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10 Best Dry Cat Foods of 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Red cat and bowl of dry food_Okssi_shutterstockAs a cat owner, you know just how—well, particular felines can be. You may dish out a pretty penny on some fancy cuisine just to have your cat give you a big no thanks. Providing them a dry kibble diet that pleases their taste buds while being healthy can be a challenge.

But we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve rounded up reviews on the 10 best dry cat foods we could find—most of which are even picky-kitty approved. You’re on your way to giving your purring pal wholesome nutrition that they will beg you for (probably at an unreasonable hour).

Cat ball divider 1A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Easy to chew
  • 40% crude protein
  • Highly digestible
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food
  • Affordable
  • High moisture
  • Complete nutritional content
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • LifeSource Bits
  • Whole proteins
  • Grain, filler, and by-product-free
  • Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Live probiotics and prebiotics
  • Very high protein content
  • Uses real fruits and vegetables
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food
  • No harmful additives
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals
  • US farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods – Reviews 2021

    1. American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Overall1American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Our favorite is the American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. This recipe has mouth-watering chicken and turkey with no grains to upset the belly of your kitty. Deboned turkey is the first ingredient, so you know it’s wholesome and protein-rich.

    This food has 395 calories per cup with 40% crude protein, 15% crude fat, 4% crude fiber, and 10% moisture. Moisture is crucial since cats typically don’t drink enough water.

    Grain-free means this recipe is completely void of wheat, corn, or soy—which can upset a cat’s natural process of digestion. Instead, the product has healthy antioxidants, fatty acids, and amino acids to keep your feline active and strong.

    Though American Journey obtains its ingredients from trusted sources worldwide, each bag is manufactured in US facilities. The price is friendly for most buyers. And the kibble is in tiny bits, so it’s easy to chew for young, capable adults as well as elderly cats.

    Pros
    • 40% crude protein
    • Well-rounded nutrition
    • Easy to chew
    • Highly digestible
    Cons
    • Not all ingredients are from USA

    2. Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food – Best Value2Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food

    We think Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food is the best dry day food for the money. It’s an all-around nutritious recipe that is friendly to your wallet while still providing a terrific diet for your companion.

    This recipe doesn’t have whole protein as the first ingredient, but it does have a decently high protein level. The formula contains 32% crude protein, 12% crude fat, 3% crude fiber, and 12% moisture. There are 405 calories per cup.

    There are quite a few ingredients in this recipe that may not work for sensitive cats. It contains corn, animal by-products, and other gluten-filled additives that will irritate certain feline digestive tracts.

    However, it is loaded with over 25 vitamins and minerals, providing solid sustenance to various parts of the body. There are essential fatty acids, healthy carbohydrates, and various additives that will ramp up your cat’s appetite.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Complete nutritional content
    • High moisture
    Cons
    • Not sensitivity friendly

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

    Blue Buffalo has quite a reputation for keeping your kitty’s diet as natural as possible. While they’re a bit pricier than some other options, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food doesn’t disappoint in terms of content. This recipe is tailored to help your feline maintain lean muscle mass for optimal agility.

    The first two ingredients are deboned chicken and chicken meal, providing a healthy dose of necessary proteins. This recipe is made up of 40% crude protein, 18% crude fat, 4% crude fiber, and 9% moisture. There are 433 calories per cup.

    Replacing unhealthy grains—like wheat, corn, and soy—Blue Buffalo uses sweet potatoes and peas instead. That provides your kitty with necessary carbohydrates without irritating their GI tract.

    This recipe also has Blue’s famous LifeSource Bits that are little vitamin-packed pieces in each bag. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and superfoods that cater to your cat’s nutrition while offering a yummy kick.

    Pros
    • LifeSource Bits
    • Grain, filler, and by-product-free
    • Whole proteins
    Cons
    • Pricey

    4. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food4Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is an exceptional recipe to consider. Taste of the Wild aims to imitate a cat’s natural diet so they can thrive. In this recipe, they add in scrumptious venison and salmon, which are considered novel proteins.

    This recipe has a whopping 42% crude protein, 18% crude fat, 3% crude fiber, and 10% moisture. Each cup of food contains 390 calories and each bag also has over 80,000,000 live probiotics and prebiotics for gut health.

    Rather than using potentially irritating grains, this recipe uses sweet potatoes and pea protein. It contains real fruits and vegetables, loading it up with antioxidants, fatty acids, and fiber.

    Chicken meal is the first ingredient, while it is despite an advertising focus on roasted venison and smoked salmon recipe. So, don’t be fooled by the label into thinking it only uses those protein sources. Some kitties may show sensitivities to chicken protein, so just keep this in mind when you purchase.

    Pros
    • Live probiotics and prebiotics
    • Very high protein content
    • Uses real fruits and vegetables
    Cons
    • Chicken meal used

    5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food5Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

    If you want to leave it to the chef, try Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food. This recipe is chicken and brown rice, where the chicken is farmed in the US. It’s also the number one ingredient, so you know your cat is getting a nutritious protein source to keep their muscles lean.

    There is 34% crude protein, 14% crude fat, 4% crude fiber, and 9% moisture in this bag. In each cup, there are 386 calories. The first three ingredients are chicken, chicken meal, and corn gluten meal.

    Rachel Ray delivers only the essential, wholesome nutrients your cat needs to thrive. There is no wheat, soy, or animal by-products in this recipe. It’s also free of artificial flavors and preservatives, cutting out the harmful additives.

    This recipe is packed with vitamins and minerals like biotin, zinc, and omega fatty acids. Beet pulp and amino acid help to keep their GI tract and heart running smoothly. This isn’t a limited ingredient or gluten-free selection.

    Pros
    • US farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
    • No harmful additives
    • Packed with vitamins and minerals
    Cons
    • Not for certain allergies or intolerances

    6. Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food6Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food

    If your kitty is having issues with weight or is suffering from hairball trouble, consider Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food. This formula has 10% less fat since indoor cats tend to live a lackadaisical lifestyle.

    This formula has 30% crude protein, 11% crude fat, 8% crude fiber, and 10% moisture. There are 302 calories per cup, making a total of 3,364 calories per bag. If obesity is a concern, this low-calorie content will help your cat maintain a healthy weight.

    This recipe is also supposed to make the litter box a little less stinky. The high fiber in the blend is supposed to soothe your cat’s system, helping with hairball passage. The texture cleans your cat’s teeth to keep them free of plaque and tartar.

    The formula does contain corn and gluten meal, meaning it’s not suitable for sensitive cats. If your cat has a gluten allergy, you’ll have to look for a better weight control fit.

    Pros
    • High fiber helps hairballs
    • Reduces litter box smell
    • Low calorie
    Cons
    • Not gluten or filler-free

    7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food7Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food is loaded with the good stuff. Nutro focuses on clean nutrition, including only the most beneficial ingredients for your feline to enjoy. This particular recipe is for indoor cats, ensuring they get the proper formula.

    This bag of food has 33% crude protein, 16% crude fat, 7% crude fiber, and 10% moisture. There are 378 calories per cup. Farm-raised chicken is the number one ingredient so you know your cat is getting the right protein from healthy sources.

    This cat food is full of needed antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. There are no added GMO ingredients—void of soy, wheat, corn, and animal by-products.

    The natural fiber in the formula helps indoor cats stay regulated. The kibble is somewhat larger than other brands. So, if you have a kitty that has trouble chewing, it may not be the best option for them.

    Pros
    • Non-GMO
    • Formulated for indoor cats
    • Aids in digestion
    Cons
    • Large kibble may be hard to chew

    8. 9 Lives Daily Essentials Dry Cat Food8 9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Flavor Dry Cat Food

    This 9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef, & Salmon Flavor Dry Cat Food caters to all vital points of daily health. It’s an all-life-stage recipe, meaning you can give it to your kitten, adult, or senior cat. That way, you never have to worry about changing their kibble as they age.

    This food contains 30% crude protein, 9% crude fat, 3% crude fiber, and 12% crude fat. Each cup has 306 calories. This moderate caloric value is perfect for house cats with low activity levels.

    The ingredients won’t be suitable for cats with certain food intolerances or allergies. The first three ingredients are whole ground corn, chicken by-product, and corn gluten meal. So, if you have a protein or gluten-sensitive kitty, steer clear.

    Otherwise, this recipe has all the goodies to get your guy or gal through life. It will help to keep their coat soft, too, since it’s packed with omega fatty acids. It’s also quite affordable and found at most stores across the US.

    Pros
    • All life stages recipe
    • Calories suitable for house cats
    • Added omega fatty acids
    Cons
    • Contains corn, wheat, and soy
    • Contains animal by-products

    9. Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food9Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food

    Tried and true, Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food is a classic option. For years, this recipe has been trusted by cat owners everywhere to give their felines a well-rounded diet of all the essential nutrients they need.

    Your cat gets quite the flavor experience, tasting chicken, turkey, salmon, and fish. There is 31% crude protein, 11% crude fat,  4% crude fiber, and 12% moisture.

    Meow Mix appeals to cats from the selective to the voracious. It has a perfect balance of needed nutrients that support the health of your adult cat. But it isn’t suitable for every dietary need, as it contains potential allergens that some kitties can be sensitive to.

    This recipe contains corn, wheat, soy, and animal by-products. If you have a healthy adult cat, they will take to the formula fine. However, if your cat displays any symptoms of irritation, discontinue use—as they may be allergy sufferers.

    Pros
    • Versatile diet
    • Trusted company
    • Lots of flavor
    Cons
    • Not for sensitive cats
    • Artificial additives included

    10. Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food10Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food

    Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food by Purina is a classic, well-balanced diet sure to woo most felines. Each piece of kibble offers a new flavor of chicken, liver, turkey, and ocean fish, so your kitty won’t get bored.

    This recipe has 28% crude protein, 10% crude fat, 3% crude fiber, and 12% moisture. There are 404 calories per cup.

    This recipe is not for sensitive cats. The first three ingredients are ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal. So, if your cat has tummy problems with certain fillers, this is definitely not the one for them.

    But this recipe is packed with nutritious vitamins and minerals, calcium, and phosphorus. If you have a healthy adult cat, Kit & Kaboodle should work well to keep them satisfied.

    Pros
    • Flavor variety
    • Balanced diet
    • Packed with vitamins and minerals
    Cons
    • Contains fillers
    • Contains artificial dye and preservatives

    Buyer’s Guide

    We, as humans owned by our cats, must satisfy their tastes and make sure they’re healthy simultaneously. The two can be hard to blend sometimes. It seems the tastier the food, the worse it is for your feline. So, how do you combine the two to create the purr-fect dry kibble diet?

    First, you need to understand a bit about your cat’s digestive system, so you know just what they need to thrive. Each cat will have a different palette and appetite, but there are some common denominators across the board. Let’s discuss the ins and outs of cat nutrition.

    Cats Are Carnivores & Why it Matters

    Cats only eat meat. They are entirely carnivorous creatures. Sure, it may seem like some cats want to take a bite out of everything you’re snacking on. But outside of meat and water, a cat’s body can’t digest other food properly.

    Of course, when you buy a bag of dry kibble, you’re going to see added ingredients that aren’t meat. That’s because house cats can’t simply go hunt every time they’re hungry to satisfy their need. So each recipe is crafted to give your pet a well-rounded eating experience according to their lifestyle.

    That doesn’t mean, however, that you should feed your cat a diet full of fillers and artificial additives. Certain ingredients are harmful long-term for any cat—not just those with allergies or sensitivities.

    What Factors Make Dry Kibble Top-Notch?

    According to Chewy, dry kibble should have a minimum of 26% protein for adult cats. As a general rule of thumb, the first ingredient on the back of the back should be a protein source, whether it’s a whole protein or a meat meal. Cats need the benefits of animal protein more than any other ingredient on the label.

    If you can, avoid food with a long list of fillers, by-products, or artificial flavors. These additives have no nutritional value for your cat and can trigger unwanted side effects or long-term health problems.

    Look for foods with:
    • Whole protein, ideally as the first ingredient
    • High fiber to regulate the GI tract
    • Low-to-no fillers—especially avoid soy, wheat, and corn
    • Healthy carbohydrates
    • Probiotics and prebiotics
    • Antioxidants, like fruits and veggies
    • Fatty acids, like omega-3 and 6

    Ideally, your cat should have nothing artificial that you can’t pronounce or trace in their cat food.

    Active vs. Inactive Cats

    The activity level of your cat has a lot to do with the food you select. If you have an extremely active cat, you will want to give them a food that is high in calories, carbohydrates, and protein. They will need the extra oomph to replenish their bodies of the nutrients they deplete.

    The opposite is true of sessile housecats. If you have a lackadaisical, nap-loving feline, they won’t need nearly as much caloric intake. But they will need an adequate amount of fiber so that their digestive tract operates efficiently.

    An imbalanced diet on either die of the spectrum can make your kitty too thin or lead to extra fat.

    cat with empty bowl
    Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

    Cats Don’t Get Enough Moisture in their Diet

    Because cats naturally get hydration from their prey, they don’t think to drink enough water. Even though cats have been domesticated for eons, they still don’t always remember to hydrate appropriately.

    Dry kibble doesn’t provide a lot of moisture since it is baked, dehydrated, and packaged to last. So, they will still need a constant supply of clean, fresh water available at all times.

    Wet Food: The Good and the Bad

    Many cat owners—and cats—may think wet cat food is a better alternative to dry kibble.

    There are sometimes one or two misconceptions people have about wet cat food. First, that it’s terrible for your cat. Second, it’s the only option for your cat, and they should never have dry kibble. Both are wrong. The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

    Most cats are enormous fans of wet food. They may pick at their kibble, but they really seem to dive into a nice, smelly helping of canned cat food. But, this dietary selection also gets a pretty bad rap.

    So, is it really so negative? Not necessarily. There are plenty of positives about eating canned food.

    • Canned food gives your cat consistent moisture in their diet that they lack from dry kibble, providing up to 78% of their daily water intake
    • Canned food stimulates the appetite, appealing to even the pickiest of cats
    • It doesn’t spoil or dry out since it’s conveniently packaged in a sealed can

    But, as with anything else, there are some downsides, too.

    • It’s higher in calories, causing weight gain in some cats
    • It is linked to potential dental issues like plaque, tartar, tooth decay, and periodontal disease
    • It tends to be more expensive than dry kibble

    There you have it—it’s not the best or the worst diet for your cat. Ultimately, it’s up to your unique situation and your cat’s relationship with food.

    Should You Add Wet Food to Dry Kibble?

    A good medium is combining wet food with dry kibble. It’s a cool trick if your cat is too picky to eat the kibble. You add it to the bowl, and your cat will eat both if they’re evenly mixed without much hesitation.

    Realistically, you can do both every day or only offer wet food on occasion. That decision is up to you and your cat. And maybe your vet—if they need to get involved in settling the dispute between the two of you.

    fluffy grey cat with food
    Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

    Sensitive Cats: How to Choose

    Cats can suffer from food allergies, just like us.  Especially since grains, artificial additives, and preservatives aren’t part of their natural diet, it can cause some complications in their system. It’s not uncommon for cats to show no symptoms initially.

    The most common allergies cats develop are protein sensitivities from beef, chicken, and fish. Also, since cats are lactose intolerant, they react to dairy products in their food. They can also exhibit bad reactions to artificial dyes, preservatives, and grain fillers—like corn, soy, and wheat.

    If you notice after switching their food that something isn’t quite right, make sure to keep an eye on the ingredients.

    Food-Related Allergy Symptoms in Cats

    Luckily, noticing symptoms of allergies is easy, even if it takes a while to pinpoint the trigger. These allergies can display with a wide array of physical symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

    Symptoms of allergies commonly include:
    • Skin irritation
    • Itching
    • Over-grooming
    • Recurring ear infections
    • Frequent hairball regurgitation
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting

    If you suspect your feline has a food allergy, work closely with your veterinarian to find the root cause. You can specially tailor a diet to suit their needs and avoid any further irritation.

    cat paw dividerConclusion

    Getting a dry kibble your cat will find tasty doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Even if you have to coax your kitty to eat it with a lovely wet food topper, the health benefits of kibble are essential. We think American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is best for its overall nutritional content and availability.

    But if you’re rolling on a budget, Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food is still a complete diet with the perk of price-friendliness. No matter what pick caught your eye, hopefully, our reviews have led you to a final purchase so your cat can get to crunching.


    Featured image credit: Okssi, Shutterstock