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10 Best Cat Foods for Adult Cats in 2021 — Reviews & Top Picks

grey cat eating food

Choosing the right cat food is not always an easy process. There isn’t a universal cat food that will be suitable for every cat. Different cats have different dietary needs. These needs can change over time too. What works well for your cat now may not in the future.

It’s important to choose a food that your cat enjoys while it’s still the healthiest option for them. This will depend on various factors, such as your cat’s age, health, energy level, and lifestyle. As adults, cats require different nutrition than kittens or seniors. We understand that finding the right balance of nutrients is important, so we gathered the best adult cat foods with reviews to help you learn about them and decide which is right. Whether they prefer wet or dry food, you can browse each to choose the best one for your feline.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Purina Beyond Simply Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food Purina Beyond Simply Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconHigh protein content
  • Feature iconGrain-free
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconNon-GMO ingredients
  • Feature iconSalmon is the protein source
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Fussie Cat Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy Canned Cat Food Fussie Cat Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy Canned Cat Food
  • Feature iconChicken is the first ingredient
  • Feature iconHigh-quality processing
  • Feature iconReal vegetables
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconHigh-protein recipe
  • Feature iconLifeSource Bits
  • Feature iconWeight management recipe
  • American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconIncludes probiotics
  • Feature iconHigh protein content
  • The 10 Best Cat Foods for Adult Cats — Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Purina Beyond Simply Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food — Best Overall

    2Purina Beyond Simply Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish & Egg Recipe Dry Cat Food

    Protein 35%
    Moisture 12%
    First Ingredient Hake

    Our overall choice for the best food for adult cats is Purina Beyond Simply Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food. This formula contains probiotics for healthy digestion. It also uses ocean whitefish as the first ingredient for a healthy protein that’s easy to digest. Eggs and sweet potatoes provide flavor, protein, and fiber.

    This recipe includes no grains, by-products, or artificial colors. Added vitamins and minerals work to support cats’ immune systems and coat health.

    This food is manufactured in U.S. facilities that are mindful of eco-friendly practices. You can feel confident knowing that your purchase was made in a place that limits its impact on the environment.

    There are a few reports of the kibble size being too large for some cats to eat. Some cats with dental issues also have trouble eating it.

    Pros
    • High protein content
    • Grain-free
    Cons
    • Large kibble size
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    2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food — Best Value

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult dry cat food

    Protein 33%
    Moisture 10%
    First Ingredient Salmon

    Our pick for the best cat food for adult cats for the money is Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food. With salmon as the first ingredient, you can trust that this food is packed with protein from a reliable source. The omega-6 fatty acids in the salmon also work toward keeping your feline’s coat shining. Natural fiber aids in digestion and immune health are supported by antioxidants. This food has everything that your cat needs to be healthy while steering clear of artificial colors and flavors, corn, wheat, and by-products.

    The non-GMO ingredients in this food come from farmers who work with this brand to provide trusted sources of nutrition. There are reports of even the most finicky cats finally coming around to this food and liking it.

    In some bags, there are reports of the kibble being crushed into crumbs. In some cases, the cats still ate the crushed pieces. While the flavor of this food is labeled as salmon, the ingredients include chicken. If your cat has allergies to poultry, this isn’t a suitable food for them.

    Pros
    • Non-GMO ingredients
    • Salmon is the protein source
    Cons
    • Made with chicken
    • Kibble may get crushed inside the bag
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    3. Fussie Cat Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy Canned Cat Food — Premium Choice

    Fussie Cat Super Premium Chicken & Vegetables canned cat food

    Protein 11%
    Moisture 85%
    First Ingredient Chicken

    The Fussie Cat Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy Canned Cat Food is made in a Food and Drug Administration-registered kitchen, which is the same qualification for processing canned food that is suitable for people to eat. The manufacturing process goes through daily health checks so you can be sure this high-quality food is safe for your cat. Fussie Cat formulas are known as “physiologically correct” to meet the needs of the obligate carnivorous cat. These recipes are high in protein and low in carbs and contain the necessary vitamins and nutrients that cats need.

    The Chicken & Vegetables formula is grain-free and low in fat. Boneless chicken is the first ingredient to provide protein. Since this is canned food, cats get extra hydration from it. The vegetables are in pieces large enough to see. Some cats love to eat the peas and carrots, but others leave them behind.

    Pros
    • Chicken is the first ingredient
    • High-quality processing
    • Real vegetables
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like the vegetables
    • Expensive
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    4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

    3Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Protein 40%
    Moisture 9%
    First Ingredient Chicken

    The high-protein recipe in Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food is formulated for healthy muscles. Sweet potatoes and peas are added for carbohydrates and fiber that promote strong energy levels and healthy digestion. This food is also grain-free and made without by-products or fillers.

    Small, dark LifeSource Bits are mixed in with this food. These are tiny pieces of kibble packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support the immune system and provide oxidative balance. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are included for a healthy coat.

    The calories in this recipe are also carefully balanced to support weight management. The proteins and fat help build and maintain a healthy body weight.

    There are a few reports of the formula changing recently and the kibble size being larger than it was before, which some cats don’t like.

    Pros
    • High-protein recipe
    • LifeSource Bits
    • Weight management recipe
    Cons
    • New recipe
    • Large kibble size
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    5. American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

    1American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Protein 40%
    Moisture 10%
    First Ingredient Turkey

    Several protein sources are combined in the American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food. Turkey is the first, followed by chicken and menhaden fish meal. Probiotics are added for a healthy digestive system. Peas and pea protein are used in place of corn, soy, and wheat. Fruits and vegetables are combined to provide vitamins and minerals.

    With a 40% protein content, this formula is better than others when it comes to providing quality protein without the use of by-products.

    The food has been described as being dusty upon opening the bag. Some pieces of kibble have been crushed into dust. Finicky cats refuse to eat this food, preferring other flavors instead.

    Pros
    • Includes probiotics
    • High protein content
    Cons
    • Some pieces of kibble are crushed
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    6. Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food Variety Pack

    Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Chicken Variety Pack Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

    Protein 11%
    Moisture 84%
    First Ingredient Flaked tuna

    Each seafood-packed flavor in the Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food Variety Pack is loaded with tuna and pumpkin. Tilapia, shrimp, calamari, and ocean whitefish make up the variety of flavors, so your cat doesn’t get bored with the same thing each day. The seafood provides protein and omega fatty acids, including sunflower oil, to nourish your cat’s skin and coat. The moisture content in this food from the broth will also help keep urinary issues at bay by keeping your feline hydrated.

    Pumpkin adds fiber and antioxidants to this recipe for healthy digestion. All the tuna used in this food is wild-caught and dolphin-safe.

    Cats seem to enjoy this food even though it’s been reported to have a strong smell. The consistency is described as soupy because it’s made with broth instead of thick gravy.

    Pros
    • Different flavors
    • Includes pumpkin
    • Moisture-rich
    Cons
    • Soupy consistency
    • Strong smell
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    7. Wellness Gravies Chicken Dinner Canned Cat Food

    Wellness Natural Grain Free Gravies Chicken Dinner Canned Cat Food

    Protein 8%
    Moisture 82%
    First Ingredient Chicken

    If your cat is a fan of gravy, the Wellness Gravies Chicken Dinner Canned Cat Food could be a winner. Bits of real chicken are coated in plenty of gravy for a moisture-rich, healthy meal. This gravy is made from turkey broth. Nothing artificial is added to this grain-free formula. The premium ingredients combine to make a balanced diet that is suitable for your cat every day.

    Chicken is the first ingredient, followed by turkey, chicken liver, and dried egg whites. Multiple protein sources are mixed with cranberries, ground peas, and carrots for added nutrients.

    Since there is a high moisture content in these cans, some cats have been reported to only eat the gravy out of the food and leave the rest.

    Pros
    • Plenty of gravy
    • Multiple protein sources
    Cons
    • Some cats only like the gravy
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    8. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Cat Food

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

    Protein 38%
    Moisture 11%
    First Ingredient Chicken

    The protein in Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Cat Food comes from chicken and turkey to equal 70% animal protein and fats. This supports healthy muscles and provides energy.

    Antioxidants for immune health and omegas for a healthy coat are also added. No grains or artificial flavors are in this recipe.

    Peas, sweet potatoes, and alfalfa provide fiber and nutrients for gentle digestion. This formula is made and completely balanced to provide everything that adult cats need.

    Cats with sensitive stomachs have been reported to eat this food without issues. In some cats, their food allergies have cleared up too.

    Pros
    • Promotes gentle digestion
    • Grain-free
    • Made with chicken and turkey
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like the taste
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    9. Iams ProActive Health Hairball Care Cat Food

    Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food

    Protein 30%
    Moisture 10%
    First Ingredient Chicken

    Chicken is the first ingredient in Iams ProActive Health Hairball Care Cat Food. This formula is made with L-carnitine, which helps burn fat to keep your cat’s weight under control. In addition, this hairball care food uses a beet pulp fiber blend to support healthy digestion. Omega fatty acids will keep their coats healthy and shiny.

    Cats that eat this food are reported to have fewer hairballs and food allergies. Some cats refuse to eat it because they don’t like the flavor, though. This is also not suitable for cats with allergies to poultry.

    Pros
    • Hairball management
    • Weight control formula
    Cons
    • Not suitable for cats with poultry allergies
    • Some cats don’t like the flavor
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    10. Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Dry Cat Food

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete dry cat food

    Protein 34%
    Moisture 9%
    First Ingredient Chicken

    Farm-raised chicken in the U.S.A. is the first ingredient in Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Dry Cat Food. This recipe contains a superfood blend of vitamins and minerals. It also has taurine, which is an essential amino acid that cats require in their diet.

    The lentils in this food are a unique ingredient and provide fiber to support your cat’s metabolism and keep them at a healthy weight. Dandelion greens are added for prebiotics. Cranberries and blueberries are added for various vitamins and minerals. These ingredients combined with pumpkin also offer a natural way to minimize hairballs.

    If the kibble is too hard for your cat to comfortably eat, warm water can be added to soften it first.

    Pros
    • Promotes a healthy weight
    • Contain prebiotics
    Cons
    • Kibble may be too hard for some cats

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    Buyer’s Guide

    Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require meat in their diets. Animal protein is necessary for them. Cats cannot be vegetarians.

    To choose the healthiest option for your cat, there are a few things to keep in mind when browsing labels.

    Life Stage

    Kittens, adults, and seniors all require different nutrition to be healthy. These formulas are created and balanced with each life stage’s needs in mind. For example, if adult cats ate kitten food, they’d likely become obese. Kitten food is loaded with calories and ingredients for growing cats. Senior cats need fewer calories because they are less likely to be as active. Finding the correct formula that corresponds with your cat’s life stage is the first step in making sure the food is good for them.

    Taste

    Some cats are picky when it comes to flavor. Just because your cat loves a certain chicken-flavored food doesn’t mean they’ll love the chicken flavor of a different brand. Most cats tend to enjoy wet food more than dry food, and finding dry food with a flavor that they like can be challenging. Limited-ingredient recipes may be healthy for cats, but they aren’t always appealing in flavor. It can take time to find a healthy option that your cat likes to eat. You may have to experiment with different protein sources and brands to find a winning combination.

    grey cat licking lips after eating cat food from bowl inside on floor
    Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

    Dietary Restrictions

    If your cat has allergies to certain ingredients or has weight issues, certain types of food will be best for them. Weight-control formulas can offer optimal nutrition with fewer calories. For food allergies, scan labels carefully to make sure the allergen isn’t hiding somewhere in the mix.

    Nutrients

    While cats can eat and digest carbohydrates, there is no evidence to show that they require these in their diet. In the wild, cats capture and eat their prey. Their natural diets don’t include carbohydrates, and their food in domestic life should not have many.

    What you should focus on instead are amino acids, vitamins, protein, moisture, and minerals. The protein content should be higher than the fat content percentage on the label.

    Taurine is an amino acid that is found in animal protein and is required in cats’ diets for digestion, muscle function, healthy vision, and heart function. Without taurine, your cat could become fatally ill.

    Fiber is another ingredient to note when browsing cat food labels. This helps with digestion and managing your cat’s weight. Omega fatty acids promote healthy, hydrated skin and shiny fur.

    persian cat eating dry food
    Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

    Digestibility

    The digestibility of a food refers to how much of the nutrients your cat absorbs. Even if your cat likes the food, it doesn’t mean they can digest it properly. If your cat’s stool is loose, watery, irregular, or frequent, they may not be able to digest their food well.

    Low-quality ingredients are usually to blame when cats have trouble digesting. Artificial colors, preservatives, and fillers aren’t ingredients that would be in a cat’s natural diet. Their bodies can struggle to break these down.

    Quality foods with high moisture contents will be easier for your cat to digest and absorb the vitamins and nutrients that they need.

    Expiration Dates

    Dry cat food can go stale if it’s left open and not stored in a proper container. Store the food in a cool, dry place that is not in direct sunlight. You can store the food in airtight containers that will keep it fresher longer.

    Check the dates on the bags and cans of cat food that you purchase. Expiration dates will give you an idea of how long you can keep the food unopened on the shelf before you use it. They will also tell you if the food is no longer suitable for your cat to eat.

    Is Dry or Wet Food Better for My Cat?

    cat eating dry and wet cat food
    Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, shutterstock

    Wet food will provide more hydration for your cat, which is important because cats don’t usually drink as much water as they should. They aren’t naturally inclined to drink water. Wild cats get most of the moisture they need from their prey. Some cats also prefer the taste of wet food over dry. Wet food is bulky to store, though, and if your cat only eats half the can, you need to refrigerate the rest until the next mealtime. In some cases, this can also mean you’ll need to re-heat it in the microwave to take the chill off, since some cats will only eat room-temperature food.

    Dry food provides well-balanced nutrition and is easy to serve. It’s also convenient to store and tends to cost less than wet food. It lasts longer too.

    You can serve a mix of both foods that will provide the benefits of each. When doing this, keep your cat’s calorie needs per day in mind. This will be based on the cat’s weight. If you don’t know what it is, ask your veterinarian. Then, you can construct a mix of dry and wet foods that add up to that caloric number.

    Always have fresh, clean water available at all times for your cat. Multiple bowls may encourage them to drink more.

    Think About Your Time

    Come up with a plan for feeding your cat that works well with your schedule. If you have hectic mornings, filling up a bowl with dry kibble is easier than scooping out a can (or heating yesterday’s canned leftovers from the fridge).

    Maybe your cat can get dry food in the morning and canned at night. If you have more time in the mornings than the evenings, the reverse could be better.

    Whichever you choose, as long as your cat is getting healthy, well-balanced nutrition, they will be happy.

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    Conclusion

    Our best overall choice for the best adult cat food is Purina Beyond Simply Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food. We like the high protein content and the fact that it’s grain-free. It’s a healthy option at a reasonable price. Our best value choice is Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food. This food also contains chicken, though, so it is not suitable for cats with poultry allergies. Our premium pick is Fussie Cat Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy Canned Cat Food.

    We hope that our reviews have helped you choose the best cat food for your adult cat.

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    Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock