Types of indoor cat food

Dry Indoor Cat Food

Some specialists say that indoor cats should be served dry food only in combination with plenty of water. That helps to sustain proper digestion and a normal metabolism level. Dry kibbles provide a normal amount of protein, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, so this option is enough for daily nutrition without additional supplements. However, you should make sure the calorie content is within optimal limits (300-400 kcal per cup)! Avoid options with grains and soy – they might contribute to poor metabolism and digestion disorders.

If you are in search of a quality cat food indoor formula, consider the following products:

  1. Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food (the ultimate leader that I highly recommend);
  2. Diamond Naturals INDOOR Real Meat Recipe Dry Cat Food;
  3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Indoor Hairball & Weight Control;
  4. CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food.

Wet Indoor Cat Food

When it comes to wet food, it is very important for pets that don’t drink enough water. Thanks to a high moisture level (75-82%), such formulas keep a cat’s body hydrated. Some cats simply adore pate-style food (it is highly recommended for kittens and senior cats with weak teeth) or chunks in gravy – the flavors are pretty appealing. If kibbles are enough for your four-legged friend, you can consider giving it wet food as a treat.

Mind the size of portions and calorie content: large cans have around 100 kCal, and they should be divided into two servings. One serving with 40-50 kCal is enough for a domestic cat with a low level of activity.

I recommend the following wet food:

  1. AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Tuna & Chicken Entrée with Vegetables;
  2. IAMS Perfect Portions, Cuts in Gravy and Pate, Grain Free Adult Wet Cat Food;
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Canned Cat Food (this one is rather good for active cats).

Still wondering whether you should pick dry or wet cat food? Read our comparison of dry and wet cat food.

Indoor Cat Food for Weight Loss

If a cat is overweight, it is important to mind several aspects. First, you should limit the size of portions and try not to exceed the limits. Secondly, the amount of tasty treats should not exceed 10% of the daily nutritional value received. Thirdly, you should serve cat food of medium-class or even holistic recipes – economy formulas won’t do.

The best indoor cat food for weight loss should have a low calorie content (not more than 380 kCal per cup), contain a lot of fiber, 32-38% of protein, L-carnitine, and vitamins B, C, A, E. All that will boost metabolic processes and contribute to muscle development in combination with physical activity.

I recommend the following recipes for healthy and efficient weight loss in cats:

  1. Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food;
  2. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, for Weight Management;
  3. Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Weight Management Adult (dry and wet).

Furthermore, we have separate guides on the topic:

Indoor cat food for long-haired cats

If you own a long-haired cat, your fluffy friend needs a high amount of taurine, Vitamin E, and Omega fatty acids. Make sure those are included in the cat food formula you serve. Additionally, you can serve fresh grass, germinated oat, and eggs to your pet – they will also contribute to skin and fur health.

Consider the following options:

  1. Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food;
  2. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food, Adult, Urinary & Hairball Control;
  3. IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Hairball Control Dry Cat Food.

Indoor cat food for all ages

In fact, the majority of cat food formulas are claimed to be suitable for all ages. That means the recipes contain all necessary vitamins and minerals, Omega fatty acids, taurine, and folic acid. The amount of calories in such food should be average (370=420 kCal per cup in dry food). Ideally, the consistency should be suitable for cats with weak teeth, i.e., it must be a pate-style food or small kibbles.

The following formulas are suitable for cats of all ages:

  1. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Dry Cat Food;
  2. Canidae Life Stages Dry Cat Food For Kittens, Adults & Seniors;
  3. Lucy Pet Formulas for Life – Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Cat Food, All Breeds & Life Stages.

However, it should be mentioned that cats have different nutritional needs on different life stages: kitten food is best for kittens and nursing moms because it contains more carbs; senior cats need the food that should be easy-to-digest. An optimal solution here is to feed the cats separately.

And if you don’t know how to prevent cats from eating each other’s foods – you should definitely read about automatic pet feeders for multiple cats, automatic cat doors and a feeding box. Read more here.

Indoor cat food for senior cats

Since older cats are less active than adults and kittens, they need low-calorie food which provides vitamins and minerals for sustaining overall health and organs. Thus, the diet for senior cats should be aimed at sustaining a normal weight & hormonal level and prevention of chronic diseases. Avoid foods with sugar and sweet components, gluten and grains, or artificial additives. Make sure the formula you select includes beta-carotene, vitamins B, E, C, and glucosamine.

I recommend these formulas:

  1. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult 11+ for Senior Cats, Indoor, Chicken Recipe;
  2. Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Natural Mature Dry Cat Food;
  3. Iams Proactive Health Healthy Senior Dry Cat Food, Chicken Flavor.

How to choose the best indoor cat food?

What is the best food for an indoor cat? You can follow a simple algorithm and ask yourself a few questions to figure out a proper solution:

  1. What is the cat’s life stage? If you own kittens, they need a highly nutritious diet with raised levels of calories and vitamins. If you’ve got a pregnant cat, it can either be served the food for kittens or the regular middle- or premium-class food for adults. Senior cats need a special lineup of food with an abundance of vitamins and a slight shortage of calories.
  2. Does my cat have any health issues or specific needs? It will never hurt to figure out a special indoor recipe for cats with kidney issues/long hair/digestion problems and a sensitive stomachs/weak immune system. If you have an obese cat, serving weight loss formulas is a must. Companies offer a lot of different recipes that address particular problems and needs.
  3. How many calories are contained in the recipe? I recommend selecting dry food with 320-400 kCal per cup, and wet food with ~50 kCal per serving. On average, an adult cat needs 20 calories a day per pound. For pregnant cats and kittens, you can find somewhat more calorie-packed options but make sure the level of activity stays normal.
  4. Which ingredients are used? I keep telling the owners of my patients to avoid such components as meat by-products, words ‘meat’ or ‘fish’ on the label – the type of meat and its origin must be specified. Avoid plant-derived oils and grains (oatmeal, barley, white rice) since they won’t improve the digestion system. If you have a breed cat, it might be sensitive to such components as dried eggs, vegetables, and soy.
  5. Are all vitamins and minerals included? This is the primary aspect when you select the food for daily nutrition. Make sure the formula has arachidonic acid, folic acid, taurine, Omega-3, and -6 fatty acids, vitamins A, B, C.
  6. What’s the consistency? While adult cats may eat pretty large kibbles and meat chunks, kittens and senior cats need softer foods, such as pate and small pallets, or freeze-dried meat cooked with water.

Features to consider when choosing the best indoor cat food

When in search of suitable food for domestic cats, you should mind a few important aspects:

  1. Calorie content. Make sure the dry food contains around 350 kCal per cup. If the kibbles contain over 400 kCal per cup, serve small portions and don’t let your cat overeat. When it comes to dry food with over 500 kCal per cup, those are most appropriate for kittens or pregnant cats rather than adults living indoors.
  2. The amount of fats and carbs. Do not let those exceed 10% (especially fat), otherwise, even high-quality formulas might lead to overweight issues.
  3. Are all vitamins and minerals included? Even though domestic cats don’t move much, they need the whole spectrum of nutrients to sustain the health of organs and develop properly. Make sure nothing is missing. Pay attention to such nutrients as Omega fatty acids, taurine, folic acid, and vitamins B, C, E, A.
  4. Is there enough fiber? As far as metabolism is not sustained by activity levels, it should be boosted by the food. Prefer the formulas with superfoods, such as blueberries, apples, carrots, flaxseed, and so on. They will improve digestion and prevent constipation.

Also, it is better to avoid allergy-provoking ingredients, but everything depends on the cat’s sensitivity levels.


How is indoor cat food different?

Contrary to regular cat food formulas, indoor variants have a lower amount of calories, and a bit less protein (32-37%). Besides, such foods usually have a lot of fiber (fruits, vegetables, berries) and prebiotics. Thus, formulas are aimed at the maintenance of healthy weight and proper digestion.

Does my indoor cat need indoor food?

Indoor cats can be served simple adult cat food recipes, but the one-fits-all approach isn’t good when it comes to such an important thing as daily nutrition. Using indoor formulas is more appropriate because they help to maintain a cat’s health and contribute to normal weight and boost metabolism.

How much indoor food should I feed my cat?

A healthy, active 8-pound adult cat needs to consume ~30 calories per pound per day. This means the average 8-pound cat needs ~240 calories per day – this is 4/5 of a cup of dry food (300 kCal per cup).

Read our guide on how much to feed a cat, follow the directions on the label, and don’t forget to visit a veterinarian to figure out the individual diet for your cat.

In a word

Most of us have purely indoor cats, which means our beloved pets are in danger of being overweight and may have problems caused by poor metabolism. As a caring owner, you should not only play with your cat keeping it active but also make its diet healthy. There’s a huge array of indoor cat food formulas available, both premium and economy-class, so why not choose one?

In this guide, I have gathered reviews of only ten well-rated cat foods – in fact, the amount of options available is way larger. By using the recommendations and guidelines mentioned above, you can make an informed decision and buy the worthiest products on the market. They will keep your furry friend happy and well-fed.

I am Claudine, a College of Veterinary Medicine alumni and cat health & lifestyle specialist. In this blog, I share my personal experience and recommendations on improving cat’s diet, behavior, and both physical and psychological state.

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