When should I feed commercial cat food to a nursing kitten?

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When the kitten is newly born, it shouldn’t have any solid food for the first four weeks. During that time, it will rely entirely on mother’s milk for nutrition; even if the cat is abandoned or the mother is otherwise unavailable, there are milk replacement formulas you can get through your vet or at the pet store.

At four weeks, you can start giving the nursing kitten a little solid food, soaked in water (or milk replacement) and mashed with a fork. Be sure to use kitten food, because a food formulated for adult cats will be too hard for her to digest. She’ll still be nursing as well, but the mother will be starting to wean her.

Gradually increase the amount of food you give her.
• Decide whether to feed your kitten dry or canned food; all food and treats should be specially formulated for kittens.
• Kittens should eat three times a day until they are 7 months old. If your kitten eats canned food, mix two parts canned food to one part water or milk replacement. If your kitten eats dry food, mix one part dry food to three parts water or milk replacement. Continue this until the kitten is 7 to 8 weeks old. Continue feeding her kitten food until she’s a year old.
• Don’t overfeed; try to limit each “meal” to about six bites.
• Use small, shallow dishes for your kitten’s food and water. Leave water out at all times regardless of the feeding method you choose.
• At first, the kittens will make a mess while eating—in fact, she may even try to walk in the bowl to get at the food–but eventually she’ll figure it out. Just gently wipe her with a damp cloth to clean her up.
• Limit treats. If you feed treats to your kitten, limit it to two to three times per week. Treats are OK, but they shouldn’t make up more than 5 percent of the kitten’s daily nutritional intake.

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