WHAT’S THE BEST CAT FOOD?
Maybe you are expecting to find here some brands that you have read in other reviews, but this is not the case. And I am going to tell you why….
The best cat food is not necessarily the winner of the year award or the most expensive brand. Usually, these brands known as “healthy” belong to big companies and “pet food” is just a business line between so many others they have. They usually use by-products from other production processes to use in pet foods.
The best cat food is the one made by companies which business is just pet food and they have specialized only in that, working to get the best formula for cat’s needs. These formulas won’t normally contain by-products.
It’s important to mention that all companies producing pet food have to establish formulas to meet the requirements of Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
WHAT ABOUT “PREMIUM” CAT FOODS MENTIONED IN OTHER REVIEWS?
“Premium” labeled food is mostly based on corn or wheat within the first 5 ingredients which are not the best for your cat. This food will label “meat meal” or “meat” as the 1st ingredient and the rest will be based on grains, such as soy, wheat, corn.
“Meat meal” is a high source of proteins, but it could be any meat so you don’t know what your cat is eating. It’s better to see a defined meat (it must say for example chicken” “venison”, “duck”, etc.) and a defined meat meal, (example, “chicken meal”, “venison meal”, “duck meal”) and without grains such as white rice, corn, wheat, etc. in the first 5 ingredients. Consequently, the formula has to have a defined meat, a defined meal and free of grains, such as soy, wheat, corn, white rice, rye, potatoes (except sweet), tapioca.
WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF CAT FOOD THEN?
It is recommendable to feed your pet Super Premium types of foods. This means they are meat based (defined meat and defined meal), more nutritious and good balanced, including all the essential amino acids cats need and vitamins and minerals that have been designed to be more thoroughly absorbed by your pet’s body.
WHAT TO ABSOLUTELY AVOID IN THE MAIN 5 INGREDIENTS:
- Proteins from corn (“corn gluten meal” “corn meal”)
- Proteins from soy (“soybean meal”, “soy flour”, “soy meal”)
- Grains such as wheat, white rice. They are high in carbs and wheat has gluten.
- Rye. It is very harsh to digest and pets don’t like it.
- When 3 of first 5 ingredients are grains
- Potatoes (except sweet potatoes). They are high-glycemic, causing peaks in sugar blood.
- Tapioca is high-glycemic.
- Artificial preservatives and colorants
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR CAT HEALTHY AND HAPPY
- Get the best dry and wet food possible, according to your cat needs
- Give him/her the right food intake. You can get an automatic cat feeder to accomplish this.
- Keep him/her hydrated as much as you can. If your cat doesn’t drink much water you can find excellent cat water fountains on the market. Moving water entices cats drink more.
- Keep its litter box clean and fresh. You can accomplish this by choosing a top automated litter box, such as the Litter Robot.
- Play with your pet on a daily basis
- Keep a nice environment with hiding areas, bedding, and toys
- A stress-free home (see Ohio State study)
LET’S START WITH CHOOSING A CAT FOOD
The first step is giving your cat the best dry and wet food possible. To help you in choosing a good dry cat food as follows you will find a list of the best cat foods which are all meat based. These cat foods are also classified according to the main 5 ingredients because they represent the most nutritional value in the formula.
Here you will find free-grain cat foods and cat foods with grains because some cat owners don’t want any grain, while others don’t mind it as long as the cat food is: 1) meat based, 2) with a high percentage of crude proteins 3) with low or medium glycemic grains/carbs. Besides, some people cannot afford very expensive formulas.
This list has been updated: Brands have been re-classified, not only considering if main first 5 ingredients are high in proteins but also if the formula informs all the essential amino acids cats need in the food’s analysis. Consequently, on this update, the listing of 11 essential amino acids are very important criteria in this reviews.
A cat food is very good when high in proteins, but it’s excellent if it informs all the essential amino acids cats need. These amino acids are 11 and cats need to get them from food because they can’t produce them themselves. These amino acids are: Arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and taurine.
Note: If a particular cat food does not inform all the 11 essential amino acids in its technical analysis, it does not always mean this food does not contain them. The following list gives priority to the cat foods that are informing all the 11 essential amino acids in their technical food analysis.
CAT FOODS LISTING ALL ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS:
Petcurean Go! Fit + Free Grain-Free contains 48% of meat proteins and it’s grain-free. The recipe contains a good amount of meats and fish, such as chicken, turkey, duck, salmon, and trout. Also, it adds chicken fat as a natural source of energy for cats, but not too much to prevent obesity. Listed as the first ingredient, “chicken meal” provides a concentrated source of proteins and “de-boned chicken” and “de-boned turkey” balance the formula with a crude source of proteins.
Petcurean Go! Fit + Free Grain-Free formula includes essential fatty acids such as Omega-6 and Omega-3, fresh farm-grown fruits and garden vegetables.
First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, de-boned chicken, de-boned turkey, duck meal, turkey meal. FULL REVIEW
Acana Grasslands Regional Grain-Free formula is a meat-based cat food with lamb as the first and second ingredient, which gives cats a good and easy to digest source of proteins. Lamb is less likely to cause allergies as well. Other animal proteins in the recipe include duck, fresh eggs, and wild caught fish.
Acana Grasslands Regional formula provides 70% of meat proteins and fats, such as lamb, duck, fish and eggs and 30% fruits and vegetables, helping the cat’s digestive system.
The formula is low in carbohydrates, low in liver, low in magnesium and with all 11 essential amino acids cats need to be healthy.
First 5 ingredients: boneless lamb, lamb meal, boneless duck, pollock meal, duck fat. FULL REVIEW
NOTE: Acana Grassland has a new formula from the facility located in Kentucky. You may be able to find the Canadian formula available online.
ACANA MEOWLAND CAT FOOD (Formula made in Kentucky, USA)
Acana Meowland is the new formula that replaces Acana Wild Praire, keeping the same amount of proteins and fat than the old formula.
As usual with this brand, the meats and fish are local, with a standard for people consumption and using only Vitamin E as a preservative.
This 2016 formula made in Kentucky provides most of the vitamins and minerals in the meats so it doesn’t use many synthetic supplements, only Choline, Zinc and Copper.
First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, chicken giblets (liver, heart, kidney), chicken meal, catfish meal. FULL REVIEW.
ACANA APPALACHIAN RANCH CAT FOOD (Formula made in Kentucky, USA)
Acana Appalachian Ranch provides your cat the nutrition it needs to grow healthy. The recipe is loaded with a 35% guaranteed meat proteins and 20% fat which, ratios that imitates the natural diet of cats.
The formula is free of grains and it doesn’t contain carbohydrates that raise the blood sugar in felines, such as potatoes or tapioca, which prevents obesity and diabetes.
Acana Appalachian doesn’t contain a long list of synthetic supplements nor synthetic preservatives.
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned beef, deboned pork, deboned lamb, beef meal, lamb meal. FULL REVIEW
CAT FOODS NOT LISTING ALL ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS:
GRAIN-FREE (Without Carbs in First 5 Ingredients)
ORIJEN CAT & KITTEN (This formula has changed, check link below)
The Orijen formula is made with local ingredients, free-run chicken, turkey, with whole eggs and locally caught fish. All meats used in Orijen formula are fresh, free of preservatives and never frozen.
Orijen recipe is full of proteins (80%) and gives cats a very natural food as they would get in nature. The formula is also grain-free and contains very few amounts of carbohydrates that are low glycemic.
Orijen provides all 11 amino acids cats need from food to keep their body functions working properly, preventing future diseases.
First 5 ingredients: Boneless chicken, chicken meal, chicken liver, whole herring, boneless turkey. FULL REVIEW
IMPORTANT: The Orijen Cat & Kitten Canadian formula described above has changed, check the new Orijen review to learn about the new ingredients. To check the American new Orijen formula made in Kentucky, click here.
Wellness CORE grain-free formula provides your cat a good source of high quality and low-in-ash meats in its first 5 ingredients to satisfy the carnivore diet of your cat.
Wellness CORE formula is free of grains or fillers to ensure a proper nutrition for your cat, free of the unwanted carbohydrates that contribute to obesity and diabetes in pets. Also, this formula is gluten-free. This formula offers good fats, such as salmon oil and flaxseed which helps to maintain a healthy skin in your cat and to improve its coat.
This recipe does not contain meat by-products, wheat, soy, corn, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
First 5 ingredients: Deboned turkey, deboned chicken, chicken meal, whitefish meal, herring meal. FULL REVIEW
Nutrience Natural Ocean Fish & Duck is an excellent dry food recipe because it is meat-based on the 5 main ingredients of its formula. This cat food achieves a good balance of proteins such as fish and duck, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbohydrates.
Good alternative if you want to feed your cat with dry food and at the same time to obtain a healthy recipe for your pet, with 5 main ingredients based on proteins from fish and duck. Nutrience is a good formula for cats with stomach sensitivities as well.
First 5 ingredients: Deboned haddock, deboned cod, deboned flounder, deboned pollock, menhaden fish meal. FULL REVIEW
GRAIN-FREE (With Carbs in First 5 Ingredients)
Nulo Freestyle Chicken & Cod recipe is a grain-free formula that provides 83% of animal proteins and a low glycemic formula with a good source of carbs such as lentils and peas.
The recipe does not have an excess of carbohydrates and neither calories, controlling your cat’s weight and keeping your pet with lean muscle mass.
The chickens are grain-free fed and cod provides a good flavor that most cats love.
First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Deboned Cod, Whole Peas. FULL REVIEW
Fromm Grain Free Game Bird recipe gives your cat a tasty entree of duck, chicken, turkey, quail, and pheasant, adding real Wisconsin cheese to the formula. Fresh fruits and vegetables give your cat a good source of vitamins and help your cat’s digestion.
This formula helps to reduce most food-related allergies. The chicory root extract enhances digestion functions and avoids worms. Taurine supports the health of your cat’s eyes and heart.
Fromm cat food is made in small batches, which helps to produce a cat food with consistency and quality. The Game Bird formula is balanced and recommended for cats of all ages.
First 5 ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Turkey, Dried Whole Egg. FULL REVIEW
Halo has a formula with natural ingredients free of artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
They use fresh meat in the recipe and a complete package of vitamins and minerals designed to be easily absorbed into your cat’s body. They don’t use by-products and either corn, wheat or wheat gluten.
The formula “Spot’s Stew Cat Grain-Free Chicken” contains good sources of proteins and sources of energy, plus good natural flavor with vegetable broth.
First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Eggs, Pea Protein, Vegetable Broth, Chicken Fat. FULL REVIEW
NON-GRAIN-FREE (With Grains or Carbs in First 5 Ingredients):
Chicken Soup for the Soul Adult Cat has been formulated to meet your cat’s nutritional needs, providing good sources of crude and concentrated protein, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, botanicals and more.
The recipe is tasty so if you have a picky cat with a very strict taste, this is the cat food for you. Your pet will be eating tasty food and at the same time will be getting high nutrition.
Chicken Soup For The Soul contains good quality ingredients and the grain incorporated into the formula it is a very healthy nutritional grain. This is a very good example of a cat food with an excellent value for money.
First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), turkey meal. FULL REVIEW
Evanger’s Pheasant and Whitefish is made with high-quality ingredients and offers a mix of proteins coming from pheasant, whitefish, and duck. This cat food is free of by-products and it does not contain cheap fillers such as corn, wheat or soy.
Evanger’s Pheasant and Whitefish contains high levels of animal and vegetable proteins, good sources of energy, vegetables, and fruits for easy digestion. Also, the recipe includes a good source of omega-3 and taurine to support your cat’s heart and eyes.
Evanger’s Pheasant and Whitefish is very tasty, so it will be easy for your cat to adapt to this new cat food in his/her diet.
First 5 ingredients: Pheasant, Whitefish, Sweet Potatoes, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Peas. FULL REVIEW
Wysong Uretic Feline Formula has been formulated to improve cats urinary tract system, guaranteeing a minimum of 36% proteins and 16% fat, satisfying the carnivore cat’s diet.
This recipe contains important micronutrients and nutraceuticals, probiotics, prebiotics, omega-3, antioxidants.
The formula does not exceed healthy amounts of minerals and it contains a natural source of methionine, a very important essential amino-acid to improve urinary functions.
First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Fish Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas. FULL REVIEW
Precise Holistic uses high nutritional standards for your pet. This brand (Wild at Heart River Line Salmon formula) has been recommended by experts to treat itchy skin or ear problems produced by Candida Albicans and “Leaky Gut Syndrome” in cats (Nzymes).
They don’t use by-products in the formula and it contains real meat as a primary ingredient, 32% of crude meat and 20% crude fat, which is very important in natural cat diet.
This formula has vitamins and minerals package easily to be absorbed by your cat’s body.
First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat. FULL REVIEW
This is not just “another organic food” for pets. Natural Planet Organics is certified by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO), an internationally recognized symbol of organic integrity (this certification exceeds the United States Department of Agriculture USDA organic standards).
This formula doesn’t have by-products and it has organic crude meat as a primary ingredient.
If you want your cat to eat completely organic and healthy food you may want to check this pet food and see its nutritional analysis in the full review.
First 5 ingredients: Organic chicken, chicken meal, organic yellow peas, organic flaxseed, organic barley. FULL REVIEW
IMPORTANT POINTS TO CONSIDER ABOUT GRAIN-FREE CAT FOODS
A grain-free dry cat food does not mean is healthier than a cat food which contains grains.
Some grain-free cat foods use starch such as tapioca or potatoes in the main 5 ingredients and that means they have as many carbohydrates as the food containing quality grain sources (and sometimes even more).
For example, some cat foods contain grains such as peas, oats or barley in the first 5 ingredients, while a grain-free cat food might contain sweet potatoes and potatoes or tapioca in the main 5 ingredients, which means the grain-free recipe has as many carbs as the recipe containing grains. Granted, barley contains gluten and potatoes don’t.
IS THERE ANY PERFECT CAT FOOD OUT THERE?
There is not a “perfect cat food” because there are so many factors involved when it comes to nutritional needs for cats. The best cat food will depend whether the cat is indoor or outdoors, age, medical conditions, it will even depend on the breed and genes.
Some cats do very bad with dry foods containing any grain while other cats live until a very old age eating foods with grains. The important point here is to choose a meat-based dry cat food with no by-products or fillers such as corn or soy, wheat, white rice, artificial flavors or colorants, etc.
Also, you need to find: 1) a good balance between dry and wet food, 2) a price that fits your budget, and 3) a cat food that will make your cat healthy and happy. Most likely you will need to go through the trial-and-error method to find the best dry cat food for your cat.
Sometimes, even with an excellent cat food, cats still get diseases. Cats, as people, get sick and you need to try to do your best to keep your cat healthy but nothing can be guaranteed.
TIPS HOW TO CHANGE YOUR CAT FOOD:
First Day: First meal: 3/4 old food with 1/4 new food; Second meal: 2/3 old food with 1/3 new food.
Second Day: First meal: 1/2 old food with 1/2 new food; Second meal: 1/3 old food with 2/3 new food.
Third Day: All new food.
NOTE: I have received lots of comments and questions about cat foods. Due to time availability, I won’t be able to answer all of them, but I will try to do my best. Thank you for your understanding!
This article is for educational purposes only. The reaction of cats to cat foods are very different and no cat food can be guaranteed to be the best for all cats.