Is it Harmful for a Kitten to Eat Adult Cat Food?

A kitten's body needs a very particular kind of nutrition, full stop.
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Raising a wee kitten can seem overwhelming at first, from learning how to properly feed her to socializing her to be around both humans and other household pets. Balanced nutrition is key to rearing a healthy future adult cat, so never get lazy when it comes to your kitty's diet.


Until a kitten is ready to start weaning, it isn't appropriate to feed her any type of food, much less food intended for full-grown cats with totally different dietary needs. Kittens are generally prepared for weaning when they're in the ballpark of a month old, although it's usually up to the mama cat to decide. All a newborn kitten requires in order to stay healthy and grow strong is milk from nursing, or in the case of an absent queen, formula via a kitten milk replacer. Adult cat food is definitely not necessary -- or helpful -- at this point.

Different Dietary Requirements

According to the ASPCA, the nutritional needs of a small kitten are vastly different than those of a full-sized adult cat. Firstly, a tiny kitten needs to have a significant portion more energy than an adult. Multiply an adult cat's energy needs by three and you'll see where this is going! When it comes to energy intake, kittens need a large amount of it to come via protein. Essentially, feeding a kitten adult cat food may be harmful because you actually may be depriving her of the important vitamins and minerals she needs to grow -- and thrive, for that matter. When commercial kitten-formulated food is readily available at stores, there is absolutely no reason to give a kitten adult cat food, end of story.

Veterinary Consultation

If you're unsure how to go about properly feeding a kitten, always consult a veterinarian for some solid and qualified advice. Ask the vet about all of the essential fats, proteins and carbohydrates your fluffball needs, not to mention vitamins. The vet may tell you to forget vitamin C, as kittens are capable of producing it on their own. She may also advise you to amp up to the B vitamins -- vital for healthy growth. The more knowledge you have of what your kitten needs out of her meals, the easier it will be for you to make educated and appropriate choices when it comes to buying her food.


A kitten is usually classified as being so until she's around one year old. The ASPCA recommends only feeding kitten-specific meals to your pet until that landmark comes. When a cat is a year old, her body is typically ready to take on the diet of a grown-up. Time for you to bring on the adult cat food!

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