Best Cat Food of 2018 | Reviews of the Top Wet and Dry Brands
This article was researched by and written in collaboration with Dr. Edele Grey, an Irish veterinarian with clinical experience in Feline Medicine.
Whether you have just gotten your first kitten or your kitty is entering his “grumpy, old man” phase, you want him to be healthy and happy, so naturally you want to give him the best food you can.
Cats in general need a high protein diet – they are what we call “obligate carnivores”, which means they need meat to survive.
They’re unable to manufacture certain amino acids (taurine and arginine) or vitamin A themselves, so must get them from their food; in the wild this would be the prey animals they hunted.
But at home, if your kitty isn’t getting the right nutrients, he could get sick…or worse. And he can’t just go out and eat a mouse to get his fill.
But why is it so hard to find the right type of cat food?
The answer lies in the sheer quantity of different products available. Conflicting sources don’t make the process easier. That’s why we have teamed up with a veterinarian to provide you our (and her) top picks for a healthy cat from kittenhood to adulthood.
Finding the right meal for your cat takes research and knowing exactly what your animal needs to stay healthy.
Use the quick links below to find a specific type of food, or scroll down to read more about how to ensure you’re feeding your cat the correct food.
Why the Right Food Is Important
There are innumerable diets available and every animal has different requirements depending on their activity levels, breed, age and whether or not they have any health concerns.
- Indoor vs. Outdoor: If your pet lives indoors, he or she will be less active than if she was outdoors, and will devote a lot of time each day to grooming and sleeping, thus a lower calorie option may be more suited to prevent excessive weight gain. When she groom, she ingests some of her hair, thus high fiber diets will help eliminate hairballs.
- Age: As age increases, appetites usually decrease. Even subtle metabolic changes by age ten warrant changes in nutrition, not to mention that senior cats may have a slightly harder time chewing. Kittens are another story, needing a specific diet meant for their growing bodies from about 4 weeks old. You’ll want to look into both the best senior cat and kitten food, depending on age.
- Health: Pregnant or nursing queens will need high quality calories to maintain themselves and their litter. Equally, high calories help pets with anemia by supporting rapid replenishment of blood cells.
Finding the right food is tough, and many sites will give you the “best overall” option, but we think this is a bit dishonest.
We know there are many types of cats and circumstances in which they find themselves, so we’ve endeavoured to put together the ultimate resource to recommend our top picks, broken down into very specific categories.
The Right Cat Food
A balanced diet is needed for your pet to keep him healthy and regulate his metabolism.
The right food should provide over 50 important nutrients including vitamins A and C, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, and should protect him from burping often and throwing up (unpleasant for your furry friend, just like it is for you!).
Another consideration is your kitty’s breed. Persian or Maine Coons, for example, have dense, long coats that require more omega fatty acids to maintain moisture in their skin and keep their coat glossy, and also higher fiber diets to help with hairball control.
Obesity is a risk factor for many health conditions requiring veterinary attention including diabetes and urinary problems; some of these diseases can be addressed with dietary modification alongside medications. If you’ve got a diabetic or larger animal, you’ll definitely want to look below to find a choice that is best for overweight cats.
If your cat is prone to bladder infections or obstructions, then foods that lower his urinary pH will help reduce this occurrence.
Prevention is better than cure however, so where possible you should calculate how much your pet needs to maintain an appropriate weight and measure their food. You can discuss specifics with your veterinarian about your pet’s build, age, activity level and health status.
Allergies are another factor as cats, like humans, can be allergic to a variety of food ingredients or additives.
The most common signs you may notice with the wrong food are excessive grooming or scratching and losing fur, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
Even a simple distaste of a certain kind of food can be detrimental. Meals may go uneaten, leading to malnutrition.
About Breed-Specific Cat Food
Different breeds may have different nutritional needs. There are also physical aspects to consider. These include jaw shape; if it makes grasping food hard, then elongated bits of kibble may allow the cat to grab them with its tongue. If your cat eats fast like a Siamese, then tube-like kibbles may help reduce gastrointestinal distress.
Body structure plays a role too. Taller frames are prone to joint stress and osteoarthritis. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids plus glucosamine and chondroitin help reduce the inflammation.
Also, certain ones are better for breeds prone to digestive sensitivities and hairballs.
What’s the Right Amount of Food to Eat?
Being within a healthy weight range is important. About 58% of cats in the United States are overweight, and this can lead to the same health problems seen in people.
To lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer, keep your cat in the right weight range.
Most domestic felines weigh from 8-10 pounds while Persians have a healthy weight of 7-12 pounds and Main Coons can be from 10-25 pounds.
For pets with weight problems, specific calorie counts per unit of food help divvy up portions, so you know exactly what your kitten is getting. In general (and contact your vet for an accurate idea of how much your specific animal needs):
- Kittens require up to 275 calories per day.
- Adults need 200-300 calories on average.
- Overweight cats should have 180-200 calories per day.
Of course, the actual number may vary depending on your cat’s build, activity level, and age.
What’s In Your Cat’s Food?
I am often asked about the presence of “by-products” or “meat meals” in cat foods and there is a negative perception around this.
When animals are slaughtered for human consumption, the lean meat is trimmed for use and the remaining carcass is considered a by-product. This includes bone, organ meats, blood, beaks etc.
These are a cheap way to keep protein levels high in pet food and quality can vary. However premium, natural or veterinarian developed food will typically have the highest quality and consistency.
Meat meals are produced from rendering (cooking) organ meats, trimmings, etc., and then drying and grinding them into meal for dried kibbles.
Some people do not want to feed their pet anything they themselves wouldn’t eat which is completely fine, however organ meats are rich in nutrients for cats and are acceptable ingredients in their diet, as in the wild, they would eat the majority of their prey’s carcass.
Grains are another bone of contention for many, and cats are obligate carnivores, thus not requiring large quantities of grain in their diets, but some grains in foods are good sources of readily available carbohydrates for your pet giving her rapid energy.
So, while there is a noble move to push for ultra high quality, human grade cat food, feeding your cat a food that contains these ingredients is not only completely safe, but likely a healthy and smart choice.
Best Cat Food Ratings By Category
As mentioned before, there are so many options on the market that we couldn’t possibly go in depth into every one. Honestly, it would waste your time to compare every single one, since not all of them are good!
Here are our ratings of some of the most highly rated and recommended cat foods to keep your pal purring right through to his golden years. (Reviews for each category are below this table.)
Wet, or Canned
These have a high water content which helps with urinary tract and kidney health and are more likely to have the animal proteins your pet needs coupled with a lower carbohydrate level than many dry options.
Wet foods tend to help muscle and bone health and growth and are often preferred by picky eaters though they are also usually more expensive than dry diets.
Just remember not to let them sit out too long, in the same way you wouldn’t let your food sit on the counter for hours before you eat it.
Here are our top two picks for wet/canned.
#1. Purina Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers Gourmet Wet Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
My furry friends’ favorite, it comes in variety packs with poultry and beef chunks in gravy and is a 100% complete and balanced diet for all life stages.
I don’t know if my guys are just NOT picky at all, but they seem to love all the flavors (as for best tasting, I haven’t actually tried it myself so uh, hard to tell you!) , so I never have to waste any of them. My cats are both doing very well so as long as you’re staying on top of portion control, this is our favorite!
#2. Purina Friskies Classic Pate Wet Cat Food
No excess calories or minerals and offers a variety of flavors to satisfy even the pickiest eater.
It also features naturally occurring micro-organisms that contribute to a healthy digestive tract. The little things matter!
It has the antioxidants and omega fatty acids cats need to stay healthy and strong.
It’s also gluten free and has Taurine (for cats, this is a MUST), boosting heart health. No meat by-products or fillers have been added, either.
Dry foods tend to be a little cheaper than wet and have a longer expiration date. Most are nutritionally balanced and provide a longer feeling of fullness than wet foods.
Some picky cats will refuse dry food however, and if you have a full bowl for a pet that grazes throughout the day it can be difficult to determine if they are eating.
Studies have shown that dry diets do decrease the incidence of periodontal disease in cats (Diet and Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats, A. Watson, 1994, Australian Veterinary Journal).
And remember, literally millions of kitties around the world survive and thrive on dry food, so dry food is not bad for cats!
#1. Hills Science Diet Adult Light Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This trusted brand is produced with natural ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. There are also anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and all the amino acids required by your cat. This food isn’t advised for pregnant or nursing queens or kittens (baby felines should not necessarily eat adult chow) so you would need to transition your cat from kitten food onto this diet at one year old.
#2. Halo Spots Stew Natural Dry Cat Food
This diet uses whole meat only and no meat meals are included in their ingredients. They also state that their food never contains corn, wheat or wheat gluten and in AAFCO Protocol Tests on digestibility in 2016, this food was ranked top.
Best of both worlds in one diet, these foods tend to be high in moisture, fat and protein content and are easier for older kitties with sensitive teeth than exclusively dry food. Cats naturally take in most of their water from their food so these soft bite-sized bits meet most of your pet’s hydration requirements.
#1. Meow Mix Tender Centers Flavor Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
Three tasty flavor mixtures including tuna/whitefish, chicken/salmon and salmon/turkey will appeal to most cat’s palates. Dual textured kibbles with a crunchy outer layer and tender inside are completely balanced for all age ranges.
#2. Purina Whisker Lickin’s Soft and Delicious Chicken Treats
These soft cat treats come in three fun shapes in a resealable pouch. They’re not a food replacement obviously, but can help provide a softer option for your sensitive kitty.
“Premium” is a protected term so you should always check for the amino and fatty acid, mineral and vitamins in the food.
These diets should meet The American Association of Feed Control Officials guidelines, and you should check that the protein source is first on the ingredient list.
Premium foods should not contain BHT, propyl gallate, corn meal fillers or other preservatives. These foods should offer more nutritional benefits than an average diet.
#1. Sheba Pate in Natural Juices Adult Wet Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This smooth textured pate is available in a variety of flavors and is corn, soy and wheat free. There are no artificial additives and meat is the first ingredient. This smooth pate is suitable for all ages, which means they can grow with it!
#2. Purina ONE Grain Free Premium Pate Wet Cat Food
Your pet will be spoiled for choice with beef, chicken, turkey and ocean whitefish varieties with no fillers. This high protein diet is balanced for immune support and muscle growth with omega-6 fatty acids for a glossy coat and healthy skin.
In addition to these basic food breakdowns, there are numerous types of cat food tailored to a specific benefit. In this section, a few benefit-specific products will be highlighted
Your kitten is totally dependent on her mommy cat for the first three or four weeks, but they’ll want to start using those new teeth as soon as they get them!
The active lifestyle of a kitten needs a diet that is high energy and full of nutrients that fuels their spirit and encourages healthy growth. The best food for kittens will have:
- More calories, protein and fat
- Omega fatty acid DHA, necessary for brain and vision development
- Vitamin E and Selenium for the immune system
- Calcium for bone growth
A balanced diet that includes all of these nutrients will go a long way towards making sure that your frisky kitten matures into a healthy and happy cat.
#1. ROYAL CANIN FELINE HEALTH NUTRITION Kitten Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
With Royal Canin, your kitten gets a balance of digestible proteins, vitamins, and minerals that all help to support the development of bone and muscle in a kitten.
The immune system is also enhanced with a blend of antioxidants and prebiotics including vitamin C, E, lutein and taurine.
Royal Canin has worked hard to earn its reputation as a healthy choice in pet foods, and that stands out with their Kitten Dry Food…it’s our top pick!
#2. Purina Fancy Feast Kitten Gourmet Wet Cat Food
With nice chunks of real meat (turkey or fish), and made with real milk, this is a SUPER popular kitten food!
Lots of good food, plus vitamins and minerals added to ensure your kitty gets the correct amount of nutrients.
Plus, there are an absolute LOAD of cats who love this stuff, and what good is cat food if your cat won’t eat it? We think this is a great option if you’re looking for a wet food for your little one(s). Our top wet pick for kittens!
These can be good for cats with sensitive tummies or allergies to certain grains. One important thing to remember is that grain free does not necessarily mean carbohydrate free with potatoes and other carbohydrate rich ingredients often being substituted. You should check that the product is balanced with the proper nutrients for you pet.
#1. Purina ProPlan True Nature, Natural Grain Free Formulas Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
Two flavors of chicken and egg or salmon and egg, these contain 40% protein with no corn, wheat or soy ingredients. This is a highly digestible food for optimum nutrient absorption and is a complete food for adult cats.
#2. Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Dry Cat Food
This company states that they do not use rendered meats, by-product meal nor fillers in this food. There are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for shiny coats, probiotics for improved digestion and anti-oxidants to boost the immune system of your pet. These freeze-dried, raw outer coated kibbles are a tasty balanced diet for all ages of kitties.
Vegetarian or Vegan
Cat’s are obligate carnivores and thus need meat specific nutrients in order to survive. You should not feed your cat a vegetarian or vegan diet!!! If you would like to supplement your pets diet for health reasons (digestions, etc.) then you can try adding some pumpkin or something, but they should not be fed exclusively to your pet.
#1. Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up!
This pumpkin puree pet food supplement contains only two ingredients and no artificial additives. Pumpkin is naturally rich in soluble and insoluble fibers which improves gut motility and stool quality.
Cats, like us humans, can suffer from intestinal inflammation due to grains or other allergens which reduces nutrient absorption (Food sensitivity in cats with chronic idiopathic gastrointestinal problems. W. Grant Guildford, B.R. Jones, P.J. Markwell, D.G. Arthur, M.G. Collett, J.G. Harte, 2001, Journal of Vet Internal Medicine). If you are concerned about your cat, you should discuss options with your veterinarian as there are some other serious medical causes which may need to be ruled out rather than just switching diet.
#1. Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free White Meat Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
Meat is the first ingredient listed and there is no corn, wheat, soy nor gluten included. There is also no poultry by-product meal, or artificial additives to this food.
#2. Hills Ideal Balance Grain Free Dry Cat Food
Lean chicken is the primary protein source and the carbohydrate is potatoes which are naturally gluten free. The brand claim that your pet will have a shiny, healthy coat within 30 days due to the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids included in the recipe.
Raw diets are becoming increasingly popular as we all become more conscious of the ingredients and additives in our and our pets foods. Frozen, dehydrated, or freeze-dried minced poultry and rabbit are the most popular ingredients.
Proponents of a raw diet claim that it is closest to the natural, wild diet and that your cat’s gastrointestinal system with function best with raw food as it retains more of the vitamins and other nutrients in the meat.
The intricacies of providing a raw diet are discussed here, but you should be cautious to only use fresh meat and never thaw frozen food in the microwave. Freeze-dried diets are a convenient alternative to frozen. Here are your best choices.
#1. Primal Pet Foods Freeze-dried Feline Chicken and Salmon Formula Cat Food
This complete and balanced diet is suitable for all ages of cat and contains naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and enzymes from human grade, antibiotic and hormone free meat.
#2. Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-dried Cat Food
A variety of flavors are available to tempt even the pickiest of cats. This is a minimally processed diet with added taurine and probiotics for gastrointestinal health. This is a complete food for all ages containing 98% poultry organs and bone according to the manufacturer.
Fiber is important for gastrointestinal health in cats, particularly long haired cats prone to hairball issues. Fiber is digested by gut bacteria into essential fatty acids and is also a good bulking agent for appetite control in chubby felines.
#1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
This food contains highly digestible proteins and promotes movement of food through the colon for regular, healthy bowel movements. Oligosaccharides and probiotics restore natural gut flora improving gastrointestinal health.
High protein diets are particularly recomended for growing little ones, pregnant and nursing queens, or injured and recuperating pets. Protein is best absorbed from muscle meats, organ meat and eggs.
#1. Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Cat Food
The manufacturer states that 98% is poultry organ and bone with added taurine. Can’t get much more protein dense than that!
#2. Natures Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Dry Cat Food
There are no rendered meats or by-product meals in this diet and it is a high protein, grain free diet.
Some pets need high calorie foods particularly older or ill cats. These cats need soft, wet, tasty and easily eaten and digested foods.
#1. Hills Prescription Diet Feline a/d Cat Food
Suited for cats 11 years and older, it is loaded with high protein, antioxidants, and probiotics. Older felines that are underweight and with less digestive efficiency will benefit from this product. It also supports strong immunity, bones and joints, and metabolism.
This means that the product must legally be suitable for human consumption and meet strict governmental requirements. This can be difficult to verify.
#1. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Cat Food
The brand claims to be a 100% human grade diet with no by-products, GMO ingredients or preservatives and is suitable for all life stages.
Natural foods are generally those that do not contain synthetic compounds but you should always check the ingredient list to be sure. You may need to find something on the natural side of the market in order to get a limited ingredient cat food, if minimalism and “only the basics” are what you’re after.
#1. Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free White Meat Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food
Meat is the first ingredient listed and there is no corn, wheat, soy nor gluten included. There is also no poultry by-product meal, or artificial additives to this food.
It is advised that diabetic cats should have less than 10% of their daily calorie intake from carbohydrates. Dry food tends to have higher carbohydrate levels than wet diets.
#1. Purina Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula Dry Cat Food
This diet is high protein, low carbohydrate with high levels of vitamin E and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Nutritionally balanced, this diet minimizes extreme alterations in blood glucose levels in your pet.
Organic diets have no synthetic additives and may be an option if you are concerned about many other commercially available foods.
#1. Castor and Pollux Organix Organic Healthy Adult Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This contains 31% protein with organic chicken as the first ingredient. Other ingredients are also organic, peas, brown rice and salmon meal. This recipe also contains organic flaxseed for a healthy coat and taurine for heart and eye health.
They’re all carnivores by nature, but indoor cats have a much different life than outdoor cats. You need to replicate the diet of a wild cat as best as possible, just toned down a bit.
Since your indoor cat is not (hopefully) able to hunt for his or her own supper, provide an adequate dose of protein with each meal. High quality, protein-rich meals are easy to find in the canned variety, but if you are sticking with dry cat food, look for one that is free of grains and contains at least 35% protein. This should help to satisfy your feline’s cravings for a mouse appetizer.
Try not to feed your cat table scraps unless you’re eating exactly the right kind of food for their diet. If you don’t know what those things are, don’t feed from the table!
#1. Purina Friskies Indoor Wet Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
While you can get more granular in terms of your cats exact needs, based on many of the categories we review on this page, the Purina wet food for indoor cats is a good, well-rounded option that provides a balanced nutrition profile for a cat who is less active than an outdoor or “wild” cat.
Looking for an ailment-specific type of food to help your cat? Cat foods aren’t limited to trendy types and brands. You can also find products tailored to the health of your individual cat. Here are some examples that can maximize your cat’s quality of life at any stage.
If your pet has frequent episodes of vomiting, diarrhea or constipation he may have a sensitive tummy. You should rule out other serious health concerns with your veterinarian before changing his diet.
#1. Hills Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This easily digested, complete food contains antioxidants and vitamin E for a glossy coat but is not recommended for babies or pregnant and nursing queens.
#2. IAMS Proactive Health Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach
There are no fillers in this balanced food, just highly digestible proteins, prebiotics and beet pulp to maximize nutrient absorption.
Cats with diabetes mellitus need reduced carbohydrate diets to avoid the peaks and troughs of blood glucose. For some of these kitties, dietary changes and improve their condition enough to be able to stop insulin therapy and may go into remission. You should always discuss this with your veterinarian before trying a specialized diet.
#1. ROYAL CANIN Feline Glycobalance Dry Cat Food
This moderate energy food contains cereals to prevent hypoglycemia with a high protein content for slow release energy. L-carnitine helps to maintain lean muscle mass.
Food allergies are relatively common in cats and can manifest in a variety of ways including vomiting, diarrhea or excessive scratching and alopecia. These diets eliminate common allergens but in some cases your pet may be allergic to one of the ingredients remaining and can take time to work out what exactly is the problem.
#1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This highly digestible and palatable diet contains hydrolyzed soy protein isolate to minimize risk of allergy flare-ups. This is a complete and balanced meal for adult cats that has a money back guarantee when recommended by your veterinarian.
Some cats are prone to urethral obstructions which can be excruciatingly painful. Indoor, neutered males are most at risk especially if they are on the chubby side. Dry foods may exacerbate this problem although there are some formulated for urinary health.
#1. Royal Canin Feline SO Moderate Calorie Dry Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This diet dissolves struvite urolith crystals and has moderate calories to help maintain weight in the ideal range for your pet. This complete food acidifies urine and has low magnesium levels to reduce the risk of crystals forming.
#2. Purina ProPlan Focus Urinary Tract Health Formula Chicken Entree Wet Cat Food
This recipe contains real chicken and is formulated to maintain the immune, digestive systems and skin in top shape. Urine pH is decreased coupled with low magnesium to reduce formation of crystals.
As your kitty ages she will need more protein, vitamins and minerals and easily digested carbohydrates to maintain her health and vigor. Her digestion will not be as good as when she was younger, and if she is a picky eater this can be challenging.
#1. Hills Science Diet Indoor Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
This diet is for cats 11+ and claims to slow aging in the brain. There are clinically proven antioxidants within this additive free recipe which comes in dry and canned varieties in different textures and flavors to suit all palates
#2. Purina ProPlan Focus Senior (11+) Cat Food
This food prevents stomach upsets in sensitive older cats and is generally enjoyed by all cats.
This catch-all term is used for a lot of foods but you know what is best for your cat. It’s hard to give you the absolute “healthiest” brand recommendation, as each person has a different idea of what is optimal for their pet.
#1. Hills Science Diet Adult Light Dry Cat Food
This natural food with no artificial additives has clinically proven antioxidant benefits and is a complete food for adult cats and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
If your cat has a specific issue then your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet.
#1. Hills Prescription Diet i/d Feline Gastrointestinal Health Cat Food
This recipe contains highly digestible protein and fat with a mixed fiber source for gut health and stool quality. Antioxidants are included to decrease damage to the gut lining and help repair after illness.
You should speak with your veterinarian before changing to any “diet food”. This should be done to rule out any serious causes of concerns you may have about your pet and also address any health issues that may have arisen from obesity.
#1. IAMS Proactive Health Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food
This food is formulated for indoor cats with moderate activity levels and to prevent problems from hairballs. L-carnitine is added to help maintain a healthy weight through burning fat while promoting lean muscle growth. There are no fillers in this complete food that claims to help control and decrease hairballs.
Best Food Broken Down By Brand
Castor and Pollux
Taste of the Wild
Acana’s cat foods contain no preservatives, are carbohydrate-limited, and made with 75% meat, at least half of which is either fresh or raw.
Additionally, Acana’s food safety systems are rated as the equivalent to facilities that process human food and they have never had a product recall.
Uniquely, Acana’s cat foods promote less acidic cat urine, which is important to any feline’s health, but especially to ones noted for kidney disease.
Something to note: Amazon reviews conflate Acana and Orijen, but they are not the same brand and there are concerted differences between the products, which are discussed here.
Acana’s food covers four regions: Meadowland, Wild Atlantic, Grasslands, Appalachian Ranch.
- Acana Meadowland – Protein rich chicken, turkey, eggs, catfish, and trout promote muscle tone and boost the immune system .
- Acana Wild Atlantic – Fantastic source of fresh fish fatty acids DHA and EPA; especially good for skin and coat.
- Acana Appalachian Ranch – A mixture of fresh liver, tripe, kidney, and cartilage mimic wild cat whole-prey diets; great source of vitamins and amino acids.
Applaws has a wide variety of cat food options. Their dry cat food is grain free and high in taurine and arginine, both essential amino acids that are absolutely critical to cat health. Applaws wet food, meant to be served as a complementary side to dry food, contains limited ingredients, sometimes as limited as just chicken and chicken broth. Many Applaws reviews note that even the fussiest cats like the variety of flavors.
- Applaws Grain Free Additive Free 100% Natural – Great wet food variety pack with top-quality ingredients.
- Applaws Multipack Food Tin for Senior Cats – Perfect for older kitties with picky palates.
- Applaws Succulent Tuna Fillet with Crab Cups – Additive-free with only four high-quality ingredients.
Inspired by a family pet, a dog named “Blue” who had health issues, Blue Buffalo is a well-established, trusted pet food brand with fantastic customer reviews. They have a huge variety of dry and wet cat food for all life stages.
Many pet companies cook nutritional supplements along with other ingredients, which can degrade the quality.
Atypically, Blue Buffalo is known for “cold-forming” its vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, to fully preserve their health benefits.
- BLUE for Cats Kitten Dry – formulated especially to help kittens grow up strong and healthy.
- BLUE for Cats Adult Dry – has a near cult following! Keeps kitties in the prime of their lives healthy and active.
- BLUE for Cats Mature Dry – perfect for maintaining mature kitties’ skin/coat, immune system, heart, and eyes.
Castor and Pollux
This is the only pet food on the market that USDA-certified as completely organic.
It includes two ranges, Organix and Pristine, both of which have high quality natural ingredients in wet and dry cat food. This cat food is known for being completely additive free and has the big bonus of also being pesticide-residue free, something no other company can legally claim.
Castor and Pollux products are made of a protein-rich formulation that’s easy for any kitty to digest and many of their products are grain free.
Some people even claim they’ve been able to use Castor and Pollux in place of Science Diet, which is extremely expensive.
- Organix Grain Free Organic Dry Healthy Kitten Recipe – Just right for adventurous kittens who need their protein and vitamins to grow healthy and strong.
- Castor & Pollux Organix Dry – Just right for adventurous kittens who need their protein and vitamins to grow healthy and strong.
- Organix Organic Canned – High in Omega-6 and fatty acids that are essential for the health of cats of all ages.
Earthborn Hollistic has three lines of dry cat food which will satisfy any devoted cat parent: Feline Vantage, Primitive Feline, and Wild Sea Catch. They also have an extensive line of wet cat food.
Both dry and wet foods are made with a mix of high quality proteins, grains, and vegetables, all of which are fully cooked, making them easy to digest in sensitive cat stomachs.
- Earthborn Holistic Feline Vantage Natural Dry – High-quality nutrition for felines of all ages.
- Earthborn Holistic Wet – Four delicious, nutritious flavors for felines of all ages.
- Earthborn Holistic Catalina Catch – Excellent source of protein, antioxidants, and Omega 3s for cats of all ages.
Considered the #1 wet cat food brand in the United States, Fancy Feast is an established, trusted cat food brand, on the market for 30 years without a single recall. The company has an extensive line of over 100 foods, for cats of all breeds and ages. Their ingredients are high quality and purposeful, with each ingredient providing a specific benefit for kitty.
- Purina Fancy Feast Kitten Tender Ocean Feast – Delicious nutrition that gives kittens everything they need for a healthy start to life.
- Natural White Meat Chicken and Flaked Tuna – No fillers or by-products in this extremely popular broth-based food for adult felines.
- Purina Fancy Feast Gourmet – 100% positive Amazon reviews for this high protein, high flavor dry food for adult felines.
This established, trusted brand of cat food has never had a product recall. (However, their line of dog food has.)
Their line of Four-Star Nutritionals dry food is extremely popular, due to the high-quality ingredients and wide variety of dry and wet foods.
Fromm’s cat foods include the freshest proteins and fruits and vegetables, to tempt kitty’s palate and keep her strong and active.
- Fromm Kitten Gold Dry – Corn and wheat free, with salmon oil, great for kittens and nursing mothers
- Fromm FourStar Gamebird – Grain free and high protein, an excellent source of nutrition for adult cats
- Fromm FourStar Salmon Tunachovy – A blend of high-quality fish and vegetable ingredients, great for cats of all ages
This company has a unique approach, using “cat focus” groups to ensure that their products are not only healthy, but also pleasing to the pickiest of feline palates. Additional, they take a “Meat First” approach, minimizing carbs and emphasizing protein.
Their website contains a clear list of all the high-quality ingredients used in their foods.
- Fussie Cat Premium Tuna with Salmon – Digestive-aiding prebiotics and high-quality tuna make this an extremely popular cat food both with felines and their human owners
- Fussie Cat Market Fresh – Grain-free and high protein, perfect for active adult felines
- Fussie Cat Premium Tuna with Chicken – Tuna and chicken make this a surefire hit with felines
Halo was created when Spot the dog was extremely ill and his owners struggled to find high-quality foods to help him with his various health problems. Ultimately, they created their own food, and it was so popular with friends and family that Spot’s owners then started the company.
Today, this established, multi-award-winning pet food company is known for its ultra-digestible foods, easy on sensitive feline stomachs, and on its use of whole foods only—no chicken/beef/fish meals, for instance.
For every single product purchased, the company donates a bowl of dog or cat food to animal shelters.
- Halo Holistic Grain Free Wild Salmon and Whitefish Recipe for Kittens – This whole food, digestible blend is exactly what young kittens need to start life on the right paw.
- Halo Holistic Dry, Wild Salmon and Whitefish – Digestible and meat-based, plus delicious, and, according to many five-star reviews, a real hit with adult cats.
- Halo Holistic Grain Free Chicken and Chicken Liver Recipe for Senior Cats – Formulated with ingredients to support senior felines changing metabolisms and skins/coats.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. first started when a young blind man’s German shepherd, Buddy, was struggling with kidney disease. Dr. Morris, the founder of Hill’s, developed a food specifically for dogs with kidney problems and the rest is history.
Today, Hill’s Science Diet, Prescription Diet, and Ideal Balance foods are among the foods most highly recommend by veterinarians for optimal pet health and/or to treat specific health issues.
- Hill’s Science Diet Kitten Indoor Chicken Recipe – Made specifically to support kittens’ young immune systems.
- Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach – Formulated for adult cats with sensitive digestive systems.
- Ideal Balance Natural Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe – Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids improve adult feline skin/coats while high-quality, digestible ingredients nourish the rest of kitty, too.
On the market since 1940, Iams is a popular, trusted pet food company. Their foods are designed for carnivorous cats and dogs, emphasizing high-quality protein for all life stages. Iams cat food provides 50% more protein than the leading dry cat food and is formulated to support a healthy cat and brain development.
- IAMS Healthy Kitten Grain Free – Created specifically to help your kitten’s brain and body get the best possible start in life.
- IAMS Proactive Health Specialized Care Adult – A great source of healthy nutrition for adults cats, with the added bonus that it helps control hairballs!
- IAMS Proactive Health Senior Adult – Contains no fillers and twice the antioxidants that Iams’ adult cat foods contain, to support senior kitties’ aging immune systems.
Meow Mix has been a favorite for cat owners for the past 40 years. Its extensive line of wet and dry foods, along with treats, ensure that cats never suffer from what Meow Mix playfully calls “cat rut.”
The brand has never had a recall in its extensive history, adding to the trust that cat owners have in it.
- Meow Mix Kitten Li’l Nibbles – Small kibbles make this delicious, nutritious dry food easy for kittens to crunch down before they’re off to their next adventure
- Meow Mix Tender Centers – Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside—no adult feline can resist this!
- Meow Mix Savory Morsels – Three flavors to entice even the pickiest adult kitty
On the market for 25 years, Merrick prides itself on cooking “recipes,” rather than “formulas.” Their website provides a comparison of their food to many of the major leading pet brands, breaking down exactly why Merrick is the best.
They also have a 100% guarantee that your pet will love the food and be healthier and happier, or your money bank.
Their food is never imported and is only purchased from farmers the company has thoroughly vetted. As such, it is a brand trusted by many consumers.
- Merrick Before Grain Meat – Grain-free and made specifically to provide top quality nutrition to adult cats.
- Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free – 74% protein ingredients provide optimal well-being for indoor and outdoor adult cats.
- Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Chicken Pate – Deboned meat protein is high-quality nutrition for all life stages, including kittens and nursing mothers.
Nature’s Variety has two pet food lines—Instinct, which is a raw food brand for cats and dogs, and Prairie, intended for dogs.
Underneath the “Instinct” cat food umbrella fall lines such as Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet and Instinct Raw Boost.
Nature’s Variety pet foods contain no artificial ingredients of any kind. Their five-point philosophy is to lead with raw, keep it real, make it simple, give back, and make it better.
The company’s popularity attests to consumers’ trust in both their products and their ethics.
- Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural – 95% animal protein ensures adult cats benefit from the pure energy boost this food provides.
- Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe Natural – Grain-free, with chunks of freeze- dried raw protein make this an adult cat’s favorite!
- Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Recipe Natural – Formulated to support adult felines’ immune systems and to keep their bodies healthy and strong.
While Newman’s Own is known for its human foods, the company also has a popular pet food line, for both dogs and cats. Endorsing the same high-quality standards for animal food as for people, Newman’s Own’s exacting safety standards mean that the brand has never had a pet food recall in 36 years.
They’re trusted by thousands of consumers and donate 100% of all their proceeds to charities.
- Newman’s Own Premium, Turkey Formula for Cats – Great for maintaining an adult feline’s optimal weight.
- Newman’s Own Advanced Cat Dry Formula – An additional boost makes this formula great for all life stages, including kittens and seniors.
- Newman’s Own Premium Adult Cat Dry Formula – A carefully balanced ratio of protein to fat, to enhance adult felines’ health and energy levels.
In business since 1926, Nutro’s creed is simple, trustworthy, purposeful pet food. They pride themselves on clean, delicious, recognizable ingredients that cats and dogs will love, and which pet owners can trust will maintain their animals’ health. As of 2014, the country is sourcing solely non-GMO ingredients for its pet foods. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all their food lines and have had minimal recalls in the company’s long history.
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Adult – Ideal for helping indoor cats keep a healthy weight.
- Nutro Perfect Portions Adult Wet – Grain-free, with chicken as its first ingredient, a real winner with all adult cats.
- Nutro Wild Frontier High Protein Grain Free Pate – Extra protein means extra goodness for adults cats.
Established in 1968, Royal Canin has a proven track record of excellence with its pet food. Its foods are science-based, and every ingredient is backed by in-depth research so that only functional nutrients are included in each food item.
In addition to a well-regarded prescription-only line of foods, Royal Canin also has a wide variety of non-prescription foods for cats and dogs of all ages and breeds. Cat parents find that even the finickiest kitties like the flavor of this food.
- Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Kitten – Everything kittens need to grow up with strong teeth, bodies, and immune systems.
- Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Selective Savor Sensation – Formulated specifically for fussy adult cats!
- Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Adult Instinctive Thin Slice In Gravy – Great for helping managing finicky kitties’ weight.
Grain-free and committed to a transparent food supply chain, which has ensured that the brand has never had any recalls, Sheba has a real following among cat owners. That following reacted strongly to the news in 2011 that Sheba would be discontinued, and the food was quickly brought back.
Sheba’s high quality ingredients, starting with real seafood, beef, and poultry, provide optimal taste and health to kitties all ages and breeds.
- Sheba Perfect Portions Pate Entree Trays – Great for adult cats’ skin/coats, immune system, and digestive systems.
- Sheba Signature Broths – Delicious, nutritious, and as a bonus, a great source of hydration for cats who sometimes forget their water needs.
- Sheba Pate in Natural Juices Chicken Entrée – Wheat, soy, and corn free makes this just right for cats with sensitive digestive systems.
Opening a can of Tiki Cat food is impressive. The food looks like something you might see on a human plate. Each ingredient visibly stands out, so you can identify the chicken from the lamb, for instance, and the nutritional facts are as good as Tiki Cat’s visual appeal.
Whether it’s their Born Carnivore kibble line or their velvet mousses, every food in Tiki Cat’s line-up is created in a human-grade facility and is backed by strong science.
High protein, low carb, and mega-flavor makes this a favorite food for cats and their humans.
- Tiki Cat Consomme – High protein and high moisture for cats of all ages including kittens and nursing mothers.
- Tiki Cat Born Carnivore – Baked, rather than extruded, the texture of this food entices cats of all ages.
- Tiki Cat Gourmet Whole Food – Ultra-low carb and great for kitties with diabetes, UTIs, IBS, etc.
Solid Gold was created by a woman who was concerned that her dogs weren’t getting the right nutrition from pet foods available on the market.
Forty years on, Solid Gold has also branched into cat food and their name can still be considered accurate, given the awards the brand has won and the devotion of its fans, both pets and humans. Their nutrition philosophy says it all: “All that’s good, nothing that’s not.”
The blend of unique, carefully sourced ingredients in each of Solid Gold’s foods ensures your cat will stay healthy and happy throughout every life stage.
- Solid Gold Holistic Meat & Gravy – Olive oil, salmon oil, and canola oil support skin/coat health in cats of all ages.
- Solid Gold Indigo Moon Grain Free – Grain and gluten-free, this food is for cats in all life stages.
- Solid Gold Holistic Lamb with Superfoods and Healthy Whole Grains – Iron rich, this is a great source of energy from active adult cats.
Weruva is named after the company’s three rescue kitties: Webster, Rudy, and Vanessa and the company’s owners are themselves committed pet parents. As such, they have a visible, vested stake in ensuring that their food—the very food they feed their pets—is the highest possible quality.
And it is.
They pride themselves on making food in a human-grade facility, “using the same ingredients found in people food.” Nothing but the best for Weruva kitties!
- Cats in the Kitchen Grain-Free – This variety pack is great for fussy adult cats.
- Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender – High protein, high moisture, and low carb makes this perfect for any adult kitties.
- Grain Free Mideast Feast – Formulated to fit all adult cat needs.
Wellness Natural Pet Food
Antioxidant-rich whole foods are the central ingredients in all of Wellness Natural Pet Foods. From salmon and lobster to herring and trout, each recipe is created with the mindset that mealtime is more than food on a plate—it’s the foundation for a health life. As such, this company sources only the highest quality ingredients.
They have a huge fanbase which attests to the trust placed in them to nourish and support cat (and dog) health, through every lifestage.
They even provide a Catisfaction Guarantee!
- Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Pate Recipe – Delicious, balanced nutrition for adults cats.
- Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free – Weight management and joint support for indoor kitties.
- Wellness Complete Health Senior – Supports senior kitties joints, immune systems, and metabolism.
Taste of the Wild
Transparency is so important to Taste of the Wild that they provide an online video tour of their facility, so you can see exactly how and where your pet’s food is made. They also provide an ingredient glossary, so if you ever look at a bag of their food and wonder what the purpose of a specific ingredient is, you can look it up and find the science behind it.
Founded on the philosophy that our pets still share their ancestors’ biological needs for whole, fresh prey, Taste of the Wild starts with premium meat cuts and builds delicious, nutritious recipes from that solid foundation.
- Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Natural – The highest quality nutrition for cats of all ages and breeds.
- Taste of the Wild Grain Free Canyon River Feline Formula – Protein, amino acids, and antioxidants are a nutritional powerhouse for cats in all life stages.
Friskies is such a long-established cat food brand that it would be easy to overlook. But that would be a mistake because their food selection is unrivaled in the cat food market. Whatever age your cat is, whatever his or her tastes—treats, meats, vegetables, pates, broths, shreds, you name it—there’s definitely something in the Friskies line up for him or her.
- Purina Friskies Tasty Treasures Variety Pack – A variety of wet foods sure to appeal to any adult kitty.
- Purina Friskies Surfin’ & Turfin’ Favorites – Great for adult cats who need to be tempted to the dish—the enticing aroma will bring them running!
- Purina Friskies Savory Shreds Adult – My adult cat refuses to eat anything but this assortment of beef, fish, turkey, tuna, and salmon cans.
We chose not to include any Natural Balance foods, as they are going through a massive recall due to euthanasia drugs in their food allegedly killing pets.
Canidae and Triumph
These companies are going through recalls as well, and I personally did not come across anyone who recommended their products.
Free? How About Cheap And Affordable? OK, OK, What About Coupons?
Free cat food is hard to find unless you know a food bank that distributes pet food. Meals on Wheels runs (or maybe ran…their new website doesn’t show anything about the program, but it may be because it’s being updated) the We All Love Our Pets initiative in which participating programs offer free pet food.
Also, check out this Humane Society of the United States list of organizations providing financial assistance for affordable pet food and other services.
If you’re looking for coupons to save, you could try to Google search for the food and a coupon code, but honestly I always just buy my stuff on Amazon, it’s usually cheaper than the store anyway, plus the delivery means I don’t have to go to the store.
Homemade Cat Food and Recipes
In recent years there have been a number of pet food poisoning scandals which has many owners considering homemade cat food. It’s important to remember, however, that there are significant risks of bacterial contamination and nutrient deficiency in home produced foods.
Salmonella is a bacterium that causes illness in both cats and humans and grows readily on raw chicken etc.
Making your own pet food is time consuming and you must be precise in your measurements with fastidious hygiene; if you feel that a homemade diet works best for you and your pet, then I advise you speak with your veterinarian-nutritionist to formulate an appropriate diet for your own pet’s specific needs.
There are many recipes available online though the majority are not balanced enough for permanent use, you may like to try some for a treat.
If you are feeding raw, homemade diets you should use only the freshest ingredients and store them appropriately to minimize the risk of contamination to you and your pet.
As with any other diet if transitioning to a homemade diet, you should include a source of fiber such as psyllium husk and make the change gradually to prevent any tummy upsets.
The Low Down on Cat Treats
We all like to spoil our pets a little, but as with treating ourselves, moderation is key. Treats should ideally comprise less than 10% of your cat’s daily calories.
Treats generally contribute no nutritive value to your pet’s diet.
Some human foods can be given as treats such as plain chicken, turkey, etc., but don’t overdo it as portions required are very small and some foods are toxic including raisins, onions and alcohol.
Catnip is a cheap and easy to grow, much loved cat treat that is low in calories.
Treats can be a great way to praise your pet after doing something they do not like such as clipping nails or to encourage activity and exercise particularly in indoor or sedentary cats.
Have a look at these ratings and reviews below to see what options suits you!
#1. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-free Freeze-dried Minis Cat Treats (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
These treats are produced with 100% raw chicken and turkey with carrots and apples and no artificial additives nor fillers. Each treat has only two calories.
There you have it. An in-depth look into the world of cat food. There are many choices to suit different breeds, types, and personalities of felines. The choice depends on many factors, from your cat’s age to its overall health. High fiber, low carb, vegetarian, and even gluten-free cat foods are on the market. You can even find cat foods that alleviate sensitive stomachs, urinary tract problems, and diabetes.
Use the examples above to pick from your favorite dry or wet canned foods. The main idea is to keep your feline content, comfortable, nourished, and healthy for as long as possible. Even an aging cat can be kept in top shape by giving it the right type of food. Always make sure every cat gets enough water, vitamins, taurine, amino acids, and protein to satisfy their dietary needs.