After 42 hours spent researching the best kitten foods, we think Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Kitten Food is the best for most people.
This choice is based on several criteria: brand, type, size, flavor, life stage, balanced nutrition, high-quality proteins, fibers, promotes healthy coat, antioxidants, by-product free, grain-free, gluten-free, artificial preservatives, and easy to digest, among other things.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Quality||Appearance||Taste||Balance||Value for Money||brand||type||size||flavor||life stage||balanced nutrition||high-quality proteins||fibers||promotes healthy coat||antioxidants||by-product free||grain-free||gluten-free||artificial preservatives||easy to digest|
|Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Kitten Food||Check Price||4.9||5.0||5.0||5.0||4.5||5.0||Purina Kitten||Dry||14 lbs||Natural||Kitten||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Purina Fancy Feast Classic Pate Wet Kitten Food||Check Price||4.5||5.0||4.0||4.5||4.5||4.5||Purina||Wet||9 lbs||Turkey, fish||Kitten||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Wet Kitten Food||Check Price||4.8||5.0||4.5||5.0||4.5||5.0||Royal Canin||Wet||8.7 lbs||Natural||Kitten||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Kitten Food||Check Price||4.2||4.5||4.0||4.5||3.5||4.5||Blue Buffalo||Dry||5 lbs||Chicken||Kitten||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Instinct Original Grain-Free Natural Dry Kitten Food||Check Price||4.3||5.0||4.0||4.5||4.0||4.0||Instinct||Dry||5 lbs||Chicken||Kitten||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
- 1 Selection Of The Best Kitten Foods
- 2 Best Kitten Food Buying Guide
- 2.1 Protein
- 2.2 Minerals and Amino Acids
- 2.3 Extra Vitamins
- 2.4 Carbohydrates
- 2.5 Digestibility
- 2.6 Dry Food
- 2.7 Wet Food
- 2.8 Fillers to Avoid
- 2.9 Number of Calories
- 2.10 Natural and Organic
- 2.11 Potential Allergens to Avoid
- 2.12 Number of Servings
- 2.13 Vegetables
- 2.14 Does Your Cat Like It?
- 2.15 American Association of Feed Care Officials Certification
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4 Sources
Raising a kitten is a big responsibility, and it starts with feeding them the best kitten food so they grow up to be healthy and strong.
Starting with the right food allows them to thrive and can be just the beginning of a beautiful friendship that will last for a decade or more.
It’s exciting to bring a new kitten home! You’ve been prepping for months. You’ve bought everything on the lists! You have cat toys, catnip, a cat scratching pad or cat scratching post, a cat tree, and even a cat bed or two for them to enjoy.
You’ve set up their corner where they’ll do their business, complete with a cat litter box, cat litter mat, and cat litter. Maybe you even bought a fancy automatic cat litter box that cleans itself. You might have thought of more unpleasant things too, like cat flea treatment and a cat cone for when they get fixed.
Perhaps you’re thinking about teaching them to walk on a cat leash and cat harness, so you’ve bought them to help the kitten become accustomed to both right from the start. Soon, you’ll take your cat cage or cat carrier to the place you’re getting the kitten from. You’ll put on their cat collar and bring them home.
But, before you fill up their cat water fountain and their automatic cat feeder, be sure that you aren’t giving them adult cat food. Kittens have different nutritional needs than their adult counterparts, so you need to be sure that you get the best kitten food brands for their needs.
Learning about their nutritional needs and taking care of them from the start is essential if you want your new feline to live a long, healthy life.
Selection Of The Best Kitten Foods
Best Kitten Food Buying Guide
Protein is the single most important thing that your kitten needs to thrive. You always want to purchase kitten food high in protein – it will help them to have energy (30% or more of their energy should be from protein) and it encourages growth.
Look at the bag or can of food. Is protein (or a type of protein) the first ingredient? If so, then you’ve found a good option. If not, avoid it.
Minerals and Amino Acids
Since your kitten is growing, they need to have a variety of minerals. Calcium, chromium, phosphorus, and potassium are essential building blocks for kittens – they help the body to grow, form enzymes, and balance the body’s pH.
When it comes to amino acids, be sure that you look for taurine. Taurine is more essential in cats than any other animal because it helps with vision, digestion, heart muscle function, and immunity. And, since your kitten is just growing, it’s even more essential.
Your new furry friend needs to have a lot of vitamins in order to grow and for their internal processes to work correctly. Vitamins are especially important when it comes to regulating your kitten’s metabolism.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are some of the most important vitamins. Cats are not able to convert vegetable proteins into these vitamins, so you want to be sure that they are included in the nutrition facts as something that they get directly from the meat they are ingesting.
According to many studies regarding cat’s diets, it’s been found that carbs are actually not a necessary part of their diet. Any carbs they get should be from vegetables rather than grain.
Carbohydrates turn into sugars, which can cause your cat to become ill over time. Diabetes is a common issue in older cats, and high carb diets can cause other forms of diseases as well. Low-carb options with no corn or wheat are best.
Your kitten’s digestive system is just growing, so you want to be sure that any food you give them is going to be easy on their tummies. Remember, they just transitioned from their mother’s milk, so they may have some problems during the transition phase.
You want to keep your eyes out for ingredients that are easy for your kitten to digest, like eggs and even pumpkin. This will prevent malnourishment caused by vomiting and/or diarrhea.
When you’re looking at the best dry kitten food, be sure that you find kibble that is in small pieces. Your little one’s mouth is very small, and their teeth aren’t fully formed, so you want to be sure that it’s something that they can chew and not choke on.
The smaller the kibble pieces are, the better it’ll be. Dry food is good for their teeth and it’s convenient, because you can leave it out for your kitten to eat when it’s hungry.
It’s always a good idea to provide your kitten with wet food. The best canned food for kittens is going to contain a lot of liquid, not just for ease of eating, but for hydration as well.
Kittens, and even adult cats, don’t always recognize when they’re thirsty – they don’t have that “thirst” reflex as strongly as other animals. So, providing them with wet food can help to prevent dehydration.
Fillers to Avoid
Fillers are a big problem in kitten food, because kittens need all of the nutrition that they can get. You want to avoid ingredients including cornstarch, corn, brewer’s rice, soybeans, rice protein, and cottonseed hulls.
Be sure to search for the best grain free cat food that money can buy. This is often more difficult when it comes to dry food, but there are some solid options on the market that will allow you to have peace of mind about what you’re feeding your kitten.
Number of Calories
Calories are essential because they help your kitten to fatten up a little bit! And, with their very active metabolism, you need to pay attention to your kitten food serving size and how many calories come with that.
On average, you want between 150 and 200 calories per day. So, you want a meal to be between 35 and 50 calories. Look at the labels and learn about calories and serving sizes so that you can feed your kitten well.
Natural and Organic
You don’t want to be giving your feline friend chemicals, right? As you look for the best natural food for kittens, be sure that you still follow the guidelines we’ve discussed in this guide – it should still be 30% protein or more, and meat should be listed first.
Certified organic and GMO-free options are usually your best bet and should be labeled as such. More manufacturers are offering natural and/or organic options for kittens and adult cats, so it’s relatively easy to find them.
Potential Allergens to Avoid
There are a handful of ingredients that you may want to avoid as much as possible when looking for kitten food. These include artificial flavors and colors, corn, dairy, preservatives (BHA/BHT), and some types of meat.
Also, be sure that you learn the most common kitten food allergy symptoms, just in case your kitten is allergic to something. These can include rashes, extreme scratching, relentless sneezing, and balding.
Number of Servings
Buying kitten food in bulk may seem like a good idea, but it may not be because either 1) your kitten may not like it, or 2) your kitten may have an allergy you aren’t aware of yet.
Check out the size of the can or the bag and see how many servings that it’s supposed to be. If it’s something that you know that your kitten likes and isn’t allergic to, then feel free to save some money and buy in bulk. Just be aware of how you store it.
While vegetables can have some of the nutrients that we’ve discussed in this guide, cats are not necessarily built to digest or metabolize those nutrients in an effective manner.
Vegetables aren’t going to hurt your kitten, but they are really just empty calories for them to ingest. They are a better filler than grains, but the more meat that your kitten’s food is made from, the better off that they’ll be health-wise.
Does Your Cat Like It?
Cats can be really finicky eaters. They like their food a certain way and they only want certain flavors of food. It’s common for a kitten to only like fish or chicken and not have any desire to expand their palette.
Obviously, the only way to know this is to try. As you spend more time with your kitten, you’ll learn what they like and dislike. It’ll make it easier to choose the foods that they enjoy and you’ll throw out less food, too.
American Association of Feed Care Officials Certification
Ideally, the food you choose for your kitten (and that they end up liking) will be certified by the American Association of Feed Care Officials, usually indicated by a label that says “Meets the nutritional requirements of kittens established by the AAFCO”.
These professionals are state and federal officials that keep an eye on pet food regulations. If you see AAFCO labeling, you’re usually good to go. If the label says “complete and balanced nutrition” in regards to their feeding trials, then you won’t need to supplement the best kitten food with additional vitamins or minerals, either.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I feed my kitten food with meat by-products?
No. Read the label and avoid a product with “meat by-products”. They are much less nutritious than other options, have more fat content and they’re processed a lot more, as well.
Meat by-products won’t fill up your youngster either. You want your kitten to feel full when they’re done eating, and the best way to do that is to feed them high-quality food with actual named meats and minimal fillers.
What organ meats should I be looking for?
As mentioned earlier in this guide, taurine is an essential part of your kitten’s growth, and that comes from a number of different organ meats.
The best organs for taurine are chicken liver and chicken hearts. Any sort of muscle meat can also contain taurine – the kidneys, heart, and liver of pigs, lambs, and cows can help to boost the amount of taurine that your kitten is getting. These parts should be mentioned in any food you purchase for your kitten.
When do I switch from food made for kittens to cat food?
Everyone that you talk to is going to give you a different piece of advice when it comes to how long you’re supposed to be feeding kitten food to your cat. Generally, you want to wait until they are at least 1 year old to change to adult cat food.
Some vets will also recommend that, if your cat seems to still be growing or if they had a rough start due to malnourishment, they may want to continue eating kitten food until they’re 18 months old. That way, they can continue to get those nutrients.
How do I know that the kitten food is doing its job?
Your kitten will definitely show whether or not the food they’re being fed is good for their overall health and wellness.
If it’s getting proper nutrition, they will be active and alert. Their coat will be glossy and it will appear to be clean, and they will look very healthy. If your kitten is not exhibiting these traits, then you may need to consider switching the food that they are eating or give them a larger kitten food amount.
How often do I feed my kitten?
Kittens love food, and they should – they’re still growing! So, it’s important that they are getting fed multiple times a day in order to encourage that healthy growth.
Many vets will recommend that you feed your cat the best kitten food at least 3 or 4 times a day. Be sure that you keep an eye on their calorie intake, though. If you’re also giving them treats, you may want to cut back a little on their meals.
- Vitamin D toxicity of dietary origin in cats fed a natural complementary kitten food, National Institutes of Health, Dec 11, 2017
- Blue Ridge Beef Recalls Kitten Grind Raw Pet Food Lot, US Food & Drug Administration, Mar 1, 2018
- What to do if You Find Kittens, City of Albuquerque
- Guidelines for Found Kittens, Nashville.gov
- How Often Should You Feed Your Cat?, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Cat food, Wikipedia
- How to Raise a Healthy Kitten, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Apr 1, 2017
- Low Carb for Cats, Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Mar 31, 2011
- Feline Social Behavior and Selection of a New Kitten, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Oct 3, 2011
- Choosing a Pet Food, Small Animal Hospital