The 7 Best Wet Foods for Your Kitten in 2021

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Best Wet Foods for Your Kitten

The Spruce / Sabrina Jiang

Kittens are growing cats, so their nutritional needs are different than adult cats. Wet foods designed specifically for kittens will help them grow healthy and strong, allow for chewing and swallowing even if they don’t have all their teeth, and are a great way to wean them off of nursing.

Overall, wet foods are great for kittens. "Cats should be introduced to wet food early," says Dr. Kerri Blackburn of River’s Edge Animal Hospital in Rock Hill, South Carolina. "Many common diseases/illnesses that cats can get as they progress through life can be managed well with increased moisture in canned diets." Also, as creatures that evolved in the desert, she says cats are not programmed to drink a lot, so feeding them canned food helps increase water intake. 

Wet food is something all kittens should eat but not all wet foods are the same. Dr. Blackburn says "canned foods with gravy, i.e. the shreds, chunks, etc., are actually pretty heavy on carbohydrates, especially those that come in gravy. The best type of canned food is the old fashioned paté.” Ingredient variations can also make it confusing for a kitten owner to choose the right wet food for their young cat.

To help you narrow down your search, here are the best wet foods for your kitten, chosen by veterinary professionals.

Our Top Picks
The price, ingredients, and palatability make this wet kitten food the total package.
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Affordable, yet free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, this is a great choice for budget-conscious kitten owners.
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An ultra soft mousse, this wet food is ideal for kittens who are transitioning from nursing to eating solid food.
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The fiber, prebiotics, and special formulation of this veterinary diet is a good choice for kittens with sensitive stomachs.
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This grain-free wet food is liked by kittens for its flavor and by cat owners for its nutritious formulation and reasonable price.
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This high-protein, high-calorie kitten wet food is 95 percent meat ingredients.
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This USDA certified wet food is specifically formulated for kittens and is also grain-free.
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Best Overall: Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Wet Food

Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Wet Food

Ingredients: Chicken, liver, chicken broth, pork lungs, salmon, natural flavors, minerals, taurine | Calories: 105 kcal/can | Protein: 11% min.


What We Like
  • No fillers

  • Formulated by veterinary nutritionists

  • About $1 a can

What We Don't Like
  • Lower cost options exist

  • Multiple cans may be needed in one day to feed larger kittens

Purina is a well-researched, trusted brand and its ONE line of food offers nutritious options for kittens. The Healthy Kitten paté wet food is about $1 per can and is readily available at most retailers that sell pet food both in-store and online. The formulation meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines for kittens, so you know you’re giving your growing cat what it needs. Plus, it is meat-based, grain-free, and easy for small kittens to chew. Pet owners state their kittens clean their plates when they are fed this paté, so you also don’t need to worry that your baby cat won't consume what they need.

Best Budget: Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals Kitten Canned Food

Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals

Key Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, liver, poultry broth, fish, coconut milk, natural flavor, minerals | Calories: 96 kcal/can | Protein: 11% min.

What We Like
  • Multiple flavor options

  • Less than $1 per can

  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

What We Don't Like
  • Multiple cans may be needed in one day to feed larger kittens

  • Lower in calories when compared to other options

Wet food is more expensive than dry kibble, so it’s understandable that you may need a low-cost yet healthy option for your kitten if you opt to feed them wet food. Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals Grain-Free paté is therefore a great option. These 3 ounce cans cost less than a dollar each and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They are also grain-free for those kittens that need to avoid grains. While Fancy Feast is often considered a lower-cost option, it is still made by Purina so it has been formulated by veterinary nutritionists according to AAFCO standards for kittens. It is also a smooth paté, which is easy for kittens of all ages to eat.

Best for Weaning Kittens: Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Canned Wet Cat Food

Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Canned Wet Cat Food

Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, chicken, chicken liver, pork by-products, wheat gluten, powdered cellulose, modified corn starch | Calories: 133 kcal/can | Protein: 9% min.

What We Like
  • Formulated by veterinary nutritionists

  • Come in different can and case sizes

  • Higher calories per can

What We Don't Like
  • Contains corn, wheat, yeast, and rice ingredients that may not be suitable for all kittens

  • Usually over $1.50/can

Kittens who are weaning are new to the experience of chewing their food, so you’ll want to offer something that doesn’t take much effort. Royal Canin’s Mother & Babycat formula is a mousse that is super soft and designed specifically for weaning kittens. Royal Canin has a long history of making high-quality pet foods and this wet food is also well-accepted by tiny kittens. Since the only other experience they have with food is sucking milk from their mother or a bottle, kittens can be messy eaters when they start eating something else.

Because of this, Dr. Blackburn recommends feeding weaning kittens in a large, easily cleaned area and offering the canned food on a very large, shallow plate/flat surface. "They tend to be messy eaters and explore foods by walking in them and grooming said food off their paws, etc,” she says.

Best for Sensitive Stomachs: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Kitten Ultra Soft Mousse in Sauce Canned Cat Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Kitten Ultra Soft Mousse in Sauce Canned Cat Food

Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, chicken liver, chicken, chicken by-products, pork by-products, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, wheat gluten | Calories: 137 kcal/can | Protein: 10% min.

What We Like
  • Added beneficial ingredients for gastrointestinal tract health

  • Formulated by veterinary nutritionists

  • Ultra soft mousse texture

What We Don't Like
  • Double or triple the price of many other wet kitten foods

  • Only available in one flavor

  • Requires veterinary authorization to purchase

Some kittens are especially sensitive to food and while each may have a different reason for that sensitivity, there are some ingredients that can help. Fiber, prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, beta glucans, marigold extract, and other ingredients in Royal Canin’s Gastrointestinal Veterinary Diet for kittens can be beneficial for kittens with tummies that are prone to problems. This ultra soft mousse is easy for weaning kittens to chew and while you’ll need veterinary approval to purchase these cans, it’s especially nice to know that it was formulated by veterinary nutritionists. This formula is also very high in calories which means one can will last your kitten longer since they doesn’t need to eat as much of it.

Best Grain-Free: Purina Pro Plan True Nature Grain-Free Kitten Formula Canned Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan True Nature Grain-Free Kitten Formula Canned Cat Food

Ingredients: Ocean whitefish, salmon, liver, meat by-products, water sufficient for processing, natural flavors, guar gum, minerals | Calories: 106 kcal/can | Protein: 12% min.

What We Like
  • Very palatable to kittens

  • Safe for kittens that cannot have chicken

  • Formulated by veterinary nutritionists

What We Don't Like
  • Cats that don’t like fish may not be willing to eat this formula

  • Only available in one size

Most wet foods are grain-free or at least low in grains, but this formula is also free of chicken. This is a good thing for cat owners that need to avoid both grains and chicken due to their specific kitten’s sensitivities or allergies. Fish makes up the bulk of this wet food and provides not only the flavor but also beneficial omega-3s that help with eye and brain development. This wet food is also high in protein and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Plus, Purina products are formulated by veterinary nutritionists, so you know you’ll be giving your growing kitten exactly what they need.

Best Splurge: Blue Buffalo Carnivora Woodland Blend Grain-Free Kitten Wet Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Carnivora Woodland Blend Grain-Free Kitten Wet Cat Food

Ingredients: Chicken, turkey broth, turkey, mackerel, dried egg product, duck, turkey liver, chicken liver | Calories: 130 kcal/can | Protein: 12.5% min.

What We Like
  • Contains both organ and muscle meats

  • High in protein

  • High in calories, so less food may be needed

What We Don't Like
  • Some kittens don’t like the mixed flavors

  • Cost is higher per can than other wet food options

If you’re looking for a special food for your kitten and aren’t afraid of spending a little extra money, Blue Buffalo’s Carnivora Woodland Blend Grain-Free kitten wet food is a balanced option. It is 95 percent meat-based, but still offers the key vitamins and minerals that growing kittens need. Instead of containing just one type of protein, this wet food is a mixture of different animals including fish, duck, chicken, and turkey. Additionally, more than just muscle meat is found in this food, so your kitten will also get the benefits of eating various organs, much like they would if they were wild cats.

Best Organic: Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Kitten Recipe

Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Kitten Recipe

Ingredients: Organic chicken, water sufficient for processing, organic chicken liver, organic pea protein, organic coconut flour, organic dried egg product, organic dried peas, organic flaxseed | Calories: 207 kcal/can | Protein: 9% min.

What We Like
  • Contains superfoods

  • USDA certified organic

  • Grain-free

What We Don't Like
  • Double or triple the price of many other wet kitten foods

  • Only one flavor option for kittens

Many kitten foods are advertised as being organic but most are not. “To be truly organic it must have the USDA organic green and white label on it and be made from completely organic ingredients,” explains Dr. Blackburn.

Castor & Pollux Organix wet food for kittens is one of the rare, USDA organic certified kitten foods. This formula is made in the United States, is tested for quality throughout the production process, and perfect for growing kittens. It has added superfoods including flaxseed, coconut flour, cranberries, and eggs and is also grain-free. To top it off, even picky eaters enjoy this wet food.

Final Verdict

Most wet foods that follow AAFCO guidelines for kittens and are formulated by veterinary nutritionists are going to be good options but a few foods lead the pack. When taking price and availability into consideration alongside flavor, nutrition, and texture, Purina ONE Healthy Kitten chicken & salmon recipe paté wet cat food (view at Chewy) is the best choice for most kittens. This food is affordable, contains no grains, is a soft paté that is easy for kittens to consume, follows AAFCO guidelines for growing kittens, and is formulated by veterinary nutritionists.

Purina Pro Plan True Nature kitten formula canned cat food (view at Chewy) is another great option since it has the same qualities but is fish-based. It has a slightly higher price per can but offers beneficial omega 3s from the fish and contains no chicken.

What to Look for in Wet Foods for Your Kitten

There are some key factors to consider when choosing a wet food for your kitten. Adequate amounts of protein and other key nutrients set forth by AAFCO should be met, but other added ingredients that some people may call fillers may also need to be considered.

Protein

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), growing kittens require more protein than adult cats. This means that the food you feed your kitten should follow AAFCO recommendations to provide appropriate levels of protein for a kitten, not an adult cat. Protein is vital to the body. Without sufficient amounts of quality, animal-based protein, numerous health problems can occur. Thankfully, meat-based, wet kitten foods usually contain more protein than dry kitten foods so if you are choosing one that has followed AAFCO guidelines, you don’t have to worry about your kitten lacking this ingredient.

Nutrients

Dr. Blackburn reminds kitten owners that “ideally a canned food diet should be formulated to meet the nutrient needs of its target,” so your kitten food should be formulated with all the nutrients a kitten needs. Look for a statement on the wet food that says it “is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for growth.” AAFCO establishes the nutrient requirements that a growing kitten needs and foods with this statement have ensured that all those key nutrient amounts have been included in the food. 

In addition to protein, there's a long list of essential nutrients that must meet minimum amounts in foods formulated for kittens. “The diets most commonly formulated correctly are those that are made by food companies that employ veterinary nutritionists,” says Dr. Blackburn.

Fillers

“All canned foods are not created equally,” says Dr. Blackburn. This is not only because of the different levels of proteins and other nutrients that are present but also because of the various other ingredients. AAFCO does not define what exactly a "filler" is, so it is hard to say what ingredients are considered fillers.

High-quality foods that are formulated by veterinary nutritionists do not contain unnecessary ingredients as this would only increase the cost to produce the food. Ingredients like starches and grains may be added for formulation reasons other than to provide nutrients though. Food shape and texture or the ability to flow through a manufacturing machine without getting stuck often require these ingredients, therefore they are not unnecessary. On the other hand, if you are looking to avoid ingredients that cats do not necessarily need for nutritional reasons, such as excessive carbohydrates, some people may consider those added ingredients to be fillers.

FAQ
  • Why do kittens need special wet food?

    Kittens have small mouths and may or may not have all their tiny teeth. This makes having soft, wet food ideal to make meal time easy. Pieces of food that are too large for a kitten to chew or swallow can cause them to choke or avoid eating and lose weight. Wet foods like patés and mousses that are ultra soft don’t require much effort on the kitten’s part, so they encourage baby cats to eat and transition from a completely liquid diet to a soft diet.

  • When should I stop giving my cat kitten food?

    Kitten food contains what a growing cat needs according to the guidelines set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Kitten food should be formulated for growth,” says Dr. Blackburn, which means a cat that is no longer growing needs to switch to an adult formula. Cats usually stop growing at around one year of age, so they should also transition to adult food at this time.

  • Is wet or dry food better for kittens?

    Wet food is often considered to be the better option for all cats but especially weaning kittens. Wet food is easier to eat, more enticing, and provides more moisture than dry food. These things ensure your kitten is eating enough food to grow strong and healthy and helps to prevent urinary and kidney issues which are common in cats.

Why Trust The Spruce?

The products that were selected for this list were chosen after significant research was performed on their ingredients, manufacturers, and more.

Adrienne Kruzer is a Registered and Licensed Veterinary Technician in three states and has been writing on pet and vet topics for over a decade. She is also Fear Free Certified, has a special interest in pet nutrition, and loves researching, learning, and problem solving in order to better help pet owners. Her years of working in various animal hospitals, alongside her formal college education and elective continuing education classes, have provided her with a wealth of experience and knowledge to help kitten owners select the right food for their pet. 

Dr. Kerri Blackburn has been a veterinarian since 2007 and her special interests include general wellness care, ultrasound, internal medicine, nutrition, surgery, and oncology. Dr. Blackburn currently serves as the Medical Director for Rivers Edge Animal Hospital in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Prior to this, she completed an internship with Affiliated Veterinary Specialists in Florida and has continued to pursue knowledge in ultrasound, endoscopy and advanced medicine through numerous continuing education opportunities through the years. She is also a member of the AVMA, NCVMA, SCVMA, World Vets and in a network of Emergency preparedness vets for disasters in South and North Carolina. Dr. Blackburn loves the challenges posed by veterinary medicine and truly enjoys working with families to diagnose and treat their beloved pet's illnesses and maintain optimum health in their furry family members.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wernimont SM, Radosevich J, Jackson MI, et al. “The Effects of Nutrition on the Gastrointestinal Microbiome of Cats and Dogs: Impact on Health and Disease.” Frontiers in Microbiology. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.01266

  2. AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. AAFCO.ORG. (2014). Association of American Feed Control Officials.

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