Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash
So, when should I switch from kitten to cat food?
Yes! We’re so glad you asked. It seems there is a magic number: 12 months.
Experts agree that you should transition your kitten to adult food right around their first birthday. There is one exception: larger breed cats. Larger breed cats should be on a growth diet for longer: typically about 18 months – 2 years.
For all breeds, we recommend consulting a veterinarian for advice on the perfect time to transition to a new diet. We also recommend monitoring your cat’s weight and health as you make the change.
Why switch at all? Are cats and kittens really that different?
Yes, kittens and cats have very different nutritional needs.
In a nutshell, kittens need food to grow. They need extra protein and additional calories, which is why it’s important to feed them specially-formulated kitten food (yum!) Kittens also require extra amino acids, minerals and vitamins in their diet.
So, what happens if you continue to feed your adult cat kitten food? You likely end up with a larger, and more importantly, less healthy cat. This is especially true if your cat spends their time indoors and does not have the benefit of increased physical activity.
Read Indoor vs Outdoor - what is best for your cat? to learn about the risks and benefits of an outdoor environment.
Nutritionally speaking, there are actually three different life stages for cats. The kitten life stage, the adult stage and the senior stage. Some experts break these down further. For optimal health and happiness, it’s important to feed your feline friend the right food, at the right time.
When you’re out shopping for kitten (or cat) food, be sure you’re reading the labels properly. They will tell you whether the food is designed for kittens or mature cats.
Making the Switch
Your cat is about to celebrate their first birthday (happy birthday to your cat!) You’re ready to make the switch and start them on an adult diet. We’re here to help.
Here’s the thing with cats: they need to learn how to digest their new food, gradually. This means change should never be instant (or you could end up dealing with a bad case of kitty vomiting/diarrhea). You’ve been warned.
Experts recommend transitioning from kitten to adult food over a 7-day period.
- Days 1 and 2 – feed your cat 75% kitten food and 25% adult cat food (mix both together in one bowl)
- Days 3 and 4 – 50% kitten food. 50% adult food
- Days 5 and 6 – 25% kitten food; 75% adult food
- Day 7 – 100% adult food (transition complete)
We hope that these tips helped and that you’ll feel comfortable making a safe and simple transition to cat food.
Most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate your cat’s first birthday once you’ve completed the switch! While we definitely don’t recommend birthday cake, cat treats are a safe and tasty alternative.