Julia Ogden

Written by Julia Ogden

Updated: May 14, 2024

What are the best budget-friendly foods for your cat?

Updated: May 14, 2024

Being a cat parent can be expensive but you can still find many 4 and 5 star rated cat foods on the Cat Food Advisor which are significantly cheaper than premium recipes. 

See our best budget-friendly cat foods list below, offering inexpensive products, designed to meet the needs of cat parents who want  great quality food for their pet that won’t break the bank.

Since our researchers are always discovering new budget-friendly brands, make sure you visit this page regularly to find out about any future savings.

  • IAMS Perfect Portions (Wet)

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    Recommended

    IAMS Perfect Portions is made up of 13 recipes which all receive the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating: 4 stars.

    This food provides cats with an excellent source of quality protein and essential fatty acids. It comes in two different textures — a pate as well as meat and fish cuts.

    IAMS Perfect Portions, Healthy Adult Chicken Pate was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis. This recipe derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 40.9% protein, 22.7% fat and 28.4% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 56%.

    Read our review of the full IAMS Perfect Portions (Wet) range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, water, poultry liver, chicken broth, dried egg product, guar gum
    Texture Paté
    Type Grain free
    Protein Percentage 40.9%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult and senior cats

    Save up to 35%

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    Sample buyer review...

    "After trying a million foods, we finally found this one and our senior boy loves it. We have two cats and one likes pate and the other one likes chunks. But this one hit the jackpot!"

  • Wellness Complete Health Paté (Wet)

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    Recommended

    Wellness Complete Health is a range of wet cat food made up of 11 recipes which all receive the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating: 4 stars.

    Made by Wellness Pet Company from its Farm Fresh Kitchen manufacturing facility in Minnesota and manufacturing plant in Indiana, the Complete Health Paté  features real, high-quality protein as the primary ingredient. The protein sources include chicken, turkey, beef, fish, or combinations of these meats. The ingredients are blended into a smooth pate texture, making it easy for cats to consume and digest.

    Wellness Complete Health Chicken Paté derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 47.7% protein, 31.8% fat and 12.5% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 67%.

    Read our review of the full Wellness Complete Health Paté (Wet) range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken liver, turkey, chicken broth, carrots
    Texture Paté
    Type Wet
    Protein Percentage 47.7%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
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    Sample buyer review...

    "I had my now 17 year old cat on this food. He was diagnosed as diabetic nearly two years ago. His last two labs showed his blood sugar in the normal range. No more insulin."

  • American Journey (Dry)

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    Recommended

    American Journey grain-free dry cat food is made up of eight recipes which all receive the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating: 4 stars.

    Made by American Journey Pet Food, an exclusive brand owned by Chewy.com, it was launched in 2017.  This food provides an excellent source of quality protein and is made in open-to-public kitchens. 

    American Journey Turkey & Chicken derives the bulk of its protein from turkey and chicken, which are both naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 44.4% protein, 16.7% fat and 30.9% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 38%.

    Read our review of the full American Journey Grain-Free (Dry) range here
    Main Ingredients Deboned turkey, turkey meal, chicken meal, tapioca starch, dried egg product
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain free
    Protein Percentage 44.4%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens/cats/senior cats

    Save up to 35%

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    Sample buyer review...

    "Our cat stopped eating over a period of months. She became so finicky. The pet store clerk recommended Just Food For Cats. Well, I guess we found what she likes. She gobbles it up, crawls up our legs as we prepare it and is back to her old self again. Her coat is shiny and she has more energy and is playful. We are so happy and relieved. Thanks for making this great food!"

  • B.F.F OMG! Gravy (Wet)

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    Highly Recommended

    B.F.F OMG! Gravy is a range of wet food made by Weruva and includes 32 recipes which all receive the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    This food is formulated to provide balanced nutrition for cats. It typically contains a mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to meet a cat’s dietary needs.

    B.F.F OMG! Gravy Tuna & Salmon Sweet Cheeks was selected to represent the other products for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis. It derives the bulk of its protein from tuna, an oily marine fish not only high in protein but also omega-3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every cat to sustain life. 

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 64.3% protein, 10% fat and 17.7% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 16%.

    Read our review of the full B.F.F. OMG! Gravy (Wet) range here
    Main Ingredients Tuna broth, tuna, salmon, tapioca starch, sunflower oil, guar gum
    Texture Shreds
    Type Wet
    Protein Percentage 64.3%
    AAFCO Standards Unspecified
    Best For Adult & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

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    Sample buyer review...

    "The Weruva BFF OMG! Gravy is some of my cat's favorite wet foods. It also helps that these foods are great nutritionally. I cannot recommend this product enough as it is a perfect cat food for a cat to get the moisture that they need along with a tasty meal."

  • Tender & True (Dry)

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    Highly Recommended

    Tender & True organic cat food is made up of six dry recipes which all receive the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    This range is an independently owned certified organic product using humanely-raised animal protein. Tender & True has formed relationships with fisheries and growers to provide quality ingredients at an affordable price.

    Founded in 2014 Tender and True is one of the first pet food companies to produce certified, humanely raised, pet food that meets USDA organic standards. 

    Tender & True Organic Chicken & Liver was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis. It derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 38.6% protein, 25% fat and 28.4% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 65%.

    Read our review of the full Tender & True (Dry) range here
    Main Ingredients Organic chicken, organic chicken broth, organic chicken liver, organic pea protein
    Texture Wet
    Type Organic
    Protein Percentage 38.6%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens/cats/senior cats

    Save up to 35%

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    Sample buyer review...

    "All seven of my kitties actually LIKE this brand. It smells and looks good. Finally a BIG HIT after a few misses!"

  • Dave's Naturally Healthy (Wet)

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    Recommended

    Dave’s Naturally Healthy Grain Free cat food is made up of 30 recipes which receive the Cat Food Advisor ratings of between 3 and 4.5 stars. The average rating of the overall product range is 4.5 stars.

    Dave’s Pet Food was founded by Dave Ratner, an independent retailer and the man behind a chain of pet stores in New England. This range has good levels of animal-based protein and low carbohydrate content and offers a well balanced diet at an affordable price.

    Dave’s Naturally Healthy Grain Free Tuna Entrée in Gravy was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis. This recipe derives the bulk of its protein from tuna, an oily marine fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 72.7% protein, 6.8% fat and 12.5% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 9%.

    Read our review of the full Dave’s Naturally Healthy Grain-Free (Wet) range here
    Main Ingredients Tuna, tuna broth, ground tapioca, sunflower oil, natural flavors
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 72.7
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens, cats & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "I have a four-year-old cat who has NEVER EVER liked ANY other wet cat food! One of my other cats was sick and not eating and my vet gave me a few of these to try. As soon as I popped open the can, picky eater one started chirping, meowing and rubbing my leg. I couldn’t believe it! She loves it and eats it every day"

  • Rachael Ray Nutrish (Wet)

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    Rachael Ray Nutrish wet cat food is made up of nine recipes which all receive the Cat Food Advisor’s second high rating: 4 stars.

    This range was founded by Food Network favorite Rachael Ray who joined up with Ainsworth Pet Nutrition in 2008 to develop dog food. The cat food element of the business began in 2014.

    Made from high quality natural ingredients and named meat and fish sources, this product range is highly recommended.

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Tuna Purrfection was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis. It derives the bulk of its protein from tuna, an oily marine fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 42.9% protein, 23.8% fat and 25.3% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 56%.

    Read our review of the full Rachael Ray Nutrish (Wet) range here
    Main Ingredients Tuna, water, vegetable oil, powdered cellulose, tricalcium phosphate
    Texture Wet
    Type Flaked
    Protein Percentage 42.9
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Cats & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "My Siamese cat Flurry absolutely LOVES this food. We switched him from dry food due to his dislocated hip which happened prior to us adopting him. It creates pressure on his intestines which blocks his stool excretion. With this wet food he is more content, happy & has more energy! More importantly his stool function has improved dramatically! We tried over 45 brands of cat food before we found this & it's the only one he would eat!! Both our cats prefer tuna purrfection!"

What to consider when choosing a budget-friendly cat food

When choosing a budget-friendly cat food, it’s important to prioritize both affordability and the nutritional needs of your cat. Here are some factors to consider:

Ingredient quality: While you may be looking for a more affordable option, it’s still important to choose cat food with quality ingredients. Look for foods that list high-quality protein sources, such as chicken, turkey, or fish, as the primary ingredients. Avoid foods that contain excessive fillers, by-products, or artificial additives.

Complete and balanced nutrition: Ensure that the cat food you select provides the necessary nutrients for your cat’s life stage. Look for a statement on the packaging indicating that the food meets the nutritional requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Avoid unnecessary extras: Some cat foods may include unnecessary extras such as artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. These additives are not essential for your cat’s health.

Consider different formats: Wet cat food, such as cans or pouches, tend to be more expensive than dry kibble. However, it can offer higher moisture content and additional hydration for your cat. If your budget allows, consider incorporating some wet food into your cat’s diet too..

Look for sales and promotions: Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, or promotions offered by pet food manufacturers or retailers. These can help you save money while still providing your cat with a nutritionally adequate diet.

Consult with your veterinarian: Your veterinarian can provide guidance on selecting a budget-friendly cat food that meets your cat’s specific nutritional needs. They can recommend affordable options or suggest appropriate alternatives based on your cat’s health condition.

What can you do to save money on cat food?

In addition to choosing a budget-friendly cat food, there are other ways you can save money on cat food expenses. Here are some suggestions:

Buy in bulk: Purchasing cat food in larger quantities or in bulk can often result in cost savings. Look for larger bag sizes or multi-packs of canned food to get a better price per serving.

Subscribe and save programs: Some pet food manufacturers or online retailers offer subscription programs that provide discounts on regular deliveries of cat food. This can help you save money and ensure you never run out of food.

Compare prices: Take the time to compare prices at different stores, both physical and online, to find the best deals. Look for discounts, promotions, or loyalty programs that can help you save on your cat food purchases.

Store brand options: Consider trying store brand cat food options, which are often more affordable than premium brands. Look for store brands that still meet the nutritional requirements for your cat’s life stage.

Use coupons and discounts: Keep an eye out for coupons, online promo codes, or special discounts offered by pet food manufacturers or retailers. These can provide additional savings on your cat food purchases.

Minimize waste: Avoid overfeeding your cat to reduce food waste. Follow the feeding guidelines provided on the cat food packaging and monitor your cat’s weight to ensure they are receiving the appropriate amount of food.

What budget-friendly foods do veterinarians recommend?

While specific recommendations may vary depending on individual cat’s needs and health conditions, here are a few budget-friendly cat food brands that are often recommended by veterinarians in the United States:

Hill’s Science Diet: Hill’s Science Diet offers a variety of cat food options that are often recommended by veterinarians. Their formulas are designed to address specific health concerns while providing balanced nutrition. They have options for different life stages and special needs.

Royal Canin: Royal Canin offers a wide range of cat food formulas that cater to specific nutritional needs and health conditions. While some of their specialized formulas may be pricier, they also offer more affordable options, such as their regular adult maintenance diets.

IAMS: Iams is known for offering cat food options at a reasonable price point. They have formulas that provide complete and balanced nutrition for cats at different life stages.

Nutro: Nutro offers cat food options that focus on using natural ingredients and providing balanced nutrition. They have a variety of formulas to meet the needs of different cats, including those with sensitive stomachs or food sensitivities.

Sources

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Article reviewed by
Laura Ward

Pet Nutritionist

Laura studied BSc (Hons) Animal Science with an accreditation in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, before working for eight years in the pet food and nutrition industry.

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