After 60 hours of research evaluating 25 products, we picked Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe by Merrick as our top choice.
Cat owners want what's best for their furbabies, and when it comes to nutrition the wrong food can have serious implications. Even a vegan diet that humans and dogs can thrive on can cause blindness, severe digestive issues, and death in cats.
Most cat owners have the best intentions but do not know just how sensitive the feline digestive system is. Cats are not like dogs. They are strict carnivores, and health can suffer if they do not get enough meat proteins. Understanding the nutritional needs of cats is important to making the best decision about cat food.
You might be wondering:
What is the best cat food for my cat?
The team at Faveable has you covered! We spent hours upon hours researching and talking to cat owners just like you to figure out the absolute best cat food brands for your kitty. Our list includes the best dry cat foods and best wet cat foods that your kitty will not only love, but will make for a healthy digestive system.
This is as close as you can get to an ideal raw diet aside from direct from the butcher. 100% nutritionally balanced.
Cost is the biggest con here. However, many reviewers say their cats are healthy and satisfied on less than the recommended amount, so it really depends on your cat.
Protein: 40% protein almost exclusively from cage-free turkey.
Ingredients: This Stella & Chewy's Raw Cat food is 98% raw turkey with taurine and probiotics for ideal gut health. Cats cannot produce taurine on their own, and it is essential they get all they need from diet alone. There are zero hormones, antibiotics, grains or fillers.
Type: This food comes as freeze-dried raw morsels. Just add water to rehydrate and serve! This Tummy Ticklin' Turkey Dinner is a cat-scrumptious flavor! Your cat will love it!
Cost: You will want to stock up on this food so you don't run out. The 12oz bag will run you approximately $7.99 a day per cat.
This cat food is so good you could eat it if you really wanted to. This is the only cat food on our list that is fit for human consumption, so you know Weruva has high standards.
Some cat owners complain about the inconsistency of meat to gravy ratios.
Protein: This cat food has a whopping 64% protein content. The highest of any other food on our list! It all comes from 100% antibiotic and hormone free chicken that is free range before processing.
Ingredients: Grain free, no frills chicken breast in a nutrient-rich gravy that cats love. So even the pickiest of eaters will gobble this canned cat food up!
Type: This a canned wet food that is pure chicken breast in gravy. No yucky-looking mystery loafs here!
Cost: For the 24-pack of 5.5oz cans you're looking at an average of $2.60 a day to feed an adult cat around 8lbs.
This is a great all-around food for a variety of ages, preferences, and tummy sensitivity levels. If you have multiple cats, this is a great option.
There are a few complaints that some cats wouldn't touch this food, but like any diet change you want to slowly integrate the new food into your furbaby's diet.
Protein: 35% protein from antibiotic free, hormone free, and free-ranging turkey and duck.
Ingredients: Whole Earth Farms Cat Food is completely free of any artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors. They do not use any corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-products aka, ground up feathers, toenails, and other bits that aren't fit for consumption.
Type: This is a dry kibble cat food in small bits that are particularly friendly to older cats who can't chew as well as they used to. The turkey and duck flavor is a big hit with a lot of cats.
Cost: With the 12lb bag, this food will cost about $2.00 a day to keep the average feline happy and healthy. It is such an affordable option and is great for multi-cat homes.
A very affordable option for growing kittens, this food gives them all the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults.
Some sensitive kitties have issues with vomiting and diarrhea with this food. So closely monitor them while gradually introducing this food.
Protein: This kitten food is 40% protein to get your kitten off to a strong, healthy start.
Ingredients: This kitten food is grain-free, gluten-free, and is made with zero chicken and poultry by-products. You won't find any artificial preservatives in Blue Buffalo either.
Type: This is a dry cat food in a Chicken Recipe flavor that kittens can't get enough of.
Cost: This one is another affordable option, especially since kittens require more food than adult cats while they are growing. Depending on your kitten's age, and weight you will spend about $0.44-$1.38 a day, with a 5lb bag, until your kitten is ready for adult food.
This food is really affordable compared to others on our list. Cats love the recipe made in an organically certified kitchen.
Since changing the formula, some cats don't like the food as much as the old formula.
Protein: This organic cat food has 31% protein from organic free-range chicken.
Ingredients: Organix cat food is free of any corn, wheat, and soy ingredients. No ingredients come from China and are all sourced from US farmers who meet all the standards of the National Organic Program.
Type: This is a dry cat food, in a Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe flavor that cats enjoy.
Cost: When you get the 12lb bag it will cost around $0.99 a day for the average cat.
Raw diets are best for cats with sensitive tummies, but it's hard for a lot of owners to get past the ick-factor when you make raw food yourself. This cat food makes raw easy!
This isn't a cheap food, but your cat will thank you for it!
Protein: At 52% protein from chicken and salmon, this is a really impressive cat food when it comes to nutrition content.
Ingredients: Primal Pet has absolutely zero grains, gluten, corn, wheat, and soy products. The chicken and salmon are raised with no added hormones or antibiotics.
Type: This food comes in raw, freeze-dried nuggets that you rehydrate with water before serving. The flavor that cats seem to prefer is the Chicken & Salmon Formula.
Cost: For an average sized cat, this food will cost you about $2.17 a day when you buy the 14oz bag to maintain a healthy weight.
This is a favorite of cat owners across the board, and kitties can't get enough of it!
Merrick was bought out by Purina, and some customers aren't happy about that.
Protein: This cat food has 40% protein, primarily from deboned chicken.
Ingredients: Purrfect Bistro cat food is grain free, with no wheat, corn, gluten, or soy products. No ingredients come from China.
Type: Purrfect Bistro is a dry cat food in a chicken flavor.
Cost: This cat food will average about $2.07 a day for the 12lb bag.
There are plenty of articles that praise the adorableness of cats, and there’s no shortage of hilarious cat memes on Facebook and Instagram. While we love laughing at funny cat pics just as much as you do, we realize cat owners don’t just spend 24/7 snuggling and photographing their four-legged fluffs. They also keep them safe and healthy.
You have to feed your cat feline-friendly food if you want her to grow into a cuddly ball of cuteness worthy of a viral meme, and we’re here to make it easy for you to do that. Skim through these common questions about cat food to learn everything you need to know about feeding your kitty, from choosing the right food to figuring out how often to dole out a scoop of cat kibble.
General Questions About What to Feed Your Cat(s)
Yes, cat food is generally good for cats as long as you choose food specifically designed for them. Many commercial cat food options contain a feline-appropriate amount of protein and fat held together with grains. Grain-free varieties are also available for pet owners concerned about their furry friend’s carbohydrate consumption.
If you need reassurance that the brand you buy is the real deal, look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials on the bag or can. It’ll explain that the food meets your cat’s dietary needs plus provide information about studies or research that backs up this claim.
Do cats drink milk when a human gives it to them? Yes.
Should they drink milk from a cow, goat, or anything other than their nursing mother? No, not really.
Cats are generally lactose intolerant, explains WebMD, so drinking milk can make them sick. If you give your kitty a bowl of milk, she may develop abdominal cramps or diarrhea, and she might even surprise you with a lovely pile of vomit.
Your cat might do okay with cheese or yogurt, but we don’t recommend serving that either. Cats can meet their nutritional needs just fine without dairy products, so there’s really no reason to give them any.
It’s tricky to answer this question because every cat has different nutritional needs. Some cats can get all the nutrients they need from dry food, but they may end up dehydrated. This is because wet food has a higher water content than dry food.
If your cat only eats wet food, his teeth might suffer. Some vets say that munching on dry kibble is good for cats because it mimics the effect of gnawing on animal bones in the wild. Other vets disagree because they feel that cats generally swallow dry pellets whole or spend very little time chewing them. In fact, a diet that consists solely of dry food may cause tartar and other unpleasant dental-related concerns.
Check with your cat’s vet to see what’s best for your pet’s unique needs. In the meantime, consider alternating between wet food and dry food each day to ensure your cat gets everything she needs.
Kittens and cats have different nutritional needs, so some experts recommend feeding your kitten food made exclusively for younger cats until her first birthday. This helps her get plenty of amino acids and protein - both things that kittens need more of than cats.
If you’re in a bind and have to give your cat and kitten the same food, place their bowls in separate rooms or put the adult cat in a different area until mealtime is done. Adult cats often devour food quickly and push younger cats away, which makes it hard for your kitten to get the nutrients her body needs.
Cat food prices range from less than $1.00 to more than $20 or $30 per bag. The price depends on several factors, including:
You can buy pet food at a variety of stores, from gas stations and supermarkets to veterinary offices and private pet boutiques. Some dollar stores even carry cheap canned food and budget-friendly bags of dry kibble.
If you have trouble affording cat food, print coupons online or contact pet food companies directly for samples. You can also talk to your cat’s vet to see if any community programs are available to help you get inexpensive food.
Cats can safely consume some human foods, but in general, it’s best to stick with food that’s made just for cats. If you decide to let your cat snack on human foods, here are some fairly safe options:
Remember, no food is 100% safe for every cat. Watch how your kitty reacts when you introduce a new food, and discontinue foods that make her sick. Talk to your vet if you’re not sure whether your cat is experiencing an allergic reaction.
The average cat requires a daily intake of around 200 calories. If your cat is very active, she might need more. A vet can help you decide.
Many pet owners feed their cats two main meals: One in the morning, and one in the evening. If your cat gets hungry between these meals, it’s okay to give her a snack. Just remember that snacks should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily calorie consumption.
Oh, and don’t forget to leave out plenty of clean water for your cat. If it’s hard to get her to drink water, sprinkle some on dry kibble.
As mentioned in the question titled “How often should my cat eat?”, your cat needs around 200 calories per day. If you feed your cat twice a day, that means each meal should contain around 100 calories.
Calories vary by brand, so check the label before you dole out wet food or dry kibble. We’ve noticed that many brands recommend giving your cat 1/4 cup of dry food, but your brand might have different portion sizes.
Most cats need 2 to 4 ounces of fresh water with their food. If your cat only eats dry food, she might need more water than a cat who primarily feasts on wet food. That’s because wet food has a higher moisture content than kibble.
Cats are notoriously picky about their water bowl. If your cat snubs your attempts at feline hydration, try a stainless steel bowl. Cats have sensitive noses, and some plastic bowls have a funky taste and odor.
Make sure the water is clean. Would you chug a bottle of water with chunks of pet dander or cat hair floating around in it? No, and your cat doesn’t want to either.
Yes, definitely feed your cat on a schedule if you can. If your work shifts vary or you simply struggle to remember to feed your cat at specific times, consider an automatic feeder.
Cats often prefer to eat at dusk and dawn because it reminds them of life in the wild (even if they’ve never left the kitchen for a meal), so these are good times to feed them. If you don’t establish a schedule, you might find yourself dealing with constant meows from your kitty as she begs for food throughout the day.
Leave it exactly where it is unless your cat seems uncomfortable with the current location. Purina One, a popular cat food brand, recommends watching for signs of discomfort or anxiety while your kitty eats. If your cat drags food away from the bowl or constantly looks around while chowing down, it might be time to move the bowl.
When you relocate the bowl, ask yourself whether you’d happily eat in the same spot. You probably don’t eat dinner on the toilet, so keep your cat’s bowl away from the litterbox. You should also make sure the bowl is in a visible spot, not tucked away behind a narrow cabinet or hidden in a dark hallway.
They can, but it’s not the best idea. Cats are possessive when it comes to food, so you may notice one cat shoves the others away during meal times. It’s also hard to serve cat-appropriate portions of wet or dry food when you can’t figure out how much each cat is actually eating.
Some cats are weird about eating food from plastic bowls, so look for a dish made from stainless steel or sturdy ceramic. For your convenience (and your cat’s safety), consider a dishwasher-safe bowl. This makes it easy to rinse away the harmful bacteria that can form if wet food sits out for too long.
Some cats eat in a hurry, and they end up making a huge mess. If your cat knocks food all over the place, invest in a resilient bowl - and a food mat.
Wet Food for Cats
We recommend Weruva Grain Free Cat Food if you’re looking for a high-quality canned food. It’s safe for human consumption (not that we suggest grabbing a fork and devouring a can), and it’s made from antibiotic-free, hormone-free chicken. Good stuff!
Reviews.com says that Lotus Just Juicy Pork Stew, Redbarn Naturals Salmon and Delilah, and Ziwi Peak Venison and Fish are safe, healthy choices for cats. You can also check the product name, suggests petMD. Pet food companies can only list an ingredient in the product’s name if it makes up at least 95% of the food. For example, a cat food labeled “Chicken Delight” must contain at least 95% chicken.
Yes, kittens eat wet food - and they should! It’s difficult for your kitten to crush kibble with her tiny teeth, so make sure she gets wet food whenever possible. Experts recommend serving wet food 4 times a day if you’ve got a kitten.
You can also provide dry food, but make sure it’s a formula designed just for kittens. Your kitten only needs to eat twice a day if her diet contains both wet and dry food.
Maybe your cat doesn’t hate wet food. What type of cat food bowl are you using? Some cats refuse to eat from plastic bowls because they hate the way they smell. If that’s the case, your cat hates the bowl itself, not the bowl’s contents.
If you’re serving food directly in the can, that can also be a problem. Small cans make it difficult for your cat to reach the wet food inside, and she may even cut her tongue or nose on the can.
If you don’t use the can as a makeshift bowl, the culprit might be the brand or variety of cat food. If you usually buy beef-flavored wet food, try a chicken or turkey flavor. If you usually buy Purina, switch to Fancy Feast.
If your cat still refuses to eat wet food, sprinkle some water on her bowl of dry kibble. It’ll help her get plenty of water in her diet so she doesn’t get dehydrated.
Yes, keep uneaten wet food in the fridge to help prevent harmful bacteria from forming. Your cat can get very sick if she eats food that has been sitting out too long.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition recommends removing uneaten wet food from cat’s bowl after 4 hours. If you’ve got an open can of wet food, cover it and place it in the fridge for no longer than 5 to 7 days. Keep in mind that the cat food you buy may have different storage requirements; check the can or contact the company that created the food if you need specific storage info.
In many cases, yes, your cat’s diet should contain both wet food and dry food. Each type of food has its own benefits and risks, as we’ve discussed throughout this article. Wet food has a higher moisture content than dry food, which helps prevent feline dehydration. If you can’t get your cat to eat wet food, make sure she’s getting plenty of water.
Dry Food for Cats
Many pet owners think Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe by Merrick is the best dry food for cats, and we agree. It provides your cat with much-needed protein in the form of deboned chicken, and it doesn’t have any of the junky fillers found in other brands. It’s wheat free, grain free, corn free, and soy free, so it won’t overload your cat’s digestive system.
We also like Castor & Pollux Organix Cat Food. It’s surprisingly affordable for an organic cat food, and it helps control vomiting. Maybe you can finally walk barefoot across your living room without stepping in any surprise gifts from your furry friend.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Kitten Food has the nutrients that growing kittens need to thrive. Your kitty will have lots of energy to destroy your sofa (please, do yourself a favor and stock up on cat toys), plus she’ll develop lean muscle throughout her body.
There are no artificial preservatives in the kibble, and it’s also gluten free and grain free.
Depends on the brand and the location of your cat’s bowl. For example, dry kibble left beneath a sunny window may dry out and shrivel up after just a few hours, and we’re pretty sure your cat won’t appreciate that.
We recommend thinking of dry cat food the same way you think of dry cereal. Even if you leave it out for a couple days, it isn’t likely to get moldy. However, it won’t taste as good, and who wants to eat stale cereal (or kibble)?
It’s generally okay to switch the brand of dry food your cat eats, but make sure you don’t abruptly change your cat’s diet. Start by mixing a bit of the new food with the old food - unless your cat hates the old food. If she hates what you’re currently giving her, she’ll probably also hate the new food if you combine the two.
Each day, add a bit more of the new food than the old food. Continue doing this for about a week or so until your cat has fully transitioned to the new food.
Your cat may develop diarrhea, constipation, or an upset stomach during this time. Watch for changes in her personality and actions to figure out how she’s doing. If she doesn’t improve quickly, take her to a vet. It’s possible that your cat’s tummy can’t handle the new food, especially if it contains an ingredient the other food didn’t have.
Some cats need a specific brand of food, especially cats with medical conditions. Talk to a trusted veterinarian if you have a cat that is currently receiving treatment for a medical condition; switching food could be dangerous in this situation.
Issues and Concerns
It’s generally safe (but not recommended!) for kids to eat cat food. However, there are some serious issues that can occur.
Start by checking your child’s mouth and throat, especially if you’re dealing with a baby or toddler. Pet food, especially dry kibble, can be a choking hazard for young kids. Give your kiddo something warm to drink so that you can help dissolve any unseen food.
Grab the container of cat food and read the ingredients. Make sure it doesn’t contain anything your child is allergic or sensitive to, such as wheat or corn, and contact a medical professional immediately if it does.
Even if your child isn’t allergic to any of the ingredients, it’s still a good idea to give a pediatrician a call. A medical expert can help you figure out if you need to do anything else for your kibble-eating kiddo. It’s also wise to contact Poison Control just to be on the safe side.
If it’s just an occasional thing, then yes, it’s okay for your cat to eat dog food. However, cats can get sick if they eat dog food on a regular basis.
When pet food companies offer separate containers of cat food and dog food, it’s not just a marketing ploy. Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs, so they shouldn't eat the same foods. Dogs need more calories than cats. Cats need a different form of Vitamin A than dogs, and they also need taurine. Taurine helps keep your cat’s heart healthy.
Keep a log of your cat’s dietary habits so you can help a vet figure out what’s going on. Write down what she eats, when she eats, and how much she eats. This can help the vet determine whether your cat has a food allergy or is simply eating too much food for each meal.
You may also want to try switching to a cat food designed for sensitive digestive systems. We’ve got transition tips listed under the question titled “Is it bad to switch the brand of dry food my cat eats?”
If you’ve suddenly switched cat food brands or started offering wet food with your kitty’s dry food, diarrhea can be normal. It’s still smart to contact a vet, though, especially if symptoms don’t improve in a few days.
Also, think about your habits. Do you often use cleaning supplies near your cat’s food bowl or spray air freshener in the room? These particles can land on your cat’s food, resulting in an upset stomach.
Let a vet know what’s going on if you can’t get your cat to eat after a couple days. Cats can end up with a fatal liver disease if they skip meals for more than 2 or 3 days, so it’s important to get help fast if needed.
Does your cat seem anxious or irritable? Has anything recently changed in your cat’s life? Try to figure out the root of her refusal to eat so you can tackle the situation. She may be nervous because you’ve recently moved to a new home or started dating someone, or she might have trouble getting to the food bowl when other cats are around. We’ll discuss the food bowl drama in the next question.
Ah, the joys of owning multiple cats. If you’ve got a feisty feline in your home, you may need to isolate her during mealtimes unless she can learn to share.
Make sure each cat has his or her own bowl, and don’t set the bowls right next to each other. If your cat scarfs down her food and rushes over to harass your other cats, move her food bowl to a separate room and close the door.
You should also consider the size and lifestyle of your cat. If you have a large cat that’s very active, she may need more calories than the other cats. That’s why she’s stealing their food. A vet can help you determine how much food each of your cats needs.
Cats can’t tell time, so your furry friend will meow loudly - and possibly even claw at your bedroom door - until someone stumbles out of bed and gets her some food. Fun, right?
It’s because cats are biologically wired to crave food at dusk and dawn. If you don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m. to feed your cat, consider getting an automatic food dispenser. You can also establish a schedule for your cat that’s close to the time she wants to eat, like 6 a.m. or so.
If you stick with a schedule, she’ll (hopefully!) learn that you aren’t going to roll out of bed and fill her bowl in the middle of the night.