To allow your kitten to grow in the best conditions, it is essential that he receive a diet adapted to his needs. To make the best choice for your young companion knowingly, discover the peculiarities of his nutritional needs during this critical period that is growth.
Choosing the Given Food during Growth after Weaning
The cat is a real carnivore, i.e. dependent on an animal diet (especially for proteins). From this point of view, the cat is a much stricter and demanding carnivore than the dog. A puppy food is therefore not suitable for a kitten, nor is it a dog food for a cat. As a kitten grows, its energy, protein and mineral needs are greater than those of an adult cat.
In order to avoid possible deficiencies, it is necessary a growth food for a kitten, not an adult food. A good kitten food is a food that meets its specific needs. It must therefore be complete and balanced for growth with raw materials of high biological value and highly digestible. A good and quality diet is one of the guarantees of harmonious growth and good health.
The Kitten’s Food Needs
The Energy Need
The kitten’s energy need is more important than that of an adult cat, since it must cover both its need for maintenance (which ensures its survival) and its need for growth (which allows bone and muscle development). Between 10 and 20 weeks of age, it is 130 kCal/kg, then it gradually decreases to 50-60 kCal/kg in adults.
The growth food must therefore be very energetic to be able to cover the kitten’s need in a small volume of food, since the cat likes to snack on many small meals. The energy need is to be modulating according to the kitten, its way of life (at home or outside) and a possible castration (decrease in energy need after castration).
The Protein Need
Since cats are a true carnivore, they must receive animal proteins, the only proteins that provide them with elements that they are unable to make themselves or find elsewhere (such as taurine). Ideally, 80-90% of the protein provided by the food should be of animal origin.
In growth, the protein need is greater than that of the adult because it must cover both the need for maintenance (tissue renewal) and the need for growth and development of these same tissues.
The food must therefore have an R.P.C. (protidocaloric ratio) of 80 to 110 to properly cover the quantitative protein need of the growing kitten (i.e. 32-40% MS or dry matter of the food). The quality aspect of the proteins brought in is also paramount. Two amino acids (protein constituents) must be present in the food, and in sufficient quantities: taurine and arginine.
A deficiency of taurine causes serious heart and eye problems. A deficiency of arginine, which contributes to the disposal of certain toxic wastes produced by the body, leads to coma and death.
A quality food must therefore provide highly digestible proteins of high biological value in order to cover the quantitative and qualitative need of the growing kitten.
The Need for Lipids
The kitten’s diet should contain fat (lipid). They are a source of energy: 10% of the energy brought to the kitten must be provided by fat. Lipids are a source of essential fatty acids (acids that the cat cannot synthesize). Linoleic acid and linolenic acid are provided by vegetable oils. Arachidonic acid is brought by meat.
The Need for Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are not essential for kittens because they can be made from protein (neoglucogenesis). Carbohydrates in the food can be mis-assimilated. Digestive disorders can occur as soon as one exceeds 25-35% MS of starch.
Nevertheless, they are interesting because they are a source of energy and provide the necessary fiber intake for the proper functioning of the digestive tract.
The Need for Minerals
The main minerals that are insufficient in intake with a household diet are calcium and phosphorus. Also, it is imperative to supplement such a ration with an adequate vitamin mineral food. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for skeleton mineralization.
Any deficiency results in a defect in this mineralization and disorders of bone growth. But an excess is just as damaging. The balance between the minerals is also to be respected, the excess of one can block the absorption of another, even if it was initially brought in sufficient quantities.
The Need for Vitamins
The cat’s vitamin requirements are specific. For example, he is unable to synthesize vitamin A from beta-carotenes or vitamin D in his skin under the effect of UV. However, the synthesis of the bone protein matrix depends on vitamin A and the calcification of this vitamin D matrix.
Therefore, the kitten food must be complete, i.e. bring all the necessary elements for a harmonious growth of the kitten, and in sufficient quantity, but also perfectly balanced, ie respect the balance between the different elements. The phospho-calcium ratio should be 1.3. The Vit A/Vit D ratio should be greater than 10.