Transitioning from Kitten Food to Adult Cat Food
If you’re reading this, you probably own a furry little bundle of joy with an adorable name – and you’ve noticed that little bundle getting bigger and bigger. It’s nice to watch your kitten grow up, but you may wonder how to best go about transitioning from kitten food to adult cat food.
First of all, kudos to you for wondering – because this is important. Kittens become adult cats in just 12 months’ time, and their nutritional needs change. With growing bones and muscles and developing eyes and brain, a kitten requires extra calories and special nutrients. Nutrition for an adult cat, on the other hand, should help maintain a full-grown body with an energy level lower than a kitten’s. Different nutrition for different life stages.
That said, if your kitten is a full 1 year old, it’s time to make the transition to adult cat food.
GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO
Before your cat begins the transition to adult food, put yourself in her paws. She’s new to this whole adult thing, and now her diet is about to change! During this time, try to keep her eating every day while transitioning from the yummy taste of kitten food to the adult nutrition she needs. The transition should take 7–10 days, so plan ahead, and remember that the name of the game is slow and steady.
Here’s an example of how it might happen, based on 1 cup of dry kitten food each day:
- Day 1: Mix 1/8 of a cup of adult cat food in with the kitten food. The total amount of food should still equal 1 cup.
- Day 5: Mix the kitten food and adult cat food evenly – 1/2 cup of each.
- Day 10: By this point, your cat should be eating only adult cat food. You did it!
This is also a good time to switch from leaving out an abundance of food (ideal for kittens) to feeding daily measured amounts (better for adult cats). To determine how much to feed, the bag is a great place to start. Look for the recommended feeding amounts listed, and choose the one that most closely corresponds to your cat’s weight. The right amount of food can help avoid unhealthy weight gain.
And even better than the feeding amounts on the bag, your young cat has her very own health advocate: YOU. As you transition her to adult cat food, keep an eye on her body condition, mobility and energy level. If you feel like she’s looking too pudgy or scrawny, adjust the feeding amount to help her maintain an ideal body condition. Your veterinarian is a great source as well. He or she can provide a recommendation suited to your cat’s specific needs.
Bottom line: Make the food transition gradual. A slow transition is a great way to help your cat adjust to a new food and may help prevent digestive upset. Provide a daily amount of food that will help maintain her ideal body condition. And of course, keep your veterinarian looped in for personalized advice based on your cat’s health.
- Brunner D. The Cat Owner’s Manual. 2004: 123.
- Hollow M. Cat Fancy, “Lifetime Food Guidelines.” Sep 2014: 11–12.
- Shojai A. The Purina Encyclopedia of Cat Care. 1998: 123–4.
- Vigil L. Nestlé Purina PetCare Senior Nutritionist (Cat Portfolio). Interviewed Oct 2014.