Difference between Kitten and Cat Food | 6 Basic Facts

difference between kitten and cat food

Choosing the right food that meets the nutritional requirements is extremely important for the growth of a kitten. Kittens are growing cats. Before they reach adulthood, we call them kittens. Generally, this process takes them a year. However, that differs on breeds. Large breeds like Maine coons take around two years to surpass the juvenile period.

Knowing the difference between kitten and cat food is essential for every cat owner. The reason we provide nutritious foods to human kids implies the same to other pets. We need to give our adorable kittens foods that are rich in protein, calories, fats, and other necessary nutrients.

Kittens are smaller in size. Hence, they have a smaller stomach compared to adult cats. To ensure the right amount of nutrition, they should be given foods that fulfill their hunger as well as delivers sufficient nutrition for proper growth.  

Therefore, kitten and cat foods are designed in a different way. Kitten eat less, stay more active compared to an adult cat. For that reason, the kitten food contains higher protein, fat, and other nutritional levels. On the other hand, a full-grown cat should be provided with foods that don’t bring them obesity and make them sluggish.  

This ongoing discussion will clarify all the points about why we should be giving kitten foods specifically to kittens and cat foods to adult cats.

Comparison chart

DifferenceKitten foodCat food
Formulated forKittensAdult cats
Level of fatMuch higherMuch lower
Protein contentHigher in dry foods, lower in wet food than cat foodsLower in dry food, higher in wet food
Carbohydrates and fibersMuch lower in kitten foodsMuch higher in cat foods
AvailabilityLess available compared to cat foodMore available compared to kitten food
PriceCosts much than adult foodsCosts less than kitten foods

Kitten food ingredients

Kittens have higher requirements for protein, fats, calories, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. According to vets, a kitten usually takes 3-4 meals a day. For the sake of proper growth, a kitten should get 30% of its total energy from protein consumption. 

adult cat food

The first few weeks are crucial for a kitten’s life. During this period, kittens obtain weight too fast, and this immense growth level period needs enough support in order to maintain their high activity level. 

Higher activities shed a lot of calories; therefore, kittens require a lot of energy. So to maintain a natural activity level, they need to intake a lot of nutrients. The kitten foods are designed based on these certain factors. 

The difference between kitten and cat food is in their formulation. Kitten food comes in both dry and wet form, and the quantity of the level of ingredients embedded in these two types differ from each other. 

Both dry and wet kitten food contains a higher level of fat, protein, calories, fibers, taurine. The level of calories is much higher in dry food than the wet food. 

Dry kitten food contains around 3900 kcal per kg, while dry foods have around 1200 kcal per kg.

The dry kitten food is 10% higher in crude protein compared to adult dry cat foods. On the other hand, the wet kitten food seems to have less protein than the wet cat food.

When it comes to fat content, both dry and wet forms of kitten foods are substantially higher than adult cat foods. Crude fat is the principal ingredient that maintains a kitten’s natural weight, and this should be provided according to their period of growth. The first four weeks of a kitten life should obtain at least the amount of fat that can be found in the mother’s milk. 

Kitten food is rich in taurine, carbohydrate, and fiber contents. Usually, the taurine level that is present in kitten food is higher than adult foods.  

Kitten foods are available in different flavors and various brands, and most of the food labels display the number of contents that are mixed in. As a proud Ailurophile, you should help your four-footed friend to get all the proper support it needs and by every means.

Cat food ingredients

There are several cat food brands and flavors available on the market. Before you emphasize the flavors and brands, you should take a close look at what your cat food contains in terms of ingredients. And what should you provide to him/her for betterment or maintaining good health? 

hungry kitten

If your adult cat is obese, you should focus on cat foods lower in fat contents. Oppositely, if your cat needs to gain more weight, provide it food with a higher fat level.  

One thing that is very important to remember for every cat owner, to socialize any pet; providing it the proper nutritional food is extremely important. If your cat lacks energy, this may lead him/her to the worst health and mental problems.

The types of contents mixed in adult cat foods are the same as kitten cat food, but the difference lies in their quantity. Adult food contains proteins, minerals, calories, carbohydrates, taurine, fibers, vitamins. The amount of protein is naturally lower in adult cat food than kitten foods. In most cases, the wet adult cat foods available on the market are slightly higher or equal in protein content compared to available wet kitten food. 

The level of fats contents is higher in kitten foods. Kitten tends to grow faster than adult cats. On the contrary, an adult cat is a matured cat that needs to maintain good health rather than emphasizing growth concerns. So, cat foods intended for adult cats are much much lower in fat contents than all the available kitten foods.

Taurine is a very crucial amino acid for the natural functioning of cats’ heart muscle, retinal maintenance, and reproductions. Both kitten and cat food have taurine, and they are comparatively closer in quantity. Although, Kitten foods seem to have a higher amount of taurine content.

Kitten foods come with lower carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are usually considered as fillers but, not to get this concept one-sidedly. Carbohydrates are extremely important for every biological structure in terms of providing energy. However, carbohydrates in higher quantities may harm kittens. The amount of crude fiber content in cat foods is significantly higher than in kitten foods.

The key differences between Kitten and Cat Food

  1. Kitten foods are specifically designed and formulated for kittens and growing cats. On the other hand, cat foods are specifically designed for adult cats. 
  2. Kitten and cat food are designed formulated in different ways.
  3. Kitten foods are higher in protein, calories, taurine, and fat contents than adult cat foods.
  4. Adult cat foods have more carbohydrates, fiber contents than kitten foods. 
  5. Cat foods are lower in price compared to kitten foods.
  6. Kitten foods are less available than adult cat foods.

Kitten vs cat food: price and availability

Kitten foods are less available than cat foods; therefore, we sometimes tend to buy cat foods meant for both kitten and adult cats. Well, there you should take advice from a vet. You’ll need to fulfill the nutritional requirements of your kitty-cat, after all. 

Using cat food instead of kitten food is not harmful, but using it for a while might cause malnutrition to your kitten or make your adult cat fatty. You’ll only have to use kitten foods for a year (if not larger breeds that take up to two years to reach adulthood). Ensuring your kitten’s good health is your responsibility. 

As for the higher level of ingredients and less availability of kitten foods, they cost higher than other cat foods. Both dry and wet kitten foods are considerably expensive. The kitten food price per pound starts from around 3-4 dollars, while the cat food prices start from 2-3 dollars per pound.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

What kittens should not eat?

Kittens should not eat foods that are higher in fillers, lower in fats and proteins. They should be delivered foods that are higher in nutrients and helpful for their natural growth.

Can a 7 month old kitten eat cat food?

Saying clearly ‘No’ wouldn’t be honest enough. Adult cat foods still contain ingredients that are required for kittens too. Yet, until your kitten’s first birthday, you should not provide foods that are meant for adult cats.

Should kittens eat wet or dry food?

Dry foods can be taken by kittens anytime they want and can even be given mixing with wet foods. But you shouldn’t be giving wet foods to your kittens merely because wet foods are less in proteins and other nutrients. Serving them alone can lack your kitten’s nutrient requirements.


Pets are emotionally, mentally, and socially attached to humans. It is said that pets like cats reduce the negative energy around us, make a joyful environment, give accompany when we feel lonely.  We should take care of them at our level best. 

Delivering our cats the proper foods is the most important thing. We should choose the food according to their age, and need. For that reason, knowing the difference between kitten and cat food is essential for every cat owner.

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