20 Best Cat Foods in 2020
🏆 List of Best Food for Cats in 2020 🏆
The pate recipe from ProPlan boasts a great balance of proteins and carbohydrates which makes it suitable for daily nutrition of indoor cats. The natural recipe contains real chicken and turkey, the whole range of vitamins and minerals, as well as folic acid and taurine. At the same time, the manufacturer uses meat by-products and wheat gluten, so it’s not the healthiest choice for allergic cats.
Who this product is recommended to? Vets suggest selecting this formula for pets that don’t drink enough water: with 82% moisture content, this recipe will make up for normal digestion. Purina offers the largest variety of flavors, so this is the best tasting cat food in our list – you can always find something to please your finicky eater. No artificial flavors and preservatives are used!
- Huge variety of flavors;
- High protein content (11%) and moisture content (82%);
- Low-calorie option;
- Low-fiber product.
- Contains meat by-products and wheat gluten;
- Type of food: Canned
- Protein: 11%
- Calories: 103 kcal/can
- Flavors available: Chicken & Turkey, Chicken & Salmon, Beef & Liver + 12 other flavors
This is a high-quality variant of holistic cat food. The formula with lamb and brown rice contains all essential nutrients and a high level of protein (34%). Thanks to 20 superfoods combined in one product, cats enjoy the whole range of vitamins and minerals, not mentioning a decent amount of fibers for healthy digestion.
Pearled barley and brown rice make the kibbles more nutritious, provide Vitamins B for better immune system, and fibers. What makes Solid Gold one of the healthiest cat food brands is that the formula contains no soy and artificial preservatives. Generally, this formula is suitable for indoor and outdoor cats with a medium level of activity.
- Contains the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals;
- No potato and soy;
- 34% of high-density protein.
- The flavor is specific and not all cats like it;
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Lamb & Brown Rice
- Protein: 34%
- Calories: 380 kcal/cup
The dry kibbles from Hill’s Science are always the one among veterinarians’ cat food recommendations because of its exceptional nutritional value. It contains chicken and chicken fat, as well as fish oil, dried beet pulp, green peas, apples, cranberries, broccoli, and natural flavors. The dry food is great for digestion due to a high amount of fiber. At the same time, the recipe also has cornmeal, wheat gluten, and powdered cellulose: those ingredients might be undesirable for sensitive cats.
As for the vitamins and minerals, nothing is lacking: the formula contains all supplements. Taurine helps to keep skin healthy and fur – shiny, while L-carnitine turns fat into energy. Hill’s Science lineup includes a lot of different food addressing specific health issues, but this recipe is versatile and adds up to the entire well-being. A perfect option for daily nutrition, mainly thanks to the optimal calorie content.
- The optimal amount of calories and protein;
- Contains L-carnitine;
- Great customer reviews;
- Improves overall health.
- Contains gluten and cornmeal;
- It does not help with hairballs.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken
- Protein: 30%
- Calories: 319 kcal/cup
What is a good cat food? That’s the product that contains all essential vitamins and minerals with minimally processed ingredients. In these terms, Lotus chicken recipe has no rivals: the manufacturer uses baking process instead of traditional dehydration. Thus, the kibbles preserve all nutrients and obtain the special delicious flavor that cats like so much. Being made in Canada from the farm-sourced meat, the recipe contains organic chicken and chicken liver and a whole bunch of non-GMO vegetables and fruits.
The formula has no potato, soy, rice, or animal by-products and the amount of starch is close to zero. In the contents, you will find all vitamins and minerals that cats need. Omega fatty acids and taurine promote healthy skin and fur while folic acid improves the reproductive health and overall well-being. With 35% protein content, this food would be suitable for indoor cats of all ages. All these nutrients make the following Lotus recipe a very decent choice.
- Has all essential vitamins and minerals;
- Contains less processed components;
- Contains vegetables and fruits.
- Not suitable for cats with a sensitive stomach – check this post instead.
- Type of food: dry
- Flavors available: chicken
- Protein: 35%
- Calories: 438 kCals per cup
In search of the best cat food ratings, I’ve found this product, and it seems to be quite impressive. Iams Perfect Portions recipe is a healthy solution for adult cats since it contains organic chicken and tuna together with broth and the whole gamut of vitamins and minerals. With 9.5% protein content and 78% moisture content, this product is perfect for digestion – your furry friend shouldn’t experience any problems with that.
A 12-pack is a good value for the money, but, most importantly, you don’t need to divide the can’s contents into portions – each serving is individually packed. This feature is a must if your cat scratches around the stale food. The recipe does not contain artificial components. However, it has dried eggs and colorants: those might be bad for allergic cats. At the same time, if your furry friend has a sensitive stomach and you want to feed it grain-free food, this is the right pick.
- Low-calorie recipe;
- High moisture content;
- Convenient package.
- Has potentially allergic components;
- Pretty expensive.
- Type of food: Pate (wet)
- Flavors available: Chicken, Tuna
- Protein: 9.5%
- Calories: 44-46 kcal per portion
I and Love and You brand offers the best quality cat food: it’s all-natural and does not contain soy, rice, grains, white potatoes, and animal by-products. The manufacturer uses organic rabbit meat and does not add carrageenan for better texture. Thus, you don’t have to worry about possible allergic reactions in your pet. 10% of crude protein content is a pretty nice nutritional value. Besides, 78% of moisture content makes it easier to digest.
This formula contains a generous amount of veggies (spinach, carrots, beef broth, sweet potatoes) and fruits (apples, cranberries). Also, it has taurine and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids for healthier skin and fur. Folic acid contributes to better reproductive health. It goes without mentioning the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals added to the product.
With its 95 kcal per can, this is a well-balanced meal for the daily nutrition of adult cats. And if your four-legged pal does not like rabbit flavor, there’s a wide choice of other versions.
- Large selection of flavors;
- High moisture content for better digestion;
- Low fat content.
- Vegetables are not suitable for cats with a sensitive stomach.
- Type of food: pate
- Flavors available: Rabbit, Beef, Chicken, Tuna, Salmon + 7 other flavors
- Protein: 10%
- Calories: 95 kcal/cal
The air-dried recipe from ZIWI Peak is 96% made of organic meat and plants – all are ethically sourced from New Zealand. This is a limit-ingredient recipe that contains fresh deboned meat and organs, as well as superfoods like organic kelp, green trope, green mussels, etc. Together with chicory root, the latest make up for healthier digestion. This ideal cat food does not include grains, corn, soy, potatoes, wheat, rice, fillers, sugars, glycerin, and by-products.
The formula also contains all basic vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids, taurine, and folic acid. All that contributes to normal overall health. No artificial preservatives and flavors are used. With 14% of moisture, the pieces of meat are easier to digest. Note that the amount of fat is 33%, so the food should be given to active cats that aren’t overweight.
- Made of all-natural ethically sourced ingredients;
- Has a high protein content;
- Decent selection of products;
- A lot of fiber sources.
- Not all essential vitamins are included;
- Very thick pieces of meat – sometimes the food requires cooking;
- Type of food: Dehydrated
- Flavors available: Lamb, beef, chicken, mackerel & lamb, venison
- Protein: 35%
- Calories: 479 kcal per 100 grams (318 kcal/scoop)
Rachael Ray salmon recipe is based on real salmon and contains no corn, wheat, or soy components. There are no fillers and poultry by-products or meals, no artificial preservatives. Instead, the nutritional value is comprised of brown rice (it’s less allergic than regular) and peas. Thus, the formula is suitable for allergic and sensitive cats of all ages and breeds.
The recipe is enriched with all necessary vitamins and minerals, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids, taurine, and folic acid. Carrots and flaxseed serve as the source of fiber, and prebiotics improve digestion. The kibbles are nutritious but do not load the intestinal system, so consumers have mostly positive feedback. According to cat food review, both chicken and salmon flavors appeal to cats, and they prefer this brand to many others. Also, small kibbles are easier to eat for kittens and cats with dental problems.
- Optimal pricing when compared to other premium brands;
- No artificial flavors and preservatives;
- No soy, corn, and wheat.
- Contains brown rice;
- Not many veggies and fruits are used.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken, Salmon
- Protein: 34%
- Calories: 386 kcal per cup
Being one of top-rated cat food brands in the medium segment, Royal Canin offers foods to address various health issues, but this one is a versatile option: it serves to improve overall well-being and provide a pet with essential nutrients and vitamins. The Feline Health Nutrition formula is based on chicken and also contains brown rice, corn, gluten, pea fiber, rice flour, and wheat gluten. Thus, it’s not recommended for cats with a sensitive stomach.
However, if you need something at a moderate price, this is the best cat food in terms of cost/quality. The formula features all essential vitamins, minerals, taurine, and folic acid. This is enough for daily nutrition without any extra supplements. Please, note that the product also contains salt and dried eggs: it’s definitely not for cats with allergy and urinary problems. I recommend trying a few kibbles before you decide to switch entirely to this product.
- Optimal calorie content;
- It has all the essential vitamins and minerals.
- Has gluten and potentially allergic components;
- Contains salt.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken
- Protein: 27%
- Calories: 325 kcal per cup
When searching for the best food for cats by users’ reviews and overall ratings, I’ve found this product. Blue Buffalo offers a wide range of all-natural foods for daily nutrition. This is a versatile formula that contains everything you need and nothing you don’t. The holistic recipe is based on chicken and chicken meal and has 40% protein content but has a lot of calories, so it’s mostly recommended to outdoor cats. Also, it contains peas and white potatoes for a higher nutritional value. No grains are used!
Carrots, cranberries, blueberries, barley grass, parsley, and dried kelp make up for better digestion. It’s all topped off with a wide range of vitamins and minerals, taurine, folic acid, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Fermentation products (prebiotics) also help to sustain healthy digestion. Anyway, the kibbles are rich in calories, so you need to give your cat smaller portions. The instructions on the portion size are written on the label. Also you can read our guide on choosing the right portion.
- High protein content;
- All-natural formula;
- Rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Only chicken flavor is available;
- Has a high calorie content.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken
- Protein: 40%
- Calories: 443 kcal per cup
If you are in search of high-moisture, high-protein and low-carb products, this is the best food for your cat, even if it’s a picky eater. There is a wide choice of fish flavors together with traditional chicken and turkey variations. The formula contains only essentials: seabass, mackerel, fish broth, olive oil, and the whole range of vitamins and minerals. No artificial preservatives and flavors are used! The recipe has no grains, soy, or potato. This is the best choice for carnivores with a sensitive stomach.
Tiki Cat food is praised for having no ash and using large pieces of meat and fish. Your cat will enjoy eating this product, and, considering that it has no salt and chemical compounds, it’s absolutely safe. You can serve it to cats of any age and breed without worrying about digestive disorders and allergic reactions. The pure natural formula makes it the best food for cats with sensitivity.
- All-natural contents;
- No grains, veggies, and gluten;
- No artificial components.
- Type of food: Wet
- Flavors available: Seabass, Tuna & Chicken, Tilapia, Salmon + 6 flavors
- Protein: 13%
- Calories: 156 kcal per can
The formula from Abound is a pretty nutritious cat food that contains all your pet needs for staying healthy and full of energy. The kibbles are made of salmon and brown rice, as well as sweet potatoes, cranberries, and blueberries for better digestion. Thus, it boasts an optimal amount of protein (32%) and fibers for normal digestion (4.5% of the fiber is a pretty high value among similar dry foods).
The product also contains vitamins, minerals, and taurine – all your cat needs to preserve its health throughout all life stages. No artificial preservatives and colors are used, so this food is a pretty safe option if your cat is not allergic to fish and marine products.
What users like about this product is an appealing flavor and the optimal price/quality ratio. The company producing Abound cat food has a pretty good reputation and clean recall history, so it’s a reasonable choice for satisfying your cat’s daily nutrition needs.
- Perfect for daily nutrition;
- Has antioxidants that improve the immune system;
- Has no fillers or artificial preservatives;
- Brown rice improves digestion and can be given to cats with a sensitive stomach.
- Salmon might be a potential allergen;
- Not cheap.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Salmon
- Protein: 32%
- Calories: 367 cal/100g
One of the best foods for cats in terms of protein content, CRAVE chicken & salmon recipe is a perfect pick for active indoor cats and outdoor pets. It contains a high-quality source of protein (chicken, salmon, and pea protein) together with the components that improve digestion (potato, alfalfa meal, flaxseed, tapioca, rosemary extract). The formula is perfect for daily nutrition since it does not contain soy, grains, and gluten. It’s an ideal choice for cats with allergies.
CRAVE cat food contains a lot of vitamins and minerals together with taurine and folic acid. No artificial flavors and preservatives are used! No salt added: it’s also safe with cats prone to urinary issues. The customer reviews are mostly positive: many consumers admit that the food improved their pets’ well-being and helped to solve minor issues like stinky poop and hairballs.
- Quality components are used;
- No grains, soy, and gluten are added;
- It helps to solve digestion problems.
- Too many peas are used;
- High calorie content – not suitable for overweight cats.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken & Salmon + 3 other flavors
- Protein: 40%
- Calories: 379 kcal per cup
What makes Castor & Pollux one of the best dry cat foods is an all-natural chicken recipe that contains organic meat, chicken meal, peas, brown rice, and oatmeal. However, such ingredients are only suitable for cats without allergy to gluten and beans. I recommend trying to give it in small portions to see how your furry friend will react to this product.
The formula is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Cranberries and alfalfa meal serve as the source of fiber, while taurine improves the health of skin and fur. Prebiotics contribute to better digestion, as well. There are no artificial flavors, hormones, antibiotics, or fertilizers used.
The manufacturer claims its product is made according to the AAFCO standards, which is the indicator of good food for cats from the vets’ standpoint. Consumers’ reviews prove that the kibbles are very attractive for cats, and the quality is worth the price.
- 100% organic formula;
- Contains all minerals, vitamins, and prebiotics;
- Made according to AAFCO standards.
- It contains gluten and grains – highly allergic components for some cats.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken
- Protein: 32%
- Calories: 374 kcal per 100 g
Instinct Raw Grain-Free formula is optimal for active indoor and outdoor cats since it contains a high content of protein and a lot of calories. The recipe is based on chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, fish meal, and peas. Aside from kibbles, the pack also contains pieces of raw dried chicken – they serve as the main source of protein. Pumpkin seeds, tomato pomace, carrots, apples, and cranberries make up for healthier digestion.
The protein-rich formula is also high in vitamins and minerals, taurine, folic acid, and fermentation products (dried bacillus). Thus, it’s perfect for daily nutrition, and smaller portions are required. What else makes it one of the top-rated cat foods? Consumers claim that their pets are in love with this food, and it improves overall health and well-being. No adverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract are reported because the formula is grain-free.
- Perfect for allergic and sensitive cats;
- High protein content;
- High fiber content.
- Type of food: Dry + raw
- Flavors available: Chicken, Duck, Salmon
- Protein: 43%
- Calories: 496 kcal/cup
The chicken & salmon formula of Natural Balance is based on chicken meal, chicken, and brown rice. Aside from it, the formula has salmon meal and fish oil – an extra source of Omega-3 acids. The recipe is rich in vitamins and minerals. Dried kelp and blueberries together with green tea extract contribute to better digestion. Thus, the formula is well-balanced for proper daily nutrition and does not require giving a cat additional supplements.
Yet, it should be noted that the product is high in calories and should be given to overweight cats cautiously. This is good cat food for pets prone to allergy because it contains no grains and soy. There is one questionable thing about it: instead of real deboned meat, the manufacturer uses meals. This is a lower-quality source of protein.
- The optimal formula for daily nutrition;
- A versatile option for cats of all ages and breeds.
- It contains a lot of meal products.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Chicken and Salmon
- Protein: 34%
- Calories: 400 kcal/cup
If you are in search of the best cat food with beef flavor, Purrfect Bistro recipe from Merrick is a perfect choice. The food comes in a 24-pack 5.5 oz each, offering great value for the price. Real beef is the primary ingredient, and the optimal protein content will keep your pet saturated all day long. The meat is sourced from US farms only.
The grain-free formula is safe for cats prone to allergy: it will not cause digestion disorders and other adverse effects. There are no artificial preservatives and flavors. Besides, the consumers claim that morsels in gravy reduce the bloating and smelly poop. All in all, the recipe from Merrick is suitable for both daily feeding or as an addition to the regular cat’s diet.
- High-protein food that helps to reduce calorie intake and saturates cat’s hunger;
- No artificial flavors and preservatives;
- Balanced recipe with Omega-6s and Omega-3s;
- Optimal meat/moisture ratio;
- In rare cases, the cans are delivered with dents;
- Some cats don’t like the new cowboy cookout formula;
- Some cat owners don’t like the high gravy contents.
- Type of food: Wet
- Flavors available: Beef
- Protein: 9%
- Calories: 155 kcal/5.5 oz can
Your furry friend is fond of marine flavors? Then Wild Atlantic formula from ACANA is the best cat food to feed your cat. It contains whole mackerel, herring, redfish, silver hake, and beans (lentils, peas, chickpeas) – all of them serve as a rich source of protein. Aside from it, there are many organic components that provide extra fiber for better digestion: dried kelp, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, rosehips, juniper berries, chicory root, etc. No artificial preservatives and colors are added.
Please, note that the formula does NOT contain all essential vitamins and minerals. Thus, you should consider giving your cat vitamin supplements together with the kibbles! It does contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Besides, prebiotics improve digestion. The formula is high in calories, so the product isn’t recommended for overweight pets.
- Contains a lot of naturally sourced of protein;
- Rich in fiber;
- No artificial ingredients are used.
- High calorie content;
- Only one flavor is available;
- Lacks many essential vitamins and minerals.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Wild Atlantic
- Protein: 35%
- Calories: 458 kcal per 8 fl. oz cup
The classic lineup of recipes from Weruva includes a large variety of flavors with fish, chicken, turkey, and red meat. The manufacturer uses all-natural ingredients and does not add grains, gluten, and carrageenan. There is no corn, wheat and soy. And, like any vet recommended cat food, it has no artificial preservatives and flavors.
The products are manufactured on Human Food Facilities under the Strictest B.R.C. Global Standards, which guarantees its quality. One of the best things about Weruva classic recipes is that ingredients are minimally processed. In each can, you will see large pieces of meat and fish, as well as veggies (carrots, peas, etc). Thanks to a high moisture content (82%), this food would be great for cats that don’t drink much.
- Large variety of recipes available;
- No artificial ingredients;
- High moisture content.
- Cans might be delivered dented;
- Quality control issues in Weruva have been recently reported.
- Type of food: canned
- Flavors available: Mack & Jack, Mideast Feast, Paw Lickin’ Chicken + 11 other flavors
- Protein: 12%
- Calories: 56 kcal per 3-ounce can
Taste of the Wild offers the best food for cat in terms of protein content. The venison & smoked salmon recipe has a lot of real meat for sustaining strong cat’s muscles. Pea, pea protein, and potato protein add up to this value. The formula also contains a lot of natural sources of fiber: tomatoes, chicory root, blueberries, raspberries, and yucca extract. 3% of crude fiber, in combination with dried prebiotics make up for healthy digestion.
Like any premium cat food, the formula boasts a rich gamut of vitamins and minerals. Folic acid contributes to better reproductive health while taurine makes up for healthy skin and shiny fur. Salmon and fish oil serve as the main source of Omega-3 and -6 acids: the optimal daily value is guaranteed.
Generally, the formula is safe as it does not feature artificial flavors and colors, and the manufacturer did not use soy, grains, and by-products. However, tomatoes might be dangerous for cats with allergies – this is the only questionable ingredient.
- High protein content;
- No soy, grains, artificial components;
- All essential vitamins are included.
- No choice of flavors;
- Tomatoes are potentially allergic.
- Type of food: Dry
- Flavors available: Venison & smoked salmon
- Protein: 42%
- Calories: 390 kcal per cup
What to look for in cat food?
When answering the question “What is the best cat food for cats?” owners should understand that ingredients matter, and it’s crucial to pay attention to every detail.
Which ingredients should be included?
Arguing over the type of meat makes no sense: it does not matter whether your cat likes beef, chicken, fish, or rabbit. All of them serve as the source of protein. However, you should understand what the origin of the meaty components is. Ideally, you should give your cat fresh or dried pieces of meat. When it comes to dry foods, the label should say ‘real chicken’ or ‘dehydrated beef’ instead of ‘chicken meal.’ The word ‘meal’ implies that any part of the flesh and body (including bones and organs) has been used.
“Healthy cats & dogs can eat just about any meat & survive, if not thrive. Their stomachs contain high concentrations of hydrochloric acid & digestive juices, and their digestive tracts host an abundance of beneficial bacteria, making it difficult for harmful bacteria to survive”.CJ Puotinen, The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care
Which nutrients are essential?
Aside from the meat, cat food for daily nutrition should contain vitamins and minerals: this way, you won’t need to give your cat any supplements.
So, what is the best cat food from the standpoint of vitamin content? A recipe should contain the following vitamins:
- Vitamins of B group (B6, B12);
- Vitamin D3;
- Vitamin A;
- Folic acid;
- Omega fatty acids.
Those are the primary components of healthy cat food. You can read more about the cat’s nutritional needs in the guideline published by The National Academies Press. Different recipes may have a different volume of vitamins – the volume of some is specified on the label. When you feed your cat such nutritious food, she reaps many health benefits and does not need any supplements.
Pay specific attention to the content of nutrients in wet food: pretty often, it lacks some important vitamins and minerals. In this case, it should be combined with nutritious dry food.
What to avoid in cat food?
There are several components that can be dangerous for the cat’s health:
- Meat and fish by-products (they can comprise a lot of bones, tripe, and organs);
- Soy, especially the one that contains GMO;
- Wheat contains gluten that might be allergic for some cats;
- Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives may cause various health problems starting from allergy and finishing by more serious diseases.
Also, there are many components that raise questions and are not equally suitable for all felines. For example, grains and white potatoes load the intestinal system, and provoke digestion disorders. The same applies to peas, starch, and flour. Sensitive cats are recommended single-ingredient foods. Also, you should mind that tomatoes, fish oil, and some berries cause allergy in cats, so you should watch your furry friend’s well-being once the switch to another food has been made.
“Dogs and cats need raw meat to be really healthy, and even the best processed foods cook their good ingredients, and most commercially available foods, even the expensive ones, use the cheapest ingredients (that means dead, diseased, and decaying meat & by-products).”Christina Chambreau, DVM
Do I need a special diet?
In some cases, special cat food is required: it is used to address certain health issues. For example, neutered pets need food for sterile cats, while sensitive and allergic pets are recommended single-ingredient diets. Typically, a special diet is prescribed by a doctor and sold by prescription only.
1. Food for nursing cats
Nursing cats need four times as much water as adult cats. As a rule, nursing cats are fed a high-quality kitten formula. Such recipes have:
- A high calorie content;
- All necessary vitamins and minerals (the daily norm should be included);
- A high amount of moisture (if it’s wet food).
A nursing cat that weighs 10 lbs and has three kittens needs 600 kcal per day, while a 15 lbs cat with 3-4 kittens needs 800 kcal. Generally, nursing cats may be given regular kitten food formulas, but in higher amounts.
2. Kitten food
Once a kitten turns ten weeks, it can be expected to eat solid foods. This is when special recipes come in handy.
A kitten needs a lot of nutrients for healthy growth and development. What kind of cat food is best for kittens? Special formulas contain higher levels of some nutrients, fat, calories, calcium, and protein: it contributes to normal growth. Besides, kibbles for kittens should have a smaller size and be not too chunky to avoid injuring small teeth and sensitive gums.
It goes without mentioning that quality recipes do not contain artificial colors and flavors – those might affect the cat’s development. It’s okay if a kitten recipe has veggies and fruits: they contribute to better digestion and provide fiber.
3. Hypoallergenic cat food
Some cats are very sensitive and develop allergic reactions to various ingredients. The worst thing about allergy is that it’s not visible at the early stages, and many owners stay unaware of such responses. It’s important to watch the cat’s state after switching to a new diet.
As a rule, hypoallergenic cat food does not contain:
- White potatoes;
- Soy or corn;
- GMO products;
- Animal by-products;
- Artificial fillers;
- Tomatoes, some allergic vegetables, and fruits;
- Egg products.
Ideally, the food for allergic cats is single-ingredient and does not contain anything except for meat, nutrients, and vegetables.
4. Diabetic cat food
Such recipes are formulated to manage the glucose in a pet and help to keep blood sugar stable after meals. Wet food for diabetic cats contains more meat and less starch or grains. Thus, it has more protein and fewer carbs than dry food. The protein content in such food is not less than 10%, while in dry food, its value should be at least 40%. As for the content of carbohydrates, it must not exceed 5-10%.
Calorie content does not vary much. However, one should remember that cats with type 2 diabetes are prone to obesity, so their owners should avoid serving fatty food. There is one more thing to remember: although recipes do not matter for diabetes treatment, you should choose palatable products for your pet. It especially concerns picky eaters.
5. Cat food for kidney disease
Since kidney diseases are more widespread among aging cats, the formula reminds of the food for seniors. Besides, wet food is better for cats with uretic problems because it contains a lot of moisture. Food with a higher content of moisture helps a cat to produce less urea and dilutes the urine. Besides, diabetic cat food contains less protein and phosphorus than regular foods. The protein in diabetic cat food should be of high quality – only this way, it will help restore a normal acid-base level.
As a rule, such foods are prescribed by a doctor. They provide enough moisture, a moderate amount of protein, and a reduced amount of sodium. Ideally, it should not contain salts. Special amino acids in such foods promote muscle development and support kidneys.
6. Cat food for weight loss
As a rule, overweight pets are given the best indoor dry cat food. Weight loss food contains a lower amount of carbs and protein and lower calorie content. For example, in dry foods, 350+ kcal per cup is too much: cats on a diet need to eat the food with up to 300 kcal content per one cup.
At the same time, the food for overweight cats should contain all necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for normal development. It is high in protein because it converts into energy better than carbs. Besides, protein satisfies better and makes the pauses between food intake longer. Pay attention that dry cat food for weight loss contains significantly more protein.
Veterinarians often recommend wet food for weight management because it contains more moisture, which makes up for better digestion and faster metabolism. Besides, adding L-carnitine might have a positive impact on metabolism.
In search of ideal cat food: raw, dry, or wet?
1. Dry cat food
Kibbles and other types of dry cat food are made of dehydrated meat and meal. They contain up to 10% of moisture and tend to be crunchy.
As a rule, dry cat food is classified into:
- Economy foods are usually made of low-quality ingredients, meat meals, and by-products. This is a source of low-quality protein, and such products usually contain a lot of preservatives and fillers.
- Premium foods have vitamins and minerals (below the daily value), might have preservatives, but contain meat, and offer a good balance of nutrients. They are relatively safe for the daily nutrition of cats.
- Super–premium (holistic) foods have organic meat and state clearly what the recipe is made of. They do not contain by-products, meals, soy, and artificial flavors and preservatives. They provide the whole range of necessary vitamins and minerals.
|Does not require cooking;Can be stored for a long time;Has a high protein level;It contains all the essential nutrients.||Not good for cats that don’t drink enough water and are prone to dehydration;Has a high calorie content;Not suitable for cats with weak teeth.|
2. Canned cat food
Canned cat food is made of either processed meat (pate) or pieces of meat (morsels in gravy) and contains a lot of moisture, pretty often – broth. The content of moisture usually varies from 70% to 83%. The higher – the better, though some cats like pure large pieces of meat.
As a rule, wet cat food has 6-10% of protein depending on the type of meat used. The formulas with pea protein and dry egg products are high in protein.
Like dry food, wet food also contains some basic nutrients, but often lacks a lot of minerals. This is why it’s usually given as a complementary option, not regular daily food. The choice of texture depends on a cat. Kittens are recommended pate-style wet foods because they don’t require chewing. On the opposite, adult cats prefer larger pieces of meat: this is excellent training for their jaws and teeth.
|Easy to chew;High moisture content;Low calorie content.||More expensive than dry food;Lacks some vitamins;It does not last long when the can is opened..|
3. Raw cat food
“What’s the best cat food for my cat?” – you ask. “Raw meat” is what many veterinarians would answer.
“Despite the domestication of the canine and feline and the fact that a Chihuahua may not look much like a wolf, the truth is that we haven’t changed their gastrointestinal systems. Cats and dogs are carnivores, designed to eat meat, bones, and the intestinal contents of their prey.”Dr. Susan Krakauker, DVM
Raw cat food is made of frozen pieces of meat. These pieces become dehydrated but preserve all essential nutrients, proteins, and carbs. They can either be served defrosted or be cooked with water. That should depend on what your cat likes most.
|The closest option to natural real-meat nutrition;Contains a lot of proteins and nutrients;It can be served in different styles.||Expensive;Requires preparation;Not all cats like this type of food.|
4. Semi-moist cat food
Basically it’s a category of high-moisture cat food that is not canned. As a rule this food is has high percent of moisture and it’s low in proteins. It’s a budget-friendly option to diversify your cat’s ration. You can read this guide with top semi-moist options.
|This food is budget-friendly and cats love it.||It can be used only as a supplementary option because it may have not enough protein.|
How to keep ants out of cat food?
Do not leave a bowl with cat food for a long time. Once your pet has finished the meal, clean the bowl with a wet cloth and wipe the floor underneath the bowl. Make sure there are no crumbles and residues of food left.
You can also try to shift the feeding area away from the ant colony. However, this is a temporary measure and won’t work if you leave food for long.
Also, you can sprinkle some repellent around the feeding area:
- Cinnamon, coffee grounds, chili powder, or ash;
- Apply some petroleum jelly on the edges of the food container;
- Spray lemon juice or vinegar around the pet’s bowl.
Also you can use automatic cat doors to store the food in-house.
How long can a cat live without food?
Since the cat’s body consists of 75% of water, it can survive without food and water for 2-4 days. It means no access to prey and any source of water.
If a cat drinks water, it can live without food for up to 2 weeks. Yet, a lot depends on whether a cat is domestic. Homeless cats are better survivors. The survival rate also depends on the age, breed, and weight.
How much food does a cat need?
It depends on the cat’s weight and level of activity. Here’s a breakdown of average nutritional needs:
|5 lbs||10 lbs||15 lbs||20 lbs|
|Kitten||200 kcal||400 kcal||600 kcal||800 kcal|
|Lean Cat||170 kcal||280 kcal||360 kcal||440 kcal|
|Overweight Cat||180 kcal||240 kcal||280 kcal||310 kcal|
|Nursing/Pregnant Cat||336 kcal||603 kcal||851 kcal||1091 kcal|
This table applies to both wet and dry food. More details can be found in this feeding guide. You should follow the directions on the cat food label: most often, this information is more precise.
Also, it won’t hurt to consult a veterinarian to find out how much your pet needs to eat, and what are the best cat foods depending on your furry friend’s age, breed, and health. Yet, you should also watch how much your pet eats and serve food accordingly.
“Do not follow the feeding instructions on the bag. In general, the manufacturer’s suggested serving size is a little too much for pets.”Sara Ochoa, Dog Lab
How long does it take for a cat to digest food?
As a rule, it takes 3-4 hours for the cat’s stomach to digest food. This is why feeding a cat every 4-6 hours is an optimal solution. If a cat eats raw meat, it might be digested for 6 hours in the stomach. The complete digestion cycle takes 24 hours. It’s better to give a cat small portions to improve metabolism and avoid digestion problems.
What is ash in cat food? (50 words)
Ash is the minor minerals left over after burning the organic portion of the product. The mineral content might comprise potassium, silicon, sulfur, magnesium, and some other compounds. Previously, it was considered that ash caused the formation of crystals in urine. However, research shows that modern cat foods have a moderate ash amount and don’t change urine pH.
How to feed wet cat food while away?
First read our guide on this question (it contains a number of feeders that serve wet food refrigerated).
If you have to be away for a while, simply leaving a bunch of cat food in the bowl is a bad idea. Consider automatic cat feeders for a dry food. They serve certain portions of pet food on a pre-set time and can be programmed for a week in advance. Such devices prevent cats from overeating and keep them well-fed while the kibbles in a container last.
When to switch from kitten to adult cat food?
As a rule, kittens can switch to adult food at the age of 12 months if the formula contains enough nutrients. The food for adolescent cats should be made of high-quality ingredients, meet the AAFCO standards, and have enough nutrients as well as balanced levels of vitamins and minerals. It’s crucial to monitor the cat’s health during the transition.
What can cats eat besides cat food?
You might have already concluded that “meat is the best food for my cat.” However, there are some safe human foods that can be given to felines in a moderate quantity:
- Vegetables (carrots, broccoli, squash, asparagus);
- Eggs (not raw);
- Fish (salmon, tuna, herring, and crab).
Avoid giving sugary foods, chocolate, caffeine, baking, and brewing products.
How to keep a dog out of cat food?
To prevent a dog from eating cat’s food, buy a special feeding box or an automatic cat feeder: it will serve kibbles at a certain time. Some advanced models come with facial recognition features and only serve food to the ‘assigned’ pet. Alternatively, you can try a chip-based cat feeder that provides access to the food only when the pet with the corresponding chip approaches it.
Electronic cat doors are also a very effective tool to separate your pets when feeding.
Also, it’s a good idea to keep separate bowls for each cat in the household: it will prevent aggressive behavior and overeating/malnutrition.
“Animals naturally prefer to have their own food. Even pets who know each other may fight over food. Food aggression is common, and it’s easily preventable by feeding in separate rooms or crates.”– Dr Gary Richter, a veterinarian from Rover.com
How to soften dry cat food?
First of all, it depends on your goal. Do you want to make it smell better or creamier? We have a dedicated guide that goes in-depth with dry cat food softening techniques.
Looking for a fast method? Add about one fourth cup of filtered water to the bowl full of kibble and wait for it to absorb the moisture. It will not only make kibbles more palatable but will also enhance their flavor. Before adding water to the pet’s diet, consult with a veterinarian. If a cat refuses to eat wet kibbles and does not drink much, consider giving it a soft dry cat food or wet food instead. Alternatively, you can buy raw frozen pieces of meat and cook them with water.
How much does cat food cost?
That mostly depends on the type of cat food because this criterion defines the quality of ingredients and cooking. Basic dry kibble of an economy brand usually costs between under $5 and $8 for a four-pound bag each month. Premium or “holistic” dry kibble, on average, costs between $8 and $16 for a four-pound bag. However, an adult cat needs twice as less premium cat food than a regular cheap one! Wet food or frozen raw food costs between $16- $38 for 2-3 cases of 3-ounce cans or frozen raw food.
Practice shows that buying premium food does not take a toll on the cat owner’s budget because it’s required in smaller amounts.
How to switch cat food?
Typically, the transition takes 7-10 days. Start with mixing the new and old cat food in a 25%/75% ratio. In about 2-3 days, mix the food in a 50%/50% ratio. In two-three more days, you can leave only 25% of the old diet. In a few days, the switch will be over. Note that a cat may experience diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and other digestive problems during the transaction. In case of problems, slow down the time between mixing and give your furry friend more time for adjusting. If digestive problems persist, contact a veterinarian.
Why grain-free cat food?
Since cats are carnivores, their intestine is not designed to digest grains and gluten. Oatmeal, barley, wheat, and other grains may cause digestion problems in the best case, and in the worst case, they trigger severe allergic reactions. Interesting to note, allergy might manifest into noticeable symptoms after a few months or even a year. Be attentive to your cat’s health if it eats the food with grains. In some cats, such products also cause kidney diseases. You can read more about the grain-free diet in this research.
Why does my cat scratch around her food?
This behavior is related to cats’ instincts. In the wild, carnivore felines bury the leftovers of their eaten prey to cover their tracks. This way, other predators don’t know about wild cats’ whereabouts. When a cat behaves like this, it thinks it covers and hides the food. Some cats may even start covering their foods with a paper towel or a napkin. Although that might be annoying for people, such behavior is completely normal and harmless for a cat. Further suggestions on this topic can be found here.
What is taurine in cat food?
Taurine is a vital amino acid that is important for maintaining normal heart functioning and reproduction in kittens. Besides, it helps the cat’s body to form bile salts that help proper digestion. The majority of mammals produce taurine, but the cat’s body does not emit enough taurine by itself and needs to acquire it from the diet. Taurine is often found in animal-based protein components but can be added as a synthesized supplement.
What is crude protein in cat food?
In fact, crude protein is just a laboratory name of protein content. It might be obtained from different sources: pure meat, animal by-products, meat meal, peas and beans, soy, organs, and so on.
Protein serves as a great source of energy and the primary building material for muscle development. Also, proteins perform the function of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. This is an essential part of the cat’s daily nutrition. A normal content of crude protein in dry food is 30-40%, in wet food – 7-10%.
What to feed the cat when out of food?
- You can make a homemade cat food with ease in five minutes using the ingredients available in most of the households in US.
- You can serve cooked chicken, turkey, beef, or a minor amount of deli meats to your cat.
- Also, cats may eat cooked eggs, canned fish, and cooked salmon.
Do not give her raw or spoiled meat because it might cause health problems and stomach upset. Raw eggs, sushi, and fat trimmings are also potentially dangerous.
Instead, your cat can get a snack of peas, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, green beans, cucumber, avocado, blueberries, peeled apples, and even bananas. Do not give your cat grapes, garlic, onions, mushrooms, scallions, and chives.
What happens if dogs eat cat food?
Cat food formulas are very attractive to dogs since they contain a high amount of meat, but the dogs’ intestinal system is not able to process so much fat and protein. A dog’s stomach is weaker, so giving it feline food may cause gas, diarrhea, vomiting and other digestion problems. A high volume of protein puts a strain on the kidneys and the liver. From this standpoint, kitten food is even worse because it’s high in fat and crude protein.
What are meat by-products in cat food?
The definition of such thing as ‘meat by-product’ is clearly defined by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO):
Meat By-Products – is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, & stomachs & intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth & hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food.
Meat By-Product Meal – the same as Meat By-Products, except it is the dry rendered product derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, & stomachs & intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth & hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food.You can get more information on the AAFCO website.
How to warm up refrigerated cat food?
The easiest way to warm up the cat’s food is to use a microwave oven. However, you should not overheat it – that will destroy nutrients and affect the flavor. Some pet owners mix the food with water right in a bowl: that improves the flavor and prevents overheating.
If you have enough time, you can simply leave the food in the kitchen to be naturally defrosted. Such a process will take a few hours, though.
If you don’t have a microwave, you can put the closed can with food in hot water (~190-200 °F) and leave it for 5-10 minutes to be warmed naturally.
Is wet or dry cat food better?
There is no correct answer to the question. The quality of both types of food depends on the ingredients used, so you should always read the label and contents attentively to make sure the food is safe and healthy.
As a rule, dry food is rich in proteins and contains all vitamins and minerals, this is why it’s optimal for daily nutrition. Wet foods often lack protein and nutrients, so they are usually combined with dry food. The best thing about morsels and pate-style food is that it contains a high amount of moisture, which contributes to better digestion.
As for the choice of products, it should depend on what appeals to your cat: some pets like crunchy kibbles while others prefer soft pieces of meat.
We covered all the main pro’s and con’s of dry and wet food in a separate guide. Make sure to read it if you want to get a comprehensive understanding.
What cat food to avoid?
All attention to the contents. What’s the best cat food? The one that does not contain dangerous ingredients, such as soy, grains, meat by-products, and vague formulations like ‘fish’ or ‘meat.’ The manufacturer should clearly state what the product is made of! Avoid the foods with GMO, artificial flavors and preservatives, colors, and certain chemical compounds like carrageenan.
Also, read about the brand and its recall history. Prefer the brands with an untarnished reputation and check consumers’ reviews: this is the best source of objective information.
What’s the difference between indoor and regular cat food?
Since indoor cats have a mostly sedentary way of life and spend much less energy than active outdoor cats, the formulas for such pets are lower in calories. The amount of nutrients stays the same, but the level of fats and carbs is usually lower. That means fewer fillers and more fiber.
In addition, some indoor products may be formulated to address the typical health issues of domestic cats, for instance, kidney problems, diabetes, obesity, and so on.
How is cat food made?
As a rule, dry cat food is made by mixing and grinding all the ingredients which are cooked by the extrusion process afterward under heat and pressure. During the process of cooking, fat can be sprayed over kibbles to make them more palatable. If vitamins and nutrients are destroyed during the process of cooking, they are added afterward.
Advanced manufacturers prefer the process of baking, which implies using lower temperatures: it helps to save all nutrients, not mentioning that kibbles acquire a special pleasant flavor. As for raw meat, it’s simply frozen, which also allows for preserving nutrients.
As for the wet food, in this cast, by-products are transported to the facilities in a fresh or frozen state. They can be cut and processed before being added to the recipe, and are often mixed with cereals and other ingredients. After that, the meat is formed into chunks of different sizes. Meat or fish broth is often added to the formula to compensate for the moisture volume.
What cat food is high in fiber?
The highest concentration of fiber (3% or more) is usually found in the foods rich in vegetables and fruits. Fiber is essential for digestion, so opt for the formulas that contain carrots, broccoli, blueberries, apples, asparagus, flaxseed, and other plant-based components. Please, note that tomato pomace is a highly allergic product!
Such sources of fiber as potato, grains, brown rice, and peas are highly questionable because they might put a strain on the cat’s digestive system. Serve them carefully: watch the cats’ health state and beware of allergic reactions.
What do veterinarians think about cat food?
When it comes to processed food for pets, not all vets recommend it and express the following opinions:
“There are many reasons why commercial pet foods have never been so close to a natural diet. Those reasons include the fact that they are based on grain, and that they are cooked. The sad truth is that prepared food helps provide patients for vets”.Dr. Ian Billinghurst
“Dingoes and feral cats keep themselves healthy by eating whole carcasses. The closer you come to this ideal for pet dogs and cats, the better”.Dr. Tom Lonsdale, B.Vet.Med.
The majority of vets would agree that feeding your cat natural meat is always a better idea. However, it’s not always possible, not mentioning that raw meat is expensive and might contain salmonella and other bacteria. Thus, the best thing pet owners can do is provide their feline friends with high-quality premium cat food. It will prevent health issues and support the cat’s body with all the essential nutrients.
Allergy vs. food intolerance: what’s the difference?
In their interview with Veterinary Practice News, many veterinarians agreed that corn, soy, and wheat are not always causing allergy in pets and even tend to be safe for the majority of cats. The real food allergy among pets is pretty rare and is often confused with food intolerance.
Some experts claim that the myth about hypoallergenic properties of grain-free food is being spread by smaller companies that want to compete with giants.
“It may have been started by companies that wanted to distinguish themselves, to sell diets in a crowded marketplace. To say that these ingredients are ‘common causes of food allergies,’ as I’ve seen reported, is not very accurate.”Cailin Heinze, assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary
As we know, food allergy is an abnormal immune response only to a protein, not to fat or carbohydrate. Protein is contained in any grain, be that corn (8%), rice (10%), or anything else. An allergic reaction will happen if an animal is repeatedly exposed to the allergic agent.
“But if an animal is allergic to the protein, it’s like a bee sting; any amount will trigger a reaction. The problem for vets is, you can have a food intolerance case in front of you, and the vomiting and diarrhea look the same. “True incidents of food allergy are about 10 percent of the animal population. Most ‘people’ cases of food allergic reaction are thought to be actually food intolerance.”Rebecca L. Remillard, DVM, Dipl. ACVN, of the North Carolina State University Nutrition Service
Thus, pet owners should not be tricked by ‘grain-free’ labels. Real food allergy is a rare occasion, and some cats (especially non-breed ones) do not develop allergic reactions to soy, grains, and potato at all.
Food intolerance is not caused by antigenic components. It might be triggered by poor digestibility, or a component or a certain combination of components, or even by how food is prepared.
Compliance with AAFCO standards: A must or optional?
It’s not a secret that many pet owners rely on AAFCO guidelines when it comes to evaluating the quality of products. They look at the label on the foods. But is it an efficient approach to the choice of pet food?
NOTE: AAFCO does NOT certify companies and does not provide any licenses and documents. It only has a few standards according to which healthy pet food should be produced. Thus, such labels as ‘AAFCO-approved,’ ‘AAFCO-certified’ are a trick.
You can read more about cat food nutrient profiles here.
Instead, the labels should say “Pet food” is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO cat Food Nutrient Profiles for (maintenance; or growth; or gestation/lactation; or all life stages).
As we have mentioned above, many small pet food companies claim that AAFCO trials are not enough, but do not provide any additional research to prove the safety and nutritional value of their foods. Meanwhile, bigger companies perform more trials than AAFCO requires.
Dr. Kim Williams-VanDuzer (DVM and owner of Prettyboy Veterinary Hospital in Freeland, Maryland) doesn’t recommend any pet food without the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label. “Pet food is not regulated by the FDA, so this voluntary approval guarantees that if a problem is found with the food, a recall will be issued and announced to the public.”
Yet, we should distinguish between the nutritional value of pet food, and what it is made of. Even though compliance with AAFCO guidelines adds credibility to cat food, it does not guarantee the safety of the product.
The problem is that it’s too easy for industrial pet foods to pass the AAFCO “complete and balanced” standards. AAFCO keeps changing the standards and does not state that certain components (cellulose, fish meal, peanut hulls, animal by-products, vegetable oils) should NOT be included in cat or dog food.
Always do your own research and read the contents label and consumer reviews!
Criteria to consider
When choosing cat food, owners should take into consideration the following aspects:
- The contents and ingredients used. Artificial colors and preservatives should be avoided together with soy and animal by-products. Organic meat and fish, as well as vegetables, are the healthiest solution.
- Protein and carbohydrate content. Those should not exceed the agreeable limits. Choose the food according to the cat’s weight and activity.
- Way of cooking. If you’re choosing between baked and ‘extrusion’ kibbles, select the first option because it allows preserving nutrients.
- Price. Although economy foods are cheaper, premium cat food lasts longer – cats need smaller portions of quality kibbles. Thus, the financial difference in premium and economy cat diet might be insignificant.
- Customer reviews. This is what may reveal the strong and weak sides of the product. Ignore such comments as ‘my cat did not touch it,’ ‘it’s not as tasty as…’ – those are highly subjective opinions. Cats like different things. Instead, find out whether the product has any effect on the cats’ health and well-being.
- Recall history. When making the research of a certain brand, read about the recalls, and find the archive of news connected to it. That will help you decide whether the brand is trusted and reliable.
In a word
The choice of cat food is crucial because the diet defines the health and development of your feline friend. When in search of worthy options, trust veterinarians, not advertisements. Of course, you can find a suitable product for a cat on your own, but a bit of professional guidance won’t hurt.
I recommend visiting a veterinary nutritionist and try the body-condition score chart to see if your cat is under- or overweight. Ask your vet about the best food options based on your cat’s age, breed, health, etc. The specialist will perform the examination and may ask your pet to pass a few medical tests. That will help you define a perfect formula for your cat.
Don’t have much money to spare on cat’s food? There is a huge array of premium foods available at a reasonable price. For example, Purina and Royal Canin offer decent products while retaining a democratic pricing policy. Besides, you can save a pretty penny when buying 6-, 12-, or 24-packs, or large packages of kibbles: many sellers offer such options on Amazon.
Hopefully, these reviews of Top-20 cat foods will help you make an informed decision. The above-mentioned foods contain the necessary amount of proteins, carbs, and vitamins to keep your cat well-fed and happy. Pick the one that meets your requirements and watch your beloved pet thrive and develop.