If you were to ask a veterinarian what is the most important part of raising a kitten, he would probably say nutrition. The nutrients your kitten received during the first few months of life will determine how quickly he grows and how well his bones, tissues, and organs develop.
Without a healthy diet your kitten could experience stunted growth, developmental delays, and he might even suffer from a weakened immune system.
Ensuring that your kitten’s nutritional needs are met during his first year of life is your main job as a cat owner. This task can be a little tricky at times for several reasons.
First, the nutritional needs of kittens are different than those of an adult cat. Second, there are so many brands and formulas out there for commercial cat foods that it can be tough to make the right decision. To help you choose a healthy and nutritious food for your kitten, follow the tips and recommendations provided below.
Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Kittens
Your first step in choosing a healthy and nutritious food for your kitten is to learn the basics about your kitten’s nutritional needs.
Until your kitten is about eight weeks old he will rely on his mother for sustenance, spending most of his days feeding and sleeping. Once your kitten has been fully weaned, however, it becomes your job to care for and feed him. Most kittens begin eating some solid kitten food around five to six weeks of age and, by eight weeks they should be eating 80% to 90% solid food.
While your kitten is young he will require two to three times the amount of daily energy as an adult cat and his weight could double or even triple during his first few weeks of life. About 30% of your kitten’s daily diet should come from high-quality sources of animal protein to fuel healthy growth and development.
Because your kitten needs a lot of energy to grow, it is best to adopt and attitude of free-choice feeding – this means that you make food available to your kitten at all times so he can eat as much as he wants when he wants. You can follow this type of feeding schedule until your kitten is about six months old and then transition him into three small meals per day.
Stick to a reputable brand of kitten food rather than a generic or store brand because you want to avoid low-quality ingredients and fillers.
Choose a commercial food specially formulated for kittens and make sure it carries the AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy which validates that the food meets the basic nutritional needs for healthy growth and development in kittens.
Many cat owners choose to feed their kittens a staple diet of dry kitten food but you should give your kitten small amounts of wet food on a daily basis to ensure balanced nutrition and to give them the fats and oils they need to maintain skin and coat health.
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Best Dry Kitten Foods
Selecting a high-quality dry food for your kitten can be difficult simply because there are so many options to choose from. To help you make a decision, review the top three recommended dry kitten foods discussed below.
Orijen Cat and Kitten Dry Food
The Orijen brand of pet foods is dedicated to providing fresh, wholesome nutrition for dogs and cats of all ages. Their Cat and Kitten dry food formula is made with high-quality, animal-based sources of protein like cage-free chicken, cage-free turkey, wild walleye, pacific salmon, and nest-laid eggs.
This formula is specially designed to meet the high protein needs of developing kittens and it is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients to ensure maximum nutritional value. Orijen Cat and Kitten dry food is an award-winning formula that is guaranteed to be low in carbohydrates and it is packed with low-glycemic ingredients to support healthy body weight.
This formula is not only loaded with healthy ingredients, but each bite is infused with natural flavors from freeze-dried meats and liver to make it highly palatable for your kitten.
Buy Online – Starting at $62.99 (15 Lb. Bag)
Blue Healthy Growth with LifeSource Bits
The Healthy Growth formula from Blue Buffalo is specially designed to support the nutritional needs of growing kittens.
This formula is made with protein-rich ingredients like fresh, deboned chicken as well as wholesome grains and vegetables. Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth kitten food contains no chicken or poultry by-product meals and it contains Blue Buffalo’s exclusive LifeSource Bits.
LifeSource Bits are made with a precise combination of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, enhanced with seven fresh ingredients – blackberries, apples, cranberries, blueberries, pumpkin, pomegranate, and spinach. These bits help to promote a healthy immune system and oxidative balance while also ensuring well-rounded nutrition for your growing kitten.
Buy Online – Starting at $17.99 (7 Lb. Bag)
Simply Nourish Kitten Food
The top two ingredients in Simply Nourish dry kitten food are fresh chicken and chicken meal. While fresh chicken is an excellent source of protein, chicken meal is actually a more concentrated source of protein since it has already been cooked down to a moisture level around 10%.
This dry food formula also contains steel-cut oats to promote healthy digestion as well as canola oil, an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids to support the health of your kitten’s skin and coat. In addition to being loaded with important nutrients, Simply Nourish dry kitten food is gentle on your kitten’s stomach and easy for him to digest.
Buy Online – Starting at $15.99 (7 Lb. Bag)
Top Recommended Wet Kitten Foods
If you are looking for a high-quality wet food to feed your kitten, consider one of the top three recommended brands below.
Blue Freedom Indoor Kitten Wet Food
The Freedom line of wet cat foods is designed especially for indoor cats, formulated with high levels of protein and low levels of carbohydrates.
This particular formula is completely grain-free, made with high-quality ingredients like fresh chicken and chicken liver as well as carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and flaxseed. The Freedom line of cat foods is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as chicken and poultry by-product meals. It contains no artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors plus it is fortified with dietary fiber to help prevent hairballs and to minimize litter box odor.
Additionally, Blue Freedom Indoor Kitten wet food is made with a precise balance of calories from protein and fat to ensure proper growth and development while helping to prevent obesity.
Buy Online – Starting at $22.89 (case of 24)
Wellness CORE Kitten Wet Food
The Wellness CORE line of wet foods includes six different products including one that is specially formulated for kittens.
The CORE kitten wet food from Wellness is completely grain-free, made only with the most high-quality sources of animal-based proteins. This formula lists five different sources of protein within the top six ingredients which makes it an excellent, high-protein and high-energy choice for your kitten.
Wellness CORE Kitten wet food also contains other high-quality ingredients like menhaden fish oil and ground flaxseed to ensure a proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your kitten’s diet. This product contains chelated minerals which are easier for your kitten’s body to absorb as well as various vitamin supplements. Simply put, this wet kitten food formula is an excellent source of balanced nutrition.
Buy Online – Starting at $33.06 (case of 24)
Nutro Max Kitten Wet Food
The Nutro Max line of wet food contains fifteen different products, two of which are specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of kittens.
Included in this line of wet foods are the Chicken & Liver formula and the Chicken & Oceanfish formula. Both formulas include five sources of high-quality, animal-based proteins listed within the top six ingredients – the other ingredient is chicken broth to ensure proper moisture levels in the finished product.
The Max Kitten line of Nutro wet cat foods is designed to support your kitten’s healthy growth and development while providing your kitten with natural, irresistible flavor. Both formulas are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat as well as various vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure well-rounded nutrition. All of Nutro’s kitten foods are free from chicken and poultry by-products and they are 100% guaranteed for your satisfaction.
Buy Online – Starting at $14.89 (case of 24)
Offering your kitten a high-quality, nutritious diet is the key to ensuring that he grows up big and strong. If you do not provide your kitten with the nutrients he needs while he is young, he will not develop properly and he could be plagued by medical and nutritional problems for the rest of his life. To choose a healthy commercial food for your kitten, follow the tips and recommendations above.