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Not just any food will do when it comes to your kitten so don’t grab any can that you spot on the shelves of the supermarket or pet food store. Instead, you’ll want to seek out foods that are specially formulated for young cats. “Kittens need high energy, meat-based food to keep them going and growing,” says Claudine Sievert, a Kansas-based doctor of veterinary medicine and veterinary consultant.
But when you scan the shelves, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by options. Look for options that have a statement on the can from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This means that the food is formulated to meet the organization’s standards and contains the appropriate nutrients for a growing kitten. To make your decision easier, we spoke to vets to find out the preferred brands and varieties of wet food that will help your kitten grow up happy, healthy, and strong.
Here, the best wet foods for your kitten that are available online.
Hill’s is one of the brands that come up again and again from vets, as their canned cat foods contain highly nutritional ingredients. The canned food for kittens is available in a few varieties, such as salmon or liver and chicken.
And meat is the main ingredient (right after water), which is good since protein is essential for kittens, Dr. Sievert says. “Protein is a building block of the muscles. Protein also promotes antibody production (this plays a big role in the overall immunity of the kitten),” she says.
The food is made in the United States from natural ingredients and free from artificial flavors or preservatives. It’s gentle on cat’s stomachs and kittens love the taste. A sure-fire sign that Hill’s is a brand to be trusted? It’s what Sara Ochoa, DVM, a Texas-based small animal and exotic veterinarian feeds her cat, who spent his early months chowing down on the brand’s kitten food.
Royal Canin is another brand that Dr. Ochoa recommends. This particular variety has a soft and easily chewable texture—it’s appropriate for older kittens, who are between four months and one year of age.
It contains the mix of proteins, fats, and carbs that your growing kitten requires, along with antioxidants and important vitamins. Plus, kittens tend to like the taste and find it easy on their tummies, thanks to highly digestible proteins along with fiber and prebiotics.
If you're looking for a nutritional option that comes without the high price tag, Purina Pro is another trusted brand recommended by Dr. Ochoa. “These diets have wonderful sources of proteins and are very well balanced to give your kitten the correct amount of nutrients that they need,” Dr. Ochoa says, referring to Purina Pro and her other trusted brands.
Purina offers lots of tasty options that are made with real meat—chicken or fish. The food contains DHA, which is important for brain and vision development.
Cats love the taste and the food’s moist, tender texture.
Tiny kittens who are just weaning from their moms need special consideration when it comes to their food. Chicken liver and chicken are the top ingredients in this tasty food (right after water). This food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of new kittens, as well as nursing or pregnant cats.
Because the texture is incredibly soft (it’s a light, airy mousse), it’s ideal for kittens and their brand-new teeth as they transition from feeding from their mom to more solid food options. You can feed this to kittens as young as one month, and up to four months.
Best for Sensitive Stomachs: Hill's Science Diet Healthy Cuisine Kitten Roasted Chicken & Rice Medley Canned Cat Food
Looking for an option for a kitten with a sensitive tummy? This is the option Jessica Kirk, DVM recommends. “The chicken and rice are easy on the stomach and I have heard from many clients of picky eaters, that their kitten just loved the taste,” she says.
And while the grain is a big part of this can of wet food, chicken broth and meats are the first ingredients on the list. If your kitten is a bit particular when it comes to wet food, give this option a try.
Best Grain-Free: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Pate Kitten Variety Pack with Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Cat Food Trays
Keep in mind that grain-free doesn’t need to be a priority for kittens in general. “Most kittens do not require a grain-free diet,” says Dr. Kirk. However, in some cases, she notes, kittens may have an allergy to grains. If that’s the case for your little one, Blue Buffalo is a great, grain-free option.
Kittens tend to adore this product, which is grain- and gluten-free. Depending on the variety you purchase, either chicken or fish will be one of the top ingredients. The food also contains the fatty acid DHA as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Chicken tops the ingredient list for this healthy, protein-rich kitten food from Wellness. And it contains no grains. While that’s not always a must, for some cats, who can develop allergies, it’s a good feature. “Food allergies related to carb sources (oat, wheat) can develop in some kittens,” notes Dr. Sievert.
This food is full of high-quality lean proteins, as well as fruits and vegetables. The ingredients are thoughtfully selected. For instance, the carrots provide fibers and minerals (as well as antioxidants) while cranberries are a source of vitamin C.
More important might be what’s not in this food: It’s free artificial flavors and colors, as well as preservatives and meat by-products. That’s a good thing since some wet foods are packed with high levels of preservatives and turn to by-products in place of actual meats. “These are fillers for your cat’s food and do not contain any nutritional value,” Dr. Ochoa points out. And, if your food is packed with them, the food may not deliver the nutrients your kitten requires, she says.
The best overall wet food for your kitten is Hill's Science Diet Kitten Canned Cat Food (view at Amazon), which is a veterinarian-recommended option that includes a powerful combination of antioxidants. However, we also love the Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Loaf Canned Cat Food (view at Amazon). It contains the right mix of proteins, fats, and carbs that a growing kitten requires, along with antioxidants and important vitamins.
Protein The first thing you’ll want to consider when choosing a wet food for your kitten is the protein source—there should be one clearly listed! Cats are natural carnivores, so they need a high amount of protein in their diet. Choose a wet food that has a named protein source, such as chicken or salmon, over one that simply says “meat.”
Nutrients Kittens will thrive on foods that contain high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbs. Further, they need certain amino acids and a formula that’s easy for their little bodies to digest. Look at the nutritional content of different kitten foods to see which contain a comprehensive array of nutrients for your pet.
Fillers In general, it’s best to avoid wet kitten foods that have high amounts of filler. Ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy are used in many cat foods but they provide little nutritional value. It’s best to avoid them as much as possible.