Choosing the best cat food is possibly the toughest choice that cat parents have to make, regardless of whether they are buying wet or dry cat food.
With dozens of brands in the market, your intention is to get the best choice of cat diet that follows the AAFCO pet food nutritional profile. That is, a diet that is prepared with a high proportion of real animal proteins, low carbs, vitamins, fibers, moisture etc.
The various cat food brands in the market today have a somewhat different ingredient composition. Some brands may be questionable ingredients like carrageenan, gluten, grains, food dyes, etc., and most cat parents prefer to stay away from such brands. I also do!
The most important step when buying cat food is to learn the art of reading pet food labels to decide whether a certain cat food brand is good or bad for your pet.
We scored dozens of cat reviews of some of the top pet food brands to narrow down to the top nine of the best canned, dry and freeze-dried cat foods that met the ideal cat’s nutritional requirements. If you are looking for a formula for kittens, check this guide.
Acana Wild Atlantic
Best Dry Cat Food
Best Wet Cat Food
Instinct Raw Boost
Best freeze-dried cat food
How to Choose the Right Cat Food
Here are some of the considerations that you should make when choosing the ideal diet for your fur baby:
Meat as the first Ingredient
Cats are obligate carnivores and have a natural desire for meat. Veterinarians recommend that you should look for a cat food brand that has animal meat as the first ingredient.
Chicken, turkey, fish, and beef are some of the best sources of animal proteins for cats. It should also have a sizeable proportion of healthy animal fats and low levels of carbohydrates.
Some cat food brands may include grains such as wheat, corn, and soy that are known to cause allergies in cats.
If your cat is allergic to grains, the best thing is to buy the best grain-free cat food. Note that not all carbs are grains. A diet may have limited amounts of carbs (to provide energy) and have zero grain ingredients.
No Artificial Preservatives
Some cat foods may contain chemical preservatives such as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin. These preservatives may be harmful to your pet, and you will be doing your cat a favor by avoiding such chemicals.
History of recalls
In recent years, pet owners have become cautious of the type of ingredients added to pet foods. Some of these fears arose during the massive melamine recalls in 2007. Researching on a cat food brand’s recent recalls can help quell such fears.
Some responsible companies conduct in-house independent tests before sending their foods to the stores. If there are areas of concern in the cat food ingredients, they inform their customers in advance. More pet food companies should create an atmosphere of trust with their customers.
Best Dry Cat Food Reviews (Top Picks)
1. Acana Wild Atlantic- Editor’s Choice
This cat Acana cat food is prepared to not only provide your cat with a nutritious diet but also keep her healthy and active. The top four ingredients are crude protein (35%), crude fat (20%), crude fiber (4%) and moisture (10%).
Other Acana Cat Food brands include Meodowland, Grasslands and Appalachian, all made to mimic the diet of wild cats and supplemented with vitamins and probiotics.
2. Wellness-core Grain-Free Dry Cat Food (Turkey & Chicken)
This Wellness Core Cat food brand is prepared using premium proteins like turkey, chicken whitefish, and herring as the first ingredients.
It is formulated by animal nutritionists and veterinarians to provide the cat with a balanced diet that is carefully selected for cat’s health and longevity.
It has limited grain-free carbohydrates that offer better digestibility and the required energy for cat’s daily needs. There are NO grains (wheat, corn or oat), additives or by-products.
Wellness Core Dry Cat Food contains probiotics and fatty acids that assist in digestion and smoothening the coat. Some reviewers say this cat food brand helped smoothen their cat’s skin and that even the finicky eaters like the dry kibble.
3. Taste of the Wild Dry Cat Food
This high protein cat food is made with roasted venison, smoked salmon, chicken meal and chicken fat as the first ingredients. Its list of ingredients also included a limited proportion of grain-free carbs such as sweet potatoes, peas and pea protein to provide the needed energy for an active cat.
The Taste of the Wild diet is supplemented with vegetables and fruits that not only boost the cat’s immune system but also supports the cat’s good health. The fatty acid components support a smooth skin and coat.
This dry cat food brand is made in the United States using ingredients sourced from around the country, making it one of the best dry cat foods if you are looking for a high-quality cat food brand.
Best Wet Cat Food Reviews (Top 3 Picks)
1. ZiwiPeak Canned Cat Cuisine
ZiwiPeak is a moisture-rich and nutrient-dense diet that will not only help your cat grow healthy but also provide a perfect cat food choice that is natural, grain-free and free of fillers and other additives that may cause allergies in cats.
The New Zealand green mussels make up 3% of the ingredients. It is a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine that help in developing strong joints, especially in young and older cats.
This cat food brand is a product by ZiwiPeak, a New Zealand company that is changing how pet food is made by using ethical farming practices. Apart from the land and rabbit recipes, you can choose from the other recipes such as beef, mackerel & lamb, venison and fish, venison, and lamb.
2. Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
One feature that makes this diet one of the best wet cat foods is the pate texture that even finicky eaters will find delicious and digestible. Nature’s Variety Instinct is made from natural and healthy ingredients. The ground flaxseed is the main source of fats.
Nature’s Variety Instinct is prepared by Nature’s Variety, a private pet food company located in St. Louis, Missouri.
The company has two line of products, i.e., Instinct (raw cat foods) and Prairie line of food. The Instinct line offers various nutritious choices for cats including raw frozen diets, can, kibble, biscuits, frozen bones, etc.
3. Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Canned Cat Food
The company claims that that Weruva in the Kitchen canned cat food is human grade, and it is prepared in human food facilities. The recipe comprises boneless, skinless white breast meat chicken, fish loins, and lamb.
If your cat is a finicky eater, the Weruva canned cat food has a variety of textures and flavors that your cat will find tasty. It is grain, gluten and carrageen free.
Weruva Cats in the Kitchen is prepared by Weruva, a family-owned business operated by David and Stacie for over a decade.
Freeze-dried cat food Reviews (Top 3 Picks)
1. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe
It is made with cage-free chicken as the first ingredient. It is all natural, nutrient-dense and has minimally processed bites of real chicken. It does NOT contain grains, potatoes, additives or colors that may harm the cat.
It has added probiotic boost, omega three fats, and antioxidants to help in digestion-boosting the immune system and giving the cat a smooth coat and skin.
Instinct Raw Boost is prepared in the company’s kitchens in Lincoln, Nebraska. All its ingredients and sourced and prepared in the USA. Apart from the chicken flavors, Instinct Freeze-dried raw cat food also prepares duck and rabbit flavors.
2. Stella & Chewy Freeze-dried Cat Food
The ingredients used to prepare this raw cat food formula are 100% organic and sourced from trusted farmers.
This raw cat food diet is supplemented with taurine, probiotics and other nutrients that aid in digestion and smoothing the coat. Also, the natural flavors makes the food tasty and finicky eaters will eat to the last bunch.
Chick, Chick, Chicken Freeze-dried cat food is prepared by Stella & Chewy, one of the best freeze-dried cat food companies in this country.
The company prepares its brand of pet foods in its FDA-inspected kitchens in the US using sustainable ingredients.
3. Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Chicken and Salmon Formula
This chicken and salmon formula comprises 52% crude proteins (chicken, chicken gizzards, chicken liver, chicken necks and salmon) and 32% crude fats (salmon is the main source).
This formula is also supplemented with taurine and Vitamin E to provide the cat with eye support and antioxidants. Ground bones are added to this formula to provide calcium to strengthen the cat’s joints and teeth.
All the ingredients used to prepare the Primal Freeze-dried formula are sourced from ranches located in the United States and New Zealand. This ensures a sustainable supply of natural and wholesome recipes.
Primal Pet Foods Company prepares primal Freeze-dried nuggets chicken and salmon formula. The company started operations in 2001, and it has grown to become one of the best pet food companies in the United States. It is based in San Francisco, California.
Buying the Best Cat Food (Buyer's Guide)
As cat owners, we all want the best for our pets, and one of the ways of achieving this is by giving your cat a high-quality diet. But there is a problem: there are too many cat food brands, controversies, and disagreements on how to feed your cat.
By learning what to look for in cat food can help you choose the best cat food. Here are the various features that you can consider.
Dry vs. canned cat food
There is a big debate on what to feed cats, whether to give them dry cat food or canned cat food. The critics of dry cat food say that the cat needs to remain hydrated all the time by giving her a moisture-rich cat formula.
While the above is true, veterinarians see no problem with dry cat food as long as you maintain a balance between dry and canned cat food.
However, vets warn that feeding dry foods all through may cause life-threatening urinary problems since cats may not have the urge to drink water on their own.
If you decide to follow the dry food route, make sure that the cat drinks enough water. You can use a cat fountain to encourage the cat to drink water or use treats to entice the cat to drink more water. Here is a guide on how to entice your cat to drink more water.
For a cat that has had urinary problems, it would be appropriate to transition to canned or wet cat food to avert more problems. If you are in doubt about what is best for you fur baby, let your veterinarian advice you on the best cat food for a cat with special conditions.
Raw Cat Food
Veterinarians and animal nutritionists recommend giving the cat a diet that is similar to what it would eat in the wild. The best option, in this case, is raw meat.
Although it can be expensive to get the actual raw meat from the wild, you can buy frozen raw meat that is almost similar to what wild cats eat. An alternative for frozen raw meat is steamed near-raw cat food that has been dehydrated to kill pathogens.
One advantage of frozen raw food over canned or dry cat food is that it is less processed and, therefore, retains most of the original nutrients. Frozen raw foods usually come with instructions on how to prepare them before giving the cat.
When buying frozen cat foods, make sure you know the type and the percentage of ingredients. In most freeze-dried raw cat foods, the meat content is usually above 95%. Some of them contain all the nutrients that your cat will need while others need to be supplemented with other foods.
There are lots of concerns on the sources and what is included in the byproducts added to cat foods. Reputable cat food brands include byproducts that are sourced from highly digestible and nutritious animal organs like liver or lungs.
However, some cat food brands may contain byproducts who origin is questionable. When buying cat food, make sure you go for a diet prepared by a reputable pet company that you can trust.
The ideal diet for a cat is high animal proteins, high animal fats content and low carb. Animal proteins usually contain certain essential nutrients like taurine and arachidonic acid that are not found in plant-based proteins.
Animal proteins may be found in beef, chicken, turkey, fish, poultry and other animals. Before buying your cat’s favorite brand, make sure to check the list of ingredients and their percentages. Animal proteins are listed first due to their moisture content, while other ingredients are listed further towards the bottom
Most cat owners avoid cat food brands that have grains and gluten as part of the ingredients. These two ingredients are known to cause allergies in cats, and some pet companies use them as fillers.
Also, note that feeding your cat a grain-free diet does not necessarily mean that the food is carbohydrate-free. Not all carbohydrates are grains, and some pet food manufacturers may replace the grains with more carbs like potatoes.
If you intend to buy low-carb cat food, simply don’t look at the presence of grains alone since there may be other ingredients that are carbs and not in the grains category.
Check this guide by Vets at petMD to know why grain-free cat food may not always be the best.
Consider Life stage and conditions
When taking care of human babies, the recommended procedure is to feed him/her with nutrient-dense high growth and soft diet and introduce other types of foods gradually as the baby grows. The same case applies to cats. Cat foods are prepared for different stages and conditions.
To know if you are buying the right cat food, check the label for a nutritional adequacy statement. The statement may read like this: “This food is complete and balanced for growth and reproduction” or “This food is balanced for all life stages.” There are specific foods for adult cats and kittens.
Also, pet food companies prepare special diets for cats with special conditions. For example, there are cat foods for older cats, for pregnant cats and indoor cats. Make sure to verify that what you are buying is the right product.
Research the cat food brand
Because you want to give your kitty the best, always research the cat food brand that you are buying. There are thousands of cat food brands, and sometimes, it may be too complicated to know which one is right.
Going an extra mile to know who the manufacturer is and any history of cat food recalls can help you identify any warning signs.
While the American Association of Feed Control Officials(AAFCO) requires commercial food companies to adhere to specific rules on nutrient levels, making a bit of research online can help you protect your cat.
If you are in doubt about a specific cat food brand or its ingredients, you can go an extra step and call or email the customer relations of the company. A pet food company that values its customers will gladly respond and answer any questions that you may have about their product.
As a cat owner and as a loyal friend of your kitty, the cat food price should be the least of your worries. The truly organic cat food, healthiest cat foods, and generally the best-selling cat food brands all come at a modest price. I call it modest because it’s neither too cheap nor too expensive to afford.
On several occasions, if you are lucky, you may get quality cheap cat food. There are a few affordable brands on the market is you are on a tight budget. But if you have some extra coins to spend, you will be spoilt for choice.