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Best Kitten Food: Natural and Healthy Nutrition for Fluffy Babies

Professional veterinary specialist with 10 years of experience. - Alisa Moor

publication time: 20:19

Choosing the right type of kitten food is crucial: growing cats is very demanding of the quality of their nutrition. They need a well-balanced diet with a high content of animal protein and fat. Unlike their wild ancestors, domestic cats can’t choose what to eat; instead, they hinge on their owners. However, with a great many suppliers of cat food in the US market, picking out the food that will meet the needs of your kitty is quite a challenge. If you don’t want to lose your time, check our reviews of ten suppliers of the best kitten food 2019-2020, which fully comply with modern standards of quality.

Table of Contents:

Types of Kitten Food
Things to Consider When Choosing Kitten Food
The Best Kitten Food Brands 2020: a Comparative Chart
Interesting Facts about Kitten Food and Kitten Feeding
How We Selected the Best Kitten Food
Top-10 Kitten Food Options 2020: Our Choice
1. Blue Buffalo Freedom Dry Cat Food
2. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Canned Cat Food
3. Chicken Soup for the Soul Wet Cat Food
4. Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Cat Food
5. Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe High Protein Dry Cat Food
6. Purina Fancy Feast Grain-Free Pate Wet Kitten Food
7. Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food
8. Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food
9. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food
10. Nutro Max Cat Kitten Dry Cat Food
Kitten Nutrition FAQ
Verdict and Recommendations

Types of Kitten Food

Cat and kitten food comes in various forms. No surprise many beginners feel lost when they see endless packs, bags, and jars with promising titles, such as “organic”, “natural”, “inspired by nature”, and so on. To make the right choice one needs to know what types of food are best for his or her cat. Basically, there are two main types of feline food: wet and dry. Let’s have a closer look at both options.

Wet Kitten Food

Wet food is frequently referred to as canned or tinned food. Its key advantage is high moisture content, which makes it easier to chew and digest. Also, it prevents dehydration in felines, who are not very avid drinkers. The texture of wet food resembles the texture of natural stewed meat with grains or/and vegetables. However, for very small kittens, the best wet kitten food is food in the form of pate, which is completely homogenous and doesn’t contain large chunks. Though it tends to be more expensive than dry commercial food, specialists strongly recommend to begin with it. Kittens’ teeth are too week for hard dry kibbles, and their mouths are very small. Also, most cats love wet food and get used to it rather quickly. The best age for introducing wet food is 4-6 weeks.

Dry Kitten Food

Dry commercial food is also known as kibbles. However, it can also come in the form of flakes. It is recommended to introduce dry food after the age of 6 weeks (6-8 weeks depending on the breed and size). Keep in mind that smaller kibbles are better for kittens. The advantages of dry food are its longer shelf life, higher nutritional value, and a wider diversity of textures, tastes, and flavors. That said, even the best dry kitten food can cause dehydration in pets, as the moisture content in it is very low. That is why a kitten needs to have 24/7 access to fresh water. Ideally, you should use an automatic water fountain to keep water fresh and tasty all the time.

Things to Consider When Choosing Kitten Food

The type of food is not the only thing to consider. It is equally important to check the ingredients, calorie density, and texture. Let’s have a closer look at these and some other criteria to make it clear what the most important characteristics of cat food are.

AAFCO Endorsement

The Association of American Feed Control Officials a.k.a. AAFCO is the most reputable independent researcher in the field of pet food testing. If you want to find more details about a particular cat food brand or product, you may visit the AAFCO official site and check the results of lab tests and trials. When you opt for AAFCO-endorsed products, you may sure that you are buying pet food of high quality.

Ingredients and Nutrients

The main type of food for wild and outdoor cats is prey. Domestic cats don’t eat raw mice and birds, but they still need natural animal protein of high quality. That is why good kitten food must contain meat as the number one ingredient. Make sure that the food you selected is made of meat not “meat products”, which are usually nothing other than ground bones and by-products. Ideally, the sort of meat must be specified, for example, “chicken” or “turkey”, not just “poultry”.
Apart from protein, kitten food must contain fats. Usually, it is fattier than adult food, as kittens need much energy for growing and playing. Other important nutrients are taurine and vitamins A, B, and C, which usually come from vegetables. As for carbs, their total share should be relatively low, as cats can’t digest them well. Still, they need fiber, which is contained in whole grains, and some micronutrients, such as selenium and zinc (they are contained in fish). Needless to say, high-quality food must not contain artificial taste modifies and flavorings.

Calorie Count/Density

Calorie density is directly linked to the nutritional value of the product. The calorie density of dry food is usually higher than that of wet food. This is a key parameter, which helps to calculate an optimal portion size. Beware that different kittens have different sizes and activity levels. On average, a healthy kitten needs about 40 kilocalories per pound of body weight daily. ‘

Flavor and Texture

As we’ve already mentioned, kitten food can come in different textures. Specialists recommend to start feeding small kittens with pate. After a while, you may gradually switch to shredded food, cubes or flakes. Older kittens have stronger teeth, so they can eat dry commercial food. When it comes to flavor, always try to choose natural options that contain no artificial flavorings.

Taste

The best kitten food is the food that is not just healthy and well-balanced but also tasty. Probably, the most popular tastes are chicken and turkey. However, your kitten may love the taste of salmon, lamb or pork. You may try several tastes before you find the one that your kitty will like most.

The Best Kitten Food Brands 2020: a Comparative Chart

Brand

 

 

Type

Pack size

Crude protein

Crude fat

Crude fiber

The first ingredient

Grain-free

Blue Buffalo Freedom Dry Cat Food

BUY NOW AMAZONDry5 lb.36184Chicken+

Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Canned Cat Food

BUY NOW AMAZONWet12 3-Oz cans1131.6

Chicken

Chicken Soup for the Soul Wet Cat Food

BUY NOW AMAZONWet24 5.5-Oz cans1181Chicken & turkey

Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Cat Food

BUY NOW AMAZONDry

14 lbs.

40

13.5

2.5Chicken

Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe High Protein Dry Cat Food

BUY NOW AMAZONDry6 lbs.34222Chicken & rice

Purina Fancy Feast Grain Free Pate Wet Kitten Food

BUY NOW AMAZONWet24 3-Oz cans11

5

1.5Chicken, Turkey, Salmon or Ocean Whitefish+

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food

  BUY NOW AMAZONDry3.5 lbs.38.1

25.6

1.5Chicken

Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

 BUY NOW AMAZON Dry3.5, 7 or 16 lbs.33213Chicken

Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

 BUY NOW AMAZON Wet24 3-Oz cans1161Chicken+

Nutro Max Cat Kitten Dry Cat Food

 BUY NOW AMAZON Dry3 lbs.34193Roasted chicken

Interesting Facts about Kitten Food and Kitten Feeding

A kitten trying wet food

  1. Mother’s milk is the best food for a kitten until the age of 4-6 weeks. Older kitties are often lactose intolerant. Cow’s milk is can be harmful to their health.
  2. Cats and kittens don’t distinguish sweet taste. Moreover, sugar can cause harm to them, so never try to treat your kitten with a cake or cookies.
  3. Taurine is an essential component of cat and kitten food, which helps the pets preserve good vision.
  4. Cats can get addicted to tuna, so try to regulate the amount of food with tuna taste.
  5. Kittens and cats can’t get fats from proteins. Their diet must contain a substantial share of natural fats.

How We Selected the Best Kitten Food

Our research included a comprehensive analysis of numerous best kitten food reviews written by real cat owners and experts. Also, we’ve checked the composition of popular foods and compared the lists of their ingredients. Our winners are the products made of high-quality meat and “good” carbs – vegetables and fiber.

Top-10 Kitten Food Options 2020: Our Choice

Our top-10 ranking includes both dry and wet kitten food options. All the products are created specially for young kittens and cover their daily needs in macro- and micro-nutrients. Meet the winners.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Dry Cat Food

The main ingredient of this Blue Buffalo kitten food is real chicken, not poultry by-products. It is free of wholesome grains and contains no gluten. Green peas and vegetables serve as a source of fiber, plant protein, and vitamins. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help to prevent hair loss. Special LifeSource Bits formula is a unique mixture of essential vitamins, antioxidants, and micronutrients developed by vets.

What we think

This is a relatively inexpensive kitten food with a very good composition – the number one component is real chicken, which is perfectly digested by small kitties. As for the downsides, only one taste (chicken) is available. The kibble size is not very small, which can be a problem for tiny kittens.

PROS

  • natural chicken as the first ingredient;
  • the smart LifeSource formula;
  • good price/quality ratio;
  • free of whole grain and gluten.

CONS

  • only one taste available;
  • the kibble size is average.
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Canned Cat Food

Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Canned Cat Food

If only kittens could speak, they would say they love this thin-sliced wet food by Royal Canin. It is intended for kittens up to 12 months old and offers an optimal combination of animal proteins, essential fats, fiber, and moisture. Small and tender slices in delicious gravy stimulate the appetite in kittens. A specially formulated blend of vitamins and antioxidants strengthens the immune system.

What we think

Wet food is usually recommended as the first kitten food after mother’s milk. Keep in mind, however, that this Royal Canin kitten food is neither grain-free nor gluten-free – this can be a problem for very sensitive and allergic babies. Its first ingredient is chicken by-products, while chicken is the second one. That being said, it is not a bad option for the money.

PROS

  • thin slices in delicious gravy;
  • kittens love it;
  • contains prebiotics and antioxidants;
  • specially formulated for kittens.

CONS

  • not grain- and gluten-free;
  • the first ingredient is not chicken but chicken by-products.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Wet Cat Food

Chicken Soup for the Soul Wet Cat Food

If you are looking for a gluten-free formula, this Chicken Soup wet food is a great low-budget option to consider. It contains no by-products, no gluten, and no artificial flavorings and taste modifiers. Natural meat, vegetables, and berries make an ideal healthy diet. A higher fat content provides enough energy for growing kitties.

What we think

All in all, this product is a great price/quality ratio. Its soft pate texture is ideal even for very small kittens. On the minus side, it is not completely grain-free, though it contains no gluten. Also, some customers, in their cat food reviews, say they would like to have more tastes to choose from.

PROS

  • good value for money;
  • natural chicken as the first ingredient;
  • contains no gluten;
  • high fat content.

CONS

  • not grain-free;
  • only one taste available.
Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Cat Food

Purina Kitten Chow Nurturing Formula Dry Cat Food

If you can’t afford buying premium-class foods but, at the same time, want to buy something a bit better than mass-market products, then this Purina one kitten food is for you to consider. It contains real chicken, as well as other sources of protein and animal fat. A vitamin-mineral complex contains over 25 micronutrients, including those found in mother’s milk.

What we think

As usual, Purina offers an entry-level product of decent quality. Of course, it is pale in comparison to the market’s leaders made of 100% genuine poultry or meat. That said, if your kitty is healthy and not allergic to gluten, you can try it without fear.

PROS

  • affordable;
  • a large 14-lb pack;
  • contains real poultry;
  • over 25 essential micronutrients.

CONS

  • contains gluten;
  • poultry meal by-products are the first ingredient.
Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe High Protein Dry Cat Food

Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe High Protein Dry Cat Food

The formula of this natural healthy cat food includes real cage-free chicken as the number one ingredient. The product boasts high nutritional value, thanks to the high share of proteins and animal fats. It contains probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for strong muscles and healthy hair.

What we think

This is a high-quality product made of high-grade ingredients. We have no complaints about its composition or texture. That said, some kitties don’t like chicken while no other tastes are offered.

PROS

  • a good price/quality ratio;
  • natural cage-free poultry is the first ingredient;
  • contains probiotics and essential micro-nutrients;
  • a high share of natural proteins and fats.

CONS

  • not gluten-free;
  • only one taste available.
Purina Fancy Feast Grain-Free Pate Wet Kitten Food

Purina Fancy Feast Grain-Free Pate Wet Kitten Food

This is one of the few really grain-free options offered by Purina. It has a perfectly balanced formula, created specially for small and growing kitties. Four delicious tastes are available: every time, the first ingredient is real meat or real fish. Also, the food contains a blend of vitamins, minerals, Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that are responsible for healthy, glossy hair.

What we think

This food by Purina has a lot to be loved for: a variety of tastes available, small servings (which means you won’t have to store it in a refrigerator for a long time), and the price. Keep in mind, however, that it has pate texture, instead of gravy-coated slices. Some kitties don’t eat pate, so make sure it suits your pet.

PROS

  • a grain-free formula;
  • natural composition;
  • four tastes available;
  • small individual servings.

CONS

  • the pate texture can be a downside;
  • the overall nutritional value is not very high.
Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food

This Hill’s Science Diet kitten food is a low-carb solution for kitties of up to 12 months old. Its first ingredient is real chicken, which is why vets often recommend this product for feeding young healthy kittens. The food contains natural antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

What we think

All in all, this is a good affordable option for healthy kittens. Keep in mind that the product contains whole grains and gluten, which makes it unsuitable for pets with allergy. Also, we’d prefer to see larger packs on sale.

PROS

  • natural ingredients;
  • real meat as the first ingredients;
  • small kibbles are comfortable to eat;
  • contains clinically proved antioxidants.

CONS

  • contains whole grains and gluten;
  • the pack is small.
Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

This Iams kitten food is formulated specially for actively growing kittens. Small kibbles are easy to eat; each kibble contains natural proteins, fats, fiber, and essential micronutrients, including taurine, Omega-3, and Vitamin E (the latter is found in cat milk). The main ingredient is natural chicken; no fillers, artificial flavorings, and taste modifiers are used. The food doesn’t cause addiction.

What we think

Along with essential macro- and micronutrients, this food contains some ingredients with low nutritional value, such as corn. Also, it is not free of gluten, which can cause negative reactions in very sensitive or allergic pets. For healthy active kittens, this is usually not a problem.

PROS

  • specially formulated for kittens;
  • real chicken is the first ingredient;
  • contains no fillers and flavorings;
  • contains nutrients found in mother’s milk.

CONS

  • contains corn and gluten;
  • only one taste available.
Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

This all-natural Wellness kitten food has a grain- and gluten formula, so it is highly recommended to kittens in the first year of their life. The food contains no fillers, no meat by-products, and no carrageenan – only real meat, chicken liver, broth, vegetables, berries, and flaxseed. Its tender pate texture is ideal for small babies.

What we think

The all-natural gluten-free composition of this food is perfect for sensitive and allergic kittens. Keep in mind, however, that it can seem less tasty than grain-containing wet and dry food, so some cats refuse eating it. Another drawback is the price – this Wellness food is definitely overpriced.

PROS

  • a gluten-free formula;
  • only natural ingredients;
  • tender pate texture;
  • real meat is the first component.

CONS

  • it is expensive;
  • not all cats love it.
Nutro Max Cat Kitten Dry Cat Food

Nutro Max Cat Kitten Dry Cat Food

The cheapest product in our top-10 ranking is Nutro kitten food. While being a really affordable option, it contains only natural ingredients. The first ingredient is a natural chicken meal. Also, the kibble contains berries, which serve as a source of antioxidants, essential vitamins, taurine, and fiber. The food is recommended for kittens of the first year of life.

What we think

If you are looking for a budget-friendly option of dry food for your kitten, you may like it. Of course, its components are not of premium quality: chicken meal instead of real chicken, corn gluten meal instead of healthier sources of fiber, etc. That said, the food complies with modern quality standards in terms of protein/fat/fiber ratio. It contains essential macro- and micronutrients and no artificial fillers and flavorings.

PROS

  • good value for money;
  • natural ingredients;
  • no artificial fillers and taste modifiers;
  • small kibble size.

CONS

  • contains whole grain and gluten meal;
  • not for sensitive and allergic kitties.

Kitten Nutrition FAQ

Keeping to the right nutrition scheme is as important as choosing a good type of food. To let your kitten stay healthy and active you need to understand clearly how, when, and how often he must be fed. Here are some basic tips on kitten nutrition.

Q: How Much Wet Food to Feed a Kitten?

A: The quality and nutritional value of wet food can vary much from one brand to another. A healthy kitten needs about 40 kilocalories per pound of the body weight daily. For example, if one can contains 200 kcal, you should give one can per day to a 5-pound kitty. It is recommended to divide a daily portion into 2-4 meals.

Q: How Long to Feed a Kitten with Kitten Food?

A: It depends on the breed. Normally, a kitten can be considered an adult by the end of the first year of his life. However, very large breeds, such as Main Coons, grow a little slower. They may get adult at the age of 14-16 months. Until that time, they need to be fed with special healthy kitten food.

Q: When Can a Kitten Eat Dry Food?

A: Normally, you can start feeding a kitten with dry food at the age of 4-6 weeks. That being said, vets recommend to begin with wet food, which has a more delicate texture. Also, you need to keep in mind that the share of moisture in dry food is very low, so if your kitten is not on mother’s milk anymore, you should make sure he drinks enough water.

Q: When to Switch from Kitten to Cat Food?

A: At the age of 12 months (14-16 months for very large breeds), a kitten can be fed with adult cat food. Keep in mind, however, that the transition should be gradual. If you don’t know how to change the type of food correctly, please, consult a vet.

Q: How Much Food Should a Kitten Eat?

A: There is no single answer to this question, as it depends on the kitten’s size and the type of food. Usually, you can find the directions right on the pack or can. Alternatively, find the information about calorie content and calculate the daily amount, using the formula – 40 kcal per pound. Keep in mind that small kittens should be fed 3-4 times a day, so the daily amount should be split into 3 or 4 portions.

Verdict and Recommendations

We’ve reviewed top-10 best kitten food brands, which currently supply high-quality products that meet the expectations of both kittens and their loving parents. It is really hard to choose the best food, as all of them contain real meat, vegetables, vitamins, and essential micronutrients in recommended quantities. So, to a large extent, this is just a matter of taste. That said, our favorite option is Diamond Naturals high-protein kitten food. This is an ideally balanced all-natural food with high-quality real meat as the first ingredient, so we awarded it the title of top kitten food in 2020.

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