Did you know that cats are obligate carnivores, which means they have to eat meat? Feeding cats a raw diet is one way to mimic how cats would eat in the wild. Because cats don’t need to eat vegetables and carbohydrates, raw food diets are made up of muscle meat, organ meat, and bones.
Surprisingly, there are many choices of raw cat food brands. To help you find the best one for your cat’s needs, we’ve researched for you and created a list of reviews. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide so you know what the important components of raw cat food are.
Ready to find the best raw food for your cat? Then read on for our recommendations.
A Glance at Our Top Picks of 2023
|Best Overall||Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird Cat Food||
||Click to Save 40% Use code: Excitedcats2023|
|Best Value||CANIDAE Freeze-Dried Raw Dry Cat Food||
|Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dinner Morsels||
|Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food||
|Instinct Raw Boost Dry Cat Food||
The 6 Best Raw Cat Foods
1. Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird Cat Food — Best Overall
If you’re set on getting raw food, then the Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird is an easy and straightforward way to feed it to your feline. This formula contains finely ground chicken bones along with various other parts of the chicken, like the heart and liver. Once everything is mixed together, the ingredients are freeze-dried to appear like kibble.
Therefore, while this food looks like kibble, it is actually freeze-dried food, which is much healthier for your cat.
There is no extra flavoring or coloring in this food. What you see is what you get. There aren’t any artificial preservatives either, and the protein source is completely natural.
The main concern is that this food requires a Smalls fresh cat food subscription to access. You can’t just pick it up at your local store, and you can’t buy it alone from Smalls.
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Premium chicken used
- High in protein
- Easy to feed
- Requires a fresh cat food subscription
2. CANIDAE Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food — Best Value
The CANIDAE Freeze-Dried Raw Dry Cat Food is the best raw cat food for the money because it’s freeze-dried and raw-coated, which gives you the best of dry cat food and raw. Freeze-dried food is shelf-stable, so you can store it easily. The number one ingredient in this food is salmon to provide your cat with high-quality protein. The food doesn’t have any corn, wheat, or soy. It’s also free from artificial ingredients and by-products. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E for healthy skin and coats.
Some cats refuse to eat this food, so you may have difficulty switching your cat to this brand.
- Freeze-dried, raw-coated
- Number 1 ingredient is real salmon
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- No artificial ingredients and no by-products
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E for healthy skin and coats
- Some cats refuse to eat this formula
3. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dinner Morsels are another good choice because it contains mostly cage-free chicken, organ meat, and bones. This food also contains taurine and probiotics to help support your cat’s overall health. It’s also crafted in small batches in the USA to provide the freshest meat. The food is all-natural and minimally-processed with no added hormones, antibiotics, grains, or fillers. The meat is freeze-dried raw, which keeps it fresh but allows you to store it easily.
This food can cause digestive problems in some cats, especially since it has a low moisture content, but it still comes in at the fourth spot for best raw cat food this year.
- Contains 98% cage-free chicken
- Contains taurine and probiotics for dietary health
- Crafted in small batches in the USA to provide the highest levels of protein-rich meat
- All-natural and minimally-processed with no added hormones, antibiotics, grains, or fillers
- Real raw nutrition with the convenience of freeze-dried
- Can cause digestive problems
4. Primal Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food
The Primal Freeze Dried Cat Food is our premium choice because it contains fresh chicken and salmon raised without antibiotics or added hormones. The food is easy to prepare; all you have to do is add water to moisten it for your cat. It contains naturally-derived vitamins and minerals like omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E. It’s also free from soy, grain, gluten, corn, or wheat, which are all fillers that your cat doesn’t need. This food promises a complete and balanced diet for all life stages.
This is an expensive food that’s only available in small bags. We also found it has quality control issues where the food seems different from bag to bag.
- Contains chicken and salmon raised without antibiotics or added hormones
- Naturally-derived vitamins and minerals
- Contains no soy, grain, gluten, corn, or wheat
- Complete and balanced diet for all life stages
- Quality control issues
5. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Cat Food
The Instinct Raw Boost Dry Cat Food combines high-protein kibble with pieces of freeze-dried, wild-caught raw salmon. This gives your cat the convenience of kibble with the health benefits of raw food. This food contains probiotics to support healthy digestion. It also has naturally-occurring omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. The food is free from preservatives, artificial colors, grain, potato, corn, wheat, or soy. This eliminates a lot of the common cat food fillers that cats don’t need in their diets.
This food has been known to cause digestive problems like vomiting in some cats. Other cats refuse to eat this formula.
- Contains high-protein kibble and freeze-dried, wild-caught raw salmon
- Contains probiotics to support healthy digestion
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- No preservatives, artificial colors, grain, potato, corn, wheat, or soy
- Can cause digestive problems
- Some cats refuse to eat this formula
6. Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
The Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food contains 98% turkey and duck organs and bone to provide your cat with the protein it needs to stay healthy. This cat food is grain-free and doesn’t have any unnecessary fillers or ingredients. It contains probiotics to support good digestive and immune health.
This is an expensive food that comes in small bags. The food also doesn’t ship well and often contains a lot of powder and crumbles. It has a strong, unpleasant odor. Because of this, some cats refuse to eat this food.
- Contains 98% turkey and duck organs and bone
- Grain-free and filler-free
- Contains probiotics to support digestive and immune health
- Bag contains a lot of powder and crumbles
- Strong, unpleasant odor
- Some cats will not eat this formula
- Small bag size
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Raw Cat Food
Commercial raw cat food comes in many different forms, so it’s important to be aware of your choices when you search for the best kind. It’s also essential that raw cat food contains certain ingredients while avoiding others.
To help you know exactly what to look for, we’ve created a buyer’s guide that lists both the different raw cat food forms as well as what ingredients they should contain.
Raw Cat Food Forms
There are many different raw cat food options, with some being more shelf-stable than others.
This type of raw cat food looks like rolls of breakfast sausage, at least on the outside. The ingredients have been uniformly ground up and then rolled into plastic packaging. These rolls must be stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh, and they don’t last as long as some of the other cat food options. You also must cut portions for your cat from the roll, which can make it hard to give your kitty consistent amounts.
Patties are fresh, while raw food like rolls must be kept in the refrigerator. They are also made by grinding up ingredients in a uniform way, only these are cut into patties. This allows you to already have a cut portion of food ready to go for your cat. Patties don’t have a very long shelf-life.
Commercial raw cat food is also available in different packaging such as pouches, tubs, or bags. All of it is freshly made and is generally shelf-stable. You don’t have to refrigerate this type of food. This is also a wet food, which is great for making sure your cat is getting plenty of water.
You’ll find frozen raw cat food in the freezer section of some grocery and pet food stores. This is fresh food that’s been frozen, so it has a longer shelf life. To feed your cat, though, you’ll have to take time to thaw out portions. Once thawed, the food only lasts a day or two in the refrigerator.
Freeze-dried food is the most shelf-stable option that allows you to store the food in your pantry or kitchen cabinets and is a more time-friendly option than frozen raw cat food. With this type of food, fresh ingredients are air-dried to remove all moisture. Because the food isn’t cooked first, it preserves the nutritional content and vitamins.
Raw Cat Food Ingredients
Raw cat food needs to contain certain ingredients to help your cat maintain good overall health. It should also be free from other ingredients, like additives and fillers. Here are some things to look for when shopping for raw cat food.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, which means they have to eat meat, their diets should contain mostly protein. Raw food should be mostly all meat, and the best types of meat for cats are ones they’d eat in the wild. Poultry, fish, and rabbit are examples of healthy meats for cats. The food should contain muscle meat, organs, and bone because they provide the vitamins and minerals–like taurine–that your cat needs.
No Unnecessary Fruits and Vegetables
Cats don’t need fruits and vegetables in their food, but a small amount of fiber-rich vegetables like pumpkin can aid digestion. Kelp is another common ingredient you’ll see in cat food, and it provides sodium and iodine.
No Artificial Ingredients or Additives
Raw cat food needs to be free from artificial ingredients, additives, or fillers. Raw food tends to be more expensive, and you want your money to go toward high-quality ingredients that support your cat’s overall health. Many cats have allergies, too, and their food should be free from fillers like grains, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, and potato. These are ingredients that cats don’t need in their diet to remain healthy.
Protein should always be the first ingredient and the highest percentage of raw cat food. This is because cats need high-protein, low-carb diets. They also need amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, so the food should meet all their dietary requirements. Probiotics and antioxidants are sometimes added to support their digestive and immune systems.
Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!
Our top pick for best raw cat food is the Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird Cat Food because it’s a gourmet option made using human-grade ingredients and nutrients.
Our best value choice is the CANIDAE 3745 Freeze-Dried Raw Dry Cat Food because the number one ingredient is salmon. Fish provides your cat with protein and healthy fats it needs to stay strong and active. It also stores well since it’s freeze-dried and raw-coated kibble.
A raw food diet is a great choice for cats since they primarily need to eat high-quality protein. We hope our list of reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the best raw cat food for your kitty’s needs.
- A Glance at Our Top Picks of 2023
- The 6 Best Raw Cat Foods
- Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Raw Cat Food