The pet food industry has millions of retailers and manufacturers competing for the same market.
And the truth is, it can be difficult to determine what food is good for your cat and the right ingredient and nutrient composition.
Cats are known to be notoriously picky about what they eat, and you will have to test a dozen cat food brands or more to find one brand that both you and the cat are comfortable and happy with.
However, choosing the best cat food for your cat is not always easy.
Because, you will need to learn how to read pet food labels, learn how to distinguish good and bad ingredients, find the right nutrient composition, etc.
Plus, there are too many choices, and there is a high likelihood of you buying brands that your cat will never like.
To make your evaluation process and purchasing decision easier, we compiled a list of the top-rated premium cat food brands that most cats and their owners are happy with. We also disclose the factors that we consider when testing and reviewing pet foods to narrow down to a few premium choices.
Our website is reader-supported. We research all reviewed products carefully to give you the best choices possible, and if you buy via links on our site we may earn a small commission.
Choosing the Best Cat Food Brands
Here are some of the considerations that you should make when choosing the ideal diet for your feline:
What is the First (Main) 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, duck, fish, and beef are some of the best sources of animal proteins for cats. It should also have a size-able proportion of healthy animal fats and low levels of carbohydrates.
Some brands may include grains such as wheat, corn, and soy. These ingredients are known to trigger allergies in cats.
If your cat is allergic to grains, the best thing is to buy a cat food brand that is grain free. 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, you should avoid formulas that include these chemicals in their ingredient list.
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 brand’s recent recalls can help quell such fears.
Some responsible companies conduct in-house independent tests before sending their foods to the stores.
Most reputable pet food companies such as Natural Balance, Blue Buffalo and Nutro foods have an internal department that is tasked with reviewing samples of pet foods before they are released to the market.This helps address issues of contamination, low composition of certain ingredients, and complaints from customers.
Best Dry Cat Food Reviews
1. Wellness-core Grain-Free (Turkey & Chicken)
The Wellness Core Grain-Free formula is prepared for all life stages. The main ingredients in this formula are turkey and chicken.
It is formulated by animal nutritionists and veterinarians to provide your 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 making the coat smooth and shiny.
2. Taste of the Wild Dry Cat Food
The Taste of the Wild formula is prepared to mimic the food that wild cats eat in the jungle.
It is prepared on the basis of a balanced diet and nutrition with minimal risk of your cat getting allergies.
This Taste of the Wild formula 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 required energy for an active cat.
It is supplemented with vegetables and fruits that not only boost the cat’s immune system but also supports the cat’s health. The fatty acid components support a smooth skin and coat.
This formula is made in the United States using ingredients sourced from US. This formula is our top pick for the best dry cat food brand.
Related: Taste of the Wild Review
Best Wet Cat Food Reviews
3. ZiwiPeak Canned Cat Cuisine
ZiwiPeak Cat Food is prepared with 93% fresh meat, organs, bones and green mussels from 100% free-range and grass-fed lamb and wild-caught rabbits.
The rabbit and lamb meat are combined to produce the right balance of proteins and animal fats.
ZiwiPeak is a moisture-rich and nutrient-dense diet that will not only help your cat grow healthy but also provide a balanced diet that is natural, grain-free and free of fillers and other additives that may trigger allergies.
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.
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.
4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free
Nature’s Variety Instinct is made with 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver as the first ingredients.
Other ingredients include in this formula include vegetables, fruits, and other wholesome ingredients. This diet does NOT contain any grains, potatoes, artificial colors or preservatives.
One unique feature about this formula is the pate texture that even finicky eaters will find delicious and digestible. 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 and Prairie line of food.
The Instinct line offers various nutritious choices for cats including raw frozen diets, can, kibble, biscuits, frozen bones, etc.
5. Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Canned Cat Food
Weruva Cats in the Kitchen is prepared with cage-free boneless chicken and topped up with fish oil to provide a balanced diet with high protein and fat proportion.
This formula is a limited ingredient diet that include 66% animal proteins and 33% fats. Its is prepared without grains such as corn and soy.
The manufacturer claims that that Weruva in the Kitchen 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 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
6. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe
Instinct Raw Boost Freeze-dried cat food is a premium formula that combines a high protein kibble and freeze-dried raw diet in one bag to provide your cat with a healthy meal.
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.
Instinct Raw Boost 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 recipe also prepares duck and rabbit flavors.
7. Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Recipe
The Stella & Chewy Freeze-dried raw cat food is made with 98% cage-free chicken.
It is 100% complete and balanced for all life stages.The ingredients used to prepare this recipe are 100% organic and sourced from within the United States.
This raw cat food diet is supplemented with taurine, probiotics and other nutrients that help in digestion and making the skin smooth. Also, the natural flavors make the food tasty and finicky eaters will eat to the last bunch.
This Freeze-dried cat formula is prepared by Stella & Chewy, one of the most trusted pet food companies in the country. The company prepares its brand of pet foods in its FDA-inspected kitchens using sustainable ingredients.
3. Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Chicken and Salmon Formula
The Prima Freeze-dried nuggets is a complete and balanced recipe for all life stages.
It is made with 100% human-grade raw ingredients, and its poultry and game ingredients are free of antibiotics and hormones.
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 of crude fats).
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.
Buyer's Guide to Cat Feeding
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.
Debunking the myths and learning what to look for in cat food can help you make an informed decision on the type of food to buy for your cat.
Dry Cat Food vs. Canned Cat Food
There exists a big debate on what to feed cats; on what type of food is better between dry and canned cat food.
The critics of dry recipes 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 recipes as long as you maintain a balance between dry and canned cat food.
However, vets warn that feeding dry cat food 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 stainless steel or ceramic cat fountain to encourage the cat to drink water or use treats to entice the cat to drink more water.
For a cat that has had urinary problems, it would be appropriate to transition to canned cat food to avert more problems. If you are in doubt about what is best for your feline, talk to your vet on the ideal diet to give your cat.
Is Raw Cat Food (Freeze-Dried) Safe?
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 recipe 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 hydrate 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 formulas, the meat content is usually above 95%.
There are lots of concerns on what is included in the byproducts added to cat diets.
Reputable cat food brands include byproducts that are sourced from highly digestible and nutritious animal organs like liver or lungs.
However, some brands may contain byproducts whose origin is questionable. When buying cat food, make sure you go for a diet prepared by a reputable pet company that you can trust.
A good diet for cats should have high animal proteins, high animal fats content and low carbs.
Animal proteins usually contain certain essential nutrients like taurine and arachidonic acid that are not found in plant-based proteins.
Animal proteins are present 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 propositions.
Animal proteins are listed first due to their moisture content, while other ingredients are listed towards the bottom
Are Grains Bad For Cats?
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 recipe, 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 a grain-free cat food may not always be the best.
Consider Life stage and Conditions
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 you are buying the appropriate food for your cat.
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 pet food brand or its ingredients, you can 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, healthiest cat formulas, 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 some occasions if you are lucky you may get a high quality cheap cat food. There are a few affordable brands on the market if you are on a tight budget. But if you have some extra dollars to spend, you will be spoilt for choices.
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