Best Kitten Foods

Updated August 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
Hill's Science Diet Indoor Dry Kitten Food
Hill's Science Diet
Indoor Dry Kitten Food
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Made specifically for kittens, Science Diet formula supports a healthy immune system. Fewer calories per cup for indoor kittens.


No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Can migrate to adult version of this food as kitten grows. Customers report kittens like the taste of this food.


Food has an oily texture, which causes some kittens to vomit, according to some pet owners.

Best Bang for the Buck
IAMS Proactive Health Kitten Dry Food
Proactive Health Kitten Dry Food
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Extremely affordable kitten food. Aims to strengthen the immune system and promote healthy coats.


Food recipe contains no fillers. Adult version available as kitten ages. Customers like the quality of the food, especially considering the low price.


Some kitten owners report receiving an adult size of kibble with this product, rather than a kitten size.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Kitten Food
Blue Buffalo
Life Protection Dry Kitten Food
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Blue Buffalo formula focuses on providing key nutrients for kittens, but the price is a bit higher than other brands.


Customers report an improvement in kitten's coat and breath. Only natural ingredients. Can migrate to adult version as kitten ages.


Cost is higher than average. Some pet owners said their kittens did not like the taste of this food.

Nutro MAX Cat Dry Kitten Food
MAX Cat Dry Kitten Food
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Low price point for a kitten food that does not use chicken by-product meal. Formula aimed specifically at kitten growth.


Same brand offered in adult cat version and wet cat food version. Owners say their pets like the taste, and this food doesn't cause bad breath odors.


Some customers report damaged packaging. Individual kibbles are larger than average.

Wellness Natural Complete Health Natural Dry Kitten Food
Wellness Natural
Complete Health Natural Dry Kitten Food
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Formula is aimed at the whole body development of kittens, while helping them maintain a healthy weight.


A few customers report using this food to successfully help with weight control for kittens. Adult version and flavors available as kitten ages.


Kittens may pick around some flavors of kibbles. Kittens with sensitive stomachs struggle with this food, owners say.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying 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.

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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.


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.


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.

Types of kitten food

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.
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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.

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.

Considerations for selecting the best kitten food

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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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 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.

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


When you're preparing for your kitten, there are a few other things you might need.

Pet food container: If you feed your kitten dry food, a pet food container allows you to keep out moisture and seal in freshness.

Kitten food supplements: Some kittens need a little extra nutritional help.


  • 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.

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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.


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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