Last update: July 2021

Editor’s Note: Even though this article was first written in 2012, I periodically update the information to keep it current. 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 by readers in comments.  If you would like me to evaluate a brand or product not mentioned on the list in this post, or if you would like individualized advice for your cat, please schedule a consultation. This post contains some affiliate links*.

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.

Dry food is the equivalent of junk food for cats.  It’s really not all that different from feeding sugared cereals to kids. Cats are obligate carnivores: this means they need meat not just to survive, but to thrive. They cannot get enough nutritional support from plant-based proteins such as grains and vegetables, because, unlike humans and dogs, they lack the specific enzyme that processes plant-based proteins metabolically. They need few or no carbohydrates in their diet. Feeding foods high in carbohydrates can lead to any number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Dry food is the leading cause of most urinary tract problems, and it is responsible for the obesity problem among cats. Dry food has also been implicated as one of the contributing factors to diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions. 1 in 50 cats may be affected, with overweight cats being at increased risk.

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.

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Avoid fish-based foods

A word about fish: most cats love fish-based foods. I recommend using them sparingly or avoiding them altogether. The primary fish used in cat food are salmon, tilefish (usually identifed as ocean whitefish on the label) and tuna. Each of them presents health issues, because fish can contain toxic doses of common water pollutants, heavy metals, and other contaminants.

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.) Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization.

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.)

Best Wet Cat Foods

Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein™ is  available from

Weruva Read my full review of this brand here. Wervua is available from Amazon and from

Hound and Gatos is available from  Some varieties of Hound and Gatos are available from Amazon.

Tiki Cat. I only recommend the poultry-based flavors. Tiki Cat is available from Some formulas are also available from Amazon.

Soulistic. This brand is similar to Weruva and is available from Amazon.

Ziwi is available from

Instinct canned formulas only. The protein content of the Healthy Cravings pouches is lower than what I like to see in a species-appropriate food.

Nature’s Logic is available from

Best Raw Cat Foods

Darwin’s Natural Pet Food


Vital Essentials is available from

Stella and Chewy’s

Primal Pet Foods

Dehydrated raw diets

The Honest Kitchen is available from

Stella and Chewy’s is available from

Primal Pet Foods Primal Pet Foods dehydrated formulas are available from Some formulas are also available from Amazon.

Gently cooked diets



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

*FTC Disclosure: The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. The Conscious Cat is an affiliate partner of The Conscious Cat is an affiliate partner of NomNomNow. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.

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1,331 Comments on The Best Food for Your Cat: My Recommendations

  1. I am looking for the single best raw cat food for my cats. I came across an article on about all the dangers of frozen raw cat food. They also sell a fresh raw food called Archetype Raw diet for cats in 4 varieties. Do you know anything about this brand and do you agree with their fear of frozen raw cat food?

    • I’ve seen the article you refer to, and I disagree with much of it. You may want to visit for accurate information about raw feeding, and feline nutrition in general. If you’d like me to evaluate a specific Wysong formula, please email me.

  2. I’ve recently switched my hyperthyroid cat to Nature’s Logic, however, I’m concerned that the can has a statement about it being intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only. The ingredients are great but I’d like to know your thoughts on this statement and if you feel it’s ok to use just this food or if I should be mixing it with another brand.

    • I was under the impression that Nature’s Logic is a complete diet, so I’m not sure about the label statement, and I can’t find anything about it on their website. I’d recommend contacting them and asking about this (and I’d love it if you would stop back here and let me know what they said.)

      • Here is what I got from Nature’s Logic:

        “We only substantiate by AAFCO Feeding Trials and not by adding synthetic vitamin/mineral packs to say it meets the AAFCO Nutrient Profile. Once the feeding trial is completed, then the AAFCO Statement for feeding trial substantiation goes on the cans. We have completed those trials for our dry dog and cat and canned dog, our dog frozen, but the cat can testing is not completed yet but is in progress and doing well at UC Davis in California. We know they will pass, but all life stage cat feeding trials take a long time.
        They are absolutely safe to use as much as you want.
        Scott Freeman
        Nature’s Logic”

        • That’s what I suspected, Bre. The AAFCO statement is probably the most misunderstood item on pet food labels. AAFCO, the American Association of Feed Control Officials, is the organization which is charged with establishing and enforcing animal feed requirements across all fifty state governments. Its primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of feed for human food producing livestock. The AAFCO statement on most pet food labels indicates that the food has been tested and approved as “complete and balanced for the life of a pet.” This is sadly misleading. The tests are conducted on very small groups of animals and for very short periods of time. The only real long-term tests of pet food happen when pet owners feed these diets to their own pets.

          I would be comfortable feeding Nature’s Logic.

  3. Weruva and Soulistic contain Xanthan Gum.
    Tiki Cat contains Vitamin K3 Supplement otherwise known as Menadione.

    And Dr. Esley’s Clean Protein contains Agar Agar which is similar to Carageenan.

    It’s disappointing to find that all the brands I’m using contain elements that are unsafe for my kitties…

    • Every canned food will contain some sort of a binder, and none of them are ideal. Menadione is a synthetic Vitamin K that is controversial. The research on all of these is inconclusive. The way to avoid all of these ingredients is to feed a raw or homecooked diet.

  4. Hello – thanks for the great info! Me and my cats are fans of Instinct canned foods, but I am a little concerned over Nature’s Variety past recall record even though they were all dog food based. It appears you still have the food on your recommended list, but I’m curious if you have an opinion on the recalls and if you still feel comfortable serving up Instinct. Thank you!

  5. Hello! I have been researching the best raw cat foods for somebody on a budget for quite a while now. We currently feed our cats trader joe’s wet food, which is ridiculously cheap at about 70 cents per 5.5 oz can or so. After doing all of this research, I have narrowed down a few options that aren’t so costly -instinct, bravo and aunt jeni’s…but I figured I’d ask before I make the switch. What do you think about Trader Joe’s wet food? Thanks!

    • I’d be happy to evaluate Trader Joe’s wet food for you. There is a small fee for this service. Instinct, Bravo and Aunt Jeni’s are all good options. If budget is a consideration, you may also want to think about making your own raw food.

  6. Hi Ingrid, I am a religious follower of your website especially since one of my kids is fighting IBD. They (7 cats) all love Wild Calling and was doing a little of my own research as I most often do, and came across this article on it is dated May 3, 2017. Bailey Farms is a meat supplier for Evangers (who seem to be in trouble all the time) the findings were that Bailey Farms is not really a farm but a dead farm animal processor. Per the article: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture stated the Animal Food Processor License held by Bailey Farms would also include the license to transport and process dead animal carcasses into pet food products.

    Does a Wisconsin ‘Animal Food Processor License’ mean the Bailey Farms meat was USDA inspected and approved ‘human grade’ as Evanger’s told consumers?

    No. Absolutely no. An Animal Food Processor License does NOT permit the holder with ability to process “human grade” meat. Wisconsin law states: “‘Animal food processing’ means slaughtering animals or processing carcasses or carcass materials for use as animal feed”. I believe Wild Calling is manufactured by Evangers. Any thoughts? The time I spend knowing what my cats and dogs eat is countless hours, I wish I worried about my food as much as I worried about theirs.

    • Shelley, this is the response I got from Wild Calling – this should put your mind at ease:

      Thank you for your message and concern regarding Evanger’s. So you are aware, as of February 21, 2017, Evanger’s no longer manufactures any products for Wild Calling.

      Most of our canned skus were already being manufactured by Simmons Pet Nutrition before this date as we had been working to move all production from Evanger’s for the past 18 months. We decided to keep rabbit, buffalo and alligator at Evanger’s while we searched for a new manufacturer (Simmons is currently unable to make these exotic proteins) so not to disrupt available supply for the thousands of consumers who use these products.

      Nonetheless, with the developments regarding Evanger’s, we found it only responsible to cease manufacturing of these items while we search for a new manufacturer. As such, rabbit, buffalo and alligator cans may be difficult to find for the next 4-8 weeks.

      Evanger’s has never manufactured dry foods. Our dry foods are manufactured at CJ Foods.

  7. Help. I’ve decided to buy Hound and Gatos but it’s not available anywhere currently. I’d like to wean them from the Merrick, which was the best I could get them in town. Any ideas how I can buy them hounds and gatos brand? Lamb or beef is all there is, are those less recommend than chicken/poultry? These guys are 11 weeks old, they had a moma cat +fiv and we won’t know that they are negative until early June. I really need the healthier foods avail. Thanks for all yourguidance.

  8. Love your site. I rescued a cat that has been eating only dry food at the shelter. I have wasted so much wet food trying to find one he will eat. Yesterday he finally ate the Nutro Max Duck in gravy. It was not on your list so I don’t know if it is ok or not. I read labels but it is very confusing. I know dry is bad so I hope the Nutro is ok since that is the only one I have found that he will touch.

    • I’m glad you found something he will eat, Barbara. I’m not familiar with Nulo, but I’ll be happy to evaluate it for you if you’d like. There is a small fee for this service.

  9. Every night, after work my sister feeds her cats wet, fish-type cat food. After reading what you said, it makes sense to not have them eat this even they love it sooo much. I’ll let my sister know, thanks so much.

  10. I am a new cat(s) owner and am in the early stages of making sense of the recommendations of various stake-holders in the feline diet discussion (including the somewhat conflicting opinions of partner veterinarians at our local clinic!). I’ve been looking very closely at your blog, and today I just noticed the article from (most recently updated March 21, 2017) on “The Best Cat Food.” It seemed fairly balanced to me, and some of their recommendations overlapped with your own, but they also included strong cautions for those planning to feed a homemade diet and did not dismiss feeding dry food out-of-hand. Their approach was both large scale (examining over 100 brands), as well as formula-specific (1,759!). I especially loved the variety of quotes from vets and researchers they interviewed. I would be very curious to hear your response to the article!

    In the meantime, I’m not going to panic about what I’ve been feeding my kittens (my babies!), but plan to finish up the remainder of the Wellness Core products (both dry and canned) that I’d purchased at my breeders’ recommendations, despite the fact that they currently appear on neither “recommended” list. Like many I’m sure, I am looking for that “sweet spot” of diet recommendations that fits my limited resources of both time and money but keeps Strudel and Pascal vibrant for many, many years! <3

    • I don’t know much about, so I can’t comment on their findings, Laura. I obviously completely disagree with their stance on homemade diets and dry food. I hope this site can be helpful to you in finding a food you’re comfortable with that fits your budget.

      • Thanks, Ingrid. For now I’m planning to feed 2 meals of wet and 1 of dry. Both of my cats seem to enjoy drinking out of the water fountain, so I’m wondering: If the dry food is also composed of quality ingredients (and the first 5 ingredients are animal products), and has an even higher percentage of crude protein (45% as compared to the 10-13% that I’m seeing in the canned wet foods you recommend), can you explain to me why I should be so concerned? Also, if it turns out my cats are just exceptional water-drinkers for now, what should I be looking for as red flags if I continue to feed them one dry meal a day?

        • I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a “quality dry food,” Laura, and I would encourage you to eliminate dry food altogether. You can find all the reasons why here: and here

          You need to compare protein content of wet and dry food on a “dry matter basis,” not “as fed.” Unfortunately, not all manufacturers have that information readily available. This resource from the FDA goes into great detail about this topic: “For example, a canned food guarantees 8% crude protein and 75% moisture (or 25% dry matter), while a dry food contains 27% crude protein and 10% moisture (or 90% dry matter). Which has more protein, the dry or canned? Calculating the dry matter protein of both, the canned contains 32% crude protein on a dry matter basis (8/25 X 100 = 32), while the dry has only 30% on a dry matter basis (27/90 X 100 = 30). Thus, although it looks like the dry has a lot more protein, when the water is counted out, the canned actually has a little more. An easier way is to remember that the amount of dry matter in the dry food is about four times the amount in a canned product.”

          • Ingrid, I am curious – I have been trying to find your credentials for being a cat expert. What I can find is that you have managed a veterinary office, practice reiki, write extensively about cats as well as have a long affiliation with cats in your life. Could you provide your credentials, please. I don’t agree that you necessarily need a title or a list of letters following your name to have a great knowledge base, but I have become cautious in life, especially where my companion are concerned. I see many ads on your website for products you endorse and would like to know how transparent your recommendations are as I, too, have a long affiliation with cats and only want the best for my furry companions. Many thanks.

          • Those are my credentials, Susan. I only recommend and advertise products that I believe in, and that I have either used for my own cats, or would use for my cats.

          • Thanks for getting back to me and for your information. You obviously have a huge passion for your fur family as you’ve gone to a lot of work compiling some very helpful information for cat lovers, ie recall notifications. Glad I stumbled across your site!

          • Also, forgot to thank you for posting recall information. It is very helpful as can be difficult to find.

    • Hi i also feed my cat wellness core and have not seen it on this site as a recommended food. Have you run across any negative feedback? I know that some of their original formulas contain carrageenan so I stick to the carrageenan free line.

    • Laura, I have had cats all my life 50+years, long before food and toxins were an issue, the cat went to the vet if they got sick which was usually never. But in the last 20 years life has really changed. Of 7 cats one died several years ago of cancer and I have another that has been fighting IBD for over 2 years. I personally would never make my own food, to many vitamins and minerals to be measured, I have spent hours upon hours of research on pet food, toxins, diseases, I’ve listened to the vet who recommends special diet foods and I read and research the ingredients and then I wonder why they would think it was so great. The conscience cat has provided some wonderful articles on feeding and food choices and I researched further with supplements. Everyone has their own food choices, perhaps by way of cost, packaging pictures, marketing. I have found over the years cats are like people in a way, if we could live on potato chips we would cause they taste good, all that salt and grease, cats are kinda like that, they will choose taste over nutrition for a while and then their body starts to scream for nutrition. Cats are also picky about change,or so mine are, they get use to a texture and they don’t like to try new, just as they would be hesitant out in the wild. So optimally I try to think, if my cats were still wild, what would they eat? They would not graze on corn or peas or potatoes although Thomas likes to lick my left over baked potato for the butter I’m sure!

      • Hello, I saw that you posted about IBD. I’ve been dealing with FLUTD with my cat, which is how I wound up on this site. There’s another site you might also want to check out.

        The woman that runs it is a vet named Dr. Lisa Pierson. The link discusses IBD, but there are tons of great ideas on how to deal with feeding your cat a healthier diet, which helps with the many illnesses and diseases that cats get. I hope this helps!

      • So what do you fed your cats? Have you heard of Balance It supplements an online receipe program for cooked food and then add supplements? Thanks

  11. Hi! I want to get my cat into a raw diet, but sadly for me, most of the food you’ve recommended is from America. Do you know any European brands or where I could purchase some of the food you’ve recommended? Thanks!

  12. Are any of these recommended foods made in America? I’m researching all I can before adopting a set of siblings. It is certainly refreshing to read your blog. You are very detailed and I appreciate that immensely. I lost 2 beautiful babies after 16&17 years. Never knew until way too late that they shouldn’t have ever eaten a dry diet. Sadly in their older years I gave them a few, you highly suggested not to. Blue B and the Wellness core, iir, So this next time I hope to make all the right decisions.

    Also I’ve been hearing about a coconut, non clay litter, do you have any intel on that? I’m thinking of going non clay.
    Thanks so much for any advice.

    • Many of them are made in the US.

      I haven’t looked into coconut litter. I’ve been using Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat for decades and consider it the best litter on the market. It is clay, but it has virtually no dust, clumps extremely well,and I’ve yet to hear of a cat who refuses to use it.

    • I lost trust to Blue Baflo food can and dry . I feed my 3 cats with this kind food for years , all my cats develop cancer in theirs tamy . It also happen in the same time . Took only nine monts and all 3 cats were gone . I still crie after them and have new 3 cats and scared to death what kind food I should feed them for sure NOT Blue Baflo .

  13. Ingrid,
    First, thank you for all that you do to put this information out there for us concerned cat lovers.
    I saw someone mention the formulation changes in Tiki Cat (sodium selenium and Vit K3) but I don’t think I saw if you commented. What do you think? I’m so bummed. I thought I had finally found that balance between healthy and what he would eat. I do feed Primal Freeze-dried but wanted a canned to go with. And he prefers the shredded stuff.
    Thank you,

  14. Our male cat is about 15 years old and has always ate dry food from a variety of brands from el cheapo Western Family to Science Diet plus Friskies, Purina, etc. Seems healthy, never been to a vet. Fairly active cat. He is not a big fan of fish based foods. Drinks a lot of water, goes outside several times a day. A bit picky about eating non dry cat food and generally avoids any canned cat food when its offerred. Good genes?

    • For everything we know about nutrition, there’s something we don’t know, Gary – at least it seems that way sometimes! Your cat makes me think of the human equivalent of a man who’s eaten junk food all his life, smokes, and drinks, and lives into his 90’s. Could be good genes, could be luck of the draw. However, since nutrition is the one thing we can influence when it comes to health, it makes sense to me to feed (or eat) the best possible diet, rather than taking chances.

  15. What do you think about Halo? My cat has been on hills z/d for allergies and I’m afraid it’s not healthy, any recommendations for allergy sensitive kitties?

      • Please do? I bought Halo’s spot’s stew based on other blogs/articles comparing high quality foods that said it’s one of the best. They really do mean stew, lots of carrots and peas which gave me red flags but then read it’s in most foods & is better than many fillers, not that it makes it ok.

  16. 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?

    • 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.

  17. 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 🙂

  18. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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, 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.

  21. 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!

    • I do not recommend prescription diets. You can find my take on the y/d diet here: There are other options to treat hyperthyroidism, see this article for more information: As for the frequent vomiting, that’s not normal, this article explains: And finally, the constant meowing can be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, and may resolve once the thyroid is controlled. I hope this helps, Bonnie.

      • I am wondering what you would recommend for a cat that has kidney stones and who just got over a bought of pancreatitis? I have been feeding royal canin so, but I think he might be sensitive to something in that, I am feeding wild calling chicken and rabbit formula right now as he has just come down with herpes after a dental procedure he just had. Would appreciate any comments, thank you

    • Hi Bonnie. First, I’m sorry to hear about BB’s recent diagnosis. My 16 year old was also diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism about a year ago (she was 15 at the time). She had lost weight and dropped down to around 6 pounds. While I realize you are here asking for food recommendations, we ultimately chose radioactive iodine therapy. It was the best decision for my cat, and one I would make again and again. My cat has gained her weight back and is happy and healthy, with no negative side effects from the treatment. I realize it’s not always an affordable option for everyone, but if you think of it as a “one and done” treatment vs. many years of expensive prescription medication and/or daily medication, I really feel the cost is justified. I didn’t want to have to think about the struggles of forcing daily medication or medicated food that wouldn’t allow me to even give the occasional treat because of the 100% iodine restricted diet. I was concerned about my kitty’s quality of life being impacted. Just wondered if this was something you were considering, and wanted to give you a data point. My vet has told me several times that he wished more people would go the route of radio iodine therapy, as he continues to have success stories. Certainly, research it for yourself and consider if it’s an option. Also, if I can provide you a bit of comfort, if your senior cat were to develop any disease, hyperthyroidism is not a bad one to have, because it is highly treatable. Well wishes to BB for a long life ahead. 🙂

  22. Hi,

    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,


    • 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.

  23. 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?

    • 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.

  24. Hi,
    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?

    • 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.

  25. 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?

    • @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!

      • 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.

  26. Question:

    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

    • 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!

      • 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.

  27. 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?

  28. 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?!

  29. 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*

      • 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!

        • 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.

          • 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!

          • 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,

  30. 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?

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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!

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

    • 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.

  36. 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.

    • 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…

      • 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

      • 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?

  39. 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.

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

    • 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.

  40. 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!

  41. 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…

    • 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.

      • 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!

    • 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 🙂

      • 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.

  42. 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.

    • 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.

  43. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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…

  44. 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. 🙂

    • 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 🙂

      • 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.

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