We all want the best for our fuzzy little friends. When you bring a cat into your world, you not only get a purring companion you can snuggle and play with, but you also take on an important responsibility of keeping them safe and healthy.
That being said, one of the most important things we do for our cats is to feed them. You want to provide your cat with a well-balanced diet that is nutritious and packed with all the essential nutrients they need.
On the other hand, that can be easier said than done. If you have been to a pet store recently, you know there is a staggering amount of cat food available. There are so many brands, formulas, and flavors it will make your head spin. Not only that, but there are numerous different kinds of food. It is no longer just wet or dry. Nowadays, you have several different options to choose from.
So, which is the right one? Below, we are going to take a look at the different types of cat foods available. We will go over all the information you need, so you can decide what type is the healthiest for your cat.
First, however, let’s take a look at what your kitty requires for a healthy diet.
Your adorable little purring pal is in actuality one of the most carnivorous pets you can have. They are meat-eaters through and through. Yes, even more than dogs. Unlike canines, felines do not have the enzymes necessary to process plant-based foods.
Cats need meat to not only survive but to thrive. The technical term is called obligate carnivores. They require a very protein-rich diet to maintain a healthy weight, be active, and have healthy fur and teeth. What they do not need is grains, GMO’s, and other harmful ingredients. In particular, though, cats have no use for carbohydrates.
As your cat cannot process carbs, feeding them food high in carbohydrates is the equivalent to feeding a three-year-old a diet of candy and sugar. It will cause your feline many health issues including obesity and kidney disease. It can also cause diabetes.
Lastly, you want to avoid fish diets. Although that seems to go against the grain, most pet foods are made from fish that are high in heavy metals, pollutants from the water, and other toxins that can be harmful to your pet.
With all that being said, let’s look closer at some different types of food that are available for your pet.
There are five main textures and types of cat food: canned (wet), pouched (wet), raw cat food, lightly cooked, and dry. You can click on each of the categories below to jump to that type:
The 18 Different Types of Cat Food Are:
Canned wet cat food that is high in protein and contains human grade meat as the first ingredient is a good place to start. There are, however, many different types of canned food:
1. Canned Pate Cat Food
The most common canned cat food is pate. This is a pureed meat that is compressed into a can. Pate means “a spread of finely chopped or pureed seasoned meat”. This meal tends to be more solid than other options, and some fussy felines prefer it mashed up to make it easier to eat
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2. Canned Meat in Gravy
When it comes to canned cat food, this is probably the most popular in the cat community. It is made of thick chunks of meat in a thick gravy that is delicious for your kitty. Be advised, though, it is usually higher in calories.
- Twenty-Four (24) 3 oz. Cans - Purina Fancy Feast Gravy Wet Cat Food, Medleys...
- Tender white meat chicken and turkey for delectable flavor
3. Canned Meat in Broth
Coming in second to meat in gravy, we have meat in broth. It is generally the same thing, but it is packed in a lighter liquid and some versions can also have vegetables.
- Ten (10) 2 oz. Trays - Purina Fancy Feast Natural Grain Free Wet Cat Food,...
- Tender flakes of real white meat chicken and tuna. Grain-free wet food formula
4. Canned Flaked Cat Food
Flaked canned cat food typically has smaller pieces of meat than in the two options above. It is packed in either broth or gravy, plus this is where you are going to find the extra bits such as cheese or bacon.
- Twenty-Four (24) 5.5 oz. Cans - Purina Friskies Wet Cat Food, Flaked With Tuna &...
- Made with real tuna and egg for a taste cats love
5. Canned Shredded Cat Food
Shredded cat food is the second most common canned meal, and it is similar to the flaked verity. In this case, though, the pieces of meat are long, thin and spaghetti-like in diameter-although much shorter. It is packed in broth or water.
- Twenty-Four (24) 3 oz. Cans - Purina Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food Medleys Shredded...
- Delicious Purina wet cat food combinations inspired by dishes from around the...
6. Canned Semi-Moist Cat Food
This is the least common type of canned cat food. It is not easily found as the preservatives and sugar content in this food is high. More often, you will find this type of food in treat form.
- CHICKEN IS THE SINGLE ANIMAL PROTEIN SOURCE providing essential protein and...
- LIMITED INGREDIENT DIET PHILOSOPHY Formulated with a simplified list of premium...
Overall, canned food has many benefits depending on the brand. It is usually meat-based, and it contains many of the proteins and nutrients your furball needs. What’s more, it is affordable.
That being said, it can also contain more questionable ingredients such as meat by-products, high calories, and artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. If you want to go with this option, go with a product that lists a named meat like “chicken” as the first ingredient. Organic is also a good sign to look for.
- Popular with cats
- Contains a lot of protein
- Can have meat by-products
- Artificial ingredients
Pouched food is another option that you can choose. This is a fairly new type of food on the market that comes in several different varieties.
7. Pouch Stews
Pouch stews can vary in their consistency. They can be anywhere from a meat and gravy-like canned food to a flaked food that is lighter. Both options are typically made with meat bits and gravy, but they will often have added ingredients such as vegetables.
8. Pouch Broths
Broths can be very similar to stews, or it can be just plain broth. When it is a chicken or beef broth, it can be beneficial for kitties with digestive issues. Keep in mind though that they are usually higher in sodium and preservatives.
- Twelve (12) 1.4 oz. Pouches - Purina Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food Complement Variety...
- Seafood flavors cats love
9. Pouch Supplements
This is a good option if you have a feline friend with certain deficiencies. Some brands make pouches that are meant to be supplements, and you would typically mix it in with your pet’s normal food. It is recommended that you speak with your vet before feeding your cat these pouches, however.
- IMMUNE SUPPORT – Vetri Lysine Plus is an immune support chew for cats of all...
- RECOMMENDED BY VETS – Vetri Lysine Plus is recommended by veterinarians for...
10. Pouch Toppers
Okay, this little pouch is pretty popular with furballs, but not so much with the human half of things. Pouch toppers are essentially food toppers. They are typically pieces of freeze-dried fish, though they can come in oil, as well. As mentioned, fish is not the best food for your cat, plus it usually has a lot of preservatives and sodium.
- Ten (10) 1.1 oz. Trays - Purina Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food Complement, Appetizers...
- Made with real, recognizable ingredients
11. Pouch Morsels
Morsels are more or less the same as semi-moist canned food. In the pouch, however, it is somewhat healthier but still should be constrained as treats.
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Pouch food has the same issues as canned food. In the best-case scenario, it can have a lot of good protein and nutrients for your pal. What’s more, the supplements can be important for some “under the whiskers” cats. It is also affordable.
On the other hand, not only can pouched food be made of by-product meals, but the pouches are typically higher in sodium and some of the toppers are more like treats and should not be given as a dietary staple.
- Healthy proteins
- Enjoyable for you cats
- Available as supplements
- By-product meals
- Artificial ingredients
- High in sodium
Raw Cat Food
Raw cat food is one of the healthier options for your cat, although it can depend on the type of raw food you are purchasing. It goes without saying that the fresher it is, the better it is going to be for your cat.
12. Dehydrated Raw Cat Food
Dehydrated food is a popular choice if your pet likes a raw meal. Not only does it contain real meat and plenty of protein and nutrients, but freeze-dried food is also better for your pet’s digestive process. Naturally, raw food can be hard for some animals to process especially if they are not used to the diet.
13. Frozen Raw Cat Food
Frozen raw has many of the same benefits as dehydrated. It is typically made with meat and other bits such as vegetables, but the freezing process can cost the meal some of its essential nutrients. Also, as the food will go back to raw after it is thawed, it can still be hard to digest.
The freeze-dried cat food that came in 1st place in our cat food reviews is Smalls, human-grade cat food. Click here and use the code Excitedcats2023 at checkout to save 40% on this amazing food today.
14. Store-Bought Raw Cat Food
Store-bought raw meals are meant to refer to a raw diet that is not made at home by you. You can buy this food from the refrigerated section of the pet store, or you can sign up for a subscription service that will deliver the food to you once a week. As mentioned, raw food is packed with perks but can be hard to digest for your pooch.
15. Homemade Raw Cat Food
Homemade cat food is the way to go if you are willing to put in the time and energy to make it, plus do the research on what ingredients you need. Unfortunately, it can be quite time consuming, and you will require some kitchen appliances you may not have on hand such as a meat grinder.
Overall, raw meats are going to give your pet the most protein and nutrients. They will have healthy fur, teeth, and have a lower risk for an illness that can be caused by artificial ingredients. It is also fair to say that your cat will enjoy these feasts once their stomach becomes accustomed.
On the other hand, if you are not making the food at home, you still want to pay attention to the ingredients. Once again, depending on the brand, there can be some questionable meats. Look for USDA approved or organic/human-grade meat. Also, as mentioned, this type of food is more costly.
- High nutritional value
- Better for skin and coats
- Less artificial ingredients
- Can be hard to digest
- More costly
Lightly Cooked Cat Food
Lightly cooked combines the best of canned and raw foods. It is typically made with wholesome protein-packed ingredients, but it is not as hard on the stomach as raw food. There are two kinds of lightly cooked cat food: boiled or steamed.
16. Lightly Boiled Cat Food
Lightly boiled is a good option that is the cheaper of the two lightly cooked cat foods. It is less common though and can be harder to find. Although it does maintain a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients, the flavor can be reduced by the boiling process along with some reduction in nutrients. Also, this is another food that can be higher in sodium.
17. Lightly Steamed Cat Food
Lightly steamed is more expensive than boiled, but it does maintain more flavor. It has added benefits such as fewer calories if you have a tubby tabby. You should note, however, steam is not always a feline favorite.
As we mentioned, this kind of cat food is easier to digest than raw, so it works as a good transition meal. It has a lot of protein and other good ingredients, but your cat may not be fond of it especially if they are picky eaters. Also, it is more expensive than canned, and steam can be higher in cost than raw in some cases.
- Essential nutrients
- Easier to digest
- Good transition food to a raw diet
- More expensive
- Cats don’t always like it
Dry Cat Food
Dry food is our last category and our least favorite option, as it does not have much nutritional value for your kitty cat.
18. Dry Cat Food
Dry food comes in different flavors and styles, but it is all more or less the same thing. It is very rarely made with real meat but instead made with artificial meat flavors or animal by-products that are unhealthy for your cat.
- Contains (1) 22 Pound Bag of Dry Cat Food
- Complete and balanced nutrition
It also does not have as much protein as they need, but it does have a lot of carbohydrates, calories, and sugars that are detrimental to your cat’s health. In essence, dry food is the same as junk food for cats. That being said, some crunchy bits will help remove tartar from your feline’s teeth, but only if they chew slowly enough. It is also a cheaper food that is easy to get even at your local gas station.
- Can help with teeth cleaning
- Not as many nutrients
- More sugars and carbohydrates
- Artificial ingredients
- You might also like: Indoor vs Outdoor Cat Food: What’s the Difference?
- See also: Purina ONE Cat Food Review 2021: Recalls, Pros & Cons
We hope you have enjoyed this article about the different types of cat food available for your fuzzy ankle biter. With so many options available, it can be hard to discover which one is best for your pet.
Overall, varieties of raw food are usually the best. You have a better chance of feeding your cat wholesome protein-rich and vitamin-packed meals that will keep them healthy and strong. That being said, some great canned and pouch foods are also filled with good ingredients, you just have to be vigilant regarding the labels.
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Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, shutterstock
- Healthy Ingredients
- The 18 Different Types of Cat Food Are:
- 1. Canned Pate Cat Food
- 2. Canned Meat in Gravy
- 3. Canned Meat in Broth
- 4. Canned Flaked Cat Food
- 5. Canned Shredded Cat Food
- 6. Canned Semi-Moist Cat Food
- 7. Pouch Stews
- 8. Pouch Broths
- 9. Pouch Supplements
- 10. Pouch Toppers
- 11. Pouch Morsels
- 12. Dehydrated Raw Cat Food
- 13. Frozen Raw Cat Food
- 14. Store-Bought Raw Cat Food
- 15. Homemade Raw Cat Food
- 16. Lightly Boiled Cat Food
- 17. Lightly Steamed Cat Food
- 18. Dry Cat Food