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.

Eusoh Community Pet Health Plan for Cats

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.

New Dr. Goodpet banner

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. Hi Ingrid,

    I’m having trouble understanding the labels on canned cat food. My cat has been doing GREAT with Soulistic the last few days, and he seems very happy to be eating it after years of dry food, and most recently k/d dry. The label on Soulistic says that “crude” protein is 9% and moisture is 85%. I thought the percentage of protein was supposed to be at least 50%.

    Can you help me understand this?


  2. I have a question about the best diet for a diabetic kitty. Which brand can I buy in Canada and what products would be best for him?

  3. Hi. I am pretty new cat owner and on my last visit to a vet, he said that the best cat fod is over 70% meat dry food – dry, because of the teeth. So I left out canned food completely and bougth high quality 70% meat, grainfree Purizon cat food. Only recently I have learned, that actually dry food is not that good! And just before that I ordered a supply of Applaws kibble. My question, would it make it a bit better to add water or any other proper liquid to a portion to soften it? Do you think it’s an ok idea or a very bad idea?

    • Adding water to dry food is a very bad idea. It does nothing to improve the quality of the food, and it can lead to mold growing on the food.

    • The avocado plant and fruit contain a toxin called persin. It doesn’t affect humans, and a cat would probably have to eat massive quantities of avocado to have any problems, but I don’t think it’s worth taking a chance.

  4. I have a 17 year old DMH who is underweight and has hard dry stool, there’s no blood or pus in it so at least it’s not causing any damage coming out, but I’ve been to two different vets and both are at a loss. One suspected IBS and prescribed a hydrolized protein food but that didn’t seem to do much good. I started doing some research on my own and found out dry food is the worst possible thing to feed cats and most canned food isn’t much better so I’ve been seriously thinking about raw food, but there’s so much conflicting info on what is good I’m really not sure what to do.

    I’ve been feeding her Freshpet for a while after it was recommended to me and I like that it has a short simple list of ingredients, but then I found out fish is bad for cats so I’m not sure about that food now either.

    Is there anything you would recommend?

      • Thanks for the article link, that was an informative read. I figured the dry food might have something to do with it based on some material I had read before, backed up by it largely going away during the few weeks she’s been eating the Freshpet.

        I did some more looking into raw foods but unholy crud is it expensive to order the prepared frozen stuff so I think I’m going to try and find a meat market near where I live and see if I can get them to grind some raw chicken with the liver and heart. I know most meat markets won’t grind the bones so I’ll probably have to add calcium supplement, and then I have to hope she’ll eat it.

          • The ingredients recommended in those articles are very close to a frozen cat food I saw in a local pet store (Nature’s Valley Instinct raw), I was thinking about trying it as an introductory food before I commit to making my own to see if my cats would even go for raw food.

            Have you heard of this brand? I haven’t been able to find a whole lot of info about it myself, but I noticed it includes Montmorillonite Clay in the ingredients, which from what I understand is supposed to be beneficial for digestion and cleanse toxins.

          • I’m not familiar with Nature’s Valley – do you mean Nature’s Variety Instinct? If so, that brand is on my list of recommended foods.

          • Oops, yeah, I guess I misread the label when I was there. I looked it up on the store website and it is indeed Nature’s Variety.

            Thanks for answering all my questions, the info has been invaluable and I think I’m in a much better spot now with knowing what’s good to feed my Cats and what’s not.


    • Wow! Sorry to hear about your cat Ted. I hope she’s improving and keeps getting better.

      I’ve used Nature’s Variety raw cat food before. My cat preferred the rabbit formula. I would recommend following Ingrid’s recipe to the tea if you make your own food! Alternatively, if you do stick with Freshpet or any other refrigerated/frozen food, make sure you check the guaranteed analysis and see if they have a percentage for Taurine. It needs to be in the GA, not just in the ingredient’s list. Cats should get about .2% in their food. But most canned foods are max. .05% and kibble averages .15%. Please don’t assume every food has what your cat needs no matter how much they market it as healthy. Look it up online or call the company if you have to.

      Taurine is very important for your cat and it does not remain stable in frozen/ refrigerated foods, per my regular Vet and vet Cardiologist. You can always order supplements on Amazon and add to your Freshpet or Nature’s Variety, so all is not lost.

      All the best.

      • I’m glad you mentioned that, I was so concerned about Calcium and making sure the food I was getting had enough that I forgot about Taurine suppliments so I’ll have to take care of that this week. I need to mash the Nature’s Variety bits to get one of my cats to eat it anyway, and I have to mash and mix it with canned food for my older one to eat it so it won’t really be an extra step to mix in a suppliment.

  5. You have got to be kidding. Most of those foods contain gum thickeners that are BAD FOR CATS! Particularly xanthum gum. It gave my cat IBSD. When will catfood manufacturers learn that less is better for the obligate carnivor.

      • All canned foods contain some sort of a binder. As I state in my article, I recommend avoiding foods with carrageenan. Xanthan gum is considered one of the “better” gums, but of course, none of these binders are ideal, and all can cause gastrointestinal issues in sensitive individuals. This is true for cats and humans. Some brands are moving away from gums as binders, and hopefully, that is a trend that will continue.

        Lu, IBSD is short for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea.

    • Hi Lu! I would love to know what kind of food do you feed your cat with IBSD? I’m always looking for new kinds of gum thickener-free cat food. Currently I give my cat Feline Naturals canned food, they don’t use any thickeners/gelling agents, the ingredient list is amazing, only drawback is that it is so expensive!s Rawz canned food is good too. But I’d like to find more kinds for variety!

  6. I got a 9 month old kitten a adopted. She will not eat any wet food I tried every kitten brand I have found so far a some on your list. And I tried nutritional yeast. She just smells than and tried to bury it. She will only eat dry food. I don’t know what to do anymore. Do anyone know what else I can do to get her to eat wet food?

    • Michelle – I must have tried 2 dozen different brands of natural, grain-free canned cat food, without any takers. About a week ago, I tried Applaws brand, and one of them just loves it! The downside is that it’s pretty expensive; about $2.50 for a 5.5 oz can, and $1.99 for the smallest containers. She won’t eat the chicken (which smells delicious); only the 4 or so fish varieties. I give it to her as a treat, and alternate day break from the dry stuff all 3 of theml love.

    • Try Weruva pouches and also there is a dry food by Farmina that is semi moist that does wonders for cats that will only eat dry food. My cats are healthy and all love it. You can buy it at Chewy’s and petflow.

    • I have a cat like this too. It was so frustrating. She loves dry food and prefers canned food that is not the best quality. Feed them what they will eat and you can afford. It does you or the cat no good if the food goes to waste.

      I like the suggestion you received for adding pouches to dry food. In addition to Weruva, which your cat may or may not like, try other brands that offer supplemental pouches that are basically just broths to moisten dry food. Nulo, Merrick, Natures Variety, etc…. Try to get the best quality kibble you can afford. And invest in stainless steel pet water fountains. I have one on each level of my home so my cats always have fresh water around.

      Lastly, don’t be discouraged and beat yourself up. Old habits are hard to kick. Its more important that she’s eating than forcing her to eat food she doesn’t like.

      On the upside kibble will last longer left out ( unless you moisten it) and almost always has more taurine in the GA than wet food. Plus since they need to feed several times a day, you don’t have to worry about them going hungry. Cats are more natural built for frequent small meals, not two big meals a day. Long story short, one of my cats had an xray and her stomach was empty and had gas bubbles in spite of her just having had breakfast a few hours ago, which means she was going hungry more than I felt comfortable with in between her three feedings a day. So there’s enough guilt to go around for even those that feed only wet food.

      Good luck!

    • I have the same problem with my cats . I just forse them giving them only wet ( canned food ) . I did lost a lot of this food and they start eating . My concern is that in this food ( Dr.Elsey Clean Protein ) is a gum thickeners I know this is not good

      • We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. There’s no perfect cat food. Even if its close to perfect, will cats eat it? That’s the other hurdle. Pet food companies really do need to up their game.

  7. Hello and thank you for this valuable information. Not a first time cat owner, but first time since learning about species appropriate nutrition and wanting to feed my pet the best. I do plan to leave my cat alone for a coupe days and have been advised to “just leave out a couple bowls of dry food and several bowls of water.” Clearly wet food can’t last that long. Does anyone know any solutions to this? If I have to arrange for a friend to stop by daily to feed, that’s what I’ll do, but if that can be avoided, I’d like to make sure he as food and water without relying on others. Thanks for any info.

    • I feel very strongly that cats should never be left alone for a couple of days regardless of what they eat. At a minimum someone should stop in once a day, ideally, twice a day if you’re feeding wet food. If you really can only have someone stop in once a day, get a timed feeder that allows you to put cold packs in so the food stays fresh.

    • You can get an automatic feeder that allows you to put a couple of cold packs into it, for canned/wet food. You set the timer, and the feeder turns, so that the next section with food is open. I was afraid my cat would be too old to figure it out, but she ate all the sections of food, over the 2 days I was away. I think it had 4 compartments.

    • Do not leave your cat alone . Cat will feel abandonment and will miss you very much . Ask somebody to come to your cat few time a day and talk to it. ,pad him itc

    • Steph, I agree with all of the advice you have received. I think it is very irresponsible to leave an animal alone in the house for several days.

      1. There could be an emergency in your home and your cat would be defenseless with you no where in sight for several days.

      2. The litter boxes will smell like ammonia and become filthy and smelly to your cats.

      3. After 24 hours of being left out dry food can get stale. It may be convenient for You, but you’re not providing your cat with quality alternative.

      4. What if an automatic food timer fails? No one’s there to make sure your cat is eating.

      If you can’t get anyone to stop by,then look into pet sitter services or pet hotels. I know it sucks but these are the responsibilities of being a pet owner.

      • You forgot the most obvious and important reason not to leave your pet alone for days. What if kitty has a medical emergency? I’ve been down this road with cats of all ages. It’s why I insist on someone coming once daily minimum.

  8. I’m caring for 3 feral feline siblings; 2 insist on going out no matter the weather, and the 3rd is getting over an injury & stays indoors (somewhat unwillingly). I’ve been trying to find canned cat food that’s good for them that they’d like, instead of dry food, but they don’t like even the most natural, premium brands, that smell good enough for human consumption! I’m tempted to ask at the store if they have “canned mice” .. since my one little hunter catches & eats them outside! It seems like only starvation outside would result in them eating canned cat food. Any suggestions?

    • Hare-Today sells ground whole mice, they also sell pinkie mice. They are according to them humanly euthanized. I have bought them in the past. They are frozen, so I put them in a small glass and set that inside a glass of super hot water. We don’t do plastic bags at my house.

      • Thanks for the info! I seem to have found one brand of canned food one of them likes; “Applaws”. Funny how different they are .. she’s the little hunter I’ve seen catching/eating mice outside, and the only one curious about new canned food too!

        • Eve, I believe most applaws products are for toppers or intermittent usage since they do not meet AAFCO nutritional requirements. Just want to make sure your kitty gets the balance nutrition she needs 🙂

          • Is the AAFCO better at determining nutritional requirements for cats, than all the medical organizations are, in determining the best human diet?

          • Absolutely not, Eve! 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. Even though 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.

          • Eve, I’m not a big fan of AAFCO either, but cats do need certain vitamins and minerals in their diet. Applaws does not add any in, and states on their label that this is for intermittent feeding only. Raw diets naturally provide these vitamins/minerals, but cooked food (i.e. canned) needs supplements added to the food. I just wanted to make sure you knew. Sorry for trying to help out.

  9. I have a general query (or rant) for the cat people of the internet – why is there so much varied information out there on what to feed your cat?
    Or rather, why is the information I find online about what to feed cats so different from what the American Veterinary Medical Association says and what my various veterinarians have said over the years?

    I had two kitties that I loved so so much who have died in the past year and half. Neither deaths were food related, from what I understand, but I have recently adopted (I said I wouldn’t do this to myself again) a new 7 month cat and this time I want to do the best I can so he lives a long healthy life. I don’t understand why I was told to feed my previous kitties dry food? I was told it was good for their teeth? And why are vets so against raw food? Is it more a legal fear than a cat health concern (that we may get ourselves sick from being too dumb to clean and handle raw meat – then sue?)
    By the end of her life my most recently deceased kitty would only eat raw food. And it concerned me, but it was that or starve – the vets kept telling me her cancer was treatable (turned out, it wasn’t! her diagnosis changed 3 times) But did I do the wrong thing?

    And who has been doing the research saying that wet food is better than dry? Obviously not vets? Independent research? Basic logic? And if it is just basic logic (makes sense to me) why is that veterinarians aren’t encouraging a purely wet food diet? None of my vets ever did UNTIL each of my kitties started having health problems (too late people!) Then I was prescribed special wet food for their respective problems (kidney + IBD.)

    I am just curious about the research being done, or if it is mostly self guided research from looking at wild cats’ diets and comparing that to what we see in canned food. I also want some corroboration! Why can’t I trust my vets! Why do so many cats get IBD if it’s preventable from a better diet! And I live in a big city and have been to many animal specialists over the years, I just don’t get it???? I also feel a fair amount of guilt. Of course I love my new cat, but I miss my old friends terribly and wish I had done better by them.
    For anyone who read this,
    thank you

    • Sadly, most veterinarians won’t be your best source of information on a species-appropriate diet for cats. You may find this article enlightening as to why that is:

      As for research, most of the research on feline nutrition is sponsored by big pet food companies, because they have the funds to do the research. There is virtually no independently funded feline nutrition research – at least none that I’m aware of.

      I feel your pain. My first cat died from intestinal lymphoma. I raised him on a mostly dry diet by a major pet food manufacturer, and once he started getting sick, he was on various prescription diets by the same manufacturer – all on the recommendation of my vets at the time. Even 18 years later, I still wonder whether he would have never gotten sick, had I known then what I know now about feline nutrition.

      I’m encouraged by the fact that more and more cat parents are taking the initiative to do their own research into what’s optimal nutrition for cats. It’s why I do what I do – educating cat parents on how to keep their cats healthy and happy.

    • Hannah I agree that its tough trying to do what is best. Like humans, animals are subjected to processed foods, chemicals in the air, on the ground, in the water. Large Pet food manufactures are all about the dollar, think about it like this, you have all these foods at the grocery store that you pick up, to help lose weight, its healthy, low fat, but its full of preservatives, you heat it up in plastic, in a microwave that changes the molecular structure, because someone made the determination that it was safe. But now you find out that some of those additives aren’t so safe, cooking in plastic is bad….. but food manufactures aren’t going to sacrifice the dollar so they keep telling you the same thing over and over and eventually you believe it. Over the years, I have had several Sr. cats with renal failure, a cat with cancer, now a cat fighting IBD. I don’t think vets are trained in nutrition, other than what a pet food company makes claims to. I am the type of person that what ever the doctor tells me or the vet, I’m going home and researching it myself, and I’m digging deep. I’m looking for every option. Simon lasted a year with cancer after the vet said 2 months tops. I researched diets, alt. medicine and supplements. Now that Thomas is fighting IBD for who knows what reason, I am changing it all up again, I fired one vet that told me that if I did not put him on a prescription diet, I need not come back, see ya! He is on raw food, B-12 injections only cuz I ask the new vet for it, not her idea and I give him bentonite clay, here is a good article on that and the vet had never even heard of clay. Its the same, whether it be people or pets, you have the old traditional dr. who only know what they taught at college or the dr. who said “there may be more that they are not teaching here, that might be helpful” I hope this all made sense.

    • The kitties I live with now, Lydia, 5, and Sammy, 2, are healthier than my past kitties. My vet, maybe 6 years out of school, suggested less dry food and more grain free canned food. I’ve had no vomiting with these two, and it was a real problem in the past. I think the dental info is nonsense.

  10. Thanks for the comment. I know, I will look into what you use too. I supplement the canned food because the protein is so low. I don’t like that iodine is added but I guess that is normal? Dr Elsey protein is even lower than RAWZ, same thing. Very frustrating. My guys are 2.5 yrs I was thinking of getting their blood drawn to make sure their nutrition is ok with what I am doing.

  11. Love your list. I was the biggest fan of Ziwi Peak until they changed their formula, they used chick peas as a filler!! And xanthan gum!
    I just discovered one brand that would hands (or paws) down top this list: Rawz canned cat food—it’s not actually raw, it’s steam cooked pâté . And the ingredients list takes the cake, it’s either chicken, beef, turkey or salmon with broth and vitamins/minerals—and that’s it! No dried peas, chick peas, potatoes or gums such as guar gum, xanthan gum or cassia gum. I highly recommend checking it out, many kitties and their parent safe would benefit from knowing about it! (Especially those with GI and immune issues)

    Let me know what you think!! (I am in no way associated with this brand, just really excited to find one with ingredients that both me and my cat approve of and I think many of your readers would love it too)

    • At a quick glance, the canned Rawz formulas look interesting (although I have a bit of a problem with the brand name, since it’s definitely misleading.)

        • I only took a very quick look, JoAnn. I’d be happy to evaluate for you in more depth, but there’s a small fee for this service. Email me if you’re interested.

          • I am. Right now I am feeding First Mate limited ingredients both the chicken and turkey but am concerned about taurine levels which are 0.5 per the company. The protein is 43%, fat 48% and carbs 19% with turkey in same range. RAWZ is lower in protein I called company and they gave me the numbers but higher in taurine. Right now my cats have no health issues and I supplement with about an ounce a day of home cooked organic chicken using the Balance It receipe so I know their protein is ok. I am not ready to go raw yet but am starting to homecook. First Mate has potatoes as their preservative and the only thing I question with RAWZ is they add iodine? I wanted to know your thoughts. What would my fee be if you gave your opinion. RWZ sent me their dry matter and they are 36% protein, 62% fat and 2% carbs. Thanks. Also is it a good idea to get my 2.5 yr old cat blood work done on thyroid and taurine levels?

          • Thanks for sharing the dry matter for Raws JoAnn! I am so surprised, only 36% protein, the rest is 62% fat and 2% carbs? Was that for all their recipes or just one particular meat?
            I was looking into First Mate too, not thrilled about potatoes though! Until now, I’ve been using Hilary’s Blend to make homecooked meals for cats (similar to balanceit, but it comes with an amazing recipe book), it was recommended by my vet.I just don’t have the time to cook homemade all the time, so I need to find a good canned food once in a while for when I’m in a pinch. I haven’t found the ideal one yet, and it doesn’t help that my furry friend is the pickiest eater!

          • Thanks for the comment. I know, I will look into what you use too. I supplement the canned food because the protein is so low. I don’t like that iodine is added but I guess that is normal? Dr Elsey protein is even lower than RAWZ, same thing. Very frustrating. My guys are 2.5 yrs I was thinking of getting their blood drawn to make sure their nutrition is ok with what I am doing.

  12. Ingrid, your food recommendations saved my 13 yr old DSH’s life (and most likely me a huge vet bill). He went from an apparent hairball blockage (foaming at the mouth and foul-smelling liquidy stools) to happier and healthier in 3 DAYS on a canned diet from the vendors you recommended. I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH!

  13. I rarely post comments on the internet but felt inspired to do so since in the past three days I’ve witnessed what seems like a miracle. I’ll explain. On Wed at 2 am, one of my two cats, a 13 year old DSH neutered male, woke me up with violent wretching. I turned on the light and saw that he was foaming at the mouth. I knew it was a hairball issue, he’s had these before. In fact, about 6 months ago I took him to the vet because he wretched for several days but could produce no hairball. The vet said there was nothing she could do (other than charge me $200 for the emergency visit); maybe take an x-ray. Maybe surgery. She suggested giving him the petroleum hairball remedy daily, which I’ve been doing since. He has also been on a urinary tract dry food since some time last year he had a urinary tract blockage that nearly did him in (he made it but it resulted in a $1200 vet bill). But this is the first time I had seen him foaming at the mouth so I was really upset. I spent the next two hours on the internet, researching hair balls and agonizing over what I should do … I had already taken him to the vet and nothing good came from that. Did he have a life-threatening blockage and should I take him to a new vet (I was not going back to the first one)? Then I stumbled on your web page about your food recommendations (thank God). I thought it over and decided that the best course was to not feed another meal of dry food, and see how he did. So, that morning I waited until the closeset pet food store that carried some of the brands you recommended opened, I bought a half dozen cans, and fed my two cats their first meal of canned food. It’s now Sat am (3 days later) and my 13 year old male is a new cat. In the past three days I came home from work to a couple of throwups (it might have been my 8 yr old female — she pukes a lot too) but I have seen no wretching. He’s alert and seems happy. Another huge change is his stools have been transformed from a horribly smelly liquidy mess to a more normal stool (still a little soft but a huge improvement; and it doesn’t reek). So, the miracle is that my little fellow went from seemingly needing hairball removal surgery to happy and comfortable in 3 days on the food you recommended. Of the dozens of web sites I hit, yours was the only one that stressed the importance of a more natural, canned diet. My vets had always recommended dry “special diet” food, the recommendation of which I followed since I assumed my vet knew what was good for my cats. In retrospect, that advice was clearly harming my cat. I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH!

  14. My 16 year old cat just had abdominal surgery to remove a large mass and has lost weight. Oliver was a thin cat to begin with and is in need of a food that offers higher calories and great nutrition.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • All the foods on this list would probably be appropriate. Calorie contents will vary between brands, generally, the pate style foods will be higher in calories than the shredded brands such as Weruva or Tiki Cat.

    • Cats don’t need high calories. They need high protein from animal source. Try Wellness Core Turkey and Duck or Hound and Gato.
      Wellness cost less than Hong & Gato. I used them both for my cats.

  15. Thanks for your list, but have you considered updating it, since it’s 6 years old?

    We’re looking for a high protein wet food that is healthy, not full of by-products or meal and that our cats like.

    We’re currently using Hills m/d, due to it’s high protein content, but like humans, our cats don’t like ultra healthy food so we cut it with other food. We were using “I and love and you” but it contains chicken meal & turkey meal. Then we switched to “Addiction King Salmon & Potatoes Entree” because the top two ingredients are King Salmon & Hoki with no meal or by-products. But, the little monsters suddenly decided they didn’t like it, 1/3 of the way through the 24 pack case.

    I’m now looking at “NUTRO MAX Wet Cat Food” since the top ingredients are Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Beef Liver, Ground Rice, Turkey & Lamb with no by-products or meal, but it’s only 8% protein!

    Also looking at “BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient” with Duck & Duck Broth but it also has carrots, Cranberries, Blueberries, Pumpkin and other stuff. The Addiction brand also had carrots, potatoes and peas, which causes me to wonder if cats are carnivores, why the hell are these ingredients in the mix?

    I trust cat lovers opinions over several of the business product review sites but I suggest a more in depth review covering what ingredients we don’t want, and why, what ingredients we do want, what ingredients we’ll see and are “ok” along with what % of protein we should look for.

    • I rotate my cats’ foods – I use Weruva, Soulistic, Merrick, Tiki Cat…but my cats all time favorite food is the Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets – they’ve had Rabbit and Vension – and hands down they go ga-ga over this, either kind. They can hardly wait for me to hydrate the food. Ingrid – I have a question for you – how do you feed your cats when rotating food, do you feed a particular food for a week in a row, etc, how often do you switch foods? (I’m also using the Drfeelgood probotics as you suggested).

    • Ron, there are many sites that dedicated in ranking and rating pet food.
      example: catfooddb, thetruthaboutpetfood
      They have comprehensive review and detail list of ingredient of the pet food. Check them out.

  16. I recently found wellness core and some of their canned food don’t have carrageenan in them, is it a good brand to buy? I’d really appreciate your feedback. (Haven’t purchased them yet cause I’m so curious hehe.)

    • I am also using Wellness Core cat food. They don’t contain any bad ingredients. The best one is Wellness Core pate turkey and duck. It is a significant above average cat food.

  17. Hi & thanks for providing this information! Until I read your article, we just kept dry food out all the time. I’ve learned a lot so I’ll be traveling to town today to purchase alternatives. My only question… I’m sure you’ve mentioned it somewhere but I can’t find it, but can you please share with me how often to feed? Once a day? Twice? We live deep in the countryside on our own acreage so our kitty constantly catches and eats her own mice, bugs, etc so she isn’t solely existing off what we feed her, but I want to make sure we’re giving her plenty regardless.

  18. Thank you so much for this list, Ingrid! It’s helped me for many years navigate the vast and sometimes confusing world of feline nutrition. It was from this list that I found Wild Calling and it’s become my cat’s favorite staple food. I was very sad to discover that the company has recently declared bankruptcy and is no longer producing food.
    So I am back here again on the search for another great brand to switch over to. I am debating between Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein and Nature’s Logic. Do you have a preference? And thank you once again for this great resource!

    • I don’t really have a preference between those two, Jamie. I think Dr. Elsey’s may be more similar to Wild Calling in texture, but I’d try both and see which one your kitty prefers.

  19. Thank you for this review! As a very recent first time cat owner (2 weeks!), I found it super helpful. Merrick & Tiki were easy to find near my house and my cat loves both of those. After 2 days of better quality food, there was almost no begging or constant meowing. Someone is staying very satisfied. Thank you! 🙂

    • I recently found what I consider to be the best canned food ever! I am very informed reg. Feline nutrition and the ingredients in cat foods. This new food has excellent, clean ingredients and is made in New Zealand. It’s called “Feline Natural” and I buy mine thru It IS pricy, but well worth the investment!

  20. Hi, I’m trying to find a good food for my cat – that he will eat! As a shelter cat raised on kibble it took a long time to get him to eat anything else. We feed a little bit of kibble, brand : Addiction, but I tried a fresh food and he loves it, but I can’t find any real info on how the quality is. It’s called Fresh Pet, by Vital. do you know if it’s a good food? Thank you!

    • Hi Maria, I use to feed one of my cats Freshpet, but she stopped eating it. Every one is a huge proponent of feeding fresh and “natural” foods, but be careful. I learned the hard way that taurine does not remain stable in foods that need to be refrigerated or frozen. And unfortunately, just because its “natural” doesn’t make it the best quality pet food for your cat. If she enjoys it, I would say keep feeding it to her, but see if you can find a canned food with taurine (.2% is the highest I’ve seen) that she will eat. It’s also more convenient to travel with and helpful if you ever lose power.

      • There is no evidence that I’m aware of that taurine is degraded or destroyed by freezing. I’m not sure where your information comes from, Lana – please substantiate your claim.

        • From a vet at CVCA, Cardiac Care for Pets in Northern Virginia, and also my cats regular vet who elaborated on the history of cats dying from heart diseases due to taurine deficiencies– which was apparently very prominent up until the 80’s.

          • My vet did recommend adding taurine into the food, which I’ve seen mentioned all over the internet. But just be careful falling for the natural and organic gimmicks. If it’s not properly formulated, than it’s not any better for your cats.

          • It is correct that cats were dying from heart disease due to taurine deficiencies until Paul Pion discovered this deficiency, and it’s since been added to commercial cat food. It is not correct that freezing destroys taurine. You are right that the terms “natural” and “organic” don’t guarantee that a food is properly formulated. Taurine supplementation certainly can’t hurt, it’s almost impossible to overdose on taurine since excess taurine is not stored in the body, it’s excreted. Cooking destroys taurine, which is why it’s important that cooked and canned foods are properly formulated.

    • Hi Maria, I use to feed one of my cats Freshpet, but she stopped eating it. Every one is a huge proponent of feeding fresh and “natural” foods, but be careful. I learned the hard way that taurine does not remain stable in foods that need to be refrigerated or frozen. And unfortunately, just because its “natural” doesn’t make it the best quality pet food for your cat either. If she enjoys it, I would say keep feeding it to her, but see if you can find a canned food with taurine (.2% is the highest I’ve seen) that she will eat. It’s also more convenient to travel with and helpful if you ever lose power. And alternatively keep adding some kibble (the best quality you can find) to subsidize the nutritional elements she may be lacking.

  21. Hello Ingrid,
    My kitty, Susie is 17 years old and diagnosed last spring with Chronic Kidney Didsease. She still has 50% of her kidney still working. She also had a few episodes of pancreitis where the vet gave her some anti-vomiting meds along with vitamin B12 and saline solution. I moved her with me to Germany in 2013 and have been feeding her origin dry food. After her diagnosis, I stopped with the dry food, especially after reading some of Tanya’s comprehensive blog about feline kidney disease. I have made her chicken and rice a few times or just cooked chicken as my vet recommended. According to Tanya’s information, Pure 21 is low in phosphorus which is supposed to be good for cats with kidney issues. Her pancreas was making her vomit up her food. Stopping the dry food has helped. I am wondering about the foods on your list. Are they good for cats with kidney disease? Is there nutritional information available? I usually order from Zooplus here in Germany. I ordered some Smilla last week but don’t know much about it nutritionally. Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

    • You can find nutritional info for all the foods on this list on the respective websites, but you probably will have to contact each manufacturer for phosphorus content information since they usually don’t list that. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with what’s available in Germany.

  22. First time reader here. I was comparing your list to others and I appreciate your input! Do you know much about Earthborn Holistics canned cat food (i.e. Catalina Catch recipe is in an orange/yellow 5.5oz can with an Earth&leaf symbol)?

  23. My cat has idiopathic hypercalcemia and is not eating The Honest Kitchen Cat food anymore. I tried weruva, but it is very low in calories and she is only 6 pounds. Is there another wet food that would be best?

    • All of the pate style foods listed here are higher in calories than Weruva, Anali. However, since your cat has idiopathic hypercalcemia, you’re going to want to take a close look at labels before you settle on any one brand. You’ll want to look for a diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and all of the diets on this list meet those requirements, but you also want a diet that doesn’t contain dl-methionine, phosphoric acid, and ammonium chloride (to avoid acidification) or organ meats and fish oil (rich sources of vitamin D). You may also want to consider working with a holistically oriented vet to help you formulate a homecooked or homemade raw diet for this specific condition.

  24. I have two cats. My female cat (Daisy) is just over 5 years old, and my male cat (Duke) is about 4.5 years old. They were both spayed/neutered while they were still kittens. Their diets have always been almost entirely grain free canned food, with a very small amount of grain free kibble. For about their first year, they ate Wellness Core Kitten canned with a small amount of the Wellness Core kitten dry food. After the first year, I switched to Wellness Core Indoor canned. I feed them each half of a can twice a day (so they each get a whole can daily), and they get a very small amount of the Wellness Core Indoor dry food as well. Daisy is 14.6 pounds and Duke is 15.6 pounds. They are not allowed outside because I live right near a busy highway and I would be concerned for their safety. I play with them as much as I can, but after a minute or two, they get tired or bored and give up. I have tried many different kinds of toys (some of them quite expensive with lasers and such) to try to get them to exercise. I want them to be healthy and I feel so guilty that they are overweight but I just don’t know what to do anymore. I would love to cut the dry food completely out of their diet, but I am concerned that strictly 1 can of food each daily would not be enough nutrients/calories. I have been reading about the amount of calories necessary and, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like about 250 calories/day would be a good amount for an indoor/very sedentary cat if you want them to LOSE weight? One 5.5oz can of Wellness Core Indoor contains only 148 kcal. So that is why I am concerned that they wouldn’t be getting enough nutrients. I am already feeding them LESS than is recommended on the Wellness website and they have not lost any weight. I would say they have been the same weight for most of their adult lives. My other concern is that my male cat is definitely an “Alpha” male and a bit of a bully, and I am concerned that if I cut back on their food, he will eat his and then eat some of hers as well. I have cut back before, and that is exactly what happened. Unfortunately, neither of them is the type to eat all of their food at once, and my boyfriend and I both work all day, so we can’t do more than 2 feedings per day and because of the fact that they both take a very long time to eat, separating them during mealtimes isn’t a very feasible option, because that would basically mean keeping them in separate rooms all day while we are both at work. I am sorry that this was so long, but they are my babies and I have been struggling with this situation for a while now. Thank you so much for reading this. I look forward to your response! 🙂

      • You’re page is so helpful! You seem so knowledgeable! I’m sorry if you have already answered my question previously, there are a lot of comments to sift through.

        My 15 year old male cat has hyperthyroidism. He has been medicated for a couple years now and I wish I had tried harder to find a solution on my own back then.

        He is on methimazole twice daily and is always hungry. My once 12 lb cat is now a tiny 4.7 lbs. He is all skin and bones. (His kidneys are fine, just had them tested.)

        I had asked my vet what to feed him to help him gain weight and he really didn’t give me much help. He just said “whatever he will eat”. But that is not good enough for me at this point.

        This week I began a diet that he loves, however I may change it after reading your article. I am looking for a recommendation on a food program for him.

        He does only eat canned pate style food. And he has trouble with that, he needs it to be scooped into a pile over and over again but will eat it all eventually. So that is one thing I am looking for in a food.

        So this week I started him on kitten food with a crumbled vitamin treat on top that I found at the pet store. I also found wild Alaskan salmon oil to add to it. (I was figuring he needed more calories and fat.) And additionally I started giving him sardines. All of this I had read as ideas online and he does love this combo. But after reading your article I’m not sure what to keep or change.

        I read today that hyperthyroid cats need high protein so I want to switch to a high protein grain free food. (He does like non fish foods too. I just didn’t realize there was an issue with it.) But so I try to do kitten food for him or just regular food. (I was thinking kitten food for more calories? But I really don’t know what he truly needs.).

        So my questions are can you recommend a pate food (kitten or regular or senior?) that would be best for him? And also should I continue the salmon oil and/ or the sardines? Is there a different oil you might suggest or is that not needed? And what about the vitamin? The brand for that is “Well and Good”. It seems like a good idea, but I just don’t know.

        Thank you!

        • All of the foods on my list are sufficiently high enough in protein. Pate style foods are (usually) higher in calories than non-pate style. Kitten food may be a good choice for him if he can handle the higher fat content in those formulas. I would definitely continue to give an omega-3 fish oil. I’m not familiar with the Well and Good brand. If you’d like more personalized advice, I’d be happy to schedule a consultation!


  25. I had a question… my kitten has really bad gas…. horrible and constant! I feed her authority dry food because that’s what the rescue we adopted her from suggested. However, we were also told the dry food could be giving her gas. What would be a good food to give her instead?

      • Hi Jennifer
        My kitten’s gas was so bad, it could melt the paint off the walls!!!
        It turns out she had an overgrowth of a couple of bad bacteria in her gut, one was c.perfringens ( can’t remember the others name,right now) It progressed to diarrhea
        Take her and a fresh poop sample to the vet. If possible pay the extra money to get the complete analysis test on her poop so they can figure out what’s going on and prescribe the right medication if needed.
        I have never fed my kitties dry food, only appropriate canned foods from Ingrid’s list and dehydrated raw. Which helps keep Violets very sensitive intestinal system in check ( most of the time)
        Good Luck!

  26. Thanks..she is such a picky eater. She d ont like tiki cat all…i will try weruva.loves her fancy feast…any other suggestions I want to keep her eating….should I water down fancy feast. And I have tried freeze dried with water too..

  27. Hi I have a hyperthyroid 6lb kitty, and in 1st stage on renal disease. She loves wet food. Teega doesn’t like any prescription renal wet food I have ordered from chewy. I would like to start a raw diet..she needs low sodium and protein.. I am open to any advise. I love my little bug. Thanks, and I have a 1/2 maincoon over weight 26lbs with althritis.. Advent for him ? He eats her food too..They love wet food I tried the freeze dried and mixed with water.. didn’t eat it..

  28. I’m curious about feeding my cats from the human food section instead of buying in the pets department. What foods would i need in order to feed my cats and give them all the needed nutrients?

  29. Hi Ingrid,
    I was wondering if you have ever thought about starting a pet food company? If you manufactured canned food, you could shut down or at least take a lot of business from these companies that refuse to make a product that people have been asking for. It would be so nice to have food made by someone who wouldn’t change the formula constantly, or try to sneak ingredients like peas in the food. Then we could all relax and we wouldn’t have to stress out so much about feeding our pets food from companies who can’t be trusted. So many people online have spent a lot of time researching ingredients, myself included. I kept having to switch foods because of “formula changes”. Each time, I had to research more because my cats got sick. These companies are creating thousands of amateur pet food ingredient experts. Thank you for doing what you do. I really appreciate you for educating everyone about how to keep our pets healthy and happy.

  30. Hi Ingrid,
    I have always been interested in an all raw food diet for my cat but have never had the room to make it myself. Long story short I thought I was feeding my cat well by giving him a mixture of canned Blue Buffalo food in the morning and Dry Blue Buffalo at night and I found out the Blue Buffalo really isnt as good as I once believed. I though have found a local whole pet store who sells the Primal freeze-dried formula. I would really like to try it with my lil guy once he is out of his old food. My question is, can you just feed them the freeze dried food or would I need to get something else to put with it or get some of the frozen stuff for at night or vise versa? Thank you in advance 🙂

  31. Please, I need help.

    I have a 2 year old DSH who had surgery to remove crystals at 1yr old and has has 2 more UTIs since, each about 6 months apart and this third one is currently happening. She has been on the Hills Prescription c/d wet food since the surgery a year ago and it has not stopped the UTI’s.
    We are at a loss, she doesnt deserve this.
    I am aware that the vets have an agreement to sell the Hills food, but there has to be a better option, even if I have to pay more for the cases.
    Can you recommend, based on any experience, or from knowledge, a better canned wet food for my kitty with Urinary Tract issues?
    I have printed out articles here about reading the ingredients and choosing the best food, but I am so overwhelmed. I do not feel like asking my vet to confirm a better choice of food is the proper avenue since they are not cat nutritionists and it is kind of in their interest to sell the Hills food.
    Thank you.

    • While I am sure others will comment on the quality (or lack thereof) of Hills, one very important factor about crystals and URI’s we found out years ago with our sweet Siamese kitties. After months of research, we realized that our very hard and chemical-laden tap water was the cause of both the crystals and her UTI’s. As soon as we started giving her filtered or quality bottled water, they stopped almost immediately.
      Now one might say that was anecdotal, but we our current two Siamese kids also had the same problem as kittens. Same thing – we started giving them only filtered or bottled water, and not a SINGLE crystal or UTI issue in their twelve years!
      Don’t know how educated your current vet might be on this, so I would urge you to do some serious on-line research from credible sources, as well as seek opinions from one or more other vets.
      It’s a simple change, only marginally inconvenient, but seeing the results … priceless!!

    • No dry cat food not even dry treats. No Hill’s. No fish in ingredient list at all for right now. Wet food diet only (limit pates for right now as they generally have much higher mineral count then chunks in gravy or shredded) or feed a boneless raw food such as Rad Cat (boneless raw best for uti cats) only with added water (reverse osmosis/filtered water not hard water or mineral water as mentioned above) Reduce stress in home as much as possible.

      Have clean litter boxes for her (scoop 2x a day)
      with unscented clay litter such as precious cat ultra or Fresh step simply unscented in large storage tote or breeze/newspaper/pine pellets in breeze litterbox. I use newspaper pellets in the bottom instead of the breeze pads. Scented litters and hooded litter boxes are unprefered by cats and create additional stress.

      Play with a shoe string with your cat and allow her to chase it to get exercise daily. Ball track toys like bergan turbo track are good for when you’re not home or put foam soccer ball cat toys in a box with cutout holes. Make sure you have a large cat tree or something for her to climb and also a window to look out of.

      D-Mannose supplement is really good along with wet food diet at fighting urinary issues. Also for now make sure your wet food is lower in the minerals phosphorus and magnesium as these are big contributors especially if you we’re feeding any type of dry food or treats previously. Once she has recovered the mineral amount becomes less of an issue.

      Good ones to feed just until things improve (at which point you might be able to feed any canned or raw food diet) are the following–most are mentioned in Ingrid’s article above:
      1) Weruva Steak Frites (shredded)
      2) Weruva On the Cat Wok (shredded)
      3) Weruva Pecking Ducken (shredded)
      4) Merrick Backcountry pouches (chunks in gravy) (no chicken or fish though those are higher in phos/magnesium)
      5) Soulistic Autumn Bounty pouch (shredded chicken and pumpkin) (Petco)
      6) Nutro Max Cat Chunks in Sauce (Chicken Supreme, Duck Chunks, Venison chunks) (great nutrition for low price point and chunks in gravy food, low carb, was actually made for uti cats, very low phos/magnesium, cats love)
      7) Weruva Double Dip (shredded)
      8) Weruva Fowl Ball (shredded)
      9) Lotus Just Juicy (shredded)
      10) Soulistic Chicken Pate and Shreds (Petco)
      11) Whole Earth Farms pates (Pate)
      12) Bravo Beef Turkey and Liver (Pate) (controlled minerals)
      13) Nulo minced/chunk chicken and duck (Petsmart)
      14) Under the Sun Witty Kitty Ruffle My Feathers Turkey (flaked) (Petco or Chewy website)
      If your cat is pate instead of shredded or chunk like mine mainly are you could also try Ziwi Peak Lamb or Wild Calling Cowabunga beef as well as the above mentioned pates.

      I would suggest Pure Bites freeze dried treats only for cat treats not dry treats of any kind and rehydrate them so they are just starting to swim in a bowl of water.

      The very best of luck to you and the health of your cat.

      • Just a few corrections. The Nulo food is Nulo Medal Series Minced turkey and duck not chunk chicken and duck. That one is higher in minerals.
        The pine pellets litter I mentioned-I meant aspen pellets. Pine and Cedar tend to cause litter box avoidance because of the strong smell. There is a cat brand that makes aspen pellet cat litter. I buy mine at milling plant/animal feed store. You can take the top off of the breeze box and put two side by side in a large clear plastic storage tote to make it bigger for larger cats.
        Also be sure to have a cat fountain. I use the catit flower fountain with the green flower.
        The Cranberry D-Mannose tablet I give is by Pet Health Solutions. I bought it off of Amazon.
        I rotate the foods I feed every 2-3 days. Too often of a rotation can contribute to diarrhea and other digestive issues.
        Get a good probiotic. The Purina Fortiflora one is great for picky cats trying new foods because it has animal digest in it. I also use Nexabiotic probiotic by Dr. Formulas found on Amazon (meant for humans) because it has S. boulardii the most effective strain especially at fighting diarrhea.

  32. Hello Ingrid,
    I have a 14 year old male cat that is over 20 pounds. Several months ago I began a more strict diet with him…feeding him an eighth of a cup of Purina Wellness grain free dry cat food twice a day and he is still not losing weight. I have read your advice and would like to switch him to a wet, grain free, cat food that would have less carbohydrates, more whole meat protein, and would hopefully help him lose weight. Can you give me a suggestion for an affordable food that I can try for him? Also, should I aim for 180-200 calories per day for him?

  33. Hello, I recently adopted a year old male from a shelter of which was feeding him Purina indoor (dry). They told me to continue feeding him this & I could mix it with my own preference. I know nothing about cat food…. I’m guessing this is not the best for my kitty, & am wondering if you think it could be causing him to want to eat 24/7. If I just stand up he runs to his bowl wanting to be fed some more & wants to eat at night too. Could this food be giving him no fulfillment/nutrients? Thank you, Hannah

    • As you learned from this article, dry food is a poor nutritional choice for cats. It’s too low in protein, which is the reason why your cat is constantly hungry.

  34. Good afternoon! I have an extremely finicky, nine-year-old tortoiseshell named Cali. She looks similar to the cats at the top of this page. 🙂 I’ve never had a tortoiseshell, or a cat in general, and was curious if this breed is naturally predisposed to be thinner and not eat as much. (My boyfriend has a Siamese that’s the total opposite). I get concerned about her and have tried to feed her the best foods. I was feeding Rad Cat up until recently but had to stop since it was so expensive. I’m not sure if there’s anything else that’s comparable – I’ve tried Primal, Stella and Chewy, Natural Instinct, Ziwipeak, etc. and she won’t touch them and gets sick after eating them. Thank you!

    • Torties are not pre-disposed to being finicky – they may just be more dramatic about letting you know when they don’t like something 😉 My girls used to love Radcat until they changed to HPP processing a while back. Even though it shouldn’t have changed the formula itself, they refused to eat it. They love Darwin’s and Balanced Blends – both are comparable to Radcat (and like Radcat, they don’t contain any veggies.)

  35. This is a great article! I’m struggling with one of my cats who will claw my hair and bug me all hours of the night because he is hungry and he has to have his meals split into 3-5 feedings times a day so he won’t toss the food because he eats so fast. My only solution is to let him have dry food (free fed or timer based bowl) overnight so he can eat, I can sleep. Any ideas?

  36. Hi Ingrid,

    What are your thoughts on the Instinct wet food for Kittens – the chicken recipe. I’m wondering because I’ve seen you mention the preference of single protein source in foods and that particular one has chicken, beef and salmon included in the ingredients. Also wondering about the salmon part because you’ve mentioned not feeding cats fish everyday. Trying to choose the best for growing kitties who are only 3 and 4 months old.

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    • I prefer single ingredient formulas, but overall, Nature’s Variety Instinct is a good brand, which is why it’s on my list. You can feed adult formulas to a 3 to 4 month old kitten, and I’d look for something without fish. Reserve fish as an occasional treat.

      • Thanks for your speedy reply! Ok, now I’m thinking about getting the chicken formula of Nature’s Variety Instinct for adults and just feeding them more so they get the extra nutrients for growth, however, I notice that Taurine is low on the ingredient list and they don’t claim the % as they do on the kitten can as (min 0.15) wondering if it’s less on the adult food. Also, I’ve read peas are very high carb (which are also included in the adult can) – what are your thoughts on that?


        • That formula should be fine for kittens as long as you feed the appropriate amounts. I would prefer that they didn’t include peas, but I still consider the protein to carb ratio acceptable.

        • Be careful if you decide to transition to their raw foods. My one cat is addicted to their Instinct raw rabbit and ended up having to see a cardiac specialists. I don’t know if the food was the culprit, but the Dr. mentioned that taurine doesn’t remain stable in raw prepared foods. My cats left ventricle is slightly abnormal(its slightly larger than it should be). The Doc mentioned this could be her normal, but these types of conditions are likely associated with inadequate taurine levels. The Dr. actually recommended I incorporate commercial-grade kibble because it always has an adequate amount of taurine. Not too happy about it, especially if she turns out to be asthmatic, which was the cause of me undergoing testing on her in the first place. You are so smart to recognize the taurine levels. Nature’s Variety is really good with its ingredients, but the not having the taurine listed in their guaranteed analysis is cause for concern.

          • I’m sorry your cat is having cardiac issues, but I’m going to have to disagree with this vet’s advice. Unfortunately, that’s the typical advice you’d get from a vet who doesn’t know much about nutrition or is opposed to raw feedding. Recommending dry food to address a possible taurine deficiency makes absolutely no sense. Most likely, NV doesn’t list taurine separately is because the taurine comes from organ meat. I would contact the company and ask them this question. I would also consult with a holistic vet who is well versed in nutrition – I can almost guarantee you that he/she will tell you the same thing I just told you.

      • I have notice that the product Nature’s Variety is getting limited on certain ones to pick at Pet Co n also that it seem to be thicker n lots of white greasy stuff in n on top of the food. Have u seen this here lately? Especially the Beef Pate.

  37. Hey I’m curious as to what u think about cat food that contains coconut milk? I thought about getting it but everything I have read so far stated that coconut milk isnt good for cats.

  38. Really struggling to find out how much to feed our cats. I know there is supposed to be some formula, but we feed our cats a variety, so that makes it a lot harder. Just really at a loss on how to figure it out. Any help would be appreciated. Our cats weigh 7 pounds, 10 pounds, and 12 pounds. The 7 pound cat is an older female who is most indoors, and not very active. She does go outside some, but usually just for about 5 min at a time to sit and look at stuff. The 10 pound cat is a young, very active female who is outdoors for most of the day. The 12 pound male is also young and very active, spending most of the day outside as well.

  39. My 19 year old girl was just diagnosed with beginning stages of kidney failure. We do not want to go the prescription route due to finances and the vet recommended that we move her to wet food plus subcutaneous injections to help flush her kidneys. The wet list provided above is what you would recommend?

  40. I am switching my 4 cats to your recommended wet foods due to my 13 yr oldest developing the vomiting issues. I purchased Soulistic first which they all love. While at Petco I saw Merrick which is on your list. I read the label and it contains carceenagen, which you cautivo against. Could you address this as it relates to the Merrick brand?
    I found your site while researching recommended foods for cat vomiting. I have found the information very enlightening as it never crossed my radar in all my years of having cats that their standard foods were filled with carbohydrates or that dry food was bad. In just 3 weeks of diet change, I notice a difference. No vomiting and my 13 yr old has regained weight and spark.

    • I’d be happy to evaluate this for you, Amanda, but there’s a small fee for this service. Please contact me via email if you’d like me to proceed.

  41. Soo… about honest kitchen. I really and not comfortable with their percentages. At least in the powder. Am I missing something here?

    “A box of Prowl lists a moisture content of 5.2% maximum and minimum crude protein of 35%.

    Protein, 35% min
    Fat, 29.5% min
    Fiber, 2.38% max
    Moisture, 5.2% max
    100-5.2% = 94.8% dry matter”

    Also, I don’t know how much starch is in there, but they do add potatoes.

      • I think I see what you’re talking about, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s REALLY high in fat compared to pretty much all canned food I’ve ever seen. I’ve heard that many low carb formulations just substitute fat, and it doesn’t help really.

  42. Auto fill typo- my bad:

    * And I’m vegetarian, buying the affordable frozen veg’s & local, in season produce… (not “vet’s”!). Apologies for any other missed typos

  43. Thx for the kitty luvin’ – And especially for doing all the research for us!

    Re: “Wervua is available from Amazon at very competitive prices with free shipping for Prime members” – I am a Prime member (dig it!), I checked, the cost to feed my 2 cats this s “competitively priced” food, costs more than my own grocery bill- And I’m vegetarian, buying the affordable frozen vet’s & local, in season produce, with beans lentils tofu etc (typical veg diet on the cheap).

    There is simply no way I could afford these canned food prices. I spend a lot already on grain free, most highly rated cat foods. I feel ya’, but I simply cannot financially swing it, other than 1 can (4 oz) of ultra low sodium tuna treat (once a month), $1.50 @ Wal-Mart- which they love love love! And, btw- Yes, I’ve known for decades about avoiding fish diet- I feed them a ratio of 5 bags of non-fish flavor, to 1 salmon flavor (their favorite!). They are older now, so like I said, I definitely feel ya’- May I simply add water to their dry food, to create a mush? I understand you seem this sub-optimal. My alternative is to continue feeding dry, life-long.

    PS: Btw- I’m Masters educated professional, homeowner, taxed to the poorhouse. We poor ppl love our cats too!

    • I completely understand about budget constraints, Lisa. Adding water to dry food is not a good idea – dry food is not designed to get wet, and you’re risking the formation of mold. If you absolutely must feed dry, look for a premium food high in protein and as low in carbs as a dry food can possibly be. Encourage your cats to drink by providing a fountain. Ideally, buy the best canned food you can afford, or perhaps, consider making your own food, which can be very economical.

      • For the lady that has to watch finances for cat food. I have bought Evangers canned dog & cat food. They have no chemicals or anything else that can harm your pet. The cans contain only meat & water for processing. All 4 of my cats like the food. I used to feed my cats the brand “Kitty Queen.” It contained nothing but meat period (kidney). My cat loved it. I feel this is much healthier for my cats. I had one beautiful Russian Blue cat die from Lymphoma and from what I have read cat food does cause cancer in cats from some of the ingredients put into the food. If the blade that is watching finances, instead of Chewy, she can try ordering from “Jet” where you can just buy what you want and don’t have to buy a whole case. I know Evangers has had some trouble in the past, but I am sure lthey have resolved their problem and I like the food I ordered and sol do my cats. Jetk sells 5 oz and 13oz c0at food. The 13 oz is $5 but lasts awhile and just keep in a container in the fridge. I heat the portions for 6 to 8 seconds in the microwave before serving

      • Hi, Ingrid,
        I see here where you say adding water to dry food is not a good idea that it is not designed to get wet because of the risk of mold. I have a rescue, young momma cat that is feeding 5 babies. I put her on Instinct canned cat food, but she eats so much I just couldn’t afford it so I have been adding water to Instinct grain-free kibble (she won’t eat it dry)and when it is soft, I mash it up and add some of the canned food and some very small pieces of raw chicken thigh meat. She gobbles it right down. I’m concerned about her staying plenty hydrated as she is nursing 5 babies. Since she eats it right away, is there still a reason I shouldn’t be doing this? This has helped me tremendously in affording high-quality nourishment for her. She had previously been on dry Meow Mix… UGH! I got her when the kittens were a little over a week old. They are now 4 weeks and I’ve been introducing them to the canned Instinct kitten formula which they have eaten very little of since she nurses them constantly so they really aren’t hungry.

        • I understand that budget is a concern, Lorna, and most likely, you’re not taking a risk by adding water to the dry Instinct as long as she eats it right away. It’s not ideal, but it sounds like the majority of her diet is still canned food. I’m actually more concerned about you mixing dry food with the raw chicken. It may not be an issue since you’re only adding small pieces, but it’s something to be aware of. Here’s more information:

          • Thank you, Ingrid, that was a very interesting article. It seems that Lyn Thompson’s objection to feeding raw with processed is when the processed is high in carbohydrates which the Instinct is not. S/he goes on in the last part of the article to recommend mixing the cooked meats/canned that your cat is used to eating with the raw to get your cat used to eating raw if you plan to transition your cat to a raw diet which is what I plan to do. I am still in the learning process and I love this cat and I am going to keep 2 of her kittens along with her and I want to do everything that is good for their health and still afford to eat, myself. Thank you, again and for your very informative site that I have learned so much from.

    • May I suggest Orijens brand cat foods? I get it from a delivery service called Its high protein w/out all the junk fillers. Please check out the nutritional info on chewy (amazon also sells it). I will say that Acana is also a good brand. What you will find is w/ the high protein/fat, they eat less. So the bag of Orijens or Acana will last far longer than you’re used to. It ends up costing less.

      After reading this site, I’m actually going to transition my cat off dry food altogether but that is what they were getting before.

      • I’m glad you’re transitioning your cat off dry food, Quinn. I do not recommend Orijen or Acana, both are too low in protein for an obligate carnivore. They contain 35-40% protein. For comparison, Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein contains 59% of protein (it’s the highest protein dry food on the market right now.)

        • I have fed Taste of the Wild (Salmon and Trout) to all of my cats for several years. They have a venison/salmon variety that has a higher protein content and i tried that because it just sounded like it would be healthier. Well….it gave them all diarrhea. My vet said it was due to the higher protein content???

          • I might be mistaken…It may be venison/trout. Regardless, I am concerned because I have been reading on this site that it is not good to feed a fish diet to cats???? So now I am questioning if I should be changing their diet.

  44. I’ve been nervous to switch my cats over to raw foods, just because of the learning curve involved, but I’ve finally decided to give it a go. One thing that concerns me a little bit is that one of my cats has a sensitive stomach. She pukes very easily. Will the raw food be ok for her? Also, out of the raw brands that you list, is there any one in particular that you prefer? And is the fish oil in any of them a concern if I am feeding them the food daily, the same way it is with canned foods? Would it be better to find one without fish? Thank you!

    • You may find that your kitty with the sensitive stomach will no longer vomit, Andrea. All the raw brands listed are good brands. I currently feed Darwin’s and Balanced Blends. I don’t think fish oil is a concern unless you’re dealing with an allergy.

  45. Hi Ingrid, I don’t see the brand I feed my kitties on your list which makes me a bit nervous…I thought I had done my homework. What are your thoughts on Wellness canned food such as Core? Thanks, Linda

    • I feed my cat Wellness complete health chicken pate- Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Cranberries, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Taurine, Salt, Choline Chloride, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

  46. I just had a question about Instinct Raw Freeze Dried Nuggets. Had anyone used them before or does anyone know if this is a good food /brand? Thanks

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