Choosing what food to feed your new kitten is one of the most important decisions that you’ll be making when it comes to their health and welfare. While it’s fun choosing a new collar or a cute bed, kitten food is essential for providing all the nutrients that your kitten needs to grow up big and strong.
Kitten food is formulated differently than adult cat food, as it contains more calories and specific ingredients, like DHA, which is for brain and eye development. Choosing the right dry kitten food can feel like a big decision, especially when there are so many brands out there to choose from. The good news is that our reviews can help you select the perfect dry food for your precious bundle of fluff!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
The 10 Best Dry Kitten Foods
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Recipe – Best Overall
We selected the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food as the best overall dry kitten food. This brand is well known for its high-quality, grain-free formulations. This kibble is packed with beneficial ingredients, including real deboned chicken, fatty acids ARA and DHA, and healthy carbohydrates from potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peas.
This kibble also contains Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits, which are a cold-formed blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants designed to support your kitten’s immune system development. The only thing to be aware of with this dry kitten food is that it contains egg, which can trigger food allergies in some kittens.
2. Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Dry Cat Food – Best Value
If you’re looking for the best dry kitten food for the money, we highly recommend the Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Muscle & Brain Development Dry Cat Food. Available in four bag sizes, this contains 100% complete and balanced nutrition for your kitten. As a budget option, this kibble does have chicken by-product meal as the first ingredient. This is supplemented with real chicken, though, just further down the ingredient list than you’d find in premium brands.
Reviewers comment how much their kittens love this kibble, so besides great value for money, it’s palatable and packed full of all the ingredients that your kitten needs to grow up big and strong. This kibble is high in protein to help your kitten develop healthy muscles and is enriched with DHA to aid eye and brain development.
3. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice
As a premium choice dry kitten food, the Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Cat Food for Young Kittens is specifically formulated for kittens aged between 4 months and 12 months. The small kibble size has been specifically designed so it’s easy for young kittens to pick up and eat.
One ingredient that this dry kitten food doesn’t contain is DHA, which you see in many kitten food formulations to encourage eye and brain development. It also contains chicken by-product meal, which some cat owners prefer to avoid if possible. By-product meal is a good source of high-quality proteins, though. Overall, this kibble gets plenty of positive reviews and is a favorite of breeders and shelters.
4. Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food
Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food contains real chicken as the first ingredient and is fortified with DHA. This nutrient is also present in a mother cat’s milk and helps your kitten’s brain and eye development. This blend also includes four different antioxidants that support your kitten’s immune system as they grow.
Besides real meat, this kitten kibble contains peas, carrots, and rice. It does have grains, which some kitten owners prefer to avoid. The same is true of chicken by-product meal, which provides a source of protein. This kibble is veterinarian recommended and contains no artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Check out our top picks for overall best kitten foods available this year here!
5. IAMS ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food
The IAMS ProActive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food is formulated to specifically match the nutrients found in a mother cat’s milk. Besides containing real chicken as the first ingredient, this recipe is supplemented with antioxidants, DHA, antioxidants, and probiotics. These are all designed to work together to provide 100% complete and balanced nutrition for your kitten.
This blend is free from any synthetic colors or artificial preservatives. IAMS makes this kibble in the U.S.A., and with over 60 years experience of creating pet food, you know that this formulation will provide your kitten with all the nutrition that they need, at a budget-friendly price for you.
6. Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food
If you’re planning on keeping your new kitten as an indoor cat, it makes sense to start feeding them a food designed specifically to support this lifestyle. In that case, Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food is the perfect choice. The nutrient-rich formulation is made in the U.S.A. with a blend of high-quality ingredients, including real chicken, pearl barley, oats, cranberries, and peas.
The fiber percentage is higher than some other kitten foods, and this is meant to promote a healthy digestive system and make cleaning your kitten’s litter box as easy as possible.
7. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Dry Cat Food
If you’re looking for a high-quality, grain-free fry kitten food, then the Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food is an excellent choice. This blend has one of the highest percentages of protein out of the dry foods on this list, thanks to the inclusion of real turkey and whitefish.
Besides plenty of protein, this kibble contains salmon oil as a source of DHA, which is essential for your kitten’s development. It’s also rich in all the taurine, minerals, and vitamins that will help your kitten to thrive. What it doesn’t contain is any fillers, wheat, grains, or anything artificial.
8. Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
TheInstinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food harnesses the power of raw food combined with the convenience and cost-effectiveness of dry food. This is packed full of protein, including chicken, turkey, fish, and organ meat. This kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw ingredients, designed to provide supreme nutrition for your growing kitten.
The high meat content is balanced by a blend of other beneficial ingredients, including apples, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, carrots, and rosemary extract. One thing to consider is that this does contain eggs and peas, both of which can sometimes trigger food allergies in cats. That’s something to bear in mind when deciding if this kibble is the right choice for your kitten.
9. HALO Holistic Salmon & Whitefish Kitten Dry Food
If you’re looking for a dry kitten food that doesn’t use chicken as the primary source of protein, then the HALO Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Grain-Free Kitten Dry Food is an excellent choice. This kibble uses salmon and whitefish as the first two ingredients to provide plenty of protein and a highly palatable taste that kittens love.
This kibble is also rich in DHA, antioxidants, and all the vitamins and minerals that a kitten needs to grow up strong. HALO kibble is made in the U.S.A. with ingredients sourced from the U.S.A., Canada, and New Zealand. There’s a great blend of GMO-free fruits and vegetables in here too, including peas, sweet potatoes, cranberries, blueberries, and carrots.
10. Adirondack Kitten Protein-Rich Dry Kitten Food
If you’re looking for a high-fat and high-protein dry kibble for a super-active kitten that’s always on the go, then the Adirondack Kitten Protein-Rich High Fat Dry Kitten Food could be just what they need to thrive. The added probiotics help ensure maximum absorption of all those essential nutrients, and the blend of fatty acids helps support your kitten’s skin and fur.
This brand uses a distinctive method of slow-cooking their recipes to preserve as many nutrients as possible. The one ingredient we’d like to see listed that isn’t included is DHA, as this is found in mother cat’s milk and is often put into kitten food formulations to aid the development of kittens’ eyes and brains.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Dry Kitten Food
When should a kitten start eating dry food?
Most kittens will start being weaned off their mother’s milk at around 4 weeks. If you’re buying your kitten from a breeder, then they will take care of this process for you. If you’re looking after young kittens yourself, it’s best to offer them a shallow bowl of wet kitten food, moistened with a little kitten milk replacement formula. Allow them to experiment eating the food, and beware that they may get messy!
Once your kittens are used to eating wet food, you can introduce dry kitten food into their routine. By the time most kittens are around 7 weeks old, they’ll be fully weaned.
Why can’t I feed my kitten adult cat food?
Kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult cats, and kitten foods are specifically designed to meet these.
Kittens are more active than adult cats, so they need a more calorie-dense food to help fuel all that energy! They also need a different balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, as their bodies are developing so fast. Kitten food usually contains DHA, which helps the development of healthy eyes and brains.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) split their nutrient profile recommendations for cat food into two categories: growth and development, and maintenance. Foods that meet the nutrient profiles for growth and development are designed for kittens, while those that meet the nutrient profiles for maintenance are designed for adult cats. Always choose a kitten food that’s been approved by the AAFCO for the growth and development stage. That way, you can feel confident knowing that it contains everything that your kitten needs.
While you could feed your kitten a cat food that’s formulated for adult cats, you’re running the risk that they won’t be getting all the calories, vitamins, and minerals that they need to thrive. In our opinion, it’s not worth the risk, especially when the price range of both formulations is pretty similar. Whatever your budget, you’ll be able to find a kitten food to match.
Related Read: 10 Best Dry Cat Foods – Reviews & Top Picks
How can I choose the right kitten food?
Start with the recommendations on this list! When selecting the best dry kitten foods, we consider things like:
You always want the primary protein source of your kitten’s food to come from meat-based sources. Many kitten foods use chicken as the primary protein. There are also brands based on fish, turkey, or other meats. This protein can be supplemented by other ingredients that also provide protein, like peas and eggs. The latter can sometimes trigger allergies, so be aware of that if your kitten has any food sensitivities.
Vitamins, minerals, and fats
Kittens need plenty of vitamins and minerals to help them develop. Many kitten food formulations include DHA, also known as docosahexaenoic acid. This is an omega-3 fat found in the milk of mother kittens. It helps the development of your kitten’s eyes and brain. Adult cat foods often don’t contain this ingredient because it’s only required during the growth and development stage of your cat’s life.
How Much to Feed a Kitten?
Kittens eat a large amount of food, so when they’re not sleeping or playing, they’ll probably be eating! It’s usually recommended to split your kitten’s daily rations into three to four portions. If you’re not at home all day, consider investing in an automatic cat feeder that can dispense food while you’re away from home. You can use this for kibble, and feed your kitten wet food twice a day, in the morning and evening.
As an example, the feeding instructions for our best overall pick, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food recommend feeding ¼-½ cup to a 6-19-week-old kitten that weighs between 1-3 pounds. Always follow the feeding instructions for your chosen brand, and remember to increase the quantities as your kitten gains weight.
Consider adding wet food
Dry kitten food is great to leave out for your hungry kitten to nibble on throughout the day. But adding wet food twice a day is also a great idea. The high moisture content of wet food can help keep your kitten hydrated.
When should I start feeding my kitten adult cat food?
Once your kitten is approaching their first birthday, the majority of their growth and development will be complete. At this stage, you can look at switching them onto food that meets the AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
It’s a good idea to book your kitten in for an annual check-up with your vet around the time that they’re approaching their first birthday. This way, you can ask your vet for their recommendations, and they’ll let you know if your kitten is ready to transition to adult cat food.
As the best overall dry kitten food, we highly recommend the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. This high-protein kibble is made with real chicken and packed with all the nutrients that your precious kitten needs.
In terms of best value, our review of the Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Muscle & Brain Development Dry Cat Food came out on top. If you’re looking for complete nutrition for your kitten on a budget, you can’t go wrong with this option.
Taking the time to choose the best dry kitten food means you can rest easy and enjoy playing with your kitten, safe in the knowledge that they’re growing up big and strong.
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