Most cats are considered kittens until around 12 months of age. Large breeds, like the Maine Coon, can take 18 months to 2 years to reach maturity, though.
During this period of growth and development, kittens need a complete and balanced kitten food. Once they’ve reached adulthood (according to their breed), it’s time to transition to an adult cat food.
Can Kittens Eat Adult Cat Food?
Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats, so they need a kitten food to support those needs.
If the food label says it’s formulated “for all life stages,” however, that means it’s safe for both kittens and adult cats to eat.
When Can Kittens Eat Dry & Wet Food?
Although kittens shouldn’t eat adult cat food before they’ve fully matured, they can begin eating dry kibble and wet kitten food much earlier.
By three to four weeks, kittens can begin eating moistened dry kibble or wet food. Between six and eight weeks, kittens are fully weaned from their mother’s milk and can eat dry or wet kitten food.
Why It’s Important to Switch to Adult Cat Food
Kittens experience rapid growth and development, plus, they’re playful and have a lot of energy. Kitten food has higher calories and more protein and fat to support energetic, growing kittens.
It’s also formulated with DHA to help support brain and vision development, plus vitamins and minerals needed for their developing immune systems.
Once they reach maturity, cats don’t need the same amounts of those nutrients. Plus, they’re often less energetic, so eating a high-calorie kitten food could result in weight gain.
When & How to Switch from Kitten Food to Adult Cat Food
Around your kitten’s first birthday (or between 18 months and 2 years for large breeds), it’s time to switch to an adult cat food.
We recommend transitioning to adult food over a 7- to 10-day period to help avoid any digestive upset. Here’s how:
- Days 1-2: Serve 3/4 of the normal amount of kitten food and add 1/4 of the new adult cat food.
- Days 3-4: Serve half kitten food and half adult cat food.
- Days 5-7: Serve 1/4 kitten food and 3/4 adult cat food.
- Days 8-10: Serve only the new adult cat food.
If your cat resists eating the new food, slow the transition and give her more time before you increase the amount of adult food. Consult with your veterinarian for additional tips on making the switch from kitten food to adult cat food.
For more tips and information on kitten nutrition from our experts, see our Pet Expertise page.