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14 Best Grain Free Kitten Foods

The best grain free kitten food packs a powerful punch in a tiny package, kind of like your kitten!

The increasingly popular grain free diet trend means it’s more important than ever to master the art of decoding nutrition fact labels. With so many grain free kitten food options flooding store shelves and websites, it’s getting trickier to cut through the hype to pick out the most balanced holistic kitten foods. Mostly because there are so many lower quality options that are masquerading as healthy kitten food!

Before you fill up your furbaby’s bowl with the first grain free kitten food you find, here’s what you need to know about grain free feline nutrition (and our favorite 14 choices!)

Top pick for grain free kitten food

  1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Chicken Dry Kitten Food
  2. Instinct Original Grain Free Kitten Recipe
  3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Kitten Food
  4. Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Cat and Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food 
  5. Halo Grain Free Natural Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food
  6. Orijen Grain Free Premium Dry Cat and Kitten Food
  7. I And Love And You Nude Superfood Grain Free Dry Cat and Kitten Food 
  8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Grain Free Chicken Pate Wet Kitten Food 
  9. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Indoor Chicken Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food 
  10. Wellness Grain Free Chicken Entree Pate Wet Kitten Food 
  11. Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Minced Salmon and Turkey Canned Kitten and Cat Wet Food 
  12. Wellness CORE Grain Free Turkey and Chicken Liver Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food 
  13. Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Salmon Kitten Wet Food 
  14.  Solid Gold Grain Free Flavorful Feast Chicken Kitten Recipe Wet Food 

Grain free dry kitten food reviews

1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Chicken Dry Kitten Food

One of the most recognizable and readily available grain free dry kitten foods comes from Blue Buffalo Wilderness line of cat food. All of the Wilderness wet and dry cat food options are grain free and high protein. The Wilderness Chicken flavor dry kitten food is no exception! Crafted from easy to digest animal proteins like deboned chicken, eggs, fish oil, and chicken fat, this dry kitten food is fortified with crucial nutrients kittens need for healthy brain development like DHA.

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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Chicken Dry Kitten Food

Pros

  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains multiple animal proteins
  • Free of corn, wheat, soy, artificial ingredients, or meat by-products
  • Fortified with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for kittens development
  • The kibble is small enough for kittens tiny mouths

Cons

  • Contains fish so it’s not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • It’s high in carbohydrates
  • Contains pea ingredients and vegetables like potatoes

2. Instinct Original Grain Free Kitten Recipe

Instinct is a brand known for its focus on using high protein and easy to digest meats to nourish cats. Each morsel of Instinct’s Original Grain Free Chicken for Kittens dry cat food starts with cage-free chicken and a blend of other wholesome meats like lamb, turkey, and ocean whitefish. This dry kitten food contains DHA and omega fatty acids for brain and eye development and probiotics and antioxidants for immune and digestive system health.

Instinct Original Grain Kitten Recipe

Pros

  • The first three ingredients are chicken, turkey, and fish
  • Contains 81 percent animal protein
  • Has no potatoes, corn, soy, wheat, or any artificial ingredients
  • Contains limited vegetable ingredients
  • Provides DHA, antioxidants, omega fatty acids

Cons

  • Contains fish so it’s not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Premium price
  • It only comes in 4-pound bags

grain free kitten foods

3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Kitten Food

Wellness’s Complete Health Grain Free dry kitten food combines healthy fats and proteins to give kittens the energy they need to grow and play. Made from deboned chicken, chicken meal and chicken fat this high protein kitten food is easy to digest and species-appropriate. Omega fatty acid and DHA-rich salmon oil and a blend of probiotics, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals encourage healthy growth in kittens such as proper brain, eye, immune system, and digestive system development and wellness.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Kitten Food

Pros

  • Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients
  • Kittens can start eating this right after they’ve been weaned
  • Contains no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial colors, or flavors
  • Fortified with essential nutrients, DHA, probiotics, and omega fatty acids

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains chickpeas and potatoes which can be hard to digest for some kittens
  • Pricier than some other brands of dry kitten food

4. Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Cat and Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food 

Nulo Freestyle is well-known for offering low carb and low glycemic dry cat food. In keeping with Nulo’s high protein and grain-free philosophy, Nulo Freestyle Chicken and Cod Recipe Kitten and Cat kibble contains 83 percent highly digestible animal proteins and meats. The blend of healthy fats from the combination of poultry and fish encourages healthy skin, coat, and lean muscle development. Fortified with DHA, antioxidants, probiotics, taurine, and essential minerals and vitamins C, E, and A, this dry kitten food promotes digestive, immune, and heart health.

Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Cat and Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food

Pros

  • The top three proteins include deboned chicken, cod, and turkey
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients
  • Appropriate for kittens and adult, and senior cats
  • Low carb and low glycemic
  • Bags are available in 4 different sizes

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Premium prices
  • It contains peas, sweet potatoes, and lentils which aren’t always easy to digest for cats

5. Halo Grain Free Natural Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food

Halo Holistic Chicken and Chicken Liver Recipe grain free kitten food is one of the rare dry cat foods to not use any meat meal ingredients. Instead, deboned chicken, chicken liver, and eggs are the top animal proteins. This easy to digest blend of proteins is supported by a dose of DHA-providing salmon oil, probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are essential for healthy growth and development. Folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B12 encourage healthy skin and hair while healthy fats promote lean muscle development.

Halo Grain Free Natural Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food

Pros

  • The first ingredients are chicken and eggs
  • Available in two flavors
  • Contains probiotics and essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
  • Made from non-GMO ingredients

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains too many vegetables and fruits for some cat parents’ liking
  • Contains soy, potatoes, peas, and lentils which are hard to digest for some kitten

6. Orijen Grain Free Premium Dry Cat and Kitten Food

Our picks for the best grain free kitten foods wouldn’t be complete without Orijen! We LOVE this brand’s grain free recipes. With an emphasis on using whole animal proteins, including vitamin-rich organ meats, Orijen’s philosophy is to feed cats on a biological level so they have the energy to thrive. The top ten ingredients in this dry cat food include high-quality ingredients like turkey liver, chicken hearts, whole flounder, and eggs. This unique “whole prey” nutrition and a blend of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients nourish kittens and promote healthy growth.

Orijen Grain Free Premium Dry Cat and Kitten Food

Pros

  • The top 10 ingredients are wholesome, highly digestible animal proteins and meats
  • Contains 85 percent animal proteins
  • No corn, soy, wheat, artificial flavors, or meat byproducts
  • Nutritionally balanced and complete

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • It’s very expensive
  • It can be hard to find in stores
  • Some cat parents don’t like how many vegetable ingredients it has

7. I And Love And You Nude Superfood Grain Free Dry Kitten Food 

I And Love And You Nude Super Food Poultry A Plenty high protein grain free recipe dry cat food appeal to kittens’ taste buds while giving them the fuel they need to take on the world with all of their bold and curious kitten energy! Easy to digest turkey, chicken liver, and eggs are the main animal proteins in this kitten food. They’re supported by antioxidant-rich superfoods like pumpkin, DHA-packed herring oil, and a blend of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and nutrients that are crucial for muscle, heart, vision, immune system, and digestive health and development.

I And Love And You Nude Superfood Grain Free Dry Cat and Kitten Food

Pros

  • The top three ingredients are wholesome, easy to digest meats
  • Appropriate for kittens, adult, and senior cats
  • Contains no corn, wheat, soy, rice, artificial ingredients, or meat byproducts
  • Two flavor options
  • Affordable and easy to find in stores and online

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains peas, lentils, and chickpeas which are hard to digest for some kittens
  • May have too many vegetables for some cat parents’ liking

grain free cat food

Grain free wet kitten food

8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Grain Free Chicken Pate Wet Kitten Food 

Of course, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness line includes wet cat food options for kittens! The Wilderness Chicken Recipe wet kitten food can be served alone or with its dry cat food counterpart. This gluten-free pate starts with real chicken, eggs, chicken liver, and salmon oil. All are potent sources of healthy fats and proteins. The addition of DHA, omega fatty acids, amino acids, and essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients encourage vision, brain, immune system, heart, and lean muscle development and healthy growth. Other vitamins like B1 and B5 help with crucial metabolism functioning.

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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Grain Free Chicken Pate Wet Kitten Food
Pros

  • The top ingredients are easy to digest meats and animal proteins
  • Low glycemic
  • Contains only 1 vegetable ingredient
  • Available in two flavors
  • It’s easy to find in stores and online

Con

  • Not suitable for cats with fish allergies
  • Contains carrageenan and cassia gum thickeners

9. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Indoor Chicken Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food 

The Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free line also offers a wet kitten food option. Easy to digest meat and proteins like chicken liver, deboned chicken, and chicken broth give kittens the energy they need to play and grow. Fish oil adds a crucial boost of DHA for brain development and omega fatty acids for skin, fur, and kidney health. A blend of essential minerals, nutrients, and vitamins like B1, B2, and B6 help kittens develop a healthy immune system, nervous system, heart, and metabolism.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Indoor Chicken Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food

Pros

  • The top ingredient is easy to digest chicken
  • Contains no corn, wheat, soy, artificial ingredients, or meat byproducts
  • Fortified with DHA and essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
  • Contains only a few vegetable ingredients
  • It’s easy to find in stores and online

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains carrageenan and cassia gum thickeners

10. Wellness Grain Free Chicken Entree Pate Wet Kitten Food 

Wellness Complete Health Kitten formula pate is made from the same healthy proteins that appear in their dry kitten food. This grain free recipe mostly consists of chicken, which is one of the best and easiest to digest sources of proteins for cats and kittens. Fish oil brings a boost of essential DHA and a blend of Vitamins A, D, and B12 that support kitten’s brain, heart, nervous system, and metabolism development and maintenance.

Wellness Grain Free Chicken Entree Pate Wet Kitten Food

Pros

  • Easy to digest chicken is the top ingredient
  • No carrageenan
  • Contains just 1 vegetable ingredient
  • No corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, artificial ingredients, or meat byproducts

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains cassia gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum thickeners

11. Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Minced Salmon and Turkey Canned Kitten Food 

Nulo Freestyle has some of the most grain free kitten food options, with six wet food recipes that are formulated for kittens and adult cats. Nulo Freestyle Minced Salmon and Turkey Recipe wet cat and kitten food feature small, but hearty, chunks of salmon and turkey liver. The meaty morsels are served in a thick, savory gravy of chicken fat, turkey broth, and salmon broth. This wet cat food is fortified with all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients kittens need to grow strong and healthy, including taurine, B12, Vitamin E, and folic acid.

Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Minced Salmon and Turkey Canned Kitten Food and Cat Wet Food

Pros

  • Easy to digest salmon and turkey are the first ingredients
  • It’s appropriate for kittens, adult, and senior cats
  • No carrageenan, corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, artificial ingredients, or meat byproducts
  • Contains limited vegetable ingredients

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains guar gum thickeners

12. Wellness CORE Grain Free Turkey and Chicken Liver Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food 

As a protein-focused grain free cat food Wellness CORE Turkey and Chicken Liver kitten food is loaded with species-appropriate and highly digestible meats. The top six ingredients in this gluten free pate are some of the most nutritious animal proteins for kittens like chicken liver, deboned turkey, and herring. Organ meats are some of the best sources of natural vitamins, and the addition of fish oil, cranberries, and flaxseeds add essential omega fatty acids, DHA, and antioxidants. What isn’t provided by these ingredients is supplemented with Wellness CORE’s careful blend of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Wellness CORE Grain Free Turkey and Chicken Liver Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food

Pros

  • The top six ingredients are easy to digest animal proteins
  • Chicken liver is a great of natural iron and vitamins
  • No corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, carrageenan, meat by-products, or artificial ingredients
  • Contains limited vegetable ingredients

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains cassia gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum thickeners

13. Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Salmon Kitten Wet Food 

Tiki Cat’s meat-first recipes are meant to appeal to kitten’s carnivorous appetites and fuel them with the energy they need to thrive. Tiki Cat Grain Free Velvet Mousse comes in two flavors for kittens like Salmon and Chicken Broth. Starting with iron-rich chicken liver and DHA-packed salmon, this highly digestible food is made from some of the best animal proteins. Fortified with essential nutrients for brain, eye, immune, heart, and nervous system health this wet kitten food is powerfully nutritious and gentle on kitten’s developing tummies.

Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Salmon Kitten Wet Food

Pros

  • The first five ingredients are high-quality animal proteins and meats
  • Chicken liver is a great source of natural iron and vitamins
  • Fortified with essential nutrients
  • No corn, wheat, soy, rice, potatoes, meat by-products, or artificial ingredients
  • No GMOs or carrageenan

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains xanthan gum
  • The plastic pouch is messy and not recyclable

14. Solid Gold Grain Free Flavorful Feast Chicken Kitten Recipe Wet Food 

The primary proteins in Solid Gold’s Grain Free Flavorful Feast Kitten Recipe are chicken, tuna, and eggs. These lean proteins and the omega fatty acids lend a helping hand in kittens’ development. A trio of superfoods plays a supporting role in this gluten-free wet cat food: carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. These veggies are chock full of vitamins and minerals and even antioxidants that can help kittens build up a powerful immune system and develop strong vision, bone, and skin health, among other benefits. This soft pate is also fortified with other essential nutrients kittens need like taurine.

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Solid Gold Grain Free Flavorful Feast Chicken Kitten Recipe Wet Food

Pros

  • Easy to digest and healthy animal proteins are the top three ingredients
  • Contains probiotics for digestive health
  • No corn, wheat, soy, carrageenan, or artificial ingredients
  • Has low calorie and fat content

Cons

  • Not suitable for kittens with fish allergies
  • Contains guar gum

Is kitten food really necessary?

Yes, feeding your kitten specialty kitten food is necessary.

The ASPCA recommends kittens eat wet and dry cat food specifically formulated for kittens up until they turn one year old.

Veterinarian Jennifer Larsen, DVM, Ph.D. agrees. She even suggests caution when feeding kittens cat food that is labeled appropriate for adult cats and kittens. These typically don’t have the higher levels of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals that kittens need. Unless it’s specifically mentioned on the label that it’s “complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) feeding trials,” then it’s not for kittens.

grain free kitten food energy

That said, kittens require 3X more energy than an adult cat! This means kittens have higher protein requirements and need to eat diets that include at the very least 30% protein.

Similarly, kittens need to consume more calories, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals than older cats. Larsen sums it up like this: “Most kittens want to eat at least three or four meals a day.”

So, if you’re exclusively feeding your kitten wet food they’ll need four cans a day.

In this case, free-feeding or leaving out bowls of dry kitten food throughout the day instead of sticking to a single mealtime is ideal for kittens.”

Although free-feeding is controversial for older cats who may end up overeating, it’s the opposite for kittens. For one, free-feeding is especially beneficial for kittens who are underweight or overly active.

Grazing on wet and dry food throughout the day can help with digestion. It also curbs the likelihood of overeating and stomach issues from kittens who eat too much too quickly.

Larsen does point out that being aware of serving sizes of kitten food is a must. If you’re not careful, you can overfeed your kittens by using this method. So be sure to be attentive to nutrition facts.

Should kittens eat grain free food?

Above all, kittens need balanced and complete nutrition.

They don’t need to eat exclusively grain free diets unless they’re part of the tiny percentage of cats with grain sensitivities or allergies.

In fact, the most common food allergies in cats are to animal proteins!

Your kitten is more likely to be allergic to beef, fish, or chicken than they are to have allergies or food sensitivities to the most common grains in cat food: rice, oats, or barley.

However, there are some benefits to feeding your kitten grain free food.

The best grain free foods for kittens build their recipes around large amounts of animal proteins. Meat from chickens, eggs, and organ meats like turkey liver, tend to be top ingredients in many grain free kitten foods and these are some of the most species-appropriate and most nutrient-dense foods kittens (and cats) can eat, period.

The ideal grain free kitten foods contain, at most, 10% carbohydrates. The best foods do this by limiting vegetable and fruit ingredients. This makes them naturally lower carb and lower glycemic than cat food that relies on grains or plant proteins.

Is a grain free diet better for cats?

The great “are grain free diets better for cats?” debate all boils down to one thing– the best diets for cats are balanced.

Foods that are high in lean proteins, healthy fats, and yes, carbs are essential to give kittens and adult cats the energy they need and keep their bodies going strong.

The one thing to watch out for if you opt to feed your cat or kitten grain free food is the carbohydrate content.

Many grain free foods fill the gaps where grains would be with very starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and beans like peas and lentils. These aren’t necessarily suitable for cats in large servings. High amounts of pea and pea protein ingredients can cause problems with your kitty’s digestive system and block their ability to properly absorb nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and iron, all of which are extremely important for cats.

If you opt to feed your kitten a grain free diet be sure to sift through the nutrition facts of each wet and dry cat food you consider buying. Just blindly purchasing grain free food without considering what quality ingredients make up said food could be problematic.

What is the best grain free kitten food?

The best grain free kitten food from a nutritional standpoint are wet foods. These generally contain fewer carbohydrates than dry cat food. Wet cat food doesn’t need a ton of starchy ingredients like ground potatoes, pea protein, or tapioca starch to hold its shape as kibble does.

Canned wet grain free kitten food also tends to use less vegetable and plant-based ingredients, making it easier to digest without crazy high glycemic levels.

Some of our favorite premium grain free kitten food brands are Tiki Cat, Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein, and Wellness CORE. Our favorite budget-friendly grain free kitten food brand is Blue Buffalo Wilderness.

What is the healthiest kitten food?

The Animal Humane Society asserts that, first and foremost, the healthiest kitten food is AAFCO certified. But we won’t bore you to tears with the AAFCO’s dry biology and chemistry class lingo.

The healthiest kitten food contains:

  • High in protein: Meats and animal products such as eggs are the most nutrient-dense and some of the easiest proteins for kittens to digest. Kittens need to eat at least 35% protein at each meal to develop lean muscle and grow properly.
  • Higher in calories: Due to their high energy levels and growing bodies kittens expend A LOT! more calories than adult and senior cats. This means kittens need to eat more often and higher calorie foods than other cats. Many veterinarians suggest feeding kittens at least three meals a day.
  • High moisture content: Water is one of the most essential nutrients for cats. This is especially so for kittens who are so physically active. Wet kitten food is one of the best moisture sources, especially for kittens who aren’t naturally inclined to drink water.
  • More fats: Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are fundamental to feline health for cats of all ages – especially kittens. These healthy fats are necessary for kittens to properly absorb essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients responsible for metabolism, nervous system, blood clotting, vision development, and other bodily and brain functions.
  • Fortified with essential nutrients: Taurine, DHA, calcium, Vitamins E, B, D, and K, magnesium, and more.

Takeaways of grain free kitten food

Ultimately, grain free cat food isn’t one size fits all. Likewise, kittens are much more than tiny cats. The best grain free kitten foods consider that.

A balanced portion of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and omega fatty acids is crucial for kittens to grow and fuel the proper development of their heart, urinary tract, digestive and immune systems. DHA which is often derived from fish oil, is critical for kittens’ vision, brain, cognitive abilities, and nervous system development.

The best grain-free kitten food is crafted from generous helpings of quality ingredients like lean meats and animal proteins, is high in healthy fats, contains limited vegetable ingredients, and is fortified with an AAFCO-approved blend of nutrients.

So what are you waiting for, human?! Get a move on with cracking open one of these cans. You have thumbs for a reason!

Victoria Tomis

Last update on 2021-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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