Kitten Feeding Advice – My Kitten Won’t Eat!

Now, we all love kittens, but let’s be real, those cute little furballs are not the easiest thing to look after. One question we get asked a lot is why their kittens won’t eat.

Well, here are some reasons why your kittens aren’t eating well. But before that, you should find out what is the ‘normal’ frequency and amount your kitten should be feeding at their age.

I say ‘normal’, but every kitten is different. Use this as a guideline but not a strict rule.

How often should your kitten eat?

Kittens have high energy needs and fast metabolisms, so they typically need to eat more frequently than adult cats. Here’s a general guideline for how often to feed a kitten based on their age:

  1. Newborn to 4 Weeks Old: If the kitten is with its mother, it will nurse frequently throughout the day, usually every 1-2 hours. If the kitten is orphaned or separated from its mother, it will need to be bottle-fed every 2-4 hours, including during the night.
  2. 4 to 8 Weeks Old: As kittens start to wean and transition to solid food, they can begin eating small amounts of wet kitten food 4-6 times a day. They may still nurse from their mother or receive supplemental bottle feedings, but the frequency will gradually decrease.
  3. 8 to 12 Weeks Old: By this age, kittens should be fully weaned and eating a diet of high-quality kitten food. They can typically be fed 3-4 times a day, with portion sizes increasing as they grow.
  4. 3 to 6 Months Old: Kittens in this age range can continue to be fed 3-4 times a day, but you can start transitioning to a feeding schedule closer to that of an adult cat. Monitor their appetite and adjust portion sizes as needed to support their growth and development.
  5. 6 Months and Older: Once kittens reach 6 months of age, they can generally transition to a feeding schedule similar to that of adult cats, which is typically 2-3 meals a day. Provide access to fresh water at all times and adjust feeding amounts based on their activity level and body condition.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and individual kittens may have different needs based on factors like size, breed, and activity level. It’s essential to monitor your kitten’s growth and appetite closely and consult with a veterinarian for personalised feeding recommendations.

If your kitten is eating way less than the above guideline, here are a few reasons why.

10 Reasons why your kittens are not eating

  1. Stress or Anxiety
    You know how some kittens can get all worked up when things change around them? Like moving to a new place or meeting new people or pets? That stress can really mess with their appetite. Try giving your kitten some quiet time in a cozy spot away from all the noise and excitement. And take it slow with introductions, giving them time to get used to their new surroundings. Offer familiar items like bedding or toys to provide comfort.
  2. Dental Issues
    Ever had a toothache? It’s no fun, right? Well, kittens can feel the same way if they’ve got dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, or oral injuries can cause pain or discomfort, making it difficult for kittens to eat. Best thing to do is to get them checked out by a vet. They might need a dental cleaning or even some meds to help with the pain. In the meantime, soft or wet food might be easier on their teeth.
  3. Illness or Infection
    Kittens may refuse to eat if they are suffering from illnesses such as respiratory infections, gastrointestinal issues, or urinary tract infections. Consult with a veterinarian and follow their treatment plan, which may include medications, dietary changes, or supportive care to address the specific condition.
  4. Parasites:
    Internal parasites like worms or external parasites like fleas and ticks can cause discomfort and decrease a kitten’s appetite. We once had to deworm a few kittens because they were rescued from a poor living condition – let’s just say it wasn’t fun. Signs of parasites are – white stringy objects in their poo (they are worms), or brown dirt-like spots in their fur (they are fleas!). If you’re not 100% sure, consult with your vet.
  5. Food Preferences:
    Some kittens may be picky eaters and refuse to eat certain types or brands of food. Offer a variety of high-quality kitten food options to determine the kitten’s preferences. Gradually transition between different food types or brands to find one that the kitten enjoys. Avoid offering table scraps or human food, as most human food are not healthy for cats.
  6. Weaning:
    During the weaning process, kittens may experience a temporary decrease in appetite as they transition from mother’s milk to solid food. Offer a combination of moistened kitten food and formula to encourage weaning. Gradually decrease the amount of formula and increase the amount of solid food as the kitten becomes more accustomed to eating solid food. Be patient and allow the kitten time to adjust to the new diet.
  7. Environmental Factors:
    Loud noises, strong odours, or changes in temperature can affect a kitten’s appetite. Provide a calm and quiet environment for meal times, away from noisy appliances or high-traffic areas. Keep the kitten’s feeding area clean and free from strong odours. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the home to ensure the kitten feels relaxed during meal times.
  8. Overfeeding:
    Overfeeding or offering too many treats can lead to a decreased appetite in kittens. Follow recommended feeding guidelines provided by a veterinarian or pet food manufacturer based on the kitten’s age, weight, and activity level. Avoid overfeeding or offering excessive treats, and establish a regular feeding schedule to prevent overeating.
  9. Medical Treatments:
    Kittens undergoing medical treatments or recovering from surgery may experience a loss of appetite as a side effect of medication or anaesthesia. Monitor the kitten’s appetite closely and consult with a veterinarian if appetite does not improve within a few days of completing medical treatments or surgery. Follow any dietary recommendations provided by the veterinarian to support the kitten’s recovery.
  10. Behavioural Issues:
    Behavioural issues such as anxiety, depression, or stress-related behaviours can manifest as a loss of appetite in kittens. Identify and address any underlying sources of stress or anxiety in the kitten’s environment. Are there anything in the house that could be scaring them? Or maybe your neighbours have a new dog that barks a lot? Provide mental and physical stimulation through play, interactive toys, and regular exercise.

Conclusion

Remember, when your kitten isn’t eating like they used to, it’s important to take notice and take action. Whether it’s a dental issue, a parasite, or just a case of the picky-eater blues, there’s always something you can do to help. And if you’re ever in doubt, go to your local vet.

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