Until they reach the age of 12 months, most cats are considered kittens. Large breeds, such as the Maine Coon, can take anywhere from 18 months to two years to mature.
Kittens require a comprehensive and balanced kitten diet during this phase of growth and development. It’s time to switch to adult cat chow once they’ve reached adulthood (depending on their breed).
Is it OK for kittens to eat adult cat food?
Kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult cats, so a kitten diet is required to meet those requirements.
However, if the food label indicates it’s created “for all life stages,” it’s fine to feed to both kittens and adult cats.
When Are Kittens Allowed to Eat Dry and Wet Food?
While kittens should not eat adult cat food until they are fully mature, they can start eating dry kibble and wet kitten food much earlier.
Kittens can start eating moistened dry kibble or wet food at three to four weeks. Kittens are fully weaned from their mother’s milk and can eat dry or wet kitten food between the ages of six and eight weeks.
Why Should You Switch to Adult Cat Food?
Kittens have a fast rate of growth and development, as well as being lively and energetic. Kitten food has additional calories, protein, and fat to sustain active, developing kittens.
It also contains DHA to boost brain and vision development, as well as vitamins and minerals for their growing immune systems.
Cats don’t require the same amounts of those nutrients until they reach adulthood. Furthermore, because kittens are frequently less energetic, feeding them a high-calorie kitten food may result in weight gain.
When to Switch from Kitten to Adult Cat Food and How to Do It
It’s time to switch to adult cat food around your kitten’s first birthday (or between 18 months and 2 years for large breeds).
To reduce gastric discomfort, we recommend switching to adult food over a 7- to 10-day period. Here’s how to do it:
- Days 1-2: Serve 3/4 of the regular kitten food and 1/4 of the new adult cat food on days 1-2.
- Serve half kitten food and half adult cat food on days 3-4.
- Serve 1/4 kitten food and 3/4 adult cat food on days 5-7.
- Only serve the new adult cat food on days 8-10.
If your cat refuses to eat the new food, take it slowly and allow her more time before increasing the amount of adult food she eats. For more information on transitioning from kitten to adult cat food, talk to your veterinarian.