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Purina PetCare is owned by food giant Nestle. They’re one of the best-known pet food brands in the world, and aim to provide cradle-to-grave care for our furry friends. Their website even has a tool to help you select the perfect pet.
Purina produces a huge range of familiar cat food brands, including Friskies, Fancy Feast, Purina Muse, Purina Beyond, Purina Pro Plan, and many more. It’s enough to make your head spin.
We wrote these reviews to help you sort it out. Our list ranks 10 of the most prominent wet and dry cat foods made by Purina, and shows you which products you and your cat will love — and which ones you should leave on the shelf.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Purina Beyond Grain-Free Dry||
|Best Value||Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry||
|Premium Choice||Purina Pro Plan Savor Dry||
|Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend Dry||
|Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry||
The 10 Best Purina Cat Foods – Reviews 2020
1. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Overall
Purina Beyond is Purina’s “all-natural” line, responding to the modern-day suspicion of additives by focusing on recognizable, ethically-sourced ingredients. For a huge corporation owned by an even bigger corporation, they do a surprisingly good job of tracing where their ingredients come from.
One nice note: most of them come from the United States. The thing that rocketed Purina Beyond to #1, though, is that real whitefish and chicken top the ingredients list. It also has no artificial ingredients, instead using all-natural flavors and preservatives. That equals a healthy dry cat food which your cat will actually eat.
It’s not perfect. Whitefish-based diets expose your cat to potentially risky heavy metals, and even without grain, there’s a lot of plant protein on the ingredients list. However, on balance, it’s healthy protein that won’t bloat your cat up.
2. Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food – Best Value
Purina is almost always great about making their branded food affordable, but the true best Purina cat food for the money is their Kit & Kaboodle dry food. Each 16-pound bag includes kibbles of four different flavors to ensure your cat never gets bored with their food.
If you happen to be buying food to feed your local feral cats, you might have noticed how there always seem to be more every time you visit — this is a great way to keep them all happy. But there’s more to recommend Kit & Kaboodle than just the price. While it takes a bit more getting used to than our #1 pick, most cats will be happily wolfing it down inside a week.
There are two drawbacks keeping Kit & Kaboodle from #1: the bag is a bit too large for one cat, and the food has more dye in it than necessary.
3. Purina Pro Plan Savor Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice
Moving over to the premium end of the cat food spectrum, let’s see whether Purina Pro Plan is worth the hype and the price. Savor is one of their four lines of high-quality cat food, and is designed around flavors and aromas that all cats will love.
The real thing that makes Purina Pro Plan Savor (almost) worth the money is the health additives. With probiotics, antioxidants, vitamin A, and omega-6 fatty acids, your cat is likely to be eating a healthier diet than you.
4. Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend Dry Cat Food
Purina ONE is a mid-range product line, neither as expensive as Pro Plan nor as cheap as Kit & Kaboodle. Tender Selects emphasizes texture with a combination of crunchy and tender bits.
If your cat has gotten bored with their usual meal, the unusual Tender Selects mixture might be just what they need. While the crunchy bits help keep their teeth clean, the tender morsels help keep them hydrated. We were happy to see the high protein and fat content in this cat food.
Unfortunately, it comes with a lot of the universal Purina problem: high-carb, plant-based ingredients used to needlessly bulk out the kibble. While lots of cats love it, and some maintain a healthy weight on it, we recommend mixing it a bit further with lower-carb food.
5. Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food
Since indoor cats don’t move around as much, indoor cat kibbles are formulated to provide more nutrition with fewer calories. Purina strikes a good balance with their Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food. It includes antioxidants, fiber, and a complete slate of vitamins and minerals.
If cats could talk, we don’t think they’d agree on much – but the ability of this cat chow to appeal to all shapes, sizes, and ages of cat is astounding. We’ve never seen it snubbed.
The downside is that there’s a total lack of real meat on the ingredients list: it’s all corn, soy, and poultry by-products. It’s not nearly as healthy as it could be, even fortified with vitamins. Also, the bag makes some exaggerated claims about controlling hairballs, which it doesn’t do.
6. Purina Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers Canned Cat Food
Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers is the best all-wet food on our list. It’s not fair to compare wet and dry food directly on things like price or reliability, so we’ll focus on the core function: do cats like it, and does it keep them healthy?
The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. It turns out most cats are gravy lovers, and even picky kitties who turn up their noses at pate will tuck into this.
The health question is more complicated. The first three ingredients are all meat-based, which is great, but right after them, you get wheat gluten and meat by-products. Wheat is a tossup for cats — some can’t process it — and by-products are even sketchier. Opening up a can of this wet food reveals more gravy than meat, making it decidedly more of a dessert for your kitties.
7. Purina Muse Charmed Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food
Purina Muse is another product series going for an artisanal angle. There’s a lot of shock and awe on the bag. Eggs! Pumpkins! Spinach! Chicken is the first ingredient!
By now, you probably know that real meat being the first ingredient is not sufficient to guarantee that a food is good for your cat. That said, the second ingredient is concentrated chicken meal, and there are no shady by-products. There’s also nothing artificial.
Purina Muse loses out to the other grain-free dry food on our list (#5) for being excessively pricey — a smaller bag costs over twice as much. It’s also much higher in carbs than we like to see, while being light on the all-important protein.
8. Purina Friskies Classic Pate Canned Cat Food
Purina’s cans of Friskies wet food are hit-or-miss for us. They’re affordable, and delicious for many cats, but they also use low-quality ingredients and have been recalled at least once in the last ten years.
This mixed grill pate falls heavily on the negative end. There are two good things you can say about it: picky cats love it, and it’s extremely cheap. We advise giving it a look if and only if you’re responsible for a large number of cats, such as a rescue cattery or a family of strays.
Why all the suspicion? Friskies Mixed Grill Pate uses meat by-products and poultry by-products as its primary source of protein. Meat by-products are scraps that aren’t considered safe for human consumption — any real meat in here is an afterthought. It also contains carrageenan, a thickening agent known to cause cancer in cats.
9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Canned Cat Food
Another Purina Pro Plan product graces the list, this time a canned wet food. As part of the Veterinary Diets line, it’s formulated for a medical purpose, with high-protein and low-carb ingredients to help treat feline diabetes. To its credit, it does manage to be packed with protein and relatively low in carbs.
This wet food shares an issue we’ve already noted in other Purina products of all lines: an over-reliance on by-products. We want to be clear — it’s not that all by-products are automatically bad. After all, cats in the wild don’t carefully select the nutritious parts of the birds and mice they kill.
Our problem with by-products is that they can’t be trusted. It’s like saying “natural and artificial flavors”: there’s no way to know what’s in there, and if it was good, healthy stuff, the manufacturer wouldn’t be mincing words about it. In a vet-prescribed, hugely overpriced cat food, that level of uncertainty isn’t acceptable.
10. Purina Friskies Indoor Delights Dry Cat Food
One thing we can definitely say for Friskies Indoor Delights: it’s cheap. A 16-pound bag goes for a rock-bottom price. It also does seem to help keep an indoor cat’s weight down, especially if they’ve been fed too much human food.
But you know what else keeps a cat at a healthy weight? Ingredients that provide real protein and fiber. Friskies Indoor Delights has none of that. The first two ingredients are corn. The only meat comes from chicken by-products.
This kibble will just make your cat feel bloated without delivering any meaningful nutrition. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can do better.
If you’ve never thought very hard about what goes in your cat’s food before, a lot of what we’ve written here might feel like a bolt from the blue.
Are By-Products Always Bad?
“By-products are always bad?” you might be asking. “Corn is useless filler, but pea and cassava aren’t good either? And they put artificial dyes in cat food? Cats don’t even see color the same way we do! What can I feed Mittens?”
This is a natural reaction, but it’s not as complex as it seems. Everything we’re about to explain derives from the fact that most of the same things that make a good human diet make a good cat diet as well. There are some differences, but it all comes down to this: real ingredients, high protein, high fiber, healthy fats, and a minimum of carbs.
What Do Cats Need To Eat?
Cats are what we call “true” or “obligate” carnivores. Unlike some humans, they’re not omnivores dedicated to the meat-eating lifestyle — their digestive tracts and organs can’t function without a diet of mostly meat.
Cats require a diet that’s high in protein, along with an amino acid called taurine that’s only found in animal-based foods. They need some fat for energy. They also need some fiber, just like we do, to help move the food through their system.
One thing cats don’t need: carbohydrates. For the most part, they can’t even digest carbs. If a food is high in carbs, cats need to eat a lot more of it to feel full, which can result in sluggishness and obesity.
Got that? High protein, medium fat, low carbs. With that in mind, let’s learn how to decode cat food labels.
How To Read A Cat Food Ingredients List
A step-by-step guide.
- Look for known allergens. You should know what your cat is allergic to. If you don’t, ask your regular vet. Don’t feet your cat anything that has one of their known allergens anywhere on the list.
- Look for chemicals that are toxic to cats. Just like the allergens, you don’t want any of these ingredients in anything you serve your kitty. See the section below, “Ingredients to Never Feed Your Cat,” for the full list.
- Look at the first five ingredients. As with all ingredients lists, the ingredients are arranged by how much of each is in the recipe. There’s the most of the first ingredient, which is why so much emphasis is placed on it. The first five ingredients usually make up the bulk of any food.
- Count how many of the first five ingredients are real meat. Lots of cat foods make a big deal about real meat being the first ingredient, but that doesn’t matter if the next four are corn. You want at least three of the first five to be real meat or meat-based (not by-products). Meat broth counts, so long as it’s not the only one.
- Look for liver. The best cat foods use liver to feed cats the vitamins and minerals they need. Cats in the wild eat the livers of their prey as a source of vitamin A.
- Look for too many bulking agents. It’s OK to use a little pea flour or cassava root flour to fill out dry cat food. If anything based on corn, wheat, or soy is too prominent on the label, however, give that food a miss. Remember, cats can’t derive much energy from carbohydrates, so you don’t want carbs crowding out the protein and fat.
- Look for by-products. Meat by-products aren’t always bad. The term refers to any leftovers from the processing of human-grade meat that can’t go into the final product. The only reason to be suspicious is if meat by-products are either the first or only source of meat on the label. That indicates a cheaply-made food that won’t do much for your kittycat.
Ingredients To Never Feed Your Cat
We humans used to swear by a lot of chemicals we later discovered were deeply unhealthy, like asbestos, nicotine, lead paint, and Red 40. Yet due to the sluggish pace of regulation, lots of those things are still around.
It’s the same with cat food: some miracle ingredients become indispensable, and are hard to get back out, even after we’ve realized they’re bad news. Here are a few common cat food ingredients to run screaming from.
- The degraded form of this red seaweed is a known carcinogen. The carrageenan used as a thickening agent in wet cat food is not degraded, but research suggests it might degrade while being digested. It’s not conclusively proven that food-grade carrageenan is a cancer risk, but why take the chance?
- Food dyes and coloring agents. These introduce a potential risk to your cat, for no benefit other than tricking you into buying the food. Your cat doesn’t care what their food looks like — only how it smells, tastes, and feels. A few of the most common coloring agents are:
- Caramel color
- Iron oxide
- Sodium nitrite
- Red, blue, and yellow food coloring
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). This preservative causes tumors in lab rats, and is already banned for humans in Europe.
We’re cat lovers here, and we wrote these reviews with other cat people in mind. We hope we’ve been able to sort out some of the confusion caused by Purina’s many different labels.
Purina Beyond Grain-Free Dry Cat Food was an easy pick for the winning spot. Real, traceable ingredients actually combine surprisingly well with the flavors your cat wants. If your fur baby has been gaining weight or getting sick of their usual kibble, switch it up with Purina Beyond and rejoice at the difference.
If you came here to find the best cat food value for your money, no Purina brand offers more for your buck than Kit & Kaboodle. It’s a gift to anyone with a big family of foster or feral cats.
Featured image credit: meineresterampe, Pixabay
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.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Purina Cat Foods – Reviews 2020
- 1. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Overall
- 2. Purina Kit & Kaboodle Dry Cat Food – Best Value
- 3. Purina Pro Plan Savor Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice
- 4. Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend Dry Cat Food
- 5. Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food
- 6. Purina Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers Canned Cat Food
- 7. Purina Muse Charmed Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food
- 8. Purina Friskies Classic Pate Canned Cat Food
- 9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Canned Cat Food
- 10. Purina Friskies Indoor Delights Dry Cat Food
- Buyer’s Guide