Kittens do a lot of growing and developing in their first year. Their nutrition during these first few months is essential to their health later.
After all, if they don’t have what they need to develop properly, you can’t expect them to develop correctly.
There are many different wet kitten foods available on the market, but not all are made equal. It can be challenging to sort through the sea of ingredient lists.
In this article, we’ll help you sort through many of the wet kitten foods available to find the best one for your feline. There isn’t always a one-size-fits-all answer to the best food – just like one diet doesn’t work for every human.
Therefore, it is vital to consider your feline’s particular needs when choosing the best-wet kitten food for them. We’ve included many different options below so that you can find something that works for you.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
The 11 Best Wet Kitten Foods
1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food – Best Overall
|First Five Ingredients||Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Natural Flavor|
If the standard cans of wet food just aren’t cutting it for your kitty, Smalls is an alternative worth checking out. Smalls is a cat food subscription and delivery service that offers its customers an alternative to more traditional wet foods—what they refer to as “human-grade” fresh foods and freeze-dried raw foods made in US kitchens with natural ingredients from the U.S.
Smalls has a focus on producing natural, preservative-free food with a variety of proteins and vegetables. When you click on “Get Started”, you’re prompted to provide a little information about your cat’s age, size, and meat preferences to let Smalls know what they’re working with. The food you will receive is based on the information you gave.
In terms of less positive reviews, some have brought up issues with packaging, particularly that they found the packs difficult to open. While some found Smalls’ customer service to be extremely efficient and professional, others found the customer service process frustrating and confusing. To their credit, Smalls seems to really take customer feedback seriously.
2. Purina Pro Plan Chicken Wet Kitten Food – Best Value
|First Five Ingredients||Chicken, Liver, Water, Meat By-Products, Artificial and Natural Flavors|
With real chicken as the first ingredients, Purina Pro Plan Savor Classic Chicken Grain-Free Kitten Entree Canned Cat Food is a solid option for those on a budget. The ingredients are pretty as high-quality as some other options, but it is very cheap for what you get.
The first ingredient is chicken – a typical meat source for kitten food. The second ingredient is liver. While this isn’t the highest-quality option out there, liver does provide some of the much-needed nutrients your kitten needs. However, it is unnamed, so we don’t know where the liver came from.
This food is grain-free and does not include any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It is specifically formulated for kittens, including many ingredients they need to grow correctly during their first year.
It includes added DHA for vision and brain development.
Despite being lower-priced than most foods, there is quite a bit of protein in this kitten food. This recipe supports your feline’s developing muscles and active lifestyle.
However, you are getting a few lower-quality ingredients with this cat food. Meat by-products are included as the fourth ingredient. Not only are by-products lower-quality meats, but they are also unnamed. These by-products could come from anywhere.
Still, this is the best wet kitten food for the money.
3. Blue Buffalo Basics Canned Kitten Food – Best for Sensitive Stomachs
|First Five Ingredients||Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Fish Oil, Natural Flavor|
Some kittens have sensitive stomachs. Regular cat foods don’t always work out for these cats, as they may be sensitive to some common ingredients. In this case, we recommend choosing a food specifically designed for sensitive stomachs.
While there are a few of these recipes on the market, we preferred the Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Canned Cat Food over all other options. It includes high-quality ingredients while remaining affordable.
Turkey and turkey broth are the first two ingredients. Extra fish oil is included for added DHA – an essential ingredient for brain and eye development.
There is no chicken included in this recipe. Therefore, it is an excellent option for cats that are sensitive to chicken. While this is rare, it can happen and may be why some cats have upset tummies.
It is grain-free and gluten-free. Again, not many cats are sensitive to grain. However, some are. If you’re trying to calm your pet’s stomach, it may be best to avoid grain-inclusive recipes.
Like many recipes, this one includes added vitamins and nutrients to help your kitten develop properly. It is made with limited ingredients – making it more suitable for cats with allergies.
4. Wellness CORE Turkey & Chicken Pate Kitten Food
|First Five Ingredients||Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Chicken Meal|
For kittens who need the best-of-the-best, the Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Liver Pate Canned Kitten Food.
All the ingredients are carefully curated to provide the best nutrition for your kitten. Nearly the whole ingredient list is meat – an excellent choice for our obligate carnivore kittens. The meat included is very high-quality, including turkey, chicken liver, and whole chicken.
DHA is added to support your kitten’s brain and eye health. It is grain-free and focuses most on meat sources.
This recipe does not include carrageenan, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. There are also no corn, wheat, soy, or peas included in this recipe.
This kitten food is relatively high in protein and fat. Both of these macronutrients are what your feline needs to thrive. There are few carbohydrates included – as the ingredient list contains mainly animal protein sources with just cranberries as the significant source of carbohydrates.
5. Merrick Backcountry Chicken & Duck Wet Kitten Food Pouches – Best Pouch Kitten Food
|First Five Ingredients||Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Duck Broth, Chicken Liver, Deboned Duck|
Most wet kitten foods are canned. This is just the easiest way to store wet foods. However, some companies have come out with wet kitten food in pouches.
The Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Kitten Recipe Cuts Chicken & Duck in Gravy Cat Food Pouches is one of these foods. If you’re looking for an alternative to canned kitten food, we recommend considering this option.
Each pouch contains high-quality ingredients. Most of the top ingredients included are meat-based. For instance, deboned chicken as the first ingredient, followed by various kinds of broth. Chicken liver is added to improve nutritional content – as liver contains a lot of different vitamins.
This recipe also includes eggs, which contain many of the vitamins and minerals our kittens need to thrive.
This food is entirely grain and gluten-free. It does include potatoes, though, which are a starchy vegetable. It isn’t precisely low-glycemic for this reason.
We liked that broth was included instead of water. This ups the protein and fat content since broth is higher in these macronutrients than water. Both duck and chicken broth are included, varying the nutrients and flavors your kitten gets.
The broth also makes the food tastier than other options. It may be particularly suitable for picker kittens, as it has more robust flavors. The extra moisture can also prevent urinary tract problems – a common condition in both adult cats and kittens.
This recipe also includes no by-products, additives, gluten, or anything else artificial. Only high-quality ingredients are included – which is precisely why it ended up on this list.
- Read more: Merrick Cat Food Review
6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Canned Kitten Food – Best for Skin and Coat Problems
|First Five Ingredients||Water, Ocean Whitefish, Fish, Liver, Wheat Gluten,|
Some kittens are prone to skin and coat problems. If this is the case with your feline, you may want to consider switching them to a food that is specifically designed to support their skin and coat health.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Kitten Flaked Whitefish & Tuna Entrée Canned Cat Food is made to do just that. It includes fish as the main ingredients – which also makes it very high in omega fatty acids. These fats are great for your cat’s skin and coat health.
Ocean whitefish is included as the main meat ingredient – right after the water necessary to make this a wet food. This is a decently high-quality ingredient, especially if you’re looking to increase your feline’s omega fatty acid intake.
However, many of the other ingredients are sub-par. “Fish” appears as the third ingredient. While most fish are a solid option for kittens, we have no idea what kind of fish this ingredient is. Because it isn’t named, it could be anything.
Liver is also included. While organ meats are high-quality, we don’t know what kind of animal it comes from. Wheat gluten adds quite a bit of protein – but this is plant-based protein. It isn’t the best option for our felines.
7. Wellness Complete Health Canned Kitten Food
|First Five Ingredients||Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Natural Flavor|
The Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food includes chicken as the first ingredient – a high-quality option for most kittens. Chicken liver is the second and an excellent choice for most cats. The liver is high in protein and nutrients, providing your kitten with what they need to grow.
This formula is ultimately grain-free. While all grains are not necessarily bad for cats, they are obligate carnivores – which means that they thrive most on meat.
Flaxseed is included for added omega fatty acids – an essential nutrient to support your kitten’s skin and coat. Fish oil is included as well, which increases the omega fatty acid content further.
Added taurine supports your feline’s heart growth and antioxidants to prevent damage from free radicals.
There are absolutely no fillers or artificial ingredients. Because it comes in a savory sauce, this recipe may also work for pickier kittens. It is designed to be both tasty and healthy.
8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Canned Kitten Food
|First Five Ingredients||Salmon, Chicken, Fish Broth, Chicken Liver, Pea Flour|
Blue Buffalo is known for producing quality pet foods. Their Blue Buffalo Wilderness Kitten Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is specifically designed for kittens and includes quite a few higher-quality ingredients.
This recipe starts with salmon, which is naturally high in omega fatty acids. This ingredient supports your feline’s coat, skin, and brain development. It also includes various other meat products, including chicken, fish broth, and chicken liver. These are all high-quality options.
However, this food also includes some lower-quality ingredients. For instance, pea flour is also included. This doesn’t provide much nutritional value.
DHA is added to support your feline’s brain and eye development.
Due to the smooth texture, many cats love this food. However, you are always going to have a cat that decides they don’t like it. It may not be best for picky felines, as it doesn’t seem to emphasize flavor as much as some other options.
This recipe does not include any grain, gluten, by-product meals, corn, soy, or artificial flavors. It utilizes primarily natural and quality ingredients.
9. Purina Pro Plan Salmon & Tuna Wet Kitten Food
|First Five Ingredients||Salmon, Liver, Water, Meat By-Products, Chicken|
For the most part, Purina Pro Plan Savor Classic Salmon & Tuna Grain-Free Kitten Entree Canned Cat Food lands in the middle of the pack.
It isn’t a premium, expensive cat food – but it also isn’t a “budget” kitten food. There are many higher-quality ingredients in the food, but there are a few lower-quality options as well. We could confidently label this cat food as “good,” but it isn’t exactly great.
Salmon is included as the first ingredient. We consider this high-quality, especially since it is high in omega fatty acids and DHA. It is decently high in protein due to the inclusion of salmon.
Liver is the next ingredient. While this food is high in various nutrients, we have to knock it down a few notches because it is unnamed. We don’t know where it came from – which is an obvious problem.
This formula is grain-free and includes added DHA. The fat content is relatively high, providing your kitten with the fatty acids they need to develop correctly.
We want to point out that while this food is labeled as “tuna,” there isn’t any tuna until far down on the ingredient list. Chicken is included as well, so we don’t recommend it for cats who are sensitive to chicken.
10. Fancy Feast Alaskan Salmon Pate Kitten Canned Food
|First Five Ingredients||Salmon, Chicken, Liver, Fish Broth, Fish|
We found many of the ingredients in the Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals Wild Alaskan Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Pate Kitten Canned Cat Food high-quality. It includes salmon as the first ingredient, followed by chicken. Both of these whole meats contain much of the protein and fat that your feline needs to grow into a healthy cat.
However, there are some lower-quality ingredients as well. Live is included, but it is unnamed. Fish and fish broth are high on the ingredient list. Theoretically, these should be high-quality ingredients. But we simply have no idea where they came from. Their anonymous nature forces us to consider them moderate-quality.
There are no grains, fillers, or artificial preservatives in this product. Most of the ingredients are decently high-quality, especially compared to some of the other foods on the market.
This kitten food also costs lower than most, allowing it to work for those on a budget. If you need very inexpensive kitten food, this formula may be a quality option.
11. Hill’s Science Diet Health Wet Kitten Food
|First Five Ingredients||Chicken Broth, Chicken, Pork Liver, Carrots, Wheat Gluten|
Hill’s Science Diet is one of the most expensive brands out there. However, we didn’t find that the quality of the food lined up with the price.
The first three ingredients in Hill’s Science Diet Health Wet Kitten Food are great: chicken broth, chicken, and pork liver. All of these animal-derived ingredients are high-quality and provide plenty of nutrients for your growing kitten. The chicken broth adds moisture and various vitamins, while the pork liver is full of nutrients.
However, it goes downhill from there. Carrots aren’t a wrong choice for cats, but they don’t contain the protein and fat that growing cats need. Wheat gluten is a cheap way for the company to add more protein to the food. But this protein is not meat-derived – making it lower quality.
The protein and fat content are also relatively low. It is half of what we would expect from quality kitten food.
This food isn’t awful, overall. It does include some good ingredients and added nutrients, like taurine. However, the formula just isn’t worth the price tag.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Wet Kitten Foods
Kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult cats. They are growing, which means that they naturally eat more per pound than adult cats do. They also need higher amounts of specific vitamins and minerals, such as omega fatty acids.
When you’re choosing food for your kitten, there are several factors you need to keep in mind. Wading through macronutrient percentages and ingredient lists can seem complicated, but we’re here to give you a helping hand.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most important considerations you need to account for while shopping.
Formulated for Kittens
As we’ve mentioned many times, kittens and adult cats have different nutritional needs.
Therefore, the food you choose must be formulated for kittens. The front of the bag isn’t always accurate.
Luckily, the AAFCO controls all of the nutritional guidelines for pet food. Check that your kitten’s food is AAFCO certified for kittens before purchasing it. There should be a label located somewhere on the food container.
All the foods we reviewed fall into this category.
Cats are obligate carnivores. This label means that they were designed to live solely off of meat. They aren’t like dogs – who can handle grains, veggies, and fruits as well as meat.
Therefore, your cat’s food should contain mainly meat products. The first ingredient should be meat. Preferably, the meat should be high-quality. Look for whole meats like “chicken” or “salmon.” Meat meals are a great option as long as they are named “chicken meal” and “turkey meal.”
Avoid unnamed meat products. You should know what animal meat came from.
You should also avoid by-products where possible. The problem with by-products is that we just don’t know what they are. By-products contain any of the leftovers after the animal is processed. This can include high-quality organ meats to feathers.
We do know that by-products tend to be less digestible than other meats.
While cats should eat mostly meat, there are some fruits and vegetables that may benefit them. Cranberries are an obvious example of this. They have been shown to reduce the chance of some urinary tract problems in cats – which is why they are often included in cat foods.
These added fruits and veggies may benefit your cat, especially if they have some underlying health problems.
However, you should avoid added grains, veggies, and fruits that have no benefits for cats. Wheat gluten is commonly used as a binding agent and adds lots of low-quality protein to a cat food. However, it may be associated with an increased risk of specific health problems. Therefore, it should be avoided when possible.
As obligate carnivores, cats thrive on a diet that contains mostly protein and fat. You should choose the food that is the highest in these two nutrients as possible.
For kittens, around 12% protein and 7% fat seem to be the best you can find currently available. This is relatively high and leaves little room for carbohydrates – which cats need very little of.
Keep in mind: this is the guaranteed analysis of the food. In other words, it’s the amount of protein and fat while taking the moisture into account. For this reason, many wet foods may appear to be lower in protein than dry foods – though this isn’t true.
Wet foods simply contain more moisture, which makes the protein and fat seem artificially lower. Usually, wet foods tend to have more protein and fat than dry foods after the moisture is removed.
According to some scientific studies, cats thrive on a diet containing about 52% protein, 36% fat, and 12% carbohydrates. This is without any moisture, however – also known as the “dry matter basis.” It’s the percentage of different macronutrients after all the moisture has been removed.
Based on the kitten food market today, choose a food that is as high in protein and fat as you can find. You don’t have to worry about your feline not getting enough carbohydrates from most commercial foods. Most are far higher in carbs than our cats need.
While many of us would love to ignore our budget absolutely, it isn’t practical for most of us. We don’t have hundreds to spend on cat food each month.
Luckily, there are many quality cat foods out there that are inexpensive. You may have to make some compromises – like choosing a more “normal” protein like chicken instead of salmon. However, many budget kitten foods can help your cat thrive.
Avoid budget foods that cut corners with ingredients, though. You shouldn’t select one that includes meat by-products as the only meat ingredient. Aim for one that includes whole meat as the first ingredient.
You can also avoid foods that contain “premium” ingredients like pumpkin and rare proteins. These rarely do much for cats, but they can push up the cost quite a bit.
Choosing food for your kitten is both highly essential to their health and quite overwhelming. There are many different options on the market, and the importance of this decision can easily lead to indecision.
For most felines, we recommend Smalls Fresh Cat Food. The recipes include high-quality ingredients and high levels of fat and protein.
We recommend Purina Pro Plan Savor Classic Chicken Grain-Free Kitten Entree Canned Cat Food if you need very inexpensive food. This food includes plenty of meat and lots of protein. However, some corners were cut in the ingredient list to make it more affordable.
The best food for your kitten may vary from these top recommendations. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, you may want to purchase a limited-ingredient food, for example. We’ve included many different examples in this article to help you decide.
Be sure to consider your kitten’s needs as well as your budget when choosing a kitten food.
Featured Image Credit: MaraZe, Shutterstock