The right food keeps your kitten pleased and helps them grow. Our guide to the best kitten food will give them the best start in life
Kittens are full of energy and play, accompanied by epic snoozing sessions! The best kitten food will contain the correct nutrients, minerals and vitamins, ensuring that your pets grow up healthy and strong. At this critical stage, you should give your kittens food made from quality ingredients to aid their development and growth.
There are, however, a baffling variety of foods out there for kittens which can make it hard to know what to choose. Should you be feeding a kitten wet or dry food? Are some brands better than others? And how do you know when it’s time to give your kitten food instead of milk?
We’ll answer all these questions in our buying guide below, or if you already know how to feed your kitten, you can skip straight down to view our best kitten food recommendations.
Best kitten food: At a glance
- Best kitten food overall: Royal Canin Kitten | £17 (pack of 12)
- Best paté kitten food: Lily’s Kitchen Smooth Pate Kitten Food | £7.99 (pack of eight)
- Best budget kitten food: Hill’s Science Plan Wet Kitten Food | £13 (pack of 12)
How to choose the best kitten food for you
Your kitten deserves food that will keep them in tip-top shape. But you may have questions surrounding their diet. Let’s look at some of them now.
Why does my kitten need special kitten food?
Kitten food is higher in calories, fat and protein and contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that a growing youngster needs. We think that wet cat food is the healthiest choice to start kittens with, as the moisture content helps them stay hydrated, and the food is easier for them to chew. However, some kittens may prefer biscuits, sometimes called kibble, and you’ll want to introduce this as they get slightly older as it helps keep teeth healthy.
How old should a kitten be when it starts to eat solids?
Unless your cat has accidentally had kittens (Blue Cross recommends that cats are neutered at around four months old to prevent unwanted kittens), your kitten should have already been weaned when it arrives at your house. It is advised that a kitten shouldn’t be rehomed until they are at least nine weeks old. But, for information, a kitten should be nursing from mum or bottle-fed until they are around five weeks old. At this age, a kitten’s premolars have started to appear, and they’re ready to try them out. Kittens often struggle to eat solids at first, so start by offering small bites of wet food on a finger or spoon if you have a kitten to wean. Kittens also need to be transitioned onto solids – they must nurse from their mother or have formula until they’re confident eating on their own, gaining weight and eating high-quality food.
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Tips for feeding kittens
- Give kittens shallow food dishes so they can access food easily.
- Don’t overload the bowl with too much food at once, as it may overwhelm a kitten and put them off eating.
- Put bowls on a tray or some disposable paper towels. There will be a lot of mess, so you want to make it as easy as possible to contain said mess!
- Keep food bowls clean, and don’t leave dried-up food in the bowls, as this could put a kitten off eating.
- Make sure your kitten always has access to water but ensure your water dish is no more than two inches high while the kitten is small to keep them safe when drinking.
How we test
Our main reviewer volunteers for a cat rescue charity, meaning that at certain times of year there are litters of kittens available to test kitten food. We gave each brand of food to a selection of kittens who had been weaned from their mother and were ready to try solid food.
As kittens need plenty of protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins for healthy development, we also consider the nutritional content of each food we test. Every recommendation on this list will provide your kitten with what it needs for healthy development whether it’s dry kibble or wet pouches.
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The best kitten food you can buy in 2023
1. Royal Canin Kitten: Best kitten food overall
Price when reviewed: £17 (pack of 12) | Check price at Amazon
Royal Canin is highly recommended by vets and if you’re looking for high-quality nutritious kitten food, their pouches are hard to beat. The food is made with the ideal ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to support a growing kitten, and there are also antioxidants to help support their developing immune systems.
The food is thinly sliced to help with the transition from milk to solid foods and is available in three textures to suit fussy felines. We’ve chosen the jelly variety, but it’s also available in gravy and loaf varieties. Royal Canin seems to be very popular with kittens and cats, so we’re confident your kitten will enjoy one of the textures.
The only downside is the price – if you are only feeding wet food, you’ll get through around three and a half pouches a day, and this can mount up. Although we feel the quality of the food is worth it, you could consider supplementing some of the wet food with the corresponding biscuits to keep the price down.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 12; Textures: Loaf, jelly, gravy; Moisture content: 80% max; Suitable for: Kittens from 4-12 months
2. Lily’s Kitchen Smooth Paté Wet Kitten Food: Best paté kitten food
Price when reviewed: £7.99 (pack of eight) | Check price at Pets at Home
If your kitten is struggling with the texture of wet food with chunks, a smooth paté could be an ideal option. We love the natural ingredients, which include proper meat and fish such as chicken, trout, cod, salmon, pork and beef. This variety pack contains four chicken and cod patés and four chicken patés. A choice of flavours can be useful if your kitten is fussy and also helps to introduce them to more than one flavour combination.
Again, this isn’t the cheapest option, as your kitten will need between two and five pots of paté a day, depending on their age. And it’s also likely to be quite messy for tiny kittens, so be prepared to do a bit of a clean-up job afterwards! But the Lily’s Kitchen paté is highly palatable and contains all the vitamins and minerals your kitten will need for a complete diet.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 8; Textures: Paté; Moisture content: 81% max; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months
3. Hill’s Science Plan Wet Kitten Food: Best budget kitten food
Price when reviewed: £13 (pack of 12) | Check price at Pets at Home
We use the term ‘budget’ advisably here, as good quality kitten food isn’t cheap. But it is vitally important to give your bundle of fluff the best start in life and not skimp on quality food. Hill’s Science Plan is slightly cheaper than other wet foods, particularly as the brand recommends that you only feed a pouch a day and supplement with their dry food to make up a kitten’s daily recommended amount.
Hill’s is a highly trusted brand amongst vets, as the company hires veterinary nutritionists to oversee the development of all its products. This means the foods are packed with the vitamins and minerals that kittens need, and they appeal to the palette.
There are two flavour options to choose from – chicken and ocean fish or chicken and turkey. As well as being suitable for kittens, it can also be fed to pregnant and nursing mums. Be aware that this is quite a rich food, meaning some kittens may find it a little heavy on the tummy.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 12; Textures: Gravy; Moisture content: 81.5% max; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months, pregnant and nursing mums
4. James Wellbeloved Dry Kitten Food: Best kitten food for sensitive stomachs
Price when reviewed: £16 (1.5kg) | Check price at Amazon
Food allergies are more common in cats and kittens than you might think, and some kittens may start with delicate tummies when transitioning from milk to solids. James Wellbeloved started life 30 years ago producing food for dogs, but now also has a successful range of meals for cats.
The other plus point of these biscuits is the price point – at under £10 for 1.5kg, this food won’t break the bank. The kibble is made from a single source of animal protein (turkey) which is easy for kittens to digest, with the addition of cranberry, yucca extract, omega oils, prebiotics and antioxidants. However, the product is bulked out with white and brown rice alongside potato protein. These aren’t harmful to kittens, and rice is often used for upset tummies, but they’re not a necessary part of a cat’s diet. This food is a highly-popular choice for kitten owners and seems to be appreciated by kittens too.
Key details – Type: Dry; Size of pack: 1.5kg; Textures: Kibble; Moisture content: Not stated; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months, pregnant and nursing mums
5. Purina ONE Kitten Dry Cat Food: Best high protein dry food
Price when reviewed: £14 (2.8kg) | Check price at Pets at Home
Purina is a highly reputable cat food brand, producing a huge range of wet and dry foods for both cats and kittens. This is another high-quality product that’s very digestible and is full of prebiotics and antioxidants to help support and develop a healthy immune system.
All our recommended kitten foods have a high protein content, but the Purina ONE kitten food has a whopping 41%. Protein is essential for kittens to build muscle, so a high protein content is essential in kitten food.
There isn’t as much real meat in this food as in some other products on this list, and it isn’t grain free, which can be a problem for some kittens. But it is excellent value for money and will last a decent amount of time.
Key details – Type: Dry; Size of pack: 3kg; Textures: Kibble; Moisture content: Not stated; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months, pregnant and nursing mums
6. Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Dry Food: Best for kittens with health issues
Price when reviewed: £11 (400g) | Check price at Amazon
No one wants to think of their kitten getting sick. However, their developing digestive systems mean they can be predisposed to dietary sensitivities that may make them unwell. If your kitten is suffering from regular stomach upsets or is recovering from surgery, it’s likely your vet will recommend this food to help with their recovery.
Although you can buy this product directly from Amazon, you must only do so on vet advice. The food is very high in fat and protein and would be far too much for a healthy kitten. This food is designed specifically for kittens who can’t eat much, so it has specially adapted levels of nutrients.
As you’ll no doubt imagine, this food is expensive but can be priceless if your kitten is struggling with digestive issues or finding themselves unable to transition from milk to solids.
Key details – Type: Dry; Size of pack: 400g; Textures: Kibble; Moisture content: 8%; Suitable for: Vet prescribed for kittens
7. Tippaws Turkey and Chicken Dry Food: Best dry food with a high meat content
Price when reviewed: £18 | Check price at Tippaws
Growing kittens need good food to help them grow into healthy adults and Tippaws dry kitten food provides all the nutrients they’ll need. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals to keep your kitten healthy, including vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids to help with brain and eye development and added taurine to support their immune system. The food also contains dried cranberry, which helps support urinary tract health.
With a whopping 70% meat content, Tippaws is really palatable and appealing to kittens, while the kibble is slightly smaller than adult food, to make it easier for them to bite. It’s also a complete food, though you can still use it alongside some wet food – which is recommended if your kittens are learning how to bite biscuits. 50p from each 5kg bag is also donated to a cat rescue charity, meaning you’ll be helping out other cats as well.
Key details – Type: Dry; Size of pack: 1.5kg / 5kg; Textures: Kibble; Moisture content: Not stated; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months
8. Jollyes Lifestage Kitten Grain Free Salmon Dry Cat Food: Best budget dry food
Price when reviewed: £10 | Check price at Jollyes
Good quality kitten food isn’t cheap but ensuring your kitten has the best start in life is important, which includes giving them food that will provide them with the vital nutrition they need to grow up healthy. Jollyes dry food is more reasonably priced than some alternatives but is still approved by veterinarians and carefully balanced for your kitten’s nutritional needs.
With no added artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, this dry food is salmon flavoured and highly appealing to small kittens. We also like the fact that it’s grain-free, so suitable for more delicate tummies, as well as wheat, beef, pork and dairy-free, so it shouldn’t exacerbate any allergies. Our kittens enjoyed the taste of these biscuits, but if your kitten is fussy about flavours, Jollyes also make a turkey flavour – but it’s worth noting that this isn’t grain-free, unfortunately.
Key details – Type: Dry; Size of pack: 1.5kg; Textures: Kibble; Moisture content: Not stated; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months
9. Pro Plan Nutrisavour Wet Kitten Food Turkey: Best kitten food in gravy
Price when reviewed: £6.50 | Check price at Pets at Home
We’re big fans of Purina’s cat food, which seems to appeal to a wide range of palettes. The Pro Plan Nutrisavour Kitten food has been developed with good ingredients to make sure your kitten gets the correct balance of nutrients to help them grow and develop their vital functions. This balanced blend also helps to keep your kitten at their ideal weight, which is particularly important during the early stages. It also contains DHA from fish oil for brain and eye development, alongside minerals for strong bones and teeth.
Our kittens seem to really enjoy the Pro Plan food and we found it to be gentle on the stomach. What’s more, as the food is in gravy, rather than jelly, it’s easy for kittens to lap up as they explore chewing the chunks.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 10; Textures: Gravy; Moisture content: 78% max; Suitable for: Kittens from weaning-12 months