Best Wet Cat Food

For many cats, wet cat food makes up the vast majority of their diet. It’s about the closest our feline friends can get to an authentic menu of small critters and birds, without causing carnage among the neighborhood’s wildlife.

The trouble for pet owners is that wet food quality varies widely. The best stuff can be fit for human consumption, while the worst can be fattening, stuffed with strange ingredients, and contribute to poor dental hygiene.

Adding to the complexity is the pickiness of many cats. Some won’t eat wet food without combining it with dried kibble; others won’t eat food that’s been left out for a certain amount of time, and most will only consider a certain selection of flavors, turning their nose up at anything else. As owners know, cat’s seemingly arbitrary rules about their food can also change overnight, leaving you wringing your hands as your cat looks on with disdain.

Luckily, there are some actionable steps you can take to promote good feline nutrition. When you know what separates quality wet food from the bargain basement stuff—as well as what your cat is looking for in their diet—then their erratic food preferences can start to make a little more sense. We can’t promise that you’ll ever completely understand why your cat suddenly turns down certain meals, but we can share our extensive research with you, to help inform your future shopping decisions.

How we determine the best wet cat food

We’ve looked into every major wet cat food product on the market today, to develop a comprehensive list of the best wet cat foods for 2021. We made our decisions based on several metrics, including protein quality, moisture content, and sustainable packaging.

Below, you’ll find explainers on why these metrics matter, as well as the factors you should be considering when shopping for your cat’s next dinner.

The Best Wet Cat Foods of 2021

Best Overall

We love the simplicity of this recipe from Tiki Cat. It’s basically just hormone and antibiotic-free whole chicken combined with chicken broth, supplemented with all the minerals, fats, and essential amino acids that your cat needs to thrive.

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • Hormone and antibiotic-free chicken
  • Zero grain, gluten, carbohydrate, starch, or flour

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken Broth
  3. Sunflower Seed Oil
  4. Calcium Lactate
  5. Dicalcium Phosphate

As a result, the formula has an optimal ratio of proteins to fats, as well as an impressive array of medium- and long-chain fatty acids—compounds such as Omega oils, which help maintain cats’ skin, coat, and digestive health.

Because Tiki Cat has a commitment to using no grains, gluten, carbohydrates, starches, or flours in their premium recipes, we consider this formula to be suitable for all types of cat and life stages. In fact, the brand has gathered hundreds of positive reviews from a range of owners, including those who were recommended the food by their vet, and owners of moggies vulnerable to bladder crystal flare-up.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 16%
  • Crude fat (min): 2.6%
  • Moisture (max): 80.0%

Also consider

With each of its first 5 ingredients being sourced from animals, Nulo Freestyle’s Minced Turkey and Duck formula is another reliable choice, and also features in our review of the best wet and dry kitten foods.

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Key features:

  • Turkey and duck combination is a good option for chicken-sensitive cats
  • Broth-based gravy to improve hydration and texture

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Turkey
  2. Turkey Broth
  3. Duck Broth
  4. Turkey Liver
  5. Dried Egg Whites

Nulo has chosen turkey and duck as the major sources of animal protein in this recipe, making it purrfect for cats with sensitivities or allergies to chicken meat. There are also zero grains, carrageenan, meat by-products, corn, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, colors, or flavoring.

The fact that both the second and third ingredients in this product are meat broths rather than whole meat is something to consider, but we feel that Nulo Freestyle has achieved a good nutritional balance here, combining a respectable 10% crude protein with an optimal 80% moisture. Browsing owner reviews, it seems that this combination helps encourage palatability for cats with digestive issues, who may take to this formula more easily than some of the richer options on this list.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 10%
  • Crude fat (min): 3.5%
  • Moisture (max): 80.0%

Also consider

For a more premium choice, take a look at this venison formula from Ziwi peak, which contains venison meat, tripe, and liver, combined with fibrous chickpeas.

Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • free-range and grass-fed on ethical and sustainable New Zealand farms
  • Zero grain, rice, corn, soy, potatoes, wheat, or other common fillers

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Venison
  2. Water Sufficient for Processing
  3. Venison Tripe
  4. Venison Liver
  5. Chickpeas

Don’t let this product’s high water concentration dissuade you from what is a high-quality recipe that uses 92% fresh meat and contains 10% clean protein.

Thanks to its ‘chunky loaf style’ and lack of grains, rice, corn, soy, potatoes, wheat, fillers, or rendered meals, this is another formula that seems to suit cats with GI issues very well. One owner commented that “within one day of trying Ziwi, her [cat’s] stool has gone from liquid to normal. The frequency has gone from 10-12 times a day to 1-2 times a day.” Another owner of a highly allergic Maine Coon found that Ziwi’s all-natural recipes stopped her kitty from refusing or regurgitating his dinner.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 10%
  • Crude fat (min): 4%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

Best human grade

Smalls cat foods are made in a regulated human food facility, and each can is prepared with maximal moisture retention in mind.

Smalls Simply Cooked Chicken Kibble
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Key features:

  • Contains 3x the protein of most mainstream brands
  • All-natural protein sources, flavoring and color
  • USDA certified, humanely harvested and sustainably sourced
  • No BPAs, preservatives or fillers
  • Gently cooked to preserve moisture and nutrition

First 5 ingredients:

  • Chicken thigh
  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken liver
  • Green beans
  • Peas

Cats on Smalls not only become better hydrated, but they also grow slimmer from consuming real chicken meat packed with protein and free of artificial additives or mystery meat fillers.

The gentle cooking method they use results in 3x protein retention than most mainstream brands. Their low carb content and rich nutrients give feline friends brighter eyes, shiner coats and stronger muscle and bone structures.

Besides chicken, they also have a host of other meat options made from only the top ingredients. If your cat is a picky eater, fret not because Smalls is very confident in their palatability and offers 100% refund if your Mr. and Ms. Finicky aren’t interested.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 40.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 17.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 4.0%
  • Moisture (max): 10.0%
  • Carbohydrates: 20.0%

Best subscription service

Subscription … convenient but high-commitment. Quality is key here. Rest assured Nom Nom subscription will be a worthwhile commitment.

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Key features:

  • First ingredient is real chicken meat
  • Made in the United States
  • Gently cooked to preserve nutrients
  • Easily digestible for your cat
  • Freshly delivered to your doorstep in fully recyclable packaging

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken liver
  3. Carrots
  4. Spinach
  5. Dicalcium phosphate

From sourcing, food prep to customer service, every step of the Nom Nom chain is U.S. based and Nom Nom controlled. Each recipe is designed by Dr. Justin Shmalberg, one of fewer than 100 board certified nutritionists in the United States, and a full-time team of PhDs to ensure top-notch nutritional balance.

Nom Nom Chicken Chow-Meow is gently cooked to retain high protein and moisture levels. The densely packed nutrients and hydration allow your kitty to consume less and retain more – all the better for her digestion, muscle growth and hairball control. Each meal is pre-portioned, precise to the calorie, so you won’t have to worry about over-serving or under-serving your feline friend. Oh, and it’s delivered straight to your doorstep in fully recyclable, insulated packaging.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 18.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 4.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 0.8%
  • Moisture (max): 73.0%

Best subscription service

While there are some cat foods out there sporting the organic label, there aren’t that many that are truly 100% organic and sourced from trusted suppliers in the USA.

Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Organic Chicken Recipe All Life Stages Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • First ingredient is free-range, organic chicken
  • Made in the United States
  • Packed with omega fatty acids for eye and skin health

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Organic chicken
  2. Water sufficient for processing
  3. Organic chicken liver
  4. Organic dried peas
  5. Organic coconut flour

For a home-grown, nutrient-dense organic meal suitable for all ages, look no further than Caster & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Chicken Recipe. Every single ingredient in this juicy meal is harvested in the United States without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, added growth hormones or antibiotics.

Packed with antioxidant-rich alfalfa, carrots, cranberries, essential vitamins, minerals and taurine, this meal boasts a complete and balanced nutrition profile. The all-life-stage recipe contains no grains, soy, wheat, corn or anything artificial, so even sensitive kittens can safely munch away. What’s more is that the relatively high moisture content keeps your cat hydrated and ensures that the food is easily digestible. Organic and healthful, what’s not to love?

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 9.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 5.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 1.0%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

Best wet food for kittens

Any kitten food that lists whole, majority animal foods in their first five ingredients automatically captures our interest.

Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • Wet food
  • 4.5 (286 ratings)

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken Liver
  3. Chicken Broth
  4. Carrots
  5. Natural Flavor

This grain-free formula from Wellness Complete not only features an impressive list of primary ingredients, but combines that with impressive customer ratings and value for money, making this product our top pick for Best Wet Kitten food.

Using real chicken and chicken liver as its two primary ingredients, the Wellness Complete formula ensures a healthy 2:1 protein to fat ratio, with the only major non-animal ingredient being carrots, which are low in sugars and high in fiber. Other notable ingredients include flaxseed and fish oil, which both contain Omega fatty acids. Completely the picture are antioxidants, taurine, and artificial vitamins and minerals.

What are owners saying?

“I opened a can of this and she went nuts for it, licked the bowl clean, which she had never done before (I helped foster her before I adopted.)”

“My kitten has had digestive issues for the past month I’ve had her. The past few days I’ve been feeding her half-and-half of this food and prescriptive food. This food doesn’t irritate her stomach or cause any diarrhea, which is such a miracle.”

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein: 11%
  • Crude fat: 6%

Best wet food for indoor cats

Our next product is a protein rich product, which is packed full of omegas from flaxseed and salmon oil for your cat to maintain a healthy skin and coat. There are no grains in this recipe, and having chicken and chicken liver as the top ingredients make this product easy to endorse.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • Smooth pate texture for palatability
  • First 5 ingredients meat based
  • Made in the United States
  • No grains or artificial preservatives, carrageenan, colors or flavors

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken liver
  3. Chicken broth
  4. Turkey broth
  5. Chicken meal

With a relatively low 74 kcal/can this is an ideal wet food to give to indoor cats with sensitive stomachs. Your cat will still be getting valuable nutrients with 11% protein, and 4% fats. This product is specially formulated to support urinary health as well, the product that keeps on giving!

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 11.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 4.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 2.0%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

Best for weight loss

This recipe is packed with high-quality, lean protein from real chicken and tuna that builds up toned muscles and bone structures.

AvoDerm Natural Indoor Weight Support Recipe Adult Canned Cat Food
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First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken broth
  2. Chicken
  3. Chicken liver
  4. Tuna
  5. Rice flour

The premium fiber blend of oatmeal, oat bran, and flaxseeds is designed to make your cat less likely to feel hungry. Superfood avocado presents its highly nutritious array of vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and omegas. This is a comprehensive, meow-worthy can that’ll take good care of kitty – from her weight control, litter smell, immune system, skin health, to coat shine.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 8.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 3.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 2.0%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

Best for sensitive stomach

Is your cat allergic to a refined modern diet? Or are you simply looking for healthier options that are gentler and more efficient for her digestive system? If so, here’s your jam.

Hound & Gatos 98% Chicken & Liver Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • Contains 98% animal protein
  • Completely free of plant protein or added carbohydrates
  • Made in the United States

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken broth
  3. Chicken liver
  4. Calcium carbonate
  5. Agar-agar

With a clean recall history, Hound & Gatos designs their recipes with an ancestrally appropriate Paleolithic diet in mind. Rooted in evolutionary science, the nutrition profile in this recipe has been tried and tested throughout feline history. It has a simple ingredient list that contains 98% animal protein sourced from only homestyle chicken and chicken liver. The remaining 2% in the can is all vitamins and minerals, with absolutely no plant proteins, added carbohydrates, or artificial preservatives.

Low-carb and scientific, this recipe is a must-try for cats with IBD or diabetes and a great-to-have for all feline friends.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 10.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 9.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 1.0%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

Best for constipation

Fiber, fiber, fiber. That’s the constipation mantra. With a high fiber content that’s 3x more than mainstream brands, this Instinct recipe is here to save the day for your constipated cat.

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food
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Key features:

  • First ingredient is free-range chicken
  • Made in the United States
  • No grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors or preservatives

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Turkey
  3. Chicken liver
  4. Chicken broth
  5. Ground flaxseed

The 95% protein makeup of this one is sourced from free-range chicken, turkey, chicken liver and a hearty dash of veggies and fruits. The first 4 ingredients are real meats, no mystery fillers. Made in the United States, every savory bite of this meal guarantees high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients untainted by any grains, preservatives or artificial additives. The mouth-watering pate texture is sure to leave your kitty meowing for more. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your cat some heavenly, fiber-rich nutrition.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 10.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 7.5%
  • Crude fiber (max): 3.0%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

Best budget

What’s cheap but absolutely wonderful? Meow Mix Tender Favorites. The first 5 ingredients are animal based to mimic the ancestral feline in the wild. With chicken as the third ingredient, this product offers a protein quality that’s solid for the price you’re paying.

Meow Mix Tender Favorites with Real Chicken & Beef in Sauce Cat Food Trays
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Key features:

  • Sealed in easy-open cups
  • Served in a savory sauce that’ll tempt even the pickiest cat
  • Suitable for kittens and adult cats

First 5 ingredients:

  1. Fish broth
  2. Tuna
  3. Chicken
  4. Beef
  5. Chicken liver

Each tray comes in a tightly sealed easy-open cup that preserves 100% of the meat and poultry aromas. Perfect for convenience and portability. Fresh and delightful, this meal will pamper your kitty with rich animal proteins, vitamins and minerals. The complete and balanced nutrition of this recipe is suitable for both kittens and adult cats. For cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, look no further.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 10.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 2.0%
  • Crude fiber (max): 1.5%
  • Moisture (max): 82.0%

Best for seniors

Go with wet food for urinary health. In particular, we recommend this nutrient-dense can with real chicken as the first ingredient.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Mature Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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First 5 ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken broth
  3. Chicken liver
  4. Potatoes
  5. Pea flour

It has a smooth pate texture that is super popular among finicky felines, so give it a try if palatability is high on your list.

The hearty can is full of healthy fruits, veggies, vitamins, minerals, and taurine and contains absolutely no grain, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives. It also has a significant DHA profile to give your cat an extra boost in cognitive functioning and heart health.

Nutritional info:

  • Crude protein (min): 8.0%
  • Crude fat (min): 5.5%
  • Crude fiber (max): 2.0%
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

What are my cat’s specific needs?

What should I be looking for in good wet cat food?

Your cat’s needs

Summary

Put all of those ingredient sub categories together, and you get the following recipe for a top-quality wet cat food diet:

  1. Choose age-appropriate brands for your cat. Older cats and those with a reduced metabolism can struggle to process excess protein, which can lead to cardiovascular and kidney issues.
  2. Feed on a regular, once or twice daily schedule that matches your cat’s lifestyle, not according to average portion recommendations, or how much your cat thinks they should be eating!
  3. Expect your cat to hydrate mostly from their food, but keep a fresh water source out in case they need an extra drink.
  4. Only feed your cat food that meets AAFCO standards and displays a Nutritional adequacy statement. Remember that AAFCO recommendations are only a minimum.
  5. Protein is the mainstay of your cat’s diet, and the only food group they can’t live without. Always ensure a good quality, whole meat protein is the primary ingredient in their food.
  6. Fats are your cat’s energy source, and also help with vitamin absorption. Omega 6 and Omega 3 are the best essential fatty acids to look out for.
  7. Carbohydrates are ok, but only in minimal quantities, and never as a replacement for essential proteins and fats.

Oh, and if you’re looking for unlisted carbohydrate amounts, simply add the protein, fat, fiber, moisture, and ash to calculate the leftover percentage. If you’re comparing brands or product types, you can take the (sometimes misleading) moisture content out of the equation by converting listed ‘as fed’ percentages into dry matter. Here’s an explainer from PetMD on how to make the conversion.