If you’re considering a new cat, a British Shorthair kitten is an excellent choice. British Shorthairs live long, healthy lives so you’re guaranteed many years of happy companionship, and are very easy to care for. Whether you’re considering a new British Shorthair kitten or have recently acquired one, you’ll be keen to give your new friend the very best start in life that you can.
What Is The Best Food For British Shorthair Kittens? For kittens, the most optimal food is high in protein, very low in carbohydrates and containing a moderate amount of fat. A good-quality grain-free food without “stuffed” carbohydrates. Your kitten needs to eat a lot at this age but only has a small stomach; food needs to be provided in small, frequent portions.
For a healthy growth of your kitten, you will need a mixture of dry and wet food. You will get a maximum load of protein from the dry food and all the necessary moisture from wet.
Fancy Feast – BEST WET FOOD
This is a grain free, high-quality food with optimal moisture levels. Ideal for your British Shorthair kitten. A wide range of flavours and packed with nutrition – it’s also a great choice for adult cats. You can get packs of 24 or 30 cans, so 2 boxes will do for a month (2 cans a day).
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Instinct – BEST DRY FOOD
This is a fantastic product – high in protein, grain free and completely natural.
Very advanced and packed with nutrition – this cat food will help your kitten to grow and develop muscle without gaining fat. Great choice for kittens and adult cats. Check label for correct feeding instructions.
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You probably have plenty of questions about your new kitten and what she needs for a healthy, happy start in life. What kinds of meat should she eat? Wet food or dry? Is it okay to feed her regular cat food or should you buy her kitten formula? Will she need to drink milk? Should she be eating vegetables? Are there really any differences between premium cat food brands and cheaper ones? We have the answers to these and many other questions. To find out more, just read on.
Feeding your British Shorthair kitten
What is the best food for British Shorthair kittens? With a few adaptations, essentially the same as the best food for an adult British Shorthair. By the time your British Shorthair kitten joins your household, she should already be fully weaned and able to eat pretty much what she’ll eat as an adult cat. A reputable registered breeder will not part with a kitten before 12 weeks. Your kitten no longer needs to drink mothers milk, and in fact, should not be given milk at all.
When they’re born, kittens produce a special enzyme that allows them to properly digest the lactose in their mothers’ milk; once they’re weaned, this enzyme is no longer produced and the kitten can’t digest lactose any more. In British Shorthairs, this effect seems to be especially pronounced and milk can make them very ill. They will almost certainly get a stomach upset and may well suffer bouts of diarrhoea. If the cat consumes a lot of milk, she may vomit. This is particularly bad for kittens. They are small and delicate so dehydration is a real problem; any stomach upset can really throw off a kitten’s development, and it’s much easier for a kitten to die from a stomach disorder than an adult cat.
Instead of milk, the kitten should be given water to drink and be fed a high-quality cat food. Choose a good brand with plenty of protein and named meats. Do not feed your British Shorthair kitten foods containing grains and starches. These do not provide anything that kitten needs and are just empty calories. At this stage in her development your kitten will simply burn off the extra energy; however, you don’t want her to get a taste for kitty junk food. A British Shorthair, with her tendency to run to fat in later life, doesn’t need to enter adulthood with a craving for food with additional calories.
Avoid letting your kitten eat food for other animals – dog food is less expensive than cat food precisely because it leans heavily on vegetable material, including the grains and starches that your kitten should not be eating. You must also try to avoid letting her eat food meant for people. Human foods often contain substances that are very bad for our pets and this effect is more pronounced in a small, vulnerable kitten. It’s quite possible for a kitten to die from eating certain human foods. Later in this article, we’ll go into more detail about these but for now, it’s enough just to say “don’t give the kitten people food”. If nothing else, setting boundaries now will discourage her for pestering you at meals. It’s often very hard to resist a charming little fuzzball begging for food from your plate but it’ll get a lot less charming when she’s a full-grown British Shorthair, running to fat and in need of a diet. Don’t get into the habit of sneaking her treats.
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How often should I feed my kitten?
In this section, you’ll learn more about how and when to feed your new kitten. Kittens require a lot of nutrition and plenty of calories. They are growing fast and need abundant protein, vitamins, minerals and energy to build their developing bodies – and to fuel all that rumbustious kittenish activity. The exact quantities and timings will vary from individual to individual. At a minimum, you should be feeding your kitten three times a day and can safely feed her as many as five.
While your kitten is young you should stay on the side of providing more food rather than less. I have absolutely never heard of a fat kitten. Older British Shorthair cats are definitely prone to over-eating but that’s not going to be a problem for at least the first three years. Right now, your kitten needs feeding up. I like to use wet food in pouches; for a kitten, you should offer half a pouch per meal. If the kitten leaves a lot of the food, offer less per meal but provide more meals. Always clear away leftover food after the kitten has stopped eating; you can leave it in the bowl for a short time but don’t let your kitten eat rancid food. It can upset their delicate systems. Throw away the food and thoroughly clean the bowl. Use a ceramic dish to feed your kitten – plastic can develop scratches, which become a breeding ground for bacteria.
How do I choose the right food?
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about what to feed your kitten: shop-bought food or home-made? Raw or cooked? Regular or kitten formula? We’ve already touched on this a little but in this section, we’ll discuss the topic in more depth.
First, let’s discuss kitten versus adult food formulas. It’s my personal opinion that kitten formulas are actually a bit of a rip-off. The ingredients don’t seem to be any different than the ones you’d find in regular cat foods; the main difference seems to be the price. To be strictly fair, some brands do seem at least to change the texture and consistency so that the chunks are smaller and easier for a kitten to manage; I achieve the same effect by mashing adult cat food with the tines of a fork.
The most important things to look out for are quality (don’t just feed your British Shorthair any old trash) and the amount of transparency in the labelling. If it contains any grain, potato, starch etc., reject it. Reject any food containing artificial ingredients. Your kitten doesn’t need food colouring or other additives. Do not give your kitten any dry food at this point because it might be bad for her kidneys. Later on, when she’s big enough to enjoy a kitty drinking fountain, you can give her moderate amounts of dry food but until she’s drinking plenty of fluid she should only eat wet food. Avoid giving your kitten raw foods as they can harbour bacteria and parasites. Look for foods that contain supplementary vitamin A and taurine.
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What kind of meat is best for my kitten?
Again, there’s a lot of debate over the best meat to give cats and kittens. Most cat fanciers I know favour rabbit and poultry as the main staples for their cats and kittens. These are the closest meats to a cat’s natural prey that you’re likely to find in pet foods:
- Rabbits aren’t the same as rats or mice but they are close enough in terms of physiology
- Chicken and duck are a reasonable facsimile of the smaller birds they might hunt in the wild.
- Lamb is okay (it is fatty and high in calories but that’s not really a problem when your kitten is still growing).
- Beef should be given in moderation as it can sometimes provoke stomach problems if your kitten eats too much of it.
- You should also keep fish to a minimum. Fish might seem like a great choice for cats, especially since they generally enjoy it. Unfortunately, it isn’t as healthy as you might think. These days, fish is often high in mercury.
- Raw fish, in particular, is a bad choice, since it can break down thiamine in a cat’s system. It’s okay for your kitten to have fish occasionally and in small amounts but don’t make it the mainstay of her diet.
When you’re looking for a good brand, don’t accept “rabbit flavour” or “duck flavour” as close enough – check the label and see what meats are actually used in the food. “Something-or-other flavour” can cover a multitude of sins; it’s very common for manufacturers to use cheaper, less healthy meats and then use “X flavour” to imply that there’s a large amount of a more expensive, better meat. Always read the ingredients.
Does my kitten need vegetables in her diet?
Most vets now suggest including some vegetable material in a cat’s diet. Cats are obligate carnivores and meat should be the primary ingredient of their diets, but expert opinion is that supplementation with small amounts of vegetable ingredients is a good idea. Some suggest providing grass for the kitten to nibble on. While eating grass can sometimes be a sign that a cat is sickly, it’s also something that many cats and kittens do for additional nutrients.
If you have an indoor kitten, you can provide an opportunity for supplementation by growing a tray of live grass. Don’t let your kitten eat grass that may have been treated with chemicals such as weedkiller or fertiliser. You should also be very careful about the type of grass – some plants that look like regular grass are actually toxic for cats. (This is true of many houseplants, by the way – you might want to remove any that are poisonous to curious kittens.)
Many cat foods nowadays include things like carrots or greens to help address a cat’s need for small amounts of vegetables. These are fine but don’t buy foods that rely heavily on vegetable ingredients. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your growing kitten needs 30% protein and 20% fat in her food. Too much vegetable material will prevent her from getting what she needs.
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Why should I avoid cheaper cat foods?
It may be tempting to believe that there’s no real difference between a premium food and a less expensive one. Unfortunately for the cat fancier’s bank balance, this isn’t always the case. While some of the very high-end foods are overpriced, there can be a big difference between mid-range foods and the very cheap ones. Cheaper foods often contain indigestible meat-industry byproducts that bulk up the food but don’t nourish your cat: skin, connective tissue, even hair and feathers. These can still be listed as protein in the nutritional information while providing very little actual nourishment to your kitten, who can’t digest them.
Cheap cat foods are also more likely to contain the grains and starches you need to avoid to ensure your kitten gets a properly balanced diet, along with additives and other less salubrious ingredients. In premium cat foods, the amount of digestible protein is usually higher. Your kitten needs plenty of high-quality protein to build a strong, healthy body. This is a crucial period in your kitten’s development with long-term consequences for her future health and well-being. There are certainly plenty of rip-offs in the pet food industry but it genuinely is well worth spending just a little extra to get your British Shorthair a really good start in life. Later on, you could try swapping to a less costly brand – just as long as it has everything your cat needs.
How much should a kitten drink?
We’ve already mentioned the need for good hydration but it bears further exploration. Cats, in general, are prone to developing kidney problems if they don’t drink enough water and a kitten’s developing kidneys need plenty of fluid. You need to keep her dish topped up and the water needs to be clean. Water that has dust or debris floating in it will tend to put your kitten off drinking. You should also place the water dish a little distance away from the food bowl – cats and kittens are often instinctively suspicious of water that’s been too close to their food. In the early days of the feline species, food could easily contaminate water sources and some cats have inherited their forebear’s reluctance to drink from such a source.
There are various reasons why a kitten might not get enough water; one of them is simply not being able to reach it. I strongly recommend getting one of the drinking fountains I mentioned earlier but while your kitten is small she might not be able to drink out of it. Give her a small saucer to drink from at first, then introduce the drinking fountain when she’s a bit bigger. As with your kitten’s food bowl, you should clean the water-dish regularly and make sure the water in it is always fresh. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a cat drinking too much but all too many of them drink too little. The result can be crystals building up in the urinary tracts, kidney stones and other problems.
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What foods are dangerous for my kitten?
There are a great many human foods that are unsuitable for your kitten or cat. These include, but are not limited to:
- Onions (and relatives of the onion such as chives and leeks)
- Milk and milk products such as cream
The sweetener Xylitol has been responsible for many pet poisonings. (Xylitol is a sugar substitute commonly found in sweets and gum, and which also turns up in foods like peanut butter. It has been fatal in some cases.)
The jury is still out on whether raisins and grapes are poisonous to cats. They have certainly poisoned dogs, however, and there is some anecdotal evidence that they could also harm your cat.
Raw meat is generally not recommended by vets. Again, this is one of those disputed issues, with some people insisting that it’s not only safe but superior to canned or packaged pet food while others reject it out of hand. Personally, I prefer not to give raw meat or poultry to my cats as I’m concerned about food poisoning and parasites. I do know other cat fanciers who include raw food in their cats’ diets without incident. If you do decide to give your cat raw food, wait until your kitten is older and only ever give human-grade foods. Some people give the trimmings from meat dishes to their cats; again, I prefer to avoid doing this as the meagre nutritional contribution hardly seems worth the additional risk.