Best Kitten Food in US for 2023: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet

Best Kitten Food

You did it! You walked past the kitty cages set up by your local animal shelter at the mall. A tiny fluff ball tumbled over and looked up, your eyes met, and you were hooked.

Now you’re home having visions of a beautiful relationship. Kitty cuddling on your lap, rubbing against your leg as you prepare her food…

Food! You forgot to ask the shelter staff about what to feed her! What would be the best kitten food? 

There’s wet food for kittens, grain free dry kitten foods, regular cat chow…

How are you supposed to know which one is the best kitten food?

Fortunately, we’ve been there, done that. Now, we want to share our findings with you!

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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 1

You love what you see? Purrfect! Rest assured that I put these products on the list specifically due to their genuine quality and not for other reasons. I would just like to be transparent with you and inform you that FelineLiving may obtain a share of sales or other monetary compensation from the links on this page. I hope your furry friends will love these reviewed products and that it will spark joy in each pair of feline eyes!

Mary Nielsen ♥

Top 7 Best Wet Kitten Food Reviews

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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 2
Nulo Kitten Grain Free Canned Wet Cat Food
  • Features turkey and duck as main proteins
  • Keeps your kitty hydrated from broth
  • Zero carrageenan, grains, meat by-products
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 3
AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Salmon & Chicken Entrée
  • Laden with rich superfoods
  • Ideal choice for picky kitties
  • Salmon and fish broth are primary ingredients
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 4
Earthborn Holistic Wet Kitten Food
  • Gravy from real fish broth
  • Contains Omegas for better coat and skin
  • Good for cats with allergies/sensitivities
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 5
Tiki Cat Napili Luau Wild Salmon & Chicken
  • Free from gluten and grains
  • Sauce from real chicken broth for hydration
  • Boasts shredded pieces of salmon and chicken
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 6
Instinct Kitten Grain-Free Pate
  • Savory pate texture
  • Includes natural sources of DHA
  • Balanced mix of real chicken, salmon and beef liver
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 7
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Kitten Food
  • Promoted daily hydration
  • Protein-rich pate for overall immunity
  • Brimming with DHA for brain and eyes
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 8
Weruva Grain-Free Natural Canned Wet Cat Food
  • Savory gravy is broth-based
  • Protein sources are tilapia and tuna
  • Carrageenan, grain and gluten free
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 1

So, to help you out, we’ve decided to provide a quick kitten food review of the top 7 wet kitten food brands for your convenience.

  1. Nulo Kitten Grain Free Canned Wet Cat Food
  2. AvoDerm Natural Salmon Formula
  3. Earthborn Holistic Wet Kitten Food
  4. Tiki Cat Napili Luau Wild Salmon & Chicken
  5. Instinct Kitten Grain-Free Pate
  6. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Kitten Food
  7. Weruva Grain-Free Natural Canned Wet Cat Food

So, here they are! When it comes to wet food, here are the best kitten foods:

1. Nulo Adult & Kitten Grain Free Canned Cat Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 10
This wet food has a delectable minced texture that kittens love to chow down. Since it's 100% free of corn, wheat, soy, carrageenan and other additives.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 10%
Crude Fat 3.5%
Moisture 82%

Nulo brand prides itself on promoting healthy pets, healthy pet owners, and healthy human/animal bonding. Here's what they have to say about their wet canned food and other products on their website: “Animal-based proteins to build muscle.

Low carbs and low-glycemic ingredients to maintain healthy weight. And probiotics to boost immunity. Just a few of the wholesome benefits our recipes provide to help your dogs and cats fuel their inner athlete.”

This canned food has a palatable minced texture that kittens love to chow down. Their recipe is protein-rich and is also moisture-rich to ensure your kitty stays well hydrated. And because it's 100% free of soy, corn, wheat, and even carrageenan and other additives, it may help reduce food allergies or sensitivities.

Related article: Review For Nulo Cat Food

Pros:

  • US-based company
  • Made with high quality ingredients
  • Low carb to prevent weight gain
  • Formulated for adult cats and kittens

Cons:

  • Not all cats are fans, especially pickier eaters
  • Some users are concerned that it makes their kittens' poop watery and loose

2. AvoDerm Natural Canned Kitten Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 11
This is a unique food option for your kitten. With key ingredients made from real meat along with natural antioxidants from fruits, this is one superfood.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 8%
Crude Fat 3%
Moisture 82%

This brand is one of the top for our best kitten food for the wet category. AvoDerm is a unique canned cat food option as the food for your kitten. It provides high quality ingredients, with the top four ingredients being high-grade protein sources.

It of course also incorporates many other needed nutrients, including antioxidants and healthy sources of fatty acids and omegas for your healthy kitten. What makes it so unique is its use of avocado oil (where the brand takes at least part of its name).

It is the avocado oil that provides a truly healthy source of fats and omegas. Besides helping provide the energy your little one will need, it also ensures that she will have healthy coat and skin.

If you choose AvoDerm, you can also rest assured knowing that it meets all of the nutritional levels required by the AAFCO. They also guarantee that there will be no corn, wheat or artificial colors in any of their foods.

Pros:

  • Top four ingredients are protein sources (fish broth, salmon, chicken & sardine).
  • It doesn't contain any corn, soy, artificial colors, preservatives or by-products

Cons:

  • Some cats can get bored of the food so you should switch it up occasionally

3. Earthborn Holistic Wet Kitten Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 12
Using a facility that is on par to human standards, Earthborn makes all of their foods with the highest grade protein and a wide array of vegetables and fruits.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 12%
Crude Fat 2%
Moisture 82%

Next on the list of amazing wet food options for your new fuzz bucket is Earthborn Holistic.

Using a facility up to human grade standards, Earthborn makes all of their foods with the highest grade protein and an array of vegetables and fruits. All of their foods contain no grain ingredients.

In addition to the whole foods, they also add important vitamins and minerals to help create exceedingly healthy yet tasty formulas. They offer their wet in both cans and pouches with a variety of meat sources, such as chicken, fish and beef.

Offering the promise of a guaranteed analysis and the assurance of meeting the AAFCO standards for pet food, Earthborn is a sturdy brand to choose.

While they do not have kittens' formulas, their wet food has undergone testing to support the claim that it is appropriate for all stages of growth. The company also provides separate feeding instructions appropriate for your kitten.

Pros:

  • Human grade standards in food production
  • Formula without grains, with the top three ingredients being protein sources
  • Quality protein source

Cons:

  • Sometimes you will have to mince the big food pieces depending on the can.

4. Tiki Cat Gourmet Whole Canned Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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This gourmet canned food will ensure that your adorable kitten gets the very best. Whole Food Certified, it is one of the only cat diets that is certified for human consumption!

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 15.7%
Crude Fat 2.62%
Moisture 79.50%

Tiki Cat gourmet wet food will ensure that your sweet kitten gets the very best. Whole Food Certified, it is one of the only cat diets that is certified for human consumption!

Tiki Cat’s focus is on creating food for your kitten that is most natural for the carnivore inside your kitten. All of their lines are high quality protein, without grains, with no corn, rice, wheat or even potatoes, and use only recognizable, whole food ingredients.

They offer their wet foods in many different lines, some canned some in pouches. Real chicken and fish are the primary meat sources, and they also offer a line for kitties with sensitive tummies.

When you open up a can of Tiki, you know you got what they claim. You can see the chicken and fish chunks and fruit and veggies right before your eyes. You’ll have no doubt about what your little cat is eating.

Related article: Comprehensive Tiki Cat Food Review

Pros:

  • Certified for human consumption
  • Grain free and also free from any other filler ingredients like rice or potatoes.
  • Very high in protein with 18.5% of minimum crude protein

Cons:

  • Some picky cats may not like the taste

5. Instinct Original Natural Wet Canned Kitten Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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Carefully made to be protein packed from several meat sources in order to keep up with the energy needs of a growing kitty. It's also rich in healthy fats and DHA for optimal brain and eye development.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 12%
Crude Fat 6%
Moisture 78%

If you're looking for canned cat food for kittens, this grain-free product may be the right choice for your feline. Like many of the other foods on our list, this low-ingredient wet food is also free of artificial preservatives and fillers that could otherwise trigger a food sensitivity in your young kitty's tummy.

It's rich in healthy fats from things like salmon and eggs, providing essential fatty acids including DHA for optimal brain and eye development. It's also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and other macronutrients from whole ingredients like artichokes, pumpkin, blueberries, broccoli, and kale.

Pros:

  • High protein (12.0% minimum crude protein analysis)
  • Contains no grain, potato, wheat, corn, soy, carrageenan, by-product meals, artificial colors or preservatives

Cons:

  • Some cats don't like the pate texture
  • Other reviewers note their animals got bored with it (but it is easy to switch out or use as a topper on other food)

6. Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Kitten Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 15
This tasty pate boasts ingredients such as chicken and turkey, chicken broth and turkey broth, turkey liver, and fish oil. The soft texture entices kittens to eat more and it's easy on their tummy.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 12%
Crude Fat 7.5%
Moisture 78%

Wellness brand dry food impressed us already, but this canned cat food for kittens is also worthy of a mention. Their line contains high quality ingredients like real chicken and turkey, chicken broth and turkey broth, turkey liver, and fish oil for a jam-packed meal of nutrients that growing kittens will thrive on.

The company recently redesigned their cans and some users have expressed concerns that the new formula isn't the same. But for a canned food it contains a good amount of protein in addition to an impressive 78.0% moisture.

Related article: Wellness Cat Food Reviews

Pros:

  • Grain free kitten food made with high quality ingredients
  • High moisture and protein content, without including any meat by-products

Cons:

  • Many complaints about the new updated formula, including kittens falling ill and even finding spoiled food inside
  • Expensive

7. Weruva Grain-Free Natural Wet Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 16
This premium grain-free meal is features real tuna and tilapia chunks inside! With 11 scrumptious flavors to choose from, you will surely find your kitty's favorite.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 10%
Crude Fiber 0.5%
Moisture 85%

This high quality grain-free canned food for kittens is made by a family-owned company that pledges to adhere to high manufacturing standards.

You'll be surprised to open the can and see real identifiable chicken meat inside. There are also lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and a great moisture content to promote overall nutritional health and development.

With 10% crude protein and 85% moisture, growing kittens who like this wet food will definitely get the nutrients they need.

Related article: Weruva Cat Food Review

Pros:

  • Contains thinly-shredded and cage free, real chicken meat
  • Preservative free, gluten free, carrageenan free, gluten free, grain free kitten food

Cons:

  • Contains potato starch
  • Another product that has a “new formula” which seems to have turned off a lot of former fans (kitten and human)

Top 7 Best Dry Kitten Foods Reviewed

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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 17
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Food
  • Small sized kibbles
  • For kittens between 4 months to 1 year
  • Helps aid developing digestive system
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 18
Nulo Grain Free Dry Kitten Food
  • Special-shaped morsels to clean teeth
  • Suitable for adults and kittens alike
  • Patented BC30 Probiotic for healthy tummy
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 19
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Kitten Food
  • Enriched with proprietary probiotic
  • Made from delicious fish and turkey
  • Nutrient dense to fuel daily activities
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 20
Kitten Chow Nurture Muscle & Brain Development
  • Comes in cute shapes
  • DHA for brain and vision health
  • Protein-rich for muscle development
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 21
Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food
  • Rich in ARA, taurine and DHA
  • Created to support the needs of kittens
  • Packed with chicken plus veggies and fruits
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 22
Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food
  • #1 Veterinarian recommended
  • With DHA from fish oil
  • Loaded with prebiotic fibers
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 23
IAMS Proactive Health Kitten
  • Nutrients similar from mother's milk
  • With minerals, vitamins and fish oil
  • Ideal for kittens 1-12 months old
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Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 1

And as above, we’ve decided to provide a quick best kitten dry food overview of the top 7 dry kitten food brands for your convenience

  1. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Food
  2. Nulo Grain Free Dry Kitten Food
  3. Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Kitten Food
  4. Kitten Chow Nurture Muscle & Brain Development
  5. Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food
  6. Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food
  7. IAMS Proactive Health Kitten

1. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 25
This special kitten food comes in a specific formula that blends all the antioxidants and vitamins that your beloved pet needs. This special blend of kibble will enhance your kit's overall system.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 34%
Crude Fat 16%
Crude Fiber 4%

This product is formulated for the second stage of “kittenhood”, between 4 months and 1 year. This special kitten food comes in a specific formula that blends all the antioxidants and vitamins that your beloved pet needs.

This special blend of dry cat food will enhance your kit's overall system, keeping them healthy. In other words, this is a dry food that has everything your pet needs.

Royal Canin formulation on this product is a combo of prebiotics, proteins and fiber. During this stage of growth, your kitty's digestive system is still developing and their concoction is supporting that development. Their special recipe is also perfect for your kitten's high energy needs.

Related article: Royal Canin Cat Food Review

Pros:

  • Formulated for kittens between 4 months to 1 year
  • Blend of antioxidants and vitamins
  • Small kibbles
  • Helps aid developing digestive system
  • Contains essential vitamins and proteins

Cons:

  • Some had ziplock malfunction
  • Expensive

2. Nulo Grain Free Dry Kitten Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 26
With zero no corn, soy, or wheat, this kibble boasts high meat content, plus it is low in carbs with a blend of BC30 probiotic to boost digestive health.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 40%
Crude Fat 20%
Crude Fiber 4%

Nulo truly strives to be the best of the best for healthy kitten diet options.

They proudly make all grain-free recipes, meaning no corn, soy, or wheat. They have also eliminated potatoes, artificial colors, preservatives, flavorings and tapioca fillings.

Their foods have high meat content, with the top 3-4 ingredients always being animal proteins. The rest of the formula is low carb and include a BC30 probiotic to encourage healthy gut chemistry.

The whole goal of Nulo is to provide a diet closest to what your cat instinctually craves and needs. Their goal is to also support energy and activity with a healthy, trimming diet full of nutritional content to keep them energized and ready for action.

Nulo, like many on this list, has ensured that their dry food is so powerful and nutrient packed that it is ideal for both kittens and cats. Just be sure to read the feeding instructions thoroughly.

Besides taking immense pride in the quality of their formulas, Nulo also takes great pride in being made in the U.S.A. Based in Austin, TX, they are one of the last independently owned food companies (for pets) in North America.

Their goal is to provide quality in every area and they have developed a network of sustainable farmers and ranchers offering free-range beef, wild-caught fish, and free-roam poultry.

Nulo is a brand you can truly feel good about buying for your new kitty.

Related article: Review For Nulo Cat Food

Pros:

  • Top ingredients are organic animal sources
  • No grains, or other fillers like potatoes. No artificial colors, flavours and preservatives either.
  • Smaller kibble size makes eating easier for kittens

Cons:

  • Some cats may not like the taste

3. Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Kitten Turkey & Chicken

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 27
Carefully made using whitefish and turkey, this grain free meal provides all the essential calories a growing kitten needs. It is rich in Omegas and probiotics for better coat, skin and gut health.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 45%
Crude Fat 18%
Crude Fiber 3%

Another grain free food option for young kittens on our list comes from the brand Wellness. (Popular lines include Wellness CORE and Wellness Complete.) Their kibble is fortified with real meat, probiotics, and essential vitamins and minerals that a kitty needs.

Compared to some other dry food selections on our list, this food is also higher in protein (45% guaranteed analysis)  and moisture (10%) which is good for your pet's hydration & nutritional needs.

Related article: Wellness Cat Food Reviews

Pros:

  • High moisture and crude protein content
  • Infused with fish oil and flaxseed for healthier eyes, coat, and brain
  • Free of wheat, meat by-products, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives

Cons:

  • Contains carb-heavy potatoes
  • Expensive one
  • Some reviewers find that it makes their kitties' litter box smelly

4. Kitten Chow Nurture Muscle & Brain Development

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 28
Crafted from real farm-raised chicken making it protein-packed and is essential for helping her/his developing muscles. It is also enriched with DHA to support brain and eyes.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 40%
Crude Fat 13.5%
Crude Fiber 2.5%

Kittens grow incredibly fast in their first year of life, so they need a lot of quality protein and calories to support their rapid development.

This dry food from Kitten Chow promises to support whole body health by providing a balanced range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Plus, every serving delivers DHA to support her brain and vision development

The first ingredient is a chicken by product meal along with beef fat, chicken meat, fish meal and liver flavor making it truly delicious for your furry kitty.

That said, most reviews are glowing and pet parents are happy to see their hard-earned money going towards a food their kitties actually seem to like.

Pros:

  • Kibble sizes designed with smaller mouths in mind
  • Contains a good amount of essential amino acids and fatty acids for kitty development
  • Kittens love the taste
  • High nutritional value
  • Loaded with DHA which is essential for brain development

Cons:

  • Has ingredients like rice and whole ground wheat that kitties don't need
  • Doesn't smell too appealing to fur-rents

5. Blue Buffalo Tastefuls

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 29
Made with the finest natural ingredients and enhanced with vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (DHA and ARA included). This product contains real meat as its topmost ingredient and its free from wheat, soy, corn and other preservatives.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 36%
Crude Fat 20%
Crude Fiber 3.5%

Blue for cats dry cat food recipes are made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals. This product contains real meat as its first ingredient. This healthy kitten kibble is packed with eggs, vegetables, whole grains and fruits for a balance nutrition.

The Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food is fortified with fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus it contains no chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, corn or preservatives. Overall, this is a wonderful choice for a growing kitty.

Related article: Blue Buffalo Cat Food Reviews

Pros:

  • Features real meat as the first ingredient
  • Contains DHA, ARA, and Choline for brain and eye development
  • No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.
  • Precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
  • Crafted by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists

Cons:

  • Foul smelling stools

6. Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food, Chicken Recipe

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 30
This product is among the best kitten food available in the market today. A Vet recommended kitten food plus it has natural ingredients to support your kit's overall health development.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 33.5%
Crude Fat 16.5%
Crude Fiber 3.5%

This product is among the best kitten food available in the market today. This is a specially formulated product that is free from all preservatives and artificial flavorings.

Vet recommended kitten food. Plus it has healthy and natural ingredients to support your pet's overall health development.

Hill’s uses only high-quality ingredients including real chicken, lamb or salmon protein. Hill’s dry pet foods have quality protein as the first ingredient and provide clinically proven antioxidant benefits.

Related article: Hill's Science Diet Cat Food Review

Pros:

  • #1 Veterinarian recommended
  • With natural fibers to promote healthy digestion
  • Small kibbles
  • With DHA from fish oil
  • Made in USA
  • Promotes strong bones and strong teeth

Cons:

  • Around 4% less moisture than other brands

7. IAMS Proactive Health Kitten

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 31
A kibble that is designed with kitten development in mind, this recipe is protein-packed and is brimming with Omegas and DHA for kittens' healthy brain development.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 33%
Crude Fat 21%
Crude Fiber 3%

This dry kitten kibble is not only budget friendly but is also packed with lots of love. Product is designed with kitten development in mind, their formula is protein rich and loaded with Omega 3 and DHA for kitten's healthy brain development.

The primary ingredient of this product is chicken, with no added fillers and by products. It also contains Vitamin E which works wonders in boosting your pet's immune system. Also, it is note worthy that this is loaded with essential amino acids as well.

IAMS is a well-known cat food manufacturer that has been in the industry for quite a long time. They are so sure with their product that they will offer you a 100% money back guarantee. They also exceed the standards of USDA and FDA. So go ahead, try this wonderful dry kitten food.

Related article: Iams Cat Food Review

Pros:

  • Complete, balanced meals
  • With minerals, vitamins and fish oil
  • Ideal for kittens 1-12 months old
  • With Taurine
  • With essential amino acids

Cons:

  • Packaging won't seal properly (better use some clips)
  • Strong smell
Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 1

Does Quality Really Matter for a Cat? image of various healthy foods

Okay, so now you know our personal preference, let’s talk about why quality kitten food is so important.

While yes, she is “just a cat,” quality cat food does matter. Especially in cats, there is often a significant link between health and behavior.

For instance, certain types of food may be higher in magnesium and other ingredients that encourage crystals to develop in a cat’s urinary system. These crystals could lead to urinary tract infections, urinating outside of the box, or even in a life-threatening situation if the bladder becomes blocked.

Best Kitten Food in US for [year]: Guide & Reviews For Dry & Wet 33

Furthermore, if kittens don’t get the amount of nutrients, and the right nutrients they need, they may become lethargic, or develop skin issues, or a host of other health concerns that can impact behavior.

Needless to say, a healthy kitty is a happy kitty and therefore the most enjoyable pet for both her and your life.

Nutritional Needs for Kittens vs. Adult Cats

Okay, so good kitten or cat food is important. But what qualifies as good? And does it really need to be different than what the older felines eat?

We’re glad you asked!

First, to understand what is best for your little kitten, let’s talk about how she is different from her elders.

  • Kitten Energy Needs
    Kittens are growing at an incredible rate. They are born weighing only a few ounces, but in a matter of just two months grow up to two pounds, doubling or even tripling their birth weight! So, little kitties are expending a great deal of energy just to grow. But they are also expending calories for play, which is the most important factor in their cognitive development. Together, this means that simply for growing and cognitive development, your little fluff muffin is expending about triple the amount of energy as her window-sill-loving elder counterpart. Naturally, then, kittens’ needs are a bit different than cats. They need food that will provide for the enormous energy levels they need to grow.
  • Kitten Developmental Needs
    So, young kitties need a special diet containing more of certain nutrients due to all that energy they are using to grow and fly around your place. But tiny ones also need special diets due to their physical development and fragile immune system. When they are still very small, during the first couple months of life, remember that they have tiny, new teeth. Thoroughly chewing dry foods may be very difficult, even painful for them. For this reason, wet foods are important to at least include as a part of your kitten’s regular menu. But more on this in a bit.
  • Pro-Tip: to avoid a super finicky / picky adult eater, offer your kitten a variety of kitten food types and flavors while she’s young. This doesn’t mean you should change her diet every day – keep it mostly the same. Just offer some different wet and dry foods in addition to her staple diet. The more she is exposed to variety now, the less picky she will likely be later!

So, when looking for the best kitten crunchies for your new fuzz ball, first remember that what your kitten needs will be different than what she needs as an adult. As such, it is important to choose a diet that is specifically formulated for kittens and their needs.

As a note of caution, you may see regular foods for cats out there that state they are sufficient for both kittens and all life stages. However, these are not good choices unless they have actually done the necessary scientific testing to support that claim.

Bottom line – it’s best to stick with a kitten formula.

How to Choose High Quality Kitten Food

best kitten food

Okay – so now you know why it is so important to get the best food option specifically formulated for kittens.

Right! But that still leaves a TON of choices. How do you know which type is the best kitten food? Well, does best kitten foods even exist?

Well, some of those points about how kittens are different than adults are good clues to start with.

First, let’s talk about nutrition and good ingredients!

  • Important Nutritional Ingredients in the Healthiest Kitten Food Brands

While both adolescent and adult felines need many of the same nutrients, kittens definitely need some of them in much larger quantities. Fats, protein, and fatty acids will be especially important for your little one’s healthy development.

Nutrients that should be included in the best food for kittens will include:

  • 30% more protein than adult formulas
  • Omega fatty acids from DHA
  • Essential amino acids (taurine, lysine, tryptophan)
  • Calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and iron
  • Vitamin E and A
  • Selenium
  • Higher moisture content

The best kitten foods will focus on the protein and fat content. Dry kitten foods should contain about 35% protein and anywhere from 12%-24% fat. Canned kitten food will have slightly different percentages because it is diluted with water, but protein and fat should be predominant nutrients.

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When reading the label, you should be able to read (at the top) the meat source the protein comes from. Chicken, salmon, duck, rabbit – there are all types of options. But as cats are carnivores, and as your kitten will need extra protein to provide her energy, the protein meat source should be the first ingredient.

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A quick word, though, on your precious one’s carnivorous nature. Just because she is a meat eater doesn’t mean she should only eat animal protein or that she can survive on that. Purely feeding her protein would lead to deficiencies and serious health problems.

This is why a pet food formula will include other ingredients besides just a meat source. Even all natural ingredients kitten chow without grains will have additional ingredients.

In a feral or wild situation, cats would be getting these additional nutrients through what they caught and ate. But processed meat would not still have those nutrients to offer.

Now you know more about the nutrients to look for, what about type of best kitten food?

Dry vs. Wet Kitten Food for Kittens

We touched on this a bit above in our kitten vs. cat section, but it does well to discuss a bit more thoroughly here.

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Especially if your kitten is very young, you will need to start out with wet first, especially if you got her when she was still only 4-8 weeks old. This is partially due to her tiny teeth and mouth. But good canned kitten food has other benefits as well.

In general, wet feline food tends to be purer and less processed. This is naturally a healthier option. Wet will also help keep her hydrated. This is an extremely important benefit, as not all cats are good drinkers.

As your baby gets older, you can begin introducing dry pet food, and transition her fully if you choose. Admittedly, though, wet pet food is the most ideal and usually the best food choice. However, it is more expensive and less convenient, so many make the switch to dry foods.

As long as you keep in mind what we talked about regarding nutrition and kitten vs. adult food above, you can find plenty of dry kibble that will serve your kitty well.

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If you are looking for some quick ways to identify healthy choices, an easy thing to keep an eye out for is the AAFCO (the American Association of Feed Control Officials) on the label. If the label states that it at least meets the requirements, or better yet, that it offers complete and balanced nutrition based on AAFCO trials, you are in pretty good shape.

Finally, an important note to make here – the other key thing you need to provide to ensure a happy and healthy kittie-cat is plenty of fresh water.

Dehydration in cats can quickly lead to serious medical problems (including urinary tract infection and even crystals), so keep that water bowl full and fresh!

Foods/Ingredients You Should NEVER Give Your Kitty

It is of course important that you know what your kitten needs in order to have a healthy kitten.

BUT, it is also important that you know what to avoid. There are a lot of ingredients and additives hiding in many mass produced pet food, even in the “organic” and “healthy” brands that are simply no good. Ingredients to look out for include:

  • Dyes
  • Rendering products
  • Synthetic preservatives
  • Carrageenan
  • Artificial flavors

The Cornucopia Institute provides an easy to read chart of a lot of the popular healthy brands to show you which contain these chemicals and additives and which do not.

Additionally, there are some food items that you should absolutely never give your little tiger. Following is a list of some surprisingly toxic and harmful items you should NEVER give them:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products (many cats are lactose intolerant)
  • Fat trimmings from your raw meat or raw fish, eggs
  • Grapes
  • Garlic and/or onions
Best Kitten Food

For a complete list of potentially harmful substances and an explanation of why they are harmful, check this article from VetsNow.

Best Way to Feed Kitty Her Crunchies

Too much of a good thing is still a bad thing.

And too little of a good thing doesn’t make much good.

This is why it is important to know not only what to feed your kitten, but how much and how frequently too.

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When your kitten is still young, her stomach is rather small. As such, you will need to divide her day’s portion into multiple small meals a day. Ideally, you will want to feed her three to four times a day in the beginning.

You can free feed your little one to start. Once she’s older, you can cut back to two meals a day. We recommend that you always feed a healthy kitten at least twice a day.

Is Milk Good for Kittens?

image of a kitty with bowl of milk

This may come as a surprise, but cow's milk actually isn't good for kittens and you should avoid giving your little girl any dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese.

But don't cats like milk? Yes, this is completely possible—many kitties enjoy the taste of warm milk or a bite of cheddar now and then. But just because something tastes good doesn't necessarily mean it does the body good!

Just look at the kinds of foods humans love to gobble up: processed junk, candy, soda, etc. That stuff is yummy, but can make us very ill! Same goes for many foods and their impact on feline health.

Here's a little more info to help you get why milk isn't good for kittens:

Just like their human parents, kittens and cats aren't able to fully digest proteins and enzymes found in milk. To be clear, we're talking about COW's milk here, or any type of dairy you can get at the store. We are NOT talking about feline mother's milk, which kittens love to drink and is good for them!

Store bought dairy products can give your kitten intestinal problems like diarrhea, upset stomach, gas, and vomiting, so avoid feeding them to her. No, it's not “toxic,” but it won't make her feel good. Once your kitty is 8 weeks old or older, she doesn't even really need her mother's milk anymore. At this point, you can transition her to a diet exclusively for kittens.

How Long Should Cats Eat Kitten Food?

According to animal health experts and vets, cats are considered kittens until they reach one year old. This means kittens should be fed kitten food for at least this long to optimize their rapid growth and development.

Some larger breed cats, like Maine Coon cats, aren't considered adult until they're around 1.5 to 2 years old, so they may require kitten food for a longer period.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What's the Best Way to Transition My Feline From One Kitten Food to Another?

The simple trick: slowly but surely! Rapidly introducing a new food to your young kitty's diet can be hard on her stomach. 

Here's a simple guideline to get you started:

  • Days 1-2: 75 percent old kitten food and 25 percent new kitten food
  • Days 3-4: 50 percent old kitten food and 50 percent new kitten food
  • Days 5-6: 75 percent new food and 25 percent kitten food
  • Days 7+: Feed only new kitten food

2. When Should I Begin Giving Kitten Food to My Kitten?

Kitty weaning (from her cat mama's milk) typically begins when a kitten is four weeks old. This is usually when your curious creature tries to eat her mama's food or starts to bite and gnaw on a bottle.

Over the course of a few weeks, gradually introduce moistened dry food and/or wet food mixed with formula (using weight guidelines to help you determine portions).

By age 6 weeks, your kitty should be able to tolerate dry food that's been only slightly moistened with water. Kitten weaning should be completed by age 7 weeks—she'll be kibble eating like a big girl!

3. When Should I Transition My Kitten To Adult Cat Food?

Once you've thrown your sweet cat her first birthday party, you can make the transition from kitten to adult food. Just give her a little extra attention to make sure she's responding well.

Things to look for include energy levels, signs of gastrointestinal distress (like vomiting or diarrhea), and weight changes (i.e., she is growing, but you don't want her underweight nor overweight).

It's best to talk to the kitty doc with questions!

4. What kind of food should I feed my kitten?

In the first year of your kitten's life (and once she's past the stage of drinking just her mother's milk, or older than 8 weeks old), you should feed your kitten the following foods:

  • High quality wet or dry foods designed for kittens or “all ages.” The brand you pick should contain natural ingredients and lots of protein from things like real chicken and turkey meat (avoid lower quality proteins like chicken meal and meat by-products). You can mix wet canned food with dry food, as long as the dry food has smaller sized kibbles. The food should also be free of artificial flavors and other harmful ingredients mentioned above.
  • Other solid foods you can give to your kitty in small amounts include scrambled eggs (no salt or butter!), cooked meat, fresh fish (no bones or scales). Small amounts of cooked veggies and fruit like broccoli, pumpkin, and blueberries may be okay, too, as these have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are good for her. But they aren't necessary and shouldn't be given as anything more than an occasional treat.

By the way, we know it can be tough to tell if a certain type of dry or wet food is sitting well with your kitty. So here's a weird way to check—look in the litter box!

Your kitten's poop should be a dark brown color, not too hard nor too soft, and shaped sort of like a Tootsie roll.

If it's very loose and unformed, this suggests she be eating something that doesn't agree with her.

5. How much wet food should a kitten get?

A kitten aged 2 to 3 months should eat about 1/3 to 3/4 cup of wet food per feeding and should be fed around 3 to 4 times per day.

She needs smaller, more frequent meals because her belly is smaller and her digestive system can't process all the nutrients she needs in just a couple larger meals.

Kitties aged 3 to 6 months can eat around 2/3 of wet food per pound of body weight per day. Again, spread this out to about 3 to 4 meals. If you are adding dry food to your kitty's diet in addition to wet food, feed her twice per day instead.

Once a kitty reaches 6 months old, her feeding schedule can be cut down to twice per day. At this stage, she can eat around 1/2 of a 3 ounce can of wet food per pound of body weight per day.

Talk to your vet if you have specific questions about how much to feed your kitten and when.

6. Can kittens eat adult wet food?

Kittens can eat adult wet food, but the problem is it probably doesn't contain all the quality protein and nutrients they need to grow and develop properly. By giving your kitten cat food, you run the risk of depriving her of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

You're better off giving your kitten wet food specifically formulated for kittens, or at least formulated for cats of “all ages.”

7. Can you overfeed a kitten?

It is possible to overfeed a kitten, and doing so can lead to serious issues like diarrhea, gas, bloating, constipation, and vomiting. The good news is that most kitties will stop eating once she's had enough food.

To encourage her to eat, be sure to give her 3 to 4 small meals throughout the day and select high quality food that tastes good and is free of anything that could trigger an allergy or upset her stomach.

  • Updated January 24, 2023
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.