Find the best dry kitten food for your baby cat with these reviews of top brands and tips for feeding. A complete guide to the best cat food for kittens.
You are the proud new parent of the world’s cutest ball of fur. Your heart swells with love every time you look at your precious kitten.
You want to be sure to provide the best of everything as she grows into a lovely, strong, healthy cat!
Picking a good dry food for kittens is an important part of the weaning process. But with so many kitten dry food brands to choose from, how will you ever know which one is best for your fur baby?
You may also be wondering when can kittens eat dry food. We’ll answer your questions here!
By the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll know when kittens can eat dry food and how to feed your new kitten dry food.
You’ll also learn about some of the best dry kitten food brands available.
When Can Kittens Eat Dry Food?
When is the best time to introduce dry food into your kitten’s diet?
This is something you want to start once your kitten begins the process of weaning away from nursing. This process typically begins at around two and a half to four weeks of age.
When that time comes, you’ll want to select the best dry kitten food and feed your kitten appropriately. Read on to learn all about it.
How to Feed a Kitten Dry Food
How do you go about feeding your kitten dry food? Here are some helpful hints:
When your kitten starts the weaning process, you can start offering dry food moistened with a bit of water to make it soft. Alternatively, you can mix kitten dry food and wet food together, which will soften the dry kibble.
The softened dry will food will assist your kitten through the weaning process.
Not only does this make dry kitten food easier to chew, but it ensures your kitten receives adequate moisture. This is important to lessen the threat of a urinary tract infection (UTI) that can be caused by not drinking enough water.
If the pieces of kibble bits are large (adult cat-sized), break them into smaller pieces. Better still, buy small kibble developed specifically for kittens.
Everything is smaller in a kitten, including their teeth and jaws. You don’t want them to struggle to chew as this may put them off dry food or cause digestive disturbances.
Offer the dry kitten food either as free-feed (available all day long) or at least four times per day.
If you have been feeding your older kitten one type of food and you want to switch it, do NOT mix it with your kitten’s old food – this may put him off both foods!
Rather, alternate the two foods, steadily decreasing portion sizes of the old while increasing the amount of the new food.
For more specific information about feeding a kitten, we invite you to review this excellent and comprehensive article on the topic!
Benefits of Dry Kitten Food
It is important for your kitten to get used to eating dry kitten food regularly for a few reasons.
Dry cat food is portable and travel-friendly in a way that wet food is not. Cats that get used to eating both dry and wet foods will be less picky eaters as adults.
Introducing a variety of appropriate food flavors and textures can help avoid a fussy adult cat.
In addition, the process of chewing dry kitten food will naturally loosen plaque and clean your kitten’s teeth with each feeding. This will become even more important when she is an adult cat.
Choosing the Best Dry Kitten Food
It won’t take you long to notice how many brands proudly proclaim themselves to be top rated kitten dry food brands, making the choice challenging!
Choosing the best dry food for your little furball doesn’t have to be difficult.
Here are some tips to help you make quick work of choosing the best dry kitten food!
Ask your veterinarian for recommended dry kitten food brands.
Ask for two to three brands, and plan to switch them up every six months or so. This will help your kitten get used to different foods and flavors, so she will be more open to any necessary (vet-indicated) food switches or short-term diet plans later in life.
Read ingredients lists with care.
Cats are more likely to develop food-specific allergies than dogs. However, a cat is also more likely to have an allergy to fish than to grains! Unless your kitten has a known food allergy, the most important aspect of picking a good dry kitten food is to look for whole food ingredients with added taurine and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Look for an AAFCO statement.
AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and it verifies that any pet food brand marketed specifically as “kitten food” has demonstrated its ability to meet a growing kitten’s nutritional needs through food trials and testing.
Look at protein and fat content closely.
Kittens need more protein and fat than adult or senior cats. So, look for a kitten food that is specifically formulated to be high in protein (at least 10 grams daily) and fat (at least 4 grams daily) and low in carbohydrates.
Best Kitten Dry Food Brands
These well-known and trusted best kitten dry food brands are often recommended by veterinarians.
Hill’s Science Diet Kitten
Science Diet produces a top-rated kitten dry food as well as an adult cat dry food.
The brand is very deliberate about developing recipes with balanced nutrients for different cat ages and stages of life.
The kitten dry food recipe contains plenty of prebiotic fiber and antioxidants plus vitamins C and E to help your kitten’s immune system develop optimally.
Veterinarians state that Science Diet is their first choice for feeding their own pets (reported by the manufacturer, based on an annual survey).
You can choose from a 3.5-pound, 7-pound, or 15.5-pound bag.
Royal Canin Mother and Baby
Royal Canin is one of the best cat food for kittens options, since it is designed specifically for cat moms who are lactating as well as kittens up to four months old.
It is chock-full of important minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins such as taurine, Vitamins E and C and lutein, plus pre-biotics to ease your kitten’s digestive transition from mother’s milk to solid foods.
The kibble bits are quite small and can be moistened to help kittens eat them more easily.
Choose from a 3.5-pound or 7-pound bag.
Soft Dry Kitten Food
The best way to offer your kitten soft dry kitten food is to simply choose the kitten dry food you want to serve and then moisten it with some water or mix it with wet kitten food.
This will make dry kitten food more palatable and easier for your kitten to chew, which can be very confidence-building during the weaning period!
Nutro Max Cat Kitten Dry Food
Cat owners say Nutro Max is a very good soft dry kitten food in terms of both taste and ease of eating.
The small kibble bits have thin ends and are easy to crunch, and you can easily wet them down to make a soft dry kitten food that is very palatable and healthy.
There are no chicken by-products, just real chicken meal plus vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. It comes in a 3-pound bag.
Check it out on Amazon here.
IAMS Proactive Health
IAMS is a trusted name in pet food and pet supplies and is vet-recommended according to the manufacturer.
This kitten food is designed to meet the needs of kittens 12 months and younger. It is formulated to mimic the nutrient balance of a mother cat’s milk.
Kitten owners say softening the kibble with a bit of water or milk works perfectly and their kittens love it.
Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula
Purina ONE is another trusted name in cat food and supplies and is vet-recommended. This food is designed to match the formula of a mother cat’s milk. It also contains DHA, an ingredient found in mother cat milk.
This food doesn’t contain any fillers but does contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
And best of all, cat owners say their kittens love the taste.
Grain Free Dry Kitten Food
Should your kitten develop an allergy to grains, you’ll need to select a grain-free dry kitten food. Fortunately, many brands now offer grain-free options.
This means that you have a lot of options when selecting the best grain free kitten dry food for your little bundle of furry joy!
These brands are high in protein and fat, as well as low in carbohydrates and come packed with taurine. Along with the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients a growing kitten needs to thrive.
Merrick Purrfect Bistro
The Merrick Purrfect food comes highly rated from kitten owners.
It is enriched with essential fatty acids, minerals, probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants and boasts a 74 percent protein content. The manufacturer states that this formula is designed to meet the nutritional needs of kittens ages 12 months and younger.
It comes in a 7-pound bag.
Blue Wilderness Kitten
The highly rated Blue Wilderness dry kitten food is made with only de-boned real chicken (no by-products), sweet potato and plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
This food contains no artificial ingredients, wheat or soy. You can choose from a 2-pound or 5-pound bag.
CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Elements
The Canidae kitten grain free dry food is made with just eight key ingredients and no grains to help ease the transition during weaning.
Only whole foods (chicken, turkey, lamb, fish meal, peas, potatoes, plus probiotics, vitamins and minerals) are used. This is to help a kitten’s still developing digestive tract work optimally.
It comes in a 2.5-pound or 5-pound bag.
Check it out on Amazon here.
Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe
The Instinct Original kitten-specific food is 81 percent protein and healthy oils and 19 percent vegetables/fruits and whole foods.
It includes plenty of DHA, vitamins and minerals and zero grains. Protein comes from chicken, fish, lamb, turkey and salmon. It comes in a 4.5-pound bag.
Check it out on Amazon here.
Wellness Natural Grain Free Raw
This Wellness Natural kitten dry food contains 70 percent whole-chicken protein and no fillers, soy, artificial ingredients, preservatives or grains.
It is made in North America and the manufacturer offers a satisfaction guarantee. It also contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotics.
Check it out on Amazon here.
Nulo Kitten Grain Free
For a grain-free option that will transition with your kitten into adulthood, Nulo Adult & Kitten Grain Free Dry Cat Food with BC30 Probiotic is made in the USA and contains no grains or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Rich in animal-based protein, it uses low glycemic carbs such as lentils and sweet potatoes. It’s available in a 5 or 12 pound bag, and its small, disk-shaped kibble is sure to be the perfect size for your kitten.
In addition, to these grain-free options, there’s an organic grain-free option in this next section.
Organic Dry Kitten Food
If you prefer organic food for yourself, you probably want it for beloved kitten too. Thankfully, there are some good options for organic kitten dry food.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw
If you’d like to mix up your cat’s regular diet, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Nuggets is for you!
The freeze-dried raw nuggets contain cage-free chicken, including the liver, heart, and bones. It also includes organic carrots, pears, butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, and a host of vitamins and minerals.
The nuggets can be a complete meal by themselves, used as a meal additive, or as a snack!
Simply crumble up a nugget, mix it with water, then serve!
Some consumers commented that they simply crumbled a nugget over top of their cat’s regular kibble without adding water, and their cats happily lapped it up.
Organix Healthy Start Kitten Formula
The kibble is made with organic turkey as a whopping 35% protein source. Along with organic peas, potatoes, and lentils as the primary ingredients; without corn, soy, or wheat fillers.
This quality kitten food is chock full of the good stuff that your furry tiny tot needs for optimal growth.
Including good fats for a shiny coat and healthy skin, as well as added vitamins and minerals for optimal overall health.
Newman’s Own Advanced Cat Dry Formula
In addition to organic wet foods, Newman’s Own also offers organic dry kitten food!
This “Made with Organic” dry food contains 100% organic chicken, organic brown rice, organic peas, and a few types of organic grains (excluding wheat). Along with some organic canola oil, organic flax seed, and organic vegetables (excluding corn).
Although this variety is only 70% organic, it doesn’t include any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and it can be fed to kittens, adult cats, and older cats.
Choosing Organic Kitten Food
When it comes to selecting an organic kitten food, the best option is one that’s been tried and tested. Therefore, choosing an kitten dry food that’s organic isn’t really different than choosing one that isn’t.
You still want one that is approved by the FDA and AAFCO and that contains all of the nutrients that your growing kitten needs.
To be sure it’s truly organic, check the label to determine whether it meets the National Organic Program’s organic certification requirements.
If at least 70% but less than 95% of the ingredients are 100% organic. The label will say “Made with Organic.” If all of the ingredients are 100% organic, the label will say “Certified Organic.”
Should You Make Your Own Dry Kitten Food?
Generally speaking, veterinarians and feline experts advise against making your own dry kitten food. Kittens have very specific nutritional needs that include certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and essential proteins and fats.
It can be difficult (if not impossible) to duplicate these precise nutritional needs in a home-prepared kitten food. If you feel strongly that you want to make your own dry food to feed your kitten, please talk with your veterinarian first!
Kittens and Water
When you feed your kitten, be sure to always provide clean, fresh water day and night. This is critical whether you moisten your kitten’s dry food with water or not.
Your kitten needs to drink plenty of pure water to help in the transition from nursing to eating solid kitten food, and also to avoid health issues linked to dehydration.
Best Dry Kitten Food
We hope you have enjoyed this article on dry food for kittens.
More importantly, we hope that reading this has answered your questions and helped you choose a food you feel confident offering to your precious kitten!
We would love to hear about your kitten’s favorite food! Please take a moment to share in the comments section!
References and Further Reading
- Beitz, D. C., et al, “Your Cat’s Nutritional Needs: A Science-Based Guide for Pet Owners,” National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, 2006.
- Bukowski, J. Al, DVM, MPH, PhD, et al, “Kitten Care, Merck Veterinary Manual, 2016.
- Eisenschenk, M., MS, DVM, DACVD, Veterinary Dermatologist, “Food Allergies and Food Trials for Dogs and Cats,” Pet Dermatology Clinic, 2017.
- Lawler, D.F., “Neonatal and pediatric care of the puppy and kitten,” ScienceDirect: Theriogenology, 2008.
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