Ask Alice

Hello there ... Alice .... I've heard a lot of good things about you. I have a new little kitty and was told to only give her dry food. Would you please explain to me why I should be giving her canned? I want to give her the best start in life.

Concerned Mom and *angel Princess and ??????????

Hi Concerned Mom and *angel Princess,

Thanks for writing! Congratulations on your little ??????????.

You don't say how old the little one is. That can make a difference in the way you feed her. In general, the reason I recommend wet cat food for the little ones, is that it is EASY to eat. With very young or small kittens, the dry food needs to be crunched before it can be  swallowed. While they can eat it, it actually takes energy! Kind of like you making a meal of jaw breakers. You could do it, but your jaw would be real tired!

A kitten should be putting on about a pound a month. So, if you are weighing the little darling weekly, you can see if they are able to eat enough of the dry food. For very young kittens (6-12 weeks) even one missed meal can be a real problem!

One thing you might want to look at when evaluating a food for your kitten or cat, is what the first ingredient is. Many, many dry foods list a grain as the first ingredient. Cats are carnivores and are better able to use animal protein. So, I look at the foods to find ones where meat is the first ingredient (and not that meat by-products stuff either!)

You know, a kitten is an eating, sleeping, pooping and peeing machine. While they are growing, I have found they need more food than you can imagine! I like to feed several meals each day (three to four) and feed enough so that the kitten leaves a little at each meal. That way, you know they are getting enough. Remember, by six months of age, they have grown nearly to adulthood! Human teenagers are well known for eating vast amounts ... because they turn all that food into growth and energy. It's the same with kittens. They need lots of food to grow up.

I would be interested in why you were instructed to feed only dry food. Some folks have subscribed to the theory that dry food keeps the teeth cleaner. I've never seen that substantiated and my experience says that clean, healthy teeth are more a matter of genetics and maybe good maternal nutrition. I can't think of any other reason you would be told to feed dry food exclusively.

Lastly, it is a good idea to always have a good way to tell if your kitty is eating. If you make canned food part of your feeding routine, you will have at least one mealtime daily where you know that they are actually eating something. Lots of times, the first sign you have of a sick kitty is a loss of appetite. That can be harder to spot when you free feed dry food only. Plus, should the kitty get sick, you will have smelly favorite foods to tempt it to eat. Try tempting a sick cat with dry kibble!

Hope this explains why I recommend canned food. If the kitten is young and you opt to feed dry only, at least moisten the dry until you are sure the kitten can and will eat enough dry to get all the nutrition it needs to grow.

Let me hear how the little one does ...
--- Alice

PS - I eat a little canned food twice a day and dry whenever I want. Of course, I'm not a kitten any more!

                                Back to Ask Amy                                                      Back to Home