Reviews & Ratings of the Best Cat Food for Designer and Exotic Cat Breeds (Like Bengals and More!)

The unique and beautiful look of exotic cats has increased the demand for them as pets all over the world. Some refer to these breeds as “designer cats”, as most have been introduced through the intervention of humans to create the exotic look.

Of course to keep any cat happy and healthy, you should be feeding it a biologically appropriate diet.

That means it must be:

  • High in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Moderate in fats

It should also be:

  • Full of real, named meat ingredients, including organs
  • Absent of fillers like corn, wheat, and starches
  • Full of vitamins and nutrients, or whole food versions that contain them

Here’s Why We’re Qualified To Talk To You About This…

We put together a massive internal database (which we’ll be releasing to the public soon), of over 2000 cat foods.

We collected data from calories to macronutrients to ingredients to how they compare to the average.

We then used both formulas and a bit of common sense to score each food out of 5.

We looked at studies to find out what cats should really eat.

Basically, we have dedicated hundreds of hours, now, to cat food research, and have the data to back it up!

We’ll be drawing on the data we collected to recommend some of the best foods below.

Tap a food type to jump down the page to our reviews below...or, read on to learn more about how we make our recommendations

Do Exotic And Designer Cat Breeds Need Specific Food?

Oh goodness, here we go.

Here’s where we may challenge what you’ve been told to believe…(sorry!)…

Different breeds of cats are really only different in terms of their looks, not their physiology or digestion.

Just like humans can have different hair colors, skin colors, eye colors, body sizes, or body shapes, yet still remain human and have the same nutritional needs, cats can look a bit different, yet be pretty much the same “under the hood”.

That means that your exotic, designer kitty isn’t that much different than a giant Maine Coon, or a sly Siamese.

They all require the same, basic, non-complicated nutrient profile.

What Do Cats Eat In The Wild?

Here’s why it’s important to find out what cats eat in the wild…

Domestic cats are descendants of wild cats, and they are not very different biologically.

There just hasn’t been enough time or environmental pressure for them to evolve significantly.

Therefore, what a cat chooses to eat in the wild, should be pretty close to perfect, since eating the right food is about the most important, primary drive for any animal.

Luckily, research has been done on this.

To start, let’s look at domestic cat trials.

In one study, when given the option between a number of commercial pet foods, cats tended to eat the foods that gave them the following macronutrient breakdown (dry matter basis):

  • 52% protein
  • 36% fat
  • 12% carbohydrate

That’s pretty different than most pet foods…especially the brands who claim they make “breed-specific” foods.

Ok, now let’s look at the data from a compilation of studies on wild cats.

These studies all looked at feral or stray cat populations. They covered multiple continents and a variety of environments (near the sea, rural, urban, etc.).

Here’s the macronutrient breakdown, on average, of what cats eat in the wild (dry matter basis):

  • 63% protein
  • 23% fat
  • 3% carbs

Wow!

So much different than most commercial pet foods.

What you should be looking for, then, is a high protein, moderate fat, low carbohydrate food.

That food should get most or all of it’s protein from named meat sources (i.e., chicken, not “meat by-products”).

After all, the foods cats were eating in the wild were almost exclusively animals. Rats, mice, rabbits, birds…

It should have minimal fillers (things like corn, rice, wheat, etc.).

OK, So Now What?

Alright, so we could have just picked some random foods and told you they were “perfectly designed” for your special kitty.

Buuut, that would be totally wrong.

It’s up to you whether you believe us and the data, or whether you believe the big companies who tell you that “breed specific” foods should be full of corn, by-products, and other junk.

If you’re ready to leave the marketing mumbo jumbo behind, read on below to find out our top recommended wet, dry, and freeze-dried food options for your special kitty!

Ratings Of The Best Cat Food For Designer & Exotic Kitties

Brand

Benefits

Protein / Fat / Carbs (DM)

Price / Pound

Buy Now

#1 Wet

nomnomnow chicken

NomNomNow

All the benefits of fresh, homemade food, without the hassle. Delivered to your door!

67 / 15 / 8

$2.50-$3/meal

#2 Wet

bravo feline cafe

Bravo! Feline Cafe

Organ meat for a biologically appropriate feed, excellent macronutrient profile.

53 / 31 / 0

$5.45

#1 Dry

wysong epigen 90

Wysong Epigen 90

The absolute best dry food recipe and nutrient profile we've found. What every dry food should try to be.

70 / 18 / 0

$4.73

#2 Dry

dr elseys cleanprotein

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein

One of the few real competitors to our #1 pick. Excellent nutrient profile and clean ingredients.

67 / 20 / 0

$8.51

#1 Freeze-Dried

vital essentials mini patties

Vital Essentials Mini Patties

As close as a wild diet as you can get. Near-perfect, biologically appropriate option.

57 / 16 / 14

$51.14

#1 Wet. NomNomNow Fresh Wet Cat Food

nomnomnow chicken

Macronutrients on a dry-matter basis:

  • Protein: 66.67%
  • Fat: 14.81%
  • Carbs: 8.15%

First 4 ingredients: Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, carrot

Feed your exotic, designer pet like her wild relatives.

This isn’t your traditional canned wet food.

NomNomNow makes fresh cat food, and then delivers it to your door.

In individual packages…which are perfectly portioned based on your kitty’s weight and target weight.

Formulated by one of America’s leading veterinary nutritionists, it’s a very biologically-appropriate option.

You get all the benefits of homemade food, but with literally none of the hassle.

Fantastic ingredients, fantastic macronutrient profile. A winner all around.

#2 Wet. Bravo! Feline Cafe Chicken Fricassee

bravo feline cafe

Macronutrients on a dry-matter basis:

  • Protein: 52.78%
  • Fat: 30.56%
  • Carbs: 0%

First 4 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver

One of the best canned foods you can choose, Bravo! puts together a recipe full of various cuts of chicken, including organs, which are super healthy for your cat.

There are almost no carbs added.

The minerals are chelated so they’re easier to absorb in your kitty’s belly.

There are really no controversial ingredients at all, which is rare.

This is a very high quality option that is biologically appropriate.

#1 Dry. Wysong Epigen 90 Starch Free

wysong epigen 90

Macronutrients on a dry-matter basis:

  • Protein: 70%
  • Fat: 17.8%
  • Carbs: 0%

First 4 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Organic Chicken, Meat Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat

While we recommend feeding wet food most of the time, since cats require a lot of moisture, but don’t have a strong thirst drive, this is the best of the dry foods out there.

Add a bit of water to it before feeding to make it even more appropriate to your cat’s needs.

Otherwise, it’s a show stopper.

Whereas most kibbles fail to break 40 or 50% protein, this one crushes them all with 70%.

It also has no carbs, and even uses gelatin as a binding agent, instead of a plant based or synthetic option, which is more popular.

The “meat protein isolate” sounds like a big no-no, since it’s an unnamed meat, but Wysong says it’s 100% pork isolate, and they’ve only labeled that because they interpret labeling laws in such a way that makes that the correct way to put it on the label.

Definitely one of the best choices if you feed dry.

#2 Dry. Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken

dr elseys cleanprotein

Macronutrients on a dry-matter basis:

  • Protein: 67.05%
  • Fat: 20.45%
  • Carbs: 0%

First 4 ingredients: Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin

We were surprised to see a real challenger to our #1 Wysong pick, but Dr. Elsey’s has delivered.

With chicken and pork protein isolate, they pack a huge amount of animal protein in right at the start.

Egg is a very bioavailable protein, full of amino acids and very digestible.

Again with no carbs, we see a very biologically appropriate macronutrient profile, close to what kitty would eat in the wild, as discussed above.

It has a lot of added vitamins and nutrients, but no digestive enzymes or probiotics, like our #1 pick.

It’s a fantastic option if your cat doesn’t like the taste of the Wysong brand for some reason.

#1 Freeze-Dried. Vital Essentials Mini Patties Rabbit

vital essentials mini patties

Macronutrients on a dry-matter basis:

  • Protein: 56.52%
  • Fat: 16.30%
  • Carbs: 14.13%

First 4 ingredients: Finely Ground Whole Rabbit, Rabbit Heart, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Lungs

We believe that freeze-dried food has the potential to be the closest to a wild diet for your kitty.

The way the process is done locks in nutrients.

When you add water to “re-animate” it, you fulfill the moisture requirements, making it just about perfect.

This starts off with whole ground rabbit. That’s basically what your cat would eat in the wild.

It just so happens to be whole ground, for easier digestibility and eating.

It’s also full of additional organ meat.

The carbohydrate content seems to come from the raw goat’s milk, so there are no added plants here.

Overall, this is highly appropriate for a feline.

And remember, the cost per pound goes down significantly when you add water to it. Your cat isn’t going through the package in a couple of bites, since it will expand and go further when rehydrated. Therefore the higher apparent cost per pound is a bit of a false signal.

About as close as you can get to a proper wild diet from a commercial pet food!

Examples of Exotic Cat Breeds

The majority of exotic cats are the result of purposeful breeding with a wild cat variety.

While some may find this practice reprehensible, others believe it is a legitimate means of preserving the genetic qualities of wild cats that soon may be extinct.

Whatever your own personal beliefs may be, there is no denying that inter breeding of cats has resulted in unique breeds that brighten their owners days.

  • The Safari – The Safari is a cross between a domesticated cat and the Geoffroy’s cat.
  • The Sokoke – Bred naturally in Kenya.
  • The Toyger – A mix of the Bengal cat and domestic shorthair.
  • The Serengeti – Created through inbreeding by the owner of Kingsmark Cattery – Karen Sausman
  • The Ocicat – The result of a breeding accident by Virginia Daly in 1964.
  • The Bengal – Selective breeding of hybrid Asian leopard cats with domestic cats
  • The Savannah – A cross between a serval and a domestic cat

A Bit More Reading..

We found these sources an interesting “gateway”, if you will, to the world of breed specific cat food and just how silly it is.

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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Kathy Cassell - November 9, 2018

I own a toyger cat she 1-1/2 yrs. Old. What brand of adult cat food is best for her..we currently feed her adult Iams.

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