Choosing the Best Grain Free Cat Food

Over time, your cat may develop allergies or resistance to certain foods, particularly grains. This isn’t that surprising as grains are common cat allergens. Think rice, wheat, corn, oats, barley, flaxseed and rye. 

It’s good practice to find food that is gentle on your cat’s digestive system regardless. But if your cat is diagnosed with a grain allergy, they need to go on a grain free diet as soon as possible. If you’re worried about a potential grain allergy, follow up with your vet for a thorough examination. 

Feeding your cat grain free food means that the ingredients used won’t be upsetting for your cat. It’s lower on the carbohydrates and higher in protein.

The downside is there are many choices and the cost isn’t particularly cheap. But the payback is completely worth it. You’re helping to solve the root of the problem and making your cat healthier. Besides, your cat doesn’t really need grains in their bowl to live a long, happy life. But we recommend not rushing to conclusions about your cat’s needs and always consulting with your vet first. Because not all grain-free foods are good for your cat. 

So what features should you consider when shopping around for the best grain free cat food? Well – glad you asked! Here are our top considerations. 

AAFCO Label

This is a gold standard for high quality food and thorough testing. Look out for guaranteed nutritional labels, specifically food that has the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label. That means the pet food company complies with the nutritional guidelines set up for pets to achieve a ‘complete and balanced’ diet. 

High Quality Ingredients

The main ingredient should be pure protein first and foremost. Think approximately 35-45% protein and 15-20% fat. Read the ingredient list and labels to confirm if the product is a grain-free formula. 

It’s important to note that grain-free does not always mean low carb. Some grain-free food has more fat than food with it. So if you’re also trying to feed your cat less carbs (they don’t really need it for energy) then look at the carb quantity from other ingredients such as potatoes or tapioca. 

Good vitamins to look out for include: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and guaranteed probiotics. And of course, food free of preservatives and artificial colors/flavours is key!

Preferably Canned Wet Food

While you don’t need to completely knock out dry food from your cat’s repertoire, generally canned food is known for having less grains and more moisture – all good things for a grain-free diet!

Specific Health Needs

One size does not fit all. Take these factors into consideration, look at the different food options available and cross-check with your vet. For example, senior cats have different needs from kittens, and it’s critical to take that into account. You want grain free cat food that still meets the nutritional needs and taste preferences of your beloved feline.

Top Grain Free Cat Food

As long as the food you’re buying is free from the grains your cat is allergy-prone to and nutritionally balanced, then your cat is on a path to survive and thrive!

Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Chicken Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

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

  • Mouthwatering (for cats) chicken blend, made into a soft and satisfying mousse, which gets the pickiest cats eating

  • Source of high-quality protein and amino acids to support muscles

  • Grain-free recipe

  • High in moisture from chicken broth, which helps to provide supplemental hydration for your cat

  • Low-carb ingredients (no potatoes, corn, wheat, or rice), which makes it great for cats with sensitive stomachs

  • Great for cats at all stages of life, from your kitten to your old feline friend, it will complete their meat cravings, and provide lots of nourishment

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 Healthy Gourmet Pate Turkey & Chicken Entree Adult Canned Cat Food

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

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • 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

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

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

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Fish Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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With whole, high-quality ingredients, Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free wet food for adult, indoor cats, features real fish as the first ingredient. By utilizing cod and whitefish for a protein-rich formula, pet parents can rest assured their cats are being fed a well balanced meal. Omega fatty acids, DHA and added taurine support muscle maintenance, vision and overall feline health.

Because it doesn’t contain worrisome ingredients such as gluten, grain, preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, by-products and artificial flavors, adult cats will receive wholesome nutrients, and no filler. Adult cats of all ages will appreciate Blue Buffalo’s pate, featuring a smooth texture even seniors can enjoy.

  • 24-pack of 3 or 5.5-ounce cans

  • Smooth texture with a great taste to boot!

  • Fish is the main ingredient, which is loaded with great omegas, and provides protein and energy to keep your cat going

  • Free of grain, gluten, byproducts, corn, wheat, soy

  • No artificial flavors or preservatives

Fish, Fish Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Powdered Cellulose, Guar Gum, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Cranberries, Blueberries, Salt, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Choline Chloride, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin E Supplement, 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

1,000 kcal/kg, 85 kcal/3 oz can, 156 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
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Feline Natural ensures each product is made using New Zealand sourced, free-range, grain-free sources of protein. Sensitive kitties will appreciate the simplicity of ingredients, palatable texture and flavors offered by Chicken & Venison Feast grain-free canned cat food. Suitable for felines of any age, including pregnant and nursing mothers, Feline Naturals produces their wet cat food without gelling agents, gluten, rice, soy or wheat.

You can trust each aspect of Feline Natural’s wet cat food was thoughtfully blended together for immune system support, and muscle maintenance. Omega fatty acids, sourced from green lipped mussel, New Zealand sourced fresh water, taurine, vitamins and minerals all work together to support feline organs and overall health. Cats will enjoy each bite of non-GMO ingredients, in a pate-style texture.

  • Made in New Zealand using local sources of high-quality grass-fed meats (chicken and venison).

  • Green-lipped mussel is added to the ingredients, which has the highest concentration of omegas-3’s of any marine or plant life. This makes it an incredible source of healthy fats.

  • Natural formula with no wheat, rice, soy, or gluten. Making it friendly to most felines with food allergies.

  • No artificial ingredients, preservatives, additives, or gelling agents.

  • Made using fresh New Zealand water.

  • Great for all ages and breeds. Can be used during pregnancy and lactation periods as well.

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

Purina Beyond Simply Indoor Wild-Caught Salmon, Egg & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina Beyond Simply Indoor Wild-Caught Salmon, Egg & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
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Pet parents concerned with the overall health of their indoor cat, will appreciate the benefits Purina Beyond Simply Indoor dry cat food has to offer. Featuring a boosted, natural blend of fiber, Purina Beyond’s wild-caught salmon, egg and sweet potato recipe controls hairballs, while preventing compaction. 

Made without the hassle of added preservatives or artificial flavor, adult cats enjoy bites of real chicken and turkey. In order to promote a healthy lifestyle, this dry kibble encourages optimal weight maintenance through balanced nutrition. Added taurine improves vision health, while omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals support overall feline health.

  • Great quality protein, with wild-salmon the number one ingredient

  • Full of high-quality nutrients, using limited natural ingredients, including probiotics for your cat’s digestive tract

  • Indoor formula consists of less fat, to aid weight management

  • Natural fiber for hairball control, and antioxidants to aid the immune system

  • Can be served alone, or with Beyond wet foods or toppers. A great food to boost protein and increase hydration

  • No corn, wheat, soy, poultry byproducts, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

New: Salmon, Pea Starch, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Meal, Cassava Root Flour, Dried Egg Product, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Yeast, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Natural Flavor, Phosphoric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Bisulfate, Potassium Chloride, Whole Cranberries, Salt, Taurine, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, MINERALS [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product. C424319.

Original: Salmon, Chicken Meal, Pea Starch, Pea Protein, Canola Meal, Cassava Root Flour, Dried Egg Product, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Yeast, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Beef Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Natural Liver Flavor, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Bisulfate, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Taurine, Salt, Whole Cranberries, Calcium Carbonate, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 Supplement], Vitamin E. B-4243.

Caloric Content

New: 3,250 kcal/kg, 322 kcal/cup

Original: 3,301 kcal/kg, 357 kcal/cup

FAQ

Grain-free cat food is just as the name says: cat food without grains. The most common grains that are found in pet food include wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley, flaxseed and rye.

If you’re considering purchasing grain-free cat food, here are the most prominent benefits: 

  • Good for food sensitivities and allergies: Allergies will vary on a case-by-case basis but if your cat has a confirmed allergy or digestive issues with grain products, grain-free food might help eliminate the symptoms.
  • More likely to be high protein/low carb: The most important food combination your cat needs is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This is because a cat’s natural diet in the wild is low in grains and high in protein. So generally grain-free food has protein as the top ingredient.
  • Easier to digest: For some cats, grain-free food might be easier to digest, especially for cats that develop allergies to a particular grain.

On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages in feeding your cat grain-free food:

  • Sometimes missing nutrients: Sometimes grain-free food could also be free of key nutrients that your cat needs. When opting for grain-free food, ensure that it still has sufficient vitamins and minerals. 
  • More expensive: This is a deterrent for some people who can’t afford expensive food for their pets. Luckily there are still plenty of affordable options that don’t compromise quality. 

Higher in fat content: Grain-free content may be higher in protein (which is a good thing!), however, it can also be higher in fat. Double check the label and feed your cat the correct portion size according to your vet’s recommendations. You don’t want to feed them more fat content than is needed.

AAFCO approval

Food that has the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label means the pet food company complies with the nutritional guidelines set up for pets to achieve a ‘complete and balanced’ diet. 

Quality, proportional ingredients

Just because food is grain-free doesn’t mean it automatically gets a green check mark. You need to make sure it’s proportionally sound with quality ingredients. This means pure, crude animal protein needs to make up at least 35-45% and 15-25% comes from healthy fats. 

Moisture rich

Hydration is king. And sometimes cats don’t always want to drink from their water bowl. This is why wet food or at least an alternation between wet and dry is ideal. 

Taking into account your cat’s needs

Of course, when it comes to our cats, it might not always be one size fits all. Your cat may have their own health concerns or dietary restrictions. In consultation with your vet recommendations, ensure you’re getting the right food that doesn’t compromise your cat’s health.

On its own – no. Just feeding your cat grain-free food won’t help him or her lose weight. It’s best to stick to feeding the right proportions based on your cat’s age, activity level, etc. And maintain a low-carb, high protein diet (or high protein, low fat), which will be easier to find among grain-free food. But keep in mind that any food in excess can cause weight gain, so always feed your cat appropriately and check the nutritional label.

It’s important to note that while many pet owners subscribe by the idea that grain is bad for cats, the vast majority of stomach upsets and food allergies come from protein sources. There’s no conclusive research that proves grains as harmful to the entire cat population. And not all grain-free food is good for cats or has a complete and balanced nutritional profile. 

But it’s true that because cats are obligate carnivores, they require a heavy protein diet to survive and thrive. Just because you feed your cat grain-free products, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be consuming less carbs.

Constipation should not occur if your cat stays hydrated and on a consistent feeding schedule. Sometimes mild diet changes can actually help constipation. In this way, grain-free food usually helps our feline friends, due to its high protein and digestible ingredients. Constipation is more likely to occur due to inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, stress, cancer, obesity and more. If you’re worried, check with your vet. Remember that a healthy cat should pass stool at least every 24 – 36 hours.