Best Kitten Food in 2022 – Top 5 Healthy Cat Food Choices for Early Development

Timothy Hill

There is nothing in the world quite like the joy of bringing home a new furry little kitten! Congratulations on your newest (and tiniest) family member. You’ve likely already begun your preparations with a variety of things for kitty: a litter box, some starter kitty litter, some food and water bowls, and at least some dry food and maybe a can or two of wet food to start out with.

Adding a new kitty to the mix is fun and rewarding and you’ll want to get your baby cat off to the best start possible with a great kitten food. The good news is: there is a wealth of great options to choose from! In fact, there are so many great kitten food options that it’s actually hard to parse through which ones are best. That’s where this list of the best kitten food options comes in. We’ve done the research to lay out the best of the best for you, so you can make the best choices of wet food and dry food for your new kitten. Congratulations on this new pawsitively amazing adventure together!

5 Best Kitten Food Options

1. Smalls Cat Food – The Cat’s Pajamas – Best All-Around

2. Purina ONE – The Cat’s Meow – 2nd Place

3. Iams – Cool Cat – 3rd Place

4. Royal Canin – The Cat That Got the Cream – Honorable Mention

5. Blue Buffalo – The Cat’s Whiskers – Honorable Mention

Best Kitten Food Reviewed

1. Smalls Cat Food – The Cat’s Pajamas – Best All-Around


  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Multiple texture choices for picky kitties
  • No preservatives or additives


  • Money-back guarantee requires a full two-week trial. However, your cat gets a lot of great things to try during that period so we’re hard-pressed to think they pay this guarantee out very often!

Feline Food Features

Smalls Cat Food understands cats. That is apparent from the very first time you visit the Smalls website to view kitten foods and cat food, as even the pop up menu that asks you to join their mailing list does so with a nod toward cat ownership: an image of a cat in a box and text that reads “free shipping for you, a box for them. Win-win.” That’s a company that knows what cats like!

This care also shows through to the product offerings that Smalls Cat Food has available. Chief among the Smalls offerings is their Human Grade Fresh line, which is a great line of cat food for felines of all ages, including your new kitten. Smalls offers three proteins in the Human Grade Fresh line, including:

  • Cow (ground beef and beef liver)
  • Bird (chicken and chicken liver)
  • Other Bird (turkey and turkey liver)

Each of these protein options comes in multiple textures. Smalls’ Human Grade Fresh proteins all come in “ground” and “smooth” varieties, with both bird proteins also coming in “pulled” texture as well. The ground texture version is the kind of ground meat humans use for food preparation as well. Smooth refers to something closer to a pate type of texture. And the pulled variety is reminiscent of shredded meats, pulled-pork style.

If you are new to cat ownership, you may not be familiar with how finicky cats can be about their food. The fact that Smalls Cat Food makes a variety of different textures available for each of its proteins is a bigger deal than you might realize. After all, you can get your new furball the best kitten food in the world, but if she turns her nose up at it, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed, and that expensive food will be garbage instead of sustenance.

Pricing & Discounts for Pretty Kitties

Free shipping on your Smalls trial if you sign up for the Smalls Cat Food email and text list. Start exploring the brand with a $35 trial (down from $45) for your cat to try all the real meat (including an all-time cat favorite, chicken liver), great flavors and textures. If your cat doesn’t fall head over tail, there’s a full money-back guarantee. During our review of the Smalls Cat Food website, we were offered “free treats for life” which is certainly a promo worth exploring!

Why It Is Purrfect For Our List

Smalls Cat Food tops our list by understanding cats’ needs and designing their product offerings around spectacular top-of-the-line wet food options for kittens and cats of all ages. Three solid protein choices are a great start, but then Smalls propels themselves above the competition by offering multiple textures of each.

Further, Smalls offers an initial trial that lets them sample all the proteins and textures and then builds a monthly recurring subscription around their favorites. That’s a combination of smart, healthy, and convenient that’s hard to compete with! Smalls Cat Food provides an answer for every kitty preference that you, as a cat owner, can feel good and confident about.

Shop for Smalls Cat Food kitten food

2. Purina ONE – The Cat’s Meow – 2nd Place


  • Chicken as first ingredient
  • Pâté format is an agreeable wet food texture for most cat palates
  • Moisture-rich, grain-free canned food formula


  • Autoship 35 percent off discount only applies on up to $20 USD
  • Contains Guar Gum, which is a somewhat controversial ingredient for kitten food

Feline Food Features

Recommended by veterinarians, the Purina ONE chicken and salmon pâté for kittens is an excellent starter food for your new little friend. Generally, ingredients in canned food for cats follow the same guidelines as those listed on human foods, in that the ingredients are listed in order from highest amount of ingredient included to least. That means the first ingredient should be the thing that the total food is made up of the most.

In this case, the Purina ONE wet food for kittens lists chicken as its first ingredient, meaning that is the item it is most made up of, which is a good thing. This Purina ONE wet food is well-suited for growing kittens, with a high moisture content, guaranteed at up to 76.5%, plus it is grain-free. There are also a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients added to ensure kitty grows strong along its fast path to cat adulthood.

Purina ONE pâté for kittens is canned food that is based on body weight, with one can being the serving size for roughly every three pounds of body weight. Since kittens grow fast, we advise monitoring their quickly-changing weight to ensure you feed them the proper amount.

Pricing & Discounts For Pretty Kitties

You can score a full case of 24 cans of these Purina ONE kitten meals for only $28.32 USD. Also nab 35 percent off your first autoship and a continual five percent off subsequent orders.

Why It Is Purrfect For Our List

Purina ONE grain-free pâté with chicken and salmon for kittens makes our list of the best kitten food based on its combination of solid nutrients, low price point, and wide availability. Purina ONE is a fairly universal brand that can be found pretty easily at most grocery stores, pet stores, and big-box stores, making availability easy.

However, we highly recommend taking full advantage of the great discounts on pricing to have it delivered to your door regularly via the autoship option available on, with a large discount off the first order and a regular discount on recurring shipments, with no commitment so you can stop or start anytime.

Shop for Purina ONE kitten food

3. Iams – Cool Cat – 3rd Place


  • Supports cognitive development for kittens
  • Chicken as first ingredient in this dry kitten food
  • Strengthens immune defenses


  • Chicken by-product isn’t the greatest ingredient for kittens

Feline Food Features

Dry food is also a great part of a healthy, growing kitten’s diet. Veterinarians generally recommend a diet consisting of dry food and wet food both, and Iams ProActive Health dry food for kittens is a great choice for kibble. In addition to having chicken as the first ingredient (and therefore the most significant one), Iams packs some real vitamin and mineral punch into their dry kitten food kibble.

Vitamin E provides a boost to immune health, helping kitty repel germs and infections to grow strong and less prone to disease. Iams also includes fish oil and omega-3 DHA, which strengthens the cell membranes around every cell in your kittens’ bodies, but especially in their eyes and brains. This helps them to develop eyesight in a healthy manner and boosts their brain development and healthy cognitive development and function overall.

There is also something to be said for product design when it comes to Iams ProActive Health for kitty cats. Let’s be honest: kittens are absolutely precious partially because of how tiny they are in terms of body size. As such, that means they have teeny-tiny little mouths and even tinier little baby kitten teeth.

Since Iams ProActive is for kittens, it is well-suited design-wise for these tiny mouths, ensuring the kibble size is ever-so-small. This may seem like a minor thing, but you’d be surprised how many brands were stricken from being included in our list of the best kitten foods because they didn’t take these basics into account. Tiny mouths need tiny bites, after all!

Pricing & Discounts For Pretty Kitties offers Iams ProActive Health dry kitten food in three sizes: 3.5 lbs., 7 lbs., and 16 lbs. Pricing is as follows:

  • The 3.5 lb. bag is priced at $10.48 USD for single purchases, or that price comes down to $9.96 if you sign up for Autoship.
  • The 7 lb. bag of Iams ProActive Health comes in at $17.98 alone or $17.08 for Autoship.
  • And the 16 lb. bag is priced at $31.98 alone or $30.38 on Autoship.

Be aware that, when changing pet food brands for a cat, you should take time to transition your feline friend from one food to the next. This will help him by not making the change as drastic as simply changing all at once. The website contains a convenient guide for making this transition smoothly for your cat buddy.

Free one-to-three-day shipping is also available on orders over $49.

Why It Is Purrfect For Our List

Iams ProActive Health is on our list of the best kitten food because it is among the top choices for dry food for kittens. Its strengths in cognitive development and immune system health (including fish oil) are major pluses.

Shop Iams ProActive Health kitten food

4. Royal Canin – The Cat That Got the Cream – Honorable Mention


  • Formulated specifically for kittens between 4 months and 1 year old
  • Supports healthy hydration
  • Excellent texture for kittens to transition from kittenhood to adult and more solid foods


  • Contains chicken by-products

Feline Food Features

One of the things we love the most about Royal Canin’s kitten wet food is that it is formulated as an effective transition food. In particular, the texture of the food is gravy-based and is made up of very slim and small slices of food. This is a good thing because it is palatable for kittens as young as four months old, but also includes pieces that they can begin getting used to as their tiny kitten teeth begin getting replaced with their adult teeth (yes, this happens in cats, too!).

As kittens lose their “baby teeth”, this sort of food is a good one to help them start transitioning over into more solid foods that require more effective chewing. Royal Canin’s wet food for kittens is meant for kits up to one year old, when they will naturally move from foods that are softer to those that require a bit more processing before swallowing.

The Royal Canin kitten food includes chicken liver, fish oil and is also rich in antioxidants to bolster the kitten’s immune systems and includes easily digestible proteins as well as elements to support bone and muscle tissue growth and to synergize with a kitten’s natural energy and playfulness.

Pricing & Discounts For Pretty Kitties

Royal Canin wet food for kittens come in a case of 24 cans. Each 3 oz. case is priced at $47.76 USD, with an extra five percent discount if you sign up for Autoship deliveries, bringing the price down to $45.37. Free shipping can arrive within one to three days as well, if your overall order is $50 or more.

Why It Is Purrfect For Our List

Royal Canin is on our list due to its affordability and availability, paired with a solid base of nutrition for your growing kitten.

Shop Royal Canin kitten food

5. Blue Buffalo – The Cat’s Whiskers – Honorable Mention


  • High-protein formulation for kittens
  • Grain-free
  • Taurine for cognitive development and nutrient-packed fatty acids


Feline Food Features

Blue Buffalo Wilderness rounds out our list with a solid entry of dry food for kittens. This high-protein formula helps kittens get the nutrients they need while leaving out the extras like grains that don’t particularly contribute to a cat’s nutrition, especially during such a pivotal high-growth period in their young lives.

Chicken is a principle ingredient in this dry kitten food from Blue Buffalo and taurine is included to boost cognitive health and help with healthy eye development. A cat’s eyes are as important as every other species, but as evolutionary hunters, it was extra important that they get the nutrients they needed to help develop sharp eyes to go with legendary cat reflexes.

Furthering key areas of kitten development, Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness kitten food helps aid in strong muscle growth and includes flaxseed and fish meal for omega fatty acids, fish oil as a source for ARA and DHA. These two are fatty acids that aid in overall healthy development and solid growth. The formula also includes what Blue Buffalo calls “LifeSource Bits”, which are a blend of vitamins and minerals spliced together with antioxidants to help kitty develop a strong and hearty immune system, to boot.

Our review team also liked that Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a grain-free dry kitten food, devoid of additives like grains and soy. These are items that are largely “filler” ingredients, so it’s great to see them left off of this list.

Pricing & Discounts For Pretty Kitties

Pricing on is quite competitive right now, and you can actually get an even greater value out of the larger bag size, as of the time of writing.

A single 2-lb. bag is currently $14.98, discounted to $14.23 if you choose to Autoship subsequent orders. Get a bundle of two, 2-lb. bags at a rate of $29.96, $28.46 on Autoship.

The extra value (get it while it’s hot!) comes in the 5-lb. bag size, as it actually runs slightly less expensive, at a $13.99 price point, or $13.29 on Autoship instead. Nab a bundle of two, 5-lb. bags for $27.98, or at $26.58 via Autoship pricing.

Why It Is Purrfect For Our List

Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a solid entry for dry food for kittens. It is widely available and is often heavily discounted, so we suggest stocking up.

Shop Blue Buffalo Wilderness kitten food

How Did We Choose Our Best Kitten Food Options?

We made this list by reviewing a long list of both wet foods and dry foods advertised as being formulated for kittens. Included in this list are foods purported as “full life cycle” as it makes sense to include cat food brands that also cover the nutritional needs of kittens as well. This list of best kitten foods was created by a panel of cat experts who are also cat owners, in order to capture both the professional and the personal side of kitten nutrition. Research took into account pricing, availability, ingredients, and customer reviews.

Wet Food vs. Dry Kitten Food

As cat owners, it may be a lot more convenient to simply keep a bowl of dry food handy for your kitty rather than canned kitten food, as it keeps longer and requires less from you in terms of handling packaging, managing feeding times, and cleaning up. But the reality is that a dry-only diet is simply not as good for your cat.

Cats are natural carnivores, and they need a diet that is high in protein—that means they need both wet food and dry food to stay healthy. Wet food can help with the protein, as wet food is basically akin to the raw meat and organs that cats would consume as hunters in a natural habitat and generally provides higher protein content for your feline friend. Dry food consists of more of a “kibble” consistency and has less protein and more carbohydrates than wet food.

Dry kitten food is easier to store and cheaper to buy than wet kitten food. But it’s not as healthy for cats as wet kitten food because it doesn’t provide the moisture that cats need to keep their skin and coat healthy. Dry kitten food has a higher nutrient density than wet kitten food because it contains more protein and fat. However, wet, canned kitten food is easier for cats to digest because it has a higher water content.

The cat food that felines consume needs to provide them with water and energy. When a cat eats too much dry cat food, he might be eating a lot of sodium and fat. This leads to health problems like arthritis, kidney disease and high cholesterol. Cats need a diet that is made up of 70% protein and 25% fat, while they also require both wet and dry cat food. It’s important to keep a careful balance between the two and make both available.

When Should I Switch From Kitten Food to Cat Food?

Happy Birthday dear Kitty! Oh, the one year mark. Your kitten has been growing month by month and the bond between you both has only gotten stronger. You can only look at your kitten and see purrfection. The time to switch your kitten to cat food made for adult cats, depending on the breed, is at about 10 to 12 months old. A dry and canned kitten food diet is packed full of lots of calories and is high in a variety of nutrients to help your kitten grow into the mighty cat it believes itself to be. Unless you are wanting your cat to be a little hefty, it’s time to lessen those calories with adult cat food to make sure it is maintaining a healthy diet for adult cats.

The best kitten foods have more calories than cat food because kittens need more calories to burn with all their curiosity trying to figure out how to become rulers of the universe. With that being said, as kittens transition into becoming adolescent and adult cats, their takeover methods become more cerebral and require more naps in the sunshine which requires less calories and more snooze time. Most dry and canned kitten food is also extremely high in omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These two fatty acids are important for kittens because they help contribute to the growth and develop your kittens’ major organs as well as their central nervous system. These fatty acids also help develop your kitten’s eyesight, giving them the perfect set of eyes to make you give in to them for extra cuddles. Adult cat food will often be less rich than kitten food, given that those healthy fats are no longer needed as much and it would only add to unhealthy weight gain to your cat.

How Much Food Should a Kitten Eat?

A kitten’s stomach is the size of its eye socket. It can only handle about 1 ounce of food per feeding. Kittens should eat 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of food per day. They should be fed every 12 hours and they can eat up to 4 times a day.

Kittens need to be fed a high-quality, high-protein diet with lots of calories and nutrients. The best choice is canned kitten food or kitten kibble, which comes in different flavors and textures for kittens to enjoy.

The best approach for your new kitten is three-fold, combining measurements, food charts, and vet advice. First, take the amounts listed above into account. Next, take careful stock of what is displayed on your pet food’s serving size chart on the label of your canned food. Finally, be sure to speak with your veterinarian to ensure you’re giving your kitten the kitten foods that are best for his or her specific needs.

What Kitten Foods Should Be Avoided?

You are sitting there with your sweet little fur baby and they look at you with their sweet kitten face and you give the mightiest little meow urging you to share a nibble of that onion burger you are shoving into your face. The meow alone is enough to make you start to tear off a piece and give them a bite and then they start to purr! Stop! There are certain types of foods that kittens cannot have that can actually be life threatening to them if eaten in large quantities or at all.

Let’s talk about that onion burger you were lovingly about to share with your little feline friend. Onions are toxic to kittens. The toxicity level to cats is 1 gram of onion per 5 pounds of cat. Ingestion of onion, in any form whether it be raw, dehydrated, or even powdered to a kitten could ultimately be fatal if proper veterinary attention is not sought immediately if you think or know that your kitten has eaten something containing onion.

This warning doesn’t just come with onions either. Shallots, garlic, scallions, chives, and scallions, all have the same fatal effects on felines. When ingesting these types of vegetables it has a reaction between the red blood cells in your kitten and the oxidant levels in the vegetables causing a reaction in the red blood cells which can lead to anemia, onion poisoning, and fatal toxicity. It also causes severe gastrointestinal issues.

Grapes and raisins are another mystery food that can ultimately lead to kidney failure in kittens if consumed. The exact level of toxicity isn’t known and differs from animal to animal so it is best to never give your kitty either one.

While we are on the subject of fruits, it’s best to discuss the citrus ones. Not only should kittens not have any kind of citrus fruits but it is also dangerous to have them ingest the essential oils from citrus fruits. Central nervous depression can be induced if large quantities are ingested, so if you mop or steam your floors with essential oils try to avoid using citrus in your cleaning concoctions as it could get on your pretty kitty’s feet and then pass into their mouths from them licking their feet. Other side effects from citrus fruits are diarrhea, upset stomach, and vomiting,

It is also important to know that chocolate is toxic for cats. Theobromine is an alkaloid of the cacao plant, and when it’s ingested by animals or humans, it acts as a mild stimulant, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. The diuretic effect of theobromine dehydrates the animal or person who consumes it, which can lead to muscle tremors and seizures. This can be really dangerous for cats because it can lead to heart failure. So even though it would seem to be a sweet treat for your itty bitty kitty face, we cannot recommend highly enough that you avoid giving chocolate to your cat, along with avoiding any of the other items on this list.

It seems so natural to want to put down a saucer of milk for your kitten. We have all seen it time and time again in the movies. But did you know that most cats are lactose intolerant? Many cats can’t process dairy items. Giving your cat yogurt or cheese could cause digestive issues and give Mr. Whiskers a poor upset tummy. You should always check with your veterinarian about including things in your kitten’s diet. So if you aren’t sure about something and you have questions it is better to avoid giving it to your kitten until you talk to your vet.


What kind of foods do cats consume?

Cats are carnivores, through-and-through. They have no need for grains or vegetables, so it’s not only normal, but preferred for cat food options to be meat-oriented. Be wary of cat or kitten foods that contain too many alternative ingredients that serve as filler and do not contribute to your cat’s health.

It is important to know what ingredients are bad for cats. Cats need a diet that is high in protein, but they should not be fed cat food with high levels of fat or cholesterol. They can also be allergic to certain ingredients, like wheat or corn.

What ingredients are bad for cats? Cats should not be fed meat by-products, chicken meal, artificial preservatives, or any other cat food product that contains more than 10% animal fat. They should also avoid cat or kitten foods with more than 2% chicken meal and any cat food containing wheat or corn as an ingredient.


Kittens are a cute, adorable, fun, and exciting addition to your life and your family. As with any living creature, proper nutrition is important to ensure they grow strong and live long, happy, healthy lives. This guide will help you to choose the best kitten food for your new little friend to get what they need. One last tip for the new kitten owners out there: take a ton of photos every day, because they grow faster than you will ever imagine!

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