At birth, kittens have only a partially functional immune system, which is why they are so vulnerable to disease during this time. To help support immunity against common diseases, the queen’s body will begin to produce colostrum just prior to giving birth. Colostrum is a specific type of milk that is highly concentrated in antibodies that the kitten will passively absorb in the first 24 hours. It is critical that neonates begin to nurse as quickly as possible in order to receive these life-saving antibodies for protection.
Around four to six weeks of age, babycats begin to wean from their mother and transition to solid food. In tandem with this dietary modification, the immune system is still developing, placing the growing kitten in a compromised position until around twelve weeks. The period between four and twelve weeks represents what Royal Canin refers to as the immunity gap. The immunity gap is when growing kittens are more susceptible to viruses such as panleukopenia because their antibodies are declining as a result of weaning. Therefore, it is important that the kitten food they are weaned to supports their delicate immune system.
Royal Canin recognizes this critical period of development in a kitten’s life and has developed a patented combination of antioxidants to help bridge the immunity gap. The Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Lutein and Taurine included in Royal Canin’s growth formula, Mother and Babycat, provides antioxidants that work synergistically to boost a kitten’s immune system and have been shown to improve a kitten’s response to vaccinations while promoting continued and healthy growth. Royal Canin includes this additional antioxidant benefit in all growth formulas.