The best kitten food
Your tiny kitten will grow into an adult cat before you know it, so it's important that he eats the correct food to give him all the required nutrients for this rapid period of development. With so many kitten food options out there, it can be tough to pick one that checks all the boxes.
Read this guide to learn more about kitten food and how to pick the best formula for your feline friend. Our top kitten food choice is Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food, a formula specifically designed for indoor kittens.
Considerations when choosing kitten food
Wet vs. dry
Although individual cats' tastes vary, just like ours do, wet kitten food is generally considered more palatable than dry by the majority of kittens, plus the soft texture is easier for small mouths to manage and the high moisture content is ideal for kittens who won't drink much water. The downside is that it costs more than dry kitten food.
Dry kitten food is suitable for free-feeding as it won't go bad if you leave it out all day. It's also less messy than wet food, doesn't need to be refrigerated once open, and tends to be a more affordable choice. However, it generally contains more carbohydrates and other unnecessary fillers than wet food.
Make sure your chosen kitten food contains the correct nutritional content required for your growing cat. It should be rich in protein without too many carbohydrates and be fortified with all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
It's important to choose a kitten food with quality ingredients. Whole meat should be the first listed ingredient, and ideally there shouldn't be too many cereal/carbohydrate fillers. Avoid foods containing meat by-products and any unnamed meats -- e.g., "animal digest" or "meat meal" -- as they could be anything. The best kitten foods contain pasture-raised or wild-caught meats.
The flavor, or formula, of a kitten food is generally dictated by the main protein source or sources. So, it could be chicken formula or salmon and tuna flavor. Ultimately, you just need to choose an option that your kitten likes the taste of.
There's a current trend for grain-free pet food. While your kitten food needn't be grain-free unless your feline friend has a grain allergy, cats are carnivores so don't need much in the way of grains or other carbohydrates (such as potato) in their diets.
You can find some organic kitten foods, but the term "organic" doesn't really mean anything on its own, so look out for options with the USDA organic certification.
Kitten food prices
It's best to compare the price of kitten food per pound since package sizes vary. Expect to pay anywhere between $1 and $6 per pound.
Q. Why can't kittens eat adult cat food?
A. Kittens should eat specially formulated kitten food rather than adult cat food because the former is filled with all the nutrients required to support their rapidly growing bodies. Kittens require more protein than adults cats, so kitten foods typically contain around 5% more protein. Kitten foods are also higher in calories, have a greater calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, contain essentially fatty acids for brain development, and offer about twice the amount of vitamin A.
Q. How often should I feed my kitten?
A. If your schedule allows it, young kittens should ideally have four small meals a day, as they thrive on being fed little and often. You can reduce this to two or three meals per day from six months onward. Some kittens prefer to "free feed," which means they'll pick at their food throughout the day rather than eating it in one sitting.
Kitten food we recommend
Best of the best: Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food
Our take: Contains all the nutrients a growing kitten needs, but with slightly reduced calories for indoor kittens who will be less active than those allowed to roam freely.
What we like: Contains DHA to support brain and eye development. Small, manageable pieces of kibble. Most kittens like the taste.
What we dislike: Too many grain-based fillers, such as oats, wheat, and barley.
Best bang for your buck: Iams Proactive Health Healthy Dry Kitten Food
Our take: An affordable choice if you're on a budget, but some of the ingredients are less than ideal.
What we like: Replicates nutrients found in mother's milk, such as vitamin E. Added omega-3 for brain health. Manageable pieces for small mouths.
What we dislike: Contains chicken by-product meal.
Our take: The high-quality ingredients make this food an exceptional choice to support your kitten as he grows.
What we like: The "LifeSource Bits" contain a blend of vitamins and minerals for optimal development. Contains no by-product meals or artificial flavors and preservatives.
What we dislike: Pricier than some alternatives.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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