Best Dry Food for Kittens

If you have just introduced a new kitty to your home, you might be confused about what food you should be providing. Kittens grow very fast and your little baby furball can double or triple their weight in just a couple of weeks.

Because kittens are so energetic, they need almost three times as much energy as an adult cat. So, what should you be feeding your kitten to make sure you are providing all the energy needed towards growth and development? There are lots of things to take into account, so we have put together a list of the best dry food for kittens to make it easier for you.

Dry Food for Kittens Comparison Table

NameMain IngredientsProteinFatFiberPricing
Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Cat FoodOrganic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Pea Protein, Organic Oatmeal, Organic Peas, Organic Brown Rice32%14%3.5%Click Here
Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Vital Cat TreatsMinnows60%5%3%Click Here
ACANA Regionals Wild Atlantic Dry Cat FoodWhole mackerel, whole herring, whole redfish, silver hake, mackerel meal, herring meal, whole green peas35%20%4%Click Here
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat FoodChicken, Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Rice, Brown Rice, Poultry Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewer's Dried Yeast34%14%4%Click Here
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat FoodGreen Peas, Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols)29.5%11.5%5%Click Here
BLUE Freedom Grain Free Adult Dry Cat FoodDeboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Turkey Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber32%14%7%Click Here
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Cat FoodDeboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed38%12%5%Click Here

Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Cat Food is made by a company who are the undisputed leaders in the natural and organic cat food industry. Castor & Pollux were the first company which offered a line of foods dedicated to organic practices. As a result, their dry formulas are manufactured in small batches to guarantee freshness and high nutritional quality; all recipes are made with organic and natural animal-based protein such as chicken, salmon or lamb.

This particular formula provides lots of balanced and high-quality nutrition for uncompromised benefits. The carbs which Castor & Pollux use are organic flaxseed (a natural source of Omega fatty acids), cranberries and organic brown rice. All of this company’s cat food formulas have fiber added as a supplement, which helps promote good digestion. Personally, I believe this is the best dry food for kittens.

Pros

  • Organic and natural ingredients.
  • Fiber improves digestion.
  • Quality protein sources.

Cons

  • Contains egg, which can trigger allergies.

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Cat Treats are the fishiest treats you can buy and will have your kitten meowing around your feet as soon as the bag is opened. Vital Essentials make some really great cat treats in addition to its minnows blend, such as chicken giblets and ahi tuna.

Although their fishy blends are much more pungent and smelly, they are a brilliant treat for cats and your kitten will literally do anything to get hold of them. This bag only contains whole minnows which have been freeze-dried to lock in freshness. Each minnow is around one inch long, and that is all; nothing has been added to them.

This minnows blend is the least pungent of all their other treats; you won’t get much of a fishy smell unless you stick your nose in the bag but your cat can smell it and will come running straight away.

Pros

  • Whole fresh fish.
  • No added nasty ingredients.
  • Cats adore them.

Cons

  • Some other flavours are very smelly.

Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic make their dry cat foods with regional ingredients which are fresh and formulated to satisfy your kitten’s nutritional needs in the early stages of life. If you’re looking for a premium food which is loaded with proper meat ingredients and lower in carbohydrates, this is a great solution.

Acana’s foods promote “biologically appropriate diets” which are protein-rich with lots of fresh meat – including organ meats such as chicken hearts which are rich in nutrients – and no synthetic ingredients, additives or synthetic supplements.

The primary ingredient in this dry food is mackerel, but it also contains whole herring, silver hake, mackerel meal, herring meal, cod meal, pollock meal, flounder and cod liver as other sources of protein. All these ingredients are wild-caught fish which mirrors a cat’s evolutionary diet.

Pros

  • Protein-rich and limited carbohydrates.
  • Freshly sourced ingredients.
  • Recipe mimics a cat’s natural diet.

Cons

  • These proteins may trigger food allergies.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food is a high-quality choice for kittens and provides a natural, wholesome protein-rich meal without wheat. There are a range of formulas which include salmon, chicken and brown rice. All formulas contain real meat as the primary ingredient and do not contain any corn, wheat, soy or meat by-products.

Rachael Ray food blends are great because your kitten can get plenty of extra fiber and prebiotics which aid digestion from them, including taurine and beet pulp, which is an amino acid used to promote a healthy heart. This is an all-natural cat food with added vitamins and minerals; a great all-rounder.

Pros

  • Simple formulas which cats like.
  • Fantastic protein sources.
  • No fillers or artificial ingredients.

Cons

  • Contains corn gluten meal.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food has a vast range of formulas, flavours and protein sources; you are sure to find one which can satisfy your kitten’s palate. Each flavour only uses a very limited amount of ingredients which aids digestion and prevents upset stomachs.

The primary ingredient of every formula is always a protein source such as chicken, venison, duck or salmon, and these are supplemented with green peas.

All their formulas are grain-free and provide a balanced nutrition which includes both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin. Fiber and extra protein are added for digestive development.

Pros

  • Quality protein sources.
  • Contains both Omega-6 and 3.
  • Additional fiber.

Cons

  • Slightly higher amount of carbohydrates.

BLUE Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food is a great formula which uses deboned chicken as its primary and most plentiful ingredient. Deboned chicken is considered as a high-quality protein source, and this food also contains chicken meal and turkey meal as additional quality protein sources.

BLUE’s Freedom range is holistically formulated to support the needs of indoor cats. This is amazing starter food for kittens, especially if they are going to spend their lives inside. With balanced carbohydrates used in the ingredients, it helps your kitten develop and maintain a healthy body weight.

Pros

  • Great protein sources.
  • Lots of protein for dry food.
  • No allergens or meat by-products.

Cons

  • A low amount of moisture.

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food is rich in animal proteins and limited in carbohydrates. Plus, it’s grain free – hence the name! Grain-free carbohydrates offer higher digestibility for cats, whilst still meeting all their needs for energy and dietary fiber.

If you are looking for a great starter food for your kitten which offers a variety, Wellness CORE is the way to go as they have a huge line of formulas – dry and wet – so you may never have to change your kitten’s food brand throughout its entire life! These foods are formulated by nutritionists to provide a balanced food which is packed full of high-quality ingredients for optimum nourishment. 

Each of these foods contains a premium protein such as chicken, turkey, duck, salmon or lamb.

Pros

  • The Wellness brand is huge and covers all bases.
  • Balanced and full of quality protein.
  • No grains or bad carbohydrates.

Cons

  • No added fiber.

The Importance of Good Quality Food

Growing kittens are so much more sensitive to the availability of aminio acids and dietary proteins, so it is exceptionally important to consider the source of ingredients when purchasing the best dry food for kittens. 

When thinking of which food to buy, keep these considerations in mind:

Allergies: a kitten’s body is at its most vulnerable state as a kitten because it is still developing, but this also means you may not notice any allergies until they are a bit older, because allergies may not have developed. Keep an eye on your kitten as he or she grows to watch out for signs of allergies such as skin issues, vomiting or diarrhea. See our Best Cat Food for Allergies article to learn more.

Grains: Grain-free food is the best for cats, because grains are a common allergy and can cause skin conditions in older cats. However, you can still choose a food which contains grains, just ensure that it is present as a lower percentage and is not the dominant ingredient. A few kittens and cats with sensitive stomachs cannot process meat-heavy formulas and this is where grains are best.

Calories: Kittens are super active, so you will need to watch the number of calories in food. If your kitten is constantly tearing up your house, extra fat calories aren’t going to harm them. Do watch the amount of calories in carbohydrates though, because cats have no use for carbohydrates and high-carb foods are usually low quality and not worth the money. See our High Calorie Cat Food article for more.

Variety: It can be hard deciding which food to test, so the best course of action can be to purchase a number of different brands to find out which works best for your kitten. It’s always great to have some backup foods on hand in case your kitty decides that he or she doesn’t like the food.

Kitten Food or Cat Food?

There are plenty of foods on the market which are created specifically for kittens. In addition to this, you can buy lots of food brands which are great for cats at all life stages.

It is recommended that growing kittens are given a minimum of 30% protein in their food, compared to the 26% required by adult cats. Both kittens and adult cats are required to have at least 9% of fat in their diets. Kittens also need extra vitamin A and double the amount of calcium and phosphorus as adult cats, too, and extra amino acids such as Lysine and Tryptophan.

Most veterinarians and feline nutritionists are in agreeance that if you are feeding a kitten a very good quality food, there is no need to add supplementary vitamins and minerals because a good food will already contain all these things. An excess of vitamins and minerals can actually be harmful for cats!

It is very easy to unbalance your kitten’s diet, and this can lead to health problems, so you should always be careful and make sure you know exactly what you are feeding a kitten. If you are thinking of adding supplementary vitamins and minerals, consult with a veterinarian or nutritionist first.

It is well known that cats can also be fed on a homemade diet. This is fine for adult cats, but if you want to feed your kitten a homemade diet then you should have one specially formulated by a pet nutritionist, because many homemade diets can be low in minerals and vitamins.

It is recommended that you feed kitten food for around one year before switching over to an adult diet, but if you are feeding a food designed for cats at all life stages then there is no need to make a change.

Choosing the Right Dry Food

The variances between dry food brands are much more prevalent than the variances in wet food. When choosing the best dry food for kittens, you should consider the following –

  • Nutrition: Choosing a brand which is high in quality food sources and has lots of minerals and natural vitamins is going to help you develop your kitten into a very healthy adult cat. However, a food with lots of synthetic additives and bad quality proteins can hamper development and cause health issues. If you have an indoor cat, you may benefit from reading our Best Cat Food for Indoor Cats article.
  • Size: This is commonly overlooked. Many dry foods are in the form of pellets or kibble, but the size of these is an important thing to think about. Your kitten is still very small, and they may not be able to handle large pellets, so opt for something which has soft or smaller pellets so that your kitten does not have any problems eating it.
  • Flavour: Dry food is very different to wet food and does not have the same texture or appearance. Therefore, you should purchase a dry food which has natural flavours and tastes and smells similar to wet food, so that when you do move your kitten to a wet food you aren’t presented with any problems.

How Often Should I Feed My Kitten?

This depends on a couple of factors, such as how old your kitten is and what you are feeding him. Kittens are super active and burn up a ton of calories and energy, so that energy needs to be replaced often.

Kittens should be fed every few hours or so, so three to four times per day. These meals should be small and provide a high-quality source of protein and a decent amount of fat. Kittens are only small and have tiny stomachs, so don’t expect your kitten to clean the bowl up and do not try and feed lots of food, as this will just cause unnecessary weight gain. The key here is slow development.

Lots of cat owners talk about how free feeding is bad and, whilst we agree for adult cats, in kittens this is not a problem and it can be a good idea to have some dry food constantly available in their bowls, so they can top up on energy when they need it.

Feeding schedules can be introduced when your kitty is a little older and you are moving him or her off of the kitten diet.

Something which is often overlooked is water: you should ensure that your kitten has access to a fresh and plentiful supply of water at all times. Why? Because dry food does not contain any moisture and your kitten can only get this from a pure water source.

You will not know instantly how your kitten is responding to the food you are feeding, but over time you should notice some changes. After around a week of feeding on a specific food and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is he gaining weight steadily?
  • Is his coat shiny and clean?
  • Is he active and playful?
  • Are his eyes bright and hydrated?

If you can answer these with a yes, you have picked a decent quality food!

The Round Up

Choosing a food for a new kitten is not an easy process and it can be very confusing, because everyone has their own opinion on which is the best dry food for kittens. Our list is seven of the best dry foods you can feed your kitty, each of which are balanced and come with their own additional benefits.

As long as you are feeding your kitten a high-quality food, you do not need to worry about anything else; they will grow and develop into happy and healthy adult cats so long as you provide the right food.

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