The Best Food for Your Cat: My Recommendations

cat with food bowl

Editor’s Note: Even tough this article was first written in 2012, I periodically update the information to keep it current. Most recent update: January 2017. I try to answer as many general questions in the comments as I can. I cannot always verify the veracity or accuracy of information or recommendations provided in reader comments.  If you’d like individualized advice for your cat, please schedule a consultation

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m passionate about species-appropriate nutrition for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need meat not only to survive, but to thrive. The optimal diet for a cat is a properly formulated raw, home-cooked or grain-free canned diet.

Never feed dry food

Cats shouldn’t eat dry food; even the grain-free dry varieties are too high in carbohydrates.

And contrary to the myth that just won’t die, dry food does not clean your cat’s teeth. Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in. What little they do chew shatters into small pieces. Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole. Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

Articles about feline nutrition, and one-on-one consultations

You can find many of the articles I’ve written about this topic in the Feline Nutrition section right here on this site. I also provide one-on-one consultations if you need help with transitioning your cat to a healthier diet.

What I look for in a food

  • Protein is listed as the first ingredient on the label, and the meat/poultry used is fit for human consumption. If the meat is organic, that’s even better.
  • The food is grain-free (no rice, barley, or any other grains. Even though these are considered healthy in human nutrition, cats’ digestive tracts are not designed to digest the unnecessary carbs).
  • The food does not contain by-products, corn, soy, or any other fillers.
  • Ideally, I’d like to see no carrageenan in the food. Some of the brands on the list below have carrageenan in some of their flavors, so check labels carefully.
  • Ideally, I’d like a food to be GMO-free. Some of the brands on the list below may contain GMO’s.

Avoid fish-based foods

A word about fish: most cats love fish-based foods. I recommend using them sparingly or avoiding them altogether. Sadly, much of the fish that goes into pet food is contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins. (On a side note, that is also true for fish sold for human consumption.) Fish used in pet food manufacturing often contains whole fish, guts and bones, which can increase phosphorus levels of the food. This can be a problem for cats with kidney disease. Some cats are sensitive to fish-based diets and develop urinary tract problems that resolve when fish is removed from their diet. Additionally, fish based foods may contain menadione, a synthetic form of vitamin K, which has been banned by the FDA for use in human supplements.

My recommendations

I am often asked what brands I recommend. Unfortunately, there are many diets on the market that sound good based on what the pretty packaging says, but when you take a closer look at the label, you realize that there’s not much substance behind the marketing claims. The brands listed below are foods that I either currently feed to Allegra and Ruby, or have fed to them in the past. This list is not meant to be exclusive, and it does not mean that there aren’t other really good diets out there. It just means that these brands are the ones I’m comfortable with after doing thorough research.

I recommend the following foods (listed in no particular order). If you would like me to evaluate a brand not on this list, I would be happy to do so – please contact me for fees for this service.)

Grain-free canned diets

Weruva. Read my full review of this brand here.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Canned

Bravo Canned

Nature’s Logic Canned

Hound and Gatos

Tiki Cat. I only recommend the poultry-based flavors.

Soulistic. This brand is exclusively sold by Petco (and also available from Amazon), but is produced under the same processing standards as Weruva.

Addiction I only recommend the carrageenan free formulas. They are a bit higher in carbs than I like to see, but I still consider it a good brand.

Wild Calling


Raw diets

Darwin’s Natural Pet Food

Balanced Blends Raw Pet Food

Rad Cat

My Pet’s Pride

Stella and Chewy’s

Nature’s Variety

Raw Paws Pet Food

Primal Pet Foods I like these diets, but I have found that the formulas seem to vary a bit from batch to batch. If you have a finicky eater, this may become a problem.

Dehydrated raw diets

The Honest Kitchen

Stella and Chewy’s

Additional Reading

How much should I feed my cat?

How to wean your cat off dry food

How to get finicky cats to eat

How to read a pet food label

Homemade food for your cat: healthy, simple and economical

The right diet for cats with kidney disease

Feeding your cat: know the basics of feline nutrition by Dr. Lisa Pierson

Feline Nutrition

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Photo: istockphoto

926 Comments on The Best Food for Your Cat: My Recommendations

  1. Lissa
    March 21, 2017 at 11:43 pm (5 days ago)

    How do you feel about the Pride line by Nature’s Variety? I always hesitate when I see vegetables or fruits in the ingredient list, but does it really matter in a canned food?

    • Ingrid
      March 22, 2017 at 6:04 am (5 days ago)

      Nature’s Variety is on my list of recommended brands, and that includes the Pride line. Some companies use veggies and fruits as a source of vitamins. I wish they didn’t, but as long as it’s less than 5%, I’m okay with it.

  2. Jessica
    March 19, 2017 at 2:24 am (1 week ago)

    Hi! Thank you for the great site and useful information. I did read through the comments too and see often people ask for your comments on other foods that you haven’t recommended but you clearly know about them and don’t recommend them. One suggestion may be to have a side column that lists these products – perhaps “Reviewed but on not on the recommend list” this way people know you know about them. Of course underneath of that a little prompt “don’t see a product on these lists, request a consultation here” would be great 🙂

    • Ingrid
      March 19, 2017 at 5:32 am (1 week ago)

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jessica!

  3. Shelley
    February 25, 2017 at 11:35 am (4 weeks ago)

    I noticed that Wild Calling Dog food had a recall because they found Animal Euthanasia drugs in some of their meats. Which makes me believe that they source their foods from……….. do you think that applies to their cat food as well? Your awesome!

    • Adore Pets
      February 25, 2017 at 3:12 pm (4 weeks ago)

      That’s not accurate. Evanger’s had the voluntary recall of “Hunk of Beef” dog food due to the drug pentobarbital found in at least one of their lots. Sadly, it sickened one family of dogs. Some of the Wild Calling products (buffalo, rabbit, and alligator) were processed at the same plant as Evanger’s. This stopped after the Evanger’s recall. Evanger’s contends that the problem lies with one of their USDA-inspected beef suppliers, which was not Certified Organic. Similar quality beef could have, or perhaps does, make it into the human supply chain. Food quality is always up for debate, but for those of you that think non-Organic, commercially confined, grain-feed beef is ideal for humans and pets to eat, extend your research. Then decide.

      Evanger’s does have some Organic pet food, of which I keep in my pets’ rotational diet. Weruva, Addiction, ZiwiPeak, and others are also in the rotation. These are not Organic, but my research shows they are currently quality sources of pet food, amongst many others. Keep in mind, Certified Organic pet food options are less common, but they exist.

      Side note, if you believe that your cats should have lower fat diets, look for fat contents around 1-2%. 5-10% is considered high by many veterinary dietitians.

    • Ingrid
      February 25, 2017 at 5:01 pm (4 weeks ago)

      The recall for formulas contaminated with pentobarbital was for Evanger’s. It is possible that Wild Calling is made at the same facility, but to my knowledge, there has not been a recall of any of their formulas.

      • Shelley
        February 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm (4 weeks ago)

        Thank you

  4. Rhonda
    February 18, 2017 at 9:24 pm (1 month ago)

    What are your thoughts on kasiks and first mate canned food

  5. Jerry Baiamonte
    February 18, 2017 at 3:59 pm (1 month ago)

    Hi Ingrid,
    I had been using Wellness canned food for Omar, my elderly Bengal, but due to a recent recall, I am switching. I bought several cans of Blue that I wanted Omar to try…then I found your site and blog and do not see any of the Blue types of food listed. Can you comment? Should I take them back and go for one of your recommended brands? Thanks for your help. Jerry

    • Ingrid
      February 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm (1 month ago)

      Blue Buffalo contains carrageenan, which is why it’s not on my recommended list.

    • Ingrid
      February 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm (1 month ago)

      Blue Buffalo contains carrageenan.

  6. Mary Bearden
    February 15, 2017 at 6:50 pm (1 month ago)

    I want to feed my babies a great cat food but have a limited budget. I have indoor cats: 1 is 13 and the other about 1 1/2 years old. I really could use any advice.

    • Ingrid
      February 16, 2017 at 6:08 am (1 month ago)

      Buy the best wet food you can afford, Mary, or consider making your own.

      • Mary Bearden
        February 16, 2017 at 9:53 am (1 month ago)

        Thank you! Ingrid. I will read labels and ingredients to see the best for them to grow strong and stay healthy.

      • Jerry Baiamonte
        February 18, 2017 at 3:20 pm (1 month ago)

        Ingrid, do you have a comment on the brand Blue cat foods? I picked up their Freedom Grain Free and their Indoor Chicken Entree and then found your site….not sure if i should be comfortable with them. Thanks very much.

  7. Bonnie
    February 14, 2017 at 4:24 am (1 month ago)

    Hi I have a 13 year old cat named BB . She has been diagnosed with thyroid disease and we’ve been told to feed her. Hills yet dry food …also wet food from hills. She vomits a lot and most of the time it’s hairballs! Can you help us..she’s constantly meowing also..maybe from pain!

  8. Cori
    February 11, 2017 at 12:26 am (1 month ago)


    Thank you so much for putting all of this information together. I can tell I can really trust you know what is best for my Wilson. I have a few questions. Can I get sick (salmonella) from him eating raw food? Like if it’s on his mouth and he licks me? And should I buy frozen mice for him? I’ll do my research on all the brands you listed but just wanted to know your opinion on frozen mice/birds/ etc. Honestly, I think that’s really gross and I would prefer not to do that, but I feel very obligated to try to mimic his natural diet- he was originally a stray when I took him in and he’s obviously hunted. I just want to do what is best for him. Thanks again,


    • Ingrid
      February 11, 2017 at 6:07 am (1 month ago)

      It would be highly unlikely that you would get salmonella from your cat if he licks you after he eats raw food, Cori. And given that most of the recent recalls for salmonella contamination were for dry cat food, I’d say the risk is slim to none with raw. While cats might enjoy the occasional feeder mouse, I don’t believe that this would be a balanced diet if fed exclusively. In the wild, cats eat more than just mice.

  9. Larry
    February 4, 2017 at 10:57 pm (2 months ago)

    I’ve been feeding Natures Variety LID canned cat food and have noticed small bone shards. Have you heard any comments about it and what is your opinion?

    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2017 at 6:27 am (2 months ago)

      I have not heard anything about that. I feed that line, too, and have not found any bone fragments. Please contact Nature’s Variety about this, Larry.

  10. Charity
    February 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm (2 months ago)

    I’ve used this page as a guide for feeding my two kittens wet food but I also still feed them dry food because I work 12 hour shifts and prefer to leave some food out while I’m gone (their dry food is measured out and whatever they don’t eat I just leave out for them). I feed them before I leave and after I get back but I feel terrible leaving them for so long without anything to eat which is why I feel somewhat better when they have some dry food left in their bowls when I leave. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice?

    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2017 at 6:23 am (2 months ago)

      I would eliminate the dry food and feed them one wet meal before you leave for work, one when you get back home, and perhaps a third, smaller meal before you go to bed. Unless they’re very young kittens, you don’t need to leave food out for them during the day.

  11. Rebecca
    February 3, 2017 at 2:10 am (2 months ago)

    Hi Ingrid. I see Merrick LID is a food you recommended on its own page, but it’s not listed here. Is that a brand you’re okay with but it’s just not top of your list/as good as the above? I just recently switched my kitties from a primarily dry but combo diet to all wet. I’m happier with merrick’s price point than the above brands but obviously want to pick a good food for them. I’m on the fence between sticking with merrick LID and just committing to spending a bit more on Natures Variety instinct chicken. Thoughts?

    • Ingrid
      February 3, 2017 at 6:21 am (2 months ago)

      I still like the Merrick LID line as well as some of their other offerings, it’s just not one of my preferred brands, Rebecca.

    • Nancy Wagner
      February 3, 2017 at 4:06 pm (2 months ago)

      @Rebecca – We had a similar experience … and preference. After 12 years on Orijen dry, we wanted to wean our 2 traditional Siamese to wet food. We tried every single one of Ingrid’s original recommendations, and the kitties were NOT amused. A couple of licks, then Bye! But they had been having a teaspoon of the Merrick chicken LID at night for several years, so that’s what they’ll eat now. NOTHING with lumps or chunks … pate only for them! LOL!

      • Aimee
        March 13, 2017 at 6:31 pm (2 weeks ago)

        I was feeding Merrick LID chicken and turkey as the primary wet food to my two cats until one got very sick after eating from a can of the chicken recipe (my other cat had eaten the turkey recipe and did not get sick). He was vomiting for 2.5 days and only stopped after a trip to the vet and an injection of anti-nausea medication (after having x-rays taken to rule out an obstruction). I contacted Merrick to report his illness in case other people experienced similar problems with the chicken recipe and offered to send back the other cans from the case if they wanted to test the food. I did not request a refund or want anything from them but I was disappointed with how dismissive they were and that I wasn’t even asked how my cat was doing.
        Not planning on continuing to feed this food.

  12. Jeannie Lindheim
    January 29, 2017 at 8:54 am (2 months ago)


    I have hard that Biochar kitty liter is environmentally friends and non-toxic to cats. What are your thoughts?

    And what do you think of Scoop away-Super Clump, unscented? Thanks so much~

    warmly Jeannie

    • Ingrid
      January 29, 2017 at 11:05 am (2 months ago)

      I’m not familiar with these products. I use and recommend Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat litter. It’s a clay litter, but it’s the least dusty litter I’ve been able to find, and most importantly, my cats like it!

      • Nancy Wagner
        January 29, 2017 at 7:07 pm (2 months ago)

        We have been using Elsey’s R&R (Respiratory Relief) litter for a couple of years now. Our female Siamese’s wheezing is markedly improved! Would highly recommend.

  13. Ricardo
    January 28, 2017 at 12:02 am (2 months ago)

    I’ve just adopted a kitten from the shelter, now they’ve had her on this run-of-the-mill kitty chow and I’m pretty sure that while it satisfies her, it probably is not best for her. She is currently 7 months old, would you recommend the same canned food for adult cats that you would for kittens?

    • Ingrid
      January 28, 2017 at 6:14 am (2 months ago)

      All of the foods on this list are appropriate for kittens.

  14. Sheri Eddins
    January 24, 2017 at 10:48 pm (2 months ago)

    Hi Ingrid, I have a 14 yr old simese mix. He was diagnosed with kidney disfunction 2 yrs ago. Vet states only 30%kidney function and advised a low protein and high moisture diet. At that point I started feeding him Hill’s Science Diet K/D formula dry and canned food. As you mentioned in your article you noticed the loss of muscle mass in your 22 yr cat. I’ve noticed the same with my furbaby and I’m so concerned over it. You stated feeding high protein which is the opposite as the vet advised me. I don’t know what to do for him and now I’m just so confused. Please help with suggestions?!

  15. Nancy Wagner
    January 20, 2017 at 10:02 pm (2 months ago)

    Have 2 12-year old traditional Siamese. For most of their lives they’ve been on Orijen 5-Fish kibble, plus a small bite of Merrick Limited Ingredient Chicken at bedtime. Based on my research – especially here – we have tried to transition them to canned/wet food. They are not amused.

    We have tried every trick in the book, and can now get them to eat the Merrick canned food … but in calculating the calories they need to eat daily for their weight (approx 12 pounds each), looks like it should be 2-3 can/day. Can that be correct??

    Our male is still fairly active, our female is obese and inactive, but for now, we’re OK with that (long story – ghirradia when a baby, overfed, and she’ll starve before she’ll eat food that’s good for her – we know – we wouldn’t eat for three days several times).

    The MOST we can get them to eat is one can at night, shared (we’re hoping it’s about 50/50). And 1/2 can (shared) in morning. Then, to try to keep up the nutrition, we feed another 1/2 can in early afternoon, but they’re mostly disinterested.

    We’ve tried every variation of when and how much we’re feeding, but I’m concerned they’re not getting enough nutrition.

    We’ve also tried every brand in Ingrid’s list … starting with Weruva and right on down the line, including home-cooked. They HATE chunks. Canned pate is the only thing they’ll eat (besides the Orijen kibble). And only 2 flavors – Merrick Surf/Turf or the Chicken.

    Can anyone help me with a proper calorie conversion for one cat per day?

    And I am totally open to suggestions about how to encourage them to eat more so they’re getting well-nourished.

    PS They will not touch treats, so can’t even feed them supplements. They even scorn anything with dry bonito flakes sprinkled for smell. *sigh*

      • Nancy Wagner
        January 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm (2 months ago)

        Ingrid – Thank you for the reference. I had seen that, and it indicates approx 2-3 cans per day per cat. For 2 months, that has been our guideline of what we are feeding. Problem remains – consistently they only eat HALF that amount and leave the rest. We have tried feeding the twice – three times – four times per day.

        Still only eat less than 1 can per day per cat. 🙁
        In desperation, we’ve even left out small amounts of kibble. They rarely touch it. They just seem full after the limited amount of canned pate.

        No particular change in behavior or weight. But we are VERY concerned about the lack of nutrition.

        Don’t think it’s wise to assume they’ll eat what they ‘need’ when it comes to nutrition, right? We are open to suggestions. Thanks, all!

        • Ingrid
          January 22, 2017 at 5:59 am (2 months ago)

          Are you calculating calorie counts on the low end of the range, and if so, are they close to it? As long as they maintain their weight, it’s probably enough for them. Weigh them on a regular basis to make sure they’re not losing weight. Since weight changes can be subtle, weighing is the only way to know for sure.

          • Nancy
            January 24, 2017 at 11:45 pm (2 months ago)

            Hi Ingrid – I am calculating on the very, VERY low end – 2 cans per day per cat (one 13 pounds, one fluffy girl at 16 lbs). Again, no matter now much we put out, or how often we feed, they are consistently only eating less than HALF that amount – about 3/4 can of pate per day per cat (pate is the only canned food they will eat). Not even close to 2 cans per day per cat. Negligible weight loss. Very concerned about lack of nutrition – help!

          • Ingrid
            January 25, 2017 at 6:20 am (2 months ago)

            I’m not sure what else to recommend, Nancy! You may want to consider consulting with a holistic vet who is well-versed in nutrition. Dr. Lisa Pierson offers private consultations through her website,

          • Nancy Wagner
            January 27, 2017 at 11:27 pm (2 months ago)

            Thank you for your wisdom, Ingrid!

  16. Shelly
    January 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm (2 months ago)

    Hello! I’m interested in making homemade food for my cats. Many of the recipes online include a small amount of carbs such as oatmeal, potato, rice, and/or a small amount of veggies. Do cats benefit from a small percentage of carbs, or should I leave it out? I often see information about cats not tolerating grain, but what about other carb heavy foods?

  17. Laurie
    January 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm (2 months ago)

    Hi Ingrid,

    Have you heard anything about The Abady Company? Someone recommended it to me but I’m not familiar with the company. Any thoughts?

    • Ingrid
      January 12, 2017 at 6:21 am (2 months ago)

      I’m not familiar with them, either, Laurie, and can’t find much information about them, either.

  18. Steve
    January 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm (3 months ago)

    I very much enjoyed reading your web site. I feed my cats a combination of wet (Avo Derm) and dry (Science Diet) foods. One of my cats is very finicky and will only eat those two types of food. She won’t eat treats or boiled egg whites like my other cat. I understand your recommendation not to feed dry food but don’t find it practical for my lifestyle. I have an automatic feeder which which works out great for times when I am not able to be home exactly at feeding time and if I have to go away for a weekend. I’ve owned cats my entire life and have never had any issues feeding them dry food. Reading your site was the first time I have seen a recommendation not to feed cats dry food.

    • Ingrid
      January 11, 2017 at 6:27 am (2 months ago)

      I’m far from the only one educating cat guardians about the dangers of dry food. You may want to visit Dr. Lisa Pierson’s site for lots of additional information at Dr. Karen Becker also features excellent information about feline nutrition on her site

      There are timed feeders that can be used with cold packs, so your lifestyle issue can be easily addressed.

  19. Mary
    January 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm (3 months ago)

    Your website has been so informative and helpful!

    Just found out my 16 year old kitty has early stage kidney failure but he otherwise is in good condition.

    I am more than willing to make his food and was wondering if there are “recipes”? Sounds like nutritional additives need to be included but what would be they be and how much? I like the idea of cooking a turkey and packing that up for him as he loves turkey! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ingrid
      January 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm (3 months ago)

      I’m glad our site has been helpful, Mary. For more information about the right diet for cats with kidney disease, please read

      This article explains how to make a home cooked diet, and includes recipes: However, since your cat is in the early stages of kidney failure, you may want to consult with a holistic veterinarian to get help in formulating an appropriate diet.

      • Chandler
        January 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm (3 months ago)

        Thank you for all this information! Do you have any information on costs of some of the brands you have mentioned? We have three cats. One who is over weight , has dandruff, and doesn’t like to play as much as we hope she would. We have another one with dental issues , we have had his teeth cleaned and some removed and we currently brush his teeth every day. The vet said it is due to him being allergic to his own plaque. He will most likely need more removed in the future. And we have a 1 year old who is very playful and loves to eat. We currently feed all of them 1/3 cup 2 times a day of science diet oral care (recommended by our vet)which is about $65 /15.5lb bag which last just over a month for us. We would love to switch to wet food but unfortunalty the ones we see are always expensive and we only have one income at the moment. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

        • Helen
          January 11, 2017 at 11:59 pm (2 months ago)

          Hi Chandler, Just a quick reply on food cost. Are u familiar w chewy dot com? They are significantly cheaper on their website. Anything over $49 has free shipping, there is no tax and u can put things in your “autoship” and get 5% off many items. U can change the items and shipping dates at will. They offer prescription food on their site. Not sure if yours is prescription.They will call your vet for approval. As for the quality of most prescription food, I would seriously reconsider. So much of the ingredients are not feline appropriate…mostly carbs and low quality plant-based proteins or by-products. Also, wet food is the way to go as much as possible. I have read over and over that dry food does not scrape/clean the teeth. Perhaps Ingrid can interject here. Good luck w your kitties!

          • Ingrid
            January 12, 2017 at 6:28 am (2 months ago)

            Chewy’s is a great company to order from, their prices and customer service are outstanding.

  20. JoAnn
    January 6, 2017 at 11:27 am (3 months ago)

    Does anyone know about wellness core chicken chicken liver and turkey. I know it has carrageen in it but it is down on the list. Also boil chicken and give my two boys chicken 1 oz a day as a treat( it is about 46 calories of protein, I boil bone free chicken thighs organic only. Any comments on this diet.

    • Ingrid
      January 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm (3 months ago)

      Wellness is not on my list.

      Boiled chicken is fine as a treat, but it’s not a complete diet for cats.

  21. Christie
    January 6, 2017 at 12:10 am (3 months ago)

    How long do you think it’s ok to leave wet canned food out at room temperature. My kitten likes to take a couple bites go play and then come back to it.

    • Ingrid
      January 6, 2017 at 6:21 am (3 months ago)

      Unless your house is really warm, it’s fine to leave wet food out for several hours. When I still worked in an office and was gone 8-9 hours a day, I used to leave canned food out and never had any problems.

  22. Sally Soo
    January 4, 2017 at 11:28 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi Ingrid, I happened to chance upon your website and was surprised to know that dry food is bad for cats? I have adopted a kitten, 4mths old, and have chosen Orijen Cat & Kitten Dry cat food for the kitten. I was informed that Orijen is good in terms of its real stuff,etc. I am not sure dry food is that bad in terms of shortening the cats’ life, etc. On the other hand, I was also told that canned wet food is like a treat given to the cats. As they are canned food, they are not perfect too, just like we human should not take canned food often. I do understand home cooked ones are good for the cat. I do steam chicken meat once a week for the kitten. Mostly reply on dry food as I read the steam chicken is not nutritious enough for the cat. Other supplement need to be added. Raw food are out of the choice due to many problems, like freshness and extremely expensive.

    • Carol G.
      January 5, 2017 at 6:32 pm (3 months ago)

      Dry food (even though I thought I was feeding them the “best”) contributed to the early death of my little girl, Maggie – diabetes, kidney failure, and then pancreatitis.

      After 3 years of insulin shots a wise vet told me to pick up ALL dry food – even the “good” kind I was ordering from Canada that claimed “carb free”. I was feeding them canned food at this point, but thought the “good, carb free” dry food was okay (well, they aren’t “carb free).

      I did what she said and after 3 years of twice a day insulin shots her diabetes was gone – POOF – no more insulin shots after about 3-4 months of wet food only. Of course, the other damage had been done and I had to place her in the arms of the angels on 11/30/16.

      Had I to do it over again, dry food would NEVER be in their bowls – not even one treat. Dry food is bad for cats – deadly, actually. The other one, even though still alive, got hyperthyroidism and I had to have a procedure done ($1400.00 worth), but it was worth it.

      I am now trying a new raw food – Balanced Blend – and I got my first order today and she loves it. I just have to figure out portions, etc and so forth (it comes frozen from the Balanced Blend folks).

      But, God…, please research how HORRIBLE dry food is for your cat before making them eat it – they get addicted to the carbs too…

      • Ingrid
        January 6, 2017 at 6:19 am (3 months ago)

        Thank you for sharing your experience, Carol. I’m so sorry about Maggie. Your experience, sadly, is far more common than most people realize. There is no such thing as a carb-free dry food, that’s all marketing.

  23. Alexandrea
    January 4, 2017 at 8:33 pm (3 months ago)

    You mention being concerned about cats eating the bones and guts of fish. Why does this concern you?

    In the wild, if a cat killed a fish or bird, they wouldn’t just pick around the bones or guts. They would eat them. Also, the following statement is misleading: “Fish used in pet food manufacturing often contains whole fish, guts and bones, which can increase phosphorus levels of the food. This can be a problem for cats with kidney disease.” I think it’s important to remember that cats require phosphorous and calcium as an essential part of their diet. These vitamins can be found in the bones and guts of animals they eat.

    • Ingrid
      January 5, 2017 at 6:32 am (3 months ago)

      As the article states, increased phosphorus levels can be a concern for cats with kidney disease.

  24. katherine
    January 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm (3 months ago)

    My 10 year old cat was recently diagnosed with pancreatitis. After her initial episodes six months ago, I changed her diet and found a formula that didn’t make her vomit: koha unagi formula. This past month to my dismay, her vomiting episodes have returned and was informed that the koha unagi formula was discontinued. After reading and researching, I fear I may have made her condition worse as cats shouldn’t really be eating that much food with fish formula to begin with. I feel terrible.
    I am trying to find a new cat formula low calorie, high vitamins that will reduce her pancreatic flare ups. Any recommendations?

    Food she has tried:
    kitten – royal canin (dry only)
    1-4 yrs old: natural balance indoor cat formula (dry only)
    5-8 yrd old: natural balance indoor cat formula (wet only)
    9 – to current: Wet formulas only – prefers pates
    Weruva – hit or miss (doesn’t like stews)
    Wild Calling – hit or miss
    Hounds & Gatos – pate yes then stopped eating
    Tiki Cat – hit or miss
    Coclicious – never touched it
    Party Animal – never touched it
    Fromm – pate yes, then stopped eating
    EVO – pate yes (hit or miss)
    Merrick – yes, then stopped eating
    Koha – Goat formula – yes, Unagi formula – yes

    I am open to any suggestions – thank you.

    • Ingrid
      January 4, 2017 at 3:13 pm (3 months ago)

      You may want to consider a raw or homecooked diet for your cat, Katherine.

      • Laurie
        January 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm (3 months ago)

        My cat had pancreatitis as well, he was throwing up every few weeks and it was horrible. I stopped all his dry food and after a long search, I started giving him Sheba cuts. I tried to go raw but he wasn’t interested in it at all. I’m happy to say that his vomiting stopped and he’s back to his normal self. Maybe try that?

  25. Christie
    January 4, 2017 at 3:42 am (3 months ago)

    Merrick also has carrageenan in all its canned food.

    • Ingrid
      January 4, 2017 at 6:47 am (3 months ago)

      Merrick’s Limited Ingredient line does not contain carrageenan.

      • Silke
        January 7, 2017 at 9:49 pm (3 months ago)

        Do you approve of the pea protein which is in Merrick limited?

        • Ingrid
          January 8, 2017 at 5:58 am (3 months ago)

          I’d prefer that all the protein came from meat, Silke.

  26. Christie
    January 4, 2017 at 1:57 am (3 months ago)

    Question regarding the preferred canned list? Many of them have fish in there ingredient list. I thought you recommended not feeding fish on a regular basis? I just picked up canned Merrick at pet in chicken pate flavor and fish is in the ingredients.

    • Christie
      January 4, 2017 at 2:02 am (3 months ago)

      Corrections: the flavor is kitten dinner pate from Merrick. Deboned salmon is the 4th ingredient in the list.

    • Ingrid
      January 4, 2017 at 6:45 am (3 months ago)

      All of the brands I recommend have flavors that do not contain fish, Christie. Unfortunately, as you found out, it does require taking a close look at the labels, as even flavors labeled “chicken” may contain fish.

  27. Marilyn
    January 2, 2017 at 7:56 am (3 months ago)


    • Rob Meyer
      January 4, 2017 at 2:35 am (3 months ago)

      Hi what do you think about solid gold cat food?

      • Ingrid
        January 4, 2017 at 6:46 am (3 months ago)

        The last time I took a look at their canned foods, they all contained fish, which I don’t recommend.

  28. Marilyn
    January 2, 2017 at 7:56 am (3 months ago)

    Ingrid – I have learned a lot from reading your wonderful column every day. I have just started using a new raw food. It’s Big Bear cat food and my cats go
    crazy over it. It isn’t listed in your favorite foods. I’d be interested to know if you’ve heard of it and what you think. Thanks!

    • Ingrid
      January 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm (3 months ago)

      I’m looking into it, Marilyn – I’ll let you know!

  29. Jupiter's Mom
    December 31, 2016 at 12:26 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi Ingrid,

    I have been feeding my nine month-old cat Jupiter according to your picks since he was born, and he’s doing so well. However, I don’t want him to grow too dependent on Tiki Cat, so I am considering adding Weruva into the mix occasionally. I see they have a formula of Beef and Chicken– how do you feel about feeding cats beef? Or other red meats, for that matter? I just see so little information about it online, but most of the high-end brands do offer it as an option (such as Instinct Raw). I would love to know your thoughts and enjoy your blog so much. Also, as a side note, Jupiter is the furthest thing from a picky eater and hardly even smells his food before chowing down…

    • Ingrid
      December 31, 2016 at 12:47 pm (3 months ago)

      I think feeding beef is fine. It may not be a cat’s natural diet, but then, let’s be honest, how many cats have you seen take down a chicken or turkey in the wild? 🙂 You’re lucky that you have such a good eater. If you decide to introduce different proteins, I’d introduce them one protein at a time, just in case there’s an allergic reaction to one.

      • Jupiter's Mom
        December 31, 2016 at 1:23 pm (3 months ago)

        Hi Ingrid,

        Thank you so much for your response! I will give it a try and see if he likes it. I know for a fact he does not do well with fish– so I’ll introduce beef gradually and see how it settles with him. 🙂

        Have a happy New Year and I look forward to your posts in 2017!

    • Jerilin
      December 31, 2016 at 1:26 pm (3 months ago)

      Hello- just a few tidbits here. Tiki Cat recently (to everyone’s dismay) added synthetic vitamin K (mendionine sodium bisulfite complex) to it’s Luau line of their cat foods including Puka Puka, Koolina and the chicken and salmon one. Mendionine ,however, isn’t in the Gourmet Carnivore diet line including Gourmet Carnivore Chicken and Duck and GC Chicken and Turkey. So it’s up to you weather you feel comfortable with Vitamin K but I now feed the GC Chicken flavors in place of puka puka and koolina and the hookena luau flavor (chicken and tuna) in place of the chicken and salmon flavor that now has vitamin K. If you feed fish as a treat none of their “Grill” flavors have vitamin K which doesn’t make any sense because it’s the fish ones that if they were worried about vitamin k deficiency that would need it added and not the land meat flavors. They claimed they changed their formula because mendionine (K3) was changed to become required by the AAFCO to be a “complete and balanced diet for cats” earlier in the year. K3 is the only approved vitamin K additive in cat food at this time. It’s pretty unfortunate..

      As far as introducing the beef goes– I feed my cat Weruva Truluxe On the Cat Wok which is the chicken and beef flavor all the time along with the all beef one Truluxe Steak Frites all the time and my cats really enjoy it. Fussie Cat Super Premium Gold (the really new FC line) has a mega clean ingredient wise chicken and beef flavor food that you may want to check out as well. I also feed Earthborn Holistic Ranchouse Stew pretty frequently as well. (beef, dried egg, chicken and tuna a lot further down in ingredients which I would guess is actually tuna fish oil but I may email the company–if it is tuna rather than just the oil it isn’t very much) The Ranchouse Stew is a favorite around here. Also if you can get your cats to eat it (mine don’t like these two brands) Nature’s Variety Instinct has a beef flavor and so does Wild Calling. I have two picky cats that don’t like those because they are a drier plainer pate but your mileage may vary.

      Hope that helps and good luck 🙂

      • Jupiter's Mom
        December 31, 2016 at 4:51 pm (3 months ago)

        Hi Jerilin,

        Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment. It was very educational and I did not know about Tiki Cat’s formula change (hence the new can design, perhaps?). I just made a trip to my local holistic pet food store and picked up Jupiter a can of Steak Frites and one other beef and chicken recipe, and he went nuts for the Steak Frites immediately. I will certainly pick up a few cans of your other recommendations down the line, as well. I am happy that Weruva’s chicken formulas are shredded, not pate, because he seems to enjoy the shredded and chunky consistencies the most.

        Have a Happy New Year.

  30. Leslie
    December 30, 2016 at 12:00 am (3 months ago)

    I just left my one year old neutered cat at the vet hospital for an overnight stay. He had a partial blockage from crystals in his urine. When I pick him up tomorrow I know they want to send me him home with prescription food from their office. I’ve read on various blogs that these are often not as high in protein as commercial brands from the pet store. Couldn’t I just buy a high protein wet food that’s a better quality than a prescription food? If so, any that are recommended? He was on Go! and Orijen but I’ll be taking him off the dry food completely.

    • Ingrid
      December 30, 2016 at 6:22 am (3 months ago)

      The most important thing for cats with urinary issues is moisture in the diet, so taking him off dry food is critical, as is feeding a quality canned or raw diet. You can find extensive information on this topic on Dr. Pierson’s site:

    • angela
      January 5, 2017 at 10:14 pm (3 months ago)

      HI, I also have a kitty that has suffered from crystals and he had to be unblocked once. Well the vet I took him too said no dry food what so ever, not even dry prescription. He told me to get a low carb, grain free and fish free canned food. Firstmate, Weruva, wellness make some good canned options.

  31. Amber
    December 23, 2016 at 3:59 pm (3 months ago)

    I have an 8-month old cat, and I’m starting to become more invested in her health and therefore her diet. The problem is, I’m currently unable to afford many of the high-end wet foods. If I had to choose between lower quality wet food or higher quality kibble, which would be better for my cat?

    Also, I really don’t need any comments telling me that if I can’t afford a pet I shouldn’t have one. Being unable to pay for incredibly expensive cat food doesn’t mean that I can’t provide a loving home for a cat who would otherwise be on the streets.

    • Ingrid
      December 23, 2016 at 4:58 pm (3 months ago)

      Lower quality wet food is a better choice than even premium dry, Amber. Fancy Feast is one of the better brands at a lower price point, so you may want to look into that. You could also look into making your own food if that’s something you’d consider – it can be very economical.

    • CarolMcK
      December 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you, Amber for providing love & care & a home to a kitty who might not even be alive if it weren’t for you! I have one vet who feeds dry & another who feeds Fancy Feast … You’ll get no judgement from me, just a pat on the back for doing the best you can.

    • Deb
      December 25, 2016 at 9:34 pm (3 months ago)

      Just a thought Amber, if you ever considered making your own cat food. Per pound, turkey is almost always your best bet for meat. You can usually get it on sale 2 or 4 times per year at about $.99 per lb or sometimes even less. A cooked turkey (without the stuffing or seasonings of course) would feed a cat a LONG time

    • Carol G.
      December 28, 2016 at 8:19 am (3 months ago)

      Amber – you might want to check out for your food buying needs.

      I had 2 cats, and when I got them I thought that dry food was GREAT for them – teeth, the package had a chicken leg pictured on it, etc and so forth. One of them died on 11/30/16 because of that dry food (diabetes, kidney failure, pancreatitis). The other one had thyroid problems and t cost me $1400.00 to fix (worth the money).

      So, please check out and even though you think you are paying more for wet food, in the end, you are not…

  32. Teresa
    December 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm (3 months ago)

    Thank you for the tips. I have a can of the Instinct – Rabbit. There are whole peas in it. Why on earth would a cat need to eat a whole pea? I realize there is protein in peas, but.. for cats? Seriously? I have read cats aren’t able to digest vegetable matter so it’s a waste…literally. As for fiber, a cat that eats canned food, in this instance, won’t need fiber as it’s getting enough moisture. Fiber is added to dry to keep cats from getting constipated. The more I learn the more confused and frustrated I become. 🙂

    • Ingrid
      December 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm (3 months ago)

      I’m not crazy about the peas in the NV Instinct diets, either, Teresa. They’re added for the vitamins. My cats actually eat around the peas and leave them behind – I guess they instinctively (pun intended…) know that they don’t need them 🙂

      • Ivory
        February 3, 2017 at 9:27 am (2 months ago)

        I did feed my 2 boys core wellness but the carrageenan is an ingredient. They also have dried potatoes. One of my guys has a sensitive stomach and started pawing at wellness. I did the research and found out that Merrick lid has been bought out by purina? I think Hound and Gatos chicken and rabbit are a good brand as well as K9 natural feline pet foods. Ask some of the cat experts and check out Truth about Pet Foods. I also boil boneless chicken thighs and freeze one ounce cooked chicken and give that to them as snacks. I buy the fish human grade oil from Just Food for Dogs and that is there omega 3and 6 source. Lastly once a week I give then a cooked yellow part of eff soft as another treat. They are now on Hound and Gatos doing well. Hope this helps.

        • Ivory
          February 3, 2017 at 9:28 am (2 months ago)

          I meant egg not eff. Sorry.


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