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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.


    Shopping Guide for Best Kitten Food

    A kitten is like an adorable little whirlwind of fluff and mischief. It takes a lot of energy to pull off all those antics! That's why your new addition needs the right kitten food to fuel her adventures.

    With hundreds of kitten food brands and formulas to choose from, how do you select the best one for your furry little sidekick? The research we performed at BestReviews can help you find a quality kitten food with premium ingredients – one that ticks all the nutritional boxes while still providing a good value for the money.

    In order to bring you fair and thorough reviews, we perform deep research on the products we recommend, consulting experts and gathering data from existing customers. What's more, to avoid the chance of bias, we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Read on for our full guide to kitten food. We’ll show you how to choose the perfect formula for your feline friend.

    Feed your cat kitten food until she reaches 12 months of age. At that point, you can transition her to adult cat food.

    The Difference Between Kitten Food and Cat Food

    Growing felines have different nutritional requirements than adult cats do. Here are some of the primary differences between kitten food and cat food.

    • Protein: Kitten food has a higher protein content than adult cat food. Kittens should get around 30% of their calories from protein; adult cats should get around 25% of their calories from protein.

    • Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio: Growing kittens require a greater calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in their food than grown cats do.

    • Calories: Kitten food contains more calories, as kittens need to consume up to three times more calories than adult cats do.

    • Vitamin A: Your chosen kitten food should contain high levels of vitamin A. Kittens require twice as much vitamin A as full-grown cats do.

    • Fatty and Amino Acids: Kitten food should contain greater amounts of various fatty acids and amino acids than adult cat food. This includes lysine and methionine.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you're changing your kitten's diet, make sure you transition him to his new food gradually, over four or five days, to avoid upsetting his stomach.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Types of Kitten Food

    Types

    Dry Kitten Food

    Pros:

    • Dry kitten food tends to cost less than wet kitten food.

    • It's easier to "free feed" with dry food, since it doesn't spoil as quickly as wet food.

    • Dry kitten food is easier to store, since it doesn't require refrigeration once opened.
       

    Cons:

    • Due to its low moisture content, dry kitten food is more likely to cause dehydration, especially if your cat doesn't drink much water.

    • Dry kitten food tends to contain more carbohydrates and other fillers than wet food.
       

    Price: Some basic kitten food formulas cost less than a dollar per pound. High-end kitten food may cost more than three dollars per pound.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Cats who don't drink enough are prone to urinary tract issues, such as infections of the urinary tract and kidney stones. Feeding your cat wet food can help avoid these problems, since it naturally contains a lot of moisture.

    Types

    Wet Kitten Food

    Pros:

    • Wet kitten food helps prevent dehydration and its related complications.

    • As a rule, wet kitten food contains more meat and fewer carbs than its dry counterpart.

    • Fussy eaters often find wet food more palatable.

    • Wet kitten food is easier to eat, especially for very young kittens who may struggle with dry kibbles.
       

    Cons:

    • Wet kitten food usually costs more than dry food.

    • Compared to dry kitten food, the wet variety is messier and less convenient to feed.
       

    Price: Basic wet kitten food costs around six dollars per pound. High-end kitten food can cost ten dollars per pound or more.

    Most experts agree that kittens should eat at least some wet food, since it's easier for small mouths to eat and has a high moisture content that helps prevent dehydration. However, you can feed your kitten a combination of wet and dry food if you prefer.

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    BestReviews

    Considerations for Selecting the Best Kitten Food

    Considerations

    Vitamins and Minerals

    Kitten food should contain all the appropriate vitamins and minerals to help your feline friend grow strong and healthy.

    Most cat food contains added vitamins to ensure that nutritional requirements are met, but kitties should get plenty of vitamins and minerals from the food itself.

    EXPERT TIP

    Look for "chelated" minerals in your kitten food. Chelated minerals have been bound with amino acids to make them easier to absorb and more bioavailable.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    Considerations

    Ingredient Quality

    We advise potential buyers to look for kitten food made of high-quality ingredients.

    • High-end brands often source their meat and other ingredients from North America, which can be an indicator of quality.

    • Make sure your chosen food contains whole meats or meat meal rather than animal by-products.

    • Avoid foods that contain excessive amounts of filler ingredients, such as grains and other carbohydrates. While carbs do have their place, cats are obligate carnivores, so the vast majority of your kitty’s diet should be meat.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A good kitten food should have a high meat content. Ideally, the first three ingredients should all be either meat or meat meal. If a grain or carbohydrate is listed as one of the first three ingredients, the food contains too much filler.

    Considerations

    Flavor

    Kitten food comes in a variety of meat and seafood flavors.

    Some kittens are extremely fussy eaters who turn up their noses at anything that doesn't meet their standards. Others will dig into almost anything you put in front of them.

    If your fur baby is one of the picky ones, it might take some trial and error to find a flavor she loves.

    EXPERT TIP

    We recommend feeding your cat a range of kitten food flavors while he's still young. A kitten who has only ever eaten one type and flavor of food may be more likely to become a picky eater as an adult.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    Considerations

    AAFCO Approval

    The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) puts its seal of approval on some brands of kitten food.

    If a particular food is labeled with AAFCO approval, it means that based on its nutrient profile, the food should meet or exceed your kitten’s minimum nutritional requirements.

    Some experts say that pet owners should select foods that have been approved through actual AAFCO feeding trials, not just nutrient profiles. According to these experts, the trials provide a better idea of how a kitten food performs when fed to real animals.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Dry kitten food usually contains smaller kibbles than dry adult cat food – all the better for tiny mouths.

    Tips

    • Kitten food should have a high protein content, but it's impossible to compare the percentage of protein in wet and dry foods. Wet foods contain a lot of water, so the protein percentage may appear low, but the protein content is higher once you adjust for the moisture.

    • It's okay to "free feed" your kitten dry cat food; you can leave the food out all day long for him to access as he pleases. Be advised that wet food spoils much faster than dry food, and it should not be left out for an indefinite period.

    • You'll know your kitten is thriving on her food if she's growing and gaining weight steadily, has bright eyes and a clean and glossy coat, is active and playful, and has healthy bowel movements.

    • Avoid kitten food that lists "animal digest" as an ingredient. Since it's made from unspecified animal parts, it's often comprised of low-quality ingredients. And because there's no control over its contents, the animal digest may contain contaminated meats that would otherwise be deemed unfit for consumption.

    You can find commercial raw cat food – usually frozen or freeze-dried – if you want to try your cat on a raw diet without the fuss. However, we don’t recommend a raw diet for kittens under six months old.

    FAQ

    Q. How often should I feed my kitten?

    A. Younger kittens need to eat small amounts frequently. They should ideally be offered four small meals a day. Once they reach six months of age, this can be decreased to two larger meals per day. That said, dry food can be left out all day if it's not eaten in one sitting. Some cats prefer to eat a little bit at a time, coming back to the food later when they get hungry.

    Q. Should I opt for grain-free kitten food?

    A. "Grain-free" is a big trend in the pet food industry right now, but barring an allergy, there's no reason why your kitten's food needs to be 100% grain-free. Small amounts of grain can provide a good source of both carbohydrates and protein, but by no means should any grain be one of the main ingredients in your chosen kitten food.

    Q. Is there anything I shouldn't feed my kitten?

    A. Kittens don't really need to eat anything other than their kitten food – and maybe the occasional treat. That said, we understand that pet parents often like to share human food when kitty seems interested. Many human foods are fine for kittens to eat in small amounts, but the following food should be avoided, as they are either toxic or otherwise not recommended for felines.

    • Raw eggs, fish, and liver

    • Milk and other dairy products

    • Onions

    • Garlic

    • Chocolate

    • Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages

    • Raisins and grapes

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