Congratulations! Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re the proud pawrent to a fabulous little feline, and you’re looking for the best kitten food. In a hurry and don’t have time to read all of the reviews? Head straight to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food, voted our best dry kitten food and Wellness Complete Wet Canned Cat Food Kitten Chicken Pate which is our top choice for the best wet kitten food.
Whether you’re a first-time kitten owner or adding a new member to the family, you want to give him the very best start in Iife, and the surest way of doing that is by feeding him the healthiest kitten food you can afford.
But where do you even begin? If you take a quick look at the choice that is available you’re probably as petrified as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Do you give him dry food or is canned kitten food better? Is specially formulated kitten food a must or can he eat the same dry kibble that your older cat’s enjoying? And what’s the deal with vet recommended kitten food?
Well, you can take a deep breath and relax. Our reviews give you the top nine choices for your furbaby, highlighting what we like, and what we don’t, of each. There is also a handy buying guide as well as month-by-month information of what you can expect in the first year with your kitten.
The Best Food for Kittens Buying Guide
Under normal circumstances, a kitten will get all the nutrition he needs from his mom for the first six weeks of his life. Anywhere between four and six weeks old, he might try soft food, but by 10 weeks he will be completely weaned off of mom’s milk and ready to enjoy solid food. It is around this time he does most of his growing, so the food he eats must provide him with all the nutrients he needs at this critical stage.
There is a lot of debate around whether dry food is better than wet for cats and kittens. But there’s no getting around the fact that the best diet is one formulated with his development in mind.
The best kitten foods are what we call nutrient-dense, which means he’s getting all the protein, fats, minerals and vitamins he needs, but in the amounts that his still developing tummy can hold.
It’s hard to tell looking at him, but your kitten is first and foremost a meat-eater. It is where he gets his protein. A good kitten food will have an animal-based protein such as chicken, turkey, red meat, or fish as the main ingredient.
Dry kitten food can contain more than 40% protein, and while wet food options seem to have less than this, it is only because it’s diluted with water.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals
You’ll hear this time and again, and for a good reason. You must feed your little guy kitten food. Puppies and dogs have different nutritional needs to cats, which means their food doesn’t contain the essential ingredients kittens and cats need to grow and stay healthy.
Kitten food vs. cat food
What about kitten food vs. cat food, you ask? The same applies. Your kitten has specific dietary requirements when compared to an adult cat. For instance, a kitten needs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential amino acid that helps with brain development, which an older cat doesn’t.
Although your cat is a carnivore and needs meat, he also needs a range of vitamins and minerals that he would get from different sources in nature. Kitten food has been formulated with their natural diets in mind, so it’s not unusual to find fruits, vegetables, and other forms of carbohydrates on the list of ingredients.
Wet food vs. dry
Wet food vs.dry, the debate goes on. Dry Cat food offers you more convenience, and it can be cheaper than wet food, but others say canned food is healthier and they’re happy to spend a little more.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to your personal needs and budget, as well as which one your kitten prefers. When he is starting on solids, your vet might, in fact, recommend you try both types to give your kitty the variety he needs.
Some say they prefer wet food because of its high moisture content. But whether you’re feeding him dry food or canned, you still need to make sure he has access to clean drinking water throughout the day. Keep a few bowls of water around the house or better yet get him a water fountain (LINK TO WATER FOUNTAIN ARTICLE).
As far as milk goes, your kitten doesn’t need it. Once he is weaned off his mother’s milk, he’ll get all the nutrition he needs from his food.
Feeding your kitten
Remember your kitten’s stomach is still small, so it’s best to feed him three or four small meals a day. As he gets older, you can change this to twice a day, although some adult cats prefer smaller meals more frequently.
If your kitten is eating dry kibble, you can free feed him. The chance of him overeating and putting on too much weight at this age is highly unlikely.
Introducing new food
When you’re introducing your kitten to a new food, it’s always a good idea to do it gradually. Cats and kittens are prone to sensitive stomachs, and a sudden change in their diet can cause diarrhea or vomiting.
How do you know it is the best food for your kitten
Doing research to find the best kitten food for your fur baby is great, but how do you know for sure that it’s meeting his needs?
If you want to be 100% sure that your kitten is developing correctly and thriving on the food you’re feeding him, look at a few tell-tale signs:
How is he behaving? Is he playful and alert? Does he spend time exploring?
How does he look? Are his eyes bright? Does he have a healthy skin and a shiny coat? Is he gaining weight as he should?
Take a minute to look inside his litter box. Is his poop brown? Is it firm?
If you can confidently answer yes to these questions, then give yourself a pat on the back. Your kitten is getting a complete diet that is meeting all his nutritional needs.
If, on the other hand, he seems lethargic, has loose stools or his coat looks dull and lackluster, you should speak to your vet immediately to make sure there are no underlying health issues. He will also recommend the healthiest kitten food.
Overall Winner for Best Dry Kitten Food
This is, without a doubt, one of the best brands available at the moment. And we particularly like Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food.
Ideal for kittens that have very sensitive stomachs or are battling with food allergies, this grain-free formula is packed with protein, essential vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. It also DHA and ARA, two essential fatty acids found in their mother’s milk, which means Blue Wilderness kitten food pretty much takes over where his mamma left off.
We like that it is enhanced with LifeSource Bits, Blue Wilderness’ exclusive formulation that contains all the essential vitamins and minerals a kitty needs to stay healthy, regardless of his life stage.
Overall Winner for Best Canned Kitten Food
Wellness kitten food is always a popular choice when it comes to natural food made that offers your kitty all the nutrition he needs, and the value for money you love. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Kitten Food not only contains high-quality chicken as the number one ingredient, but it’s also packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including taurine and DHA.
What goes into a can Wellness Complete Health is as important as what stays out. And this is one of the few formulas that doesn’t contain carrageenan, a thickening agent often used in pets (and human) food.
With just the right amounts of protein, fat, moisture, and fiber, you know your kitten is is getting a delicious helping of wellness in every bowl.
Overall Winner: Budget-Friendly Best Kitten Dry Food
If you’re on a budget, and who isn’t nowadays, Iams Proactive Health Healthy Kitten Dry Food is one of the best healthy cat food options available.
Specially formulated for your kitten’s first year of development, this protein-rich dry food contains essential vitamins and minerals, including DHA, to ensure the healthy development of the brain.
Suitable for indoor and outdoor kittens, Iams Proactive Health contains chicken as the first ingredient, so you know your furbaby is getting all the nutrition he needs in every delicious serving.
High in Protein Best Dry Food for Kittens
Protein-rich Purina Pro Plan True Nature Natural Dry Kitten Food contains real chicken as the number one ingredient and is enhanced with essential vitamins and minerals, including DHA.
As far as the Purina Pro Plan line goes, we need to mention that this might cost a little more than you would expect to pay. But we think it’s worth it. The high-quality formula has 42% protein, is grain-free, and there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
With a fat content of 18%, this dry food provides curious kittens with all the energy they need, and it is often recommended for pregnant or nursing cats.
Best Natural Canned Kitten Food
Blue Buffalo is another trusted name when it comes to taking care of your kitten’s nutrition. With chicken as the first ingredient and main source of protein, Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Natural Kitten Pate is packed with all the essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids for good health inside and out.
The formula is made with real chicken broth, which is perfect if you’re worried about kitten’s moisture intake. Wholesome grains, including barley, brown rice, and oats give him the carbohydrates he needs for energy, while sweet potatoes, carrots, parsley, and cranberries are rich sources of natural antioxidants.
The soft pate texture is easy on your kitten’s growing teeth, and the nutrients are quickly absorbed into his system, so you know he’s getting all the goodness he needs.
Best Variety Wet Kitten Food
The Purina Fancy Feast Grain-Free Pate Wet Kitten Food Variety Pack gets it right with this surf and turf combination. The four different flavors included in this variety pack, namely Tender Salmon Feast, Tender Ocean Whitefish Feast, Tender Chicken Feast, and Tender Turkey Feast, let your little guy explore his wild side.
Packed with delicious goodness, each can contains an animal protein as the number one ingredient, as well as the essential vitamins and minerals to keep him healthy. Purina Fancy Feast is also supplemented with mother’s milk (a cat’s), a crucial source of DHA and ARA.
We love the convenience of the pull-tab on the can, which makes them great for traveling with. Also, the affordability and variety of this 24-can pack make it a popular choice.
Best Canned Food for Fussy Eaters
Purina Pro Plan Kitten Favorites Food is a great way to introduce your kitten to different textures and flavors. Available in three different flavors, namely Salmon and Ocean Fish Entree, Ocean Whitefish and Tuna Entree, and Chicken and Liver Entree as well as classic and flaked textures, this is the perfect choice for the more adventurous furbaby.
With animal proteins as the main ingredient, the formulas contain all the essential vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system, aid digestion as well as give him a healthy skin and coat.
The variety pack costs a little more than you might expect, but by now we know this is the case with the Pro Plan formulas. And most are happy to pay knowing their kitten is getting the best start in life with a complete and balanced diet.
Best Dry Kitten Food Recommended by Vets
Some like that Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Kitten Food is a budget-friendly choice for their kitten, while others rate it for its nutritional value. We like it for both those reasons, but also because it’s one of the best dry kitten food options most recommended by vets.
The economy size 16 lb bag is packed with chicken as the main protein, along with fat, moisture, and fiber for overall good health. The delicious crunchy bites are gentle on your kitten’s teeth, and easy to digest.
The formula also includes wholesome grains for energy, while carrots and peas provide him with the antioxidants and fiber he needs to feel, and look good. We love that there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, so it’s perfect for kittens that have food allergies or sensitive stomachs. Of course, there are grains, so if your kitty battles to digest these, it’s best to try a different product.
Best Kitten Dry Food for Fussy Eaters
Aptly named, this delicious dry food will have your kittens chowing down come mealtime. And best of all, Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Cat Food is formulated with your kitten’s development top of mind. Real chicken gives him the protein for the healthy formation of muscle, while DHA supports his brain and eye development.
The affordably priced dry kitten food also provides your kitty with essential vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants, for overall health and well-being. For kittens that have sensitive stomachs, this recipe has no artificial flavors or colors.
Frequently Asked Questions for Feeding Your Kitten the Best Kitten food
Why is kitten food different to adult cat food?
For the first year of his life, your kitten is doing a lot of growing. And so needs the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals to support this. For example, kittens need amino acids like DHA and ARA for the healthy development of their brains and eyes, whereas adult cats don’t. Kitten food is also formulated to be more nutrient-dense so that his body can absorb all the essential vitamins and minerals.
Your kitten is also using up a lot of energy, up to three times more than an adult cat, and his diet needs to be able to support this with sufficient amounts of protein and carbohydrates. If you want to give him the very best start in life, it’s best to give your kitten food that targets his specific needs.
How do I know if my kitten’s food is the right one for him?
It’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to your kitten’s dietary requirements. There are a few ways you can make sure it’s the right food for him.
Which is better for my kitten, wet or dry food?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and it’s going to depend on your budget, your needs, and your cat’s personal preference. We think, if you can, it’s a good idea to introduce him to both while he’s still young so that he is more open to new varieties as he gets older.
How do I change my kitten’s food?
If you let your kitten try different types of food when he’s younger, it’ll be easier to change his food down the line. Sticking to one type for too long could lead to a picky eater that is fixated on only one flavor or particular texture.
The important thing is to make the change gradually over time, or it could lead to an upset stomach. Rather than mixing the new food with an old one like you would with an older cat, it’s recommended that you offer your kitten both types, in different bowls. This way, if he doesn’t like the new flavor, he won’t be put off the old one.
Do I feed my kitten twice a day, four times a day, or can he free feed?
You can use the feeding guidelines on the label to get an idea of how much and how often your kitten should be fed. Kittens need smaller, more frequent meals, so it’s best to feed them four times a day if they’re eating wet food.
If your kitten is eating dry food, experts suggest free feeding. This simply means he has access to food throughout the day, which he can help himself to. During this stage of development, there’s very little chance of a kitten overeating. Over time you can change this to him having two meals a day, one in the morning and another in the evening.
How long should my kitten eat kitten food?
Experts agree that you should feed your kitten specially formulated up until he’s a year old. But depending on the breed, you might need to continue with kitten food for longer. For instance, Maine Coons are typically larger and only stop developing between 18 and 24 months. This means they need kitten food up until then.
When your kitten reaches physical maturity, you can gradually move over to adult food. Most brands carry kitten and adult cat ranges, so it might be a good idea to continue with the same product, but the adult formula.
Are there any foods that I shouldn’t give my kitten?
Love is sharing bits of food off your plate with your kitten, right? But it’s important to keep in mind that human food isn’t always good for kittens and cats. Some raw food, like meat and liver, contain harmful bacteria. While raw eggs may contain salmonella.
Raw fish could lead to a vitamin B deficiency, and cause seizures, a loss of appetite and in some cases, death. Milk isn’t suitable for cats either, as they’re unable to break it down. This could lead to diarrhea and dehydration.
Foods that you need to keep as far away from your kitten as possible include:
These can be toxic for your kitten or cat, leading to serious health problems, and even death.
Opening your home, and heart, to a new kitten, is one of the best things in the world. And by giving him the best kitten food for his needs, you can be sure he’ll reach adulthood purrfectly happy and healthy.
If, as a new kitten owner, you have any questions or need information about pawrenting, feel free to leave a comment below. We’ll happily assist if we’ve got the answer, or we’ll forward it on to one of our experts.
Welcome to the Kitty Club!