These furry little animals are all the rage on every social media platform out there. Those cute and cuddly kittens that are chasing laser beams and balls of yarn certainly make for wonderful pets. When properly cared for, they will also provide entertainment and companionship for many years to come.
The best way to ensure that your feline companion is in it for the long haul is to start them off on a path of proper nutrition. Here’s how you can be sure your pet is getting the nutrition they need along with some helpful information on some of the best kitten food options available.
Nutrition is the Foundation for a Long Life
Like everything in life, determining the optimal nutritional needs of your kitten starts at the very beginning. In a perfect world, your new kitten would have been fortunate enough to be properly weaned from its mother. This means that it most likely received an excellent nutritional foundation from its mother’s milk. It’s no secret that breast feeding is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, many kittens are not so fortunate. With the increase in stray cat populations, many kittens are born to mother’s that struggle to properly feed themselves, much less be able to provide for a litter of kittens. If you found your new kitten in a shelter or animal rescue, it is highly likely that their nutritional foundation is lacking.
The reason this is such a critical time for your kitten is that they will grow and develop very rapidly. In fact, their weight will likely double or triple in the first few weeks of life. With such an explosive growth rate, your kitten may need 2 to 3 times the amount of food energy compared to an adult cat. The obvious challenge here is ensuring your kitten gets enough calories in each meal. It becomes even more difficult if you have a rescued kitten that is already behind the curve.
+ Free Shipping at Chewy.com
What is the Best Kitten Food?
- Holistic Select Adult & Kitten Health Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Cat Food
- Solid Gold Indigo Moon with Chicken & Eggs Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food
- Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Mackerel Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food
- Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free Natural Canned Cat & Kitten Food
- Solid Gold Five Oceans Mackerel & Tuna Recipe in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Key Nutritional Needs for Kittens
While it is possible to raise a child off of a fast food diet, it is certainly not recommended. The same thing applies to your kitten. It is possible to feed them any number of low-grade cat foods and keep them alive but you are certainly not setting them up for a lifetime of health and happiness.
Kittens have certain nutritional needs that are similar to adult cats. The both need most vitamins, some fats, and fatty acids. Kittens, however, need a higher concentration of amino acids and protein to support optimal growth. In fact, kittens should be getting roughly 30% of their caloric intake from protein. They also need a higher volume of minerals and certain vitamins.
Proper nutritional content for kittens will support the development of healthy skin as well as a healthy coat. It is also important for the proper development of the digestive systems. If you want your kitten to keep those amazingly bright eyes, then you need to make sure they are getting the proper amounts of the best nutrients.
One final consideration for your kitten’s diet is how well your kitten actually digests the cat food. Many of the store brands and less expensive alternatives are heavy in grains like corn. While this type of formula may temporarily satisfy your kitty, they will be unable to properly digest it. This means that most of your cat food purchase will simply end up in the litter box. It’s also likely that your kitten will end up with a higher amount of fur balls due to its coat not being as healthy. The point is that spending less on what you put in your kitty, may end up costing you way more to deal with what eventually comes out.
How to Choose a Proper Kitten Food
If you’ve found yourself in the pet food aisle at your local grocery store, then you quite possibly have found yourself overwhelmed by the numerous options available. You probably have struggled to tell the difference between the higher priced foods and the lower cost options, particularly since they all make similar claims as to how good they are for your pet. To help you make this decision, let’s look beyond the advertising and take a good look at the nutritional facts.
Many cat food labels will claim that they are safe and effective for kittens. Some foods are actually labeled as “kitten food” while others claim to be usable for your cat regardless of their age. While this might help you narrow down your list of options it is not always the best indicator. To truly understand the nutritional value of kitten food, you need to take a close look at the ingredients.
When reading cat food labels you want to be sure to see reference to the AAFCO. This is the American Association of Feed Control Officials. This group of state and federal officials is responsible for regulating pet food. If a cat food label contains a reference to “complete and balanced nutrition based on AAFCO feeding trials” then you are definitely looking at some of the better options for your pet. What “complete and balanced” is telling you is that your kitten should not need additional vitamin and mineral supplements on top of that particular kitten food.
How Much and How Often to Feed
Even if you are an experienced cat owner that is used to feeding older felines, you’ll need to keep in mind that young kittens need to eat more often than their adult counterparts. Typically older cats are fine with feeding twice daily. Young kittens, on the other hand, will need as many as 4 to 5 times per day.
If you choose to do scheduled feedings, then be sure to pay attention to the labels and only provide the recommended amount of food. Overfeeding your kitten can lead to obesity at a young age. This could lead to your pet battling this overweight issue for the rest of their lives.
Free feeding is also an option for your kitten. This is a process where you keep food in the bowl at all times. Your kitten will learn to eat until it is full and only when it is hungry as opposed to gorging themselves at the scheduled feeding times. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to monitor how much your kitten is consuming. It is easier and less expensive to prevent a cat from coming obese as opposed to dealing with obesity after it becomes an issue.
How to Know You Have Chosen a Good Kitten Food
Now that you’ve selected a food for your kitten your job is not finished. Now you need to monitor your to make sure that they do not have a negative reaction to the food. Most kittens will be okay with any nutritional food that you provide them however it is possible that they can have an allergic reaction to the formula.
Some other signs that may indicate that your pet is having a negative reaction to the kitten food are constant scratching, hair loss, and diarrhea. Again if these symptoms persist it is best to seek Veterinary Care. You can certainly try to change your pet’s diet but rather than playing a game of Hit or Miss it is best to seek medical treatment. If left unchecked these negative reactions to their food can lead to lifelong illness and even death.
Top Recommended Kitten Food Brands
Now that you know how important lifelong nutrition is for your pet it’s time to look at some of the best options that are available. Using your new found knowledge about how best to go about choosing the right kitten food, take a good look at these recommended options that will provide optimal nutrition and health for your kitten.
Holistic Select Adult & Kitten Health Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Cat Food Check Price
Combining active probiotics with healthy fiber, this specially formulated kitten food from Holistic Select will do wonders for your pet’s digestive system. In fact, Holistic Select places a strong emphasis on digestive health as they believe it is critical as a foundational element of overall health. With digestive enzymes and the finest quality all natural ingredients, this Chicken Meal Recipe will allow for optimal absorption of much-needed vitamins, minerals and proteins.
This particular brand of pet food contains protease, alpha-amylase, and cellulose, which are used by your kitten’s digestive system to help break down proteins, starches, and cellulose. The protease will help break down the chicken meal and other proteins that are contained in this dry cat food. The proteins are vital nutrients necessary to support the healthy growth of muscle tissue in your kitten. The chicken meal also provides a savory flavor that cats definitely do crave.
Your cat will also enjoy the wide variety of other ingredients that are included in this healthy dry cat food. There are superfoods included such as cranberries, blueberries, and pomegranates. With rich anti-oxidants, these fruits will help with healthy cell development for your kitten. To make sure your kitten has healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat, Holistic Select adds flaxseed and menhaden fish oil to its dry cat food formula.
As the only natural cat food that has a full support system for digestive health, this kitten food contains several sources of fiber including pumpkin and dried beet pulp. Holistic Select has over 10 years of experience in providing healthy, all natural pet foods that offer an effective combination of probiotics, digestive enzymes and anti-oxidant rich superfoods that makes it an excellent choice of food for your kitten.
- Enriched Superfoods
- Contains Probiotics
- Contains Digestive Enzymes
- Price as compared some other brands
Solid Gold Indigo Moon with Chicken & Eggs Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Check Price
With over 40 years of experience in the pet food industry, Solid Gold boasts of being the first all-natural holistic pet food manufacturer. So if you are looking for an established name brand that you can trust then Solid Gold may be your choice.
Their Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe contain several quality sources of protein like egg proteins and ocean fish meal. These tasty ingredients provide a good source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals that support a healthy mind, shiny coat and endless energy for your little ball of fur.
In addition to being an excellent source of protein, Solid Gold dry cat food also includes as many as 20 different superfoods that support optimal digestive health and a strong immune system. Some of the superfoods included are pumpkin, blueberries, cranberries, apples, broccoli, and carrots. These familiar foods that you recognize in your everyday diet provide a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for your kitten.
Solid Gold’s healthy recipe also provides much-needed phytonutrients that are beneficial to optimal health and disease prevention. To make sure your kitten maintains bright shiny eyes with excellent vision, this dry cat food formula also contains essential beta-carotene. With Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Kitten food, your spunky little feline will be a healthy playmate for many years to come.
- Grain and gluten free
- Contains egg to provide essential amino acids to support muscle growth and metabolism
- Great for owners of cats who are different ages
- Formulated with 20 nutrient rich superfoods like carrots, pumpkin, cranberries, blueberries, broccoli, almond oil, kelp and lentils
- High protein formula contains chicken and ocean whitefish meal.
- Contains peas which are a common allergen for cats
Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food Check Price
Instinct is known as the “Raw” brand which is indicative of their commitment to providing all natural raw foods for your pet. This particular recipe is specially formulated for kittens and contains 81% real animal ingredients. The remaining 19% is made up of natural vegetable, fruits, and other healthy ingredients. Instinct is proud to offer this product as a grain-free pet food.
In addition to their commitment to providing real animal ingredients, Instinct dry cat food has a long list of health benefits for your kitten. The large quantities of fish, chicken, and meat provide plenty of healthy proteins to support strong muscle development in your young feline. These raw ingredients also provide large quantities of DHA which is very beneficial to the development of a sharp mind and excellent eyesight.
Instinct pet foods are also committed to optimizing your kitty’s digestive health. Their all natural formula contains natural probiotics for improved digestion, omega fatty acids for optimal blood health and antioxidant-rich superfoods that support healthy cellular function.
If you want your kitten to have boundless energy for frolic and play, Instinct’s grain free recipe can give your little buddy a seemingly endless supply. Starting with cage-free chicken plus other high animal proteins like wild caught salmon and farm-raised rabbits will provide ample fuel for your pet to grow strong and play all day long.
- Grain Free
- Contains Pure, Raw Nutrition
- Contains Omegas and Antioxidants
- Price as compared to other brands
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Mackerel Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food Check Price
If you are considering a canned, wet cat food as opposed to a dry kibble, then Nulo Freestyle is definitely worth considering. With a focus on flavor and a chewy texture, Nulo packs their wet kitten food with protein-rich salmon, mackerel, and other high-quality meats to help your kitten grow up big and strong. Nulo is made right here in the USA and comes conveniently packaged in portion sized cans that are super simple to open. This makes portion control much easier as you raise your young kitten.
Nulo’s nutritional formula is actually inspired by performance research for world-class athletes. Their grain free recipe uses high-quality proteins and healthy alternatives to carbohydrates that provide a healthy combination of strength and energy to support your kitten’s playful lifestyle. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and taurine, their salmon and mackerel recipe supports optimal health and organ function in your pet.
Just like the dry kibble alternative’s, Nulo is committed to healthy digestive function in your feline. Essential probiotics help your kitten break down this scrumptious meal into its healthy assortment of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Omegas and antioxidants are also an essential part of their formula.
Perhaps the strongest feature of Nulo’s special recipe kitten food is its low glycemic ingredients and alternatives to carbohydrates. This combination provides your kitten with loads of slow burning energy that will have him or her frolicking all about the house for many years to come.
- Convenient serving size cans
- Moist cat food
- Contains fish as primary source of protein
- Not recommended for cats with fish allergies
Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free Natural Canned Cat & Kitten Food Check Price
As its name suggests, Earthborn Holistic is committed to all natural holistic approaches to providing high-quality nutrition to your pet. Catering to the fact that your kitten is a young carnivore, Earthborn Holistic’s protein-rich formula satisfies your kitty’s natural needs and cravings. Using skipjack tuna and mackerel as the primary ingredients, your pet will enjoy this highly digestible wet food that comes in convenient portion-sized cans. Now you can feed your kitten’s natural instincts while avoiding the challenges of portion control and obesity.
In addition to the tuna and mackerel, Earthborn Holistic’s specially formulated kitten recipe contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are critical for healthy skin and a shiny coat. It also includes taurine that has many benefits to your young cat’s heart and vision functions. Loads of vitamins and minerals in every tasty bite will ensure healthy immune system function for a long and happy life.
As part of their holistic approach, Earthborn carefully selects each and every ingredient that goes into this savory Monterey Medley formula. The goal is to create a healthy pet food that is perfectly balanced with the nutrition levels your cute little kitten deserves. Just like their unique formula, Earthborn Holistic is committed to ensuring that every facet of your pet’s natural systems is perfectly balanced.
Perhaps most importantly, Earthborn’s pet food formulas are excellent choices for kittens that may have food allergies or sensitive stomachs. Their grain free formula does not contain any artificial ingredients or additives. So not only will your kitten enjoy feeling like a natural carnivore, but with Earthborn Holistic’s Monterey Medley Natural Canned Kitten Food you can rest assured knowing your young cat is eating a pure, healthy and natural meal.
- Heavy with Omega fatty acids
- Contains fish as main source of protein
- Supports urinary health
- Not recommended for cats with fish allergies
Solid Gold Five Oceans Mackerel & Tuna Recipe in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Check Price
Solid Gold has its second entry on our list of recommended kitten foods with this canned option featuring mackerel and tuna in gravy. This unique formula also includes tapioca and canola oil in addition to the protein-rich fish and other natural meats. These monounsaturated fats will help to give your kitten healthy skin and a beautiful coat.
This wet formula contains large chunks of tasty fish but does not contain any grains, artificial ingredients or additives. This all-natural formula will promote optimal digestive health in your kitten allowing it to easily absorb the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
With 40 years of experience, you might expect Solid Gold to be a leading innovator in the pet food industry. This moist, canned food is no exception. Not only does it provide a nutritional, protein-rich meal, but it also contains up to 75% moisture. This makes it an excellent source of hydration for your kitten. Making sure your kitten gets enough liquid in its diet can sometimes be a challenge. Solid Gold has solved this problem for you by making their Five Oceans canned food a dietary source of water that is essential for healthy urinary tract function.
Another benefit of this moist kitten food is that it can be enjoyed by itself or added to a dry kibble. If you have a finicky eater, this Solid Gold formula might be just what you need. With its combination of flavor and texture, the Five Oceans Mackerel and Tuna will have even the pickiest of feline’s licking the bowl clean.
- High Vitamin and mineral content
- Contains Pre and Probiotics
- Contains fish as main source of protein
- Supports urinary health
- Not recommended for cats with fish allergies