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 exercises 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 the best dry cat food 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 10 Top Rated Cat Food for Indoor Cats
|Editor's Picks||Product Name||Price||Rating|
|Best Overall||Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain||Check Price on Amazon||4.7|
|Best for Hairball Control||Iams ProActive Health Weight & Hairball Care||Check Price on Chewy||4.7|
|Best for Healthy Weight||Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice||Check Price on Amazon||4.7|
|Best Wet Food||Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Classic Pate||Check Price on PetSmart||5|
|Best L.I.D.||Natural Balance L.I.D. Indoor Grain-Free Salmon & Chickpea||Check Price on Chewy||4.3|
|Best Grain-Free||Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula||Check Price on PetSmart||4.7|
|Best Senior Food||Purina Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers||Check Price on Amazon||4.7|
|Best Natural||Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Indoor Cat Food||Check Price on PetSmart||4.5|
|Budget Option||Nestle Purina Catchow Indoor Cat Food||Check Price on Amazon||4.7|
|Also Consider||Nulo Freestyle Grain Free Indoor Cat Food||Check Price on Amazon||4.6|
- Brand: Taste of the Wild
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein
- Primary Proteins: Chicken, Venison, Salmon, Ocean Fish
- Calories: 425 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Roasted Venison & Smoked Salmon
- Life Stage: Adult
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. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain is one of 5 cat food recipes mentioned in our Taste of the Wild Cat Food Review.
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.
Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Roasted Venison, Smoked Salmon, Natural Flavor, Ocean Fish Meal, Dl-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
- Brand: Iams
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Grits, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Whole Grain Corn
- Primary Proteins: Chicken
- Flavor: Chicken
- Life Stage: Adult
- Calories: 302 kcal/cup
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. Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care is one of 5 recipes included in our review of Iams Cat Food.
Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Grits, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Turkey, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavor, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Egg Product, Caramel Color, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Bisulfate, Choline Chloride, Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharides, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Source of Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid], Taurine, Minerals [Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide], Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (Preservatives), L-Carnitine, Rosemary Extract.
- Brand: Nutro
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Brown Rice
- Primary Proteins: Chicken
- Calories: 378 kca//cup
- Flavor: Chicken & Brown Rice
- Life Stage: Adult
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. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice is one of 5 recipes included in our Nutro Cat Food Review.
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Soybean Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Oat Fiber, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
- Brand: Wellness
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Chicken Meal
- Primary Proteins: Chicken, Turkey
- Calories: 74 kcal/can
- Flavor: Chicken & Chicken Liver
- Life Stage: Adult
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 indoor 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.
Read here our detailed Wellness Cat Food Reviews.
Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Chicken Meal, Turkey, Pea Protein, Dried Ground Peas, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Pea Fiber, Ground Flaxseed, Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Alfalfa Meal, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.
- Brand: Natural Balance
- First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Chickpeas, Peas, Salmon Meal, and Pea Protein
- Primary Proteins: Salmon, Chickpea & Peas
- Flavor: Salmon
- Life Stage: Adult
- Calories: 329 kcal/cup
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.
You may also like our Natural Balance Cat Food Review.
Salmon, Chickpeas, Peas, Salmon Meal, Pea Protein, Dried Beet Pulp, Potatoes, Brewers Dried Yeast, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavor, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (source of phosphorus), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Inulin, Citric Acid (preservative), Rosemary Extract.
- Brand: Wellness
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes
- Primary Proteins: Chicken, Turkey & Peas
- Calories: 445 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Meal
- Life Stage: Adult
Another Core Indoor dry 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.
Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Chicory Root Extract, Choline Chloride, Cranberries, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Dried Kelp, L-Carnitine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
- Brand: Fancy Feast
- First 5 ingredients: Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products
- Primary Proteins: Beef, Turkey, Chicken
- Calories: 67 kcal/can
- Flavor: Beef, Turkey, Chicken
- Life Stage: Adult
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.
Find out more about the Fancy Feast Cat Food product line.
Turkey Feast In Roasted Turkey Flavor Gravy:
Poultry Broth, Turkey, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products, Chicken, Corn Starch-Modified, Artificial And Natural Flavors, Soy Flour, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide], Natural And Artificial Roasted Turkey Flavor, Taurine, Added Color, Choline Chloride, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate), Vitamins (Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B-1], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin [Vitamin B-3], Calcium Pantothenate [Vitamin B-5], Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex [Vitamin K], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B-6], Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B-2], Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin [Vitamin B-7], Folic Acid [Vitamin B-9], Vitamin D-3 Supplement).
Chicken Feast In Grilled Chicken Flavor Gravy:
Poultry Broth, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products, Turkey, Corn Starch-Modified, Artificial And Natural Flavors, Soy Flour, Salt, Calcium Phosphate, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide), Added Color, Natural Grilled Chicken Flavor, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin [Vitamin B-3], Calcium Pantothenate [Vitamin B-5], Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex [Vitamin K], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B-6], Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B-2], Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin [Vitamin B-7], Folic Acid [Vitamin B-9], Vitamin D-3 Supplement).
Beef Feast In Roasted Beef Flavor Gravy:
Meat Broth, Beef, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products, Corn Starch-Modified, Fish, Chicken, Artificial And Natural Flavors, Soy Flour, Added Color, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide), Natural Roasted Beef Flavor, Taurine, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B-1], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin [Vitamin B-3], Calcium Pantothenate [Vitamin B-5], Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex [Vitamin K], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B-6], Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B-2], Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin [Vitamin B-7], Folic Acid [Vitamin B-9], Vitamin D-3 Supplement.
- Brand: Blue Buffalo
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes
- Primary Proteins: Chicken
- Calories: 418 kcal/12.5 oz can
- Flavor: Chicken
- Life Stage: Adult
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. If you want to find out more about their company, product lines, and recall history, read our review of Blue Buffalo Cat Food.
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Powdered Cellulose, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Fish Oil, Cranberries, Blueberries, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, 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), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.
- Brand: Cat Chow
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken By-product Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Soy Flour, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal
- Primary Proteins: Chicken
- Calories: 358 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken
- Life Stage: Adult
Offering a great choice in value for money, this adult cat food from Purina helps to promote the overall health of your cat. With an added, high-fiber blend, you can be sure that your cat’s digestive tract will run smoothly.
Meanwhile, the lower percentage of protein will stop your cat from getting the zoomies, in order to burn off the added energy. With real chicken and added antioxidants, even this budget option can help you ensure your cat stays fit and healthy.
Chicken By-product Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Soy Flour, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-tocopherols, Chicken, Powdered Cellulose, Liver Flavor, Soybean Hulls, Calcium Carbonate, Phosphoric Acid, Salt, Natural Flavor, Choline Chloride, Parsley Flakes, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, 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), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)], L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5. N450019.
- Brand: Nulo
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Deboned Cod, Whole Peas
- Primary Proteins: Duck, Turkey & Chicken
- Calories: 468 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Duck & Lentils
- Life Stage: Adult
Grain-free, this is a great choice for indoor cats with sensitive stomachs. Designed to maintain your cat’s digestive system, alongside providing them with lean muscle mass, this is a great choice for active breeds who need to remain indoors.
Plenty of added vitamins and minerals keep your cat’s brain and body functioning at its best. Meanwhile, the added prebiotics help to ensure a smooth digestive tract, and therefore reducing the frequency of hairballs. Finally, a reduced carb intake works wonders on cats who need to watch their weight – making this a great choice for indoor cats!
Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Deboned Cod, Whole Peas, Lentils, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid), Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Kelp, Dried Sweet Potato, Dried Cranberries, Calcium Carbonate, Dl-Methionine, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Pyridoxidine Hydrochloride, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
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 its 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.
Who Is It For?
Cats who either mostly or completely live indoors have a few advantages: unlike outdoor cats, 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.
What To Look for in Food for Indoor Cats
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 to 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 into 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 is overweight)
- Moderately high in fiber
- Low to moderately low in fats (unless your cat gets plenty of exercise)
- Fortified with important vitamins and minerals.
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 use 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.
Should Indoor Cats Eat Wet or Dry Food?
Both wet and dry food have their own benefits and drawbacks when it comes to what is best for your cat. As such, the main thing to consider here is the individual needs of your kitty and what works best for you both. As long as the food itself is of high quality and provides the right nutrients to your cat, as well as a good level of moisture (regardless of whether this is wet or dry cat food.) then either option can be beneficial to your puss.
What’s The Difference Between Indoor Cat Food And Regular Cat Food
While both indoor and outdoor cats both have the same basics needs – and, of course, have their own individual differences – there are a few differences in what food works best for their needs. Indoor cats are less likely to be as active as outdoor cats unless they have a good cat tree or run designed for their needs. As such, they’re less likely to require as much protein in their diets.
These more leisurely lifestyles also mean they’ll need some helping hands when it comes to digestion. Since being active can aid in digestion, outdoor cats are less likely to require as much protein as indoor cats. Instead, indoor cats will need a good level of roughage, to help keep their digestion on track.
How to Read Food Labels
When it comes to food labels, things can get a little confusing. Especially as the rules and regulations surrounding the labeling requirements can change, with little to no notice. For this reason, we always suggest looking directly at the guaranteed analysis.
The guaranteed analysis provides a full breakdown of what’s available within the ingredients when the moisture has been taken out. For example, both wet and dry food can, technically, argue that their food is made of x% of chicken. Therefore, by looking at the guaranteed analysis, you can see which item offers the most chicken, when moisture is taken out of the equation and purely the ingredients are considered.
When this happens, you’ll be amazed at the difference between the different food manufacturers – and can see exactly who is using as much good-quality food as they say they are! Instead, the guaranteed analysis will break everything down for you – including the number of fillers used. And marks them up as a percentage (out of 100, of course). This makes it easy to quickly and confidently read food labels.
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 the 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 the 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 Coon – 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.
Check out our review of the 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 calorie 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 surgery or she’s pregnant/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.
You may also like our guide on the best dry food for senior cats.
Our Top Pick – Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain
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.
- Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM, Nutrition – General Feeding Guidelines for Cats, VCA