Best Kitten Food - 2017!
Last updated: January, 2017.
When you first get a new kitten, there is lots to think about - getting them home safely, providing them with warmth and comfort and...making sure they are fed the right food for their specific needs!
Even though they may be small, kittens have huge amounts of energy and love to play, so you will find that they require lots of food to replace all of this lost energy. In fact, a kitten should eat at least three times daily to ensure that it grows healthily into a young adult.
Like all cat nutrition, there are some important factors to consider when selecting the best kitten food and we have provided some tips for choosing the best kitten food below, collated from our years of research and experience. Enjoy and as always, let me know if you have any questions!
Kitten 'Life Stage' or 'High-Quality' Cat Food?
This is probably the first question on your mind. Some brands have now released formulas that are targeted specifically at the kitten ‘life stage’. But only those products that have been approved through AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trials should be considered fit, if looking for kitten specific formulas.
The truth is however, most high-quality adult cat foods will have the right ingredients, vitamins and overall balance that your kitten’s needs for a healthy start in life. When assessing cat food labels to see whether they are appropriate for your kitten, it is best to concentrate on the following tenets, as these elements are the key building blocks for a healthy kitten diet.
Key Components of a Kitten's Diet
- Protein - should be the first ingredient on the label. Ingredients are listed by weight - the more protein the better. Simple meat-based ingredients are the way forward. Kittens are carnivores, don't forget! Protein is essential for growth and development, a minimum of 30-35% is recommended. Whereas, for adults, this is more like 26%.
- Low carb levels - Kittens have no dietary need for carbohydrates, the food should be grain-fee (grain is not natural to digest).
- High moisture content - cats need as much water as possible as they have low thirst drive. This is even more important for kittens as they tend to be more active and thus need as much water as possible.
- Calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, iron etc - important factors that play a part in ensuring that your kitten develops strong bones and healthy teeth. It is good to ensure that the calcium to phosphorous ratio is around 1.0 to 0.8, ask your vet for more information.
- Vitamin A - required to support sight, growth and immune function, Vitamin A is plentiful in liver and fish oils.
- Fat - it is important that the food has around 12-24% fat content; canned food will appear to have less fat because it is diluted.
If you concentrate on providing your kitten with food that meets the above criteria, they shouldn’t need anything else in their diet. You may read about the need for supplements, but this should really be assessed on a case by case basis, so have a chat with your vet if this is a concern.
Keep it 'Simple'
When analyzing the cat food label, try and pick cat food brands / formulas that are ‘simple’ (not too many ingredients). This should make the transition from weaning (1-4 weeks) to eating prepared wet cat food a little simpler, as there won’t be so many different flavors in the cat food, which can make kittens more 'fussy'.
Dry or Wet Cat Food for Kittens?
As always, it is best to keep fillers and carb levels to a minimum, so avoiding dry foods is the best bet for kittens.
Dry cat food is not so good for your kitten - ingredients are not as fresh and the food is usually processed at high heats which eradicates its biological value. If you use dry food in rotation with other wet food, it should be OK.
Wet food does experience some processing, but levels of processing are much lower. Canned foods keep the majority of their biological value, which is great for kittens in aiding their healthy growth. Canned foods also contain a higher proportion of water (~70%+) which is important for kittens as they have a very low thirst drive.
In our experience, wet cat food can be harder to transition cats onto in later life, because they develop a 'taste' for kibble (which is unhealthy). Given that high-quality wet cat food is generally better for cats than dry food (as discussed above), we would recommend starting with a wet cat food. This will also mean you don’t buy lots of dry cat food only to realize that your cat isn’t eating it because their teeth are too small to crunch it up!
Our Recommended Kitten Food Brands
By now you should have a good grasp about what to look for when choosing a high-quality kitten food. But, it can still be quite tricky to pick! So, here are some of our top-rated wet cat food brands that would be good picks for your kitten.
How we Evaluated Kitten Food Brands...
- Cat Food Composition - only include kitten food that meets the criteria outlined above.
- Cat Food Ingredients - look closely to make sure that the ingredients list is as simple as possible for kittens.
- Company/Brand - make sure that we look at the company behind the food - brand, processes and facilities.
The Wellness company is dedicated to providing cats with long-term beneficial nutrition. Each of their kitten formulas contains the essential ingredients that kittens need to develop from day one - vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and protein!
The Wellness CORE Natural for kittens has been developed without grains - it is protein rich which is incredibly important. It combines both chicken and and herring to support the development of the brain and eyes. We also liked the fact that the manufacturing facilities are based on North America.
The Wellness CORE Natural Canned Kitten food is made with turkey, chicken, herring and fish oil encourages hydration and healthy urinary tract functions. The focus on providing high-levels of protein makes this one the winner for us in all regards.
The Tiki Cat pet food company is dedicated to providing cats with high-quality, natural nutrition. Each of their cat food formulas is developed to produce a nutrient profile that satisfies the natural diet of wild cats and dogs.
Every Tiki Cat wet food product is made with human-grade ingredients such as whole shredded or sliced meats and seafood, plus they are grain-free (!). Tiki Cat was one of the first gourmet pet foods to hit the pet food market and they remain a top name in the business today.
The Tiki Cat Gourmet Puka Puka Luau chicken wet food formula is made with shredded chicken breast meat as the first ingredient followed by a chicken consommé broth for moisture and natural flavor. This product is supplemented with sunflower seed oil for omega fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat, plus it contains plenty of vitamin and mineral supplements. This chicken wet food formula is grain-free and zero-carb, plus it is made with chicken that is free-range and free from both hormones and antibiotics.
The Soulistic line of cat food products is sold exclusively at Petco and on Amazon. The Good Karma Chicken Dinner wet cat food formula belongs to the original line of canned foods. It is made with fresh chicken for quality protein and natural flavor.
This product is complete and balanced for cats in all life stages, plus it is made in USDA-approved human-grade food facility. When you feed your cat this Soulistic cat food formula you can rest assured knowing that he/she is on a high-quality diet.
Not only is this Good Karma Chicken Dinner wet cat food formula made with fresh, natural chicken but it has a naturally high moisture content as well to help keep your cat hydrated. This formula contains no corn, soy, or wheat ingredients plus it is free from artificial flavors, fillers, and preservatives. To ensure that your cat’s nutritional needs are being met, this wet food is supplemented with healthy vitamins and minerals including zinc, calcium, manganese, copper, and vitamins A and D plus numerous B vitamins.
The Tiki Cat pet food brand is one of the leading manufacturers of gourmet whole food products.
This brand offers a wide variety of flavors and formulas featuring human-grade shredded or sliced meats and seafood as the primary ingredients. Tiki Cat follows a live prey philosophy of nutrition which, for cats, consists of 75% to 85% natural moisture, 55% protein, 35% fat, and no more than 2% carbohydrate. Overall, Tiki Cat products provide high-quality, naturally flavored nutrition for cats.
This Lanai Luau wet food formula from Tiki Cat is made with wild-caught flaked ahi tuna as the first ingredients followed by a tasty tuna consommé for moisture and natural flavor. This formula also contains flaked crab surimi made from fresh sea bream, an ingredient prized for its texture and flavor. This wet food formula is supplemented with sunflower seed oil to provide omega fatty acids and it contains healthy vitamin and mineral supplements as well. Altogether, this formula is grain-free, zero-carb, and made from sustainable, wild-caught ingredients.
Big Appetites, Small Portions...
As you begin to plan your kitten’s feeding schedule, it is important to remember that whilst only tiny, your kitten is going to grow 15 times quicker than the human body does. Within 6 months, a kitten will reach around 75% of its adult mass and even though their stomachs are small, they simply need to be fed at more regular intervals to accommodate.
Feeding a kitten 4-6 times a day is not uncommon, particularly when they have developed a taste for food, but we would recommend 3-4 small meals a day. There are some great feeding schedules for kittens here.