The Best Kitten Foods of 2023
- Our Top List
- 1. Purina ONE Dry Healthy Food
- 2. Nulo Adult & Kitten Grain-Free Canned Wet Food
- 3. Taste of the Wild Premium Dry Food
- 4. Purina Fancy Feast Kitten Canned Food
- 5. Wellness Complete Wet Food
- 6. Wellness Complete Kitten Food
- 7. Purina Pro Plan for Kittens
- 8. Royal Canin Feline Mother & Babycat Food
- 9. Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Food
- 10. Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Natural Food
- 11. Blue Freedom Kitten Indoor Food
- Final Verdict & Review
- Purina ONE Natural Dry Kitten Food
- Buying Guide
That fluffy little kitten you’re cuddling and playing with will all-too-soon be an adult cat. To support his rapid growth and development, it’s important to feed him a quality food that is made for a kitten’s needs, not for an adult cat. Foods made for adult cats lack some of what your kitten requires.
In some ways, kittens and adult cats have similar nutritional requirements. The requirements for fats, certain fatty acids, and almost all vitamins are the same as those of an adult cat. However, in other ways, their dietary requirements are significantly different. Kittens need more of some vitamins, plus their need for minerals, amino acids, and protein is higher than that of adult cats.
To support these needs, feed kitten food for your pet’s first year. We’ve reviewed some of the top kitten foods on the market, to make it easier for you to choose.
Our Top List
Your kitten may just fall in love with this vet-recommended, real chicken taste in Purina ONE’s formula. This food is packed with all the vitamins and minerals a young cat needs such as whole grains and vegetables.
The product comes in bite size pieces that are perfect for your kitten’s little mouth. This formula promotes longevity and increases overall health. The best part of this formula is how outstanding it makes a kitten’s fur feel! This food contains no artificial flavors or fillers, making it just what your little fur ball needs.
- Calories: 462 kcal per cup
- Number 1 ingredient: real chicken
- High quality ingredients with 0% fillers
- Purina ONE veterinarian recommended
- Made with DHA found in mother’s milk
- Promotes vision and brain development
- Heart healthy formula
- Immune system support
- Aides in the production of a healthy skin and coat
Nulo wet cat food uses only quality ingredients so your cat gets the best of the best. It’s made without the use of any grain filler, so it’s better for your cat. This food promotes your kitten’s overall health, including a beautiful, shiny coat, clear eyes, and excellent bone and muscle development.
Rather than offering two different types of foods, one for cats and one for kittens, Nulo’s wet cat food provides the appropriate nutrients your kitten needs based on how much you feed him. The suggested amount for a kitten is double the amount for an adult cat of the same size.
Choose from a range of tasty flavors, including turkey and duck, beef and mackerel, beef and rainbow trout, turkey and halibut, salmon and turkey, and chicken and turkey. Available in minced or shreds, even the pickiest eaters love these foods.
Made to suit the needs of both adult cats and kittens, Taste of the Wild dry cat food contains no grain products that can interfere with your kitten’s development or digestion. This food has a high level of protein, providing your pet with a diet much closer to what her feline ancestors ate.
Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, this food also is fed based on the cat’s age as well as size. Kittens can get everything they need from this diet because it’s made right. Feeding them more when they are younger ensures that they obtain plenty of nutrients and protein so they grow up happy and healthy.
Your pet gets plenty of high-quality protein from this food made with roasted venison and smoked salmon, plus delicious flavor cats love. Since dry food can be left out all day, it’s easier for them to grab a few bites and walk away, then return when they are ready.
- Calories: 390 kcal per cup
- Food for all life stages from kitten to adult
- Meat, fish, and poultry
- High protein, grain-free
- Includes taurine for heart and eye health
- Optimal levels of Omegs-3 and 6 fatty acids
This food gives your kitten a delicious fish meal made of ocean whitefish blended with real milk. The pate is easy for kittens to eat and is fortified with vitamins and minerals so that it provides a complete diet for your pet. Designed specifically for kittens, this food has adequate levels of protein and other nutrients to support his growth.
One three-ounce can each day is just right for a kitten up to 3.5 pounds. When he gets bigger, just add another can to make sure he’s eating enough. Available in salmon, chicken, and turkey flavors, as well as whitefish, there’s enough variety to keep your pet’s palate happy as he grows. The label suggests you divide this food into three meals daily so your kitten doesn’t go too long without a meal.
- Calories: 85 kcal per can
- Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D-3, and Vitamin E
- Made with real chicken, eggs, and milk
- Soft pate formula for easy eating
- Ocean fish flavor that cat’s love
Made specifically for kittens, Wellness Core dry food is packed with protein and fortified with the vitamins and minerals kittens need to grow into healthy adults. The tasty formula contains no wheat, no meat by-products, and no fillers. It does have DHA to support proper brain and eye development. To boost a kitten’s immune system development, this food also contains plenty of antioxidants.
The crunchy nuggets blend de-boned chicken, de-boned turkey, and whitefish in every bag. Your pet will never get bored with this blend of flavors. No worries about letting your kitten snack whenever he’s hungry because it’s safe to fill his bowl in the morning and leave this food out all day. Wellness Core kitten food contains everything your kitten needs to grow up healthy and strong.
- Calories: 502 kcal per cup
- Turkey, whitefish, and chicken
- Supports eye and brain health
- DHA from Salmon oil
- Supports the immune system
- Protein rich, no wheat, no artificial colors
This tasty food comes with four main ingredients that promote every aspect needed for a healthy kitten. Our cat’s are drawn to the high protein flavor of real chicken while getting the added benefits from carrots, flaxseed, and cranberries.
Your kitten will be bouncing off the walls from a flavor explosion while living healthily thanks to the urinary tract and coat support this formula provides.
- Calories: 97 kcal per can
- Promotes healthy skin and coat
- Urinary tract support
- Smooth pate loaf formula
- Grain free
- Packed with moisture and vitamins
- Immune support
- Free of growth hormones and steroids
Made with meat, this formula is perfect for growing cats under a year old. Your kitten will be ecstatic when you serve this delicious wet food with DHA. It supports brain development and high-quality protein.
Pro Plan FOCUS supports a healthy immune system and boosts energy levels in young cats, so they can grow into strong adults. This formula is contains chunks that make eating even easier and provide texture.
There are several flavors of meat available, so your fur ball can have a new flavor every day. Our kittens got quiet excited about that and couldn’t wait finding out about the next flavor they’d find in their feeder. Eventually, it became apparent which ones were their favorites, so you might want to do it the same way!
- Calories: 103 kcal/can
- Contains crude protein, vitamins, and minerals
- Real meat
- Vision and brain development support
- Immune system boosting
- Made with DHA from mother’s milk
- Chunky pate for easy chewing
- Various flavors available
- Provides a balanced diet of nutrition
This food is fantastic for introducing a kitten to solids!
Royal Canin’s formula was specially developed for kittens 1-4 months old and nursing cats. Mother cats will be thankful to have this treat while exhausted from taking care of their offspring. The food comes in an easy to swallow mousse, covered in delectable sauce.
Kittens transitioning to food from milk tend to love this wet food and take to it quite easily in our experience. Essential vitamins and DHA aide in a growing brain development, immune system protection, and digestive health.
- Calories: 78 kcal per can
- Packed with DHA to support brain development
- Easy to eat mousse formula for small kittens
- Protein rich for digestive health
- Good for pregnant and nursing queen cats
- Antioxidant and vitamin rich
- Perfect transitioning food for kittens under 4 months
Instinct’s grain-free pate comes with natural DHA and high protein to provide your kitten with everything needed to develop into a healthy cat. Our young cats love the taste of cage free chicken and the easy to eat loaf.
Even our pickiest kittens tend find this food easy to stomach and go bananas when the can comes out of the pantry. The natural formula promotes brain and eye development while protecting kittens with food sensitives.
- Calories: 190 kcal per can
- Number one ingredient: cage free chicken
- Anti-inflammatory antioxidants and vitamins
- Zero fillers
- No artificial colors or preservatives
- Formulated with food sensitives in mind
- No grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, or by-product
- Supports energy
- Aides in brain and eye development
Blue Buffalo’s natural kitten food gives kittens the balanced diet they need to grow up strong and healthy. It contains no chicken or other poultry by-product meals, which is good because the by-product meals can contain any part of the bird, such as feet and beaks, which don’t necessarily benefit your kitten. This food also contains no corn, wheat, or soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
What it does have is high-quality protein for good muscle development, DHA, an essential fatty acid, to promote brain growth and cognitive development, and a blend of essential vitamins, calcium, and phosphorous, that work together for the development of strong teeth and bones. In addition to chicken for protein, this kitten pate contains fruits and garden vegetables as sources of necessary nutrients and fiber.
Feed Blue Buffalo for the first year of your kitten’s life to promote optimal development, after which you should switch foods to an adult cat food so she gets a good balance of what she needs.
- Kilocalories: 122 kcal per can
- No chicken or poultry by-product
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- No preservatives or artificial flavors or added color
- Promotes healthy muscle growth
- DHA from mother’s milk that promotes cognitive development
- Contains crude protein and moisture for optimum flavor
Blue Freedom kitten food combines wholesome, natural ingredients such as chicken, chicken liver, fish oil, and carrots to create a delicious pate kittens love. It contains no wheat, an ingredient used in many pet foods but which can lead to skin problems and allergies. Other ingredients include flaxseed, cranberries, and blueberries to add fiber to aid in digestion.
Very young kittens should be given as much of this food as they will eat in a day. As they get older, adjust the amount to reflect the kitten’s size and age. Transition them to an adult cat food when they turn a year old. Blue Freedom food contains everything your pet needs to grow and develop into a healthy adult cat, and to live a long life.
- Calories: 122 per can
- First ingredient: real chicken
- No chicken or poultry by-product
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- No preservatives or artificial flavors or added color
- Cranberries to promote urinary tract function
- Natural fibers that aide in hairball emission
- Minimizes litter box odor through healthy digestion formula
Picking out the perfect food means finding one what best suits the needs of a growing cat. Our #1 pick is the Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula. It provides everything your cat needs to develop and maintain a healthy life. Packed with whole-grains, vitamins, and real chicken taste, your kitten will be begging for more (don’t give in!).
There are no artificial flavors in this formula which make it even more appealing from a health perspective. With main ingredients like chicken and vegetables, kittens get the immune system support necessary to remain healthy. The scrumptious food also helps with the development of the brain and vision, while aiding in the production of healthy skin and coat. Caring for lots of kittens as we do, we have been pleased with the results the Purina ONE food and can’t recommend it enough.
With so many foods to choose from, it’s hard to know what to pick. A you cat’s preferences are just forming, so you probably can’t tell for certain if he prefers fish or chicken, pate or minced, lots of gravy or none. Those kinds of things take time, and you’ll need to learn them as you go, and you may get him something he doesn’t really like once or twice, because he can’t tell you so you need to guess, especially at first.
What you can do is to consider what your pet needs, and provide him with food that satisfies his needs. All young kitties have certain requirements, so by taking those into account when you choose their food, you’ll have the best results possible.
It’s not enough just to feed your kitten; its food should come from high-quality sources. Read the label of any kitten food you buy. The ingredients are listed in order based on how much of the ingredient is in the food. The food contains the most of the first ingredient listed, then an equal or lesser amount of the second ingredient, etc. You want to see the source of the protein clearly identified as the first ingredient. It should say “salmon” or “chicken” or “beef” or some other identifiable protein. It should not say “meat” without identifying what kind of meat, and it should not have any type of meat byproducts listed as the first ingredient. If it does, look elsewhere for your kitten’s food.
Your kitten needs to drink plenty of water every day. Not all cats do, so many veterinarians recommend feeding a wet cat food because it contains water to help keep her hydrated. Canned food doesn’t supply all she needs, but it will go a long way towards preventing dehydration. Due to the high amounts of water in wet cat food, you may want to offer her dry food on the side, free-choice, so she gets plenty of nutrition along with her water.
Your kitten’s food should meet the requirements set forth by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The label should read that the food “Meets the nutritional requirements of kittens established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).” If it doesn’t say that, the food has not met even the minimum requirements for kittens. Don’t buy it in that case.
Your kitten needs plenty of protein, and she also needs that food to be low in carbohydrates. Check the label to see the relative amounts. Not all kitten foods list the number of carbohydrates in them, but another way to make a guess at this is to check the label for the presence of grains of any type. If grains are listed at all, especially if they are one of the first four ingredients, the food is almost certainly too high in carbohydrates.
Your kitten also needs amino acids and essential nutrients, and many of these will be listed on the label. Look for such things as taurine, fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, niacin, and riboflavin. These and other nutrients should appear on the label. If not, the kitten food may not give your new friend all he needs to maintain good growth and health. Look elsewhere for your pet’s food
You should also look at the kilocalories (kcal) listed on the packaging of any organic pet food. Kittens need a daily intake of 300 kcal to keep up with a growing and active lifestyle. Not only are they highly energetic, they require a high number of calories for their body to properly grow and develop. Note that packaging can say kcal per cup or per can, so make sure you read it correctly and don’t mix them up.
Kitten tissues and organs are constantly evolving to turn them into healthy cats, but they can’t get there without a high calorie diet. Calories create fuel for kittens to turn into chemicals which process in their bodies.
A highly active kittens means they are happy and enjoying life, but also means they need the calories from food to maintain an energetic lifestyle. As a kitten becomes a cat, they will grow less active and their caloric intake can be reduced.
Nutrients and Fillers
Some kitten food comes packed with fillers like corn and wheat that does not aide in creating a healthy cat. These fillers have low nutritional value and only provide a good taste to the food. You should avoid fillers when looking at the ingredients.
Instead of fillers, you should be looking for probiotics that promote a healthy body for your pet. Nutrients are things like vitamins that easily get absorbed by the kitten’s body or amino acids that promote healthy skin and coat.
If you have a male, a formula with cranberries or other nutrients that assist the urinary tract is ideal. Male cats oftentimes produce crystals when they get older. By adding nutrients to their body as a kitten can help battle future crystal production.
Also consider nutrients that aide in hairball emission and healthy skin and coat. These added nutrients generally make your kitten feel better and your life easier. Imagine cleaning up less hairballs and not having to vacuum up so much loose fur!
Finally, you should make sure that your kitten’s food is low in carbohydrates. While a protein rich diet is important, just like humans, cats need a variety of foods. Additional variety in the food usually means fruits and vegetables.
Since fruits and vegetables are cheap and easy to produce, some cat food companies pack their food full of these sources of carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are fine for your kitten as they provide vitamins, but in small amounts. Cat food does not usually list carbohydrate percentages on its labels, so make sure you aren’t feeding your kitten pure fruits and vegetables. Look for a variety of food on the labels.
Feeding Tips for Kitten Owners
Wet or Dry Food?
Very young kittens have tiny teeth and may struggle to get enough nutrition from eating only dry food. Offer your kitten wet food several times a day, especially when he is young, to make sure that he’s able to eat enough to meet his needs. Leave dry food out for him as well, if you want to give him a secondary source of food.
What’s the Best Time to Feed a Kitten?
When kittens are very young, it’s a good idea to allow them free access to food all day long. They can’t always eat enough at a single meal, and this gives a small kitten more chances to eat. As your pet grows, switch to regular mealtimes. Make the change when she’s around five or six months old, moving to two or three daily feedings.
An exception to this rule occurs if your kitten is overweight. If that’s the case, only allow her to eat measured amounts, as indicated on the food container. If you notice her putting on weight you can reduce the amount of food before it becomes a problem, rather than waiting until after. A good idea is to look into food for weight management.
What about Switching between Kitten Foods?
Let your kitten try different flavors and textures while she’s young, and you may avoid raising a picky eater. When it’s time to make a switch, don’t make a sudden switch from one food to another, since this typically causes digestive upset. Instead, offer her smaller and smaller amounts of the old cat food and begin also offering increasingly large amounts of her new food. She’ll begin to nibble at the new food, allowing her to get used to it. Allow four or five days for her to make the transition.
Don’t mix the two foods, because if she hates the new one having them mixed may also result in her hating the old one as well.
What Not to Feed a Kitten
Kittens should never touch some foods, including chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, tea, and coffee. Your kitten could die if he ingests any of these things. Also avoid most raw foods, such as liver, fish, and eggs, because these often contain bacteria or parasites that could harm your kitten. Raw fish can also cause your kitten to develop a vitamin B deficiency, leading to health problems and possibly death.
Like humans, a cat may develop allergies or diabetes at some point in its life. Make sure you don’t always feed the same food, thinking your feline friend will forever be able to enjoy it. Such things can change. We have a list of diabetic cat foods right here in case you ever need it.
Also, while it’s common to think of giving milk to a cat or kitten as being a good thing, it can cause illness. Once indoor kittens are weaned, they no longer have the enzyme needed to digest milk, so feeding them milk can cause diarrhea and result in severe dehydration, which can be fatal for kittens.
You may think that it’s unlikely that you can overfeed your kitten. It seems that she would just stop eating when she’s full, but that’s not always what happens. Instead, your kitten may eat and eat until every bit of food is gone, and she may even beg for more. That’s bad for her and can lead to all kinds of digestive issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and constipation. These problems range from causing discomfort to threatening your pet’s life, depending on the severity.
Avoid overeating by following some simple feeding rules for your pet. Always break up the meals into multiple feeds throughout the day. Feed them at least three times a day, or even four, when your cat is very young. As it gets older you can give it larger meals less frequently. Most kittens will not gobble their food if they aren’t feeling deprived or overly hungry.
If your cat eats everything in sight no matter what you do, carefully limit how much you feed it at each meal. Don’t leave food out where she can get to it between meals. Follow the guidelines on the food container as to how much she needs, but also look carefully at your pet to make sure it doesn’t look too heavy or too thin. If she does, adjust her food accordingly.
Ask Your Vet
If you aren’t sure what’s good for your kitten, or if she’s eating the right amount, call on your veterinarian for help. Always rely on the vet’s advice for taking care of your kitten. Ask early. If you wait until your kitten is sick it may be too late.
We are the Pet Cat Friends, a dedicated group of pet loving bloggers and product testers for all your meowy needs. We research, test, and review cat related products with the help of our collective 21 cats. Feel free to leave us feedback and treats!