So your cat gets the VIP treatment. They snooze on a luxury cat bed, play with the fanciest cat toys, and sharpen their claws on any surface of their choosing, even if it’s your BRAND NEW couch. They have access to the finest windowsill views in the apartment building, or the safest backyard in the neighborhood. On top of it all, they receive as many pets and snuggles as one cat can handle.

Then it comes to dinner time, and you reach for the tried-and-tested branded pet food. As you empty the jelly or kibble into the bowl, a thought crosses your mind: Wait, what’s actually in this brown stuff? You stare at the mixture in front of you, but quickly dismiss your worries—after all, your cat loves their food, and it’s one of the most popular products out there. How bad can it be?

As you flip over the packet to check the recipe, random horror music starts playing in the background. Your eyes scan the ingredients for signs of nutrition, but each entry is more confusing and scary than the last: chicken by-products, meat meal, wheat, corn, ash. Ash! What is this?

Gasping, you grab the bowl from under your cat’s whiskers. They look hangrily up at you, as you frantically google reviews of your chosen brand, discovering that the appetizing images on the front of ‘2020’s Best Cat food’ may not actually reflect what’s inside.

Too much? Ok. Maybe processed cat food isn’t quite the stuff of horror movies, but a look at some of the ingredients and production processes involved in many of today’s best-selling pet products is unlikely to leave your mouth watering.

The truth is that some pet food manufacturers are making a profit at the expense of your cat’s long term health. With an estimated 60 percent of US moggies classifying as overweight or obese, and rates of feline diabetes rising in recent years, the argument for an overhaul of our pets’ diets has never been more pressing.

As members of the feline species, cats are known as obligate carnivores, which means that they source almost all of their nutrition from animal sources, and (unlike dogs) cannot survive on a diet that doesn’t include meat. All of which makes the quality of protein and fats in your cat’s food a critical factor in their overall health—though it’s not the only thing to consider.

Along with the ingredients at the top of the recipe list, owners should also be paying attention to the things lurking further down amongst the additives and preservatives. If cats do consume carbohydrates, they should be in small amounts and provide some form of fiber or other nutritional benefit. And when it comes to those ingredients with sciencey-sounding names, if they’re not an essential amino acid or added vitamin, they probably shouldn’t be there.

How we determine the best cat foods

We’ve run the numbers on hundreds of the most popular cat foods on the market today, to find out which brands put nutrition first, and provide your cat with the next best thing to real roast chicken.

In determining our list of the top cat foods, we took several factors into account, including…

  • The quality of ingredients,
  • presence of carbohydrates, fillers, and unnecessary additives,
  • price, and
  • of course, flavor.

Below, we’ve laid out a whole bunch of facts about what your cat actually requires from their diet, as well as some aspects owners might want to consider when choosing a product that suits their cat’s individual needs.

Scroll to continue reading or skip straight to the best cat foods of 2020.

What do cats need to eat?

Protein

Underneath all of that fluffy cuteness, cats are carnivorous predators, which means that unlike humans or dogs, their bodies struggle to store up energy reserves. Instead, cats use their calories on hunting (or playing) and spend the rest of their day preserving their remaining energy by napping and lounging around.

This predator lifestyle is predicated upon a diet of highly nutritious foods—primarily proteins. Cats derive the majority of their dietary needs from protein sources, using essential amino acids to repair muscle and maintain their body’s digestive and waste systems.

Because of this, every meal your cat eats should contain a high quality protein as the main ingredient, and no meal should be less than a quarter protein on a dry matter basis. Ideally, half of your cat’s daily caloric intake should be from protein sources.

Protein needs to be reared, fed, slaughtered, and processed—which makes it expensive. With cats’ protein needs being so high, this poses an issue for cat food manufacturers, who have to square nutrition with profitability. As a solution, many brands include several different protein sources in their formulas, ranging from human grade cuts to rendered and combined meat meals.

While low quality and rendered animal products aren’t necessarily harmful to your cat, they’re unlikely to offer a beneficial nutritional profile. Even if a meat by-product can claim a high nutrition count thanks to its concentrated nature, we’d venture to say that a real cut of whole meat beats the alternatives every time.

To feed you cat the quality protein it needs while keeping costs manageable, look for products that:

  • Use a whole meat or fish (i.e. the muscle or organ tissue of an animal) as the top one, two, or three ingredients in the recipe.
  • Don’t list fats or plant-based proteins higher in the ingredients than animal proteins.
  • Don’t use meat by-products or meals as anything more than a supplement to a primary source of whole protein.

As far as by-products and meat meals are concerned, the ideal situation is that your cat doesn’t eat them! If budget is a major factor, however, try to go for meat broths, or ingredients that specifically indicate the contents of any partial meat products (for example ‘chicken meal’ over generic ‘meal.’)

  • Meat byproducts are most parts of an animal other than its muscle tissue—this can mean connective tissue, organs, and bones.
  • Meal is the result of rendering slaughtered animal carcasases down to a concentrated form.
  • Meat-flavoring is just as it sounds: food that’s been flavored to taste like meat. The flavoring itself may contain meat traces, and the flavored ingredients may include meat meal, but neither counts as a whole meat product.

Fats

Domestic cats can take some energy from carbohydrates, but fats are by far the most efficient fuel for felines. Due to the ease with which they can process them, a diet where fats make up as much as 50 percent of calories counts as healthy, as far as cats are concerned.

Again, some fats are better than others. The kind of fat trimmings you’ll find on human grade meats are great, while those derived from dairy or plant products have a higher chance upsetting your cat’s digestive tract.

Essential fatty acids are compounds that your cat is unable to synthesize by itself, meaning they need to be present in the food they eat. These fats help the absorption of vitamins, support cognitive function, and increase the body’s anti-inflammatory response.

Like humans, Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats count as essential fatty acids for cats, specifically, linoleic and arachidonic acid. DHA and EPA are other key fatty acids in your cat’s diet, though they’re not technically categorized as essential.

  • Omega-3 can be found in fish oils (salmon and krill) and plant oils (flax, canola, and soybean.)
  • Omega-6 can be found in poultry fat (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.)
  • DHA and EPA can be found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, and anchovies.)

Carbohydrates

Cats can eat carbohydrates, but they probably shouldn’t. Domestic felines differ a little from their wild cousins, in that house cats may have evolved their metabolism in order to process energy from carbohydrates sources. However, our moggies remain obligate carnivores, meaning that protein and fat (and water) should provide all the nutrition they need.

That said, carbohydrates can be useful to cats as a source of fibre, and a study by Oregon State found that cats may see carbs as a tasty, ‘junk food’ style snack. When given a choice of food types, cats picked carbohydrates sources for an average 43 percent of their caloric intake.

So what should owners do? We’d recommend steering clear of any cat food that features carbohydrate as a major (top 5) ingredient, but not be too concerned if a recipe contains fibrous carbs, such as sweet potatoes or carrots, further down the ingredient list.

Carb-heavy cat foods are actually more commonplace than you might think. AAFCO guidelines inform most state’s minimum nutrition requirements, setting base fat and protein levels at 25 and 26 percent respectively. Even when accounting for moisture and ash content, this leaves a whole lot of legal room for carbohydrate ingredients. Of course, most brands don’t go that far, but it’s not unheard of to find cat foods with 25 percent carbs in terms of dry matter.

This is what’s known as ingredient stuffing, where cheap carb fillers such as wheat and cornmeal are used to bulk out a product, keeping cats full on less and raising the manufacturer’s profit margin.

The inclusion of carb-based fiber and macronutrients, as well as starches, doesn’t always mean ingredient stuffing. Many believe that a minor amount of complex carbs can replace the fiber cats lose from no longer consuming whole animals. Furthermore, most dry foods can’t be shaped and held together without the inclusion of some form of carbohydrate gelling agent.

The bottom line? Carb filler ingredients are contributing to a weight problem among the nation’s cats. Excess carbohydrate intake is linked to both feline obesity and diabetes, while feline diabetes remission has been associated with a switch to a low-carbohydrate diet.

Note: beware of seemingly low carbohydrate percentages that are actually a reflection of food’s high moisture content. Also note that many brands won’t actually list their carb content on the packet (guilty, much?)

If you’re looking for unlisted carbohydrates, simply add the protein, fat, fiber, moisture, and ash together and subtract from 100 for the leftover percentage. If you want to compare brands with different moisture contents, you’ll need to convert ‘as fed’ percentages into dry matter. Here’s an explainer from PetMD on how to make the conversion.

Vitamins and minerals

At the risk of repeating things, cats are happiest when sourcing all of their nutrition from animal products—that’s why the type and amount of protein and fat in their diet is critical.

However, unless your cat is hunting for their dinner, or if you’re supplying your cat with homemade or raw meals, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to access a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals.

No matter how good a grocery store cat food is, it’s still a processed product, developed to be storable and extend its shelf life. This inevitably degrades the nutritional content of ingredients when compared to fresh food. Because of this, a majority of brands will add artificially derived vitamins and minerals to their formula.

Some chemical or mineral additives can sound scary, but they’re actually important amino acids that desaturate in meat when it’s processed. According to the AACFO, common beneficial amino acid additives include:

  • Methionine helps to prevent urinary stones.
  • Lysine supports immune response.
  • Tryptophan enhances sleep function and serotonin production.
  • Taurine has wide-ranging benefits, including vision and heart health.
  • Arginine helps remove ammonia from the body.

While you’re more likely to find these kinds of additives in dry foods, they also sometimes appear in wet products. This shouldn’t be an issue, unless you feel that additives are being used to conceal low quality meat ingredients.

When scanning cat food ingredients lists, lookout for these top priority nutrients and minerals:

Vitamins/Minerals Benefit Preferred source
Vitamin A Essential for skin, coat, and nervous system health Liver, fish liver oil, egg yolks (Unlike humans, cats cannot derive vitamin A from beta carotene in plant products)
Potassium Helps maintain energy production and cellular sodium balance Whole meats, mineral salts
Iron Supports oxygen transfer to your cat’s organs and muscles Liver, lean meat, fish (minorly: meat meal, whole grains, legumes)
Calcium Maintains bone and teeth structure. Supports nursing cats Bones, dairy products, eggs, Calcium carbonate (chalk)
Amino acids, including taurine Fuels muscle repair, growth, and maintains bodily function (see below) Whole meats (minorly: synthetic additives and meat by-products)

Remember: the rendering process serves to concentrate meat products, which can make them appear more nutritious, but this is because fresh meat contains water weight—not because it’s less healthy.

Moisture content

Lastly, hydration. Due to domestic cats’ origins in the arid climates of the middle east, most moggies don’t make much use of their water bowl. While it’s important to give your cat access to a source of freshwater, they’ll likely prefer to get the majority of their hydration through the food they eat.

A typical live prey animal such as a mouse will have a moisture content of around 65 to 75 percent. This should give you an idea of the kind of moisture levels needed in a cat’s diet. Most wet foods do pretty well here, with pouch and tray varieties tending to conserve moisture slightly more efficiently than tinned. Just be sure to stick below 80-ish percent moisture to retain a good balance of nutrients, water, and value for money.

Obviously, hydration can be an issue for cats eating dry foods, with the moisture content of many brands coming in below 15 percent. If you can only feed your cat dry food, then it’s essential to give them a bowl of freshwater, cleaned and refilled at least once per day. If your cat is reluctant to drink stillwater, you can try adding water directly to their food, or investing in a cat water fountain.

What should owners be looking for in quality cat food?

Nutritional labels

Arguably the most important part of a food package, the nutritional label tells you exactly what you will be putting into your cat’s body. The ingredient list may be lengthy, but we’ve sifted out the key elements that you should look for and avoid when it comes to feeding your cat.

Pet owners shouldn’t feel completely on their own when trying to navigate the cat food market. Guaranteed nutritional labels are designed to provide small assurances that your cat’s chosen product is both safe for them to eat, and that, at the minimum, it will meet the nutritional standards set by an accredited institution.

In the US, most cat food brands adhere to the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. The AAFCO doesn’t certify or endorse pet foods, but most states use AAFCO recommendations as the basis for their own legislation.

Knowing your cat food meets minimum legal health standards is a great start. To go further, look out for these other certification labels:

  • Complete and Balanced indicates that cat food contains all basic required nutrients in minimally preferable ratios.
  • USDA Organic badges let you know that a majority of ingredients are sourced from organic farms and aren’t genetically modified.
  • MSC Blue Labels from the Marine Stewardship Council show fish products are sourced from sustainable fisheries.

If there’s only time to look for one certification label, however, make it the Nutritional Adequacy Statement. Usually found on the reverse of product packaging, AAFCO calls the adequacy statement “the most important part of a label,” as it describes the feline life stage and condition that a recipe has been developed to support.

Dried foods

Despite the fact that many owners value dry cat food for its convenience, long shelf life, and competitive price, it’s safe to say that dried products get a lot of hate online. We already know that dry food doesn’t meet cat’s hydration requirements, but why such a bad reputation?

Having a box of dried food in the cupboard as a backup or snack option is great. But the argument for dried foods as a regular fixture in your cat’s diet becomes less convincing when you take a close look at the ingredients list.

Let’s be clear: there are dried food manufacturers out there who go to great lengths to source the best meat ingredients and design the most beneficial recipes. But the majority of dry kibbles on the shelves are made with substandard produce—primarily, meat meals.

Meat meal is a meat concentrate, made from the offcuts and carcasses produced by slaughterhouses and animal processing plants. It’s not safe for human consumption, and if it’s a non-specific meal, may contain several species of animal in a single portion.

Meal tends to be low in actual meat muscle and high in more gruesome elements like organs, bones, blood, and even feathers. This contributes to a higher ash content (see below.) Because it’s pre-dried, it’s also lower in moisture and less digestible than a whole cut.

We covered ingredient stuffing earlier, but it’s worth pointing out that dried foods are the biggest offenders when it comes to filler ingredients. When food is dried and formed into pellets, it’s much easier to hide grains, soy, and other low-nutrient ingredients, which help to bulk out product weight.

Many dry food manufacturers argue that carbs aren’t directly harmful to your cat, provide a good source of fiber, and may be necessary to hold kibbles together. But while your cat might be able to digest them, they just don’t need them. Over time, high consumption of carbohydrates will raise your cat’s risk of developing chronic conditions and diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Ash or ‘crude ash’ is the amount of inorganic material contained in a food product—so, minerals, salts, and non-tissue animal byproducts. If you burned a bag of dry food, removing all the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, ash would be the stuff that’s left over. (This isn’t too far away from the process by which nutritional profiles are actually determined.)

Small amounts of ash in your cat’s food isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it may signal the presence of advantageous minerals like potassium and zinc. On the other hand, the biggest source of ash in dry food is usually meat meal, with a high-ash content suggesting that meals contain non-meat tissue animal products such as feathers and bones (yikes!)

‘Grain-free’

‘Grain-free’ is maybe the biggest buzzword in pet food right now. While there’s some debate over the merits of a grain-free diet for dogs, labelling a cat food as grain-free is a way for manufacturers to signal their commitment to quality ingredients over profits.

Because wheat, corn, rice, oats, and barley are among the most common low-nutrition fillers in pet foods, removing them shows an intention to prioritise meat products in recipes. If a brand goes to the effort of formulating their meals without grain, the assumption is that other key ingredients will also have been sourced in a considerate way.

However, taking the grain-free label as a synonym for nutrition without inspecting the ingredients list may be misguided. First off, grain-free doesn’t necessarily equal carb-free, as manufacturers may replace grains with other options such as sweet potatoes or carrots.

And, first and foremost,no matter what’s happening further down the ingredients list, cat food always needs to feature a whole protein as the primary ingredient to count as nutritionally viable.

Conscientious manufacturers are talking more about grains and cabs today because a higher number of our cats are overweight. While an indoor lifestyle is recommended by many vets for its advantages to cats’ wellbeing, indoor living combined with a poor quality diet is a recipe for obesity, diabetes, and related secondary conditions.

In cats, diabetes mellitus resembles type 2 diabetes in humans, which means it’s caused by both genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Beyond unchangeable characteristics like breed, obesity is a major environmental determinant of disease in cats, which in turn is driven by excesses or poorly derived calories and a lack of activity.

The good news is that research suggests that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet can dramatically improve symptoms of diabetes in cats. Some studies report diabetes remission rates exceeding 60 percent in cats receiving a combination of pharmacological and dietary treatment.

The key is to choose a diet for your cat that delivers the right nutrients with a lower calorific profile, and keep playtime sessions regular and varied!

Age-appropriate

A cat’s age is a reliable marker of its lifestyle, as well as its nutritional needs. Active, growing kittens will benefit from a different dietary profile than older moggies who may no longer be able to process proteins and fats as efficiently.

The AAFCO defines four main life stages that relate to a cat’s diet:

  • Growth/Kitten
  • All life stages
  • Maintenance
  • Gestation/Lactation

In most states, cat foods are required to list which stage a recipe best suits. So while a life stage nutritional adequacy claim won’t tell you about the quality of ingredients used to make the food, it will ensure that your cat is eating an appropriate ratio of food types.

For example, kittens often benefit from products high in fatty and folic acids, which support eye, brain and cell development. A balanced mix of fats and proteins will give them the energy needed for long days of play and fast growth.

As cats grow into adulthood they tend to require less fat, and less food in general. Senior cats can benefit from foods supplemented with calcium and vitamin E, as well as increased fatty acids to support their bone and immune strength.

Note: If you feel that your kitten, pregnant or senior cat would benefit from a more specific diet, it’s worth starting up a conversation with your vet. Gastrointestinal issues are common in cats, and may require a prescribed diet plan.

Sensitivities and intolerances

As owners will know, cats can throw up a lot! Whether it’s a hairball or eating something they shouldn’t have, an occasional isolated incident of stomach upset is nothing to worry about.

If vomiting or diarrhea become frequent, however, it may be a sign that an element of your cat’s diet is causing gastrointestinal irritation. Of all cat food allergies and intolerances, reactions to particular proteins and dairy are the most common, and can range from mild inflammation to wheezing, and long-term stomach issues.

If you think your cat may be suffering from a sensitivity, but can’t find the cause, feed them a food-sensitive formula made from a small selection of clearly identifiable ingredients. This should make it easier to identify which food type is causing the irritation.

Serious interlorances may require hydrolyzed meals prescribed by a veterinarian. Hydrolyzed proteins are pre-broken down to encourage digestion without triggering inflammation.

If you’re looking for new, healthier cat food, you’re going to need to find a way to transition your cat off their current favorite chow. This sounds simple, but many cats are notoriously picky eaters, and may go on hunger strike or even permanently write-off foods if they’re introduced in the wrong way.

When it comes to transitioning a cat’s diet, online sources generally advise a gradual mixing of new and old foods over a couple of weeks. Begin by mixing small amounts of the new food product in with your cat’s current meal, then increase the ratio to 1:1 over several days, before tapering off the old food.

Most cats should happily accept a bowl of a solely new product by around day ten, but if you know your cat to be particularly fussy, beware of turning them off both their new and old diet! In these cases, it may be better to offer both mealtime options side by side for a set amount of time.

Tempting a reluctant feeder

For those in the midst of a mealtime war with their moggie, here are some tricks you might want to try:

  • Experiment with odor to increase the palatability of food—at least, from your cat’s perspective. Mix chopped anchovies or the water from canned fish into food to give it that authentic, dead animal smell!
  • Get the right Bowl (and clean it) to rule out any chance of your cat’s behavior being non-food related. Some cats, especially flat-faced breeds, may struggle to eat out of bowls, and will prefer their food to be served on a flat plate. Others can be put off by smelling traces of a previous meal. Try cleaning their dish with boiling water to avoid this possibility.

Note: Stubbornness and hunger strikes are not the same thing as long term food-avoidance. If your cat shows no interest in eating, or if they make attempts to eat but struggle to swallow or digest food, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian.

That’s it! If you’re looking for more in-depth info on anything related to your cat’s diet, check out our resource library. Alternatively, here’s the best cat foods money can buy right now:

Vitamins Minerals
Vitamin A Calcium
B vitamins Phosphorous
Vitamins C and E Iron
Folic Acid or B9 Magnesium
Vitamin B12 Sodium
Zinc

4. Your Cat’s Needs (weight/size/age)

Just as we should adjust our diets in accordance with individual factors, the same is said for your pet cat. Their food needs will depend on their weight, size, age and allergies. But the higher your cat’s weight, the more calories they need to sustain that. 

If you have a kitten, they need a lot of energy because they grow rapidly in the first few weeks to a year. They will also need nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid to help with healthy eye, brain and cell development. 

Cats ages one through ten will continue to change and grow. It’s best to feed them according to their particular weight and activity level. 

Then as they start to age past ten, they need less food but still plenty of nutrients and vitamins, including calcium for frailer bones and immune boosting Vitamins C and E. 

The Cornell Feline Health Center also offers a great diagram of a cat’s Body Condition Score. This can also be used to tell whether your cat needs more food, is right where they need to be, or if they should cut back on the calories. And if your cat has any additional health concerns, double check food recommendations with the vet.

Best Cat Foods

Now you know the important factors to consider when choosing the best cat food! We’ve rated the best cat food on the market below and with this knowledge, we feel like you’re ready to buy food that will keep your furry feline healthy. 

Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Chicken Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

For cats observing a low-calorie diet, Tiki Cat created their Velvet Mousse Chicken Grain-Free cat food.

Tika Cat - Velvet Chicken Mousse
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Key Benefits

  • Delicious chicken blended into an irresistibly silky mousse to satisfy the most discerning cats.
  • High-quality, high-protein meal to provide a good source of protein and amino acids to support your cat’s muscles.
  • This grain-free recipe is high in moisture from chicken broth and provides your feline friend with the supplemental water he needs.
  • A naturally low-carbohydrate recipe that does not include white potatoes, corn, wheat or rice for those kitties with sensitive tummies.
  • Complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages to satisfy your feline friend’s natural carnivorous cravings.

As a high-quality wet cat food, Tiki Cat ensured this recipe was thoughtfully made using whole sources of protein as part of a grain-free, high-protein diet. Featuring an irresistible silky texture, this velvety mousse will tempt the pickiest eaters.

Blended with sensitive kitties in mind, Tiki Cat left out grains, potatoes, corn, rice and wheat, for a low-carb wet cat food. Chock-full of well-balanced ingredients, Tiki Cat added essential nutrients, such as: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, omega fatty acids and taurine for muscle maintenance and overall support. Whether your feline is a kitten, or getting up in years, this velvet chicken mouse cat food is an excellent choice.

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Dried Egg, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Source Of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin K3 Supplement.

Caloric Content

990 kcal/kg, 79 kcal/pouch

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

As a canned cat food, blended with only the finest ingredients, Blue Buffalo Freedom’s Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe packs in all the nutrients with a taste cats love.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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Key Benefits

  • Nutritious source of wet cat food for adult cats.

  • Key Benefits

  • Smooth texture and quality taste that appeals to the majority of cats.

  • Main ingredients of chicken and chicken broth make this a great source of protein, and will keep your cat full of energy.

  • Free of grains, byproducts, gluten, corn, wheat, soy, any artificial flavors, and preservatives. Making this a great natural product, and ideal for cats with stomach sensitivities.

As a canned cat food, blended with only the finest ingredients, Blue Buffalo Freedom’s Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe packs in all the nutrients with a taste cats love. Formulated without worrisome ingredients, you won’t have to worry about sensitive kitties reacting to artificial flavors, artificial coloring, grains, gluten, corn, soy, wheat, peas, preservatives or by-products. 

Made with the intent of providing muscle maintenance and real energy, Blue Buffalo began with whole sources of protein, and followed with fruit and veggies. Cats will enjoy this pate-style wet food, crafted with only the finest ingredients. Plus, pet parents and felines alike will especially appreciate the BPA non-intent cans Blue Buffalo uses for all of their canned wet cat food products.

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Natural.

Caloric Content

1,179 kcal/kg, 97 kcal/3 oz can, 178 kcal/5.5 oz can, 418 kcal/12.5 oz can

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Mature Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Older kitties, with their own set of needs, will love canned wet food from Blue Buffalo Wilderness.

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Key Benefits

  • Smooth texture and packed full of taste!

  • Main ingredient is chicken to help with muscle growth and maintenance

  • Specially formulated using DHA and taurine, which support cognition, as well as heart health

  • Does not contain any of the following: byproducts, grains, gluten, corn, wheat, and soy

  • No artificial flavors or preservatives

A grain-free chicken canned cat food, formulated for mature cats, provides wholesome ingredients sans worrisome ingredients, such as: taurine, DHA, by-products, preservatives, artificial flavors, corn, soy or wheat.

A smooth pate texture makes Mature Chicken Recipe canned cat food easier to eat, with a delicious flavor cats love. Blue Buffalo Wilderness wet cat food supports healthy muscle growth, with real chicken, fruits and vegetables. Added vitamins and minerals support heart health, as well as cognitive development – a necessity for aging felines.

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes, Pea Flour, Natural Flavor, Pea Fiber, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Fish Oil, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Salt, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols, L-Carnitine, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.

Caloric Content

1,130 kcal/kg, 96 kcal/3 oz can, 176 kcal/5.5 oz can

Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is made from all-natural, free-range, grass-fed chicken and venison sourced from only the finest sources in New Zealand.

Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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Key Benefits

  • Made from free-range, grass-fed chicken and venison that’s sourced from only the finest sources in New Zealand

  • New Zealand green-lipped mussel is added to provide the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids that aren’t found in any other marine or plant life

  • All-natural formula containing no wheat, rice, soy or gluten, which makes it great for feline friends with food allergies

  • No artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives and is free of all gelling agents—the only thing added is natural, fresh New Zealand water

  • Nutritionally appropriate diet for all breeds, and can be fed to cats at any stage of life—from kittens to seniors, and during pregnancy and lactation

Green-lipped mussel is added to provide the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids found in any marine or plant life, while being an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin. Feline Natural doesn’t use any wheat, rice, soy, or gluten, which makes it great for felines with food allergies. And it contains no artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives, and is free of all gelling agents—the only thing added is natural, fresh New Zealand water. It’s a nutritionally appropriate diet for all breeds, and can be fed to cats at any stage of life from kittens to seniors, and during pregnancy and lactation.

Chicken, Venison, Water Sufficient for Processing, Venison Kidney, Venison Liver, Venison Blood, Flaxseed Flakes, New Zealand Green Mussel, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Oxide, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Caloric Content

862 kcal/kg

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Poultry Pleasers Variety Pack Canned Cat Food

Incorporating a feline’s favorite poultry flavors, Wellness CORE Grain-Free Poultry Pleasers canned cat food provides an enjoyable, well-balanced meal.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Poultry Pleasers Variety Pack Canned Cat Food
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Key Benefits

  • Available in 2 different poultry recipes

  • Ingredients made using real chicken, duck, and turkey

  • Free of wheat, corn, soy, or animal byproducts

  • Preservative-free. Does not include any artificial colors or flavors either

  • Provides a complete and balanced nutrition profile for your cats everyday feeding needs

Utilizing real sources of protein, Wellness CORE includes chicken, duck and turkey without preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, corn, soy, wheat or by-products.

Support cognitive function and development, muscle maintenance and organ operation with whole foods. When felines receive a nourishing, protein-centered diet, with real ingredients and zero filler, they become what nature intended: energetic, well-rounded, healthy and happy. Keep your cat purring and extend their life by feeding real food, like Wellness Core canned wet cat food.

Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal, Turkey Liver, Dried Ground Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Turkey & Duck: Turkey, Pork Liver, Turkey Broth, Duck, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Caloric Content

Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver: 1,365 kcal/kg; 213 kcal/can

Turkey & Duck: 1,375 kcal/kg; 215 kcal/can

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Liver Pate Canned Kitten Food

With its first 6 ingredients being animal-based, Wellness Core Natural stands out as one of the most meat-rich recipes on this list.

Wellness-CORE-Natural-Grain-Free-Turkey-Chicken-Liver-Pate-Canned-Kitten-Food
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Key Benefits

  • Wet food

  • 12% protein

  • 7.5% fat

  • 4.4 (181 ratings)

  • First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Chicken Meal

High-levels of DHA from whole turkey and turkey broth help digestibility as well as overall health maintenance, while a lack of carrageenan, artificial flavors, or byproducts means a carbohydrate content of just 0.5%. The lower the carbohydrate, the easier a kitten is likely to be able to digest a formula.

“This food is a noticeable step up: my kittens devour their food, it smells delicious, and their coats are silky soft.”

“I think he really likes how soft and juicy it is. Unfortunately, it is not in my budget to continue feeding.”

Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Pate Turkey & Chicken Entree Adult Canned Cat Food

Serve your cat companion a delicious and delightful dinner with Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Natural Adult Pate Wet Cat Food.

Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Pate Turkey & Chicken Entree Adult Canned Cat Food
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Key Benefits

  • 24-pack of 5.5-ounce cans.
  • Purr-fectly nutritious food for adult cats.

  • Features a smooth texture and savory gravy.

  • Starts with real turkey and chicken to aid healthy muscle maintenance.

  • Does not contain any by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.

Purr-fect for your grown-up gal, this irresistibly tasty wet food is made using only the finest natural ingredients. It starts with high-quality turkey and chicken, packed with healthy fruits and veggies, then enhanced with vitamins and minerals. Formulated to support the nutritional needs of adult cats, the exclusively wholesome ingredients do not contain any by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Brown Rice, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Taurine, Salt, Cranberries, Choline Chloride, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9).

Caloric Content

1,330 kcal/kg, 113 kcal/3 oz can, 207 kcal/5.5 oz can

FAQs

Ahhh, the age old cat food debate. Is wet or dry food better? Cat’s outta the bag! There’s no definite answer – because both wet and dry food are nutritionally complete and healthy options. And people will have their own personal opinions on what they prefer. Besides, our feline friends are also picky eaters – so your choice may heavily depend on what they enjoy!

So we’re here to confirm that quality cat food is more based on the premium sourced ingredients and labels. Both dry and wet food have their own advantages and disadvantages. That’s why, combining both dry and wet food is something worth considering!  

Dry Cat Food 

Dry kibble is typically cheaper and therefore more cost effective. It’s also easier to serve because you can leave it out for the day without worrying about it going bad. Many vets vouch for dry food being better for your cat’s dental health as well. 

Wet Cat Food 

While wet cat food is typically pricier, it’s hailed for its high moisture content, high protein content and being easier to eat. Furthermore, cats that have health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease and urinary tract infections could benefit from more hydration.

Due to its moisture and heavy protein, many cats tend to prefer the taste and smell of wet, canned food. So for cats with picky appetites – this may be a winner!

Raw cat food has seen a surge in popularity in recent years – but it will definitely be more costly and time-consuming to serve. Because cats are obligate carnivores, they would only get their food source from animal tissue. As such, their bodies can easily digest and tolerate raw foods. But keep in mind that any raw food you serve needs to be fresh as this avoids the risk of cross-contamination and best mimics their diet in the wild. Look for human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones.

The best, most ideal diet for a healthy housecat is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Unlike dogs and humans, cats are obligate carnivores which means that they need a lot of protein to mimic their natural diets in the wild. 

“While there isn’t a single diet that is ideal for all cats, in general, most do best when they eat foods that are high in moisture and protein and relatively low in carbohydrates,” says Jennifer Coates, DVM. 

Cats are strict carnivores and their nutrient profile should generally lie in this range:

  • Protein: 52-63%
  • Fat: 22-36% 
  • Carbs: 2.8-12%

Reputable brands will source their ingredients sustainably and ethically. To discern whether or not a product will have premium content, look to see if there is a “Complete and Balanced” label as set out by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). After that, keep your eyes peeled for the following: 

  • Named animal protein: This is the most important ingredient – clearly listing the animal it comes from. Ex. Turkey, chicken, lamb, beef, chicken liver, chicken heart, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Should be a named fat source. Ex. chicken fat 
  • Vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, C & D, calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium and taurine 
  • Water

When choosing a nutritionally balanced diet for your furry friend, there are also certain ingredients to be skeptical of. Basically, if it’s hard to pronounce or there are too many ingredients – that’s a red flag. When examining cat food labels – your alarm bell should be going at the following:

  • Corn and wheat gluten
  • Non-specific meat. For example: Meat by-products 
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Food coloring

Adequate water supply is crucial for your cat’s long term health. It’s essential for your kitty to have the balance of water and electrolytes to keep its biological processes intact. Dehydration puts cats at risk for many health problems, including urinary tract disorders. 

Dry cat food has around 7 to 12 percent water while wet food can have up to 80 percent water. As mentioned earlier, cats can easily remain hydrated from consuming wet food, but they should always have access to fresh, clean water. Some cats seem to prefer to drink from a running source of water, such as a water fountain.

The best way to tell if your cat is overweight is by feeling their ribs. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. If you have to press hard to feel ribs then your cat may be overweight. Both dogs and cats should also have a nice taper at their waist. If they are too heavy, they’ll be oval shaped. Cross-check with your vet to be sure.

Age, weight and activity level all make a difference in the amount of food that you should give your cat. A lot of cat food label instructions have a good starting point for how much to feed based on weight and the formulation. For example: “for cats weighing 5 lbs, feed between ½ and ¾ cup per day; for cats weighing 10 lbs, feed between ¾ and 1 cup per day; and for cats weighing 15 lbs, feed between 1 cup and 1 ½ cups per day.”

But keep an eye on your cat’s weight to evaluate if you need to be giving your cat more or less food. 

Age

  • Kittens: Kittens require the most food to support their growth and energy levels. They should be fed 3-4 times per day. 
  • Adult Cats: Starting at around 6 months, cats can be fed once or twice a day. 
  • Senior Cats: Once your cat reaches around 7 years of age, they should maintain the same feeding regimen they had as adults as long as they’re healthy. 

Just remember to always consult with a vet to ensure your cat is eating the amount of food that’s right for them.