Cat Food

The 7 Best Kitten Food for 202017 min read

June 11, 2019 13 min read
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The 7 Best Kitten Food for 202017 min read

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When you bring home a new kitten it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but you need to remember your responsibilities as a cat owner.

Not only do you need to provide for your kitten’s basic needs, but you need to provide it with a healthy diet as well.

Start your kitten off right with a high-quality, nutritious diet as soon as he is weaned off its mother’s milk onto solid food to keep it healthy for many years to come.

Continue reading to learn more about your cat’s basic nutritional needs and to receive some simple tips for picking the best cat food to provide for those needs.

You’ll also receive our top picks for the best kitten food on Chewy and Amazon.

Quick Links: Best Kitten Food to Buy

ImageProductFeatures

Best Overall

Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain-Free Kitten Recipe
  • Contains 81% real animal ingredients with 19% fruits, veggies, and supplements
  • Real chicken is the main ingredient
  • Formulated to support healthy growth
Check Price

Best Affordable

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Healthy Kitten Recipe
  • Made with 100% all-natural, high-quality ingredients
  • Contains 36% protein and 14% fat
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
Check Price

Best Wet Food for Kittens

Wellness Grain-Free Kitten Recipe Wet Food
  • Made with real chicken and chicken liver as the top two ingredients
  • Naturally grain-free and low in carbohydrates
  • Formulated to support healthy growth and development in kittens
Check Price

Editor's Choice

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein Grain-Free Kitten Food
  • High-protein recipe made with several quality animal proteins
  • Naturally grain-free and free from fillers and artificial additives
  • Rich in healthy animal fats
Check Price

Best for Allergies

Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe
  • Made with just 8 main ingredients
  • Contains several sources of premium animal protein
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
Check Price

Special Dietary Requirements of Kittens

All cats have the same basic nutritional requirements, but kittens have some special life stage considerations.

Because they are still growing, kittens need extra protein to develop strong muscles as well as extra fat to provide the energy needed to fuel their growth.

They also need the perfect blend of nutrients to ensure that their bodies grow and develop properly. Adult cat food contains the same nutrients, but in different concentrations that may not support your kitten’s optimal growth and development.

Here are some things to look for in a good kitten food:

  • Quality Protein. As a carnivore, your kitten has high needs for protein and it is the highest quality when it comes from animal sources like meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Healthy Fats. Fat provides your kitten with energy to fuel its growth and development as well as omega fatty acids for brain development and healthy skin and coat.
  • Beneficial Supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements ensure that your kitten gets the right blend of nutrients for healthy growth and development.
  • Digestibility. In addition to making sure that your kitten’s food is full of nutritious ingredients, you need to ensure that it is digestible, so its body can absorb all of those nutrients.
  • Real Ingredients. Avoid meat by-products and by-product meals as well as artificial flavors, artificial colors, and added preservatives as much as possible.

Also Read: The 6 Best Wet & Dry Cat Food Brands

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best kitten food. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Choose the Best Kitten Food

Your kitten needs a diet rich in animal-based proteins and fats to fuel its growth and development.

Most of its nutrition should come from animal sources because your kitten is an obligate carnivore – this means that its body is designed to derive nutrition most efficiently from animal rather than plant sources.

Protein is the most important nutrient, essential for building strong muscles, and your kitten needs a minimum of 30% protein content in its diet.

After protein, fat is the next most important nutrient for kittens and should make up at least 9% of its diet.

Fat provides a concentrated source of energy in the form of calories to fuel your kitten’s rapid growth.

Like protein, fat should come primarily from animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil. In addition to energy, fat provides omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat – it also provides fats like DHA which are essential for brain development.

Kittens have no minimum requirement for carbs, but healthy options like whole grains and fresh veggies provide fiber as well as essential vitamins and minerals.

In addition to protein and fat, your kitten needs certain vitamins and minerals. Choosing a high-quality food is the best way to ensure that your kitten gets the right nutrients in the right amounts.

Look for a protein-rich recipe fortified with chelated minerals because these have been bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your kitten’s body to digest and absorb.

Other beneficial supplements include prebiotic fibers, probiotics, and calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones.

Keep reading to see our top 7 recommendations for the best kitten food.

The Top 7 Best Kitten Foods

The quality of your kitten’s diet will have a significant impact not only on its growth and development now, but its health and wellness for the duration of its life.

The best food for your kitten will be high in animal-based protein sources with plenty of healthy animal-based fats and beneficial supplements for nutritional balance.

Here are our top picks for the best kitten food that you should consider:

Best Kitten Food Overall: Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain-Free Kitten Recipe

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 43.5% Min
  • Fat – 20.5% Min
  • Fiber – 3% Max
  • Moisture-9% Max
  • Caloric Content: 552 kcal/cup

Pros:

  • Contains 81% real animal ingredients with 19% fruits, veggies, and supplements
  • Real chicken is the main ingredient and a rich source of protein
  • Formulated to support healthy growth and development in kittens

Cons:

  • Expensive to feed as a staple diet

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Egg Product, Chicken Meal, White Fish Meal (Pacific Whiting, Pacific Sole, Pacific Rockfish), Tapioca, Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Freeze Dried Chicken, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

If you want to start your kitten off right with the best dry kitten food, try this Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe for kittens.

This dry food formula features real chicken as the main ingredient, and it contains a total of 81% real animal ingredients with 19% fruits, vegetables, and beneficial supplements. It contains plenty of energy for growth and play as well as the ideal blend of nutrients to support your kitten’s digestive and immune health.

This kitten formula also contains the right fats for brain and eye development in addition to being loaded with natural flavor. Plus, it’s covered in a freeze-dried raw coating for a boost of nutrition and flavor.

Best Affordable Kitten Food: Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Healthy Kitten Recipe

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 36% Min
  • Fat – 14% Min
  • Fiber – 5% Max
  • Moisture-11% Max
  • Caloric Content: 350 kcal/cup

Pros:

  • Made with 100% all-natural, high-quality ingredients
  • Contains 36% protein and 14% fat
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics

Cons:

  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Dried Potatoes, Peas, Chicken, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Salmon Meal, Pea Fiber, Dried Yeast Culture, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Salmon Oil, Mixed Tocopherols (a Preservative), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.

You don’t necessarily need to spend a small fortune to provide your kitten with a nutritious diet. This Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Healthy Kitten Recipe is a great example of quality nutrition at an affordable price tag.

It contains 100% all-natural ingredients including high-quality animal proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of key nutrients. It features chicken meal and turkey meal as concentrated sources of animal protein with chicken fat and salmon meal for a blend of essential fatty acids.

Overall, this dry food contains 36% protein and 14% fat with 5% fiber for healthy digestion.

Best Wet Food for Kittens: Wellness Grain-Free Kitten Recipe Wet Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 11% Min
  • Fat – 7% Min
  • Fiber – 1% Max
  • Moisture-78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 122 kcal/3 oz can

Pros:

  • Made with real chicken and chicken liver as the top two ingredients
  • Naturally grain-free and low in carbohydrates
  • Formulated to support healthy growth and development in kittens

Cons:

  • Contains guar gum which can contribute to smelly stools
  • Doesn’t contain probiotic supplements

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Menhaden Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Magnesium Sulfate.

If you prefer to feed your kitten wet food, consider this Wellness Grain-Free Kitten Recipe Wet Food. Made with naturally grain-free ingredients, this recipe is highly digestible and formulated to meet your growing kitten’s nutritional needs.

This wet kitten food features real chicken as the first ingredient with menhaden fish oil for healthy fats. Chelated minerals help to ensure complete and balanced nutrition, working together with vitamin supplements and healthy extracts.

Overall, this canned food recipe is full of natural flavor, high-quality protein, and healthy fats for young kittens.

Best High-Protein Kitten Food: Wild Frontier Kitten Open Valley Recipe High-Protein Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Nutritional Info:

  • Protein – 11% Min
  • Fat – 6.5% Min
  • Fiber – 0.75% Max
  • Moisture- 78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 193 kcal/can

Pros:

  • Real chicken first ingredient with several supplemental proteins
  • Formulated for optimal growth and development in kittens
  • Antioxidants for healthy immunity and calcium for bone growth

Cons:

  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein and potato protein)
  • Fairly expensive compared to average kitten food

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Split Peas, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Tapioca, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Natural Flavor, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

When it comes to your kitten’s growth and development, few things are as important as the protein content of his diet. High-quality animal protein sources are essential and this Wild Frontier kitten recipe from Nutro is loaded with it.

This kitten formula features fresh chicken as the first ingredient, supplemented with chicken meal, salmon meal, and menhaden fish meal. You’ll also find chicken fat to provide the optimal blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

In addition to being packed with protein and healthy fat for your kitten, this recipe is supplemented with antioxidants for immune system health as well as calcium for strong bones.

Best Grain-Free Food for Kittens: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein Grain-Free Kitten Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 40% Min
  • Fat – 20% Min
  • Fiber – 3.5% Max
  • Moisture-9% Max
  • Caloric Content: 457 kcal/cup

Pros:

  • High-protein recipe made with several quality animal proteins
  • Naturally grain-free and free from fillers and artificial additives
  • Rich in healthy animal fats for energy as well as healthy skin and coat

Cons:

  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Ingredients:

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Fish Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid and ARA-Arachidonic Acid), Pea Fiber, Calcium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Potassium sulfate, DL-Methionine, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Salt, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

Because your kitten is an obligate carnivore, you should feed it a grain-free diet low in carbohydrates. This Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein Grain-Free Kitten Food is loaded with premium animal proteins and fats but low in carbohydrates.

It is completely free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives but loaded with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to ensure complete and balanced nutrition according to AAFCO requirements. Antioxidants are also a great way to boost immune system health.

This kitten grain free dry food features several sources of premium animal protein including chicken, chicken meal, menhaden fish meal, and eggs as well as healthy fats like chicken fat and fish oil.

Best Kitten Food for Allergies: Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 11% Min
  • Fat – 6.5% Min
  • Fiber – 0.75% Max
  • Moisture– 78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 193 kcal/can

Pros:

  • Contains several sources of premium animal protein
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
  • Safely made in the United States

Cons:

  • Some kittens may be sensitive to poultry ingredients like chicken and turkey

Ingredients:

Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Turkey Broth, Tuna, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Agar Agar, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Sodium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

If you’re concerned that your kitten might have food allergies, consider a limited ingredient diet like this Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free.

This recipe features premium ingredients including several novel sources of animal protein like chicken, turkey, lamb, and menhaden fish meal. It is rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as fiber for healthy digestion.

This kitten kibble also contains beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.

Best Indoor Kitten Food: Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Kitten Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Food

Nutritional Info:

  • Protein – 11% Min
  • Fat – 6.5% Min
  • Fiber – 0.75% Max
  • Moisture- 78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 193 kcal/can

Pros:

  • Formulated for growing indoor kittens
  • Rich in real animal protein from fresh chicken
  • Supplemented with DHA for brain and eye development

Cons:

  • Some kittens are sensitive or allergic to chicken ingredients

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil (Source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Powdered Cellulose, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Guar Gum, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Cranberries, Blueberries, Salt, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.

Indoor cats don’t tend to be as active as outdoor cats, so they may not need as many calories. As your kitten is growing however, adequate levels of protein, fat, and calories are all essential to support healthy development.

This Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Kitten Recipe canned food is a great choice to get your kitten started on the right foot. It is packed with quality protein with enough fat and calories to meet his energy requirements without going overboard.

In addition to being loaded with protein, this formula is supplemented with DHA for brain development as well as healthy fruits and veggies to provide natural sources for key nutrients.

How Much Should You Feed Your Kitten?

An adult cat requires between 25 and 35 calories per pound of body weight per day, depending on its age, size, and activity level.

Because your kitten is still growing, its needs may be much higher – some kittens need as many as 100 calories per pound of body weight.

The best way to ensure that your kitten’s needs are met is to start with a high-quality kitten food and to follow the feeding recommendations according to your kitten’s age and weight.

Remember, the calorie content of different kitten formulas is different, especially between dry kitten food and canned food. Be sure to check the label for recommendations on feeding.

What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

All cats have the potential to develop food allergies and sensitivities – even kittens.

If your kitten is experiencing recurrent skin problems like itchy skin or a dull, brittle coat, it could be that allergies are to blame.

Some of the most common food allergies seen in cats are beef, dairy products, wheat, corn, other grains, and artificial additives. If your kitten has an allergy, you should remove that pet food from its diet and might consider switching to a limited ingredient recipe made with a novel source of protein – one your kitten hasn’t eaten before.

Final Remarks

Now that you understand your kitten’s nutritional needs, you can start shopping for kitten food!

Remember, the best kitten food will be high in protein with plenty of healthy animal-based fats and beneficial supplements for nutritional balance – you should also look for probiotics for healthy digestion.

If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our top 7 picks reviewed above!

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Kate Barrington is avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines
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