you are going to feed them then make sure they are from a small animal, like a chicken.
Bones do offer health benefits and include several vitamins and minerals, including calcium of course. This can improve the condition of your cat’s teeth and bones.
If you do eventually go down this route though, you should stay with your cat until they finish the meal. A chocking risk is high (hence why the bones need to be small).
My advice though, weighing up the pros and cons, don’t do it. I’m not sure the potential health benefits outweigh the risks to the animal in choking.
What NOT to feed your Kitten
Maybe this should have been top of this article but even more important than selecting what types of food you can supply your kitten is the type of food you should, most definitely, avoid. This is not, by far, an extensive list but avoid feeding your cat (at any age) these foods:
Chocolate (tempting around Christmas time I know but, like with dogs, don’t do it – it’s poisonous to them), any type of onion, any form of coffee. Garlic, grapes, avocado’s, sultanas, raisins, currants and any type of nut. Definitely no tomatoes, mushrooms and cooked bones (see the part above about bones). Even as much as a teaspoon of alcohol can be poisonous. Although, why you would be giving your cat alcohol is for another time. Also, no raw eggs or raw fish (salmonella is a risk here).
If you look at the above list though (which, as I said, wasn’t definitive) – it’s all common sense, right? If you’re the type of person who would serve up your cat for breakfast onions and coffee, followed by tomatoes and mushrooms for lunch with a lovely dinner of raw eggs, cooked bones and a pint of Guinness then I think it’s you that might need to go to the Vets, not your cat.
Why would anyone compile a list like that? It’s like telling your child as they go out to play with their friends, “right, remember what I told you, no setting fire to your nose and remember not to lick the pavement.”. It’s common sense, why aren’t there more people with this in the world?
Other things to consider
It’s not a bad thing to give your kitten the opportunity to eat/chew some grass. Although they don’t have the ability to digest lots of the stuff some people believe they eat it to make themselves sick. The cat being sick will clear its stomach of all the nasty stuff, such as any bones, fur or parasites which could potentially make them ill.
If your kitten doesn’t look settled when they’re eating, perhaps by looking around all the time and not seemingly relaxed, then consider a synthetic alternative to cat scent. You can spray this scent in your home and it mimic’s the scent given off by cats when they rub themselves against furniture (or you!). The effect of this is that they’ll be more settled and more relaxed as they’re eating.
Ensure that you always have water available for your kitten. You may not think it needs it but make sure your bowl is cleaned and use fresh water, every single day.
My Old Cat, Tiger
I once had a cat called Tiger, he’s not with us anymore but he was my first cat and he was awesome. For some reason he had two strong reactions to two certain types of food:
- Crisps – Tiger loved crisps, he was a bit weird about it. If I was hungry and wanted a packet to myself I’d have to open them as quietly as possible. If he was anywhere within about a hundred feet and I either made a noise opening the crisp packet (crisp packets are hard to open quietly!) or made too much noise (crisps are difficult to open quietly) then the next thing I’d hear would be a series of thumps and a blur of ginger and white. Before I had a chance to react his face he would be stealing crisps from my mouth. He had the reactions of a err cat.
- Oranges – oranges were the equivalent of kryptonite for Tiger. If he saw me eating one from afar he would curl his nose up and look at me disgustingly, how could I eat such a thing? If he was closer and he caught a whiff of one then he would look at me in absolute disbelief. How could anyone even look at those, he would think, let alone touch one!
I never tried to combine oranges and crisps but I think it would have messed him up a bit mentally. I loved Tiger, I wish cats lived longer.
If you follow the above tips then you’ll be given your little kitten the best possible start in life. I’ve said it above but it’s true, it’s common sense mostly. How many times have I mentioned ‘common sense’ in this article? Too many times I know but If it doesn’t feel right then it most likely isn’t!
If you have any thoughts about this or if your cat like anything a bit weird then please leave a comment below, we’d genuinely love to hear from you!
Finally, if your cat is drooling more than you think they should be – you may want to check out this article!