Cats have a reputation for being finicky eaters and, unfortunately, that reputation is often well deserved.
If a kitten grows up eating only one food, she will become accustomed to that food and changing it later will be difficult. If a kitten is introduced to a variety of foods during her first year of life, however, then even if she has a favorite food, she will eat others. Here are some foods to offer your kitten during her first year. Some of these are good foods while others can be special treats.
Her Primary Kitten Food
Your kitten should be eating a good quality kitten food or a food labeled for all feline life stages. Even as you introduce her to other foods, this should be her primary food as too many changes can cause digestive upsets. Feel free to change flavors of food but remain within the same brand to maintain some consistency.
Canned Cat Foods
The variety of ingredients available in canned cat foods make them a great way to introduce your kitten to different foods and tastes. She can try shrimp, fish, various types of poultry and more. In addition, some have other ingredients (such as vegetables) while others are only meats. A spoonful can be added to her primary diet or offered as a treat. Many cat owners use canned foods as training treats when teaching their cat.
When you make yourself scrambled eggs on a Sunday morning, complete with melted cheese, offer your kitten a little spoonful. It’s good nutrition and your kitten will love it. Please, though, give it to your kitten before adding salt and pepper or salsa.
Fresh and Salt Water Fish
Your kitten will be happy if you share your cooked fish with her. A tiny bit of trout, catfish, salmon or tuna will each be appreciated although, really, any cooked fish is fine. Again, give her just a tiny bit (a teaspoon) is plenty even if she’s begging for more.
Feel free to offer your kitten bits of cooked beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, venison, or other lean meats. Avoid fatty meats, greasy fried meats, or those with salts, nitrates or preservatives. Don’t give your kitten hot dogs, bacon, or sausage as these will upset her digestive system; potentially causing diarrhea. When you give her some meat, dice or shred it into tiny pieces. Some kittens get greedy and may choke on large pieces.
Although cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they are carnivores that must eat meat, adding some vegetables to your kitten’s diet will add fiber and some vitamins and minerals. A few broccoli florets or some finely diced lettuce or other salad greens can be offered. A pinch at a time is plenty.
Squash and Pumpkin
If you will be cooking squash or pumpkin for your family, set aside a bit for your kitten. Grate a small piece of the squash or pumpkin and place it on a paper towel. Cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave for just a few seconds; just until it’s cooked. Wait until it cools and then offer your kitten a pinch of it. Refrigerate the rest for another day.
Pet stores and sometimes even grocery stores will carry growing cat grass or cat grass kits for you to grow at home. The grass is usually wheat or oat grass although sometimes it’s a mixture of grasses. The grasses can provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for your kitten but they primarily offer your kitten something new to experience. In fact, many kittens have more fun uprooting the grass than eating it.
When offering your kitten any of these different foods, keep the 10% rule in mind. Anything you add to your kitten’s daily diet should not account for more than 10% of the total daily calories. Any more than 10% could upset the nutritional balance of her food. In addition, offer one new item at a time. Give her a chance to taste and get to know that food before offering anything else. With those thoughts in mind, have fun. Enjoy your kitten’s food explorations!
Written by: Liz Palika
Originally published on “The Honest Kitchen’s Blog”.