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First-time cat owners are usually amazed by how fast their kittens grow. Those adorable furballs can double in size in the first weeks, reaching about 75% of their adult size in the first 6 months.
With such a rapid growth rate, picking your kitten’s food shouldn’t be an eeny-meeny-miny-mo decision. Instead, you should make sure the product you’re buying contains all the necessary nutrients for a problem-free growth.
To save your time, we went along and sourced the 6 best kitten foods currently on the market. These are shown in our easy to view table below, with more detailed reviews later in this post.
|Lily's Kitchen Kitten Chicken Dinner Complete Wet Cat Food, 19 x 85g
|Applaws Complete Natural and Grain Free Dry Kitten Food, Chicken, 7.5 kg (Pack of 1)
|IAMS Delights Wet Food Land and Sea Collection Meat and Fish in Gravy, 24 x 85 g
|Thrive 100% Complete Kitten Food Chicken, Pack of 12
|Eukanuba Dry Kitten Food Chicken Liver, 2 kg
|Wellness CORE Cat Food Dry Kitten, Grain Free, Turkey & Salmon, 1.75 kg
Requirements for Healthy Kitten Food
Just like human babies, kittens require a diet that noticeably differs from the food catered to adult cats. Generally speaking, products suitable for kittens have an indicative label on the package to save you the hassle.
However, it’s always preferred to know the actual diet percentages that your kittens need for healthy growth. This way, you can avoid buying counterfeit, worthless products.
High Calorie Content
Adult cats don’t typically require that many calories. After all, they spend most of their time lazing around, waiting for you to pet them as if they were kings and queens!
Kittens, on the other hand, burn lots of energy. First of all, they hardly lay around. If they’re not exploring the area, you’ll find them aimlessly messing with whatever that comes their way.
But even when they relax, they still need a handful of calories to complete their growth. Nevertheless, these calories need to be sourced from proteins and fats rather than carbohydrates. This is because cats’ guts lack the compounds necessary for full digestion of carbs.
High Protein Content
The digestive systems of cats break proteins into smaller amino acids. These substances are the cornerstone of tissue building. Without the proper amount, kittens may grow with weak muscles and organs, which could drastically affect their quality of life.
In adult cats, food containing 25% proteins can be considered enough. Kittens, on the contrary, need 30%. Might seem like a negligible margin, but it can make a world of difference!
Make Sure the Protein Is Sourced From Whole Meat or Fish
Throughout their evolution history, cats have become obligate carnivores. In simpler words, they need actual, whole meat and fish to thrive. Typically, the product you’ll pick should have beef, chicken, lamb, or fish listed as the first and major ingredients.
To cut down on prices, some brands depend on scales, heads, bones, or other meat by-products sourced from the human food industry. Typically, these products have “animal digest” written somewhere on the package. As you can tell, it’s better to avoid such products since their protein content is usually scanty.
Moderate Fat Content
As we said earlier, fats act as abundant reservoirs of energy to allow your kittens to feed their curiosity and play around. Just like proteins, they’re also broken down into smaller compounds known as “fatty acids”, which serve a bunch of different benefits.
Between the aforementioned fatty acids, omega 3 and 6 are the most important. Recent studies confirm their essential roles in the development of skin, brain, immune system, and fur.
To avoid negative effects, aim for products with less than 20% fats.
Vitamins and Minerals
Sadly, most cat owners care about proteins and fats at the expense of vitamins and minerals. In the following list, we’ll identify the most important ones and highlight their benefits.
- Taurine: an essential amino acid important for the development of eyes, brain, and heart.
- Calcium: An obviously crucial mineral for healthy teeth, bones, and muscle contraction.
- Vitamin A: boosts the immune system and improves vision.
- Vitamin B: Induces growth, strengthens nerves and improves immune functions.
- Vitamin C: Aids in the development of epithelial cells and capillaries.
- Vitamin D: An essential vitamin that regulates calcium and phosphorus levels.
Wet vs. Dry Food
Choosing between wet cat food and dry cat food has always been a controversial subject for pets, and especially kittens. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, you should base your decision after weighing the following pros and cons.
Wet Food Has High Moisture, But Fewer Nutrients
For god knows what reason, kittens don’t drink enough water on their own. That’s why most cat parents like to supplement with wet food as well as providing a good quality cat water fountain.
On the downside, since water typically accounts for more than 70% of the total package weight, the actual nutritious meat might not be enough for your kittens. Serving bigger rations isn’t the solution because you may give them higher fats than they should ingest.
Dry Food Is Richer In Nutrients, But Harder to Eat
Dry food is the obvious gold standard for adult cats. If the package says 30% protein, you can be almost certain that your kitten will ingest that exact amount since nothing can be wasted in moisture.
The catch? Its hard structure can be rather challenging for your kitten’s small teeth.
Go for a Sensible Mix
If you ask us, we’d recommend balancing between the two. Your goal is to primarily depend on wet food while slowly introducing dry food in the process.
The 6 Best Kitten Food: Reviews
In the following reviews, we’ll take a close look at each product to identify their nutritious content, food source, etc. We’ll also highlight any downsides that can impact your kitten’s well-being.
Lily's Kitchen Kitten Chicken Dinner Wet Food
Lily’s Kitchen presents one of the best food you can serve to your kitten while also helping your planet. We chose them as our top pick mainly because their ingredients are sourced sustainably and shipped in eco-friendly, recyclable packages. Each shipment has 19 tins, each weighing 85 g.
They have a number of different flavours that noticeably vary in their nutritious content. It’d be marvellous if you can alternate between them to find out what your kittens like the most. But all in all, we love their classic Chicken dinner.
This wet kitten food includes 65% chicken, which is a great source of high-quality protein. In addition to water, each tin contains salmon oil that’s rich in omega 3. As a plus, Lily's Kitchen puts around 3% cranberries as a natural source of vitamin C.
- Proteins: 9.5%
- Fats: 5%
- Calries: 87 kcal/100g
- Moisture: 82%
Applaws Complete Natural Dry Kitten Food - Best Affordable Dry Food
Dry food is generally more affordable when compared to wet alternatives. Yet, it’s possible to save even more money by opting for certain brands. In that case, we’d recommend Applaws’s products.
In spite of the affordable cost, this package includes hefty 38% proteins based on 80% chicken. It also contains 20% vegetables and natural extracts to further improve your kitten’s health.
Generally speaking, most of the users’ feedback was positive. People were super happy with how this food thickened their kitten’s fur and enhanced their responsiveness. This can be traced back to the rich content of salmon oil and the abundant omega 3 fatty acids.
The most prominent negative reviews reported that some kittens mysteriously refused eating it. We don’t think this is necessarily related to the actual food, though. This might happen if you depended on wet food for the majority of your kitten’s life. In that case, they’ll be too fussy to grind any hard kibble, regardless of the brand.
- Proteins: 38%
- Fats: 20%
- Calories: N/A
- Volume: 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg
- Rich in taurine
- Contains prebiotics and probiotics to enhance bacterial digestion
IAMS Delights Land and Sea Collection - Best Affordable Wet Food
Unfortunately, wet food usually costs double the price of its dry counterpart. Nevertheless, some brands manage to produce affordable formulas without considerable impact on the nutritious value. IAMS is one of our favourites in this category.
They have two essential flavours: chicken and land & sea. Each one of those may come mixed with gravy or jelly. We think the land & sea in gravy edition is the best in terms of the nutritious content.
This package comes as 24 tins, each weighing 85 g. It contains 14% chicken, 12% turkey, 4% lamb, 8% tuna, 4% salmon, and 4% cod. It’s certainly amazing to have that wide variety at such an affordable cost.
The only downside we noticed is the low moisture content. The jelly-based packages might have less than 75% water. The fact that this moisture isn’t added as a free liquid lowers the effective hydration even more.
If you do choose this wet kitten food then a good way of feeding it to your pet is with an automatic cat feeder for wet food. This helps with portion sizes and to keep meals regular.
- Proteins: 9.2%
- Fats: 4.8%
- Moisture: 79.2%
Thrive Complete Kitten Chicken-Based Food - Highest Moisture
With a slogan that says “wetter is better”, Thrive fills its tins with the highest moisture possible. It’s an obvious pick if you don’t think your kitten is drinking enough water.
It’s not only about the water quantity, though. Thrive opts for free liquid water instead of the artificial gelling agents that are pretty common with most of the famous brands. This results in higher hydration levels per each tin.
Thrive ships packs of 12 or 6 tins, each weighing 75 g. The package intended for kittens contains 70% chicken as the only source of proteins. The remaining 30% is dispersed between chicken stock, sunflower oil, vitamins and minerals.
Thrive’s food is generally known for having exceptional quality. Some customers reported some inconsistencies although these seem to be few and far between.
- Proteins: 10%
- Fats: 2%
- Moisture: 84.5%
- High in taurine
Eukanuba Dry Chicken Kitten Food - Best Liver Based
Savvy cat parents know how palatable chicken liver can be. Lucky for us, it’s not only about the taste. Poultry liver contains high amounts of proteins and vitamin A, an essential mix for healthy kitten growth. For that matter, we couldn’t find anything better than Eukanuba’s dry food.
Their package contains 91% animal proteins, namely chicken and turkey. The liver content is capped at 9%, with around 2.2% dried beet pulp to benefit from its hefty minerals.
Despite all of that amazing perks, we won’t recommend Eukanuba as your kitten’s daily kibble. Eating too much liver might expose some cats to a higher risk of vitamin A toxicosis, a fatal condition if not properly treated. The exciting liver taste would make this kibble amazing for faster and more fruitful training.
One of the negative comments criticized the fact that Eukanuba puts a percentage of chicken digest in their package. Nevertheless, since it doesn’t constitute more than 1%, you shouldn’t be worried.
- Proteins: 36%
- Fats: 23%
- Volume: 2kg, 4kg, 10kg
- Rich in taurine
Wellness CORE Cat Food Dry Kitten - Highest Protein Content
If you want to cater the highest amount of protein for your kitten, search no further. Wellness Core releases this package with a whopping 38-44% protein. Although this comes at a high cost, it’s certainly worth every penny.
The meat proteins are sourced from fresh turkey and salmon to provide a variety in both nutrition and taste. To balance the high protein content, Wellness cuts down on the carbs. Not only does this decrease the likelihood of obesity, but it also prevents the painful digestive problems that commonly occur with sensitive cats.As a plus, Wellness Core adds a myriad of prebiotics and probiotics that aid the growth of beneficial digestive bacteria in your kitten’s stomach.
- Proteins: 38 - 44%
- Fats: 16%
- Volume: 300g and 1.75k
Best Kitten Food - The Verdict
Remember, your kitten won’t properly thrive with food intended for adult cats. You should cater wet and dry food that’s rich in proteins, fats, and calories. The inclusion of minerals and vitamins would certainly bring the best out of your precious furball.
Based on the previous criteria, we think that Lily's Kitchen Classic Chicken Dinner is the best kitten food. Not only does it contain all the elements that your kitten needs, but it’s also the best eco-friendly product on the market.For dry food, we recommend Applaws Complete Natural Dry. With 38% proteins and 20% fats, your kittens will bounce around your home for hours on end. It may be that your kitten has a specific diet, in which case our article on grain free cat food will be useful.