Like all babies, kittens grow and develop at a breakneck pace. Because of their speedy rate of growth, their nutritional needs are different from a grown cat. Picking the best kitten food is vital to support their growth.
Just as we do not feed our human babies the food that we eat, kittens require a specialized diet.
Top Picks For The Best Kitten Food
Difference Between Kitten And Adult Cat Food
One of the biggest differences between the two is their formulation. In comparison to adult cat food, kitten food must contain more fat, protein, and calories.
There are fewer calories in adult cat food, and it frequently includes vitamins and minerals to keep cats healthy as they age.
For example, the recommendation is that kittens get food with 30% protein while adult cats are recommended to get a minimum of only 26%.
Kittens also require different calcium to phosphorus ratio (1.0 to 0.8) while grown cats can have a ratio that is nearly identical between the two nutrients. Likewise, kittens need almost double the Vitamin A that an adult cat would require in their diet.
Kittens who do not get the proper balance of minerals may develop hyperparathyroidism, for example. Pet nutritionists recommend against feeding a homemade diet unless that diet has been formulated by a professional.
In addition, do not add anything supplemental to your kitten’s food without talking to a pro first.
How To Pick The Best Kitten Food
Choosing a kitten food is going to be a personal decision based on the needs of your cat and yourself. Any decisions should also be made with input from your vet or pet nutritionist, as they are the experts.
They will also have heard from other pet owners, so they will be able to give you an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that what works for one kitten, may not be best for a different kitten.
Look for a kitten food that has undergone Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) feeding trials. Nutrient profiles are not the same as feeding trials.
A nutrient profile means that it meets standards on paper, which does not guarantee that the food has been given to live animals.
Pro Tip – Dry vs. Wet food: Wild cat’s prey is approximately 70 percent water and dry cat food only has 10%. In contrast, wet food has 78%. Cats on dry food may become dehydrated and have health problems like renal failure.
Also, keep in mind when doing research that more established pet food companies are typically the ones investing in third-party research. They often consult with experts and work hard to ensure proper nutritional balance in their food.
Companies go as far as developing foods suitable for cats with sensitive stomachs.
You won’t have to dig deep or investigate to get the information that you need because they will be upfront with what they are offering in their products.
The 4 Best Dry Foods For Kittens
Dry foods for kittens provide all the nutrition they need. It’s often easier to store and serve and can be easily brought along on family trips. Dry kitten food is also generally less expensive.
Cats who eat dry food do have a slightly higher risk of dehydration so be sure to give your cat plenty of water and pay attention to his or her behaviors.
Some companies claim that they will also help with your kitty’s dental health as the cat crunches the hard bits of food. However, there is no evidence to support that and cats don’t really chew as much as they tear and swallow.
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food – Kitten
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This is an ideal dry kitten food to promote healthy growth. It is one of the most balanced and complete formulas available for kittens. Many brands claim to be grain-free, but this one is guaranteed to be 100% grain-free.
This could save you vet bills in the future, because you will already be avoiding any potential gluten allergy complications. Long-term users report that some ingredients seem to have lessened in quality over recent years.
- 100% guaranteed grain-free
- Multiple formulas to address different life stages
- Ingredient lists are not consistent across formulas
- Can be pricey
Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food
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Quality at a reasonable price is one of the most attractive aspects of this food. There are formulations for the various life stages. The high levels of protein help kittens’ muscles become lean and strong.
The special formulation for indoor cats provides the boost of energy they need. Exclusive LifeSource Bits included in the foods may turn some cats away due to the added textures and flavors.
- Different formulas address each life stage, allowing you to stick with one brand of food
- Contains Blue’s exclusive LifeSource Bits
- Some cats do not the like the flavor and texture of the LifeSource Bits
- Can also be on the expensive side
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Kitten Food – Indoor
- Dry kitten food with natural fibers to...
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A favorite of professionals, this premium cat food is consistently at the top of most “best cat/kitten food” lists. The formulations are usually well-balanced, and cats seem to like the flavors.
Their antioxidant and vitamin blends earn high marks as well. There are no additives, but some of their proteins are from questionable sources.
- Sometimes called the “caviar” of cat food.
- Helps with digestion, smells and gas.
- Specifically formulated for the lifestyle of indoor cats.
- No moisture in dry food means ensuring your kitten has plenty of fresh water
- Protein levels are supplemented by soy protein, which could cause GI issues
Purina Pro Plan Kitten Dry Cat Food
- High protein formula, with real chicken...
- DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, nourishes...
- Calcium, phosphorus and other minerals...
This dry kitten food is made with 41% protein and real chicken is the first ingredient. This is one of the few kitten foods that actually has live probiotics as well, which contribute to the health of your kitty’s GI tract.
The vitamins and minerals included in the formula add shine to the fur while nourishing the skin. In short, this food can pamper your kitten both inside and out.
- High protein content
- Live probiotics
- Reasonable price for a good product
- Not grain-free
- Flavors are often strong, which could be a problem for finicky kittens
The 4 Best Wet Food For Kittens
Generally, cats seem to prefer the flavor and consistency of a wet diet. Cats who eat wet food are eating a diet much more like what they would get out in the wild. This is because in the wild, cats are entirely carnivores.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights High Protein Grain Free
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This is considered somewhat of a gold standard when it comes to wet food for kittens. It is formulated to mimic the diet of a cat in the wild, so special attention is given to all of the lesser known vitamins and minerals, like taurine, that a growing kitten requires.
It’s made 100% in the U.S.A., and the quality is extremely high. Unfortunately, the quality comes with a price, as this is one of the most expensive foods you will find.
- Closely mimics a “natural” feline diet
- Focus on nose to tail nutrition
- Closely mimics a “natural” feline diet
- Focus on nose to tail nutrition
Purina Pro Plan Focus Kitten Canned Wet Cat Food
- Purina Pro Plan kitten food made with...
- Chicken and liver cat food formula...
- Purina kitten food made with 25...
Purina rarely disappoints, and consistency is one of their strongest assets. Their wet food contains real meat and vegetables, giving your kitten a well-balanced diet.
The formulas also ensure that the proper levels of protein and fat are reached. Purina prides itself on its flavor profiles, which is a double-edged sword. Some kittens may like the strong flavor, but others may turn their noses up.
- Purina has a solid reputation in the pet food industry
- Less expensive than some other specialty foods
- Some owners complain about digestive issues
- Flavors can be limited, and kitty might get bored eating the same thing
Hill’s Science Diet Wet Kitten Food
- High-quality protein to help your kitten...
- Made with purposeful, easily digestible...
- Contains a clinically proven antioxidant...
Just like the dry food, Hill’s Science Diet Wet Food is used widely in veterinary offices due to the balance and nutrition it provides. They generally use real meat as their main product but also use protein by-products to supplement.
This could cause allergies or GI issues in some cats. Additionally, they use a lot of vegetables, which some cats flat out will not eat. However, if you are looking for a well-balanced, complete wet food, this is a good choice.
- Reliance on chicken, which is a high-protein meat
- Extremely well-balanced nutritional aspects
- A bit pricey
- Contains vegetables; fussy cats may not like it
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Thin Slice
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Unlike many of the other wet foods, which tend to be pate for kittens, Royal Canin comes in small, thin slices in gravy and is formulated for easy digestion. Adventurous kittens will love that they can chew it.
It contains fiber, probiotics and proteins that are easy on the fragile kitten stomach. However, some owners say their cats don’t care for its flavor.
A Feeding Guide for Kittens
If you ever find yourself wondering what your cats Can and CAN’T eat, then check out our can cats eat guides here.
Kittens usually depend on their mother’s milk for the primary food source for the first several weeks of their lives. If something has happened to the mama cat, the kitten will (hopefully) be bottle fed until it is developed enough to eat on its own.
Realize that a kitten is very similar to a human baby; it has to learn what it likes and dislikes. The only way to figure this out is trial and error. Use the guide to find foods with the right nutrition levels and age-appropriateness, and then buy single cans of a variety of brands.
Once you find out what makes your kitten purr when you open it, you’ll know you have hit on the right flavor.
I’ve recommended cat owners to give Orijen cat food a try and more often than not it’s a hit. Check them out for yourself.
The inclination may be to go for the cheapest food because you know you will be buying it in bulk. However, keep in mind that the cheaper the food the higher the probability that the quality will match the price.
This isn’t to say that that you should go out and buy the most expensive food because it must be the best, because that isn’t the case either.
If you have taken on the responsibility of a kitten, you should be looking for the food that will be most beneficial to the kitten. Some brands do offer different “levels” of food. Purina, for example, has several different sub-brands.
Find out what your kitten likes, and then buy dry or wet food accordingly to your budget.
Not all wet foods are equal; they come in a variety of styles. Pate is probably the most familiar to most people. This is the mushy, semi-solid form of wet food. In recent years, pet food companies have branched out and now offer different textures as well.
There are morsels, which are chunks of meat in gravy. Wet food may also come as flakes, usually with a chicken or fish flavor because of the natural flaking tendency of those meats.
Minced or cuts is another texture often found when the food consists of two types of meat.
As with pretty much everything when it comes to kittens, figuring out which texture your kitten prefers is trial and error. Most kittens prefer the softer paste when they are youngest but switch to liking flakes or morsels as they get older and their teeth develop.
Experts estimate that a 5-pound kitten should receive about 200 kilocalories (kcal) a day. However, a typical 10-week old kitten could need as many as 100 kcal per pound of body weight.
This could be dependent on the level of activity and whether or not the kitten is indoor or outdoor.
Read more on, How long can a cat go without food?
A wellness checkup at your vet should provide you with a general guide to start your kitten’s nutrition off correctly. When it comes to food, you will need to check the labels to see the kcal level, because this is one area where all kitten foods are not equal.
What seems to be the more nutritious food may not meet caloric intake requirements, leading you to need to supply more food to meet your kitten needs.
You can see how this could become pricey. Do your research and have everything for your kitten firmly in mind before purchasing any foods. Being informed will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.
Kitten food is necessary for the first year of their life, it gives the kitten all the nutrients and calories they need.
Choosing a kitten food may prove to be a journey that requires some experimentation but the most important thing you can do is to watch your kitten closely for signs of health and happiness.
Just as you would with a growing human child, pay attention to your pet’s development and raise any concerns that you may have with a professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important to buy my cat different food according to her current life stage?
Your kitten has different nutritional requirements from an adult cat. They need more calories, more protein, and different amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.
Just as a human infant needs breast milk or formula while it is small, kittens need a specialized diet.
Can my kitten have “people” food?
Your kitten should eat pet food because it is specifically formulated to be nutritionally balanced. However, they can have certain human foods in moderation as a treat. A few that are OK for cats are:
- Deli meat
- Cooked eggs
Can cat food go bad?
Yes. It most certainly can. Keeping it sealed, out of the sun and heat, and in a cool, dry place will help to keep it fresh. Never feed your pet expired food. Be careful to read labels. When you buy new food, do not mix it with old food as you will not know how old the food really is.
How much water should I give her?
Many people underestimate the importance of hydration in their cats but it is every bit as important as their food. If a cat eats wet food, he or she will get a good deal of their H2O from their food but they still need to drink.
On average, your kitten requires 2-4 ounces of freshwater. That is in addition to his food but a cat that is fed dry food will definitely drink more. Therefore, it will depend a great deal on your pet and his or her food and eating habits. Leave a fresh, appealing bowl of water out for your cat to drink at will.
When should I transition my cat from kitten to adult cat food?
When your kitty is either one year old or your vet recommends it. Try and transition them slowly over a 7 -10 day period. Put some adult food in with the kitten food and increase the amount each day until he or she only eats adult cat food.
Last update on 2024-02-26 at 08:30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API