Laura Ward

Written by Laura Ward

Updated: January 18, 2024

What are the best foods for your cat?

Updated: January 18, 2024

There is a lot to think about when choosing the best food for your cat. 

It needs to include all the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids necessary to keep them healthy, as well as being high in protein to sustain their energy throughout the day. 

And there is so much choice. . . 

Long gone are the days when there was just canned wet food and bags of dry kibble. Now we have a choice of raw, fresh, organic, freeze-dried, dehydrated and frozen, to name just a few.

The Cat Food Advisor wants to be able to help cat parents make informed decisions when choosing a food.  All our reviews are independent and unbiased and validated by our team of veterinarians and pet nutritionists.See our list of recommendations of the best 10 cat food, below.

  • Smalls

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    Highly Recommended

    Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of seven products in a range made by Smalls, a company which was only founded in 2017. The food is manufactured in a human-grade commercial facility near Chicago.

    Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish recipe derives the bulk of its protein from cod, a marine species of fish native to both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America. It is a quality item with raw fish containing up to 73% water. 

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 55.8% protein, 26.9% fat and 9.3% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 48%.

    This food is made from human-grade ingredients, cooked to lock in nutrients and then frozen to maximize freshness. High in protein, Smalls’ recipes are designed to promote strong bones and toned muscles in cats.

    Read our review of the full Smalls Fresh Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Cod, salmon, pumpkin, nutritional yeast, peas & green beans
    Texture Wet
    Type Fresh
    Protein Percentage 55.8%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens/cats/senior cats

    $35 off your first order

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    Sample buyer review...

    "After feeding, my cat gets this burst of energy and starts running around the house! And his fur is softer and more vibrant, with higher contrast. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend anything else."

  • Darwin’s Natural Selections

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    Recommended

    Darwin’s Natural Selections Chicken recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating: 4.5 stars.

    It is one of three recipes in this range made by Darwin’s, one of the first pet food companies to bring raw pet food direct to pet parents. 

    Darwin’s Natural Selections Chicken 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 53.3% protein, 30% fat and 8.7% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 56%.

    Natural Selections’ recipes are minimally processed to preserve the vital nutrients your cat needs. All meat is pasture-raised and grass-fed so your pet is receiving top-quality meat.

    Read our review of the full Darwin’s Natural Selections Raw Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken meat, chicken necks (including bone), chicken gizzards, chicken livers, chicken hearts
    Texture Raw
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 53.3%
    AAFCO Standards Unspecified
    Best For Adult cats

    Get 10lbs of Darwin’s Raw Food for $14.95

    Sample buyer review...

    "We switched our two cats to Darwin’s when our oldest was about 6 months old — and our younger kitten was about 4 months. They absolutely love their meals, and Darwin’s is significantly cheaper than buying wet food on a monthly basis, or feeding them homemade raw beef-based meals. I wish everyone knew the benefits of raw feeding and just how convenient it can really be!"

  • Open Farm

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    Recommended

    The Open Farm Open Prairie Grain Free Raw Mix recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating 4.5 stars.

    It is one of two recipes in this product range by Open Farm which was founded in 2014 by Jacqueline Prehogan.  The cat food arm of the operation has its headquarters in Canada, and the products are developed and formulated in Canada. However, production takes place over the U.S. border in the state of Minnesota. 

    The Open Farm Open Prairie Grain Free Raw Mix recipe gets the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life. 

    The dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 42.2% protein, 15.6% fat and 34.2% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 37%.

    Open Farm Raw Mix is an above-average quality cat food. The kibble, coated in a bone broth and freeze-dried raw, contains added chunks of raw meat, so is protein-rich.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Open Farm Raw Mix Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, turkey, menhaden fish meal, peas, chickpeas
    Texture Raw mix, wet
    Type Fresh
    Protein Percentage 42.2%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens, cats and senior cats

    EXCLUSIVE: New customer offer

    20% off first auto-ship order with code CFA20

    Sample buyer review...

    "I’m very happy with the ingredients in this cat food. My cat really enjoys it."

  • The Honest Kitchen

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    Highly Recommended

    The Honest Kitchen dehydrated cat food receives the Cat Food Advisor second highest rating, 5 stars.

    It is one of three recipes in this product range by The Honest Kitchen which was founded in 2002 by Lucy Postins in San Diego.

    Created by a vet nutritionist, The Honest Kitchen’s grain-free whole food clusters  are prepared using human-grade muscle meat and liver, low-glycemic carbs, beneficial fats and live probiotics.

    Honest Kitchen dehydrated grain free chicken & fish recipe gets the majority of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    The dry matter label analysis reveals a dry recipe containing 44.2% protein, 29.5% fat and 18.3% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 67%.

    Honest Kitchen dehydrated grain free chicken & fish recipe is an above-average quality dry cat food. It is a premium product offering high quality ingredients.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Dehydrated chicken, dehydrated sweet potatoes, dehydrated potatoes, flaxseed, dehydrated eggs
    Texture Dry
    Type Dehydrated
    Protein Percentage 44.2
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Senior cats, cats and kittens

    EXCLUSIVE: New customer offer

    30% off orders $30+ with code CFA30

    Sample buyer review...

    "My cat has eaten this food happily and consistently for over two years without complaint. That's his lifetime record!"

  • Dr Marty Nature's Feast

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    Highly Recommended

    Dr Marty Nature’s Feast Essential Wellness Fish & Poultry cat food received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of three recipes in this product range founded by Dr Marty Goldstein, a leader in the field of veterinary medicine for more than 45 years.

    Dr Marty’s Nature’s Feast Essential Wellness Fish & Poultry recipe derives the bulk of its protein from salmon and turkey, both are rich in the 11 essential amino acids and omega oil required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 38.9% protein, 24.2% fat and 28.8% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 62%.

    This food looks like an above-average freeze-dried product.  The first six listed ingredients are all good quality animal protein and this recipe is free from grains, carrageenan, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Dr Marty Nature’s Feast Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Salmon, turkey, whitefish, chicken liver, chicken heart
    Texture Dry
    Type Freeze-Dried
    Protein Percentage 38.9
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult cats

    Exclusive new customer offer

    up to 54% off Dr Marty Nature's Feast

    Sample buyer review...

    "My feline Lilly has an immune disorder & respiratory problems. Lilly will stop eating when issues flare. I have tried to get her to eat so many wet cats foods at these times, but with no success until I picked up a bag of Dr Marty Natural Feast just to try one more thing, Lilly loved it, her hair got thicker, her energy was amazing, poop low smell, eyes totally cleared up. I'm so happy she is eating truly good food."

  • Raised Right

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    Highly Recommended

    Raised Right Original Turkey recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of four products in a range made by Raised Right which is owned by Phillips Pet Food & Supplies.

    Raised Right Original Turkey derives the bulk of its protein from turkey 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 63.6% protein, 24.2% fat and 4.1% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 38%.

    This food is a high quality product, packed with human-grade ingredients which provide an excellent source of protein. It is also free from artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors, and controversial ingredients.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Raised Right Fresh Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Turkey thigh, turkey heart, turkey liver, carrots, blueberries
    Texture Wet
    Type Fresh
    Protein Percentage 63.6
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult and senior cats

    Sample buyer review...

    "I like to add some hot water to it and the cats go nuts for it. Their coats are beautiful and shiny, and they're all super healthy."

  • Blue Buffalo True Solutions

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    Highly Recommended

    Blue Buffalo True Solutions Adult Cat Blissful Belly Digestive Care Formula dry food recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of five products in a range made by Blue Buffalo, a company that was founded by Bill Bishop and his sons when their dog, Blue, was diagnosed with cancer. Unable to find a natural option with high-quality ingredients for their boy, they created their own. 

    Blue Buffalo True Solutions Adult Cat Blissful Belly Digestive Care Formula dry food 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 37.4% protein, 17.6% fat and 37.1% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 47%.

    This dry cat food is made from high-quality natural ingredients such as real chicken and has no artificial flavors or preservatives.

    Highly recommended

    Read our review of the full Blue Buffalo True Solutions Dry Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, pea protein & barley
    Texture Dry
    Type Natural
    Protein Percentage 37.4%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Cats & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "I am thrilled with the nutritional contents of this cat food. My cat seems to enjoy the texture with or without wet food. I love the hearty ingredients for a wholesome diet!"

  • Birdie & Louie

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    Highly Recommended

    Birdie & Louie Tuna Tuesday wet cat food received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of five recipes in this product range made by Worthy Promotional Products.

    Birdie & Louie Tuna Tuesday derives the bulk of its protein from tuna.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 77.8% protein, 11.1% fat and 3.1% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 14%.

    This food provides cats with an excellent source of quality protein and has limited ingredients.  The brand uses no fillers and there is no need to supplement this food as it has added vitamins and minerals.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Birdie & Louie Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Tuna, vegetable broth, shrimp, potato starch, sunflower oil.
    Texture Wet
    Type Flakes in broth
    Protein Percentage 77.8
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For All cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "My cats are so picky and stopped eating about every food I bought until I discovered Birdie and Louie. Now I have happy cats and I am not throwing food away. My cats love it"

  • Fussie Cat Gravy Formulas

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    Highly Recommended

    Fussie Cat Tuna with Chicken Formula in Gravy recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of five recipes in this product range made by Pets Global, Inc., an independently owned, holistic pet wellness company.

    Fussie Cat Tuna with Chicken Formula in Gravy recipe derives the bulk of its protein from tuna and chicken.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 74.3% protein, 9.1% fat and 8.6% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 12%.

    This food has been formulated to help support healthy vision and brain development and is fortified with vitamins and minerals.  It is an excellent source of protein as the meat used is human grade.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Fussie Cat Gravy Formulas (Wet) range here
    Main Ingredients Tuna, water, chicken, tapioca starch, sunflower seed oil
    Texture Wet
    Type Gravy
    Protein Percentage 74.3
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Senior cats, cats & kittens

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "My cats love this wet food! They come running when they see the can. It's a little pricey but well worth it for the quality of ingredients."

  • Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried

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    Highly Recommended

    Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken & Salmon Recipe  received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of two recipes in this product range made by Nulo which was founded in 2009.

    Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken & Salmon Recipe derives the bulk of its protein from chicken and salmon.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 48.4% protein, 24.2% fat and 19.4% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 50%.

    This food provides cats with an excellent source of quality protein derived from animal meat.  It contains probiotics which support both digestive and immune health.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, salmon, chicken necks, chicken liver, chicken hearts
    Texture Dry
    Type Freeze-dried
    Protein Percentage 48.8
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stage
    Best For Senior cats, cats and kittens

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "My cats love this SO much, they start mewing in excitement the minute I reach for it. It's fairly pricey compared to what I typically serve, so I've been using it as a topper for their regular food. Now they just eat it off the top leaving all the other food then beg me for more of this. They're seriously already addicted."

How do we rate cat food?

In short, we analyze the labels which are government-regulated and standardized. We study the ingredient list and estimate the meat content. 

We mark down cat foods made with plant-based fillers or generic animal by-products, as well as those that use artificial colors and preservatives.

Cats are carnivores, so we favor cat food which is rich in meat.

Do cats get bored of eating the same food every day?

Just like us, cats do need variety in their diet (even if it is just mixing up the flavors of the food you give them). 

However, some cats definitely do better when they eat the same food every day, especially if they suffer from a sensitive stomach or are picky eaters.

If you are going to transition your cat onto a new food, you should do so slowly (over the course of a week or two) as this will help avoid an upset stomach.

Additionally, puzzle feeders or food-dispensing toys can provide mental stimulation and engage cats during mealtime, making the experience more enjoyable.

Please remember, cat nutrition is a serious business. Any time you change your cat’s food or add something new to their diet, it’s a good idea to run it by your vet first. 

Do vets recommend dry or wet food for cats?

This is not a straight-forward yes or no answer. At the end of the day, vets recommend a complete, balanced diet for cats and this can be kibble or wet food. 

Wet food requires greater attention to dental hygiene, as the risk of developing periodontal disease is higher. It is also preferable for cats suffering from health conditions where fluid intake needs to be increased.

There are certain conditions which warrant special diets (sometimes prescription-based) and these can be kibble or wet food.

Many vets are now recommending human-grade, fresh, wet foods and more species appropriate diets but, it is important to remember, there is no one-size that fits all. 

There are pros and cons to both wet and dry. So, please discuss options with your vet if you are in any doubt, especially if your cat is suffering from a condition that requires dietary therapy.

Can you feed your cat a mix of dry and wet food?

Yes, you can, but you need to be careful as it can lead to overfeeding which could cause your cat to suffer from health problems further down the line.

It is, therefore, very important to regulate the amount of each food you give your cat to ensure they get the right amount of calories they need.

To determine the daily recommended amount of dry food your cat should have, depending on its size, age and weight, check out the measurement table on the side of each bag of kibble. 

You can choose your own ratio of dry to wet food, but we recommend two thirds dry to one third wet. Each food type has a different number of calories per gram, so take the weight of dry food you’re not feeding your cat, and multiply this by 2.5 to get the right weight of wet food.

How many meals should your cat have a day?

Most adult cats are fed one to two times per day, however, free feeding of kibble or combining regular wet food meals with free access to kibble are common feeding methods.

Free feeding may be appropriate for many cats but can be problematic in households with multiple cats where more dominant cats consume more calories than they require and have a propensity to gain weight. Conversely, less dominant animals can be left with too little food to maintain an appropriate body weight.

It is important to establish a consistent feeding routine for your cat and ensure they have access to fresh water at all times. Additionally, the portion sizes and type of food should be appropriate for your cat’s age, weight, and dietary requirements.

Sources

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Article reviewed by
Georgia Jeremiah

Veterinarian

Dr Georgia Jeremiah has a first class honors degree in comparative pathology with field experience in anatomic and clinical pathology, studying disease processes in a multitude of species.

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