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10 Best Cat Foods 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks 

tabby cat sitting next to a food bowl_Impact Photography_shutterstockIf you have your first cat or are looking to change foods for a finicky cat, you may have some questions about choosing the best brand. You may also have some questions about what ingredients are important for a healthy cat.

We’ve chosen ten different popular cat foods to review for you so you can see the differences between them. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each one and tell you if our cats liked them. We’ve also included a short buyer’s guide where we look at some of the most important ingredients to look for and avoid.

Please continue reading while we discuss wet and dry food, omega fats, protein content, meat by-products, and more to help you make an educated decision.

Cat ball divider 1A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • 42% protein
  • No corn
  • Grain-free
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food
  • 28% protein
  • Taurine
  • Omega fats
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • 40% protein
  • Omega fats
  • Chicken first ingredient
  • Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food
  • Chicken top ingredient
  • Contains omega fats
  • 30% protein
  • Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food
  • 30% protein
  • Taurine
  • Fiber blends
  • The 10 Best Cat Foods – Reviews 2021

    These are the ten cat food brands we are going to review for you.

    1. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Overall1Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is our pick for the best overall cat food. It’s extremely high in protein at 42%, which will help your cats stay full longer, give them energy, and supply most of their nutritional needs. It contains taurine, which helps with vision and digestion. Real fruits and vegetables like raspberries, blueberries, and tomato supply plenty of vitamins and minerals to help boost your cat’s immune system. Roasted venison and smoked salmon add flavor your cats will love, and there is no grain, corn, soy, or chemical preservatives.

    Most of our cats will come running for Taste of the Wild, and the protein level is very high compared to most other brands. The only thing we didn’t like about it was that it has chicken meal listed as its first ingredient. While chicken-meal isn’t a bad ingredient and it’s responsible for the high protein content, we prefer a whole meat as the top ingredient.

    Pros
    • 42% protein
    • Contains omega fats
    • Contains taurine
    • Real fruits and vegetables
    • Grain-free
    • Roasted venison and smoked salmon
    • No corn
    Cons
    • Chicken meal first ingredient

    2. Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food – Best Value2Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food

    Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food is our pick for the best cat food for the money. It’s another high protein food at 28% and will help build strong muscles and boost energy. It contains taurine, which helps with several bodily functions and omega fats for a healthy, soft coat. It’s available in four flavors and made in the USA.

    We liked the low price of Purina Kit & Kaboodle, and most of our pets liked it as well. However, it contains a lot of corn and doesn’t have any whole meat.

    Pros
    • 28% protein
    • Taurine
    • Omega fats
    Cons
    • Corn
    • No whole meat

    3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice3Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is our premium choice cat food that features 40% protein and contains real fruits and vegetables like blueberries, apples, pumpkin, and spinach. These ingredients can help maintain a balanced digestive system and also provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. Omega fats help ensure a soft coat, and they can also help reduce inflammation in the joints.

    We liked the ingredients in this brand, and the only problem we had with Blue Buffalo Wilderness was that some of our cats wouldn’t eat it, and none of them liked it as much as the top two brands.

    Pros
    • Chicken first ingredient
    • 40% protein
    • Omega fats
    • Real fruits and whole grains
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like it

    4. Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food4Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food

    Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food is a dry food that contains 30% protein. It features chicken as its top ingredient and also has plenty of important omega fats. It provides a complete and balanced meal with plenty of important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, niacin, phosphorus, and potassium.

    Our cats do love this food, but despite having chicken listed as the top ingredient, it contains many corn ingredients and includes no real fruits or vegetables.

    Pros
    • Chicken top ingredient
    • 30% protein
    • Contains omega fats
    Cons
    • Contains corn
    • No real fruits or vegetables

    5. Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food5Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food

    Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food provides your cat with 30% protein and 25 other vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, selenium, calcium, vitamins A and E, and taurine. Fiber blends help to balance the digestive system, and it contains no chemical preservatives.

    We wished Purina Cat Chow put chicken higher in its list of ingredients but out cats like it, and it’s high in protein. It also contains conn ingredients and artificial dyes, which can cause an allergic reaction in some cats.

    Pros
    • 30% protein
    • No chemical preservatives
    • Fiber blends
    • 25 essential vitamins and minerals
    • Taurine
    Cons
    • Chicken by-product first ingredient
    • Contains corn

    6. Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food6Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food

    Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food is a brand that our cats love. It’s made in the USA and provides your cat with a complete balanced meal. It’s fortified with important vitamins and minerals, including calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and selenium, helping with disease prevention. There are no harmful chemical preservatives in this brand.

    Though our cats loved Meow Mix, there are several reasons to be cautious about feeding your cat too much. It doesn’t contain any whole meat and provides the protein through chicken and turkey by-product. Corn is its top two ingredients, and it has several artificial dyes.

    Pros
    • Complete balanced meal
    • Made in the USA
    • Contains calcium, phosphorus, and selenium
    Cons
    • Corn first ingredient
    • No whole meat
    • Contains artificial dyes

    7. American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food7American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is very high in protein at 40% and get much of it from the deboned salmon listed as its top ingredient. Besides the salmon flavor that we reviewed, you can also purchase it in duck, chicken, and turkey. Each with its namesake listed as its top ingredient. It contains no corn, wheat, or soy ingredients that could upset your cat’s delicate digestive system, and there are no chemical preservatives or dyes either. It provides a complete and balanced meal packed with beneficial omega fats.

    The downside to American Journey is that some cats don’t like it, and it doesn’t smell good. You’ll want to keep the bag tightly closed, and it could also give the cats bad breath, which is a problem only if they tend to get up close to you as ours do. We also noticed the cats seemed to get hungry again quickly after feeding them this brand.

    Pros
    • Salmon top ingredient
    • 40% protein
    • Available in four flavors
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    • No preservatives or dyes
    • Omega fats
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like it
    • Cats were hungry again quickly
    • Has a bad smell

    8. Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Cat Food8Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Cat Food contains 34% protein and has chicken listed as its main ingredient. It’s fortified with vitamins and minerals, including zinc, niacin, biotin, taurine, vitamin E, calcium, and phosphorus. There are no chemical preservatives or artificial dyes.

    We like most Rachel ray products, but this one contains a lot of corn, and we found that it caused several of our cats to have gas. Several of our cats refused to eat it.

    Pros
    • Chicken first ingredient
    • No chemical preservatives or artificial dyes
    • 34% protein
    • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
    Cons
    • Contains corn
    • Some cats don’t like it
    • Can cause gas

    9. Wellness Complete Health Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food9Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Wellness Complete Health Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a wet food containing chicken as the first ingredient and chicken liver as its second. It also includes carrots and cranberries as well as ground flaxseed for omega fats.

    What we didn’t like about Wellness Complete was that it has a low protein level at only 10%, and it caused our cats to have gas. It also smells terrible, and some of our cats wouldn’t eat it.

    Pros
    • Chicken first ingredient
    • Contains carrots and cranberries
    • Omega fats
    • No preservatives or dyes
    Cons
    • 10% protein
    • Smells bad
    • Causes gas
    • Some cats won’t eat it

    10. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food10Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

    Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food is the last brand of cat food on our list to review for you, and it features chicken as it’s the first ingredient. It is also packed with real fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, peas, and more.

    Unfortunately, of all the foods on this list, our cats didn’t like this food the most. All of our cats gave us a lot of trouble about eating it, and it seems to change from bag to bag. Many of the bags we received were dusty and full of crumbs and it’s quite expensive for that quality.

    Pros
    • Chicken first ingredient
    • 38% protein
    • It contains real fruits and vegetables.
    Cons
    • Crumbs
    • Some cats don’t like it
    • Expensive
    • Changes from one bag to the next

    Buyer’s Guide

    Let’s look at some of the things you might want to consider before choosing one brand of cat food over another.

    Wet vs Dry

    As you shop for cat food, you will notice two main types, wet and dry.

    Wet

    Cats usually prefer wet food because it’s richer and has more flavor. The ingredients are cooked right in the cat, and most cats will come running when they hear you open it. The ingredients are often actual pieces of meat and carrots and vegetables, and you buy it in single-serving cans, so there is no guessing about how much to feed.

    The downside to wet food is that it’s often much more expensive. It requires refrigeration after you open it, and it can contribute to dental disease because wet food can stick to the teeth.

    Pros
    • More flavor
    • Better ingredients
    • Cats like it better
    Cons
    • More expensive
    • Requires refrigeration
    • Can contribute to dental decay.

    Dry

    They make dry food from an extruded dough not that different from a cookie or a noodle that they allow to dry before spraying it with nutrients. Dry food has a long shelf time, and you can store it longer than a year in some cases. It’s inexpensive compared to wet food, and you can buy it in larger packages for less money than wet food. It contains just as many nutrients as wet food, and you can leave it in the bowl all day without worrying about spoilage. The best reason to use dry cat food is that it helps remove plaque and tartar from your cat’s teeth, leading to healthy gums and better breath. Cats are already prone to gum disease, so you need to do what you can to prevent it.

    The downside to dry food is that cats don’t seem to like it as well. It’s also easy to store it too long, causing it to get dried out and dusty, possibly even moldy.

    Pros
    • No refrigeration
    • Easy to store
    • Inexpensive
    • Large packages
    Cons
    • Cat’s don’t like it as much
    • Can get dried out
    cat being fed food
    Image Credit: Jakub Zak, Shutterstock

    Protein

    The next most important thing you are going to need to consider is the food’s protein content. Cats are carnivorous and therefore rely on protein much more than humans and even dogs. Most experts recommend feeding your cat a brand with at least 35% protein and higher if you can find it. We tried to list each brand’s protein content in our reviews so you can compare them yourself.

    Whole Meat

    If you have read the ingredients on a few cat’s food cans, you have most likely seen the ingredient, meat by-product, or meat meal and wondered what it is. Meat by-product is a dried and ground meat that companies can store for a long time. It’s not inherently bad, especially if it isn’t the main form of protein, but it’s not as good as fresh meat. Meat by-products can help boost the protein level in your cat food, but we recommend looking for a brand with whole meat like chicken or turkey listed as its first ingredient.

    Omega Fats

    Omega fats are essential for humans and dogs, and the same is true for cats. Omega fats can help prevent and treat autoimmune disorders, diabetic neuropathy, constipation, and intestinal parasitism. It helps slow the growth of cancer tumors and may even work to shrink them. It can also help with excitability, epilepsy, and cardiac arrhythmias and reduce swelling and promote a soft, shiny coat.

    The primary ingredients that contain omega fats are fish oil and flaxseed, so if it includes these ingredients, you know it contains omega fats even if it doesn’t mention it on the package.

    Fruits and Vegetables

    While cats don’t need to consume fruits and vegetables in their diet, there are quite a few nutrients that can benefit a cat if they do. Apples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, mango, watermelon, and more are all helpful fruits your pet can eat in small amounts.

    Avoid cherries, onions, and garlic, which are harmful to cats, and citrus fruits, which are natural cat repellants. Bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peas, pumpkin, and spinach, are examples of beneficial vegetables that cats can eat.

    Vitamins and Minerals

    If the brand of food you have chosen has plenty of fruits and vegetables, they will provide the vitamins and minerals; otherwise, the manufacturer will fortify the food with them. Look for brands that contain vitamins A, D, B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and phosphorus.

    Taurine

    Taurine is an animal-based protein that helps with vision, digestion, and heart functions. Your cat should get most of the taurine it needs naturally, but selecting a brand with taurine fortification can help reduce the risk of a taurine deficiency. We tried to point out any brands on our list that fortify their food with taurine.

    Fiber

    Fiber helps balance your cat’s digestive system and can help ease constipation as well as diarrhea. If your cat suffers from digestive troubles frequently, a food high in fiber can reduce the symptoms. Often, fiber comes in the form of real fruits and vegetables and looking for a brand that contains them is the best way to introduce fiber into your cat’s diet.

    cat lying near bowl with food_Pixel-shot_shutterstock
    Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

    Foods to Avoid

    When purchasing cat food, you should avoid a few ingredients, including chemical preservatives, dyes, and corn.

    Chemical Preservatives

    Always check the ingredients list for harmful chemical preservatives like BHA and BHT. These chemicals can be very hazardous to your cat’s health. They are less common today than they were a few years ago, but some brands still contain them.

    Dyes

    Artificial dyes can cause some cats to have an allergic reaction, and the colors are there for your benefit, so it’s best to avoid them when possible. We tried to point out which brands contain artificial dyes on our list.

    Corn and Soy

    The carnivorous cat does not need corn and soy, and they are not part of the cat’s natural diet.  Corn and soy can lead to an upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea. Corn and soy are also extensively genetically modified, so if you are concerned about feeding GMO foods to your pets, you are better off avoiding it.

    Special Needs

    If your cat is older or has special needs, you will need to converse with your veterinarian to learn what kind of food is best for your cat. We recommend talking with your vet before switching to any specialty brands like senior or kitten food, and they can be helpful if your cat is refusing to eat the food you are providing.

    cat paw dividerConclusion

    When choosing your next brand of cat food, we highly recommend our choice for the best overall. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food provides your pet with plenty of protein and is high in omega fats as well as antioxidants. It contains real fruits and vegetables, and our cats love it. If you have room in your budget, our premium choice contains even better ingredients and features chicken as the top ingredient. It costs a little more than the others, but it is well worth it if your cats will eat it.

    We hope you have enjoyed reading over our reviews and have learned a little more about the difference between each brand. If you have found them helpful, and they have helped you choose your next brand, please share this guide to the best cat foods on Facebook and Twitter.


    Featured image credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock