Best recipes at a glance: a comparison table

Kitten foodCalories, kcal / 100gProtein, %Flavor
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free39540Chicken
Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula38834Chicken
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Kitten Food41537.8Chicken
Nature’s Variety Instinct44542.5Chicken
Purina Kitten Chow36540Chicken
Nutro Wholesome Essentials39137Chicken
Royal Canin Feline Health38534Chicken
Wellness Complete Health11411Chicken
Purina Fancy Feast10011Varies
Nutro Kitten Wet Cat11713Chicken
Nature’s Variety Instinct121.812Chicken
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition8911Pork
Hill’s Science Diet14111Salmon
Wellness CORE Classic13512Turkey

What to Look for in Kitten Food 

Depending on what type of food a kitten prefers, – dry or wet – we need to pay attention to the following characteristics:

In the case of dry food, consider the kibble size and texture. Though it’s been debatable, crunchy kibbles can help your kitten reduce tartar (however, you should remember that kibble isn’t a replacement of brushing the cat’s teeth).

Another point to remember about both dry and wet recipes is the ingredients and nutrients inside. Always check them before buying any kitten food. Given that young cats are more energetic than older felines, consider a high-calorie food so they could get enough fuel for active pastime. Free-feeding is OK to practice at the start, but make sure to stop it as your kitten grows: It will help you to avoid a lot of health risks of your cat being overweight.

Ensure that kitten food contains taurine essential for growth and brain development, and vitamins C/E that are critical for maintaining an immune system and mental health. Real meat as the #1 ingredient is a must-have. Also, check if your chosen kitten food is free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Speaking about wet kitten food, also pay attention to how much moisture it contains. It’s typically 75-85% moisture in a 3 oz. can, which means that your kitten gets only 0.6 ounces of proteins and fats from it. It’s not enough for a growing organism, and that is why most manufacturers recommend feeding with several cans a day.

So please feed your kitten with both dry and wet food to ensure it gets enough nutrients and calories.

Types of Kitten Food:

Best Wet Kitten Food

A kitten needs wet food to get enough moisture and keep its organism hydrated. More than that, canned kitten food is more comfortable for young felines to digest.

So, when organizing nutrition for indoor kittens, please combine dry and wet kitten food for better balance. Installing a drinking fountain for cats is also a great idea.

The best wet kitten food to try, besides those mentioned in this guide above, are:

Best Dry Kitten Food

Dry kitten food is a must-have in kittens’ diet because it provides felines with the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbs that are so essential for growth and health. Please choose recipes with no less than 35% of proteins and no less than 18% of fats in the formula. Also, make sure it’s high in calories and contains animal protein content.

The best practice is mixing it with the wet food 50/50 to make sure your kitten drinks enough water.

The best dry kitten food to consider is:

Best Kitten Food on a Budget

As a responsible pet owner who loves your kitten, you don’t want to feed it with cheap food containing controversial, artificial ingredients, do you? Some vets even consider it more money-saving to buy premium food for kittens because it’s 90%-digested, by contrast with 50%-digested cheap options. Anyway, there’s always a balance between expensive and low-cost options, and you can find the best reasonably priced food options for your kittens. Consider kitten food brands such as:

Best Kitten Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Pet owners choose the best kitten food for a sensitive stomach to prevent or at least minimize the development of health issues with digestion. All grain-free formulas from kitten food brands are OK to feed here. But for those looking for particular options, feel free to try these:

Together with a sensitivity diet, consider giving probiotics to your kitten to help its stomach work better.

Interested in options for adult cats? Read this guide with best recipes for adult cats with sensitive stomachs.

How to Choose the Best Kitten Food

With so many brands on the market, we need to know and follow some steps to choose the best kitten food for our young felines and feed them right.

Step 1: Determine a kitten’s dietary needs.

For that, consider a kitten’s age and activity level. It won’t need any other food besides mother’s milk, cat food replacement or kitten formula until it’s at least four or six weeks old.

If your kitten is very active, choose more calorie- and protein-rich food for it. Your task now is to provide a young feline with the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and proteins for it to grow muscles, develop brains and nerves, and stay healthy.

Step 2: Check the food for essential ingredients.

Consider kitten food with real meat as the #1 ingredient. It can be poultry, beef, fish, whatever. Always check the label and ensure the formula contains 35-50% of proteins and between 18-35% of fats on a dry matter. Avoid food with many grains in it.

Also, pay attention to the following elements in kitten food: DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), taurine, fatty acids, fiber, and amino acids – all they should be there.

Step 3: Organize the feeding environment for a kitten.

Kittens are super energetic, so please help yours focus on eating by creating a calm, feeding environment. Place its dishes for food and water in a quiet place, away from a litter box and other pets in the house. A specialized feeding box might be a very good idea.

Step 4: Follow the feeding guidelines.

The best kitten food brands provide owners with feeding recommendations on the labels. They differ depending on a kitten’s age and weight, but the general guidelines are as follows:

Feed several meals a day: four times until the age of 12 weeks, then switch to three meals a day until a kitten turns six months. Continue with two meals a day, and finally switch your one-year-old feline to the food for adult cats.

Step 5: Switch the flavors and offer both dry and wet food to a kitten.

Treat a kitten with different flavors and food textures: It can help to prevent it from becoming too picky about the food. And consider feeding with both dry and wet food for kittens, as it will help you balance moisture and nutrients your kitten eats.

Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Kitten Food

We already know that kittens should eat the food designed for them individually. But this mere factor isn’t enough to know when choosing the best kitten food. Here go the features we need to consider:

  • Ingredients. Check a label to ensure that the food contains high-quality natural ingredients. There should be real meat as the primary component, no controversial by-products, and no artificial preservatives in the formula.
  • Nutrients. The best kitten food will contain all the essential nutrients a growing cat needs for a healthy life. There should be 35% of proteins and 20% of fats minimum to satisfy a kitten’s needs and support its development. Fatty acids, taurine, vitamins, and minerals are must-haves too.
  • AAFCO. Choose kitten food that meets the guidelines from AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
  • Flavor and texture. You may need to experiment with several best foods for kittens to find the flavor your feline will love. Consider chicken, turkey, or seafood flavors, and try different textures (pates, flaked, gravies, minced) for your kitten to choose a brand it loves.
  • Type. While most pet owners prefer feeding with dry kitten food, please consider mixing both dry and wet food options. Not only is canned food easier for kittens to chew and digest, but it also provides them with moisture they won’t find in the dry food.

Here’s a handy infographic that should serve you as a memo when choosing the food for your kitten:

What to Avoid When Feeding Your Kitten

Kittens are picky eaters, but it doesn’t mean they won’t eat some “people” products that are dangerous to them. And even if it may look cute when your kitten drinks milk and eats grapes or tuna, please stay prudent when feeding it with anything besides specific kitten food.

Here goes the list of products to avoid when feeding your young feline:

  • Tuna. Kittens may love it, whether in adult cat food or packed for humans. So make sure it has no access to it. The best kitten food brands don’t use tuna in the formulas because they know it can lead to malnutrition or, if in large numbers, mercury poisoning.
  • Milk & milk products. Yes, kittens drink cow’s milk, but lactose and sugar in milk products do more harm than good to their digestion. The result is gastrointestinal pain and diarrhea, and the same is true for adult cats too.
  • Grapes & raisins. Some owners use them as treats for cats, but these products can cause kidney failure.

Other harmful foods for your feline include chocolate, onions/garlic (lead to anemia), alcohol (destroys liver and brain), caffeine/chocolate (fatal poisoning, can be lethal), fat/bones (vomiting, diarrhea, cuts of a cat’s insides), raw eggs (poisoning from salmonella or E. coli), liver (vitamin A toxicity, when in large amounts), and yeast dough.

Also, I recommend watching this video where doctor Dr Darren Foster who is a feline specialist explain the nuances of kitten nutrition:


What is the best reasonably priced kitten food?

The best option would be to give a good kitten food for a cat’s healthy start in life. As vets say, premium food can sometimes cost less to feed because a kitten digests only around 50% of cheap food, with the rest coming out as waste, while premium foods are 90% digested. Speaking about the reasonably priced options, Nutro, Purina, and Royal Canin are worth considering.

What is the best kitten food to avoid urinary tract blockage?

You can prevent urinary diseases from coming, feeding your kitten with wet food, diversifying its diet, and providing it with clean, fresh water twice a day. According to some research, magnesium is responsible for urinary tract diseases in cats. So, when choosing a food for kittens, make sure it contains less than 1% of this component inside.

What kitten food is best for malnutrition?

Choose a wet, meat-based food for malnourished kittens, and increase the calorie intake gradually. Creamy texture with no chunks will be the best option. Please consult a vet so that he would specify the reasons for malnutrition, resolve all the problems with health (parasites or any other diseases),  and recommend a prescription diet explicitly created for such kittens.

What is the best age to start feeding a kitten food?

A kitten should be fed with its mother’s milk or a kitten milk replacement during the first eight weeks of its life. After this you should slowly transit to the kitten food.

What is the best age to stop kitten food?

Most vet experts and kitten food manufacturers recommend feeding with kitten food until a cat turns 12 months. However, if you decide to desex a kitten earlier, consider switching it to adult cat food gradually after that. Desexed cats become less active, and kitten food is calorie-rich, so feeding with kitten food in this case may lead to obesity in your desexed cat. Here’s the list of best cat food brands for adult cats in 2021.

What is the best thing to feed a kitten when trying to figure out food allergies?

Food allergies are difficult to diagnose and often mistaken for other medical conditions. Even a tiny amount of a particular ingredient in kitten food can cause a reaction. The most common allergens are fish, beef, and eggs, so try the formulas with these ingredients inside to figure out if your kitten is allergic. Typical symptoms of food allergies are vomiting, diarrhea, red skin, hair loss, frequent scratching, and sneezing.

At the End of the Day 

I hope this guide has helped you get a better idea of how to feed a kitten for its healthy growth and what food to choose for its overall well-being. Just remember that kittens need exceptional cuisine, and formulas for adult cats are not for them (because of different nutrition needs and energy levels).

When you choose kitten food, please pay attention to its ingredients and follow the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines. Consider mixing dry and wet options to provide a kitten with a well-balanced amount of moisture and nutrients in its meals. Also, don’t hesitate to consult your vet or pet nutrition specialist so they would recommend food options according to your kitten’s body type and needs.

With so many options on the market, developed for kittens specifically, I’ve done my best to gather the best ones in this guide so you could easily compare and choose the most optimal options for your young feline. Proper nutrition is the key to its health and longevity, so let’s help our kittens live a happy life much to our delight.


Claudine Sievert, DVM

Jimmie O’Chutt is CEO of CatPet.Club magazine. He saved his cat’s life (who has KCD). Jimmie is a cat enthusiast who is pretty good at product research. He shares his own experience and advice here on CatPet.Club

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