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Kittens are so much more than just tiny cats. In addition to their extreme adorableness they're growing like crazy, often doubling their weight in just a few short weeks. They also have ton of energy; if you've ever seen your kitten run around and wrestle with their litter mates, toys or even their human's feet, you'll understand.
So it's no wonder kittens have different nutritional needs compared to adult cats. Most significantly, in order to support their tiny, growing energetic bodies, kitten food is typically more calorie dense then regular adult cat food. But just as in adult cat food, it's important that a good kitten food consist of quality protein sources and fats, and not be full of cheap carbohydrate fillers or undesirable preservatives.
After months of research and analyzing information from CatFoodDB's extensive collection of over 2700+ cat food products from over 160 brands, I'm excited to be able to report on which kitten foods ranked the best!
Every cat is different, so there is no one single best kitten food. As with adult cats, allergies, health concerns, price and even the pickiness of your particular feline will all play a part in helping you determine what is the best kitten food for your situation.
When looking to find the highest quality kitten foods, I'm primarily looking at two different properties of each particular variety. Pet foods manufactured in the United States and Canada are required to publish this information, so it makes sense that products can be compared against each other this way.
Kittens in particular need high calorie foods, but these calories need to come from quality fat and protein sources. As with their adult cat counterparts, quality kitten foods should not include any cheap fillers or other undesirable ingredients.
For the purposes of this list, we only looked at products that were specifically marketed to and labelled as appropriate for kittens.
Each product is given a score based on an analysis of its ingredient list. Those with a named protein or protein meal (ie "chicken" or "chicken meal") as their first ingredient are scored highest. Products with named proteins and meals in their top 5 ingredients are also scored better than those products without. Note that a generic "meat" or "fish" ingredient doesn't count as a protein in my evaluations; I find it rather suspicious that a manufacturer is unable or unwilling to identify the source of the protein!
Products listing by-products, or bulk-adding fillers and grains in their top ingredient positions are scored lower. Additionally, any questionable preservatives included in the ingredient list will also reduce the product's score.
By law in North America, every commercially prepared cat food must publish a 'Guaranteed Analysis' that describes the percentages of protein, fat, fiber and moisture that are contained within the product. Although these aren't exact values, they do allow us to approximate and compare the total amount of protein and carbohydrates that are contained in each product. It's also important to note manufacturers are not required to list a product's ash content. In cat food, ash is the term used to represent the inorganic minerals (like phosphorous, calcium, zinc and iron) that exist in the product. In products in which ash content is not reported, CatFoodDB will assume 3% ash content in wet foods, and 6% in dry.
Similar to their ingredient score, each product is also scored based on its nutritional analysis - those products that have higher amounts of protein and lower amounts of carbohydrates reported in this nutritional breakdown are scored higher.
The products below scored highest of all the products in the CatFoodDB database. All are high in protein and fat, low in carbohydrates, and are free of starchy fillers and by-products.
It's important to keep in mind that protein and especially the carbohydrate numbers are only estimated values. Although each cat food manufacturer is required by law to publish a Guaranteed Analysis that defines each product's maximum values of fiber and moisture in addition to its minimum values of protein and fat, exact nutritional percentages are not available and hence all calculated values, including carbohydrates, are determined using these minimum and maximum published values and may differ from actual values. Although a high score may be indicative of a higher-quality product it is not a guarantee. The best food for your cat or kitten is the one that meets their individual needs.
Each of the following canned kitten foods rated 9 / 10 paws using CatFoodDB's scoring system.
Each of the following dry kitten foods rated 8 / 10 paws using CatFoodDB's scoring system. Note that in general dry cat foods score less than their canned counterparts because by definition dry cat foods contain more carbohydrates.