Many breeders and pet shop owners will recommend continuing to feed the same food a kitten has been raised on, to avoid gastrointestinal upsets during the transition to a new home.  What this usually means, however, is that a new kitten will remain on a diet that is not biologically appropriate for longer than necessary.  In our experience, the sooner you transition a cat to a raw, natural, appropriately balanced diet, the better for their health and vitality.

The first step is to follow our Transitioning to a Natural Diet rules.  These rules will assist your kitten to handle the diet change without any gastrointestinal stress.

Ensure you have a supply of food ready to go.  Most small, young kittens will need feeding three or four times daily until roughly 16 weeks of age.

To make the transition as easy as possible, we suggest starting with Ziwi Peak pet food. This is a complete diet made in New Zealand that comes in both gently air-dried and canned forms, and is essentially a minced up carcass (either lamb, beef, venison, or venison & fish) with added green-lipped mussel and vitamins and minerals. Kittens do very well on this food, and because it contains green tripe it is an excellent food for the transition phase as it will rebalance their gastric pH and gut microbiome.

After feeding this for a week or more, you can then start to include raw meals, by feeding a quality complete raw meal such as the Organic Paws or Complete Pet Company Complete Meal patties for the breakfast and evening meals, or mixing a proportion of the raw food in with the Ziwi Peak to gently introduce the new flavours and texture.  Many people continue feeding the Ziwi Peak air-dried food as the lunch meal, as it is a convenient food that can be left out if you are away for the day.

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(Sapote eating a mix of Ziwi Peak canned food and
Complete Pet Company’s Complete Meal in his first week home)

At roughly 16 weeks of age, you can usually drop one meal a day, reducing the feeds to twice daily.  At this stage you can start to include raw diced meats in the diet rotation, such as beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, rabbit, pork or white fish.  Your kitten needs to develop the jaw strength required to chew through larger chunks of meat, and also some small meaty bones.  Small meaty bones, such as part of a turkey neck or chicken wing or leg, or a small lamb neck bone, can be offered at the same time as a meal initially.  Once your kitten is associating bones with mealtime, you can offer meaty bones in place of a meal.

Adult teeth erupt 3.5-4 months of age, and eruption should be complete by 6-7 months.  By this stage they are well equipped to chew through large chunks of meat and soft meaty bones, and should be offered these foods at least a few times a week, or preferably on a daily basis.

Here is our Kitten Feeding Timeline:

First day home: Consider doing a bone broth fast for 6-12 hours to prepare the gut for a diet change. Slippery elm powder can be added and this can be used at any stage if the kitten develops diarrhoea or loose stools.

First week home: Feed Ziwi Peak canned food in the mornings and evenings, and Ziwi Peak air-dried as the lunch and snack meals.

Second week home to 16 weeks of age: Feed three times daily, offering a complete raw meal for most breakfasts and dinners (such as Organic Paws or Complete Pet Meal patties), and continuing to feed Ziwi Peak air-dried food as the lunch meal.  Use canned Ziwi Peak as a back up when you are out of raw food.  Avoid standard dry foods, including grain-free dry foods, as they are too high in carbohydrate and will compromise your kitten’s health and development.  If your kitten still seems hungry on three meals a day, offer a fourth ‘snack’ meal of Ziwi Peak air-dried food.  Generally meals are best offered after some playtime, when the ‘hunting’ has been completed.

16 weeks to 6 months of age: Drop to a twice daily feeding plan.  Feed either Complete Pet Meal patties or Organic Paws as the morning and evening meals, keeping a supply of air-dried Ziwi Peak as a back-up for meals when you are not at home.  Start to include some diced, lean, grass-fed meats with the meals to strengthen the jaw and stomach muscle, and offer a small meaty bone at mealtimes a few times a week. Add a pinch of blended leafy greens to as many meals as possible.  Suitable leafy greens can include parsley, barley or wheatgrass, kelp powder, flaked dulse or nori, broccoli tops, or dandelion leaf.  Ensure greens are finely minced or pureed.  Include some oily fish such as sardines or mackerel and eggs on a weekly basis, and fish or krill oil can be added to meals daily.

From 6 months of age you can continue feeding twice daily for life, or some cats can be quite happy on a once daily feeding regime.  Do what works for you and your cat.  Ensure the bulk of the diet is raw, diced meats, including some soft meaty bones, organ meats, and a small percentage of leafy green matter (roughly 5% for kittens and 12% for adults).

A rough breakdown is to aim for from this age on is approximately 70% of the diet being diced lean meats or complete minced meals (at least half of this being diced rather than minced meats), 10% of the diet should be squishy organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney, 10% should be soft edible bones, and 10% should be minced leafy green matter.

Feeding this way will ensure your kitten grows and develops as nature intended, manifesting pure natural health and vitality.