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Freeze-dried cat food is the easiest way to feed your pet a natural, raw diet. Many veterinarians recommend raw diets because they more naturally reflect what a cat would eat in the wild. Commercial wet or dry foods often contain grains, fillers, and low-quality animal by-products that provide bulk and calories, but don’t actually fulfill your cat’s nutritional needs.
Freeze-dried food is the easiest way to provide your cat with all of the health benefits of a raw diet. There simply less fuss involved. You won’t need to handle raw meat or worry about nutritional balance. None of the options that we evaluated require more work than adding water and mixing.
We’ve rounded up the seven most popular freeze-dried cat foods and then some in-depth analysis based on reviews and experience that will help you choose the right food for your cat.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 7 Best Freeze-Dried Cat Foods – Reviews 2020
1. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels – Best Overall
This is a high-quality freeze-dried raw cat food that comes in a number of different flavors, so if your cat prefers chicken, rabbit, or turkey, it’s likely you’ll find a flavor that they will like. Since Stella & Chewy is a boutique brand, they make their food in small batches, so you might notice a slight variation between each bag. But every bag is made with the same attention to detail by a small company in the United States.
In addition to the high-quality proteins, organs, and bones, this food is supplemented with taurine and probiotics. These supplements promote overall dietary health and wellness. This freeze-dried raw food comes in large morsels that you’ll need to reconstitute with water. This food contains no added hormones or antibiotics and uses single-source animal protein to ensure quality.
2. CANIDAE Freeze-Dried Dry Cat Food – Best Value
Canidae’s freeze-dried cat food promises to speak to your cat’s wild side. While it won’t turn your housecat into a panther, our test cat devoured this food. He took well to the transition; his coat was shiny and his eyes were bright. We found this to be the best freeze-dried cat food for the money. Some of the other brands are incredibly expensive, but this grain-free, high protein formulation is on par with what you’d expect to pay for the average high-quality dry food.
The first few ingredients listed on the label are all animal proteins and not animal by-products and fillers, which is what makes this a premium food. Canidae has a reputation for being easy on delicate stomachs.
This would be our top choice if there were a greater variety of flavors available. Cats can be very picky about their protein sources, but if your cat’s tastes align with the flavors Canidae offers, you should seriously consider this brand.
3. Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food – Premium Choice
Northwest Naturals freeze-dried cat food is very high-quality food at a high-quality price. It contains 98% animal protein with a mix of organs and bone for nutrition. This brand is available in several different varieties: chicken, duck, rabbit, turkey, and whitefish. Like most of the other freeze-dried cat foods we looked at, this one specifically calls out that it has no added hormones or antibiotics.
Out of all of the brands that we tried, Northwest Naturals has the shortest ingredient list. It’s very close to your cat’s natural diet. Price is a factor with this food. If you like the all-natural ingredient list, you may consider feeding this in conjunction with other foods to keep the cost low.
4. Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food
Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets are balanced for cats of all life stages. You’ll need to reconstitute these nuggets with water before serving them to your cat. This food contains no grain, gluten, corn, wheat, or soy, but the ratio of meat to other ingredients is higher than in other brands.
Primal’s freeze-dried raw food contains 90% chicken, salmon, organs, and bone, whereas some of the other brands we reviewed were much closer to 100%. This option is priced considerably higher than other brands that use higher-quality ingredients.
5. Vital Cat Freeze-Dried Duck Cat Food
If supporting a brand that promotes sustainable farming is worth the expense to you, then this is a food that will meet your ethical needs as well as your cat’s dietary needs. This freeze-dried cat food is only available with duck protein, so if your cat prefers seafood or other kinds of poultry, this one will be a pass. We love that this brand uses meat, bones, and organs from 100% free-range ducks.
Because VitalCat only uses sustainable, farm-raised meat, it comes with a higher price tag than other brands. You’ll find that with high-quality food like this one, your cat will need to eat less in order to feel full, so a little does go a long way. You can feed these nuggets to your cat directly from the package without reconstituting it with water or broth.
6. Purpose Freeze-Dried Chicken Morsels Cat Food
The first five ingredients in this freeze-dried cat food are all chicken. That’s always a good sign. This food is 99% animal protein, with 1% added vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, dried kelp, thiamine, and biotin. These fortified nutrients give your cat a more balanced diet than they would naturally have. Like many other freeze-dried foods, this is also grain-free.
These freeze-dried morsels are fairly small, so your cat will be able to chow down on them easily, straight from the package. If your cat prefers a wet food with gravy, you can reconstitute these with water. Purpose emphasizes that they exclusively use free-range chicken without added hormones or antibiotics. We would have ranked this food higher if there were more flavors available; many cats prefer fish over chicken.
7. Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Cat Food has a high percentage of animal protein. 98% of this food is made up of meat, organs, and bones. Nulo Freestyle comes in two flavors: Chicken with Salmon and Turkey with Duck. In addition to the animal proteins, this food has several other nutritional supplements added, like probiotics that support digestive health. Cats with sensitive stomachs will appreciate that this is a limited ingredient food. Fewer ingredients mean fewer opportunities for allergic reactions or digestive complaints.
This cat food comes in very small pieces so you can feed your cat directly from the package as a treat or an entire meal. This product can be a little bit crumbly, so some picky eaters might prefer that you add water to turn it into a gravy type of food. Nulo Freestyle is very expensive compared to the other freeze-dried cat foods we’ve reviewed, but some cats find it a lot more palatable.
Freeze-dried cat food is quickly becoming the preferred method of raw feeding for pets. Every cat owner wants to provide the most high-quality, nutritious diet possible for their feline companion, and raw food generally fits that bill. Cats certainly don’t order takeout, eat vegetables, or cook their food in the wild. Veterinarians and Cat lovers generally agree that cats do best on a diet that reflects what they would eat if left to their own devices.
The health benefits of feeding your cat raw food cannot be overstated. Many cat owners who have switched to raw food from wet or dry food have found that their cats are in better health. They have shinier coats, brighter eyes, and more energy. Raw food is also helpful to maintain your cat’s weight, especially because of the lack of low-quality fillers.
Most commercially available cat food contains animal by-products, fillers, grains, and vegetables that are not normally part of a cat’s diet. While generally, these ingredients won’t do any harm to your cat, they aren’t doing a lot of good, either. A cat has no nutritional need for corn or rice, but those two ingredients, in particular, are often included in food to add bulk and additional calories.
When you feed your cat simple ingredients, you don’t have to worry about what’s in their food. Sensitivity to grains is common among cats. Limited ingredient diets are becoming more popular as more cat owners recognize how sensitive their pet’s stomachs can be. Raw diets tend to include only a few ingredients and are primarily animal-based protein.
Raw may not be your best option
Feeding raw can be a messy proposition. In addition to feeding your cat playing meat, you also have to seek out organ meat and Bone to ensure that they’re getting all of the vitamins they need. You may also have to add nutritional supplements which can be expensive or hard to find. You may have to seek out a specialty store or butcher shop in order to procure the kind of meats that your cat needs.
You generally can’t have as much fresh raw food on hand as you can with canned food or dry kibble. You may find yourself needing to shop more frequently for cat food, which is a great inconvenience.
Transitioning your cat to raw food
Transitioning your cat to raw food when they previously only ever eaten dry kibble or wet can food can be tricky. Cats may not recognize a piece of chicken on a bone as being something that they should eat, especially if they’ve been trained to avoid eating people food. Cats can be especially picky about how their food looks and feels in their mouths.
When feeding your cat raw food, you also need to be worried about spoilage. If you let your cat’s food sit out for too long, there’s a risk of growing unhealthy bacteria. You need to be concerned with how you’re storing this raw food. If your cat prefers to graze on his food instead of eating a meal all at once, you may find it difficult to feed a raw diet.
Benefits of freeze-dried
Freeze-dried food solves a lot of those problems by providing all of the nutrition of raw food and convenient pellet form. Your cat will recognize it as food, whether you choose a freeze-dried food that needs to be reconstituted with water or broth. You won’t need to manage the ratio of meat to bone to organ, and all of the nutritional supplements are already taken care of for you. You can feed as much or as little to your cat as they need in any given meal without worrying about their leftovers sitting out and getting salmonella.
Freeze-dried food is very easy to feed to your cat. Many of the popular brands can be served directly to your cat without reconstituting them. Some others require you to add hot water and stir them until they turn into something more like canned wet food. Even the most work-intensive reconstitution process is easier than handling raw meat safely.
Can manufacturers be trusted?
Right now, the most popular brands of freeze-dried cat food are made by manufacturers that are committed to quality. There is a large focus on ethical farming, sustainable methods, and using free-range, antibiotic-free animals as protein sources. In general, freeze-dried cat food makers are more interested in the health and longevity of your cat than some of the bigger brands you’ll find in supermarkets and pet stores.
If you’re interested in a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet for your cat, freeze-dried is the way to go. You won’t have to worry about safety, and you won’t need to spend a lot of time preparing food. All you need to do is choose a brand and see what your cat likes best.
Choosing the right food for your cat is one of the most difficult parts of pet ownership. You need to balance quality with cost but also finding something your cat will actually eat. if you’re looking at freeze-dried cat food, it means you’re already neck-deep in finding what’s best for your cat’s nutritional needs.
Our top recommendation overall is Stella and Chewy’s freeze-dried food. We love that it’s made by a small company with attention to detail. Canidae got rave reviews from both our test cat and our wallet, which is fairly unusual for such high-quality food. Northwest Naturals is worth the price if it’s within your budget.
We hope that our analysis of value, nutrition, and flavor helps you narrow down your choices. Ultimately, your cat will choose his own food, but you can make sure that you’re giving him the best options to choose from.
Featured Image: Ana-Maria Roșeanu, Pexels
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.