It is important to ensure optimum feline health if you want to have a more meaningful and long-lasting relationship with your pet. And what better way to do this than to give Garfield highly nutritious food?

Good dry cat food is rich in protein and low in carbs yet provides sufficient amounts of hydration to address your cat's water needs.

Unfortunately, choosing the best cat food may not be easy since there will always be unscrupulous manufacturers that undermine high-quality food manufacturing at the expense of your fur baby's health. Don't worry, though, as we're here to share with you the result of our research on the ten best dry cat foods on the market. So let's take a look.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cats depend on high-protein diets that are simultaneously low in carbohydrates.
  2. If your cat doesn’t drink a lot, it’s important to consider wet food instead of dry to help them stay hydrated.
  3. However, dry food contains more nutrients since wet food is comprised mostly of water - a topper can be an easy solution in this case.
  4. Learning and understanding the ingredients in cat food is vital.
  5. Manufacturers MUST declare what is and isn't contained in their products - always check the labels.
  6. Age-appropriate foods are necessary for your cat as kittens, adults, and seniors have different nutritional needs.

A Quick Overview of the 10 Top Rated Dry Cat Foods

Editor's Pick
Allergens
Calories
First 5 Ingredients
Dry Matter Basis
Pros
Cons
Bottom Line
Rating
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ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Cat Food
Best Air-Dried
None
273 kcal/scoop
Mackerel, Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver.
Protein: 50% Fat: 29% Fiber: 2%
Limited ingredients Highly digestible
Contains a strong smell Expensive
Provides a great alternative to raw diets, is easily digestible, and is considered safe for sensitive stomachs.
4
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Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball Control & Weight Control
Best For Weight Control
Barley, Chicken
363 kcal/cup
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Barley, Brown Rice, and Pea Starch.
Protein: 33% Fat: 11% Fiber: 10%
Made with wholesome grains Includes gut-friendly probiotics
Previous customers recommend checking with a vet before feeding this to your feline.
Made with a controlled balance of protein, healthy fruits, and veggies to help cats maintain a healthy weight.
4.5
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Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Rice
Best For Joint Problems
Gluten
458 kcal/cup
Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Deboned Chicken, Pea Fiber, Turkey Meal.
Protein: 42% Fat: 20% Fiber: 3%
Great omega fatty acid balance Few allergens
Higher in calories compared to other brands featured here. Some fussy eaters may not take to this formula
The perfect pick for kittens as it utilizes DHA to help brain function and development.
4.5
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Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels
Best Freeze-Dried
Chicken
182 kcal/cup
Chicken (Ground With Bone), Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride.
Protein: 47% Fat: 26% Fiber: 5%
Low in calories 98% chicken, bone, and organs
Can be expensive
This grain and gluten-free option provides ample nutrition for cats. All you have to do is add water.
4.3
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Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Kitten Food
Best For Kittens
Eggs and chicken
557 kcal/cup
Chicken, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat, Egg Product.
Protein: 46% Fat: 24% Fiber: 3%
Real chicken Includes ingredients to support healthy digestion
Kibble pieces are not safe for larger breed cats Higher in calories
If your kitten is in need of a high-protein diet, this contains at least 43.5% of real chicken to entice your kitty.
4.4
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Wysong Epigen Starch-Free Chicken Formula
Best High-Protein
Chicken
435 kcal/cup
Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potato Protein, Meat Protein Isolate.
Protein: 67% Fat: 17% Fiber: 4%
Can be used as a meal or topper Can aid weight loss
Cats with sensitive stomachs may not react well
Not only can this be a standalone meal, but it can also be a topper or protein booster to aid weight loss, strength enhancement, and more.
3.8
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Dr. Elsey's CleanProtein Chicken Formula
Best For Immune Support
Chicken and Eggs
554 kcal/cup
Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat.
Protein: 67% Fat: 20% Fiber: 4%
95% animal-based protein Low in carbs
Kibble pieces may be too large for smaller cats/breeds
A low-priced, low-carb, but high-protein option best suited for active, outdoor cats.
4.4
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Natural Balance L.I.D. Salmon & Chickpea Formula
Best Hypoallergenic
Fish
329 kcal/cup
Salmon, Chickpeas, Peas, Salmon Meal, and Pea Protein.
Protein: 32% Fat: 9% Fiber: 11%
Few food allergens Perfect for indoor cats
Food can spoilt easily
This option is perfect for less-active, indoor cats that require less protein or limited ingredients due to sensitivities.
4.3
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Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Raw Nuggets Freeze-Dried
Best For Picky Eaters
Chicken
128 kcal/oz
Chicken, Chicken Necks, Chicken Gizzards, Salmon, Chicken Livers.
Protein: 54% Fat: 33% Fiber: 1%
Can be used as a meal or topper No hormones
Can be expensive
These raw nuggets can entice the pickiest of eaters with a combined chicken and salmon formula.
4.1
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Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe
Best For Indoor Cats
Corn, Gluten, Wheat, Chicken
319 kcal/cup
Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Fat.
Protein: 34% Fat: 14% Fiber: 13%
DHA to support brain function Suited for indoor cats
Contains filler ingredients Not recommended for cats with sensitive stomachs
This recipe contains more allergens than others but can be beneficial for those that aren’t vulnerable to sensitivities.
4.3

1 Best Air-Dried: Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel & Lamb Recipe Cat Food

Best Air-Dried: Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel & Lamb Recipe Cat Food
Key features:
  • Brand: ZIWI
  • Allergens: None
  • First 5 Ingredients: Mackerel, Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver
  • Primary Proteins: Fish, lamb
  • Flavor: Mackeral and Lamb
  • Life Stage: All
  • Calories: 273 kcal/scoop
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$100

Limited ingredient foods are always a big benefit to animals and never more so than with cats. Their naturally carnivorous nature will love the grain-free, low-carb ingredients. And many users note that their cats are keen to jump into each dish and enjoy to their heart’s content. Being high in protein, this option also caters to their active lifestyle and is, therefore, a great choice for outdoor cats.

ZIWI has worked to include as many superfoods as possible, without marring the taste and overall nutritional value of the food. That makes this a great choice for those seeking to add any additional supplements to their cat’s diet, without reaching for multiple extras to work in on their own. In other words, this is a great choice for cats in all life stages.

Ingredients:

Mackerel, Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver, Lamb Lung, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Kidney, Lamb Bone, Lecithin, Inulin from Chicory, Dried Kelp, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Salt, Preservative (Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), DL-Methionine, Taurine.

What others say about it:
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My cat loves this food

Recently I took in a stray that I decided I want to try and put on a healthy diet so in my discovery the Ziwi Peak mackerel and lamb seem fitting. So far my cat loves it and comes running every time she hears me open the door (I keep her food in the closet because she is liable to tear through the bag haha) and yelling to fill the bowl. Her coat is extremely soft and shines nicely, she is also a clean cat but I would attribute it to the ingredients in this food. It does come with a small scooper and since it is the high protein you feed smaller amounts to them. The downside to this food is that the bag is small and it is somewhat pricey, however, for the health of our pets, it’s worth it to pay the higher price. I also feed a little bit of Weruva cans to my cat to help keep the bag last longer. Since I have one cat and can afford to do this, it works out.

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Something to Chew

My cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and is not supposed to have dry food anymore. This is a good transition because it’s very low carb but gives him something to sink his teeth into. Awesome quality ingredients.

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A great treat for an old cat

My 18-year-old cat left for the rainbow bridge on April 2. This mackerel and lamb cat food had been a favorite for several years. Near the last of his life, he was eating very poorly but this mackerel and lamb food still enticed him. Over the years Chewy has been the best source of food, medicine, and cat products for my very indulged and spoiled cat. Also, customer service is beyond compare always.

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Pros
  • A high level of digestible ingredients means every mouthful adds nutritional value
  • The air-drying process cuts out the risk of bacteria growth
  • A great alternative to raw food diets and more accessible for everyday cat owners.
Cons
  • Very strong smelling dry cat food
  • Can be a little sticky due to higher moisture content
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2 Best for Weight Control: Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Best for Weight Control: Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
Key features:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Allergens: Barley, Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Barley, Brown Rice, and Pea Starch
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, pea protein
  • Flavor: Chicken and Brown Rice
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 363 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$25

Clearly deserving a spot in our list of the 10 best dry cat foods is this kibble from Blue Buffalo. BLUE for Cats Adult Dry Cat Food enjoys the trust of a great number of feline pet owners because of its amazing array of flavor choices and clinical purposes. It typically comes in single meat protein sources like chicken, salmon, and turkey or a combination of the three and added with brown rice. 

In addition to this healthy wholesome grain, Blue Buffalo also includes natural vegetables to help provide the cat food with an exceptional profile of natural antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are packed into a proprietary technology Blue Buffalo calls LifeSource Bits. What really makes the Blue Buffalo stand out is the inclusion of 5 different strains of gut-friendly probiotics to help improve the digestion of your feline friend. Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control is one of 9 cat food recipes included in our Blue Buffalo Cat Food Review.

Ingredients:

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Barley, Brown Rice, Pea Starch, Pea Protein, Powdered Cellulose, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Peas, Oatmeal, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Calcium Sulfate, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Psyllium Seed Husks, Potassium Chloride, Potatoes, L-Lysine, Taurine, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Salt, L-Carnitine, Vegetable juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

What others say about it:
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My overweight cat LOVES this food!

First off the price is a really good price online, because in-store it cost about $19.99 to $21.99 for a small bag. I was a little bit worried about buying weight control food because lots of cats don’t like the taste of that type of wood.. my cat is absolutely obsessed with it! I feed him a 1/2 cup of the dry BB weight control twice a day. It keeps him full, and he doesn’t whine for more food like the last food that he was on at the shelter, Science Diet. Also, I think he had some gastrointestinal problems from the science diet because when I adopted him, he had wicked gas and loose/diarrhea stools. Blue Buffalo, his stool is now solid and nice size, so he’s not clogged up or having any type of gastro problems. I noticed on Science Diet he would throw up a couple of times a week, since him eating Blue Buffalo, no vomiting! Also, I noticed this food gives him a nice source of energy, he likes to play and is very active throughout the day! Will be purchasing the food again and doing the AutoShip. Didn’t do AutoShip last time because I wanted to make sure he actually liked the food, definitely recommend this food for anyone who has an overweight cat! He looks like he is losing a little bit of weight one day at a time.

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She loves it

My cat loves this food so much, that she knocked the bag over and helped herself. At first, she wasn’t always chewing the completely round nuggets, but after a few days, she was crunching all of them. I have noticed that her hairballs come up more easily and are less solid. She’s on a weight control diet and this is one of only a few weight-conscious foods she likes.

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Picky eaters like it

Hard to get something both these grazers like other than one kind so I was pleased they like the small round nuggets. Gives them some variety in their dry food.

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Pros
  • Fortified with DHA, EPA, and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Contains vitamins and minerals sourced from healthy fruits and veggies
  • Enriched with fermentation extracts from 5 strains of gut-friendly probiotics
Cons
  • Can lead to urinary crystals – check with a vet before buying!
  • Not as palatable to cats as some other brands
Show More

3 Best for Joint Problems: Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Rice

Best for Joint Problems: Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Rice
Key features:
  • Brand: Wellness Complete
  • Allergens: Gluten
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Deboned Chicken, Pea Fiber, Turkey Meal
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, pea, turkey
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 458 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$34

There’s no doubt that Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Cat Food is one of the 10 best cat foods in the market especially for felines that are at high risk for the development of joint problems such as arthritis. One of the main advantages of Wellness Natural is that it includes chondroitin and glucosamine in its formulation, affording felines the ability to nourish and optimize the health of their joints. Wellness Natural has another big plus going its way. It contains one of the highest levels of crude protein in our list, currently rated at a minimum of 38%.

While this is naturally beneficial especially for young cats, making it an excellent kitten food, too high a protein level can be quite dangerous to cats that have kidney problems, however. Like the other products in our list, Wellness Natural uses chicken as its primary protein source although getting the salmon or the combination of salmon and turkey would be more interesting as these provide EPA and DHA for brain health and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Regardless, Wellness Natural should still be a great choice since it has an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids plus the addition of natural antioxidants. If you want to find out more about their company, product lines, and recall history, read our review of Wellness Cat Food.

Ingredients:

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Rice, Barley, Oats, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Ground Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Natural Chicken Flavor, Cranberries, Chicory Root Extract, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Calcium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, 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.

What others say about it:
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Excellent food

Food is high in animal protein which is important for a cat. It also contains some healthy grains which would be found naturally in a cat’s diet if they were to catch their own food in the wild since their preys eat grains. it has helped my cat with a sensitive stomach. Both cats love the food and are healthy. We also use wellness can pate.

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Cat food for longevity!

Wellness brand cat food was recommended to me many years ago, and it has been my cat’s steady diet since. She’s 20+ years old now, and even though she has the typical health issues that old cats experience (e.g., kidney disease), she continues to thrive.

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High quality food

This food has had a positive impact on the digestive and urinary health of my cat. She seems to like the taste as well.

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Pros
  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine
  • Fortified with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants
  • 1:4 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids
Cons
  • Not the most palatable
  • Many buyers noted that their cat had no interest in this dry cat food
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4 Best Freeze-Dried: Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels

Best Freeze-Dried: Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels
Key features:
  • Brand: Stella & Chewy
  • Allergens: Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken (Ground With Bone), Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 182 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$400

This freeze-dried raw food from Stella & Chewy has proven to be consistently highly rated. This is likely due to the quality content of the cat food as a whole – but it also comes with a wide range of additional benefits. Added supplements help to maintain the overall health of your cat, while grain-free food makes sure that every mouthful is packed with nutrients.

Everything is sourced from organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. Which, when combined with the top-quality production process, right made here in the US, offers unbeatable value for money. Your cat is sure to love this food and will reap the benefits of all the added goodness it has to offer.

Ingredients:

Chicken (Ground With Bone), Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Fenugreek Seed, Dried Pediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Dandelion, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

What others say about it:
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Stella & Chewy’s Freeze makes a difference

My 17-year-old senior kitty has kidney issues and is hyperthyroid – think “feed me” constantly. She does well if she lasts 4 hours between meals. After that, she starts tapping me and then advances to the most unattractive yowling. There have been numerous $$$ expensive trips to the vet which she does not relish. Not sure if the thyroid meds help much, but Stella & Chewy’s has made a difference! To help combat the thyroid hunger issues, I found out that I needed to add more protein to her diet and that free-dried might be a solution. It includes nutrient-rich organ meat which is good for cats. I reconstitute it with water so it has a gravy consistency. So far so good and she seems much more content! There is a lovely added bonus – less smelly poops! I alternate the Stella & Chewy’s and Hill’s kidney wet food for her meals and have completely dropped kibble. Bella agrees!

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Soft pellets cause throw up

Normally I love giving my kitty a few pellets of this as her treat after playtime. This time we noticed some of the pellets were softer than usual. It took us a few weeks to figure out what was causing her to throw up, and now we know it’s if she eats a soft pellet. When she does, she throws up her entire meal the following morning. I wanted everyone to be aware of this since it took us a while to figure out through a process of elimination.

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picky cat lifesaver

my cat is sooo picky and only eats her food if I mix it with treats and even then she’ll pick around and only eat the treats sometimes. But she loves this food! She keeps going back for more and getting excited about food and it’s so nice to see for her because I’m always struggling to get her to eat and having to force-feed her high-calorie paste.

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5 Best for Kittens: Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

Best for Kittens: Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken
Key features:
  • Brand: Nature’s Variety
  • Allergens: Egg, chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat, Egg Product
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, turkey, fish
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: Kitten
  • Calories: 557 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$83

If it’s a high-protein dry cat food that you’re after, then Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe is a splendid choice as it contains a minimum of 43.5%, especially for its kitten food variety. This is welcome news for those with kittens in their households as kittens require substantially higher levels of protein than do adult cats. The unique composition of Instinct guarantees that more than 4 out of 5 of its ingredients are based on animal sources while the remainder is what constitutes carbs like wholesome grains, veggies, and fruits. 

It also uses a variety of novel proteins in its formulations to help augment the grain-free nature of its design. It comes in duck, salmon, rabbit, and, of course, chicken. Its Kitten Chicken variant should be helpful in determining if your young feline is allergic to chicken or not. Adding to the health benefits of Instinct is the addition of 60 million colony-forming units of Bacillus coagulans, one of the beneficial bacteria that naturally reside in the cat’s gut. This helps improve digestion while boosting your cat’s immune system. For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Egg Product, Chicken Meal, White Fish Meal, Tapioca, Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Freeze Dried Chicken, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

What others say about it:
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Great for my kitty’s stomach

I was feeding my kitten Blue Buffalo but he didn’t want to really eat it. It eventually gave him stomach issues so I had to find something else. My dude loves Instinct and he no longer has stomach issues. It is a little bit expensive than the average cat food but their ingredients seem legit. The proof is in the litter box lol

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Litter Mates love this food

Adopted two 5month old kittens and they were not a fan of dry food and were super picky with wet food. Switched them to instinct brand for everything and they LOVE it here. There’s never a piece of kibble ever left over. This food is helping to fill them out and their coats look amazing.

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One of the best dry cat food on the market

The ingredients are perfect — something that you would search for if you want your cat to have the best of all, including probiotics. And it doesn’t have that repulsive odor that you would expect from freeze-dried raw food. My kitty loves it no less than can food.

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Pros
  • Fortified with DHA, Vitamin E, and taurine
  • Contains 60 million CFUs of the probiotic Bacillus coagulans
  • Added with ascorbic acid, other vitamins, and minerals
Cons
  • Small kibble size isn’t suitable for larger cat breeds
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6 Best High-Protein: Wysong Epigen Starch-Free Chicken Formula

Best High-Protein: Wysong Epigen Starch-Free Chicken Formula
Key features:
  • Brand: Wysong
  • Allergens: Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potato Protein, Meat Protein Isolate
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Turkey, Potato
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 435 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$32

The Wysong cat food offers an incredible dietary option for your adult cat, offering a grain-free alternative that is hard to compete with. Its main ingredients are entirely based on what your cat (and dog) would naturally eat and links them to their obligate carnivorous nature. Real chicken hit the top spot on this list, which leads to a massive 60% protein capacity.

Of course, that also means that these dry foods are not suitable for indoor cats or kittens. More importantly, however, the fresh meat basis on which this cat food was created can be far too rich for some cats, too. You’ll need to add this to your cat’s diet much more slowly than you would with competitors. Otherwise, your cat will have stomach problems – and eventually refuse to eat it.

Ingredients:

Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potato Protein, Meat Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Gelatin, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Coconut Oil, Chia Seeds, Salt, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Tomato Pomace, Calcium Propionate (a preservative), Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Organic Barley Grass Powder, Dried Blueberry Powder, Dried Yogurt, Apple Pectin, Dried Kale, Dried Spinach, Dried Carrots, Fish Oil, Yeast Extract, Citric Acid (a preservative), Inulin, Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative), Rosemary Extract, Yeast Culture, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Vitamins (Ascorbic Acid [source of Vitamin C], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Lactis Fermentation Product, Pepper.

What others say about it:
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This works for the upset tummy

My cat has been having tummy problems for months, everything tried by the Vet and me wasn’t working. I really thought it was the food in some way, but the Vet wasn’t sure. After months of soft, stinky poo, poopy butt, and vomiting, plus all of the Vets suggestions, tests, and visits. I took her off from all cat canned food and started feeding her canned chicken breast, this helped a lot but not completely. Then I switched her dry food to Wysong Epigen Starch Free GF, and she got better, gained weight, and I got to stop cleaning up spots in the house and her butt. We can also stand to be by her now, because the gas and extreme farts are gone. We are all so much happier!

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Weight Loss

He’s 20lbs. and only 5 years old. My fault. I never want another diabetic cat so have been researching dry food (which he loves) that is more protein and less carbs. He’s been eating Blue Buffalo Trim & Healthy and loves it. But it’s too low in protein. So I bought the Wysong and he at the first bowl fine. Then he balked. I have been mixing it with the BB and slowly he’s eating it but reluctantly.

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Tasty and Nutritious

I had been on the search for quality kibble that was more biologically appropriate for cats and finally settled on this one, which has an awesome formula. As a bonus, both of my cats loved it from the start. I highly recommend it.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Designed to mimic the natural diet of your cat
  • Plenty of added goodness to maintain your cat’s digestive system
  • High nutritive value with a natural chicken flavor
Cons
  • Can lead to stomach upset in most cats
  • The stomach upset can lead to some cats refusing the food (read the review for more info)
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7 Best for Immune Support: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula

Best for Immune Support: Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula
Key features:
  • Brand: Dr. Elsey’s
  • Allergens: Chicken, Egg
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Egg, Pork
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 554 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$60

Dr Elsey’s have done really well here, to create a cat food formula that takes the best ingredients and provide them at a really low price (all things considered). A high protein content means that this isn’t ideal for indoor cats or kittens – but works brilliantly for outdoor cats and active pets.

Plenty of added amino acids from appropriate sources help to keep your cat healthy and happy, too. Just be aware that the kibble pieces can be quite large for some smaller cats, and that you’ll need to make more frequent purchases, sadly, due to the smaller bag size.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharide, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Taurine, Salt, Rosemary Extract.

What others say about it:
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If they gotta have dry

Dry food is never the BEST option for your cat (thus the 4 stars, not 5), but there are some dry food addicts out there that have to have it in their life. I have one of them and she has no teeth. She still has her fave “acceptable by mom” dry food over this one, but Dr Elsey’s is actually the best nutritionally-sound kibble for those that, “gotta have it”. The pieces are also small for cats-many pet food companies seems to think they have jaws like that of a dog’s. So those who have had full dental extractions can easily and happily handle this food. About the price? Remember-it’s nutritionally dense which means you do not feed as much as you would those brands with the corn and wheat fillers. In the long run and including future vet bills, it ends up being much cheaper. I do not leave an all-day crunch buffett out for my cats (because dry isn’t the best option) and they’re supplemented with a rehydrated freeze-dried food found here on Chewy. Putting a cup out for munching works just fine. Moderation is key. This dry food is the highest in protein and lowest in carbs and with no starchy fillers and unnecessary fruits and vegetables, it’s the best option for those diagnosed with diabetes, pancreatitis and IBD-IF they HAVE to have the dry. If you’re still with me-thanks for reading.

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So glad I found this!

This cat food is wonderful! I found it after I read a recommendation for it on a cat lovers’ website that listed the 10 best foods for cats. Parker loved it instantly and no transitioning was needed. Since it’s so high in protein and very low in carbs she doesn’t come back to her dish crying several times a day like she used to wanting extra food. I also love that the food is small. It is smaller than some treats I’ve fed her, lol. The only thing I hate is that lately, it’s very hard to find. I would’ve ordered more but since it’s so expensive, I wanted to wait to make sure she liked it and she absolutely does! I’ve wasted so much money on “good food” that she refused to touch. Yes, it is costly…but I would rather budget around this than feed Parker a food that is actually harming her. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Chewy has this in stock when I order again.

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The closest thing to perfection in a bag

This is the only food I trust to feed my 5-year-old kitten. With elevated calcium levels, there are very few options that I trust to keep her calcium in check. Super commercialized brands are basically fast-food and lead to health problems. Cats use animal protein to fuel their energy. When there isn’t enough animal protein consumed, the body fuels itself through the cat’s own muscle tissues. So few cat foods have more than 40% protein. They’re carnivores, not goats or dogs who can eat practically anything.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • 95% of protein is animal-based
  • Just 4% carbohydrates and ideal for weight management
  • Low risk of urinary crystals
Cons
  • Smaller bags need more frequent purchases
  • Kibble pieces can be quite large for smaller breeds
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8 Best Hypoallergenic: Natural Balance L.I.D. Salmon & Chickpea Formula

Best Hypoallergenic: Natural Balance L.I.D. Salmon & Chickpea Formula
Key features:
  • Brand: Natural Balance
  • Allergens: Fish
  • 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
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$24

For those who are quite apprehensive about the allergenicity of certain cat food, Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food is a great option since it contains only a single meat-source protein, unlike other brands that provide proteins from multiple meat sources. The Natural Balance dry cat food sources its meat proteins from salmon, chicken, duck, venison, or turkey.

Each single meat protein is then added with a plant protein that is either green peas or chickpeas. The beauty of this formulation is that you can easily identify the protein that your pet is allergic to. It’s also rich in proteins and has significantly higher moisture content than the Blue Buffalo. It also comes with healthy prebiotics, essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins for optimum feline health. For more information on the brand, check out our Natural Balance Cat Food Review.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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My cats’ new favorite food

Have four cats and one of them is the pickiest eater I have ever seen. She never begs for food and never comes to eat when the others do. She asks for this food and absolutely loves it! Other than this, I can say that their coats feel amazing on this and my two that have issues with sensitive stomachs are doing really well on this good. Switching to this food has significantly reduced any allergy and other food-related issues we were having previously.

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Cats love this food

Our cat Pumpkin was throwing up every day and there has been none of that now that he’s switched from his prescription food to this limited ingredient food. Picked this because of the ingredients and also because it is higher in fiber. Needs fiber for regular bowel movements. The vet wanted him on prescription food because he felt it would help keep him regular.

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Invaluable

One of my cats has an intolerance for chicken, which is in almost all cat foods. I have been advised not to give him anything with any kind of poultry in it. That’s difficult to find. Some foods (even by this brand) have turkey or duck, but this one has NO kind of bird flesh whatsoever. It spares my little boy from constant diarrhea.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Ideal for cats with allergies
  • Minimum 30% protein from a single meat source
  • Ample amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals
  • 1:3 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids
Cons
  • Food can go bad quickly and there’s no way to reseal the bag
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9 Best for Picky Eaters: Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Raw Nuggets Freeze-Dried

Best for Picky Eaters: Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Raw Nuggets Freeze-Dried
Key features:
  • Brand: Primal Pet Foods
  • Allergens: Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Necks, Chicken Gizzards, Salmon, Chicken Livers
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Salmon
  • Flavor: Chicken and Salmon
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 128 kcal/oz
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$122

Best suited as a topper or to supplement your cat’s daily diet, these freeze-dried chunks work wonders for those seeking the very best for their pet. The high protein content comes from cat-appropriate sources, complementing your dry foods perfectly if you’re after upping the health quota of your food.

Naturally filled with vitamins and minerals that help to support your cat, giving them healthy skin and an ideal digestive system, this is an ideal – if expensive – choice. Just be aware that, due to the natural quality of this option, the quality of your bag may change from order to order.

Ingredients:

Chicken (with ground bone), Chicken Livers, Salmon, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Cranberries, Organic Blueberries, Organic Kale, Organic Squash, Organic Carrots, Organic Apples, Organic Broccoli, Organic Rosemary Extract, Organic Parsley, Organic Quinoa, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Fish Oil, Montmorillonite Clay, Organic Coconut Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Organic Ground Alfalfa, Dried Organic Kelp.

What others say about it:
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Freeze dried raw is still better than kibble!

I have been feeding this to my cat who had IBD and was overweight for probably close to 7 years now and she is the healthiest animal I have out 7 animals! It takes some practice to get the water/nugget ratio correct but warmer water helps them rehydrate a little quicker and then I add a splash of cold water before serving. This has been a helpful way to get my cat to drink plenty of water each day as she laps up the water which becomes like a soup broth with this food. I have tried every food you can find for her sensitive stomach issues and this one works amazingly, she has never had any flare-ups in nearly 7 years. Her fur is amazing too, this is the only food she eats as it has everything nutritious that she needs, don’t mix with the store-bought kibble or you are defeating the purpose of giving them raw, even if you are feeding them freeze-dried, still much better than kibble.

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Something is wrong with the most recent batch

My cats used to love this.. not this batch. Chewy has been amazing with returns thankfully, but I wrote the primal company directly because the last 2 bags I purchased are totally stale and are not past the expiration date. They told me that sometimes quality fluctuates and that there’s no known issue. My cats won’t eat it and I guess I will have to give up on this one for now.

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so good it leads to feline thievery

My 3 cats get various flavors of Primal or Stella & Chewys mixed with every meal. Chicken/Fish is the usual flavor since there are so many of those canned flavors to mix with but my crew likes most of them. They need to be mixed with liquid so watch out for the only real problem I’ve seen…the cats will steal them out of the bag if they can. They have ripped through several bags & Winston has been caught running through the house carrying the whole Primal bag in his mouth en route to a hidden spot to devour this expensive treasure.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Can be used as full meals or as toppers
  • Naturally filled with vitamins and minerals
  • Free from antibiotics or hormones
Cons
  • Expensive as a whole food
  • Customers note that quality can change between orders
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10 Best for Indoor Cats: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe

Best for Indoor Cats: Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe
Key features:
  • Brand: Hill’s Science Diet
  • Allergens: Corn, Gluten, Wheat, Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Fat
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 319 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$29

Hill’s Science Diet’s Indoor Dry Cat Food boasts of well-balanced nutrition for kitties. Its formulation places real chicken as its primary source of protein and fats while the addition of fish oil simply means that it has substantial amounts of EPA and DHA for anti-inflammatory and nervous system health, respectively. If there is one thing that you might be wary of with this cat food brand, that would be its allergenic grain content. 

Hill’s Science Diet’s Indoor Cat Food, unfortunately, contains wheat gluten, soy, and corn which can be a serious concern for those pet parents who are wary about pet allergies. Nevertheless, this formulation is specifically designed for tabbies that do not venture outdoors, giving them the kind of well-balanced nutrition they need. If they were more ‘outgoing’, we surmise Hill’s Science would formulate its product with more protein.

Read our in-depth review of Hill’s Cat Food.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Fat, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Lactic Acid, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli, Beta-Carotene.

What others say about it:
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My cat is about 2 years old, I decided to get him the more healthy type of food, I was worried about how he’d make the transition as I’ve read it takes time for cats to adjust and sometimes it upsets their stomachs. Well, I followed the transitional method shown while purchasing, and he took it like a champ! No litter box changes, he really enjoys this new food, and I feel like a better parent for making this a healthy choice for him.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Fortified with fruits and veggies for their antioxidants
  • Enriched with vitamins and minerals
Cons
  • A considerable amount of filler
  • Not suitable for cats with sensitive stomachs
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11 Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain
Key features:
  • Brand: Taste of the Wild
  • Allergens: Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Pea, Potato
  • Flavor: Roasted Venison & Smoked Salmon
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 425 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$23

Taste of the Wild comes up frequently, when it comes to top lists, and it’s easy to see why. The company clearly know what customers want and how to provide the basics to cats. Indeed, the percentages of protein and fat are ideal for most, healthy adult cats and this suits many pet owners well.

However, with this option there’s one big thing holding it back. The main ingredients are mostly filler-based, with meat meal being the number one ingredient – as opposed to fresh chicken. Given that cats need to eat meat from high-quality sources, this is a major con to this option and why it sits at the bottom of our list. For a wider selection of choices, check out our Taste of the Wild Cat Food Review.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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Featuring an array of meats including chicken, roasted venison, salmon, and whitefish, this wonderful cat kibble boasts an ample 42% crude protein, with an equally elite crude fat content of 18%. Those cornerstone nutritional values are supplemented with a robust vitamin and mineral profile, ample Omega-3 fatty acids, and a whopping probiotics payload of 80 million CFU per pound.
More importantly, our tuxedo cat is as fussy as they come, she’s nearly nineteen, and Taste of the Wild’s Rocky Mountain Feline Recipe has been her preferred cat food for the better part of that long life. Testimony!

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com

Pros
  • Ample protein to support cell regeneration
  • Plenty of added vitamins and minerals to support a healthy body and coat
  • Added probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants
Cons
  • Cats seem to get bored of this
  • The main sources of protein are filler based
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12 Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
Key features:
  • Brand: Rachael Ray
  • Allergens: Chicken, Gluten
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Brown Rice, Brewer’s Rice
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: All
  • Calories: 386 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$17

You really wouldn’t expect celebrity chef and TV personality Rachael Ray to do well in pet nutrition. However, ever since the establishment of its Nutrish brand of pet food, it has slowly climbed the rankings in the world of pet food. Whether this is because of the pull of her celebrity status or not, you can bet the Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food deserves to be mentioned in this list of reputable and trustworthy dry cat food brands.

What Nutrish promises is the absence of cereal grains in its formulation, making you feel more confident and safer about the allergies that might befell your pet. Nutrish also prides itself of not using any meals from poultry byproducts. At any rate, you can say Rachael Ray is right on the money when it comes to affording your feline friend good nutrition. 

Take a look at our review of Rachael Ray Cat Food.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Brown Rice, Brewer’s Rice, Dried Peas, Poultry Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Whole Flaxseed, Fish Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Caramel (Color), Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dicalsium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Carrots, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, L-Tryptophan, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement.

What others say about it:
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I’ve had this cat food for three days now. I’d never bought this brand before, but the price was right at only $6 and change for 6lbs and it’s a healthier brand. Well, the cats LOVE it! Even my very picky 15 year old boy who’s sick. He has cancer and will usually only eat pate can food now. Since buying this, he’s barely eaten his canned food, which he usually loves. The cats were almost exclusively on dry food until he got sick and didn’t want dey food anymore. The kibble is small, which I know is a reason he eats it so well. But I’m assuming the taste is also great. My other cat loves it as well. I went from 4+ cans of cat food per day between them to opening one can per day that goes most uneaten. It has only been three days, but if this pans out, I’ll be able to save a lot of money not buying so many cans, which is another plus.
I am extremely happy with this purchase and I highly recommend it.

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com

Pros
  • With omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • Filled with other minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants
  • Enriched with calcium, zinc, and phosphorus
Cons
  • Contains gluten
  • Can be quite dusty
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13 Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care

Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care
Key features:
  • Brand: Iams
  • Allergens: Corn, Gluten, Wheat, Chicken
  • 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
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$19

The Proactive Health Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food formulated and manufactured by IAMS deserves its place in this list of the best cat food brands because of its well-balanced nutritional formula that takes into consideration the unique needs of a feline that prefers to stay indoors rather than go outside exploring. Each kibble of the IAMS Proactive is formulated to contain the right proportions of proteins, fats, moisture, and fiber with the addition of other healthy and all-natural ingredients to keep your feline happy and satisfied.

For more information on the brand, check out our Iams Cat Food Review.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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My male cat is a big hungry boy, but rather picky. He loves this food! When the box comes he goes crazy – he can apparently smell what’s inside. He has chewed through the bag before when I left it where he could get it! I’m happy that this helps with his weight and digestive issues. Much less vomiting with this food.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Enriched with carnitine, taurine, choline, and rosemary extract
  • Completed with vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants
Cons
  • A considerable number of fillers in the ingredients
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14 Cat Chow Gentle Sensitive Stomach + Skin

Cat Chow Gentle Sensitive Stomach + Skin
Key features:
  • Brand: Purina
  • Allergens: Corn, Gluten, Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey By-product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Rice, Chicken By-product Meal
  • Primary Proteins: Turkey, Soybean, Chicken
  • Flavor: Turkey
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Calories: 402 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$19

Purina’s Cat Chow Gentle Dry Cat Food formulation is one of the most unique products we’ve seen so far when it comes to kitty chow. The Cat Chow has effectively ditched the usual chicken meal into its formulation for the more novel, hopefully, less allergenic turkey. However, while it has replaced chicken with turkey, Cat Chow still contains corn gluten, soybean meal, and wheat flour. Nevertheless, the moderately high fiber content should help with more efficient fecal elimination while the moisture content is perfect for ensuring hydration in your cat.

Find out more about Purina Cat Food.

Ingredients:

Turkey By-product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Rice, Chicken By-product Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-tocopherols, Liver Flavor, Turkey, Inulin, Phosphoric Acid, Salt, Natural Flavor, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, 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)], Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Potassium Chloride. E450420.

What others say about it:
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okay so far

Clearly not the best quality dry cat food but, it is one of the better cheaper dry foods I suppose. With current wet cat food shortages and our pet’s food expense every month going well over $526 (8 cats & 2 dogs) and that is not including their nightly treats/forti-flora/toys/chew bones, we’ve had to cut something out of our budget for us and the cats for a bit, So I chose to switch to this cat chow dry food from their quality expensive essence meadow dry food, will later save us like $100 a month if not more since more food in these bags. we haven’t fully switched over to this yet for am feeling a little guilty, so I am mixing this at half-half with their essence for now. working out well, no tummy issues at all so far. Seems I may have chosen wrong though for this brand is now getting harder to find too!!

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Contains biotin, choline, and taurine
  • Enriched with 25 essential minerals and vitamins
  • Designed for sensitive stomachs
  • Easily digested
Cons
  • Made with a lot of meal and fillers
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15 Solid Gold Indigo Moon Grain-Free High Protein Food

Solid Gold Indigo Moon Grain-Free High Protein Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Solid Gold
  • Allergens: Chicken, Fish
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Chicken, Dried Eggs
  • Primary Proteins: Chicken, Fish
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Life Stage: All
  • Calories: 475 kcal/cup
  • Typical Monthly Cost: ~$35

Solid Gold have proven to be very popular with some pet parents of an adult cat. This particular option is great for grain-free cat food that can help your adult cat with allergies or a sensitive stomach. Free from corn, wheat and soy, there is also no gluten in this food.

At the same time, it still manages to balance protein fairly well – although the fat content is a little high. As such, a couple of reviewers noticed that their cat put on some weight, with this choice. If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, it may be best to avoid this option.

Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Chicken, Dried Eggs, Ocean Fish Meal, Natural Flavor, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Pumpkin, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid), Taurine, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Blueberries, Cranberries, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.

What others say about it:
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My cat is a picky eater, so I’ve been on a search for an amazing brand of dry food for quite a while. After trying this out, I can say with confidence that this is a high quality brand. It is also very healthy according to the ingredients on the back. My cat absolutely loves this food. He gets excited every day when I grab my measuring cup and open up the food pantry for his meal. I highly recommend it.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Pros
  • Added probiotics for cat health
  • Grain-free and no gluten
  • No corn, wheat, or soy, making it suitable for allergy sufferers
Cons
  • Real chicken doesn’t appear until the 5th position on the ingredients
  • Some cat food reviews noted that their cat put on weight with this option
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Best Dry Cat Food: Buying Guide & FAQs

We understand the most common mistakes most newbie cat owners make in selecting the most appropriate food for their pets. Of course, like any other buying endeavor, you should always look for the quality of the products and less on the price. More importantly, however, you must determine the purpose of giving dry food to your cat.

For example, growing kittens will require different nutrition from a cat in its senior years. Also, some cats are not active, so they will require significantly fewer calories, lest they risk developing obesity. Choosing the right cat food is more about understanding your pet’s unique needs. We’ve prepared to guide you through the process of choosing the best dry food for your cat.

You may also like our guide on the Best Dry Food for Senior Cats.

What Should I Look for in the Best Dry Food for My Cat?

Cat kibble typically comes in various types, ingredients, presentations, and flavors, among others. No single product can be considered ideal for any cat since every feline is inherently unique.

That said, it is essential to make sure you’re choosing the best dry food for your cat. But how do you do that? Here are some things you have to look for every time you start scouring the shelves of pet food at your local pet store.

The 1st Five Ingredients on the Label Matter

Manufacturers are required by law to list their ingredients according to their proportion relative to the mass of the product. So, for example, while dogs are known to thrive relatively well even with carbohydrates in their diets, cats, on the other hand, do not. That is why the first five ingredients listed on a product’s label must be primarily animal meats.

However, packing the full first five with only meat products can be a costly proposition which, sadly, will be passed on to the consumers in the form of a higher price. From the vantage point of manufacturers, this is not a good way to make money.

As such, some would include vegetables, wholesome grains, or even fruits in their first five. But, again, this is alright as long as the majority, say, 3 out of 5, of the principal ingredients, come from animal sources. The protein from animals is more easily digestible than proteins from certain plant products.

Also, there is a question of whether you should take whole meats, meals, or byproduct meals.

Whole meats provide your feline with the best concentration of proteins and fats from a single source.

On the other hand, meals can be a combination of different meats that have substantially higher protein content. The only issue is that if your feline is allergic to animal proteins, identifying the allergen might prove difficult.

As for byproducts, there’s a bit of controversy as some manufacturers strongly advise against purchasing products that contain meat byproducts. But science says that byproduct meals are a good source of minerals that may not be present in whole meats.

As long as you can ascertain the product has undergone meticulous processing, ensuring only the highest possible quality for your cat, then it should be a wise choice.

The Protein Question

If you’ve noticed our selection of the best cat food items, most have a protein content of 30% or more, at the very least. This is because cats are inherently carnivorous, and they thrive primarily on animal-based proteins. We already know what proteins do to the body, especially in young kittens. That is why, depending on the developmental age of the cat you’re going to give the cat food to, you’d have to take note of the protein content.

Kittens require more protein because of their need for building tissues. On the other hand, adult felines will require just the normal amounts of protein to maintain the tissues. Elderly cats will require more protein again to help improve the integrity of the tissues amidst the ongoing changes associated with aging. However, if they have kidney disease, they will need less protein.

Low Carbohydrates

As we have described above, cats are habitual predators. They pounce on living prey. While plants are living organisms, they don’t possess some of the innate characteristics of prey. As such, evolution has taught cats never to chow down on plants.

However, many nutrients like antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins are found in plant food sources. Therefore, manufacturers have found a way to incorporate many healthy veggies, fruits, and grains into their recipes.

However, since cats require proteins more than carbs, the carb content of dry cat food should be minimal.

Check out our detailed review of the Best Low-Carb Cat Food for more options.

Artificial Ingredients

Everyone knows the implications of artificial ingredients and other synthetic chemicals on the overall health and wellbeing of pets. As such, it is imperative to educate yourself about the most common artificial ingredients that are toxic to pets, especially cats.

Look for such substances in the ingredient list of a particular product. If none is written, the manufacturer must explicitly say their product doesn’t contain these harmful chemicals.

Safety Record

The safety record is akin to a pet food manufacturer’s overall credibility, trustworthiness, and credibility. Understand that even big-name companies and well-established organizations can produce feline dry food products of questionable quality. It’s not so much about whether the product was utterly ineffective or not, but rather how the company managed such an issue.

How could they overcome the odds of losing their client base because of such a product? One way to evaluate this is by looking at their performance in the years after the controversy. If they have been making good progress, it simply shows their resilience. 

What Ingredients Should I Avoid?

best dry cat food

BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin

These chemicals are used to maintain the overall freshness of the cat food. However, ethoxyquin is illegal for human consumption and can be harmful to ingest or touch. Of course, some manufacturers still use this in pet food, alongside BHT and BHA – both of which can be carcinogenic.

Meat Byproducts

The American Animal Feed Control Officials (A.K.A. American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO) defines meat byproducts as the following: “Secondary products produced in addition to the principal product.” So, while some chicken meals, or other meat meals, are unavoidable and can even be beneficial to adult cats, watch out for “meat byproduct” or similar ingredients on the label.

Corn Meal and Carbohydrate Fillers

Any fillers added to the cat food have no nutritional value – but fill up your cat. So, it won’t be long before your cat gets hungry again. As such, fillers and meals can play with your cat’s blood sugar or lead to a wide range of different problems in the long run. Instead, opt for grain-free, filler-free dry cat food.

Dry Cat Food Price Comparison Chart

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel & Lamb - 2.2lbs
$50.18
Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control - 7lbs
$24.99
Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Rice - 5lbs
$17.99
Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken - 18oz
$39.99
Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe - 4.5lbs
$23.99
Wysong Epigen Starch-Free Chicken - 5lbs
$16.89
Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula - 6.6lbs
$46.10
Natural Balance L.I.D. Indoor Salmon & Chickpea - 10lbs
$31.48
Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Nuggets - 14oz
$34.00
Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor - 15.5lbs
$43.99
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain - 14lbs
$36.99
Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Brown Rice - 14lbs
$21.68
Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care - 16lbs
$24.98
Purina Cat Chow Gentle - 13lbs
$13.98
Solid Gold Indigo Moon with Chicken & Eggs - 12lbs
$37.99

Keep Your Kitty Hydrated – Consider Investing in Water Fountain

Moisture is needed unless your feline friend can finish its bowl of water within the day. Cats are known to have a very low thirst drive. This is because their brains are not wired to recognize thirst. As such, their cells may already be very thirsty, yet they still won’t drink.

That is why it is imperative to give them access to free-flowing water, as the continuous movement of water simulates the movement of prey. This arouses the cat’s curiosity, making them want to drink. That said, veterinarians recommend canned or wet cat food instead of dry kibbles because the moisture content of kibbles is so low, with the maximum typically 15%. This pales compared to wet cat food, which can have a moisture content of as much as 70 to 80 percent of its weight. We’ll have a separate discussion on why dry kibbles are still favorable, though.

Take a look at our review of Cat Water Fountains for more options.

Why Should I Give My Cat Dry Food Instead of Wet, Canned, or Raw?

We mentioned above that cats don’t have the drive to drink. That is why they must be trained to drink from their water bowls. However, if your feline is simply uninterested or hasn’t learned the art of drinking from its bowl, then you will need to give it wet or canned cat food.

These contain a lot of moisture which should help hydrate your feline. Unfortunately, since 80% of the weight of the food is water, its nutrient content will have to make do with the remaining 20%. As such, nutrition-wise, wet or canned cat food is less superior to a portion of dry cat food.

This is one of the main reasons why it is better to give felines dry food. It has more nutrients packed into each kibble as it only contains about 12 to 15 percent water. That means the remaining 85 to 88 percent is composed of nutrients. You will need to assign values to the protein, fats, and carbs.

There are other benefits to giving dry food to your feline. It’s more economical since it doesn’t spoil easily, and each package is often good for a few weeks of feeding. The texture of the dry kibbles can also help provide healthier teeth and gums for your feline friend. Overall, dry cat food is an excellent choice unless your cat is not drinking water.

Cats require the proper nutrients to develop into healthier, happier felines. In choosing their best nutrition, it is important to focus on high-quality proteins and stay away from those containing plenty of carbs and artificial ingredients. It is also essential to look at the credibility of the pet food manufacturer as this can give you an idea of the quality of their product. And in case you’re wondering where to start, our 15 best dry cat foods should set you on the right path.

How to Switch or Transition Cat Foods

If you’re trying to switch dry kitten food, be wary of the cat’s digestive system, which is extra sensitive at such a young age. So while you may be using the right animal proteins and working with the finest dry cat food, you’ll still need to transition slowly.

Firstly, you’ll need to begin with a small amount of the new cat food, and the majority of the meal comes from the old dry cat food (or wet cat food, if you’re changing over from wet food). Do this same mixture for one or two days.

You’ll need to add between a quarter and a third of the new dry cat food on the next day with the old dry or wet cat food. A few days after this, you need to switch the dry cat food to sit as half and half. Then, you’ll change the formula again to three-quarters of new dry cat food and a quarter of the older cat food. On the final day, your dry cat food should be entirely made up of the new cat food.

Sources:

  1. Masayuki Funaba, Evaluation Of Meat Meal, Chicken Meal, And Corn Gluten Meal As Dietary Sources Of Protein In Dry Cat Food, National Center for Biotechnology Information
  2. Feeding Your Cat, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Best Dry Cat Food FAQs:

The best dry cat food offers high nutritional value over caloric density. In other words, dry food shouldn’t contain any unnecessary ingredients. These unnecessary ingredients include artificial flavors, corn, gluten, meal variations, and preservatives.

Nor should it be packed with carbs over proteins and fats. Ideally, the latter two should come from animal protein since this high-quality protein ensures the nutrition comes from the natural source – one which your cat would otherwise find in the wild.

Most adult cats will thrive with the healthiest dry cat food – and the best dry cat food has the best nutritional value. Which means you need to get dry cat food that supports grain-free diets – allowing the kibble to be packed with only the best stuff. Meaning no fillers, preservatives, or grains are often used to add caloric density.

The simplest and easiest thing to mix dry cat food with is canned food. Wet cat foods are often more enticing to your cats, since wet food has a stronger scent and appeals to your cat’s obligate carnivore nature. Wet food also has the benefit of having a higher moisture content, so your cat food will help maintain your urinary tract health.

Every cat is different, and therefore the answer to this is different, depending on the type of cat you have. For example, indoor cats will need lower protein levels, while outdoor cats need grain-free dry cat food, as this ensures the cat food is made up of the highest nutritional value possible.

Meanwhile, an adult cat will have different needs to a kitten. For example, dry kitten food often includes more fats and calories than adult dry cat foods. Indeed, this is the same rule followed in wet food, too. This is so your cat food supports healthy growth, leaving your kitten with a supported immune system, strong muscles, and quality bones, too.

As such, the amount of food to feed your cat changes, depending on these and many other factors. However, as a rule, it is recommended that owners feed their cats roughly 24- 35 calories per pound.

Older cats are less active and often have more health concerns. As such, you need to be sure that your older cats are able to maintain a healthy weight, and that you can keep your cat’s teeth healthy. As well as this, you’ll need to find dry cat food that has a high moisture content. Not only will this keep your cat enticed, but it’ll also help to maintain urinary tract health, too.

Wendy Young

A freelance writer and word nerd, Wendy is a content writer with a knack for getting into the nitty-gritty of pet ownership. For the past three years, she’s been researching and writing a huge range of different topics – but always comes back to her beloved pet articles. Lover of all things four-legged and owner of Harley, Pepper and Rush, Wendy is currently completing her MNSW at Edge Hill University.

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