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Answers: Kittens Go Through Teething, Too
- Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 03:47 PM
- Published: Saturday, November 08, 2014 06:48 PM
- Written by Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom
I am adopting two new kittens. I plan on feeding them a raw cat food diet, but should I wait until they are older and have their permanent teeth to start them on small meaty bone cuts? Can their baby teeth tackle chicken wings or necks?
Often, we are asked about the special dietary requirements of kittens. Ideally, your kittens should be weaned directly to a raw cat food diet. We suggest that as soon as your kittens arrive, they should be introduced to raw meaty bones. Get those little critters gnawing and chewing as soon as possible. It is so much easier than trying to transition them later. They provide a natural, highly-digestible source of calcium. In raw bones, calcium can be up to four times more digestible than any supplement. Because the high levels of phosphorous in fresh meat need to be balanced by plenty of calcium, nature has perfected it. Calcium and phosphorous are present in perfect combination – no need for guess work and formulations. When supplied with an adequate amount, a kitten will use exactly what it needs for growth and development, and excrete any excess.
Raw bones also supply small amounts of cartilage, bone marrow and minerals, essential for healthy development. They hold plenty of roughage and have a good cleansing effect on the gastrointestinal tract, keeping anal glands regularly emptied.
They are also integral to the development of healthy teeth and gums. Macerating the meat and bones massages the teeth and gums, clearing away food residue and preventing tartar formation. This massaging action is vital during the teething process. Many kittens fed a kibble-based diet have a terrible time at four to five months old, with sore, inflamed gums, as their new teeth break through. They become manic chewers of anything available. The chewing and tearing on raw meaty bones will help dislodge the baby teeth and allow normal progression of the adult teeth. All they need is a good source to get them through comfortably.
Kittens develop their milk teeth, their baby teeth, at around four to five weeks old. At this age, they can tackle soft macerated meat and bone pieces as well as minced meat and bone products. Kittens should be tackling raw meaty bones every day. Introduce them as soon as they are weaned. It's a training ground. The kittens will have a go at them and then mum will finish them off. Kittens prefer rabbit bones, especially shoulders, as well as chicken wings and necks.
Remember, it is important to provide bones that are full of meat so they are balanced nutritionally. Avoid cooked bones altogether, as they will splinter and cause distress in the gastrointestinal tract.
Note: Feline Nutrition provides feline health and nutrition information as a public service. Diagnosis and treatment of specific conditions should always be in consultation with your own veterinarian. Feline Nutrition disclaims all warranties and liability related to the veterinary advice and information provided on this site.
Dr. Lyn Thomson trained at the University of Bristol in England and is studying with the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. A dedicated and experienced advocate of bio-appropriate nutrition, Lyn practices in Auckland, New Zealand. Her Raw Essentials stores have grown to seven retail locations, providing a variety of raw diet products for cats and dogs.