Conscious Cat

March 22, 2012 214 Comments

The Best Food for Your Cat: My Recommendations

Posted by Ingrid

cat with food bowl

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 (listed in no particular order):

Grain-free canned diets:

Weruva. Read my full review of this brand here.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Canned. Please be aware that the rabbit in Nature’s Variety’s canned and raw forumulas is sourced from China and Italy. Nature’s Variety employs a US trained food scientist to oversee rabbit sourcing. May 2014 update: I believe Nature’s Variety now sources their rabbit from France, but I have not been able to get confirmation when products on the shelves will only contain rabbit sourced from there, rather than from China.

Nature’s Logic Canned

Hound and Gatos

Tiki Cat

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


Wild Calling

Raw diets:

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.

Rad Cat

Feline’s Pride

Dehydrated Raw Diets

The Honest Kitchen. The Honest Kitchen offers free samples (shipping not included.)

Stella and Chewy’s

Gently Cooked Diets



How to wean your cat off dry food

How to get finicky cats to eat

How to read a pet food label

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

Feline Nutrition (solid and well-researched information on raw feeding)

Cooking for your cat: how to make a balanced homemade diet

Kidney failure and diet in cats

Dr. Goodpet

Photo: istockphoto


214 comments to “The Best Food for Your Cat: My Recommendations”

  1. Lisa says:

    Thanks, I would be concerned with the spinach in NVP Instict’s raw formulas – even their new cat product – (Raw Bites, duck) contains spinach. The ASPCA cautions against “chronic” (cumulative) ingestion of spinach b/c it contains calcium oxalates and could cause crystal formation / UTI’s in cats.

    It’s too bad their raw products has vegetables, one of my cats loved the raw lamb but because of its’ high bone content – 15%, it made him constipated with bloody stools. Primal is lower in bone content, 10%, but still contains vegetables cats have no use for.

  2. Lisa says:

    How I got my cats off dry food: I’d like to share this tip, maybe it will help others who want to eliminate dry food from their cats diet.

    I never fed much dry food to my two almost three year old cats, however, one of them was beginning to turn into a “dry food junkie”. Both cats are allergic to fowl and fish, hence limiting our options of meat proteins available in most grain free canned foods. It was also difficult trying to find *single* protein, grain free foods and especially foods they liked. We ended up with Natural Balance’s LID venison formula, Mikey liked it, Molly didn’t care for it much, I’d have to “season” it with some type of treat on top of the food in order for her to eat it. Hence, she would just run to her dry food bowl (kept in another room, far from the kitchen where they eat their wet food). Long story short: I found a formula she liked – Addiction’s venison and apple, she loved it, would inhale it, even cold from the refrigerator. Both cats still expected something though in their dry food bowls; I never free-fed dry food but would give a small scoopful after they had eaten their wet food.

    I gradually began substituting the grain free dry food for a dehydrated / freeze dried raw food, Stella and Chewy’s. I waited 24 hours before beginning small amounts of the freeze dried raw given that dry food causes longer digestion times and I didn’t want to risk the cats getting a bacterial infection mixing dry with raw (raw digests quicker but dry slows it down), albeit dehydrated.

    I wanted to use SC’s cat formulas but could not b/c they only make fowl and fish for cats. So …. I bought the rabbit formula for dogs (high in vegetables but again, the use of this product as a means to an end and very little). I’d cut up a patty into little “kibble” size pieces and put that in their dry food bowls – they loved it!! I realized that they don’t care what’s in their dry food bowls as long as they like it. I did that for about 6 weeks until I found ZiwiPeak and now I use their air dried raw lamb, not a lot, it’s very concentrated, sometimes I may sprinkle a bit over their canned food.

    Anyway, I hope this info helps. Thanks also for the great site Ingrid – I’ve recommended it to others!

  3. Eliette says:

    Hello Ingrid,

    Why do you prefer single protein food? Thank you.

  4. felines says:

    how much protein should a cat have in his diet?
    is naturesmenu pouches OK?

  5. Hi Ingrid, what’s your take on dehydrated foods such as Honest Kitchen ( Many people add meat to the diet to ensure their cat gets a decent source of meat protein as well as necessary nutrients provided by the mix.

    I understand your single protein source method, but with most allergies caused by grains (esp. cheap grains and waste products like brewers rice) is that really necessary? Perhaps if a cat has known allergies it’s worth investigating.

    • Ingrid says:

      I like the dehydrated foods as an alternative to fresh or frozen raw diets. As for the single protein, it just makes identifying possible culprits of a food intolerance or allergy easier than if you feed a food with multiple proteins. You may still need to do a true elimination diet trial, but it makes things a little easier.

      • It certainly makes sense. I normally start with a grain-free diet to eliminate allergies to wheat/soy, and then avoidance of chicken and/or beef and so on. Cats don’t need grains anyway, so grain free has no caveats (expect for price).

        It’s interesting to see the opinion of others, so thank you.

  6. claudia says:

    Please would someone look at the ingredients below, do you think this sounds good? Its for my cat with Kidney disease, who also has bladder stones.

    Chicken (min 43%), Turkey (min 28%), Minerals.
    Analytical Constituents:
    Protein (10%), Crude Oils & Fats (6.5%), Crude Ash (2.5%), Crude Fibres (0.4%), Moisture (79%).
    Additives (per kg):
    Taurine (200mg/kg), Vitamin A (2.000iu/kg), Vitamin D3 (320iu/kg), Vitamin E (30mg/kg).
    Trace Elements: Potassium iodide (0.2mg/kg), Manganese oxide (2.1mg/kg), Zinc sulphate monohydrate (10mg/kg), Zinc sulphate monohydrate (10mg/kg).

    Is there any ingredient i should avoid / add to help with bladder stones? If so are their recommended levels?
    Is there any ingredient i should avoid / add to help with Kidney disease? if so the levels also?

    for example, are the values below of 10% protein too low?
    the phosphorus levels are approximate 0.26%, though the word approximate concerns me (does this mean it could be much higher!?) If so i need to look for another food.

    Does anyone please know of a food that is the lowest in phosphorus levels that they have come across? Would this also help with bladder stones?
    Im in the UK, so some foods ive read people mention i can’t get hold of easily here in the UK

    Again, thank you very,very much, I look forward to your comments

    • Ingrid says:

      This goes beyond what I an address on this site, Claudia. I would suggest running this by your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. For more information on diet and kidney disease, this article might be helpful:

    • Lisa says:

      My cat had bladder stones and was treated with homeopathicly by a vet. I was told that poultry was too low in acid and I needed to add cranberry extract, along with more acidic meats such as beef, venison, rabbit and salmon. I maintain my cats on these meats now and have not had any reaccurance along with cranberry extract.

      • Ingrid says:

        Sounds like great advice from your homeopathic vet, Lisa. Whenever there’s a health issue, a holistic vet is your best source of advice for how to modify your cat’s diet.

  7. claudia says:

    No problem, however can someone clarify on the following as i am totally confused. One of my vets said that 10% protein is way to high for a cat with kidney disease. The other vet said it is way too low! (when we go to our vets, we tend to see whoever happens to be available, therefore the advice can differ) its so confusing to know what to do,

    • Ingrid says:

      Claudia, please read the article I linked to above, it goes into detail on this topic. Conventional wisdom is that cats in kidney failure should eat a diet lower in protein, however, newer information indicates that protein restriction is not indicated until the final stages of renal failure.

  8. Liz says:

    Hi Ingrid,

    Great site, and I really appreciate that you aren’t judgmental about the compromises we sometimes have to make with our kitties!

    I’ve been reading a lot of your articles and the conversations in comments, I’m just trying to understand how to prioritize the various things I should be avoiding. Is this about right (I’m a little fuzzy once we get past dry food and grain!)?

    1. No dry food
    2. No grain
    3. No carrageenan
    4. No or very little seafood
    5. low or no carbs
    6. no xanthan gum
    7. avoid vegetable starches?

    I read somewhere else someone said to look for food that was under 10% carbs, would you agree with that?

    Also I think you said a 10 pound cat should eat around 170-200 calories, what about a kitten? I have a kitten that is estimated to be about 6 months old (rescued feral so we don’t know the exact birth date) and he just topped 11 pounds! So I’m starting to control his eating, but I don’t want to be too strict since he’s still growing.

    • Ingrid says:

      Your list is about right, Liz. As for the protein/carb ratio, you’ll find lots of differing opinions. Generally, I prefer foods that are at least 95% protein. At six months, you can start feeding your kitten as an adult. You can probably go to two meals a day at this stage.

  9. vickie doyle says:

    I really appreciate and understand the focus on healthy eating for our cats and dogs as well as humans. That said, all of my cats have lived into their late teens and one to age 22. My first cat lived to 18 and at that time at 9 Lives, that was the popular brand. Then FF came along which all of my cats, including current ones, have eaten. The one that lives to 22 would only eat fish. I am not sure how that happened, but once it did, that is all she would eat. They also get some dry food; I currently give them Royal Canin. Perhaps good genetics played a big part in the longevity of my kitties; also, I hope my current three live that long and longer. I know others that prefer the grain free for their cats. I have been thinking of weaning them to one of the healthier brands, but so far have not. I have tried things like Wellness on occasion, and no one likes it. Just my two cents; I myself am a vegetarian, due to not wanting to kill animals, but I know there are health benefits too.
    I love reading about your cats. The beautiful gray one i the photo looks identical to the love of my life kitty girl who lived to 22 and 3 months.

    • Ingrid says:

      I figure it’s like the person who eats junk food all their life and lives to be 90, Vickie. You’re right, genetics do play a part in longevity. However, I feel that since nutrition is one of the few things, if not the only thing, we can influence when it comes to health, whether it’s our cats’ or our own, it just makes sense to feed them the best possible food we can.

  10. Deb says:

    Liz’s list is helpful for me. Simplifying all this new information is good. I wish I’d found your website sooner.

    My older cat (13) adopted us 11 years ago and has had chronic vomiting for the duration. Our veterinarians don’t appear to have diagnostics short of exploratory surgery for her problem. She’s been on prednisone for over a year which has helped the vomiting, but I worry about the long term issues. The IBD diet they prescribed only caused more digestive tract distress and she really disliked the taste. I’m hoping for the best with a healthier diet.

    Then, in early November, I came across a young kitty crouched at the edge of the road, rescued her and she spent three days under observation with our vet. She’d been hit by a car resulting in a fractured front paw, broken teeth, contusions and abrasions over her head and face and a couple extra kinks at the end of her tail. She’s mended now and is a great addition to our household, but over the past few weeks she’s developed some bloody diarrhea. From the beginning she’s had an odd odor (similar to mothballs) and the fumes from the litter box are noxious. Today I picked up probiotics, a sample packet of Primal and a couple cans of Wild Calling chicken (96% chicken) which is approved by the AAFCO. I visited two of our more edgy local pet stores and read a bucket load of ingredient lists. Many products touted as natural contained vegetables and fruit and the sales people insisted that the ingredients were what a cat in the wild would eat. I had some trouble imagining my kitties digging up potatoes, wading into the cranberry bog, etc. The list of added nutrients and vitamins on the Wild Calling gives me some concern, but I’m hoping it’s a start toward better digestive health for both my little girls (both are grey tabbys and under 8 lbs. I suspect they’re long lost sisters.)

    They’ve been on Blue Buffalo Wilderness dry and canned. I’m going to begin weaning them from the dry, adding the probiotics and trying the more natural foods to find out what they tolerate best. Any more suggestions for the bloody diarrhea, odor and vomiting?

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m not familiar with Wild Calling and I’m not sure all Blue Buffalo varieties are grain-free – take a close look at the labels. It sounds like you’re already doing all the right things. I would, however, recommend that at the very least you get a stool sample checked for your new rescue kitty if you haven’t already done so. If you’d like to discuss this in more detail, I’d be happy to schedule a consultation.

  11. Deb says:

    Thank you, Ingrid. I’m calling their office this morning and will take in a stool sample. Tikitibu gave me some quite putrid ones this morning just before 5.

  12. lisa says:

    I agree regarding Primal raw and the variability of each batch. I’ve purchased four different bags of the rabbit formula; two of those bags my cat loved, the other two he rejected, money down the drain.
    He’s never rejected Natures Variety Instinct. He loves the lamb and I’m about to try the venison and lamb recipe with him. I’m not concerned that there are two proteins in one formula since he’s. already familiar with venison. It’s chicken and turkey he’s allergic to.
    I was initially concerned about the bone content in this food but giving it a second go around, he’s
    Actually doing quite well on it.

    • Deborah says:

      how do you find out if your kitty is allergic to a particular food, like turkey or chicken?

      • Ingrid says:

        You’ll see either GI signs (vomiting, diarrhea) or allergy symptoms (overgrooming, pulling out fur, itching).

        • Deborah says:

          I have one kitty who has suspected allergies to his food, although the vets I have seen have different opinions. We have done the 6-8 weeks on one particular food, then did the others but it could be something besides the protein, possibly a added ingredient-how do you tell which one it could be? He has hives like red spots that itch and get crusty on his belly and upwards on his chest and under neck and head, and also lumps on his tail towards end of tail. He is an outside kitty and loves the woods outside our NC mountain home. One vet thought miliary dermatitis and wanted to put him on steroids-I do not like steroids as to me they do nothing for the problem, just make them feel better and counteract inflammation, so we aren’t going that direction. He also has hot spots on his feet, that get red and almost to the point of bleeding. This seems to be seasonal to me, as in the winter when we have colder temps and snow he is fine. Much worse in the spring to fall-Need some ideas from the folks here-

  13. lisa says:

    Forgot to ask previously Ingrid, I understand not using any foods made or sourced in China (Petco won’t even carry any foods made in China any longer), however, what makes the rabbit from Italy suspect? China has little to no government oversight of foods but is this the same case with Italy? Should I be concerned about my olive oil from Italy? :)

    • Ingrid says:

      I did not mean to imply that the rabbit from Italy is suspect, Lisa. I don’t think there are any issues with ingredients sourced from Italy (other than the GMO issue, which is a global issue with both human and pet food.)

  14. Martha says:

    How much should you feed your cat every day? New cat owner, learning…….

  15. Alice says:

    Ingrid et al: Thank you so much for this valuable info. I’ve had cats (and fed them all the wrong things according to what I’ve read here) for years. Time to change their habits, since I do want them to live long and healthy lives. And not vomit so much!!

  16. Pam says:

    I am so thankful! My 3 yr old cat was having digestive problems that the vet thought could be 1) intestinal blockage (hairball, foreign object, etc.) 2) food allergy developing or 3) problem with the pancreas. He gave me a bag of “veterinary formula” dry food but I had already started to wonder if those foods were good for my cats as they had the grains and soy (grrrr I am irritated with soy being put in ALL foods). So after reading this I went to my local pet store and found Nature’s Variety Instinct. It’s expensive! But, after a few days my kitty’s litter habits were returning to normal and after 2 weeks he is now bright eyed and very playful again! I can tell he is feeling so much better! Thank You for your work!!! I wrote out your suggestions and took it with me to the pet store to find the right food – Oh, and He LOVES to eat it!!! Best Wishes to all…

  17. Mito says:

    Hi, my cat is just treated to cure blood in urine disease. The vet told that the dry food causes it so I decide to change her diet. I cook for her fish and mixed it with rice. But as you say, fish-based foods should be avoided so I wonder if I wonder if self-cooked fish should be avoided or not. I try other meat like chicken and beef but she dont like it. Do you have any suggestions for how I can know what she likes? Thx in advance

  18. Jennifer Roberts says:


    I am confused because so many sites say to avoid fish based foods. I believe all but one of the Weruva canned foods are fish flavors. Help??

  19. tim says:

    I second Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken. I reluctantly tried this flavor again when my cats started turning their noses up at the other premium canned foods I had been feeding since they were kittens. The nice thing about this flavor is that my cats would eat around the veggie pieces in the other Weruva flavors I had tried, leaving half the food on the plate around those pieces. They also now like Tikicat Puka Puka Chicken. It’s similar to Paw Lickin’ Chicken in appearance and smell, but the TikiCat seems to have less water, more protein and also more calories per can for about the same price. Not thrilled that they are co-packed in the far east, but I do like that they don’t smell bad and leave a gross mess like the pate canned brands they used to eat like NVI or Hound & Gatos. They both also like Primal Raw Freeze Dried Chicken & Salmon and Stella & Chewy Duck from the great list above.

  20. Cristina says:


    I am live in Portugal, and in my city there is no access to holistic treatment for pets. I feed my cats the way my vet advised me, 12 years ago. Also no access to those brands you mention, only Royal Canin, Cat Chow, etc. and now there are some with no grain or vegetable (but very expensive).
    Noone really told me why cats could not eat those. Also, I have always given them dry food and wet food occasionally, as my vet told me it would help them drink more water which is good for their livers. What would you say is a solution in a place where nothing you suggested is available? How would you feed your cats with no cans, no brands, and little money?
    Thank you!

  21. Lynn Connell says:

    My cat is very overweight. His health is at risk. He is on a vet prescribed dry food [which has horrible ingredients] He will not eat canned food…he will lick the liquid off it but will not eat it. I have tried everything….letting him go without dry hoping he will eat the canned…adding water to canned…adding water to his dry to get him used to a soft food..nothing works. Anyone have any ideas that worked for them?

  22. Patrick says:

    Hello. Thanks for all the very helpful information. I will be transitioning my 5 kitties off dry food asap, to either raw or canned. I do have one question. I travel quite a bit, and while I am away I have a cat sitter who can only come once per day, so the kitties get fed only once per day. This was a non-issue with dry food, since their boels could simply be left full. But with raw or canned, I’m not sure how this would work since I don’t believe either can safely be left out for 24 hours. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations here? It is not possible for me to have someone visit more than once per day while I am away. Thanks!

    • Ingrid says:

      Good for you for making the switch! Unfortunately, with canned or raw food, you’ll have to have someone come twice a day to feed your cats. You’re absolutely correct that you can’t leave raw or canned food out for that long.

      • Michelle says:

        One suggestion would be for your sitter to put out a portion of the cats’ daily rations frozen solid. It will defrost by the time they’re ready to eat it.

  23. pam says:

    Could you point me to a good kitten food to use? Thanks

    • Ingrid says:

      All the foods on this list are appropriate for kittens, Pam. Kittens should eat at least three meals a day until they’re about 6 months old.

  24. pam says:

    thank you for the quick response, I contacted Tiki cat foods and ask them what I needed to do for kittens and they said to add 2 teaspoons of some kind of fat ( olive,flax or fish)to it in order for them to get the fat intake they need. I just wanted to pass this info on.

  25. Athena says:

    I’ve heard about wet food being much better for cats. This blew my mind at first, because I thought of IT as the “junk food!” And I thought they chewed enough to mean that it helped minimize plaque. I wish canned food didn’t cost more! I talked to a vet about whether I should avoid “by-products,” and she said they’re harmless, because they’re just the same kinds of body parts a cat would eat if it had caught the chicken (or whatever) in a field. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Ingrid says:

      I prefer to avoid foods with by-products. Since pet food manufacturers don’t have to identify exactly which “by-products” they use, you have no way of knowing what is actually in the food.

      • Athena says:

        Could they be putting things other than animal body parts in the food? I mean, that’s regulated, right? Don’t cats usually eat all of what they kill, unless it’s too big? Wouldn’t that mean that any animal body part is okay for them to eat? I think I might be missing something about the by-products issue. What all falls under the category of “by-products?”

        • Ingrid says:

          AAFCO defines by-products as parts of slaughtered animals, not including meat. This means lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue, and stomach and intestines freed of their contents. However, what this definition doesn’t include is how these by-products are handled after slaughter. For example, giblets not refrigerated immediately after slaughter but stored for up to 24 hours in a hot trailer cannot be sold for human consumption,but they can still be legally used for making pet food. Likewise, other parts that have been declared inedible and unfit for human consumption can still be used for making pet food.

          • Athena says:

            Yuck! I didn’t even think about that. Where did you find out about handling after slaughter? I’d like to read more about this.

  26. Julz says:

    My cat has a weird food problem, I have not gotten anywhere w/vet so far,
    he’s a little over a year old, neutered -a very lively indoor cat.
    Poop gets stuck in his butt almost weekly, much too often; he then scoots to get it off.
    This is very stressful for both of us!
    no matter what I feed him, this happens.
    He does not have worms or impacted anal glands.
    What else could be causing this?
    He is currently on Hills i/d Rx food for the last month or so which I hate giving him but he has not had one stuck poop!
    Any suggestions for food to try?
    He’s been on wet food before exclusively but this happens with or without grain in his food.
    He only recently had his first hairball & also has recently started vomiting grass once or 2x a week.
    Should I ask for bloodwork or x-rays?

    • Ingrid says:

      It’s not clear to me from your comment whether your cat is constipated, or whether you’re just concerned about stool getting stuck to his rear end. The vomiting is a concern, frequent vomiting is not normal, here’s more information:

    • Elaine Alfaro says:

      Hi Julz, it sounds to me like your cat is constipated. This is how it started with my guy, Amos, several years back. He started being unable to fully evacuate, and it got stuck, as it were. Later on, he’d be finally able to finish, but by scooting it off like your kitty does, or going someplace inappropriate like on the floor or my bed. Slowly over the months, it got worse & worse until he was straining in the box. When i finally saw some blood in the litter box I rushed him to the vet and it turned out he was very dehydrated. He had to stay overnight for IV fluids & a “dig out”. They diagnosed him with colitis, and my vet mentioned something about perhaps a “hidden cancer”. It wouldn’t hurt to go to the vet to rule out anything serious. However, probably the most important thing for your kitty would be to improve his diet. Amos ended up having kidney failure, and the constipation was probably the earliest signs of it. He ate kibble for most of his life because I didn’t know any better back then. Switching your cat to an all wet quality low-carb canned or raw diet would be the best thing for his overall health. Some cats still need more help though as in adding extra water to the food, adding fiber, etc… There’s a great website about feline constipation if you’re interested: Everything you ever wanted to know (or not!) about the subject. Also, I used a product called “Feline Comfort” from a company called Vitality Science. Check them out… they specialize in digestive issues of all kinds. This product helped Amos so much more than the antibiotics prescribed from the vet, and I never had to give him the steroids that they also prescribed. I wish you the best of luck with your kitty!

  27. Julz says:

    The vomiting just started last week , it was full of cat grass he ate at night, I will limit how much access he has to grass, if vomiting continues, will call vet.
    He’s not usually constipated, just the stool gets stuck much too often. very frequently.
    He does love to graze & eats slowly for a cat, so maybe having limited meal times would help.
    The Hills i/d has stopped the stuck stool problem, it’s for sensitive digestion issues. the main ingredient is pork liver ( and lots of bad stuff too)
    Even though the vet did not say he has IBS , I will look into that as a possibility.
    thanks very much.

  28. Athena says:

    Hi again. I’m transitioning my herd to wet food. Yeay! But, I’m not sure where to look for how much to give each one. I’m concerned that the recommended guidelines on cans might be a little too much, so you’ll buy more over time. Do you have a recommended amount per pound of cat? I’m in the US, so I’m thinking in terms of cups. I looked on the AAFP website, but couldn’t find anything about this.

    • Ingrid says:

      Recommended feeding amount on pet food are generally on the high side. The average 8 pound needs about 6 ounces of wet food per day. This is only an average. Cats can vary in their nutritional needs, and the amount you feed per day will need to be adjusted for a cat’s activity level.

      • Athena says:

        Ok, thanks! This gives me a good place to start. I’m still interested in reading more about the by-products issue, if you could point me to any resources.

  29. MP. says:

    Nature’s Variety instinct lists ground flaxseed as an ingredient in their grain-free canned food. (I use flaxseed in my baking as an extra grain.) Are seeds different from grains? Is this a recipe change? Or is it just such a small amount it is ok?
    Also, they include 5% vegetables such as peas, pumpkin and fruits like cranberries. Is that ok? Would cats eat that in the wild? I’m wondering what the rationale is for feeding veggies to carnivorous cats at all.
    Is the issue that we shouldn’t feed cats what they don’t eat in the wild at all or just that we should limit those foods?

    • Ingrid says:

      Flaxseed is not technically a grain. It has a similar vitamin and mineral profile as grains, but is lower in carbs. They probably added it for the omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetables can be a natural source of vitamins. As long as the ratio of vegetables is at or below 5%, I consider that acceptable, although probably not ideal. The only veggies and grains cats would eat in the wild are the stomach contents of their prey.

  30. Lisa says:

    I read recently, can’t remember where, maybe it was on the RadCat raw food site or another raw feeding site, that cats in the wild eat most of their prey *except* the stomach and intestines, so they aren’t consuming any veggies. I always thought they ate the stomach too, will have to do a bit more research on that. I’d like to give RadCat a try although I wish the food did not contain any eggs, my cats are allergic to chicken protein.

    • Michelle says:

      Lisa, I believe it would be more accurate to say that cats don’t ALWAYS eat the internal organs of their kills. It’s probably based on innate intelligence as to whether they need it or not.

  31. felicia says:

    I just adopted a 4 month old kitten. She is a Maine Coon. She was sent to me with Purina kitten chow which I know is horrible for her. Her poop smells so bad and she has horrible gas as well. She prefers soft food. Which is the best whether can or frozen soft food for really smelly poop and for kittens 4 month old?


    • Ingrid says:

      All of the diets I recommend in this post are appropriate for a 4-month old kitten, you’ll just need to adjust the amount you feed according to her age and weight. Once you get her on a better quality diet, you’ll find that her stool won’t be nearly as smelly, especially if you transition to a raw diet.

  32. Debbie says:

    Vera is on dry ID from the vet n I buy her Merrik pate canned foods in between to keep her from getting UTI. She is finicky eater. Except when she tries to sneak n the dog food then were back at the vet with UTI. I have to watch the dogs eat all their food up to keep her away. She about 12 yrs old. We finally got her weened off Prednisone which she was on for couple yrs from r old vet.

    Is their any other canned food that you would suggest for cats to prevent UTI? I don’t buy any fish can foods either.

    • Ingrid says:

      All canned foods provide moisture and as such, can help prevent urinary tract issues. Merrick is a good brand, but I prefer the brands listed in this post. I do not believe that veterinary prescription diets are a good nutritional choice, here’s more information on why:

      • Debbie says:

        Thanks Ingrid, she also get struvite so I have to watch out for that too. I have to keep her on Low low calicum oxalate,low magnesium, low phosphurous and low alkaline which is hard sometimes She use to eat Wellness but for some reason she started to up chuck it up so I stopped it. I did get her picky self to eat some Canidae grain free can trukey-rabbit n she gobbbled it up.

  33. Debbie says:

    Oh crap! I just read that Canidae has carrageenan.

  34. Irina says:

    I used to feed my cats WD, diligently buying it from the vet and taking their word for granted. Now I am so confused by not seeing the WD in your recommendations. Is it not good at all? Thanking, Irina

  35. Pam says:

    I have looked and researched so many dry cat foods, and I chose natures variety instinct chicken. However they seem to eat so much of it like its not filling them up, any suggestions?

    • Ingrid says:

      Dry food is never a good choice for cats, Pam. Even the grain-free varieties are too high in carbohydrates, which is why cats don’t feel full after eating.

  36. Sherry says:

    How do you feel about Stella and Chewy’s raw cat food, I have started feeding it to my 9 yr old cat who was just diagnosed with diabetes and she loves it…

  37. Deborah Stone says:

    My cats are thriving on the Stella & Chewy’s Freeze dried raw food. I love the convenience and my cats never looked or felt as good as they do on this food. I wish I had started them sooner is my only regret.

  38. Sherry says:

    Just my luck, having trouble finding the Stella & Chewy’s raw frozen cat food,
    quick question, raw is raw isn’t it? Can I feel my cat the raw frozen dog food, seems
    to be no problem locating that..if it’s 98% raw chicken, should be the same in either, shouldn’t

  39. Deborah says:

    I feed my cats the Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried raw, not the frozen and I would never feed my animals the dog food-it is not the same-cats require smaller amounts of vitamins and such that the dog food does not give them. Seems that right now manufacturers of the freeze dried are running a bit low on stock, but check back often-I use a company called or for my orders-

  40. Funny BOy says:

    Choosing right kind of food is so confusing

  41. Sunny says:

    Hi. The canned cat food you mentioned “Soulistic,” contains Menadione Sodium Bisulfite,” (as I’m sure others on your list may as well but haven’t double checked) as an ingredient which I found has almost killed many people’s cats. The Weruva brand food on Amazon has one heart wrenching story amongst many others online of this poison UNREASONABLY being added to our babies food. :( It makes me furious.

    • Ingrid says:

      I do not see menadione sodium bisulfite listed on either of the two Soulistic chicken flavors, nor do I see it on the labels of the Weruva poultry flavors. I know it’s a controversial ingredient (a synthetic source of vitamin K), but I don’t have enough information on it to comment beyond that. Please contact the manufacturers directly with your concerns.

  42. Kate says:

    I’m a little surprised to see Wellness CORE canned food not on this list. It’s grain free and high in protein. I’d love to know, what are your thoughts on this food? Thanks!

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