6 Best Kitten Foods of 2023: Now, Forest is no longer a kitten, but when she was, she had a set of nutritional needs that were different than the ones that she has as an adult. You see, kittens are growing extremely rapidly, and as a result, they have different nutritional requirements. So in this article, I’m going to be explaining how your kitten’s nutritional needs differ from an adult cat. And I’m also going to go over our top Six recommendations for the best kitten foods you can buy.
So let’s start off with how a kitten’s nutritional needs are different from those of an adult cat. During kittenhood, your cat is growing incredibly rapidly, and to support that growth and development, he’s going to need a lot of highly-concentrated nutrition. So the key differences between adult food and kitten food all revolve around that idea.
So first off, your kitten is going to need plenty of protein. In particular, very high-quality, bioavailable protein. It appears that kittens are more sensitive to protein quality and quantity than our adult cats. Kittens also need particularly calorie-dense food because they need a lot of calories in order to fuel both their antics and their development. Third, kittens require foods that have a specific balance of vitamins and minerals as well as certain amino acids.
For example, kittens require a slightly different calcium-to-phosphorus ratio than adult cats, and they also need elevated levels of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan. Kittens also need elevated levels of the omega-three fatty acid DHA, which plays an important role in brain and eye development. So DHA is found in things like fish oil, salmon, oil, krill oil, and things like that. So in order to ensure that your kitten’s food meets all of these nutritional requirements, you’re going to want to look for a food that is labeled either for growth and reproduction or all life stages.
These foods meet the nutrient profiles established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials for these age groups and life stages. When I chose our top six recommendations, these basic nutritional requirements were the first thing that I looked for. So after finding foods that met those basic requirements, I look for products that went a step further. I looked for foods that honor the fact that your kitten is a growing carnivore, so I looked for products that incorporated plenty of meat ingredients rather than plants and which had a species-appropriate macronutrient distribution with minimal carbon hydrate matter.
I also took ingredient quality into consideration and looked for foods that utilized relatively high-quality ingredients and avoided anything that might be harmful to your kitten over time. Finally, I consulted customer reviews. So I was looking for products that got really positive customer reviews and which have a good reputation both among cats and people.
6 Best Kitten Foods of 2023
After all of that research, I’ve chosen these six foods as the best products that you can feed your kitten.
Our number one recommendation is Wellness CORE’s turkey and chicken liver recipe for kittens. This is a meat-based pate-style food that emphasizes animal-derived protein above anything else. So the food contains turkey, chicken liver, chicken, and chicken meal as its main protein sources and it also contains some sources of DHA, so it contains herring and fish oil. These sources of DHA help to support brain and eye development and are really important for kittens. So it’s ultimately a meat-based food. This product does contain some plant-derived ingredients but remains overall a low carbohydrate protein-rich choice that meets all of your kitten’s dietary needs. Given its emphasis on animal-derived ingredients and apparently high ingredient quality, this food looks like one of the best kitten foods you can buy. It’s a bit more expensive than a lot of the other products on the market at about 59 cents per ounce.
Our runner-up is another meat-based pate-style food. This time it comes from Instinct by Nature’s Variety. It’s their real chicken recipe for kittens. So as you might guess, looking at the name of this food, the first ingredient is chicken, and this food also contains quite a few other animal-sourced ingredients. So it contains beef liver, salmon, and eggs. Now the food also contains a smattering of plant ingredients, but it remains a low-carbohydrate food that honors your kitten’s needs as a carnivore. This food is also a little bit more expensive than a lot of the other products on the market at about 46 cents per ounce.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more economical, you might want to consider Fancy Feast. So Fancy Feast has a couple of different recipes for kittens, and today we’re recommending their Tender Turkey Feast. Now the Tender Turkey Feast recipe contains turkey as its first ingredient, but it also contains some vaguely named ingredients like liver and meat byproducts. These vaguely named ingredients might not be as bioavailable or high quality as their named equivalents.
The food has some other negative qualities, like the use of both natural and artificial flavors and the use of artificial colors. It also includes milk, which is a curious choice, considering that after they’re weaned, most cats become lactose intolerant. That said, based on customer reviews, not a lot of cats are having negative reactions to the milk in this food and it should be fine. Overall, in spite of a few questionable ingredients, this looks like a real species-appropriate protein-rich diet for your kitten and you can get it for a very affordable price. This food costs about 17 cents per ounce and is one of the cheapest options on the market.
Our next recommendation is also from Wellness like our first pick, but this time it comes from Wellness’ Complete Health line, which is a little bit cheaper than the CORE line. The food is Wellness’ Chicken Entree Pate, and it’s primarily made from chicken. Chicken and chicken liver are the food’s primary ingredients. It also contains Menhaden fish oil as a source of that all-important DHA. Now, while this food does meet your kitten’s needs in that it is high in protein and calorie dense, it’s also relatively high in carbohydrates.
So thanks to the inclusion of carrots and a few other plant ingredients, this food’s carbohydrate content sits at around 14% on a dry matter basis. And ideally, your kitten should be eating food that’s less than 10% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. This food is a little bit on the expensive side at about 44 cents per ounce.
RELATED: Top 7 Best Dry Cat Foods of 2022
Now our second to last recommendation comes from Blue Buffalo’s Healthy Gourmet line. So, it’s their Chicken Entree recipe for kittens. The food meets all of our basic requirements of a good kitten food with chicken, chicken, liver, dried egg, and fish oil all among the first five ingredients that said it does contain some less-than-optimal ingredients. It contains brown rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, and carrageenan, the latter of which is a potentially carcinogenic, potentially inflammatory additive that we’d really prefer not to see in our kitten’s food. That said its carbohydrate content remains pretty low. According to the guaranteed analysis, it’s about 9% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. The food receives excellent customer reviews, kittens seem to love it, and it’s relatively affordable at about 23 cents per ounce.
Our final recommendation is the lone dry kitten food on this list. Seeing as kittenhood is the best time to establish good habits, it’s a very valuable period of time during which you can avoid creating a kibble addict and that’s going to be really hard to break later on. That said, if you are really committed to buying dry food, this food from Simply Nourish is going to be one of the best options you can buy. It’s the Chicken and Turkey recipe from Simply Nourish’s Source line, and it’s a meat-rich food with relatively low carbohydrate content compared to a lot of other dry foods.
It features deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as its main ingredients. And it contains both chicken fat and fish oil as its primary fat sources, which deliver those omega three fatty acids that your kitten needs. Again, dry food isn’t ideal and this food is no exception. It’s relatively high in carbohydrates and of course, it doesn’t deliver the moisture your kitten needs, but it’s a relatively good option if you’re going to go the dry food route. This food is pretty economical at about 22 cents per ounce.
Okay, so that’s it. We’ve made it through our list of the top six best kitten foods you can buy. It’s recommended that you feed kittens a kitten-specific diet from the time they’re weaned up until around their first birthday and at that time you can start the transition to adult food.
Adult cats can eat kitten food and it can be a really good option if your cat is a senior or emaciated or needs to gain weight. But in general, kitten food is not an ideal option for adult cats because it is so calorie dense, it can lead to some unwanted weight gain. Also, it has different levels of certain minerals and could be inappropriate for cats who aren’t still developing bone.
I hope that this article helped you to get a better understanding of what makes kittens’ dietary needs different from those of adult cats. And I also hope that it helped you to choose a kitten food that works for both you and your kin. All right, so that’s it for today. Thank you. Take care. Bye!