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As you watch your kitten stalking sunbeams, ferociously wrestling your drapes and pouncing on unsuspecting shoelaces, you can only imagine how much energy she burns up during the day. And because she uses lots of energy, she needs to eat lots of energy-producing nutrients to stay healthy and active.

Load On the Energy

In general, cats metabolize protein and fat efficiently, so these two energy sources should make up a big chunk of their diet. And kittens need many more energy-producing nutrients - protein and fat - and more vitamins, minerals and water than adult cats. And because kittens' smaller tummies fill up so quickly, you need to give your kitty the most concentrated form of nutrition possible in several small meals a day or allow them to free-feed throughout the day. High-fat and high-protein foods designed specifically for kittens give your kitten the energy to do what she does best - attack your toes!

The bottom line: Choose a premium food that's specially formulated for your young kitten's nutritional needs. Need help choosing one? Call your veterinarian for advice.

Meat and Amino Acids

Unlike the omnivorous dog, the cat is a carnivore, or meat eater. Your little tiger needs certain essential amino acids that her body can't produce. One of the most important of these is taurine.

Taurine deficiency can cause serious health problems in cats, including cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease; reproductive disorders; and retinal degeneration and blindness. Feeding your kitty a premium food is your best insurance against taurine deficiency, because premium food manufacturers make sure their foods give your kitten the taurine she needs - and the right amounts of many other nutrients.

Never Substitute Dog Food

If you're running low on your cat's favorite chow, don't reach for the dog food. Why? Dog food doesn't contain enough taurine. But you don't need to panic if you catch Fluffy snacking at the dog's bowl. Just discourage the habit and make sure she eats plenty of her own food.