When to Switch to Adult Cat Food

Kitten owners may be curious as to when they should begin making the switch to adult cat food. They’ve seen different ages listed online or heard various reports from their cat-owning friends. Let’s look at how kitten and adult cat food formulas vary and when is the ideal age to switch a kitten to adult cat food.

How Kitten Food Differs from Adult Cat Food

Kitten food is formulated to meet the needs of growing kittens for the first year of their lives. During that first year, your kitten changes from a cute little baby into an adult cat.

Kitten food contains higher levels of protein and fat than adult cat food formulas. Kittens need extra protein and fat for energy because their bodies are growing so much during their first year of life. They also need some essential fat-soluble vitamins to help them develop properly, and the higher protein levels help them develop healthy muscles as they mature.

Kittens also need minerals, such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus, so that their teeth and bones form properly. All these minerals are found in most high-quality kitten foods.

When to Switch to Adult Cat Food

When your cat is about a year old, you can transition her from her kitten food diet to one made for adult cats. During this changeover, monitor her weight and her overall body condition to ensure she’s eating just the right amount of food. If she looks or feels too thin, add a little more food to her bowl at mealtime. If she’s starting to become overweight, cut back on her portions slightly.

To determine how much food you should feed your cat, read the recommended serving size on the food’s label. Use this serving size as a baseline, and check your cat’s weight weekly. As noted above, adjust the amount of food served up or down if needed.

How to Switch to Adult Cat Food

Most kittens can be successfully transitioned from kitten food to adult cat food over the course of several days, while others transition themselves by simply starting to eat out of another adult cat’s dish in your home.

If your kitten hasn’t made the switch herself, here’s how you can help her move from kitten food to adult cat food in about a week’s time:

Days 1 and 2: Feed a combination of 75 percent kitten food and 25 percent adult cat food.
Days 3 and 4: Feed a combination that’s 50 percent kitten food and 50 percent adult cat food.
Days 5 and 6: Feed a combination that’s 75 percent adult cat food and 25 percent kitten food.
End of Week: Feed only adult cat food.

By taking a week to change your pet’s diet, you’ve helped avoid any digestive upsets that may accompany a diet change in young cats.

When you put your kitten on her adult diet, try to feed her mainly canned food. Canned food is better for your pet than an exclusively dry diet because canned food has a higher moisture content. This higher moisture content will help prevent some feline health problems, such as the formation of kidney and bladder stones, as your cat matures.