Differences Between Kitten Food & Cat Food

Of all the choices relating to your pet, what to feed them can be one of the most confusing. The enormous range of brands, flavors, and specialties overwhelms us with options; so how do you know what’s best to feed your furry loved one? A flourishing part of the cat food industry right now relates to age-formulated food, but what exactly is kitten food and how does it differ from traditional cat food?


Kitten Food

Kitten food is specially designed for cats under the age of one and is considered most helpful during the first six months of life when cats experience intensive growth spurts and equally intensive cattail-chasing romps. Ounce for ounce, kitten food is richer than cat food, providing the higher quantities of calories and fat needed to power growth.

There are a lot of brands offering kitten food and it can come in canned wet or dry kibble form. Some of the most popular kitten-specific foods currently available are:

  • Wellness Natural Complete Health Kitten Formula
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Kitten Wet Food
  • Purina Fancy Feast Kitten Gourmet Wet Food
  • Blue Healthy Gourmet Kitten Pate Wet Food
  • Royal Canin Babycat Canned Food
  • Purina Pro Plan Focus Kitten Canned Food


Cat Food

Cat food is distinguished from kitten food by being advertised as appropriate for cats over the age of one; cats typically reach at least 90% of their adult weight by the end of their first year and this is a good indicator that the cat is ready to transition to cat food. Despite the hype, however, special kitten food isn’t a requirement. Any cat food labeled “for all life stages” is perfectly suitable for kittens and will provide them the nutrients they need to grow and fuel their play. Cat food, like kitten food, can come in wet or dry form. Some popular ‘any age’ cat food brands are:

  • Life’s Abundance All Life Stage Kibble
  • Canidae All Life Stages Formula Kibble
  • Authority All Life Stages Cat Food
  • EVO Cat & Kitten Food
  • Wellness Core Grain-Free All Life Stage Dry Cat Food
  • Mounds Purrfect Cat
  • Natural Balance Cat Formula

Even though cat food is safe for kittens, kitten food is not safe for older cats. As kitten food is formulated for growth, often enhanced with nutritional supplements in addition to the extra calories and fat, it is not recommended for full-grown cats. Adult cats are less active than kittens and will gain weight if fed a kitten’s diet.


Breed-Specific Food

There are also breed-specific foods designed for pure breed cats; these can come in kitten and older cat varieties. The necessity for buying breed-specific food varies with the needs of your furry loved one; those with breed-specific health sensitivities may benefit from these specialized foods as they are tailored to meet the unique nutritional needs of that breed.


Making Your Choice

Whatever brand, flavor or type of food you choose for your four-legged friend, there are some important things to look out for. Any reputable food should be guaranteed by the Association of American feed Control Officials (AAFCO) which ensures that the food is safe and nutritionally balanced, as well as thoroughly tested. Read the food label to check for allergens and animal by-products. Talking with your vet about your cat’s specific needs is also wise, as they might have recommendations based on weight, water intake, breed and age.


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