Cats Are Obligate Carnivores. Feed Them Accordingly


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Animals are classified as three different types of eaters: herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Carnivores eat a meat-based diet while herbivores eat a plant-based diet. Omnivores eat both meat and plants. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need meat not just to survive, but to thrive.Continue Reading

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Is Dry Food Bad For Cats? The Real Truth


Last updated April 2021

Grocery and pet store shelves abound with a dizzying array of dry cat food. For decades, kibble has been the preferred choice for most cat owners. After all, the bags say it’s “complete and balanced,” it’s easy to feed, and most cats seem to like it. Unfortunately, dry cat food, even the high-priced premium and veterinary brands, is the equivalent of junk food for cats. Feeding dry food to cats is no different than feeding sugared cereals to kids.Continue Reading

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Should You Feed Your Cat a Raw Diet? A Vet’s View

A cat eating food

Vet Approved by Dr. Paola Cuevas (MVZ)

Cat owners are always looking out for their companions’ health, especially regarding food. The pet food industry is roughly valued at $95 billion globally and is expected to grow. This means that the variety of cat food available is quite expansive, which is good news for people who want to find top-quality food for their cats.

One kind of pet food that is getting a lot of attention is raw food, and it has piqued the curiosity of many cat owners. Since the raw food production industry has increased by 20% in 2021, it is becoming popular. But should you feed your cat a raw diet? This article covers the benefits of a raw diet as well as some things to keep in mind should you make the switch to raw food.

What Is Raw Food?

Raw cat food is uncooked and unprocessed food. The main ingredients in raw food include uncooked meat, organs, and ground bone (for calcium). A raw food diet cannot just include meat. There needs to be a proper balance of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the raw food. This nutritional balance will ensure a cat’s overall health.

Since cats are obligate carnivores, they need a diet high in animal proteins to be healthy and thrive. Obligate carnivores cannot survive on plant proteins as their main food source. This is why many people are feeding their cats a raw food diet; these recipes are the least processed form of animal protein.

What Are the Benefits of a Raw Diet?

Some cat owners are concerned about low-quality ingredients and the toxic end products resulting from thermal processing found in most standard wet or dry food. While there are plenty of companies that make cat food with high-quality ingredients, there are cat owners who prefer a purer form of food, whether they buy the raw food commercially made or make it themselves.

When the raw food is high-quality, there are some health benefits:

  • Boost in energy: Cats can get sluggish without the proper amount of meat protein. While a cat with low energycan mean several things, diet can be one of the causes.
  • Digestion is improved: As mentioned before, cats need a diet primarily of meat. Plant foods and excessive carbohydrates can disturb their digestion and metabolism. So, with a raw diet, cats get the ingredients their bodies were made to ingest.
  • Healthy Weight: Cat food high in carbohydrates can lead to weight gain because cats are trying to eat more to compensate for the lack of animal protein.
  • Hydration: Any cat owner will tell you that it can be a challenge to keep a cat hydrated. In the wild, cats get their daily moisture from the animals they eat. Dry food does not have enough moisture to help a cat stay hydrated.

Things to Consider with a Raw Diet

While there are several benefits to feeding your cat a raw diet, there are some things you want to keep in mind before you make the switch:

  • Risk of illness: Cat owners must know the potential issues in handling raw meat. If a cat owner prepares the food and does not consider the sanitation aspect, this can lead to increased risk of infection with Toxoplasmosis, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. People can get these infections when preparing raw food improperly, handling or touching their cat near the face and mouth after eating raw food, and by handling fecal matter.
  • Improper nutritional balance: Commercially made raw foods usually have added nutrients and minerals cats need to be healthy. However, cat owners might omit those essential components when making the raw food themselves. A raw diet cannot just be meat on its own. Making your own raw food can be tricky, so consulting your veterinarian on this matter is vital for your cat’s health.
  • Meat Source: If you are making homemade raw food, it is essential to get the meat from a highly reputable source. The animals must be slaughtered under hygienic conditions as well as having the meat be handed properly. These practices will reduce cross contamination of bacteria.
  • Time: Many pet owners like the convenience of packaged food. You can buy the food in bulk, which saves time and money. Dry food can sit out safely for a few hours, so you can add some food to a bowl earlier in the day if you plan on getting home late. But because there are some health risks surrounding improper preparation of raw food, some people may not have the time to make the cat’s meals safely. With raw food, people must take the time to disinfect the preparation area, wash their hands thoroughly after touching the food and your cat, and ensure you use fresh meat from reliable sources where the animals have been raised in sanitary conditions.
  • Generally, dry and wet food are less expensive than a raw diet. People on a tight budget might find it harder to get the ingredients to make homemade raw food or sign up for raw food subscription services.

Final Thoughts: Should I Feed My Cat a Raw Diet

A raw food diet can benefit your cat’s overall health and wellness. Many cat owners have been pleased with the positive changes they have seen in their cat’s physical appearance and overall health. However, switching to a raw food diet should not be taken lightly.

You want to consider a few things before changing the cat’s diet. If you do not think you have the time to clean up after raw food preparation safely or if you do not think you have the money to either get the proper ingredients to make raw food or buy it from the store or online, you might want to reconsider this meal plan.

However, if you are aware of the risks of improper raw food preparation and clean-up, as well as understand the time commitment and costs, reach out to a raw savvy-vet about how to switch to a raw food diet for your cat.


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Introducing ZiwiPeak: Natural New Zealand Pet Nutrition


This post is sponsored by Ziwi Peak

ZiwiPeak is one of the brands that has long been included on my list of recommended foods. Today, I’m delighted to offer you a closer look at this brand, courtesy of the folks at ZiwiPeak. Ziwi Peak is a complete and balanced daily diet for all breeds and all life stages. Their formulas are 95% digestible and palatable to even the most finicky cats (and dogs.)Continue Reading

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Your Hypecarnivore: Why Senior Cats Need Protein to Thrive


Written by Elizabeth Colleran, DVM

The nutritional requirements of senior cats are unique when compared to those of humans and dogs. Elderly cats require more energy to maintain their body weight, in part because their fat and protein digestion is impaired. To compensate for impaired nutrient absorption, senior cats need to eat more food relative to their body weight than younger cats. This can be challenging as aging changes associated with decreased ability to smell and taste can cause appetite to decline. Additionally, many aging conditions in cats result in pain, which can also distract from interest in food at a time when more food is essential.Continue Reading

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12 Best Cat Foods in 2023: Recommendations & Guide

siamese cat eating food from bowl at home

Proper nutrition is just as essential for your cat as for you. Like humans, a poor diet for your cat can lead to obesity, diseases, malnutrition, and even premature death. The problem is that many cat owners don’t have the time to study feline nutrition, so they pick the first food they find in the grocery store and hope it will give their pet the nutrients it needs to thrive. Choosing the perfect diet for your cat requires more effort, so we’ve put together this article to help remove some of the guesswork of proper feline nutrition.

Please keep reading to find our reviews of the 12 best cat foods, including the best wet and freeze-dried raw options on the market today.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription
  • High in protein
  • Rich in moisture
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Best Wet Cat Food
    Second place
    Hound & Gatos 98% Lamb, Chicken & Salmon Cat Food Hound & Gatos 98% Lamb, Chicken & Salmon Cat Food
  • Pate-like texture
  • 98% animal protein
  • Free of plant proteins
  • Best Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
    Third place
    Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties
  • Novel protein
  • Contains organ meat
  • Limited ingredient diet
  • Darwin's Natural Fresh Chicken Cat Food Darwin's Natural Fresh Chicken Cat Food
  • Minimally processed
  • Convenient delivery service
  • Hormone and chemical free
  • The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food
  • Expands to four times its weight
  • Boosted with probiotics for digestion
  • No preservatives or GMO ingredients
  • The 12 Best Cat Foods:

    1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall


    Click to Save 40% on Smalls & Use Code ConsciousCat2023

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water (Sufficient for Processing)
    Protein content: 15.5%
    Fat content: 8.5%
    Calories: 200 kcal/5 oz

    Smalls is a cat food delivery service that provides protein-rich formulas in textures cats love. The company’s Fresh Smooth Bird recipe is our pick for best overall cat food thanks to its familiar, pate-like texture and protein-focused recipe. With real chicken as its first two ingredients and a unique blend of vitamins and minerals, you know you’re providing your kitty with the best fresh recipe possible. In addition, this recipe has a low carbohydrate content and is high in moisture to ensure cats get the hydration they need to thrive.

    Since Smalls is a delivery service, it is pricier than most foods in the grocery store. You’ll also rely on their deliveries to get your cat’s food since it’s unavailable in stores. That said, their convenient subscription service is easy to configure to a delivery schedule that works with your budget and needs.

    • High in protein
    • Real chicken as the first two ingredients
    • Convenient delivery service
    • Low in carbohydrates
    • Rich in moisture
    • Pricier than most other cat food options
    • Not available in store

    2. Hound & Gatos Lamb, Chicken & Salmon – Best Wet Cat Food

    Hound & Gatos 98% Lamb, Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Lamb, Chicken, Lamb Broth, Salmon, Agar-Agar
    Protein content: 10.5%
    Fat content: 9.5%
    Calories: 199 kcal/5.5 oz can

    The Hound & Gatos 98% Lamb, Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a plant protein-free wet food perfect for your cat’s carnivorous diet. This recipe is made of high-quality lamb, chicken, and salmon, with the majority (98%) of the recipe’s protein being derived from animal sources. This limited key ingredient formula has no added carbohydrates. This food has a pate-like texture that most cats are drawn to right away, though some may find it too thick. This can be remedied by adding a smidge of water to thin the consistency.

    This recipe has a strong scent and contains a lot of gel on top. This can make this recipe a no-go for some pickier cats.

    • Free of plant proteins
    • Low in carbohydrates
    • 98% animal protein
    • Pate-like texture
    • Strong scent
    • Somewhat gelatinous texture

    3. Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties – Best Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Rabbit, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Heart, Rabbit Kidney, Rabbit Lung
    Protein content: 60.0%
    Fat content: 17.0%
    Calories: 108 kcal/oz

    Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food is our pick for the best overall dehydrated and freeze-dried raw cat food. These patties provide a limited-ingredient cat food, perfect for pet owners looking to reduce their pet’s exposure to overly processed food. It’s made with a novel protein—rabbit—and features organ meat such as liver, heart, and kidney. This formula is free of any additional flavorings, fillers, and artificial ingredients. The raw meat recipe is freeze-dried during manufacturing to preserve the nutrients and maintain freshness.

    This formula contains bones in its patties, so that’s something to keep in mind as you feed it to your cat. Some bones are reportedly large, which could cause issues if you’re not careful. Also, as with most freeze-dried food, it must be rehydrated before serving, which can be time-consuming.

    • Novel protein
    • Limited ingredient diet
    • Contains organ meat
    • No artificial flavors or fillers
    • Freeze-dried to maintain nutrients
    • Some patties may contain large bones
    • Time-consuming to rehydrate

    4. Darwin’s Natural Fresh Cat Food Chicken Recipe

    Darwin's Natural Selections raw chicken food

    Click to Get 10 Pounds of Darwin’s For Just $14.95!

    Main ingredients: Chicken Meat, Chicken Necks with Bone, Chicken Gizzards, Chicken Livers, Chicken Hearts
    Protein content: 16.0%
    Fat content: 9.0%
    Calories: 40 kcal/oz

    Like Smalls, Darwin’s Natural Pet Products produces fresh and natural food for cats. Their chicken recipe provides a great source of protein and B vitamins like B1, which cats need for proper carbohydrate metabolism. The meat is hormone and chemical-free, so it’s something you can feel good about feeding your cat. This raw formula is made primarily of muscle meat, organs, and bones and is minimally processed to preserve nutrients.

    Also, like Smalls, Darwin’s is a pet food delivery service, so you should expect to pay more than you would for food in your local pet store. There are also some consumer complaints about the food not arriving frozen as it should be.

    • Made with real muscle meat and organs
    • Hormone and chemical free
    • Minimally processed
    • Convenient delivery service
    • A bit on the expensive side
    • Some consumers had issues with shipping

    5. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food

    the honest kitchen dehydrated cat food chicken recipe

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Flaxseed, Whole Eggs
    Protein content: 42.0%
    Fat content: 28.0%
    Calories: 128 kcal/ 1 oz packet

    The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food is a USA-made food packed with whole food ingredients such as free-range chicken and sweet potatoes. Add warm water to serve this meal that will rehydrate to four times its weight. This formula features no preservatives, fillers, or GMO ingredients. It is boosted with probiotics to help support your cat’s digestion and features bone broth for extra flavor and protein. This formula is great for kittens and adults but won’t meet the nutritional needs of active or senior cats.

    This recipe is higher in carbs than others that made our list. It also has an average amount of protein and more fat than others.

    • Expands to four times its weight
    • No preservatives or GMO ingredients
    • Boosted with probiotics for digestion
    • Made with free-range chicken
    • High in carbs
    • Lower in protein than other similar products

    6. Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor
    Protein content: 11.0%
    Fat content: 9.0%
    Calories: 202 kcal/5.5 oz can

    Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a low glycemic formula that provides just 4% of energy from carbs. It features real turkey as the first ingredient and turkey liver as the third, providing a hefty dose of species-appropriate protein. This formula is supplemented with vitamins and minerals like riboflavin and biotin. It contains no added fillers or preservatives and has a smooth pate texture cats love.

    Cats that are particular about the consistency of their food may not like the gelatin layer on top of the pate.

    • Low in carbohydrates
    • Real turkey as the first ingredient
    • Contains organ meat for protein
    • Supplemented with vitamins and minerals
    • No added fillers
    • Gelatinous layer may be a turn-off for some cats

    7. Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Nature's Logic Feline Rabbit Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Rabbit, Water Sufficient for Processing, Pork Liver, Dried Egg Product, Montmorillonite Clay
    Protein content: 12.0%
    Fat content: 7.0%
    Calories: 212 kcal/5.5 oz can

    Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a grain and gluten-free formula low in carbohydrates. It has real rabbit as its first ingredient and boasts over 90% animal protein to help mimic your cat’s natural diet. Rabbit is a novel protein which can be great for cats with allergies to other protein sources. That said, it does contain pork liver, which doesn’t make it a single-source protein. This recipe includes whole foods like apples which can be good for cats thanks to its calcium and vitamin-rich skin, and blueberries for a dose of antioxidants and fiber. In addition, this formula contains naturally occurring taurine, an essential amino acid cats need in large amounts for eye health.

    This food is extremely expensive, making it inaccessible for many cat owners.

    • Rabbit is a novel protein
    • Over 90% animal protein
    • Contains whole foods like fruits and vegetables
    • Contains naturally occurring taurine
    • Not a single source protein
    • Very high price

    8. Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food

    Ziwi Peak canned cat food

    Main ingredients: Venison, Venison Tripe, Venison Liver, Chickpeas, Venison Lung, Venison Heart
    Protein content: 10.0%
    Fat content: 4.0%
    Calories: 222 kcal/6.5 oz can

    The Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food is a venison-based recipe containing muscle meat, broth, and organs like the liver, lungs, and heart. As with most Ziwi Peak recipes, this formula includes the company’s standard green-lipped mussels, providing a species-appropriate source of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. This single-protein recipe is made without cheap fillers. All the meat that Ziwi Peak uses for its recipes are ethically and sustainably sourced.

    The company uses tin with an internal lacquer for their cans. These cans are “BPA-NI”, which translates to “BPA non-intent,” meaning no BPA is intentionally added to the lacquer but it cannot be labeled BPA-free.

    This recipe contains chickpeas which increase its carbohydrate, making this recipe moderate in carbs.

    • Single protein recipe
    • Sustainably sourced venison
    • Can promote joint health
    • Contains muscle and organ meat
    • No artificial ingredients or fillers
    • Cans may contain BPA
    • Higher in carbohydrates

    9. Tiki Cat Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consommé Canned Cat Food

    Tiki Cat chicken in chicken consomme canned cat food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate, Dicalcium Phosphate
    Protein content: 16.0%
    Fat content: 2.6%
    Calories: 63 kcal/2.8 oz can

    The Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is made with real chicken and slathered in a hydrating chicken broth to boost your cat’s hydration levels. It is made without any artificial coloring or flavors. Its shredded texture is not unlike canned chicken, but it can be hit or miss with cats.

    This formula features sunflower seed oil as its third most prominent ingredient. This oil is often added to canned food as a fat source but isn’t as diverse as other carnivore-appropriate fatty acids such as fish oil.

    This recipe has zero carbohydrates which may not be as healthy as it sounds. Cats need energy that they acquire from protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbs may help promote proper metabolic feeding balance.

    • Made with real chicken
    • Very hydrating
    • No artificial colors
    • Rich in animal-sourced protein
    • No carbohydrates at all
    • Heavy emphasis on plant-sourced fat

    10. Weruva Press Your Dinner! Chicken Paté

    Weruva Classic Cat Paté, Press Your Dinner with Chicken Wet Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Natural Flavor, Sunflower Oil, Xanthan Gum
    Protein content: 9.0%
    Fat content: 4.0%
    Calories: 93 kcal/ 3 oz can

    The Weruva Classic Cat Paté, Press Your Dinner with Chicken Wet Cat Food is made with wholesome ingredients and is gently pureed into a texture that cats will either love or hate. The texture is a bit pudding-like in consistency, making it a great pick for senior cats or those with dental issues. It’s made with real chicken and chicken broth for a high protein, hydrating meal. It has an 82% moisture content to promote urinary tract health and ensure your kitty gets the hydration it needs to thrive. In addition, this formula is free of artificial colors, flavors, and MSG.

    There appears to be some issues with consistency from can-to-can. Some have slightly different scents or colorations that may turn cats off.

    • High in moisture
    • Made with real chicken
    • Free of artificial colors
    • Jelly-like consistency is great for seniors
    • Texture can be a turn off to some cats
    • Inconsistent from can to can

    11. Stella & Chewy’s Tummy Ticklin’ Turkey Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Stella & Chewy's Tummy Ticklin' Turkey Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Main ingredients: Turkey With Ground Bone, Turkey Liver, Turkey Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride
    Protein content: 40.0%
    Fat content: 37.0%
    Calories: 208 kcal/oz

    Stella & Chewy’s Tummy Ticklin’ Turkey Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food combines the benefits of a raw diet and the convenience of freeze-dried meals. You can serve these morsels as-is or rehydrate them by adding water. Rehydrating the morsels is a great option if you know your kitty isn’t getting the hydration it needs from its water bowl. This formula is made in a USA-based kitchen with responsibly sourced, cage-free turkey and organic fruits and vegetables. The recipe is 98% turkey, organs, and bone. It doesn’t have any artificial preservatives or colors added.

    Rehydrating the morsels can take a while, and they sometimes don’t mix well with the water. There are also reports of the food being crumbly upon arrival.

    • Can serve dry or rehydrated
    • Made in USA-based kitchen
    • Made with cage-free turkey
    • 98% animal protein
    • No artificial preservatives
    • Inconsistency in morsel texture
    • Can take a while to rehydrate

    12. Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Raw Freeze-Dried Nuggets

    Primal freeze dried raw cat food nuggets

    Main ingredients: Chicken With Ground Bone, Chicken Livers, Salmon, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds
    Protein content: 49.0%
    Fat content: 26.0%
    Calories: 128 kcal/oz

    Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Cat Food is made with antibiotic and hormone-free chicken meat and organs. Chicken accounts for the bulk of the protein in this recipe, but it also contains wild-caught salmon as one of its main ingredients to provide your pet with a good source of omega-fatty acids. This formula focuses on whole-food nutrition and has no synthetic vitamins or minerals in its ingredient list. It’s fast and easy to serve when rehydrated with water or Primal Raw Goat Milk. In addition, this formula doesn’t have excessive bone content and is free of artificial ingredients.

    This recipe heavily focuses on fruits and vegetables, which aren’t necessarily species-appropriate for your little carnivore.

    • Antibiotic and hormone-free chicken
    • Salmon for omega fatty acids
    • No synthetic vitamins or minerals
    • Easy to serve
    • Some cats may be allergic to salmon
    • Heavy focus on fruit and vegetable ingredients

    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Cat Foods

    Are you still feeling overwhelmed at all your cat food options? Raw, wet, dehydrated – how can you know which food type will be best for your cat’s needs? Read on to learn more about choosing the best cat food for your feline family members.

    Raw Food Diets

    A raw food diet for cats is a highly controversial topic. Your kitty’s wild ancestors certainly ate raw foods to survive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your highly pampered domesticated kitty has the same nutritional needs.

    A raw diet focuses on unprocessed foods made with natural ingredients. You already know that your obligate carnivore needs animal tissues to thrive, and raw foods provide this by placing a heavy emphasis on uncooked meat and organs. Many raw diets also include ground bone for calcium and phosphorus.

    Raw diets generally provide high-quality nutrition with fewer processed ingredients. As a result, they may promote better digestion.

    It’s important to know that seeing the term “raw” on your cat’s food bag doesn’t automatically make it healthy.

    The biggest concern with a raw diet is that it may pose an infectious disease risk for both your cat and you. A one-year study tested commercially available raw foods for bacteria and found that nearly 25% of the samples tested positive for bacteria like Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes.

    Raw diets may put your cat at risk of nutritional imbalances and pose foreign body risks (e.g., bones).

    tabby cat eating cat food out of bowl inside
    Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

    Wet Food Diets

    A wet (or canned) food diet is one of the most often recommended cat diets.

    Canned food is designed to help increase your cat’s water intake. Most wet food has a moisture content of around 75% (compared to dry foods’ 6% to 10%). Dehydration is a huge issue for indoor cats, leading to health problems like urinary tract blockages and constipation.

    Wet food is highly palatable and strongly scented, two factors that can entice a picky or sick cat into eating.

    The biggest downside of a wet food diet is that it is expensive, especially when compared to dry food. However, raw and dehydrated food diets are likely much the same in price.

    Dehydrated & Freeze-Dried Food Diets

    Freeze drying is a process whereby food is frozen and put into a vacuum to sublimate the water content. The resulting product is then put into an air-tight package to remove any remaining moisture, providing a much more shelf-stable food. Freeze-dried cat food isn’t cooked or pasteurized, making it raw.

    Dehydrating is a different technique cat food manufacturers use to achieve the same goal as freeze drying—removing the moisture to create food with a stable shelf life. The dehydration process requires heat, but not enough for the resulting food to be considered cooked.

    Both processes (freeze drying and dehydration) are popular options as the quality nutrients and vitamins of the food’s ingredients are not lost through cooking.

    The problem with feeding your cat dehydrated or freeze-dried diets is the same as if you were feeding a raw diet. The biggest concern is contamination, as illness-causing pathogens can survive the freeze-drying and dehydration processes.

    There may be risks of nutritional deficiencies due to dietary imbalances, though this can be sidestepped by choosing a food labeled as complete and balanced. Many dehydrated and freeze-dried cat foods are designed to be used as meal toppers and not your cat’s sole food source, so they don’t contain all the vitamins and minerals your kitty needs to thrive.

    cat eating food from bowl
    Image Credit: Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock

    What About Dry Food?

    You’ve probably noticed by now that the list above contained no mention of dry food at all. You’re probably wondering why that is, and the answer comes down to the following:

    • It is low in moisture.
    • It is high in carbohydrates.
    • It focuses on protein sourced from plants versus animals.
    • It can promote overeating.

    1. It is low in moisture.

    The biggest difference between wet, raw, and dehydrated cat food and dry food is the moisture levels. Dry food contains around 10% water; the remaining 90% is dry matter like carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. Wet food, on the other hand, contains approximately 70% water. This is especially important if your cat has certain health conditions that would do well with a moisture-rich diet.

    2. It is high in carbohydrates.

    Carbohydrates act as an essential energy source for many animals. However, this isn’t as true for cats as they’ve evolved to derive most of their energy from the protein and fat they ingest. Therefore, carbohydrates should play a small part in a cat’s diet. Unfortunately, dry food is much higher in carbs than other food types.

    According to PetMD, diets that are too high in carbs can cause weight gain and related health issues like diabetes.

    3. It focuses on protein sourced from plants versus animals.

    Many dry foods require grains like rice to assist with kibble processing. In addition, some foods contain more plant-based proteins than meat, which is not ideal for your obligate carnivore kitty who needs animal protein to thrive.

    cat eating raw chicken from metal bowl
    Cats need animal protein to remain healthy | Image Credit: ophiecat, Shutterstock

    4. It can promote overeating.

    Cats evolved to eat diets rich in protein and fats but deficient in carbohydrates. As such, consuming fat and protein does a better job of signaling to a cat that it is satiated and should stop eating. Unfortunately, consuming carbohydrates does not have the same effect, resulting in overeating and, eventually, obesity.


    For the overall best cat food, Smalls’ Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food provides cats with a low carbohydrate and high protein, species-appropriate food in a texture they’ll love. The best wet cat food, Hound & Gatos 98% Lamb, Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food, is a plant protein-free recipe with 98% animal protein for a formula designed to keep your obligate carnivore happy and healthy. Finally, the best dehydrated and freeze-dried raw cat food, Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties, provides cats with a novel protein source containing the organ meats they would eat in the wild.

    We hope our reviews have shed some light on the always-important topic of feline nutrition. Now that you know the best cat foods on the market, you can decide which will be healthiest and most appropriate for your kitty and its tastes.

    Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

    About the author

    Don’t force your cat to be vegan


    People adopt a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons, some of them health related, others as a conscious choice to help the planet. One of the most frequently cited reasons why people become vegan is because of a genuine concern about animal rights. There is no doubt that factory farmed animals live in abysmal conditions both prior to and during slaughter.

    I admire people who can completely embrace this way of eating. It’s too restrictive for me, but the evidence I’ve seen, both scientific and anectdotal, makes me think that it is, indeed, a better way to eat. I’m mostly vegetarian, but I occasionally eat fish and seafood, and I do eat dairy. However, more and more, I try to incorporate vegan principles into my diet.

    Unfortunately, the increased popularity of the vegan lifestyle presents an ethical dilemma for devoted cat guardians who believe that their cats should reflect their human beliefs about the treatment of animals and an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.Continue Reading

    About the author

    Kidney Failure in Cats & How Diet Can Help

    cat eating bowl

    Written by Dr. Darren Hawks, DVM

    Renal insufficiency, or kidney failure, is very common as our cats age. Early signs are subtle, seen only as increased drinking and urination. More advanced signs are weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, and dull coat. Problems occur as the kidneys can no longer reabsorb water, leading to excessive urination and chronic dehydration. As problems progress, the kidneys cannot handle the breakdown products of excess protein, leading to the buildup of toxins in the blood (azotemia). This is reflected in an increased BUN and creatinine on blood work.Continue Reading

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    How to Select Healthy Cat Treats


    You will find a lot of information on feline nutrition on this site, but one aspect I haven’t covered in detail is treats. While treats should always be used judiciously, especially for cats that have a tendency to gain weight or are already overweight, realistically, most cat guardians want to occasionally spoil their feline charges with a special treat.  Treats also have their place when it comes to training (and yes, cats can be trained).  Since most of us will give our cats treats, it’s important to choose healthy options.Continue Reading

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