If you are used to feeding feral cats, you probably think of them as your own. After all, it takes a lot of responsibility and care to look after animals with nowhere to go and no reliable source of food. However, the difference between pet cats and feral cats is that the number of feral cats you might be looking after is unknown. They also may come hungry, relying on you for their only real meal of the day. When you’re feeding a lot of cats a high volume of food, it can get expensive, and fast. In this article, we have compiled our reviews of some of the best cat foods for feral cats that can offer both nutritional value for the cats and budget-friendly options for you!
A Quick Look at Our Favorites (Updated in 2023)
|Best Overall||Rachael Ray Nutrish Cat Food||
|Best Value||Kirkland Chicken & Rice Cat Food||
|Premium Choice||Smalls Turkey Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food||
||Click to Save 33%|
|Best for Kittens||WholeHearted All Life Canned Cat Food||
|Purina Cat Chow Naturals Cat Food||
The 6 Best Cat Foods for Feral Cats
1. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Cat Food – Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, corn gluten meal, brown rice, brewer’s rice|
|Food form:||Dry food|
Rachael Ray doesn’t just make food for humans, but she also has a pet food brand that we happen to think is the best overall cat food for feral cats! The Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Cat Food is made from high-quality ingredients, including real chicken and brown rice. While pricier than some other options out there, you can feel good about the nutritional benefit your feral cats are getting from this food. It is available in three different sizes, so you can select the food that works best for your feral cat colony. One thing to note is that although the packaging says this product does not contain corn, one of the main ingredients is corn gluten meal.
2. EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food – Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, ground white rice, chicken fat|
|Food form:||Dry food|
Since EVAXO is Costco’s in-house cat food brand, it may not be too surprising that the EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food is the best feral cat food for the money. This cat food is made with high-quality ingredients that rival other popular brands at a much cheaper price. In addition to high-quality ingredients, this cat food is easy for your feral cats to eat due to the small size of the kibble. This cat food comes in a 25-pound bag, which means your money will go farther than it would with other brands. However, the bag is not resealable, so you should make sure to put uneaten food in a container so that it won’t go stale or tempted unwanted pests.
3. Smalls Turkey Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food – Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||Finely Ground Turkey With Bone, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Turkey Gizzard|
|Food form:||Freeze-dried raw food|
|Life stage:||All stages|
Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey Recipe offers a high-protein diet that delivers precisely what the product name says. The company prides itself on its human-grade ingredients. However, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), no formal definition of the term exists. Nevertheless, the food contains high-quality ingredients that deliver excellent protein.
This product breaks the mold of freeze-dried foods because you can feed your kitty this recipe straight out of the bag without reconstituting it. That makes it a smart choice for feeding feral cats year-round. The primary issue we see with this food is its low moisture content. Felines get it from what they eat. This one won’t provide everything a kitty will need without supplementing it.
On the positive side, the Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey Recipe doesn’t contain any ingredients that don’t belong in a cat’s diet as an obligate carnivore. Everything in it is meat-based, which we liked.
4. WholeHearted All Life Stages Canned Cat Food – Best For Kittens
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken broth, water sufficient for processing, tapioca starch, sunflower oil|
|Food form:||Wet food|
|Life stage:||All life stages|
WholeHearted is the Petco brand of cat food, which means that this wet food is a bit less expensive than the Wellness brand wet food we just discussed. As an added benefit, this particular canned wet food was formulated for both adults and kittens, which is great if you are feeding cats of many different ages. This food also contains healthy fats that can help your feral cats restore their energy and develop healthy skin and fur. If you are sensitive to smells, however, you should note that customers say this cat food smells pretty unpleasant.
5. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Cat Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal|
|Food form:||Dry food|
Purina may be one of the best-known name brands on this list, and for good reason; they are a solid brand that is known for delivering quality cat food. The Purina Cat Chow Naturals Cat Food is no different. In addition to real chicken, this food also contains some important vitamins and minerals that your feral cats need in order to have a balanced diet. Some of the vitamins and minerals in this cat food include vitamin E, the B-complex vitamins, and vitamin A. Plus, this formula includes chicken by-products, which are actually very good for your feral cats due to all of the nutrients that come from the so-called “undesirable” animal parts, such as the intestine.
6. Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken liver, turkey, chicken broth, carrots|
|Food form:||Wet food|
The Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree cat food is by far the most expensive cat food on our list, but for good reason: as you can see, this wet food is made from high-quality, whole foods that are good for your feral cats. If you are feeding several cats at once, you might want to purchase this food in 12.5-ounce cans to get a little bit more bang for your buck. Just remember, wet food does not last very long after it is opened. While your feral cats will love this chicken pate treat, we suggest only buying this food if you feed feral cats infrequently or if you have house cats of your own who would eat it. Otherwise, this product may be a bit more than you want to spend.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Cat Food for Feral Cats
Nutritional Needs of Feral Cats
All cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to eat animal protein in order to be healthy. Cats need much more protein in their diets than dogs or humans; adult cats need about 26% of their food to be from a protein source, and kittens need even more at 30%. Cats also need a healthy amount of fats to maintain a healthy coat and healthy skin.
Feral cats have the same nutritional needs as other cats, but it’s important to understand that feral cats don’t necessarily have access to the same well-balanced diet that your family cat does. Feral cats may not be getting the total daily calories they need to eat in order to maintain lean muscle mass, so it is likely necessary for you to provide them with a higher-calorie, higher-fat food option. That being said, it is still important for feral cats to receive a balanced diet with necessary vitamins and minerals, as they are unlikely to be eating foods that satisfy their nutritional needs as they scrounge for meals.
What To Look For When Buying Food For Feral Cats
While people who feed and care for feral cats often want to help and provide the best cat food available, it can become expensive to do so—especially when they have taken on the responsibility for feeding multiple cats. That’s why it’s important to strike a balance between providing quality nutrition for the cats and remaining within your budget. Make sure to choose food made with whole, quality ingredients to ensure that the cats get the most nutritionally complete meal possible. The first ingredient should always be high-quality animal protein.
As long as the ingredients are high-quality, you can save money on cat food by choosing foods made with cheaper protein sources. Chicken is usually a very affordable protein source, so look for foods made with chicken. Some cat foods are grain-free, but they tend to be more expensive. To cut down on the price, you can choose a cat food that contains grains, but make sure to select foods made with grains that are easy for cats to digest, such as oatmeal or brown rice.
If you find yourself feeding several feral cats on a regular basis, you might consider buying the food in bulk as another strategy to cut down on costs.
Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!
Whether you regularly feed feral cats or are looking for the best food for feral cats, we hope our reviews have helped you find a product that works for you and your budget. The Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Rice Recipe is our pick for the best overall feral cat food due to the top-notch nutritional value at a manageable price. For the best value, however, consider buying the EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food, which offers affordable prices without sacrificing quality. And for premium choice, we’ve picked the Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey Recipe.
Featured Image Credit: Twinschoice, Shutterstock
- A Quick Look at Our Favorites (Updated in 2023)
- The 6 Best Cat Foods for Feral Cats
- 1. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Cat Food – Best Overall
- 2. EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food – Best Value
- 3. Smalls Turkey Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food – Premium Choice
- 4. WholeHearted All Life Stages Canned Cat Food – Best For Kittens
- 5. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Cat Food
- 6. Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
- Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Cat Food for Feral Cats