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10 Best Dry Kitten Foods – 2024 Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

kitten eating dry food from a metal bowl

Dry kitten foods are mess-free, have a long shelf life, and are convenient. However, they can be less palatable than wet food, so you need to find one that  contains the full gamut of vitamins and minerals needed by a healthy cat, but also one that is tasty and appealing to your kittens.

We have written a list of reviews of ten of the best dry kitten food, including premium foods and those at the cheaper end of the scale, prescription and off-the-shelf varieties, and even some food that has been designed specifically for young kittens after they have been neutered or spayed. These reviews are meant as a guide and to help you find the one that is best for your little one.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.

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A Quick Glance at Our Favorites of 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Food
  • Contains DHA and ARA
  • Deboned chicken and chicken meal as main ingredients
  • Contains taurine
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina Chow Nurture Dry Kitten Food Purina Chow Nurture Dry Kitten Food
  • Cheap
  • Uses chicken as its protein source
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Royal Canin Feline Dry Food For Spayed/Neutered Kittens Royal Canin Feline Dry Food For Spayed/Neutered Kittens
  • The primary ingredient is chicken-based
  • Targeted at spayed and neutered kittens
  • Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula
  • Cheap
  • Chicken is the primary ingredient
  • Contains DHA
  • Hill’s Science Diet Chicken Recipe Dry Kitten Food Hill’s Science Diet Chicken Recipe Dry Kitten Food
  • Primary ingredient is chicken-based
  • Cheap
  • The 10 Best Dry Kitten Foods

    1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Food – Best Overall

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten dry cat food

    Primary Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, pea protein
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 40%

    Blue Buffalo’s kitten food is made using a grain-free recipe. Cats would not eat grain in the wild, so grain-free food is considered species-appropriate. It contains 30% of the primary meat protein, chicken in this case, and combines fruit and vegetables for nutrition and flavor.

    Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits give the food added vitamins and minerals from natural sources. It has a protein content of 40%, which is high, especially for dry food, but it’s a desirable protein level, as long as your kitten can stomach it. Gradually introduce the food over a week or two to minimize the risk of vomiting and causing other gastrointestinal upset.

    The primary ingredients in this list are deboned chicken and chicken meal, again considered species-appropriate because cats would naturally eat these in the wild.

    The food also contains DHA and ARA, which are found in mother’s milk and aid cognitive and retinal performance. It has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which not only encourage a shiny and healthy coat but also help with vision and maintain healthy skin.

    Blue Buffalo is modestly priced and the only negative is that it’s rich and some kittens may struggle to eat it, initially. Its quality ingredients and good protein level, as well as the fact that it’s modestly priced, make this the best overall dry kitten food.

    Pros
    • Contains DHA and ARA
    • Deboned chicken and chicken meal as main ingredients
    • Contains taurine

    Cons
    • Not cheap
    • Quite rich for sensitive kittens


    2. Purina Chow Nurture Dry Kitten Food – Best Value

    Purina Kitten Chow Nurture dry cat food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, rice
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 40%

    Purina Chow Nurture Dry Kitten Food is a cheap food that has 40% protein that will help your fur baby develop the muscles it is going to need to jump around and explore. It contains the DHA that is found in mother’s milk but often lacking from dry and even wet food brands. It has proven a popular tasting food with cats and it is one of if not the cheapest food on the list, making it the best value dry kitten for the money.

    However, there are some lower-quality ingredients, compared to other foods, that have clearly been chosen to keep costs down. The primary ingredient is chicken by-product meal. Chicken is a desirable source of protein for cats, and the use of “meal” means that it has a higher concentration of protein. By-products, on the other hand, are the leftovers and scraps that manufacturers won’t use in human food. They are cheaper than prime cuts, but they can include organs and other undesirable ingredients.

    Other low quality, cheap filler ingredients include corn, brewers’ rice, soy flour, and you will find wheat flour and dried yeast. These ingredients are not harmful to kittens, but they are not considered top drawer.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Uses chicken as its protein source

    Cons
    • Some lower-quality ingredients keep the cost down
    • Includes grains


    3. Royal Canin Feline Dry Food For Spayed/Neutered Kittens – Premium Choice

    Royal Canin Feline Dry Cat Food For Spayed_Neutered Kittens

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, brewers’ rice, corn
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 32%

    When cats are spayed or neutered, they go through huge hormonal changes, and some owners and vets report that kittens can put on weight following the procedure. Despite this, it is actually rare to find kitten foods that are specifically for post-spaying use. One exception is that of Royal Canin Feline Dry Cat Food For Spayed and Neutered Kittens.

    This is an expensive food but it has been formulated specifically for this very important stage in your kitten’s development. It contains the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help your kitten grow up strong and healthy. It also offers reduced calories when compared to similar foods, and this enables you to watch your cat’s weight while still feeding decent food.

    The kibble has a 32% protein rate, which is lower than some, but still decent. It also comes in a palatable and chewable x shape.

    Despite being one of the most expensive foods on this list, however, there are some low-quality and questionable ingredients in the list. For example, while the primary ingredient is chicken-based, it is labeled as a by-product, which means that it could be almost any part of the chicken. It does contain chicken fat, which is actually a positive ingredient to see on the list because of its omega-3 and omega-6 content, but there are grains and other potential allergens.

    Pros
    • The primary ingredient is chicken-based
    • Targeted at spayed and neutered kittens

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Chicken by-product is low quality
    • Contains fillers and allergens


    4. Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula

    Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 40%

    Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula isn’t the cheapest food on this list, but it nearly is. It features chicken and then chicken by-product meal as the first two ingredients. While by-product meal is less than desirable, it is only the second ingredient rather than the first and it has been chosen to help keep the overall cost of this food down. The food has 40% protein, which is a good level for kitten food because it helps ensure and maintain strong muscles in your furry one. It contains DHA, which is the protein found in mother’s milk that supports brain function and vision development.

    Unfortunately, because this is one of the cheaper foods, there are filler ingredients found further down the list. Filler ingredients are not necessarily damaging or dangerous, but they are not always species-appropriate and offer minimal benefit other than bulking up the food and potentially adding low-quality protein to the label. Examples include whole-grain corn, which is also an allergen and undesirable in kitten food.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Chicken is the primary ingredient
    • Contains DHA

    Cons
    • Uses chicken by-product meal
    • Contains grain
    • Uses cheap fillers to bulk out the food


    5. Hill’s Science Diet Chicken Recipe for Kittens

    Hill’s Science Diet Kitten Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken, brown rice, wheat gluten
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 33%

    Hill’s Science Diet Kitten Dry Cat Food contains 33% protein and lists its first ingredient as chicken. While chicken is a good source of protein, in its pure form it has a high moisture content, so once it has been prepared, it is likely that it would feature much further down the list of ingredients.

    You will also find chicken fat high in the ingredient list, which is a good source of fatty acids and considered a good addition to cat food. The recipe is not suitable for cats with grain allergies or sensitivities, however, as it contains rice and wheat-based ingredients.

    Some owners prefer a grain-free recipe for their cats because they would not eat them as wild cats. As with most kitten foods, the kibble is smaller than with adult food, making it easier for young ones to chew and digest. The recipe is also recommended for pregnant and nursing cats.

    Pros
    • Primary ingredient is chicken-based
    • Cheap

    Cons
    • Meat protein could be low
    • 33% protein could be higher
    • Contains grains


    6. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Food for Young Kittens

    Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Cat Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, brown rice, brewers rice
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 34%

    Targeted specifically at kittens aged between 4 months and 1 year, Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Cat is on the expensive side. Its primary ingredients are chicken by-product meal, brown rice, and brewers rice.

    It also contains several grain-based ingredients and has an overall protein ratio of 34%. Added vitamins and antioxidants help your kitten maintain a good immune system while the small size of the kibble pieces means that even small mouths can easily chew and digest the food.

    Despite being one of the more expensive foods on the list, the Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Cat Food uses less than ideal chicken by-product meal as the main ingredient and rice and gluten meal among its other top ingredients. The food is high in carbohydrates so you will need to look elsewhere if you are helping your kitten avoid carbs.

    Pros
    • Added vitamins and antioxidants
    • Targeted at kittens between 4 months and 1 year

    Cons
    • Primary ingredient is chicken by-product meal
    • Contains multiple grain and seafood allergens
    • Expensive


    7. IAMS ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Iams ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain corn
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein: 33%

    IAMS ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food is relatively cheap food. Its primary ingredients are chicken by-product meal and chicken. Chicken is a good source of meat protein, but when listed in ingredients as “chicken” this is the uncooked and unprepared source.

    Once it has been prepared, it will account for much less of the food weight and would likely feature further down the list. The secondary ingredient, chicken by-product meal, is also considered less than ideal because by-products are the leftovers after the chicken has been prepared for other foods so it includes things like feet which are not necessarily as high in protein as the rest of the bird.

    A lot of other ingredients are plant-based, suggesting that a sizable portion of the 33% protein ratio is made up of plant protein.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Includes fish oil as a decent source of omega-3

    Cons
    • Meat ingredients aren’t the best quality
    • Plenty of plant-based proteins
    • High levels of carbs


    8. Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken, wheat gluten, brown rice
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein:  33.5%

    Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food is the variant of this food that is designed for indoor cats. Indoor cats do not usually get as much exercise as outdoor cats but they also do not need to be able to climb as high or run as quickly. Indoor cat food caters to these specific requirements by cutting down the calorie count in the food, and also minimizing protein.

    Other potential differences include the addition of more prebiotics and probiotics to better manage feces and ensure that it is solid and doesn’t smell too bad. Hill’s Science food is expensive. It lists chicken as its main ingredient, but this will account for less of the ingredients once prepared. Considering the high cost of the food, there are a lot of ingredients that are considered filler.

    It does contain chicken fat and fish oil which are good sources of fiber and omega fatty acids. Furthermore, it uses chicken liver flavor which is a natural flavoring and will usually make the food more palatable and appealing to cats.

    Pros
    • Fish oil offers omega-3 oils
    • Fewer calories suitable for indoor cats
    • Prebiotics and probiotics improve gut health

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Chicken will feature lower once prepared


    9. Purina Pro Plan Dry Kitten Food

    Purina Pro Plan Dry Kitten Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken, corn gluten meal, rice
    Food Type: Dry kibble
    Protein:  42%

    Purina Pro Plan is a pricey dry food that lists chicken as its primary food source, followed by corn gluten meal and rice. It is a very high protein food, listed as being 42% protein. This is another commercial food that lists “chicken” as the primary ingredient, but it would likely be much further down the list once it has been cooked or prepared.

    The high protein level means that some cats may struggle to keep the food down initially, and you should try to gradually change to the new food to prevent gastrointestinal complaints. The food is free from allergens having been listed as suitable for kittens, and it does contain DHA, which normally comes from a kitten’s mother, and taurine.

    Pros
    • 42% protein
    • Contains DHA

    Cons
    • Much of the protein looks to be plant based
    • Not cheap


    10. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe Coated Dry Kitten Food

    Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food

    Primary Ingredients: Chicken, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal
    Food Type: Raw coated dry food
    Protein: 42.5%

    Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe is a coated dry food with the primary ingredients of chicken and turkey meal. Although chicken is not the best meat source to find at the top of the ingredients, it is supported by the second ingredient being a turkey meal.

    Turkey meal is a more concentrated source of protein and will account for a good portion of the 42% protein ratio of this food. 42% is a high protein level and some kittens may not be able to stomach the food.

    The food is expensive, and because it is rich, not all cats like it and it is likely to cause some kittens to suffer an upset stomach. It contains DHA and is fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure that the kitten gets a fully balanced and healthy diet.

    Pros
    • Chicken and turkey meal are the main ingredients
    • Grain-free recipe

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Rich food

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    Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Dry Kitten Foods

    Getting the right kitten food is important. It gives your furry family member the energy required to run around and explore but, more than that, it has protein to build muscle and vitamins and minerals to keep your kitten healthy and fit.

    little kitten eating food from the feeding bowl
    Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

    What’s the Best Diet for My Kitten?

    There are many options when it comes to feeding cats and kittens.

    Raw

    There is a growing number of owners that feed a raw food diet. This means preparing meals yourself, preparing meat before feeding it with other ingredients. This can be an expensive means of feeding and it also requires time spent in the kitchen preparing the food. Once prepared, it must be properly stored until it is used to prevent the food from spoiling before your cat can eat it. However, it does enable you to determine precisely what is in your kitten’s food. It lets you, with some calculations, measure the protein, carbohydrate, and other nutrient levels, and raw food meals tend to be moist. Cats are not as reliable at drinking water from a bowl as dogs are, so providing some moisture in food can be beneficial.

    Wet Food

    Another alternative for kittens is wet food. This usually comes in pouches or cans. It has a high moisture content and usually has a higher protein ratio than dry food. It smells more appealing and is more palatable for cats. However, it doesn’t keep well, has a limited shelf life, and it can work out more expensive than feeding a decent quality dry food.

    Why Choose Dry Food?

    Dry food usually refers to kibble, also called dry biscuits. It has minimal moisture, and protein levels that range from 30% to 45% for kittens and is usually fortified with added vitamins and minerals. Dry food is inexpensive, keeps for longer than other food types, and can be left down for your cats to enjoy all day long, rather than having to be lifted after a couple of hours.

    Of course, it is also possible to feed a combination diet that consists of, for example, dry kibble with a raw food topper and backed up with wet food pouches when you don’t have any raw food prepared. Feeding a combination means that you can, in an ideal world, meet all of your cats and your requirements. You can hit desired protein levels, offer food that smells and tastes good to your cat, and limit the amount you spend on cat food every month. It also means that you can leave dry food down during the day but feed pouches of wet food at mealtimes.

    Which is the right choice of food type will depend on your cat’s preferences as well as your circumstances.

    Kitten vs Adult Cat Food

    Kitten food has been formulated especially for young cats. Some specify that the food has been created for cats over four months and under a year, but others are not as specific. Kitten food has more fat, protein, and calories, and it contains vitamins and minerals like DHA that are specifically required by kittens. Adult food has fewer calories because adult cats are less likely to burn the calories off. It also contains vitamins and minerals that will sustain your cat as it gets older. It is not advised to feed an adult cat kitten food, and you should not give a kitten adult cat food too early.

    When Should Kittens Start on Dry Food?

    Kittens will usually start to eat solid foods at around three or four weeks but should start on meat or wet food. Two weeks after this, so at around six weeks of age, you can start to feed dry kibble to your little ones. You may want to soften the kibble with warm water when they are very young, otherwise, they may be deterred from eating the hard biscuits.

    little kitten eating food from the feeding bowl
    Image Credit: Patcharida, Shutterstock

    Types of Kitten Food

    As well as choosing food types, for example, wet or dry food, you can also look for specific formulations and recipe types. Many exist, but the main ones are:

    • Grain-Free – A lot of owners and experts agree that cats would not eat grains when living in the wild so commercial food should not include these ingredients either. What’s more, some cats can be sensitive or allergic to certain grains. Grain-free foods are good for sensitive cats and are considered more species-appropriate than grain-inclusive foods.
    • Indoor Cats – Indoor cats do not go out, which means that they do not burn as many calories during the day. Indoor cat food not only meets these needs but also includes prebiotics to help ensure that their poop is solid and does not smell too strongly in the litter tray.
    • Spayed or Neutered Kittens – When a kitten is spayed or neutered it greatly affects their hormone levels and this can lead to a kitten putting on extra weight. A few companies do offer food specifically targeted at spayed and neutered cats which will help prevent them from putting too much extra weight on.

    The ideal cat bowl will be there with your kitten as they grow and last them well into adulthood, which is why our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl was designed to cater specifically to the needs of our feline companions at any age. The stainless steel, shallow bowls are the perfect depth for kittens who would otherwise struggle to reach the bottom of traditional bowls and offer whisker support for future feedings as they mature. Invest in something as practical and fun as your kitty - our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl.

    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
    • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
    • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...

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    Conclusion

    While writing our reviews, we determined that a combination of extra ingredients like DHA, and chicken meal as a primary ingredient made Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Food the best overall choice while the lower cost of Purina Kitten Chow makes it the best value dry kitten food, but there are a lot of good options out there. Hopefully, we have helped you decide which is the best food for your four-legged feline friend.


    Featured Image Credit: MaraZe, Shutterstock

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