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Best Cat Food

Updated June 2023
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Best of the Best
Nutro Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food
Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food
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Customer Favorite
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This high-protein dry cat food is made with quality protein sources and supports your cat's health.


Food is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which give cats a shiny coat and healthy skin. Great for cats with sensitive digestive systems or sensitivities to certain proteins or ingredients. First ingredient is salmon, and food is free of GMOs, corn, wheat, and soy.


Cats tended to be hungrier between feedings with this food.

Best Bang for the Buck
IAMS Proactive Health Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food
Proactive Health Specialized Care Adult Dry Cat Food
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Trusted Brand
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Control your cat's hairball issues without breaking the bank with this affordable and healthy cat food.


Available in chicken or salmon to complement your cat's diet. Ideal for maintaining optimal weight and helping overweight cats lose weight. Food is rich in protein and packed with healthy beet pulp fiber to prevent hairballs and support digestive health.


This food uses more grains than some other dry foods.

Best Feline Friend Grain-Free Cat Food by Weruva
Best Feline Friend
Grain-Free Cat Food by Weruva
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Best for Older Pets
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This soft cat food is great for older cats who may have trouble chewing.


This wet food formula is very popular among cats for its taste and ease of chewing. Available in a variety of protein sources including tuna, lamb, duck, and chicken. Food is grain-free, gluten-free, and does not contain soy, wheat, or corn. Great for picky eaters.


Removing soft food from pouch can be very messy. Some customers don't like the smell.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Dry Cat Food
Hill's Science Diet
Adult Dry Cat Food
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Vitamin-Packed Formula
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This vet-recommended cat food is great for improving the look of cats' skin and hair.


Formulated with vitamin E, omega-3s and 6s, and taurine. Supports heart, kidney, and bladder health. High-protein formula is made with chicken and encourages lean muscle. Comes in small, easy-to-chew pieces.


This food does contain wheat, corn, or gluten.

Purina Fancy Feast Poultry & Beef
Purina Fancy Feast
Tuna Flakes
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Classic Option
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This wet food is a classic cat-favorite for its flavor and high-quality ingredients.


Variety pack includes 24 cans, 8 of each flavor: turkey, chicken, and beef. Food is made of full chunks of protein in gravy. Formulated with vitamins A and B to provide complete nutrition for cats. Comes in easy-to-open individual cans.


Some users note inconsistencies between orders.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best cat food

Your cat is a family member – albeit a furry one – so why shouldn't you be as careful in feeding her a healthy, well-balanced diet as you are with yourself and your human family?

Finding the best cat food for your feline friend can involve some trial and error, as what one cat thrives on might not be good for another, and some cats want variety, but you can learn how to tell a quality food from a poor one.

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A shiny coat, bright eyes, regular bowel movements, and the ability to easily maintain a healthy weight are all signs your cat is thriving on his food.

Should you choose wet or dry food?

The first question to ask yourself is whether you should feed your cat wet or dry food. Each type has its pros and cons, so it's up to you to decide which suits you and your cat best.

Wet cat food


  • Wet cat food has a high moisture content which helps keep cats hydrated.

  • Fussy eaters generally find wet cat food more palatable.

  • Wet cat food tends to contain more meat and fewer grains and carbohydrates.

  • Moist food is easier for seniors or cats with dental issues to chew.


  • Wet cat food spoils more quickly when left out, so isn't suitable for free feeding.

  • As a rule, wet cat food costs more than dry food.

  • Wet foods often lack the nutrients of dry food.

  • Moist foods are messier/require some clean-up.

Price: Basic cat food can cost as little as $1 per lb, whereas high-end brands cost up to $10 per lb.

"Dehydration is common in cats (since most don't drink much) and can lead to health issues such as kidney stones and recurrent UTIs. If your cat isn't much of a drinker, she might need wet food, rather than dry."

Dry cat food


  • Dry cat food tends to be cheaper than wet cat food, pound for pound.

  • Dry food doesn't spoil quickly, so it's best for cats who don't eat their meals in one go and prefer to pick during the day.

  • Most people find dry cat food less messy and more convenient to feed, and it doesn't need to be refrigerated once opened.

  • Good dry food contains all of the nutrients cats need.


  • Cheaper dry cat foods can contain too high a percentage of grains/carbs, acting as fillers.

  • Due to its low moisture content, reluctant drinkers shouldn't be fed a diet comprised of dry cat food alone.

  • Dry foods are harder to chew and some cats do not like the texture.

  • There is limited flavor/texture variety.

Price: You can find budget dry cat food for less than $1 per lb. High-end and prescription formulas may cost up to $8 per lb.

Picking the right food for your cat

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to cat food, since every feline is an individual, with her own dietary requirements and preferences. You'll need to tailor your choice based on your cat's individual needs. Here are some of the factors that may influence which kind of food your cat requires.


Kittens (under 1 year of age) should be fed kitten food, and some older cats may do better eating a senior formula.

Activity level

Indoor cats or those who live a fairly sedentary lifestyle will have lower calorie and protein requirements than very active cats.

"Adult cats should be fed twice a day, in the morning and evening, but kittens need more frequent meals – preferably four a day."


If your cat has any food allergies, you'll need to take these into account when selecting her new food.


You can find low-fat/low-calorie food for kitties who tend to gain weight. Conversely, if your cat finds it hard to keep weight on (and you've ruled out health problems with the vet), he may need a higher calorie food, or simply larger portions.


Some cats may need a specific diet due to chronic health conditions. If in doubt, ask your cat's veterinarian.


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Did you know?
Some cat owners choose to feed a mixture of wet and dry food to get the benefits of both.

Considerations for selecting cat food

Ingredient quality

Cat food is its ingredients, so if your chosen food contains poor quality ingredients, that means it's low-quality food. You want a food that contains plenty of meat from named sources (so "chicken" or "beef," rather than "rendered meat product," for example) and not too much filler (such as corn, wheat, and other grains).

The best quality foods contain meat sourced from North America, where you'll find a greater number of regulations in place over additives and welfare standards. Also, general nutrition principles apply – whole foods (over-processed ingredients) are best.

Some experts claim that animal byproducts would be a natural part of a cat's diet (since they eat prey whole), whereas others argue that the kinds of byproducts used in commercial pet food are unspecified and of extremely poor quality, and therefore should be avoided. It's up to you to make the call as to whether or not you're happy to feed your cat a food containing animal byproducts.

"You should expect to see added vitamins and minerals in a quality cat food. While the primary ingredients should contain all or most of the nutrients your cat needs, the added vitamins are a good backup to cover any shortfalls."

Protein content

An adult cat food should contain a minimum of 26 percent crude protein, by weight, and kitten food should contain at least 30 percent. Higher levels of protein are fine, but any lower and your cat won't be getting enough protein to maintain healthy muscles, tissues, and organs.

Grains and carbohydrates

In the wild, carbohydrates make up only 1 to 2 percent of a feline's diet, so why do so many foods contain large amounts of grains? The answer is that grains and other carbohydrates are cheap fillers that bulk out food at a much lower cost to the manufacturer than meat. If a cat food contains a lot of carbohydrates, your cat will need to eat more of it to get all the nutrients she needs, so it can work out more expensive than feeding a higher quality food – and pack on unhealthy weight.

"While small amounts of grains and carbohydrates are a useful energy source for your cat, too large an amount should be considered filler."

Names and ingredient percentage

The name of a cat food might be able to give you an idea of how much of any named ingredients are contained in the food (but only if it’s American made). According to regulations from the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), cat foods must contain a certain percentage of any named ingredients, which varies depending on the wording.

  • If the food has a simple name such as "Tuna Cat Food" or "Salmon for Cats," it must contain at least 95 percent of the named ingredient (or at least 70 percent once you account for any added water).

  • If the food name contains words such as "dinner," "platter," "entree," or "formula" – for instance "chicken dinner" or "cod and mackerel formula" – it must be comprised of at least 25 percent of the named ingredient or ingredients.

  • If the food states "with" an ingredient, it must contain a minimum of 3 percent of said ingredient. So, if a cat food is labeled "Chicken Dinner with Egg," it legally has to contain at least 3 percent egg.

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For your safety
All cat food should include added taurine – it's vital for your cat's health (he could go blind without it) – and his body doesn't produce it naturally.


  • While some people advocate making your own cat food (so you know exactly what goes in it) we wouldn't recommend it, unless you happen to be an expert in cat nutrition. A cat can easily become deficient in essential nutrients on a homemade diet.

  • Cat foods come in a range of flavors and all cats will find some more palatable than others, in the same way that people have foods they love and others they're not fond of.

  • Look on the package of your chosen cat food for an AAFCO nutritional statement. It should state it's "suitable for adult maintenance," "suitable for growth and development," or "suitable for all life stages." This statement shows that the food in question meets the minimum nutritional requirements set out by the AAFCO.

  • Don't leave wet cat food in your pet's bowl for more than a few hours. If you leave it down too long, it will start to spoil and attract pests and grow bacteria.

  • We'd recommend looking into the safety record of your chosen cat food's manufacturer before you buy. If a brand has regular recalls, it's reasonable not to trust that they can produce safe, high-quality food every time.

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You may find that feeding your feline friend a range of cat food flavors from a young age will prevent her from becoming too picky an eater.


Q. Are there any cat food ingredients that should be avoided?

A. Some ingredients are a sign of an unhealthy or low-quality cat food and should be avoided. Here are some you should always steer clear of.

  • Artificial preservatives, such as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin

  • Artificial colorings

  • Artificial flavorings

  • Sugar

  • Meat products that don't specify what animal they're from

  • Propylene glycol (sometimes listed simply as "PG")

  • Rendered fat

Q. Does the order in which ingredients are listed on the package make a difference?

A. Yes, ingredients are always listed in weight order from highest to lowest. So, if "chicken" is the first listed ingredient, it's the ingredient that's found in the food in the largest quantity by weight. This means it's easy to spot foods with lots of fillers. If an ingredient is found toward the beginning of the ingredient list, you know there's a large amount of it in the food.

Q. My chosen cat food is labeled "natural" – what does this mean?

A. Some terms, such as "natural" and "premium," might sound good but have no health or quality claims. As such, manufacturers can include these terms on their packaging without it really meaning anything, so don't blindly believe buzz words. Other terms, such as "human-grade," do have legal meanings, so if they're included on the packaging, they have to meet the legal standards for these terms. It's worth noting, however, that this only applies to packaging, so companies can use these terms on their website without them meeting the legal definitions. Reading ingredients is always more reliable than labels.