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Last updated: 11 Sep 2019

The Best Cat Food for Indoor Cats (Review) in 2019

Taste of the Wild Dry Cat Food

Taste of the Wild Dry Indoor Cat Food

Wellness Core Indoor Canned Cat Food

Wellness Core Pâté Indoor Cat Food

Meow Mix Wet Cat Food

Meow Mix Savory Morsels Wet Cat Food

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Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 10:07 am

If you have recently decided to change your cat’s lifestyle from mostly outdoorsy to indoor-only, you’re probably thinking about changing her diet – and if you’re not,  it’s time to do so. Cats who are free to wander outside get lots of exercise so they can eat foods high in calories and still maintain a healthy weight. But felines who spend most or all of their time inside the house/apartment are much less active, so it’s wise to keep those calories in check and tailor your cat’s diet to her unique needs.

But what cat foods are best suited for indoor cats? To answer that question, we read through research and veterinarian recommendations and checked out hundreds of cat food formulas on the market. In the end, we created this top 10 list that should help you find the best cat food for indoor cats easily. Of course, you have to figure out what flavors your cat likes the most, as well as what products fit your budget the best, but we hope that our recommendations, as well as our buying guide, will be able to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

The Best Cat Food for Indoor Cats

1

Unlike cats who have the ability to go outside and hunt and eat grasses, indoor cats need a good cat food that will satisfy all their needs and cravings. That’s where the Rocky Mountain Feline Recipe from Taste of the Wild comes in – rich in protein, healthy fats and fiber, this kibble contains everything an indoor cat needs, and then some.

The formula is packed with protein (42%) which comes from venison meat, smoked salmon and chicken meal, and contains a bunch of healthy, rich in vitamins and minerals ingredients such as legumes, vegetables and fruits, including sweet potatoes, peas, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and other. It’s also fortified with important vitamins and minerals and contains Taurine, an essential fatty acid that promotes healthy heart, muscles and eyes. Furthermore, to replace the grasses that outdoor cats eat, this cat food contains species-specific probiotics to help with digestion.

And finally, the Rocky Mountain Feline Recipe doesn’t contain any grains, including wheat and corn, and no artificial flavors, preservatives or colorings. It does, however, contain a good omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio, which is great news for your cat’s overall well-being, as well as her or his coat and skin.

Kilocalories: 3,745 kcal/kg or 390 kcal/cup

Minimum protein: 42%

Minimum fat: 18%

Maximum fiber: 3%

Maximum moisture: 10%

Roasted venison and smoked salmon formula

Contains omega 3 fatty acids (min) 0.3% and omega 6 fatty acids (min) 2.8%

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

Contains added probiotics

First three ingredients: chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes

Specification:
  • Brand: Taste of the Wild
  • Model: 74198609673
  • Weight: 15.2 pounds

2

If your indoor cat prefers wet food, the Core Pate by Wellness with chicken and chicken liver may be the ideal formula for your feline pet. Specifically designed for indoor cats, this wet cat food contains low levels of fat and protein, making it perfect for sedentary cat lifestyle.

The Core Pate contains a wide array of healthy, delicious ingredients, including chicken and chicken liver, turkey, peas, cranberries, flaxseed and dried kelp, but is fairly low in calories, which makes it ideal for kitties who love to laze around the apartment. The food is fortified with vitamins and minerals and has added Taurine for healthy heart and eyes. This wet canned food is free from grains, artificial preservatives, colors and flavors, so it’s well-suited for felines with sensitive stomachs.

Kilocalories: 148 kcal/ 5.5 oz can

Minimum protein: 11%

Minimum fat: 4%

Maximum fiber: 2%

Maximum moisture: 78%

Chicken and chicken liver formula

Contains omega 3 fatty acids (min) 0.10% and omega 6 fatty acids (min) 0.55%

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: chicken, chicken liver, chicken broth

Specification:
  • Brand: Wellness Core
  • Model: 7910
  • Weight: 5.4 ounces

3

Another Core Indoor cat food by Wellness, but this one dry and much higher in both protein and fat. With deboned chicken, turkey and chicken meal, this formula is rich in protein but contains 10% less calories than Core Original recipe, which is great news for indoor cats who lead less active lives than their outdoorsy counterparts.

The Core Indoor kibble is made from high-quality ingredients, which besides meat include various vegetables and fruits that provide a nutritionally complete meal. Ingredients such as peas, potatoes, tomatoes, flaxseed, cranberries and chicory root extract are full of antioxidants and fiber, so important for a sedentary cat lifestyle. The kibble is also fortified with important vitamins and minerals and contains Taurine and Glucosamine, supplements that promote joint, heart, muscle and eye health. Also, there are added probiotics which boost cat’s digestive health.

Kilocalories: 3,561 kcal/kg or 445 kcal/cup

Minimum protein: 38%

Minimum fat: 12%

Maximum fiber: 5%

Maximum moisture: 10%

Deboned chicken, turkey and chicken meals formula

Contains omega 3 fatty acids (min) 0.50% and omega 6 fatty acids (min) 3%

With Glucosamine and Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

Contains added probiotics

First three ingredients: deboned chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal

Specification:
  • Brand: Wellness Core
  • Model: 8853
  • Weight: 11 pounds

4

Made with whole chicken and healthy, non-GMO vegetables, the Halo Holistic cat food is an excellent choice for indoor cats who prefer (or can only eat) wet foods. Formulated for adult cats who have little physical activity, this wet canned food is low in fat and fairly low in protein.

Besides whole chicken, this formula also contains turkey as its main protein source, as well as a few super-healthy vegetables, including carrots, green beans, peas and sweet potatoes. To be nutritionally complete, this cat food is enriched with important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E, A, D3, B12, and minerals iron, zinc, manganese and others. Importantly, there are no grains present, artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, and the cans are all BPA-free. Because of its very high moisture content (84%), this cat food is especially beneficial for felines who don’t drink enough water or have kidney disease.

Related Post: Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease

Kilocalories: 160 kcal/5.5 oz can

Minimum protein: 9%

Minimum fat: 6%

Maximum fiber: 1.50%

Maximum moisture: 85.5%

Chicken pate recipe

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver

Specification:
  • Brand: Halo
  • Model: 40080
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds

5

Specially formulated to meet the unique needs of indoor cats, the Iams ProActive Health cat food contains a host of healthy ingredients and beneficial supplements. The kibble is rich in protein thanks to chicken and whole grains, and moderately rich in healthy fats thanks to dried eggs, fish oil and other ingredients.

Although it contains a bunch of healthy veggies and grains, this cat food is lower in calories when compared with Iams Original formulas by 10%. It’s also packed with fiber for healthy digestion. That’s an important detail for indoor cats who mostly lead a sedentary lifestyle. Another interesting bit about this kibble is that it contains L-Carnitine, a fat-burning supplement, as well as ingredients that help reduce hairballs and those unpleasant litter-box odors. Of course, the kibble also contains added vitamins and minerals, so it’s guaranteed to provide everything an adult cat needs.

Kilocalories: 3,381 kcal/kg or 274 kcal/cup

Minimum protein: 30%

Minimum fat: 11%

Maximum fiber: 8.3%

Maximum moisture: 10%

Chicken formula

Contains omega 3 fatty acids (min) 0.2% and omega 6 fatty acids (min) 2%

With L-Carnitine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn grits

Specification:
  • Brand: Iams
  • Model: 10146538
  • Weight: 7 pounds

6

If you’re looking to spoil your kitty with some delicious gourmet cuisine, look no further than this cat food. The Fancy Feasts by Purina is a delicious combination of your feline pet’s favorite flavors, including chicken, turkey and beef, all slow-cooked and served in tasty gravy.

This wet cat food features chunks of small bites that are not only crazy-tasty, but nutritious too: the variety pack includes three different flavors, but each can pack contains numerous supplements that make the food balanced and healthy. There is Taurine for healthy heart, muscle and vision, as well as vitamins E, A, D3 and B vitamins, along with minerals zinc, magnesium, potassium, manganese and other. Each can has a very low fat percentage and a moderate amount of protein, which is important for indoor cats who need to control their weight.

Kilocalories: Turkey flavor 67 kcal/can, Chicken flavor 68 kcal/can, Beef flavor 66 kcal/can

Minimum protein: 9%

Minimum fat: 2%

Maximum fiber: 1.5%

Maximum moisture: 82%

Poultry and Beef collection

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: Turkey: poultry broth, turkey, liver; Chicken: poultry broth, chicken, liver; Beef: meat broth, beef, liver

Specification:
  • Brand: Purina
  • Model: 50000580064
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds

7

If your indoor cat has a sensitive stomach and hairballs are a real problem, we highly encourage you to check out the Natural Balance, Limited Ingredient cat food. This kibble contains salmon as its main protein source and chickpeas and other vegetables for high fiber content.

The kibble is specifically formulated for indoor cats that are less active than pets who regularly spend time outside. It’s high in protein and fiber but low in fat, which is supposed to keep your kitty satisfied, healthy and lean. The salmon is the first ingredient, which helps maintain healthy and shiny coat, while chickpeas, dried beet pulp, potatoes, peas and other ingredients up the fiber content and help with digestion and hairball control. The kibble is also enriched with important minerals and vitamins and contains Taurine and naturally-occurring prebiotics. Also, there are no grains nor artificial flavors or colors here.

Kilocalories: 3217 kcal/kg or 329 kcal/cup

Minimum protein: 30%

Minimum fat: 8%

Maximum fiber: 8%

Maximum moisture: 12%

Salmon and chickpea formula

Contains omega 3 fatty acids (min) 0.5% and omega 6 fatty acids (min) 1.5%

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: salmon, chickpeas, peas

Specification:
  • Brand: Natural Balance

8

The Blue Freedom by Blue Buffalo is specially formulated for felines who live indoors and have sensitive stomachs. This wet cat food is grain and gluten free, but contains nutritionally-rich ingredients that satisfy even the pickiest cats out there.

This cat food contains moderate amounts of protein and low amounts of fat, which is perfect for not-so-active cats. With chicken as its main protein source and veggies, fruits and seeds such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cranberries, blueberries and flaxseed, this canned food has everything an adult cat needs. Of course, the food also contains added vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, E, D3, and minerals zinc, calcium, potassium and others. Taurine is also there for heart, muscle and eye health. What’s not there are artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, as well as wheat, corn and soy.

Kilocalories: 97 Kcals/can

Minimum protein: 9%

Minimum fat: 6.5%

Maximum fiber: 2%

Maximum moisture: 78%

Chicken recipe

Contains omega 3 fatty acids (min) 0.10% and omega 6 fatty acids (min) 0.56

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 800522
  • Weight: 8.25 pounds

9

Made with farm-raised chicken and whole brown rice, the Nutro’s Indoor Adult Dry Cat food is as tasty as it is nutritious. The formula features a unique blend of whole grains for natural fiber and important antioxidants, and is crafted with a high percentage of omega 6 fatty acids, for healthy and shiny coat.

This kibble contains lots of healthy, delicious ingredients, including chicken, rice, alfalfa, potatoes, dried beet pulp, and flaxseed, all combined to increase the food’s fiber content and improve feline digestion.  Although it has quite a number of grains and whole grains, the formula supports healthy weight as it contains a moderate amount of fat and calories in general. The kibble is also fortified with minerals and vitamins and contains Taurine to promote heart and eye health and muscle development. There are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives present.

Kilocalories: 3,613 kcal/kg or 372 kcal/cup

Minimum protein: 33%

Minimum fat: 14%

Maximum fiber: 7%

Maximum moisture: 10%

Chicken and brown rice formula

Contains omega 6 fatty acids (min) 3%

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice

Specification:
  • Brand: Nutro
  • Model: 10164256
  • Weight: 14 pounds

10

Affordable, delicious and packed with nutrients, the Meow Mix Savory Morsels are one of the best wet cat foods on the market, especially if you’re looking to lower the fat content in your cat’s diet. This particular variety is Seafood Selections and it features several highly nutritious fish that all felines absolutely love.

The Seafood Selections has three different variety packs: Real Tuna & Whole Shrimp in Sauce, Real Salmon & Ocean Fish in Gravy and Real Tuna & Crab in Gravy. Depending on the cup, the food contains various fish, including tuna, sardines, salmon and crab as its main protein sources, which means it not only contains moderate amounts of protein for a wet food, but it’s packed with healthy omega 3 fatty acids. But what’s really interesting about this cat food is that, although is crazy-tasty, it’s very low in fats, which is perfect for indoor cats that are not particularly active. To be a nutritionally complete meal, this cat food has added vitamins and minerals and contains a small amount of Taurine for healthy heart, vision and muscles.

Minimum protein: Tuna & Shrimp: 11%, Salmon & Ocean Fish: 8%, Tuna & Crab: 8%

Minimum fat: Tuna & Shrimp: 1.8 %, Salmon & Ocean Fish: 2%, Tuna & Crab: 2%

Maximum fiber: 1.5%

Maximum moisture: 82%

With Taurine

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

First three ingredients: Tuna & Shrimp: tuna, fish broth, sardines; Salmon & Ocean Fish: fish broth, fish, chicken; Tuna & Crab: fish broth, chicken, tuna

Specification:
  • Brand: Meow Mix
  • Model: 10079100455123-PARENT
  • Weight: 2.72 ounces

Best Cat Food for Indoor Cats Buying Guide & FAQ

Because indoor cats have a different lifestyle than outdoor cats, it’s important that their diet is tailored to their unique needs. For instance, it’s always a good idea to buy cat foods that are high in protein as most felines thrive on such diets, however, if you have an overweight cat that spends most of his time lazing around the place, it’s better to go for foods that are lower in all macronutrients, including protein and fat.

We realize that finding the best food for indoor cats can be a bit difficult, so we’ve put together this buying guide and we answered some of the FAQs down below. Read on to learn about important aspects of feeding an indoor cat and things you should pay close attention to. The more you know about the special needs of indoor cats, the easier it will be to purchase the right product.

Important Considerations for Feeding Indoor Cats

Cats who either mostly or completely live indoors have a few advantages: unlike outdoor cars, they’re not exposed to various life-threatening situations that outdoor cats are, such as car accidents, predation from dogs and other animals, etc. They’re also much less exposed to feline diseases and fleas and parasites. Overall, indoor cats do appear to lead healthier lifestyles than their outdoor counterparts, but that’s only, and only if they’re fed well and they get a fair bit of exercise/play.

Because they cannot go outside and hunt, run and play, indoor cats definitely tend to be less physically active. For this reason, it’s of vital importance to tailor their diet to their unique needs – a good cat food for indoor cats needs to have all important nutrients and then some. For instance, since indoor pets can’t eat grasses they normally eat outside, cat foods need to be moderately high in fiber to help with their digestion and hairball control. The tricky part? These cat foods cannot be too high in calories.

Related Post: Best High Fiber Cat Food

As we mentioned a few times throughout this article, indoor cats are simply not active enough to eat foods very high in calories – at least not frequently. So what the problem comes down to is finding the cat food that has all the right nutrients and that is preferably rich in protein and fiber, but is not very high in calories.

But how is one supposed find such cat foods? Well, definitely check out our Top Picks if you already haven’t, as you’re guaranteed to find the right product there. But if you really want to make sure you’re doing everything right, talk to your vet. In order to recommend the right cat food, your veterinarian should weigh your cat, check if she has any health issues and take in consideration her physical activity levels.  Of course, it’s best if the vet can tell you how many calories your pet should roughly eat a day, but this is not absolutely necessary as you should be able to guesstimate how much food is enough based on your cat’s current state ( for example, if she’s stressed out because you moved recently or she’s nursing, etc., it’s perfectly fine to feed her more than you normally would).

Generally speaking, although all cats are different, it’s a good idea to look for foods that are:

  • High to moderately high in protein (unless your cat if overweight)
  • Moderately high in fiber
  • Low to moderately low in fats (unless your cat gets plenty of exercise)
  • Fortified with important vitamins and minerals.

Related Post: Best Cat Food for Hairballs

Ingredients To Avoid Feeding Your Indoor Cat

We’ve covered the things you should focus on when purchasing cat food, but what about the things you should avoid?

Like all cats, indoor cats require high-quality protein, healthy fats and some fiber to be healthy, but they do not need many carbohydrates, including grains, vegetables and fruits, in order to thrive. Does that mean you should avoid these foods? Absolutely not – many whole grains, fruits and veggies contain a bunch of beneficial ingredients, including antioxidants such as vitamins and minerals, and other healthy compounds. However, being that most cat foods are already fortified with vitamins and minerals, if you have an overweight cat, it’s best to put her on a low-carbohydrate diet and focus on good-quality meat (protein).

But whether your indoor cat is lean and healthy, or overweight and could use to lose some weight, there are things he or she should always stay away from. These include:

  • Artificial preservatives: all cat foods must contain some form of preservative so they can last a long time, however, it’s best to avoid questionable preservatives such as large amounts of BHA, BHT and TBHQ.
  • Artificial flavors: a good cat food will contain everything a feline already loves to eat, and while a little bit of added flavor can’t do much harm to outdoorsy cats, it’s best to avoid them for indoor cats completely, simply because they’re not as active.
  • Garlic and onions: why would a cat food contain garlic and onions, you ask? We don’t know, but we can positively tell you that quite a number of brands uses garlic as a flavoring for their cat and dog foods, even though a steady intake of the Allium species can cause anemia in cats and dogs.

Related Post: Best Cat Doors

cat food

Best Cat Food for Indoor Cats FAQ:

Q:  Do indoor cats need different food?

A:  Because most indoor cats don’t get nearly as much exercise as cats that are free to explore the great outdoors, most indoor cats do need to be fed differently – namely, they should eat less. However, that doesn’t mean that cat foods for indoor cats should be less nutritious – on the contrary, these foods should contain even more nutrients than ‘regular’ cat food. Protein, fat, fiber and a wide array of minerals and vitamins should all be a part of your indoor cat’s diet.

Some of the best cat food brands have specially formulated kibble and wet food for indoor lifestyle, however, it’s not necessary to look for specifically labeled indoor cat food in order to feed your feline pet the right nutrients. Just focus on healthy cat foods and avoid over-feeding your furry friend.

Q:  Should I use the feeding recommendations on the food label?

A:  If you have a healthy, lean cat and you buy only best cat food (no overly processed fillers and a bunch of unnecessary calories), then using the feeding recommendations on the cat food label is not only ok, but advisable.

But if your kitty is on the chubby side, it’s wise to talk to your vet as she or he can tell you if you should reduce your cat’s caloric intake and by how much. If they advise you to feed your cat less than what is recommended on the food label, definitely listen to their advice.

Q:  Can cat food go bad?

A:  To be able to last for months without spoiling, all cat foods contain some form of preservatives. Some contain natural, other artificial preservatives, but if you’re buying a done formula, it’s bound to have some ingredients that will keep the food fresh and safe for a long time. Saying that, cat foods do not last forever – they can definitely go bad, even if their expiration date is still not due. For instance, if the food is exposed to high temperatures during transport, it can go bad before it even reaches your doorstep! That’s why it’s important to:

  • Only buy foods that contain preservatives
  • Actually look at and smell the food before you serve it
  • Store it as advised on the label.

Q:  How Big Should My Indoor Cat Be?

A:  Cats love to eat, we love to spoil our cats – do you see the problem? It’s easy to over-feed our feline pets when they beg for their toppings, treats and other not-that-healthy foods. But it’s important to stay your ground when feeding an indoor cat. No matter how much he or she meows and begs for more, do not over-feed. Even just a couple of extra pounds puts your cat at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other health problems.

According to Pet Health Center, domestic cats should weigh around 10 pounds, although of course, this can vary depending on the breed and frame. For example, a 5 pound Siamese cat can be as healthy as a 25 pound Maine Coone – it just depends on the breed. It’s always best to check with your vet, but if you want a quick tip, here’s one: when you look down at your cat, he or she should have that hourglass figure. If you see a saggy belly hanging down, it’s highly likely your kitty is overweight.

Related Post: Best Cat Food for Bengals

Q:  How Much Should I Feed Her?

A:  How much should you feed your cat depends on a few factors:

  • Physical activity: if your cat leads a sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to keep an eye on her daily calories intake. If she gets a fair bit of exercise, it’s ok to be more relaxed with her diet.
  • Stress levels: if you’ve recently moved, or your cat had a surgery or she’s pregant/nursing, it’s ok to give her more food than usual. However, once the stressor is eliminated or reduced, it’s advisable to follow the feeding recommendations established by your veterinarian.
  • Weight: if your cat is lean and healthy, just follow the feeding recommendations on the food label, but if she’s overweight make sure you reduce her daily calorie intake.
  • Life stage: kittens and still developing indoor cats require more food than adult and senior cats. Seniors who are not particularly active should eat much less than ‘regular’ felines, so make sure you do not over-feed them.

Related Post: Probiotics for Cats

indoor cat eating

Our Top Pick

All cat foods that ended up on Our Top Pick list are great choices for indoor cats. But Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Recipe would be our top-of-the-top product because it’s highly, highly nutritious and palatable.

Although not particularly low in fats and calories in general, this kibble has absolutely all essential nutrients an indoor cat needs:

  • It’s high in protein
  • It has moderate amounts of fats
  • It contains moderate amounts of fiber
  • It has species-specific added probiotics
  • Has no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors

All of these things make this kibble great for feline’s overall health. However, because this is not a low-calorie food, it’s important not to over-feed your cat but feed her the recommended amount of food (vet recommendations are the best) on the same schedule that she’s been accustomed to.

All in all, we found the Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Recipe to be a budget-friendly, healthy and nutritious cat food that is well-suited for indoor cats.

Related Post: Best Hypoallergenic Cat Food

Sources:

  1. What Makes Indoor Cat Food Different? - VetInfo
  2. Indoor Life Versus Outdoor Life for Cats - PetMD
  3. A Healthy Weight for Your Cat - WebMD
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Dr Tracy Douglas
Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
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