How to choose a high-quality grain-free cat food

Step 1 – Consider those with fewer ingredients

Common grains in cat food are corn, barley, wheat, rice, and oats. When choosing high-quality formulas for your feline, check the ingredients and follow the rule, “the fewer ingredients, the better.”  Poor by-products, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives – all they are a no-no for cats to consume.

Step 2 – Check every single ingredient

To replace grains, manufacturers often add potatoes, tapioca, peas, and lentils. They aren’t that awful but still can make grain-free foods even higher in carbohydrate levels than cat food with grains. Please read the ingredients’ lists carefully and check the guaranteed analysis to see how much protein and carbs the food contains.

Step 3 – Make sure that alternative protein source is high-quality

While cats require animal protein to stay healthy and energetic, they can digest and absorb other protein sources as well. What we need to consider is the quality of those alternative protein sources in cat food. Beef, lamb, fish, eggs – all they are great to feed instead of chicken or other poultry. Plant-based ingredients are also OK if providing adequate carbohydrate calories.

Step 4 – Check if it’s AAFCO approved

AAFCO is for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the organization regulating the sale and distribution of animal feeds and drug remedies. If AAFCO approved cat food, it means it follows all the standards of production, contains high-quality ingredients, and is nutrient-rich for our felines to get all the essential elements they require to thrive.

Step 5 – Check if it’s vet recommended or consult your vet

A vet myself, I often deal with pet owners who don’t care enough about the quality of food they give. They come and ask for feeding instructions only after some medical problems happen. That’s wrong. I recommend choosing food formulas designed in cooperation with professional vets or pet nutritionists (as a rule, reputable pet food brands act this way), or consult your vet before shifting a cat to a new diet.

Top 5 alternative sources of protein

Chicken is the most common protein source used in cat food. That’s because it’s not that expensive, and most felines enjoy it. But if you need cat food without chicken or, even more than that, poultry free cat food because of your feline’s tastes or sensitivities, consider those with alternative sources of animal protein.

The top five are:

  1. Beef. It’s high in zinc, iron, and vitamins. A natural source of antioxidants, beef provides a cat’s body with all the necessary minerals for more energy and health. Also, it contains taurine, which is an essential amino acid cats need for healthy eyes, heart, digestion, and immune system.
  1. Fish. This one is low-fat but high in protein, perfect for cats in love with sea products. Salmon and tuna are the two most popular in cat food, but you can also find flavors with mackerel, herring, sardines, or trout. Fish formulas are rich with calcium and omega fatty acids, essential for a cat’s bones, skin, and heart.
  1. Lamb/rabbit. This meat has more iron than chicken and can become a perfect animal protein alternative in a cat’s diet. Vitamins, essential minerals, taurine, natural antioxidants – everything is here for your feline to have a complete and balanced diet.
  1. Turkey. Sure, this one is not an option for cats with poultry allergy, but it is OK to try if you look for cat food without chicken only. Turkey has a similar nutrient profile but with fewer calories. More than that, it’s more protein-rich than chicken! And even though chicken is higher in niacin than turkey, the latter contains more vitamins and minerals.
  1. Eggs. This animal protein source is for your cat if she doesn’t have any sensitivities to this product. Eggs are the most bioavailable among other protein sources, which means they are more comfortable for a cat to digest.

Best dry cat food without chicken

The five best options for chicken free dry cat food are as follows:

All contain high-quality alternative protein sources and are safe to consume for cats with poultry allergy. If your feline has some individual needs, please consult a vet before feeding her with any of these recipes. And do your best to provide free access to clean water: dry cat food alone can’t support a necessary moisture level in felines’ bodies.

Best chicken free canned cat food

In this guide, we’ve reviewed the top five wet poultry free cat food formulas. Here they go again:

Approved by vets, all work as complete and balanced diets for fussy eaters or cats with poultry allergy. Any of these canned cat food options is perfect for both long-term nutrition and food sensitivity trials.


Should cat food be egg-free as well?

Together with fish and dairy products, eggs are among the most common allergens for cats. If yours is allergic to eggs in particular, it stands to reason to boot this product from her diet. But as a rule, chicken or poultry sensitivity doesn’t mean the reaction to eggs, though your vet may suggest you take this precaution.

What about hydrolyzed chicken protein?

Hydrolyzed protein is the one broken down into its component amino acids. Most vets recommend it for cats with allergies and sensitive stomachs because it’s easier to digest and it serves to remove existing allergens. If you choose cat food with hydrolyzed chicken protein, it shouldn’t provoke an allergy in your feline. And yet, it may cause bloating.

In a word

So, here it goes, the best cat food without chicken for our furry friends with poultry allergy or specific tastes. Now you know why to consider such food for cats, how to choose it right, and what alternative sources of protein can serve well for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Any questions left? If you have any comments or concerns about the poultry free cat food options reviewed in this post, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments.

I’m Kimberly Baumgart, a future veterinary physician from Manhattan, Kansas. Volunteering in animal shelters and assisting in the local vet hospital, I help pet owners learn more about feline lifestyle. Read my works on Catpet.Club blog to discover the world of healthy nutrition and well-being for your four-legged friend.

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