Choosing the best kitten wet food is a daunting task. There are many options available in the market with different ingredients, nutritional values, and prices.
A cat reaches adulthood faster than a human. It only takes one year for your kitten to mature. During this phase of life, a kitten needs a high-calorie diet to support rapid growth and development.
If you’re looking for the best kitten wet food then look no further. We’ve done all of the research so you don’t have to by comparing different brands and their ingredients to find the standout choices.
This article will help point out some important things to consider before buying a can or two of wet food for your kitty. We will also answer some frequently asked questions in the area of kitten wet food.
My name is Derrick, and I write for Simply Cat Care. Our goal is to provide the best advice to improve your cat’s health. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet before continuing.
Let’s get into the article:
Product Review: The Best Wet Kitten Food
Best Wet Kitten Food Overall: Purina ONE Healthy Kitten
Purina ONE Healthy Kitten is a great all-around choice for kittens.
I like that this product contains plenty of protein-rich ingredients for growth. The first five ingredients are chicken, liver, chicken broth, pork lungs, and salmon which are great high-quality protein sources for growing kittens. Poultry and fish also provide vitamins and minerals for your kitten. The product is also grain-free and doesn’t contain any carrageenan which is great for sensitive stomachs.
Purina ONE is also affordable which is surprising given the good quality. A downside is the mixed taste reviews via customer feedback. This may be due to product inconsistencies and formula changes over time.
Chicken, liver, chicken broth, pork lungs, salmon, natural flavors, ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS, AND OTHER INGREDIENTS: Minerals (potassium chloride, salt, mono, and dicalcium phosphate, magnesium sulfate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), guar gum, Vitamins (Vitamin E, choline, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-3, Vitamin B-5, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-7, folic acid, Vitamin D-3), taurine
CALORIC CONTENT: 1,238 kcal/kg, 105 kcal/can
Best Wet Kitten Food Runner Up: Nulo Freestyle Duck & Tuna Recipe
Nulo Freestyle Duck & Tuna Recipe is another solid choice on the kitten food range.
Out of the can, there is a robust offering of high protein foods duck, chicken, chicken liver, and tuna with duck broth for moisture. These are great no-nonsense sources of essential amino acids for growth.
The product then uses a range of vegetable foods such as pumpkin and cranberries. Nulo claims these help your cat’s immune system. I am not convinced there is any evidence that these ingredients are beneficial for kittens.
Let’s talk about the budget side of things. This product comes in affordable larger tins. As another side note, the product has mixed reviews. This may be due to the addition of duck, which isn’t a typical dietary ingredient in many kitten foods.
Duck, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Duck Broth, Tuna, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Agar-Agar, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Sodium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
CALORIC CONTENT: 1,225 kcal/kg, 191 kcal/can
Best Wet Kitten Food Premium: Ziwi Peak Hauraki Plains Canned
Ziwi Peak Hauraki Plains Canned Cat Food is a premium food for those looking for the best choice regardless of price.
It meets the AAFCO approved ingredients for all life stages. This product contains chicken, duck, organs, bones, eggs, and mussels. It is a complete powerhouse of high-quality animal-based foods.
There are no fillers such as wheat, cellulose, potato, corn, gums, carrageenan, or tapioca starch. If you want a premium product, this is as good as it gets for carnivore nutrition.
This food is also suitable as adult cat food. If you have a kitten and adult cat, this is a good benefit as you don’t have to buy separate tins.
The cost of this product is much higher than the other options on this list. Whilst there is a clear upgrade in quality, the cost will test many. Also, the strong meaty smell might put off owners and cats alike and be a little hit or miss.
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Duck, Whole Kahawai, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver, Whole Egg, New Zealand Green Mussel, Dried Egg White, Turkey, Chicken Neck, Chicken Bone, Duck Bone, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex), Turkey Bone, Turkey Gizzard, Turkey Liver, DL-Methionine, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dried Kelp, Turkey Heart, Taurine
CALORIC CONTENT: 1350 kcal ME/kg; 230 kcal ME/can
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Wet Food for Your Kitten?
Are you looking for the best wet kitten food for health?
Kittens are adorable, but they can be expensive. It’s important to take care of your little ones and make sure their food is healthy for them. I know it is hard to find the best wet kitten food because there are so many options out there.
That’s why I created this guide – so you don’t have to spend hours researching what brands are good and which ones aren’t.
You want your kitty to live a long, happy life with great health, right?
Then let me help you find the best wet kitten food for them by reading my buying guide today!
Why is diet important for kittens?
Kittens experience rapid growth during the first few months of life. A kitten reaches adulthood between the ages of 6-12 months. A high-calorie and nutrient-dense diet are important to ensure normal growth and development.
When born, kittens feed on their mother’s milk up until 4-8 weeks of age. If this isn’t available, kittens need a specialized nutrition formula. At this point, kittens can eat a soft wet kitten food that is high in protein and moisture.
Kittens grow baby milk teeth which grow and the teeth fall out at around 4 months of age. Adult teeth appear around seven months and there are 30 adult teeth. Food should be soft enough to eat at this stage of life (or softened with moisture).
Now that you know why diet is important, let’s look at some factors to look for in buying the best wet kitten food.
What wet food is best for kittens?
The best wet kitten food contains high amounts of quality protein from sources such as chicken, turkey, duck, and salmon. The food should have an AAFCO statement that the product is suitable for all life stages.
Look for commercial cat food formulated for kittens. These food options meet the higher calorie and moisture needs for growth. They also supplement with calcium for teeth and bone development.
Not all kitten foods are equal.
Kittens need high-quality protein for growth. They need quality protein sources such as chicken, turkey, duck, and salmon. These foods contain nutrients that kittens absorb well.
Cat’s don’t need carbohydrates for growth as they are obligate carnivores. Look for foods with fewer ingredients such as peas, corn, rice, soy, and tapioca starch.
Check out my article on my top 9 tips for cat nutrition for more.
Why is AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement important?
Wet kitten food with an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement of suitability for all life stages gives you confidence the food contains all the nutrients your kitten needs for growth and development.
AAFCO provides guidelines for cat food manufacturers. These guidelines are not laws in all states, but they inform buyers of quality.
Many cat food brands have a nutritional adequacy statement as outlined via AAFCO.
The statement is as follows:
‘(name of the food) formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for (all life stages/growth).”
If a cat food has the above statement followed by ‘all life stages’ it is suitable for kittens. That means it contains the nutrition needed to support a kitten’s growth and development.
If you find a cat food you want to use, look for this statement as a sign of nutritional quality.
Check out my article on label reading for more helpful tips.
What kitten food do vets recommend?
Vets range in their opinion in regards to feline nutrition. However, most vets will agree that commercial kitten food with all the micronutrients needed for kittens is essential for growth.
The main point of contention is the macronutrient ratio in kitten foods.
Some vets regard a high protein, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate optimal for kitten nutrition.
This is because felines are obligate carnivores and consume scant amounts of carbohydrates in the wild. Others believe health exists on a range of macronutrient ratios.
A combination of wet and dry foods provides variety and encourages water intake. Many vets agree a balance of foods is suitable for a kitten.
Check with your local vet for specific advice for your situation.
What is the highest-rated wet cat food?
The following foods had the highest customer approval ratings:
- Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Thin Slices in Gravy Wet Kitten Food
- Purina Pro Plan True Nature Natural Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Grain-Free Kitten Formula Canned Cat Food
I recommended the choices in this article because I felt they offered a better quality range of ingredients for the price range.
Whilst customer reviews form an important part of selecting a suitable kitten food, they aren’t the only factor. Weigh up each food option from a variety of perspectives.
What are kitten-specific nutrition requirements I need to look for?
Kittens need a high-calorie and protein diet. A protein intake (from a dry matter basis) of 35-50% of total calories is required for growth and energy production in kittens.
The majority of this protein should come from animal-based foods. This is because these foods provide high amounts of essential amino acids. Many plant-based protein food sources are lower in essential amino acids and aren’t optimal for growth.
Although it is theoretically possible to nourish a kitten on a plant-based diet, there are a lot more possible complications. A case report of an owner feeding their young cat a plant-based vegan diet struggled with recurring feline lower urinary tract disorders (FLUTD). If you are opting for a vegan diet for your kitten for ethical reasons I recommend careful management and consultation with your vet.
Another micronutrient important for kittens is calcium, a key mineral involved in the formation of strong bones and teeth. Calcium is in the form of supplemental calcium carbonate (or similar) or soft bones.
A calcium level of 0.8-1.6% (from a dry matter basis) is a good target for kitten growth. Some cat food brands list the calcium in a guaranteed analysis.
A kitten with a calcium-deficient diet may develop health complications. A calcium deficiency leads to mobility issues, depression, confusion, and at worse may result in euthanasia.
These issues are often due to homemade cat diets with no added calcium (e.g. all fresh meat without bones or milk). This is one reason it is best to select a commercial kitten food to make sure your kitten is getting enough calcium, among other nutrients, for growth and development.
What are some wet cat foods I should not give my kitten to eat?
Most commercial kitten foods are safe to eat but some ingredients may impair nutrient absorption. For example, rice inhibits the absorption of taurine. Taurine is an essential amino acid needed for many functions including eyesight and heart function.
Plant protein sources such as corn gluten meal may increase the risk of urinary tract disorders.
Whilst plant and grain-based foods such as rice, wheat, peas, corn, and oats aren’t toxic to cats, they aren’t the best sources of nutrition. I recommend choosing a kitten food with fewer plant-based ingredients.
Another vague ingredient to be wary of is the term meat by-products. Although by-products may be healthy, the word ‘meat’ means that the source of the food is vague and may include all kinds of animals, including (potentially) dead cats and dogs.
Contrary to popular belief, cat’s do not like dead food as this produces a smell that is offputting – hence why cat food manufacturers try to disguise the taste with flavorings.
What foods are toxic to kittens?
There are a lot of foods that are toxic to cats in small amounts. These include many plant-based foods such as onions, garlic, and avocados.
Most commercial wet kitten food doesn’t contain any of these ingredients.
It is far more likely to encounter problems feeding your kitten home-based foods. Feeding your kitten baby food or leftovers is a problem as they may contain those ingredients.
Let’s look at some other potential things to avoid:
Should I avoiding wet kitten food with carrageenan?
I recommend avoiding wet kitten food with added carrageenan as this ingredient may lead to digestive upsets.
Carrageenan is a controversial food item made from seaweed. It is a thickener in cat and human foods alike.
Carrageenan provides no nutrition to cats. Degraded carrageenan is a possible carcinogen and may lead to digestive issues. Food-grade carrageenan (used in cat food) contains between 5-25% degraded carrageenan.
Degraded carrageenan induces local inflammation for research purposes (e.g. injected into the paw of rats to induce edema). Degraded carrageenan added to the water of guinea pigs resulted in ulcerative colitis, weight loss, loose stools, and blood in the faces.
Researchers deem food-grade carrageenan as safe. Food-grade carrageenan does not contain enough degraded carrageenan to induce harmful effects.
Since there is no benefit to carrageenan and possible downside, it is best to steer clear of it anyway. I avoided products with carrageenan for this review.
Should I avoiding wet kitten food with added gums?
Gums are considered safe, although they may result in marginal loss of protein during digestion.
Gums are thickeners used to create a firm texture. They include xanthan, guar, cassia, agar-agar, and carob gum. These gums are from plant-based foods.
Researchers have found guar gum causes greater fecal losses of protein. Some of those protein losses are from less ammonia (protein digestion waste product) entering the bloodstream from the colon. The total loss of protein is negligible.
Most cat foods provide more than enough protein for good health.
Gums are more difficult to avoid than carrageenan and reduce your options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do kittens need wet kitten food?
Cats need to drink enough water for their kidneys and proper urination.
When cats eat all dry food, they tend not to consume enough water. Wet canned cat food provides kittens moisture.
At what age do you need to start feeding a kitten?
I recommend providing your cat at least 50% wet foods if you want to use dry food.
If you want to use dry food, I recommend ACANA First Feast High-Protein Kitten Dry Cat Food.
A cat weans off its mother’s milk between 4-8 weeks of age.
At this point, introduce solid food.
How do I feed my kitten?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests the following protocol:
- Use a kitten milk replacer (KMR)* in a small saucer and encourage the kitten to taste it
- Begin to add small amounts of kitten wet or dry food with the KMR and form a ‘slurry/porridge’ out of it.
- Transition to 100% kitten wet and/or dry food (at least some wet canned food) up until the age of 8 weeks
*KMR is appropriate for kittens. Do not use cow’s milk or any other kind of milk (e.g. almond or soy milk).
Always consult a veterinarian before planning a weaning regimen for your kitten. It is often recommended to continue feeding a kitten with KMR out of a bottle during the transition to solid foods.
Offer the bottle of KMR after bowl feeding.
How much should a kitten eat?
Kittens need more calories per pound of body weight than adult cats.
This is to provide energy for growth. Check out my article on how much to feed your cat for more.
How often should kittens eat?
Kittens need up to four meals per day (or at least offered). This is to ensure healthy growth, brain, and eye development.
Once a kitten reaches adult they can subsist on 2-4 meals. This varies from situation to situation.
In the wild, a feline will consume as many as 7-20 small meals per day (through small prey such as rodents). You may want to use small frequent meals if your kitten prefers this eating style.
Check out my article on how often to feed a cat for more information.
Conclusion: Best Kitten Wet Food (Final Thoughts)
In this article, I’ve reviewed the best-wet cat food for kittens.
The best wet kitten food for health is one that contains all the nutrients your cat needs, without any unnecessary additives. We’ve taken the time to break down what you need to look for in a quality wet kitten food and give recommendations on what not to feed your feline friend.
Animal-based protein sources are the easiest foods to digest and get nutrition from. A good canned wet kitten food should contain a good variety of animal-based foods. These include sources such as turkey, chicken, and fish.
Click below to go back to the product review to see our top picks.
Speak with a vet for more assistance in finding the best-canned kitten food for your needs.
Our Top Pick: The Best Kitten Wet Food Overall
This is a great all-around choice for kittens.
This food contains plenty of protein-rich ingredients. These include chicken and fish which provide vitamins and minerals for your kitten. The product is also grain-free and doesn’t contain any carrageenan.