When top experts list the canned foods they'd feed their own cats, one brand pops up most: Halo. "One of the original 'homemade' cat foods, and still a favorite of many cats" -- including her own says Franny Syufy, About.com's guide to cats.
Halo Spot's Stew Wholesome Chicken Recipe (Est. $1.60 for a 5.5-oz. can) packs chunks of chicken, chicken liver and turkey into a broth rich with vegetables -- carrots, zucchini, green peas, yellow squash, green beans and celery -- and no grains. That's key, experts say, because cats haven't evolved to digest grain. "Looks like homemade, smells like homemade ... I wanted to taste it," writes one cat owner at OnlyNaturalPet.com.
Plenty of cat owners say their cats are crazy about Halo Spot's Stew, but -- cats being cats -- some don't seem too keen on the vegetable content. Some experts say cats don't need vegetables anyway; in the wild, cats basically eat nothing but other animals. But others like veggies as a natural source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants -- including the veterinarians and nutritionists at 1800PetMeds.com, who give Halo Spot's Stew perfect marks for nutrition and quality.
Reviews find just a couple of weaknesses with Halo Spot's Stew. It's lower in calories than some other premium foods, so you may need to feed more. And its 5.5-ounce cans are not BPA-free (the smaller 3-ounce cans are); BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical linked to cancers, reproductive problems and other diseases.
Runner-up choice Nature's Logic fixes those problems. This calorie-dense food is packed in BPA-free cans, and it's extremely low-carb (perfect for cats). Even better, it's made from all-natural, high-grade ingredients -- no synthetic anything. All nutrients come from real foods like blueberries and eggshells (just as cats would encounter in the wild).
The catch? Nature's Logic canned cat food hasn't yet completed AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trials, so it can't advertise itself as a complete diet. Top experts recommend it wholeheartedly, though (Nature's Logic dry dog and cat food and canned dog food have already met AAFCO standards).
It's a little pricier than Halo, too: Nature's Logic Feline Canned Food -- Chicken (Est. $1.70 for a 5.5-oz. can) is the least expensive flavor. Most owners say their cats gobble up this finely ground paté, but -- as with any food -- a few say their cats don't like it.
Experts find a couple of other grain-free runners up that they like almost as well, but offer some caveats. Merrick Cowboy Cookout (Est. $1.40 for a 5.5-oz. can) and Merrick's other grain-free flavors earn praise from several top experts, and Evo Cat and Kitten Food (Est. $1.35 for a 5.5-oz. can) has a high caloric content, so you can feed less than with some other grain-free foods. But Merrick and Evo both contain carrageenan, a thickener that some animal studies link to intestinal problems.