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Cat Food Reviews

By: Carl Laron on July 11, 2017

Editor's Note:
For value and quality, Halo cat food is top rated, but if you can afford it, Ziwi Peak is adored by cat experts, cat owners, and, most important, most cats. If kibble is what your kitties demand, we name some top choices, too, as well as some great raw and near raw foods.

Halo Spot's Stew Wholesome Chicken Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Organic? -- No Grain-free? -- Yes Sizes -- 3 or 5.5 oz. cans

Best canned cat food

Halo Spot's Stew Wholesome Chicken Recipe looks remarkably like a home-cooked stew for people. Experts say its chunks of butcher-quality meat are great for cats. It does contain veggies, but is grain free. Preservatives are all natural, and Spot's Stew is free of any controversial ingredients, the cans are free from BPA, and the company has a spotless (no pun intended) recall record. See our full review »

Buy for $20.53
Ziwi Peak New Zealand Lamb Recipe Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Organic? -- No Grain-free? -- Yes Sizes -- 3 or 6.5 oz. cans

Premium wet cat food

It's pricey, to be sure, but experts and cat owners point to Ziwi Peak as one of the best cat foods you can buy. It is made in New Zealand, a country with high food-safety standards, and the Ziwi Peak brand has never been recalled or withdrawn. Made using free-range, sustainably raised animals, the limited ingredient lineup makes Ziwi Peak lamb an especially good choice for cats with food allergies.

Buy from
Natural Balance Original Ultra Formula Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Organic? -- No Grain-free? -- No Sizes -- 3 or 6 oz. cans

Best-value canned cat food

Natural Balance Original Ultra Formula is a lot cheaper than other premium cat foods that meet reviewer approval, but that's because it includes more cost-cutting grains. That's offset by lots of high-quality meat and other ingredients, however. The company's safety record isn't as perfect as some, but it's responded by putting a comprehensive product testing program in place. See our full review »

Buy for $34.16
Orijen Cat and Kitten Formula Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Organic? -- No Grain-free? -- Yes Sizes -- 12 oz., 4 lb., or 12 lb. bags

Best dry cat food

Although some experts say cats need wet food to stay hydrated, others have no problem with a high-quality dry food. Made from fresh meats, fish, eggs and produce, Orijen Cat and Kitten Formula's grain-free, natural ingredients make it the best dry cat food you can buy. The company has a good safety record and the food has never been recalled in North America. See our full review »

Buy for $64.16
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Formula Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Organic? -- No Grain-free? -- Yes Sizes -- 5 or 15 lb. bags

Best-value dry cat food

Unlike supermarket cat kibble -- which is usually a stew of corn, soy and byproducts -- Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Formula is free of all of the above. Meat is the main ingredient, which experts say is far better for cats. While it's pricier than low-quality kibble, Taste of the Wild is one of the least expensive grain-free dry cat foods you can buy. See our full review »

Buy for $30.99
The Honest Kitchen Grace
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Organic? -- No Grain-free? -- Yes Sizes -- 2 or 4 lb. box, 1 oz. sample

Near-raw cat food

While this dehydrated cat food is not quite raw (the manufacturer steams ingredients for better food safety), The Honest Kitchen Grace is a relatively economical way for cat owners to feed their charges a diet that comes very close to what a cat would eat in the wild. A single 4 pound box can feed a typical cat for around a month. The ingredient quality is top notch, too.

Buy for $55.36

What makes a good cat food?

In the wild your cat would get perfectly balanced, ideal nutrition, neatly wrapped into one small package: a mouse. The best commercial cat foods essentially try to replicate that delicate balance of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Some do a surprisingly accurate job, critics say. However, caring cat owners need to be wary as lots of cat foods fall woefully short.

Types of Cat Food

Canned Cat Food

Also called wet cat food, canned cat food is the top choice of many experts. Among other things, it packs plenty of moisture. That's important for a cat's health as their lack of a natural thirst drive can lead some to become dangerously dehydrated. Wet foods -- at least the best ones -- also usually pack in more meat and less starch than dry food.

Dry Cat Food

Though it is more convenient then wet, dry cat food is fairly controversial. Some experts say dry-fed cats don't get enough moisture, and that can jeopardize health as cats don't have a strong thirst drive. Others say that as long as you also provide plenty of fresh water, dry food works fine. If you decide that dry foods are right for your situation, meat-rich dry cat foods with little or no grain are the critics' choice for carnivorous cats.

Raw Cat Food

This type of cat food does the best job of impersonating prey. Raw meat and organs are ground up in exact proportions to give cats all the nutrients they need. Raw and near-raw (minimally processed) cat foods are sold frozen or in dehydrated form.

Vegetarian food for cats?

Some cat owners want to feed their cats vegetarian or vegan diets -- and some cat food companies manufacture them -- but this is very controversial. Cats evolved as obligate carnivores that eat other animals, and almost nothing else. Vegetarian cat food advocates agree that cats do need certain nutrients that plants don't have, but they say supplements can be added to vegetarian food to cover that. Some cat owners say they've fed vegetarian or even vegan food for years, and their cats are healthy. However, this evidence is entirely anecdotal and you may not have the same successful result if you try this on your own cat.

And the majority of veterinarians aren't sold on the idea. "For cats, it's really inappropriate. It goes against their physiology and isn't something I would recommend at all," Cailin Heinze, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, tells WebMD.com. Without proper supplements, vegan and vegetarian cats can't get enough of certain amino and fatty acids, and it can be hard for them to get enough protein, all of which can lead to growth problems, eye problems, reproductive failure and life-threatening heart disorders.

"For me, it boils down to this question: 'Why?'" veterinarian Jennifer Coates -- herself a vegetarian -- writes in her nutrition blog for PetMD.com. "Why have an obligate carnivore as a pet if you are not willing to feed him or her meat?"

We agree. For best health and nutrition, the best guidance we found was to feed a diet that's species-appropriate -- and for a cat, that means meat, and lots of it. That's a characteristics of all the foods we name as the Best Reviewed or that are worth considering.

Finding The Best Cat Food
Our Sources
"Cat Foods"
"Truth about Pet Food"
"Recalls & Withdrawals"

Finding the best cat foods in every category comes down to evaluating each one based on the quality of its ingredients, safety (history of recalls, etc.) and value. Critics aren't shy about pointing out the foods that fall short. Our expert sources, including PetsumerReport.com, CatInfo.org, TheSpruce.com and others, scrutinize cat food labels and closely follow cat food recall news.

However, even the best balanced, meat-rich cat food won't be a hit if your favorite feline refuses to eat it. That's where user reviews come in -- to a point. Cat owners posting at sites like Amazon.com, Chewy.com and elsewhere help us separate foods that many cats truly enjoy from those that are routinely rejected. It's worth noting, however, that on most sites, cheaper, supermarket-grade foods routinely out-perform foods that experts say are far healthier choices. Whether that's because of lowered expectations that sometimes go hand-in-hand with lower price, or whether some of the food makers have placed a priority on flavor rather than nutrition, is an open question. But either way, for this report at least, we've given higher weight to expert feedback, turning to users to break the ties between choices of similar quality. The result of that research and analysis are our picks as the Best Reviewed wet, dry and raw cat foods.

Recently Updated
Cat Food buying guide

What every best Cat Food has:

  • More meat, less grain in the top five ingredients.
  • No corn, wheat or soy as carbohydrate sources.
  • No artificial preservatives.

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