Yes, you can feed your cat kitten food, but only under certain circumstances.
If your pet accidentally eats something that was meant for kittens, don’t worry, this product will not harm the cat’s health. However, it is important to understand that for long and happy life, a cat must receive food that can meet the needs of its body.
When studying feline nutritional guidelines, pet owners find that their pets’ diets change over the course of their lives. For example, kitten food is for kittens younger than 12 months (younger than 24 months in the case of Maine Coons). After reaching one year of age, the diet should consist of adult foods.
Why should cats be fed this way, and why is the idea of giving your grown furry friend “kitten food” not a good idea? You will find the answer to these and other questions in our article.
What is the difference between adult and kitten food?
The differences in nutrition are due to the different physiology of the animals, which depends on age. The following are the main distinguishing features of kitten and adult cat food.
Food for kittens are characterized by a high caloric content, which is associated with their growth. As you know, the growing body needs more energy than the already formed body. This does not mean that kittens rapidly and endlessly burn calories. They need a certain reserve to avoid a caloric deficit, which has a negative effect on development. Since kittens’ stomachs cannot hold much food, manufacturers make food for kittens more caloric.
If we talk about adults, they no longer need to grow, and therefore food is required only to maintain daily physiological needs. Moreover, cats older than one-year-old do not spend as much time playing as their kittens and do not need large amounts of energy. For this reason, “adult” food should not be high in calories. Excess calories, which the cat did not use, turn into fat and contribute to the gain of excess weight, which negatively affects the health of the animal.
The exception is pregnant cats – they are entitled to a high-calorie diet to provide nutrition for their unborn cubs.
The average daily caloric requirement for an adult cat is 50-70 calories per 1 kg. A visit to your veterinarian can help you properly design your cat’s daily diet to meet its physiological needs.
As with calories, kittens need food with a lot of protein, which is necessary for tissue growth. For this reason, the content of this substance in the food for individuals under one year of age is 35-50%, and 25-40% for older ones.
Fats and fatty acids
Unlike dogs, felines are extremely carnivorous animals, and their diet must include meat and meat products. Cat owners may find it difficult to formulate a proper diet that provides their furry household with all the nutrients they need. Particularly common difficulties arise when it comes to fatty acids and fats. The latter must be sufficient to supply the pet with the necessary energy levels.
Because of their increased activity, kittens need plenty of fats, and optimal levels of fatty acids in the diet allow them to grow and develop properly. These substances are also necessary for normal organ function. As a result, kitten food is made with higher fat and fatty acid content than food for adult cats.
Minerals and vitamins
Regardless of age, an animal must consume vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. However, kittens need twice as much phosphorus and calcium as adult cats. This is due to the process of bone growth in babies. In the composition of food for kittens, the above elements are always present in larger quantities.
Is it healthy for adult cats to eat kitten food?
After comparing the composition of food for kittens and adults, it may seem that the latter should not be given “baby food” under any circumstances. However, this is not the case. In some cases, your adult four-legged friend may be recommended food intended for kittens.
At the “older” age (over 11 years old), cats are prone to many diseases. Often their appetite is reduced, leading to weight loss. These pets will benefit from food for kittens, a small portion of which will provide the animal with enough calories. Because of its high-fat content, kitten food is liked by adult cats, so they rarely have to be “persuaded” to finish their entire portion.
The seemingly tastier kitten food will come in handy if your furry friend is extremely picky about food. Some members of the feline family refuse to eat what they do not taste, and because of this, they lose weight. Kitten food can be used as a temporary solution to the problem.
Whatever the reason for offering adult cat food for kittens, discuss the decision with your veterinarian.
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Adult cats can eat kitten food. However, unnecessarily feeding high-calorie kitten food to animals over a year old can lead to obesity. There are two categories of adult cats that are recommended for kitten food – pregnant and over 11 years of age. Healthy young cats should not be fed foods not intended for their age.