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Am I starving my poor kitties - why are they begging so much?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So, we have three adorable 11 week old kitties. We feed them twice a day and give them snacks of cooked chicken 2-3 times a day. We feed them a mixture of wet food & dry food, science diet. They eat their food super fast and meow whenever we open the refrigerator door. As soon as one starts meowing, they all start meowing together and rush to the kitchen. We typically just ignore them when they do this. They continued for 2-3 minutes tonight when I got some water from the fridge and then we just picked them up and pet them and they all stopped meowing. Is this normal behavior? In every other way they seem very healthy. Does anyone elses kittens/cats do this. When I feed them all dry food they don't eat it all.
post #2 of 13
Kittens that young should be free feed.... ie have food avail all the time... also you may want to look into HIGHER quality foods ( Science diet is IMHO grocery food as the ingrediants are alike)
post #3 of 13
I've never free fed my cats, 2 of them I got at 12-14 weeks and at that age gave them around 5-6 meals a day.
post #4 of 13
Hi, welcome, & congrats on the new kittens! I'm glad to hear that you have 3 (instead of 1) because they will keep each other entertained and will burn off energy easier.

Feeding twice a day is not enough for kittens. Either free-feed or give them at least 4 feedings a day, maybe even 5. Kittens have tiny stomachs but need lots of food. What I would do is leave dry food out at all times but then give them as much wet food as they will eat twice a day. I would vary the wet food brands so they don't become used to just one food (it will be easier on you in the future if they aren't picky about wet food). Make sure they have fresh, clean water at ALL times, not just when they eat. I never free-fed my kitten (who I adopted at 12 weeks old) because I didn't want my older cat eating her food and I couldn't keep them separate all the time, so I fed her at scheduled times 4 times a day.

Science Diet = junky food. There are much higher quality foods and they aren't necessarily even more expensive. Science Diet's dry food has byproducts & a lot of corn. For easy-to-find and not expensive kitten dry food, I would try Nutro Natural Kitten or Nutro Max Kitten (PetSmart, PetCo). Royal Canin Kitten is another great option that is easy to find, I think it's a tiny bit more $$ than Nutro. Authority is PetSmart's own brand and is very similar to the Nutro brand, ingredients-wise, and is a little cheaper. Blue Buffalo Spa is easy to find and they make a good kitten food I think too. Also, there is Wellness Kitten & Chicken Soup Kitten which are very good but you won't find them at chain pet stores, you'd have to try mom-and-pop type places.
http://cats.about.com/od/catfoo1/tp/kitten_dryfood.htm
http://cats.about.com/cs/kittencare/a/kitten_food.htm

Are they spayed/neutered yet? If not they should have that done very soon Sadly, cats can reproduce as early as 4 months old. (just thought I'd throw that in).

*runs off to see pics*!
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your input. The dry food I feed them is Nutro and the wet food is Science Diet, so hopefully the wet science diet food is not as bad as the dry food. I will also start to feed them more times a day!

I don't want to free feed my kitties because there are three of them and I want to make sure they are all eating the right amount. Plus, I am worried about kitty obesity later in life and want to keep scheduled meal times.

So, this is my follow up question. I have 27 5.5 oz cans of Science Diet wet food in my kitchen. I don't want to be feeding my kitties junk food, but I don't want to waste all the science diet either.



Should I..........
1) mix it in w/ a more nutritious canned food?
2) Give them a more nutritious canned food for meals and just use the science diet for training/snacks (smaller portions)?
3) just use up the rest of the canned science diet for the next few weeks (i have three kittens so it goes by fast) and then buy better food for them?

**I just thought of an attractive four:
4) dig through my receipts and try to return the science diet canned food.
post #6 of 13
27 cans isn't going to change their lives nutritionally speaking but you do want to ease the transition to a new wet food so they dont get diarrhea. Take a week to ease into the new food, and go for mild, easy to digest wet food. Avoid lots of seafood, and look for chicken or turkey (or chicken meal, turkey meal) as the first ingredient.

I agree with another poster, at least 3 wet meals a day and possibly more, and at each meal they should be given as much as they want. Their appetites determine the portion size not you. Even 5 meals a day would be fine.

As they approach spay/neuter age (6 months) you can begin tapering down to 2 or 3 meals per day.
post #7 of 13
Whenever you switch foods, it is important to do so gradually. This is more important for dry food than canned food, but bears mentioning nonetheless. Some cats have sensitive stomachs and even seemingly minor changes can throw them off and give them the runs. You certainly don't want that with kittens.

So even though choice 4 sounds tempting, I would vote for choice 1. Maybe start out for a few days with 75% SD, 25% something else; then make it 50%-50% for a few days, then 25% SD, 75% something else, and finally eliminate the SD altogether.

If you wind up having cans of SD left over after the switch, and you're confident that the kittens are happy with the new brand, then you can return the unused SD cans, or donate them to a shelter.

Good luck!
post #8 of 13
I do think free-feeding could help solve your problems. I know you said you were worried about kitten obesity, but all the sources I have checked (including my vet) said that this shouldn't be too much of a concern. I never had cats before, so before we got our three kittens I did a lot of research, and was told cats, unlike dogs (which is what I am used to!) don't tend to overstuff themselves. They eat what they want and then move on. I also find that if you provide wet food meals on top of dry free-feeding, then they eat a lot less of the dry food (use it only for small snacks) because they know they are getting yummy wet food later on. Kittens are extremely energetic and active, so they burn off a lot of the calories, and they need a lot of food to grow...

Just a thought - I was worried like you about obesity, but my vet said if it becomes a problem, then we will obviously look at the situation again.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephenq View Post
27 cans isn't going to change their lives nutritionally speaking but you do want to ease the transition to a new wet food so they dont get diarrhea. Take a week to ease into the new food, and go for mild, easy to digest wet food. Avoid lots of seafood, and look for chicken or turkey (or chicken meal, turkey meal) as the first ingredient.

I agree with another poster, at least 3 wet meals a day and possibly more, and at each meal they should be given as much as they want. Their appetites determine the portion size not you. Even 5 meals a day would be fine.

As they approach spay/neuter age (6 months) you can begin tapering down to 2 or 3 meals per day.
Abrupt changing of food is more of a problem when changing dry foods as Robert said. Changing wet food shouldn't be a problem unless you change to one so rich that it upsets their tummy.

I personally would go with option 4 - maybe hold back a couple cans but trade the others for a better quality food.

As to free-feeding, I've always free-fed my cats (for over 40 years) and have had no obesity issues until Bijou. He and Mika get the same treatment but he is heavy and she is so tiny. I'm thinking it may just be each individual cat's makeup, the same as people. I eat a lot of fatty, calorie laden food and have no weight problem. If my friend ate a fraction of what I eat she would be huge - it's all metabolism IMO.

I'd do the free-feed and if you notice a weight problem then you could cut back to regularly scheduled meals but it's unlikely that would be an issue until the kittens are at least 9 months to a year old.
post #10 of 13
Also chiming in: our family vet said that kittens must be free fed. They should be given as much food as they want... they burn a lot of energy, and also are growing. Their dietary needs are thus different from those of adult cats.

Though even with adult cats, I haven't had weight problems as a result of free feeding.

By meowing and begging, I do think the kittens are telling you they're not getting enough food.
post #11 of 13
take the food reco's with a grain of salt. science diet will not harm your cats, it's just that if you're spending "science diet money" you can probably do better for the same price. and the canned food is fine anyway.

one of the best things about the kitten phase is that you can literally feed them all they can eat! you'll have decades to mete out their feedings to keep their weight in check, let em go wild for now!
post #12 of 13
I would feed them a minimum of 3 meals a day till they are around 5-6 months old. The dry Nutro is fine.

Maybe switch to the Nutro/Max Cat canned or Natural Balance canned rather then Science Diet - and vary the flavors between chicken, beef, turkey, lamb so they won't become picky eaters as adults.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
thanks everyone. I feel like I've got a wealth of information.
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