Last Updated on: November 18, 2020
Bringing your adorable and tiny new kitten home is incredibly exciting! One of the most important decisions that you’ll need to make when it comes to caring for your new friend is what to feed them. Providing the best nutrition is vital if you want your kitten to grow up strong and healthy.
The good news is that when it comes to kitten food, there are plenty of options out there to choose from! The sheer amount of choice can feel a little overwhelming, though, so if you’re struggling to decide which one is going to be the right choice for your kitten, then you’re in the right place.
We reviewed the most popular options available on the market and selected our top 10 kitten foods to include in our detailed reviews. We looked at factors like ingredients, cost, and user feedback, all with the goal of helping you choose the best option for your furry friend.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Purina Kitten Chow Nurture||
|Best Value||Iams ProActive Health||
|Premium Choice||Blue Buffalo Wilderness||
|Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula||
|Royal Canin Feline Health||
The 10 Best Kitten Foods — Reviews 2020
1. Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Dry Food — Best Overall
If you’re looking for the best overall food for your kitten, you can’t go wrong with the Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Dry Food. This dry food contains the four nutritional building blocks that all kittens need to thrive: It’s high in protein, contains DHA for correct vision and brain development, includes the essential nutrients that are also found in mother’s milk, and is fortified with antioxidants to help your kitten develop a strong immune system.
This is also fortified with the 25 vitamins and minerals that all kittens need to thrive. The appealing and palatable flavor encourages your kitten to develop a healthy appetite, so you know they’re getting all the nutrition that they need. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or colors, so you can rest easy knowing that your kitten is getting only the best.
2. Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Food — Best Value
If you’re on the hunt for the best kitten food for the money, then we highly recommend the Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Food. As well as being an affordable option, this dry food is specially formulated to include everything that your kitten needs to grow up strong and healthy. It includes fish oils that are rich in DHA, essential for healthy brain and vision development. It also includes taurine, which all cats need in their diets.
As a bonus, the shape of this kibble is designed to help scrape tartar and plaque from your kitten’s teeth as they eat, helping reduce the possibility of them developing gum disease. This dry kibble also includes real chicken as the first ingredient, although its protein content is lower than our best overall choice, which is why this missed out on the top spot. Other than that, it’s a great choice.
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Grain-Free Dry Food — Premium Choice
If you’re looking for a premium dry food for your kitten that deserves only the best, then we highly recommend the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Grain-Free Dry Food. While a grain-free diet doesn’t suit all kittens, some do thrive without grains, so it’s worth considering if this is the best option for your kitten. Containing real deboned chicken as the first ingredient, this is also packed full of healthy fruits and vegetables, like carrots, alfalfa, blueberries, and cranberries.
As with all Blue Buffalo dry food, this kibble contains LifeSource bits, packed full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to help your kitten develop a robust immune system. The only reason this missed out on the top two spots is that it’s only available in small bag sizes, which can mean frequent reordering if you have more than one kitten. It’s also more expensive, which puts it out of reach of those on a budget.
4. Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Food
Purine ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Food keeps your kitten nourished from nose to tail, thanks to its blend of ingredients that start with real chicken and are supplemented with carrots, peas, grains, and all the vitamins and minerals that your kitten needs. This includes DHA, the essential nutrient found in mother’s milk that is vital for brain and eye development.
This crunchy kibble is also designed to help keep your kitten’s teeth clean, by scraping off built-up plaque as your kitten eats. A couple of things to be aware of with this food is that it does use chicken by-product meal, which some kitten owners prefer not to feed their kittens. The ingredients list also includes liver flavoring and caramel coloring.
5. Royal Canin Feline Health Wet Kitten Food
If you’re looking for a wet food to keep your kitten healthy and nourished, then the Royal Canin Feline Health Wet Kitten Food is an excellent choice. The small slices of meat are easy for your kitten to chew and digest and are surrounded by a tasty gravy designed to help keep your kitten hydrated all day long.
This canned kitten food does contain real chicken, as well as chicken liver, but it also contains chicken by-products, which some kitten owners prefer to avoid. If this is the only food you’re going to feed your kitten, then be aware that a 4-month old kitten will need three cans a day, and this can create a great deal of waste — more if you have multiple growing kittens to feed!
6. Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Natural Canned Kitten Food
The Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Natural Canned Kitten Food is packed full of high-quality ingredients, with fish broth, skipjack tuna, and mackerel as the first three ingredients. It’s grain-free, so it can suit kittens with sensitive tummies. The palatable gravy also helps keep your kitten well hydrated.
While this wet canned food is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of kittens, it’s also designed for adult cats as well. This is great if you have multiple cats of different ages, but it does also mean that it doesn’t have DHA, which many of the specific foods designed for kittens will include. So while this is a good choice for slightly older kittens, we might choose not to feed it to kittens younger than 6 months or so.
7. Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Kitten Dry Food
Formulated specifically for kittens, the Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Kitten Dry Food contains absolutely everything your kitten needs. It’s enriched with fish oil, which is a great natural source of DHA and ARA, both of which are found in mother’s milk and help transition your kitten onto solid food. As with all Blue Buffalo dry foods, this contains antioxidant-enriched LifeSource bits.
This is higher in fat than our best overall choice, containing 20% compared to 12%. While that might be a good thing for very active kittens, you might find other kittens becoming overweight if you don’t carefully monitor their rations.
8. Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Food
The Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Food is packed full of goodness designed to support the health of your kitten’s skin, coat, digestive system, and immunity. Containing chicken as the first ingredient, this is supplemented with tasty fruits and vegetables, as well as chicken liver. The richness of this canned food can be too much for some kittens, so it’s best to introduce it gradually and monitor for signs of digestive upset.
At this time, this kitten food is only available in small, 3-ounce cans. Some kittens will eat up to three cans of this food per day, which creates a large amount of waste to be recycled or disposed of.
9. Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Food
The Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Food contains real chicken as the first ingredient, which is blended with other wholesome ingredients, including flaxseeds, fish oil, apples, cranberries, peas, and broccoli. This combination gently supports your kitten’s digestive system, keeping them healthy and happy.
Formulated specifically for indoor kittens, this dry kibble contains probiotics, DHA, antioxidants, and all the vitamins and minerals that your kitten requires. This dry food does contain rice, wheat, oats, and pearl barley, so if your kitten has sensitivities to grain or gluten, then you might want to give this one a miss.
10. Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe Dry Food
The Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe Dry Food is a good option if you want to feed your kitten a grain-free kibble that’s inspired by a raw diet. With 42% protein, this kibble contains 81% animal ingredients for a diet that closely matches your kitten’s wild ancestors but is easy and hassle-free for us owners!
The first ingredient in this kibble is cage-free chicken, blended with vegetables, fruits, natural probiotics, and all the vitamins and minerals that your kitten needs. As well as real meat, this kibble does contain meat meal from turkey, fish, and lamb, but it doesn’t contain any meat by-products.
There are many things to think about when you’re getting ready to bring your adorable kitten home, but while the kind of bed they sleep in won’t necessarily affect their growth and development, choosing the right kind of food can make a big difference to their health and overall wellbeing.
But how do you know which sort of food is going to suit your kitten best? We’ve rounded up important things to bear in mind.
You might be tempted to feed your new kitten the same food that you feed your adult cat, but that’s not a good idea. Kitten food is higher in fat, protein, and calories than food for adult cats.
Kitten foods are usually more expensive than cat food, because of the higher protein and fat content, as well as the additional vitamins and nutrients. But as your kitten can transition to an adult food when they reach 1 year of age, it makes sense to buy the best kitten food that you can afford.
Approved by the AAFCO
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) specify the nutrient profiles that a kitten food has to contain in order to meet their nutritional requirements.
A kitten food that meets these requirements will clearly state on the label: “Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for growth and reproduction.” This means a kitten food is suitable for feeding to kittens up to 1 year of age, as well as pregnant or lactating mother cats.
Some cat foods are suitable for “all life stages,” and while this is useful if you have multiple cats and don’t want to feed them separate brands, bear in mind that these foods won’t contain the additional nutrients required by kittens.
What do Kittens Need?
Brain and eye development
The brain and eyes of your kitten undergo rapid growth while they’re young. The milk from their mothers contains fatty acids DHA and ARA to help this development. Kitten foods are often enriched with choline, DHA, and ARA to help transition your kitten onto solid food, while also ensuring that their cognitive and retinal functions continue to develop. The fatty acids from fish oils are often used within kitten food, as they’re rich in DHA and ARA.
Energy for growing and playing
Kitten food needs to contain plenty of protein to help your kitten build lean muscle. It also contains carbohydrates to help fuel your kitten and keep their energy levels up. Look for high-quality protein, such as that from real meat. Ideally, you want a protein percentage of around 30-40%.
This is an essential amino acid for all cats and helps their heart and eyes function correctly.
Healthy immune system
The immune system of kittens is still developing as they’re weaned onto solid food, so they can be more at risk of catching illnesses than an adult cat. Many kitten foods are enriched with antioxidants and probiotics to help your kitten build a strong immune system.
Healthy skin and coat
As your kitten grows, they need omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to help them develop healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Wet or dry food?
Whether you decide to feed wet food, dry kibble, or a combination of both will depend partly on your personal preferences and those of your kitten!
Dry food is cost-effective and easy to store and can be left out for your kitten to graze on throughout the day. If you’re away at work or have to pop out to the store, then it’s easy to leave a bowl of dry food out for your kitten. It’s usually higher in carbohydrates than wet food, as carbohydrates are often added to help bind the kibble ingredients together during the manufacturing process.
Wet food is palatable, helps keep your kitten hydrated, and contains high levels of protein. It’s more expensive than dry food and spoils if you leave it out for more than a couple of hours. Kitten food often comes in small 3-ounce cans, but given that a kitten on a wet food-only diet can eat up to three of these cans a day, you’ll soon find that they create a large amount of waste.
The best of both worlds is to feed a combination of both wet and dry food. Wet food can make up your kitten’s main “meals,” and dry food can be left out for them to snack on in between. Given that kittens use up a great deal of energy simply running around being kittens, it can be a good option to leave dry food out for them at all times.
Transitioning to your kitten’s new diet
Once you’ve decided on a new food for your kitten, don’t be tempted to switch them over right away. Kittens have delicate digestive systems, so switching directly to a different food formulation can cause havoc and leave them with an upset tummy. It’s us owners who have to clean up the poop and vomit when that happens!
Instead, slowly transition your kitten onto their new food over the course of a week. This is how we would go about it:
If at any point during the changeover week, you notice that your kitten has an upset tummy, stop feeding the new food and try again in a couple of days, once they’ve settled back to normal. If it happens again, it could be worth speaking to your veterinarian for advice.
As the best overall kitten food, we recommend the Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Dry Food. With 40% protein, this kibble contains absolutely everything that a growing kitten needs to thrive.
In terms of best value, we found that the Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Food provides the best balance between quality ingredients and affordability. As a bonus, the shape of this kibble also keeps your kitten’s teeth squeaky clean!
We hope that our reviews have made it easier for you to navigate all the choices out there. When it comes to deciding what to feed your new kitten, you can be confident that any of our recommendations will help them grow up strong and healthy.
Featured Image Credit By: Inna Astakhova, shutterstock
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Kitten Foods — Reviews 2020
- 1. Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Dry Food — Best Overall
- 2. Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Food — Best Value
- 3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Grain-Free Dry Food — Premium Choice
- 4. Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Food
- 5. Royal Canin Feline Health Wet Kitten Food
- 6. Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Natural Canned Kitten Food
- 7. Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Kitten Dry Food
- 8. Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Food
- 9. Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Food
- 10. Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe Dry Food
- Buyer’s Guide
- What do Kittens Need?