Food recommendations, such as what to feed your kitty and when, should come from your breeder and then ultimately from your vet. There is a great cat resource online written by a California veterinarian, Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, that addresses the dangers of a dry food diet. Decisions about what to feed your cat, which brand of food and what type of food are something that you will have to come to terms with based on your budget, your lifestyle, your living situation and your vet’s recommendation (and whether or not you trust your vet or if you think s/he is being paid by the large pet food companies to sell product). You might also find this page on Liz Eastwood’s blog, The Natural Cat Care Blog – The Best Canned Cat Foods, helpful.
Keep in mind that the recommended food quantities on pet food containers are based on the amount needed by active cats living in multiple cat households and the amount needed by sedentary, neutered or spayed cats is often much lower. You’ll want to seek your veterinarian’s advice as to the type and amount of food to feed your cat.
Remember that cats in the wild eat many small meals per day and smaller meals more frequently might help you avoid problems with obesity later on.
Be sure to monitor eating habits in the first week. You’ll want to continue the food regime that the breeder or your vet recommends. If you are switching their food, you have to do it slowly to prevent stress and diarrhea.
So no matter if you want to switch your kitty from the food the breeder was feeding to something else or not, be sure to have some of the food on hand that the breeder was feeding your kitten. They will recognize the smell and eat it. If you decide to feed a different brand, gradually mix it up to 50/50 with your kitten’s previous brand for a week before switching over to the new brand. This way, your kitten’s body can adapt to a different diet. Be sure the brand you switch to has low or no by-products and is high in protein for the best health of your kitten, especially in the first year of growth.
If you have a multiple cat household, you might eventually consider setting up several feeding stations throughout your home – that way cats can avoid or greet the cats they want to without fighting and more importantly, without spraying! It will totally depend on your situation though; Charlie and Trigg have one feeding station – in the kitchen and eat peacefully next to one another.
A water bowl is essential as well – especially if you are only feeding your kitten dry food. You will want to get something sturdy and deep. Some kittens like to play in the water and if it’s sturdy, then they cannot tip it over, so less clean up for you.
You might consider having at least two water bowls, possibly in different areas. That way, if one was spilled, the kitten would have access to another water bowl.
Food and Water Bowls
There are a lot of options when it comes to food and water bowls for kitties. Plastic food bowls tends to hold bacteria and are also known to cause feline acne. I do love, ModaPet bowlsthat are made from plastic – Charlie does not get acne from everyday use of these, but Trigg does. However, I have found that Trigg doesn’t get acne if I feed one meal a day in those bowls – so that’s what we do! So you may want to choose a metal bowl or a ceramic bowl instead and be sure that it is dishwasher-safe to make your life easier. I love this heart shaped bowl – but as of right now, it’s only available for shipment in Europe.
If your kitty is on an all wet food diet, you will be surprised to learn that they don’t drink much water. In fact, Charlie and Trigg don’t even have a water bowl, because they never drink water. You can learn more about how wet food gives them the moisture that they need in their diet when you read Dr. Lisa Pierson’s Cat Info Site.
If you do have a water dish, you might consider dropping a few cubes of ice into their water bowl every day. Many cats love playing with the ice until it melts (make certain the kitty is there at the bowl when you drop in the ice cubes). Then, when they are done playing, you can refill the water bowl(s) with fresh water.
Moreover, when they are teething, cold things always seem to help little gums as the teeth are coming in. So the trick really is for them to get the chips into their mouths. You want to make sure you are there for safety’s sake – never leave the area until their chips/cubes are completely melted.
Another option for water drinking is to get a cat water fountain– Keith Davitt makes custom ones that are really neat.
There is a neat product on the market called the Neater Feeder. It is a mess-proof pet feeder. For a kitten, the size might be too big, but for an adult cat it works well – it is a plastic outer shell with two stainless steel bowls. Anything that the cat drops out of the two stainless steel bowls will drop in to the plastic outer shell, eliminating a lot of clean up on your end. You can see our review of the Neater Feeder here.
I prefer to use individual bowls because that works for us – but there are different products on the market depending on what you’re looking for. Check out the “Eat” portion on the site, where I feature bowls and food that we’re reviewing for ideas of what may work for you.
At this point, I only recommend a few treats and those areWhole Life Pet Products’ cat treats (which can also be fed to dogs), Honest Kitchen’s Wishes as well as Eden Foods’ Bonito Flakes which
The Whole Life Pet Products’ cat treats are freeze dried versions of the muscle of an animal – so for example, their Chicken is literally freeze dried chicken breast – pure and simple and natural. They have recently come out with an Organic treat line. You can also request a free sample to make sure that your kitty likes the treats before you buy a big bag of them. Read our reviews and see our video review here (we have reviewed a lot of flavors – so just click on each link of the flavor you’re interested in).
Honest Kitchen’s Wishes are freeze dried 100% human-grade, wild caught Icelandic Haddock. These come in giant pieces that can be broken into smaller bits, but can be eaten as a whole piece – and the challenge of eating the big piece is a good exercise for your kitty. Available in 2 oz. Read our review and see our video review here.
Eden Foods’ Bonito Flakes are shaved Bonito flakes that are tested safe for human consumption. You can buy bonito flakes at major pet retailers, but they are usually not tested for human consumption – mercury and other nuclear levels in fish are something to be aware of! Read our review and see our video review here.
Treats with Interactive Toys and Hunting Games
I love, love, love interactive toys because they decrease mental stagnation and prevent behavior problems which result from boredom in your cat. They also bring out the instinctual nature of your cat to hunt for their food. The Nina Ottosson’s Interactive treat puzzles are excellent for this. We have tried out the Dog Spinny and the Dog Brick Game. There are different levels, so you want to start with level one, which in our case was the Dog Spinny.
Another option is the Aïkiou Stimulo Cat Feeding Station and Activity Center. You can see Charlie mastering it in this video.
These games are made from plastic. I prefer the plastic ones because they are dishwasher-safe and easily cleaned. Again, though you need to watch your kitty and make sure s/he is not developing feline acne.
A question I get often on the site is what kind of cat trees I recommend. I do have a page on the site where you can see some of the great cool cat trees on the market.
The closest we have come to reviewing a cat tree is a product where you build a tower of boxes – they’re called Catty Stacks. Catty Stacks are corrugated cardboard cubes that connect to one another and you can put them in any combination that you can think of. You can buy them in different sets and in different colors to really have some fun. Here is a video that shows you what Catty Stacks is all about. You can learn more about them by reading our Catty Stacks review on the site.
Homemade Foraging Toys
You can also make a homemade toy by using a plastic beverage bottle – make sure you have run it through the dishwasher and make sure to clean the cap too (you could always use an empty plastic peanut butter container too). You then want to cut holes in the sides of the bottle large enough for the treats to fall through then stick the treats into the bottle through the human mouth opening and then screw on the lid. If you put it on the floor, then your kitty will start knocking it around trying to figure out how to get to the treats (that is, of course, if they like the treats you put inside). A foraging toy such as this one can keep them entertained for hours and would be ideal if you are gone all day because it will keep your kitty busy until you return.
You can also make homemade puzzle feeders where you cut a hole in a cardboard box and the cat has to paw their food out of the box.
You might even want to hide food or treats in different places throughout your house so that your kitten has to “hunt” for his or her food.
My vet suggests throwing their treats across the room so that they get exercise chasing after them!