Your kitten deserves the best, and that starts with their food. The food they eat plays a huge role in their growth and development, so find out how to choose the best kitten food to keep your kitten healthy and happy.
Your baby cat will grow and change a lot in the first year of life, and the best way to make sure they stay healthy is to make sure they are eating a high-quality diet. Kittens can be picky about taste, scent, and texture, but fortunately, there are tons of diet options to choose from.
Kitten Food VS Cat Food
Do cats need different diets at different ages? You see different foods labelled for kittens, adults, and seniors, but what makes them so different? And are they really necessary?
The answer is a little complicated. Do cats and kittens require different nutrients? Absolutely! But the answer to whether or not they require different diets is up for debate. If you look at your cat’s wild feline relatives, kittens and cubs eat the same prey and foraged foods that their mothers eat.
So what’s the purpose of kitten food? Though kittens need the same types of nutrients as adult cats, the quantity they need of each is a little different.
Kittens start eating solid food around 4 weeks of age, this process is called the weaning stage, and they will need a diet that is offers a higher concentration of nutrients than a typical adult cat food.
This is why the ingredients in kitten food don’t vary too much from adult cat food, but the nutrient density is higher in kitten formulas. This allows small kittens to be able to take in higher levels of key nutrients in smaller amounts of food.
This allows you to feed your kitten on a regular schedule and carefully monitor their growth at each stage of development.
When it comes to growth and development, kittens need more of certain nutrients. Protein and fat play a key role in muscle development, and there are several other minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids that support your kitten’s body as they grow.
What is All-Life-Stage Cat Food?
You may have noticed that there isn’t a whole lot of variety in kitten formulas. While this may not be an issue for most kitty parents, the lack of variety in proteins and formats can make finding the best diet for a young kitten a challenge.
Knowing that kittens don’t actually need different ingredients than adult cats, all life stage diets have become a much more popular option and have filled in the gap in dietary variety for kittens.
An all-life-stage cat food is just that. It’s a diet that is suitable for all life stages. The diets are formulated in such a way that depending on the quantity you feed, the food will provide a cat at any stage of life with the nutrients they require to thrive.
If you look at an all-life-stage food, they are commonly a little more nutrient-dense than a food made specifically for adult cats. To ensure your cat is getting appropriate nutrients, you would feed either less or more of the food to suit that life stage and nutrient requirements.
When to Switch a Kitten to Cat Food
Kittens typically reach their adult stage at approximately 1 year old, so if you are feeding a kitten-specific formula, then this is about the time that you would need to start transitioning to an adult cat formula.
If you feed an all-life-stage formula, then you should start changing the feeding guidelines to better suit an adult cat.
These changes can be done gradually to allow for the slow down of growth. You can monitor weight and activity as you make changes to their feeding guidelines. Every kitten develops at their own pace, so you can slow down or speed up the process as needed.
10 Best Kitten Food Brands
A healthy, thriving kitten needs a high-quality diet, but finding the right diet for your little fluff isn’t always easy. There are many different types of foods to choose from and your kitten may have more specific dietary needs that require a different kind of diet.
To help you narrow down your options, here’s a breakdown of 10 of the best kitten food based on style, formula, and benefit.
Best Kitten Food Canada
Canada’s plentiful resources allow us to be able to source high-quality, natural ingredients that nourish pets, so it’s no wonder that so many Canadian brands will grace this blog.
In fact, we love boasting about Canadian brands so much that we’ll start our list with some of the best Canadian Kitten Foods:
1. Acana First Feast Kitten Food
One of the most well-known Canadian Pet food brands, Acana specialized in natural and high-quality diets. Focusing on foods that are biologically appropriate means sourcing premium and locally sourced ingredients that provide all the nutrients that cats need to thrive.
Acana First Feast Kitten formula uses a blend of small prey animal sources, like poultry, fish, and eggs, as well as fresh produce and botanicals to supply a growing kitten with a diverse blend of essential nutrients.
2. Go! Solutions Carnivore
As one of the most calorie-dense Canadian formulas, go! Solutions Carnivore line is an all-life-stage diet made to nourish your carnivorous kitty. The whopping 46% protein will help your growing kitten build healthy muscle and has plenty of long-term energy to support total growth and development.
Best Natural Kitten Food
Nature knows best! Some of the best quality cat and kitten foods are the ones that stick to natural and high-quality ingredients. Fillers and synthetic ingredients can make the nutrients harder to digest and use, so look for a kitten food that uses only real food ingredients to source all of the nutrients your baby cat needs to thrive.
Here are some of our favourite natural kitten foods:
By carefully choosing nutrient-dense, real food ingredients, Carna4 is has eliminated the need for synthetic ingredients, leaving a food that is easier to digest and nutrients that are easier for your growing kitten’s body to use.
This oven-baked kibble uses the lowest possible temperatures to retain nutrients while still creating a shelf-stable dry food with a, particularly pleasing mouthfeel. The baked kibble is crunchy but softer than typical kibble, making it better for tender teething kitty teeth and gums.
4. Nature’s Logic Cans
The first canned formula that is free of synthetic ingredients, Nature’s Logic cat cans use a careful blend of premium real food ingredients to ensure optimal nutrition for your kitten.
Using a unique blend of meat, broth, and organs, these meaty canned diets are ideal for a developing kitten. Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies and carefully chosen botanicals provide your kitten with an ample supply of all of the essential nutrients that a growing kitten needs.
Best Kitten Wet Food
Some kittens, especially during the teething stage, may prefer something a little softer on their sensitive teeth and gums. Wet food is a good choice for both picky and sensitive kittens. Whether you are looking for a pate kitten food or some tasty morsels in gravy, here are a few of our top picks:
5. Instinct Original Kitten
What’s in a name? In this case, the name instinct says it all. Designed to nourish the true animal instinct in your young kitten, Instinct Orignal Kitten formula is a grain-free and meat-rich formula to supply kittens with plenty of healthy proteins and fats to support their first year of growing.
6. Boreal Cat Food
These multi-protein cat cans are healthy and suitable for all stages of life. With 95% animal protein, including broth and organ meats help young kittens to build muscle and stay active. Boreal’s unique and highly digestible zinc supplement also keeps your growing kitten’s skin and coat lustrous and healthy.
Best Kitten Dry Food
The most convenient and cost-effective feeding option for kittens is kibble. The crunchy bites can be highly palatable for picky kittens and can be left out for kittens that like to graze throughout the day.
Kibbles aren’t always as calorie-dense as canned or raw kitten diets, so make sure you are looking for meat-rich diets that contain healthy fats to support your kitten’s growth needs. Here are a few high quality, high protein kitten kibbles:
7. Farmina Prime Kitten
The perfect blend of science and nature, Farmina is a carefully crafted food that focuses on appropriate digestion and optimal nutrients to help cats of all life stages to thrive.
Farmina Prime Kitten Food takes a holistic approach to growth, development, and maintenance with nutrient-dense animal proteins and vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits to support overall health.
8. FirstMate Cat & Kitten
This BC brand uses fresh and responsibly sourced, local ingredients to craft their all-life-stage kibble. FirstMate Grain-Friendly formula contains over 86% animal protein and low-glycemic whole grains to supply plenty of calories and energy for your little kitten.
One of the unique things about FirstMate is its fat infusion system that allows each kibble to have consistent and calorie-dense animal fats infused into each bite. Fat is a great energy source for your cat’s brain, so this is highly beneficial to the cognitive development of a young cat.
Best Budget-Friendly Kitten Food
Pet ownership isn’t always cheap, but feeding a good diet doesn’t have to break the bank either. While there are plenty of cheap cat foods that might be appealing, you need to consider the quality too.
Cheap doesn’t always mean bad, but some cheap foods are cheap for a reason. Before you get excited over a sweet deal, make sure you take a look at the ingredients and quality. Some budget-friendly kitten foods are made from cheap fillers that offer little nutritional value.
Fortunately, not all budget-friendly kitten foods are junk. There are several kitten diets and all-life-stage formulas that use high-quality, natural ingredients and won’t give you sticker shock.
9. Horizon Complete
From the heart of the prairies, Horizon is another of our Canadian partners that specialize in highly digestible and premium quality ingredients. They work with local farmers to source only the best Canadian ingredients.
Even better though, is the price point. Horizon knows that good pet food doesn’t have to break the bank. Horizon Complete cat food is an all-life-stage formula with over 70% of the protein coming from animal sources. This multi-protein food supplies ample nutrients for the growth stages of your cat.
10. Nutrience Original
Another Canadian brand, Nutrience Original Kitten Food is a great way to ensure your kitten’s needs are being met even if you are on a budget.
The low glycemic brown rice and oatmeal provide additional energy for your kitty’s zoomies and daily routine without leading to unused calories. Fresh chicken supplies ample protein and fat for appropriate growth and development.
What to Feed a Picky Kitten
Just because you find a diet that provides your kitten with the nutrients and energy they need to thrive doesn’t mean that your kitten will be enthusiastic about eating. Picky eating is not uncommon in kittens, and you may find yourself trying different flavours and textures to appease your kitten’s preferences.
The first trick for picky cats is to try a different flavour. Many cat foods are chicken-based, so trying a multi-protein diet or a new protein might be just what your kitty needs to be enthusiastic about dinner time.
Cats are very tactile, meaning texture is important. Every kitten will have different preferences, so if you are finding your kitten turning her tiny little nose up at her crunchy kibble, then maybe a new food format will do the trick.
Wet cat foods can come in a variety of textures, like shredded, minced, pate, and gravies, so it may take a little trial and error to figure out which style your kitty likes best.
You can get creative and mix your cat food styles too. If you like the cost and convenience of kibble, then try adding a little bit of freeze-dried or canned kitten food as a topper toy to your kitten's dry meal.
What to Feed a Sick Kitten
If your kitten is feeling under the weather, minor diet changes may be helpful in the recovery process. Digestive issues in kittens can be caused by many things, but most commonly, it can be the result of your kitten eating too much or eating something that they aren’t supposed to.
This could be people food or the food of another pet in your house. If your kitten is teething, then they may chew on things that aren’t food, like furniture, fabrics, or even wood.
If you suspect your kitten is sick, the first step should always be to call your vet for advice. Ruling out serious issues will allow you to treat minor digestive concerns from home with some small diet changes.
Most minor tummy upsets will pass, but you can help reduce symptoms and discomfort by tweaking her diet temporarily. Here are a few options for feeding a sick kitten:
Weruva Pumpkin Patch
In many cases of kitty digestive issues, adding Weruva Pumpkin Patch supplement can help to regulate the flow of digestion and improve bowel movements. The types of fibre present in pumpkin can help relieve both constipation and diarrhea during times of digestive distress.
Baci+ Prebiotics and Probiotics
Digestive issues are often caused by an imbalance in your cat’s digestive bacteria, and this can be even worse for young kittens as their gut flora is still developing. Help boost their natural good bacteria levels by feeding Baci+ Pre and Probiotic blend to quickly relieve common digestive issues like gas, indigestion, and diarrhea.
For more extreme or prolonged cases of digestive issues, you can try a bland diet for a few days to help reset your little kitten’s system. For 2-3 days, you can boil some plain chicken breast and serve it with a small amount of cooked oatmeal, rice, or pumpkin to reduce digestive discomfort.
For an easy and convenient option, try out one of Grandma Lucy’s Simple Replacement meal pouches.
Keep in mind that bland diets are not complete and balanced and are made for temporary use to correct minor digestive issues. After 2-4 days of a bland diet, you should start transitioning your kitty back to her regular diet.
How Much to Feed Your Kitten
Once you find the right food for your kitten, the next step is to determine how much to feed. Commercially made kitten diets will have general feeding guidelines, which are a great starting point but aren’t always perfect for every cat.
Activity level and lifestyle play a huge role in how much food your kitten needs so be prepared to make adjustments to your kitten’s portions regularly. By monitoring weight, muscle development, activity, and digestion, you can easily make small changes to your feeding guidelines to support appropriate growth and development.
Food Fuels Your Kitten
Your kitten’s overall health starts with the food they eat. No one food is the best and every kitten has unique needs. Don’t be afraid to try something new if your kitten’s current diet isn’t helping them thrive.
Measuring the success of your kitten’s diet means keeping a close eye on their normal daily behaviours and habits. How they eat, how they play, and even their bathroom habits can be indicative of a diet that just isn’t working for your baby cat.
A poor diet will affect your cat’s appearance too. Her skin and coat will suffer if your kitten is not getting the right nutrients at each stage of growth and development. Excessive shedding, overgrooming, or itchy skin could be caused by your kitten missing sufficient amounts of an essential nutrient in their diet.
If you suspect any health issues, check in with your vet before making drastic changes to your kitten’s diet, and always make sure you transition slowly between foods to prevent digestive reactions.
Have you found the right kitten food for your growing cat? Let us know what you look for in a kitten food in the comments below!