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When to Switch From Kitten Food to Adult Cat Food

Your kitten is growing quickly and will soon need to make the transition to adult cat food. But when should you make the switch, and how? Our Astoria vets answer common questions about introducing your kitty to their adult diet. 

You've just welcomed a new kitten into your home, and want to give them the best life possible. You may have many questions, such as when to switch from a kitten to adult cat food.

In this post, we'll answer some common questions most cat parents have about making the transition. 

Why is It Important to Switch From Kitten Food to Adult Cat Food?

When it comes to feeding your growing cat a healthy diet, it's important to keep in mind that kitten and adult foods greatly differ in terms of caloric, fat, and protein content. Because kittens grow quickly, they need a lot of calories to support their development, along with several vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to help strengthen their bodies as they mature. 

When Should I Switch From Kitten to Cat Food?

If you've ever wondered, "When do you switch from kitten to cat food?", you are in good company - many a pet parent has considered the best time and method of transitioning their young cat to a diet that meets their changing needs. 

Your kitten will likely be fully grown once they reach 10-12 months of age. Since your cat will have developed to their adult size and no longer growing, they won't need to consume extra calories. This is generally the best time to begin transitioning your kitten to an adult cat food diet. However, some larger breeds won't reach their adult weight until they turn about 18 months old. If you're unsure about when to make the switch to adult cat food, ask your veterinarian for advice. 

How Should I Transition From Kitten to Adult Cat Food? 

Introducing adult cat food to your kitten must be done gradually. A cat's digestive system hosts lots of bacteria and yeast that help them digest food, fight off potential pathogens, produce vitamins and other nutrients, and support the immune system. These microbes are delicately balanced. 

If your cat's diet is abruptly changed, gastrointestinal microbes may not have time to adjust, which can lead to symptoms of digestive upset, including diarrhea and vomiting. In addition, many cats will refuse to eat when they suddenly encounter a new food, since they are not huge fans of change. 

To avoid digestive upset and to allow your kitten to gradually adjust to their new food, we recommend transitioning over a period of 7 to 10 days, as follows: 

  • Days 1 and 2 - Add 25% of the new food to 75% of the old food 
  • Days 3 and 4 - Add 50% of the new food to 50% of the old food 
  • Days 5 and 6 - Add 75% of the new diet to 25% of the old diet 
  • Day 7 and 10 - Complete transitioning to adult cat food (100% new food)

How Can I Choose a Healthy Adult Cat Food?

Choose an adult cat food that offers the same high-quality nutrition as a premium kitten food. Downgrading to a basic nutrition brand now may upset your cat's digestive system and won't provide them with the same type of nutrition they've had in their kitten food. 

Look for: 

  • High-quality, nutrient-dense ingredients that have been formulated for each life stage 
  • Complete, balanced levels of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and moderately fermentable fiber
  • Standards that meet or exceed the Association of American Feed Control Official standards

When feeding your cat premium dry food, you can expect to see these important indicators of good health:

  • A shiny, luxurious coat 
  • Clear, bright eyes and clean teeth
  • Good muscle tone
  • Healthy skin and bones
  • Small, firm stools 

What Should I Do If Switching From Kitten to Cat Food Causes Problems For My Kitty?

If your cat loses their appetite at any point or develops symptoms of digestive upset at any point during the transition, you can return to their old kitten food for a few days, then restart the transition at an even slower pace. 

Here are some other ways you might cope with challenges when transitioning from itten food to adult cat food: 

  1. If you've been giving your cat dry food, try switching to a wet food. We cat cat foods contain more water than the dry alternative, which can benefit your cat's urinary health and help with weight management and constipation. 
  2. If you'd like to keep feeding your kitty dry food, try a higher quality, premium option. 

Remember - Every Cat's Body is Unique

Some kittens are more sensitive to changes in their diet than others, so it's important to observe your cat closely during the transition. More sensitive stomachs may require an adjustment period of up to a few weeks, so be patient. 

Your vet at Steinway Court Veterinarian will also happy to provide advice and guidance on pet diet, nutrition, and health issues at every stage of your cat's life. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about your cat's health and nutrition needs? Contact our vets at Steinway Court Veterinarian to schedule a consultation.

New Patients Welcome

At Steinway Court Veterinarian, we are always accepting new patients. Our vets are dedicated to keeping pets healthy and happy in our Astoria clinic. Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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