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23.03.2022

Kitten facts—all you ever wanted to know about cats-to-be

Few things are as guaranteed to trigger your nurturing instincts as much as a kitten. However cute, kittens are needy. They require your love, support, and attention from day one until they develop into fully-fledged, independent adult cats.

As a kitten parent, you must understand feline behaviour, developmental milestones, and nutritional requirements as well as you would have to with your own human child.

Untamed is here to help with the kitten facts you need concerning diet, care, and expected behaviour from your new family member. Your kitten parenting journey starts here!

“Imma attaaaaaack these paving stones!”

Source: Pixabay

What basic baby kitten information should you know?

Kittens are born after a pregnancy of between 58 and 67 days. At birth, they are entirely dependent on their mother, who will look after them until they are about eight weeks old.

The queen’s role is to teach them how to:

  • Eat
  • Hunt
  • Look after themselves

The time kittens spend with their mother may be longer if they are purebred—Siamese, Persians, Bengals, Ragdolls, and Maine Coons usually stay around mummy until they are up to 12 weeks old.

Kittens only open their eyes after the first week to ten days, at which point they should also start moving around and exploring their immediate surroundings.

Most of their time at this stage will be spent either suckling or sleeping. If you notice that a kitten is restless or is constantly crying, you should check to make sure that mummy is producing enough milk. If not, you may have to supplement their nutrition with kitten milk replacement formula.

A kitten’s birth weight is usually around 90 to 110 grams. This doesn’t last, and a kitten is expected to gain between ten and 15 grams every day for the first few weeks.

Kitten info and facts in the first few weeks

The crucial stage in a kitten’s development is the period between birth and weaning, typically between five and seven weeks. During this time, kittens go through the following changes:

Week

Development

Week one

  • Kittens will hardly move away from their food source, normally mummy
  • The remaining time is mostly spent sleeping

Week two

  • The eyes will open between nine and 14 days
  • The kitten’s sense of smell begins to develop

Week three

  • The hearing will begin to function fully
  • A kitten’s digestive system will start to work normally
  • Socialisation will begin, and kittens may start to explore

Week four

  • Stumbling will become less frequent as kittens learn better muscle control
  • Milk teeth will begin to show
  • Socialising with brothers and sisters will begin in earnest

Week five

  • A kitten’s curiosity will kick in with a vengeance, so you should make sure all potentially harmful substances are out of reach

Once the milk teeth have started to show, you can begin experimenting with kitten food. Initially, this will supplement mummy’s milk, but kittens should fully transition to normal food by week eight.

You can experiment with different food types, such as wet, semi-moist, homemade, or dry food. You may find that kittens will shy away from dry food because biscuits are hard to chew. If you are intent on a dry diet, you can try mixing dry and wet food or adding water to the kibbles in the first few weeks. Wet food is the best option as it provides the right amount of nutrients and moisture kittens need to stay healthy.

However tempted you may be, you should steer clear of giving your kitten cow milk or treats to pamper them. While most cats only become lactose intolerant in adulthood, any eating or begging behaviour you teach a kitten at this stage will stay with them for life.

“Whaddya mean, I’ve got to chase my own breakfast????”

Source: Pixabay

How quickly should a kitten grow?

Kittens grow at a phenomenal rate. They should double their weight every couple of weeks, as follows:

Kitten’s age

Approximate weight

Newborn

100 grams

2–3 weeks

170–225 grams

4–5 weeks

225–450 grams

8 weeks

680–900 grams

12 weeks

1.2–1.5 kilograms

16 weeks

2–4 kilograms

18 weeks up to 12 months

3–5 kilograms

In the first few months, you should monitor your kitten’s growth carefully to ensure they are reaching their milestones.

You should be particularly careful if you are providing homemade or B.A.R.F. food. Kittens’ immune systems are not yet fully developed, and there is an ever-present danger of contamination during the preparation of raw food, particularly with ingredients like chicken.

If a kitten suffers diarrhoea, vomiting, or loss of appetite, the consequences can be disastrous. Weight loss in kittens can be rapid and can soon prove fatal. You can prepare special diets for weight gain after a period of gastrointestinal trouble, but prevention is far better than cure.

Sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat. Repeat as desired.

Source: Pixabay

What development stages does a kitten go through?

As kittens prepare to leave their mothers, their developmental journey is still in full swing. After you have welcomed a new kitten into your household at between eight and ten weeks, you will spot the subsequent development stages as they happen, namely:

  1. Muscles and bones
  2. Bodily functions
  3. Behavioural traits

Muscles and bones

Between two and four months, a kitten’s musculoskeletal structure firms up and develops in preparation for adulthood.

You will notice increased agility and willingness to climb, run, and jump, which will often include random attacks on your feet, furniture, and ornaments. 

Diet plays an important role in how a kitten’s bones and muscles develop. The more animal protein in your kitten’s diet, the better muscle and skeletal development will be supported.

Bodily functions

The digestive, immune, and reproductive systems will develop and mature during months two to four.

Many new parents choose to have their kittens neutered at this stage, and every kitten should have received a full set of vaccinations before leaving the litter.

Behavioural traits

Kittens learn the social skills they will keep for the rest of their lives between months two and four.

Before they leave their siblings, most kittens will have begun to explore concepts, such as hierarchy and forming alliances.

As the new kitten parent, you should do everything possible to encourage interaction and avoid your new baby becoming reclusive or standoffish.

How should you feed a kitten?

You bear a huge responsibility for making sure your kitten grows up healthy and strong. Understanding your kitten’s nutritional needs gives you the best chance of ensuring steady growth and development while avoiding obesity, allergies, and other health issues.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they are best at metabolising:

  1. Animal protein
  2. Animal fat

Animal protein

Protein forms the building blocks of muscles, organs, and skin. Meat is the best protein source for cats as it delivers the amino acids (such as taurine) that kittens need.

The efficiency with which a kitten can metabolise different protein sources is measured by the protein’s biological value (BV). The BVs of the most common protein sources in commercial cat food are as follows:

Protein source

Biological value

98%

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Prawns
  • Tuna

94%

  • Liver

92%

87%

68%

  • Wheatgerm
  • Corn
  • Sweetcorn
  • Other vegetable proteins

Below 65%

Healthy kitten food will contain a high percentage of animal protein and should ideally be:

High levels of animal protein in the kitten’s food can also have beneficial knock-on effects, such as:

  1. Helping to avoid urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as cystitis and bladder stones
  2. Reducing shedding and preventing hairballs from forming
  3. Maintaining a steady weight, thereby avoiding lifestyle-related illnesses like diabetes, liver problems, or hyperthyroidism

Animal fat

Cats should get the majority of their calories from protein and fat, not carbs.

Animal fat is a secondary source of healthy, slow-release energy, and it also provides:

  • Essential fatty acids
  • Great-tasting food

Are carbs necessary in a kitten’s diet?

Many commercial cat foods use carbs to bulk up the product and lower production costs. While carbs are a good source of fast-burn energy for cats, they:

  • Flood the bloodstream with sugar, putting pressure on the pancreas and potentially leading to diabetes
  • Are stored as fat if left unburned through immediate exercise

Any kitten food that delivers energy through carbs rather than protein and fat runs the risk of not providing healthy enough calories for your kitten to grow. 

The Untamed range of goodness.

Image (c) Untamed

How many calories should a kitten eat?

Kitten growth continues apace throughout the first 12 months. Growth demands energy, so the food you choose should deliver as many calories as are required without overloading your kitten with massive amounts of food.

Cats naturally eat small amounts up to twenty times a day, so the best nutrition delivers high energy in small portions.

During the growth phase, an average kitten needs the following daily energy intakes:

Kitten weight

Daily calorie requirement

100 grams

31 kcal

200 grams

52 kcal

300 grams

88 kcal

400 grams

104 kcal

900 grams

162 kcal

1.4 kilograms

225 kcal

1.8 kilograms

272 kcal

2.3 kilograms

327 kcal

2.7 kilograms

369 kcal

3.2 kilograms

419 kcal

3.6 kilograms

457 kcal

4.1 kilograms

504 kcal

4.5 kilograms

541 kcal

The calorific value is particularly important up to one kilogram. After this, weight gain tails off, and your kitten bulks up more slowly.

How to choose the right food for your kitten

To choose the most appropriate nutrition to help your kitten grow up strong and healthy, you need to do a bit of research. Thankfully, all the information you need is on the label, as long as you know how to decipher it.

The most important nutritional information for any commercial cat food is available from the:

  1. Product designation
  2. Ingredients list
  3. Guaranteed analysis

Product designation

Every commercial cat food tells you what flavour it claims to be. The wording of the product name can hide a multitude of sins, so it’s worth paying particular attention to exactly what is on the label.

By law, product designations have to adhere to the following regulations:

Flavour designation

Percentage of the named meat in the product

Flavoured with

Up to 4%

With

4%–14%

Rich in

14%–26%

XYZ, such as Untamed Chocka Chicken

Over 26%

Ingredients list

Once you have understood what the product claims to be by checking the flavour designation, you can check whether the product is well-formulated by going through the ingredients list.

Manufacturers have to list every ingredient in their products, and the formulation must list each constituent in order of size. Good products feature specified meat—normally the same as the flavour designation—as the first ingredient. There are a few tricks to be aware of, though, namely:

  • Ingredient splitting—Manufacturers sometimes split grains and cereals into several separate forms to ensure that the meat source stays on the top spot. Cornmeal, corn gluten, and ground corn, as examples, often appear as separate constituents, even though they are the same product
  • E-numbers and artificial additives—Many manufacturers add several unpronounceable ingredients to their lists to make the product seem more scientifically advanced. In truth, the addition of artificial flavourings, colourants, or nutritional enhancements is an indication that the basic ingredients of the product are not particularly high quality

The best ingredients lists are short, concise, and unchanging. This is your guarantee that the product is a high-quality, fixed-formula food for your kitten.

Guaranteed analysis

The guaranteed analysis tells you what percentage of each major food group is in the product. The food groups analysed must include:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Moisture

If a manufacturer has claimed a particular benefit on the label—such as increased levels of vitamin A—they may also add this to the guaranteed analysis.

Read in combination with the ingredients list, the guaranteed analysis gives you a strong indication of the quality of the food. The ideal values to look for in cat food are:

Nutrient type

Ideal percentage

Animal protein

Over 50%

Fat

Up to 20%

Carbs/fibre

Maximum 3%

If these values are backed up by a short, concise ingredients list with meat in the first place, you can rest assured that the product is good.

Can Untamed help your kitten grow healthily?

Untamed will help your kitten grow into a healthy and happy adult bundle of energy. Our products are the best because of:

  1. Vet-formulated recipes
  2. High levels of exclusively animal protein
  3. Human-grade, ethically sourced ingredients

Vet-formulated recipes

Every Untamed recipe has been developed in collaboration with vets to ensure your kitten gets the nourishment needed for proper growth and development.

Our products are free from known allergens and contain only the protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals your kitten would naturally eat.

High levels of exclusively animal protein

Meat, meat, and more meat is the recipe for healthy growth. Untamed delivers on this, with up to twice as much animal protein than other commercial products.

You will see that your kitten is getting the right nutrients without having to eat massive amounts and without experiencing any digestive problems. You can cater to your kitten’s increased food needs at different growth stages by tailoring the amount you feed every day.

Best of all, Untamed cat food—whether you choose our recipes with cat gravy or cat jelly—is delicious.

Human-grade ingredients

Kittens deserve the best and nothing but. That’s why Untamed cat food contains only ingredients that are human-grade—we think kittens deserve the quality that you would insist on for yourself.

With no known allergens in our recipes, even the most sensitive and fussy of kittens will go wild for Untamed.

We are also committed to being ethically on point. Untamed packaging is 100% recyclable, and we source our meat and fish from cruelty-free and dolphin-safe suppliers.

Seeing is believing, so try Untamed today and watch your kitten go wild!

How can you get your hands on Untamed?

The good news is that you don’t have to go hunting for Untamed in the shops—you can order cat food online with free shipping.

Starting your kitten’s Untamed journey is quick and easy—all you need to do is:

  1. Tell us all about your baby feline
  2. Select the perfect meal plan
  3. Order your trial pack

In no time at all, the goods will arrive on your doorstep, and your kitten can start exploring various taste sensations. We will keep you stocked up with fresh cat food delivered to your door for as long as you want. 

The Untamed effect explained

Our happy cat parents report that they began to see the difference in their mini-tiger in no time. Here’s what you can expect:

Timeline

What Untamed cat parents tell us

Within a week

You should see your kitten perk up, and you may notice less mess in the litter tray

After two months

As your kitten grows up, you should notice healthy muscle tone developing

Within four months

Your kitten’s coat will start to shine, and they won’t struggle with hairballs often

For life

Your feline should remain sleek, active, and contented into adulthood

Best place in the world.

Source: Pixabay

Is there specific kitten information for kids?

The combination of kittens and children should be a match made in heaven. While kids can undoubtedly be great companions for kittens as they both grow up, you should make sure your child understands that kittens can be fragile and sensitive.

Baby cats need special care, so you should make sure the kids in your household know that:

  1. Kittens’ immune systems are not yet fully developed, so hygiene and safety need to be a priority
  2. Kittens are naturally curious and will try any food offered, but the following should be off the table:
    1. Chocolate
    2. Bread
    3. Citrus fruits
    4. Grapes or raisins
    5. Cheese or dairy products
  3. Kittens can be boisterous, but they are also fragile and can easily pick up injuries. Kids should learn not to be too rough with them
  4. Kittens love routine and peace and react badly to disturbances, loud noise, or disruption. You should make sure kids understand this and avoid causing your kitten to become anxious or scared

If you follow these basics, there is no reason why kittens and kids can’t be the best team in the world.