You love your cat and only want to feed the best food, right?
That may have led you on a search far and wide for the best human grade cat food.
It’s a tricky subject, and there are precious few brands that offer a truly human-grade experience for your cat.
Because of the difficulty in finding good foods that are human grade, we looked in our huge database of cat foods to find and review the top rated human grade cat foods.
First, we’ll talk about what exactly human grade means, whether it’s better for your cat than normal food, and how we chose the foods we review below.
Our review process is unbiased and based on extensive research. If you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.
Quick-Find Best-In-Class Table
- Good human grade wet food
- High protein
- Limited ingredient
- Good dehydrated option
- Decent macronutrient levels
- Best freeze-dried human grade food
- Contains important organ meat
- Good protein and fat levels
- Very biologically appropriate
- Convenient delivery service
- Lots of organ meats
What Is Human Grade Cat Food?
The phrase “human grade cat food” is actually regulated by AAFCO, the organization that controls and regulates cat food production.
It’s worth noting that AAFCO has very few resources at it’s disposal for backing up it’s rules and regulations, but here’s what they have to say about human grade food:
“Edible is a standard; human-grade is not. For a product to be deemed edible for humans, all ingredients must be human edible and the product must be manufactured, packed and held in accordance with federal regulations in 21 CFR 110, Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing, or Holding Human Food. If these conditions are met for a pet food, human-grade claims may be made. If these conditions are not met, then it is an unqualified claim and misbrands the product.
Misbranding a feed is a prohibited act subject to enforcement action on the responsible party. The presence of human-grade on a label implies a product or ingredients may meet the legally-recognized edible standard.”
So, a human grade cat food must be made out of “edible” ingredients for human consumption.
That is to say, the ingredients must be considered “edible” by the USDA, which means “these foodstuffs have been processed, inspected and passed manufacturing regulations (i.e. process control regulations) that are designed to assure safety for consumption by humans”, according to AAFCO.
To put it simply: if all the ingredients in the cat food are from sources that would otherwise be selling their food to grocery stores and human-food manufacturers, then it’s a human grade cat food.
Is Human Grade Cat Food Better For My Cat?
Much like we discussed in our article on the best organic cat foods, a label like human grade does not necessarily make a food good for your cat.
If a pet food is organic or human grade, but contains only organic human-grade corn, wheat, beans, and other grains, then it is NOT good for your cat.
When you’re choosing a cat food, first and foremost you must make sure it’s good for your cat.
This means you need a biologically appropriate recipe, which means lots of meat (including organ meats, if possible), little to no carbohydrate fillers, and the appropriate micronutrients (vitamins and minerals like taurine).
Now, as long as you’re comparing two good cat foods, we can look at whether human grade is really better.
There are three things that we should chat about here:
- You might just want to be sure your cat is getting the absolute best quality ingredients, full stop.
- Some ingredients suitable for cat food are not the same that humans eat (for example, the corn used in cat food is NOT the same quality as the corn you eat off the cob…it’s a lower quality one that you wouldn’t want to eat).
- Some meat ingredients in cat food can be made up of literally any kind of meat (4D livestock (dead, dying, diseased, or disabled), roadkill, or even euthanized cats and dogs).
If you just want your cat to eat the absolute best, you might get more peace of mind with a human grade food.
After all, the ingredients necessarily have to pass higher standards to qualify.
While there are typically no corn ingredients in high quality cat foods, some other fruits, vegetables, and additives might not be quite what you expect.
By choosing human grade, you’re ensuring that even the small amount of plant materials used for digestion and nutrient delivery are the same ones that you’d be buying at the grocery store.
And while there are typically no low quality meat sources in high quality cat foods, you’re guaranteeing against any contamination from less-than-worthy sources if you choose human grade.
Human food doesn’t go through the same processing that most cat food meat does (think giant vats of meat sludge, cooking at super high temperatures, with the possibility of other ingredients being added).
In terms of the bioavailability and positive affects on your cat’s health, it’s hard to say if human grade is definitively better.
Most cats will do just find if you pick one of the best cat foods available, since they typically go above and beyond to make sure everything is transparent and full of great ingredients.
However, the human grade label should give you peace of mind that there’s nothing sneaky going on, and that each ingredient is the highest possible quality.
How We Choose The Best Human-Grade Cat Food
There are very few human grade foods available for cats.
That makes our selection process easier.
There are definitely less than 10 readily available foods that meet this description, so we went through our database and pulled out our favorites.
Some are clearly better than others as cat foods, but they all use fantastic ingredients.
Now, how did we pick these specific foods and the ratings we gave them?
We have a massive database of cat foods (over 2000+ foods), which we’ll explain a little bit more below. But it’s important to mention what criteria we used when creating this list of the best human-grade foods.
In our list of foods, we rate them from 1-5 using 5 different grading points. The cat foods below are all AT LEAST a 4 out of 5 stars. That means they’re much better than average.
What Cats Actually Want To Eat
Studies on both indoor, commercially-fed cats, and feral and stray cats show that cats will self-select food sources that result in a macronutrient profile in this range (dry-matter basis used):
- Protein: 52-63%
- Fat: 22-36%
- Carbohydrate: 2.8-12% (with “wild” cats on the very low end of this range)
What we believe this shows is that cats have evolved to thrive on a high protein, moderate fat, and low carb diet.
How We Rate Foods
Our database of cat foods contains over 2000 individual foods.
We collected all the relevant information on each product, including:
- AAFCO Rating
- Ingredient list
- Macronutrient profiles (Guaranteed Analysis, Dry-Matter Basis, and Caloric Basis)
- Price and price per pound
- Calories per 100 grams
- Whether meat is the first ingredient
- How each food compares to the average of all foods on a macronutrient basis
- Whether the recipe uses more than 4 controversial ingredients
Each of these data points works together to form a star rating on a 1-5 star scale (including half points).
- If the food’s first ingredient is meat, it gets 1 point.
- If the food does not use unnamed meat ingredients (“meat by-products”), it gets 1 point.
- If the food has an above average protein level on a dry-matter basis, compared to all other foods in the database, it gets 1 point. If it has an average amount, it gets .5 points.
- If the recipe contains fewer than 4 controversial ingredients (not necessarily bad ingredients), it gets 1 point. If it contains exactly 4 it gets .5 points.
- The final available point is a discretionary point that we award based on things like carbohydrate content, inclusion of probiotics and vitamins, and other points, and is our judgement call on a food’s quality and biological appropriateness for your cat.
We think that this system provides a fair, transparent system by which we can compare all foods on an equal footing, and give you the easiest possible time when choosing the best of the best.
Reviews Of The Best Human Grade Cat Foods
#1. Caru Classic Stew Wet Cat Food
Catological Rating: 4/5 stars
Calories per 100 grams: 71
Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):
- Protein: 50%
- Fat: 17%
- Carbs: 17%
First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Tapioca Starch, Egg Whites
Caru Classic Stew is a popular human-grade cat food that is wet, but comes in a box, rather than being canned.
The box is more of a tetra pack, and it’ll keep food fresh in your fridge for up to 3 days after opening it.
The ingredient list is very short (other than the added vitamins and minerals), which is typically a good thing.
While we don’t love tapioca being used in foods, it is a starch that binds the food together. there’s likely not enough of it to cause any digestive issues for your cat, so we let it slide here.
After the first 4 ingredients you can see above, there’s apple, carrots, and sweet potato.
We do wish there was a bit less of each (the carb count is higher than we’d like), but they’re added mostly to give your cat some sense that she’s eating something similar to the wild, where she would eat the stomach contents of her prey.
Overall it’s a good, but not great cat food overall, but when it comes to human grade, you don’t have many options!
#2. Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dehydrated Cat Food
Catological Rating: 4/5 stars
Calories per 100 grams: 512
Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):
- Protein: 41%
- Fat: 31%
- Carbs: 16%
First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Eggs, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
Honest Kitchen cat food is one of the most popular human grade foods, and it’s a decent cat food.
However, this is a case where, just because something is human grade, doesn’t mean it’s a great food for your cat.
There are a lot of other foods that we give a perfect 5 score to that are not human grade, but that we would recommend much more than The Honest Kitchen.
Now, overall, it’s a pretty good food.
It has a lot of chicken in it, and very few ingredients. Both good things.
But there’s no organ meat.
There’s too many potato products.
Protein is a bit low, and carbohydrates are a bit high.
Interestingly it’s one of the only dehydrated foods on the market.
Basically they perform a process on the fresh ingredients that sucks most of the moisture out of them, which they then grind up, leaving a sort of powder.
When you serve it, you just add water to “reanimate” it, and serve.
It condenses the nutrients really well and provides a great amount of nutritional value in a small serving.
Again, it’s above average for a cat food, absolutely, but unless you absolutely MUST have a dehydrated human grade cat food, we suggest going with Caru Classic, or even a higher rated non-human grade food.
#3. Whole Life LifeBites Freeze Dried Cat Food
Catological Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Calories per 100 grams: 429
Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):
- Protein: 51%
- Fat: 26%
- Carbs: 10%
First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Sweet Potato, Chicken Liver, Peas
Another food that’s not technically wet or dry, LifeBites by Whole Life are freeze dried.
Similar to dehydration, the process is meant to remove moisture from the fresh food, while locking in important nutrients that might otherwise be cooked out if it was processed in the typical way.
This means the food left behind is very high in nutritional value, and easy to serve by adding a bit of water to the dish.
As a food, it’s pretty good, although of course we’d have preferred to see sweet potato and peas further down the list.
However, it does have a lot of chicken, and importantly, chicken liver.
The liver and other organs are not only packed with protein, but they have micronutrients that muscle meats do not have.
This means your cat gets more vitamins and minerals, without needing to add as much of the synthetic versions.
Otherwise there are a few other plant based ingredients, plus yogurt.
Yogurt has live active cultures, which are a source of probiotics and great for digestion.
While milk products are not usually good for cats, yogurt has enzymes that pasteurized milk lacks, like lactase, that help it digest in a cat’s belly.
So again, overall this is a pretty good cat food, but there are better options out there…it’s just that they’re not human grade.
We’d still recommend Caru Classic, but if you like the idea of dehydrated cat food for convenience sake, then this is a pretty good option.
#4. Smalls Fresh Cat Food Delivery Service
Catological Rating: 5/5 stars
Calories per 100 grams: 150
Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):
- Protein: 63%
- Fat: 24%
- Carbs: 6%
First 4 Ingredients: Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans
Smalls compares favorably to Caru Classic, our #1 pick.
We haven’t had a chance to test it out and talk to the company as much as we have Caru Classic, so as we continue to find out more information and ensure it’s trustworthiness, it’s likely that this will move up our list.
Happily, the chicken and beef recipes contain multiple organ meats (the turkey recipe includes just chicken liver for organ meat), meaning it’s packed with vital nutrients.
The protein, fat, and carb levels are very close to what a cat prefers to eat in the wild, making this a very biologically appropriate cat food.
It’s a fresh food delivery service.
You give them your information, and they send you a package meant to last a certain amount of time (you can schedule your order for every 3, 5, or 7 weeks).
You can choose from between 14 and 7 meals per week (allowing you to feed Smalls for both meals every day, or one meal per day).
They start you out on a 2 week “taste trial”, and offer a full money back guarantee if your cat doesn’t like it.
As a cat food, it is absolutely one of the best human grade cat foods.
*** Note: Smalls will request basic information (sex, age, build, etc.) about your cat before determining the best sampler package choices. You will see the two-week 25% Sampler price after completing this information.