Popular, wholesome recipe that doesn't include grain, artificial ingredients, or by-products. Has fruits, vegetables, probiotics, and antioxidants, plus extra nutrients not found in other foods.
It's expensive, and caused some cats digestive upset. Several reports of cats not eating it.
Offers both an exceptional value and quality ingredients. Formulated with natural fiber for indoor cats, and free of artificial flavors and preservatives.
A few reports of cats not being fond of it, but many more consumers say their cats love it. Contains chicken by-product meal.
A mid-range price with a formula that includes antioxidants and amino acids. No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. 100% money-back guarantee.
Kibble pieces are somewhat large and may be difficult for some cats to chew. Some cats experience stomach upset after eating it. Contains grain and by-products.
A grain-free formula by a popular brand. No artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, or poultry by-products. Top ingredient is ocean whitefish, a flavor most cats love.
A bit pricey, yet still less expensive than several of its competitors' grain-free cat food recipes. Some cats don't like it.
Made with chicken or salmon as the first ingredient. Omega fatty acids promote a healthy coat while key nutrients support overall health. No fillers. Most cats like the taste.
A few cats experienced digestive upset when first introduced to this food. Some bags contained food that seemed stale.
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.
Your feline friend deserves the very best, and that includes a quality dry cat food to keep her healthy and well-nourished.
But with the hundreds of dry cat food brands available on grocery store shelves, in pet stores, and online, how do you choose the right one? It can be tricky, because there's no single “best” cat food out there – though some are definitely better for your cat than others.
We've provided a full guide to dry cat food and when you're ready to buy, do so with confidence by picking from our favorite picks.
What are the benefits of feeding your cat dry food? We delve into the answers below.
Dry cat food is convenient and less messy than wet food.
Some cats don’t eat a full meal all at once; they prefer to “graze” as they feel the need. Dry food can be left out all day without spoiling, so your kitty can pick at it as he pleases.
You can alternate between dry cat food and wet cat food to provide a varied diet that is less likely to bore your cat.
Pound for pound, dry cat food tends to be cheaper than wet cat food.
Not all dry cat food is the same. There are some excellent brands with quality ingredients, but there are also some subpar formulas that are essentially the feline equivalent of junk food. Here's what you should look for.
Quality protein: Quality dry cat food has a high protein content. Look for a formula that is at least 26% protein; a formula of 30% protein or more is even better. The protein should come from a quality animal source, not from animal by-products.
Taurine: Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. While it occurs naturally in meat, we recommend a brand with added taurine to help your kitty avoid a taurine deficiency.
Vitamins and minerals: Look for a dry cat food with a range of added vitamins and minerals. Ideally, they should be chelated for easier absorption.
Fats: High-quality dry cat food should contain plenty of good fats and fatty acids, such as omega-3.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are an important ingredient in dry cat food. They provide carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals.
You should also know what kinds of ingredients signal a low-quality food. Ideally, cat foods that contain the following should be avoided:
Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Undisclosed meats and animal fats
Cornmeal as a filler
Large quantities of carbohydrates (smaller amounts okay)
Look for a statement of nutritional adequacy on the package of any dry cat food you're considering.
This statement simply means the food meets or exceeds the minimum nutrient requirements set out by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). So, if a dry cat food is labelled as "complete and balanced," it must meet AAFCO standards for a complete food.
This doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good food, but any food that doesn't meet these standards is definitely a bad one, so it's a good starting point from which to investigate further.
Consider any particular dietary requirements your cat may have. You can find a wide range of dry cat foods to suit kitties with particular dietary requirements.
For instance, there are gluten-free formulas and grain-free formulas available for kitties who need them.
Cats can be intolerant or allergic to wheat and other grains, but if you don't have reason to believe your kitty has such an allergy, there's usually no need to avoid dry cat food containing grains – unless the food contains large amounts of grains as filler.
You want to select a cat food brand you can trust. It's worth checking to see if your chosen brand has had many product recalls. If so, it's reasonable to doubt the overall quality of the food and/or the company's manufacturing process. You can check for product recalls on the FDA website.
You'll find different dry cat foods for different feline life stages. Kittens have higher calorie, fat, and protein requirements to help them grow. Adult cats need fewer calories than kittens but still enough to help them maintain a healthy weight. Senior cats need a diet lower in calories and fat with easy-to-digest proteins to help avoid kidney issues.
A very active cat is going to need more calories than a sedentary one. Think about your cat's activity level and choose his food based on this. You can find special house cat formulas for cats who live indoors and therefore expend fewer calories than cats who roam outside all day.
Dry cat foods come in a range of flavors or formulas, from venison and salmon to whitefish and egg. Of course, different ingredients have different nutritional properties, but since all cat food is formulated to meet felines' dietary needs, your main concern should be picking a flavor your furry friend enjoys. Cats can be fussy eaters, so it might take some trial and error to find a flavor your cat loves.
It can be tough to gauge ingredient quality simply by reading the label, but we've got some pointers to help you out. Look for cat food that contains real animal protein, either from whole sources or in "meal" form. It's not a good sign if the label simply states "meat" or "meat products."
Consider the order in which ingredients are listed; those listed first are present in a greater proportion to those listed farther down.
If you delve even deeper into your research of a particular cat food brand, consider where the ingredients are sourced from – especially meats. Meat sourced from overseas can be of poor quality, and the animals may be kept in inhumane conditions.
Dry cat food is available at a range of price points to suit different budgets. Just be aware that you usually get what you pay for with cat food, so a cheap bag won't be as nutritionally sound as a pricier one.
Since cat food can come in bags of varying sizes, we've examined the price per pound.
Budget dry cat food tends to cost between $0.60 and $1 per pound. These formulas usually contain lower-quality meats and a greater amount of filler.
Mid-range dry cat food costs between $1 and $2 per pound. You can find some excellent foods in this price range, especially toward the upper end.
High-end dry cat food costs between $2 and $5 per pound. In this price range, expect to find foods filled with high-quality ingredients that are often organic and/or locally sourced.
Q. How can I tell if my cat is thriving on her dry food?
A. The following signs suggest your cat is thriving on her dry food.
She has a shiny coat
Her teeth and gums appear healthy.
She has regular bowel movements that aren't loose and watery or dry and pellet-like.
She easily maintains a healthy weight.
She enjoys her food and has a healthy appetite.
Q. Is dry cat food better than wet cat food?
A. Dry cat food and wet cat food have both pros and cons. According to many veterinary nutritionists, you should ideally feed a combination of dry and wet food to get the best of both worlds.
Q. What is freeze-dried cat food?
A. Freeze-dried cat food is a form of dry cat food that consists of raw, freeze-dried meat. It can be rehydrated to create something akin to wet cat food, but it's shelf-stable in its dry form and lasts a long time before spoiling. It's designed for pet parents who'd like to feed their cats a raw diet, but without the hassle.