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The Best Cat Foods in 2019

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The Best Cat Food Guide

You’ve decided to pick up a new cat food, great. Where do you start? Should it be grain-free? Wet or dry? How much should you be paying?

These are all valid questions that can leave you dazed and confused, blinded by an overwhelming amount of choice. You’ll find conflicting advice on each, and it seems not even the experts can agree on what’s best for your cat. We’ve only chosen the best cat foods that receive praise from experts and owners alike.

We’ve split this article into clear sections that focus on specific dietary needs such as those of senior cats, kittens, and overweight cats. Skip ahead to the best cat food for your cat’s needs using the list below.

On this page:

Each section better focuses on the needs of specific cats and describes how we made our decisions for that category. If you’d like a summary that only includes the best cat food from each category, the following section is where you should look.

  1. 1 The Best Cat Foods in 2019
    1. 1.1 1. Best Dry Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry
    2. 1.2 2. Best Wet Food: Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Canned
    3. 1.3 3. Best Senior Food: Royal Canin Aging 12+ Senior Canned
    4. 1.4 4. Best Kitten Food: Nature’s Variety Original Kitten
    5. 1.5 5. Best Diet Food: Royal Canin Ultra Light Canned
    6. 1.6 How We Chose The Best Cat Foods Overall
  2. 2 The Best Dry Cat Foods – Summary
    1. 2.1 1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Chicken Dry Cat Food
    2. 2.2 2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food
    3. 2.3 3. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Indoor Dry Cat Food
    4. 2.4 How We Chose The Best Dry Cat Foods
  3. 3 The Best Canned Cat Foods
    1. 3.1 1. Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Feast Canned Cat Food
    2. 3.2 2. Royal Canin Adult Instinctive Canned Cat Food
    3. 3.3 3. Wellness Complete Health Turkey & Salmon Canned Cat Food
    4. 3.4 How We Chose The Best Canned Cat Foods
  4. 4 The Best Senior Cat Foods – Summary
    1. 4.1 1. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Canned Senior Cat Food
    2. 4.2 2. Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Dry Senior Cat Food
    3. 4.3 3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Chicken Recipe Dry Senior Cat Food
    4. 4.4 How We Chose The Best Senior Cat Foods
  5. 5 The Best Kitten Foods – Summary
    1. 5.1 1. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Kitten Dry Cat Food
    2. 5.2 2. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Canned Food
    3. 5.3 3. Wellness Complete Health Kitten Canned Cat Food
    4. 5.4 How We Chose The Best Kitten Foods
  6. 6 The Best Diet Cat Foods – Summary
    1. 6.1 1. Royal Canin Ultra Light Canned Weight Loss Cat Food
    2. 6.2 2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Cat Food
    3. 6.3 3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Loss Cat Food
    4. 6.4 How We Chose The Best Diet Cat Foods
  7. 7 A General Guide To Choosing The Best Cat Food
    1. 7.1 Macronutrient Ratios: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates
    2. 7.2 Protein Sources In Cat Food: The Good, The OK and The Ugly
    3. 7.3 Grains vs. Grain-Free Cat Foods, Which Is Best?
    4. 7.4 Important Nutrient Inclusions In Cat Foods
  8. 8 Our Conclusion

The Best Cat Foods in 2019

The best food for your cat depends entirely on their dietary requirements. As a general rule, diets that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and are packed with minerals and vitamins to support healthy living are the ideal choice.

This section offers an overview of the best cat foods across a few different dietary needs. For a more in-depth look, we’d suggest you skip to the category that best describes your cat’s needs. Below are the best cat foods available today that provide wholesome nutrition while catering for specific feline dietary requirements.

1. Best Dry Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry

Protein: 38.0% (min) | Fat: 16.0% (min) | Fiber: 6.0% (max) | Moisture: 9.0% (max)

Our pick of the bunch when it comes to dry adult cat food, and one of best cat foods in general, is Blue Buffalo’s Indoor Chicken recipe. Blue Buffalos’s Wilderness range offers excellent value for money and has very high-quality sources of animal-ingredients.

Not only do you get more for your money than with most other brands, but you also get one of the best protein to carbohydrate ratios around. Consumer reviews from all around the web back up our overwhelmingly positive personal experiences with this brilliant dry cat food. A big thumbs up from us! Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Chicken review.

2. Best Wet Food: Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Canned

Protein: 11.0% (min) | Fat: 2.0% (min) | Fiber: 1.5% (max) | Moisture: 80.0% (max)

Choosing the best canned cat food is tough, but if you take value for money into account, there can only be one winner. Purina’s Fancy Feast variety packs offer high-quality nutrition and a price tag that’s hard to match.

With a dry-matter protein content of 55.0% (min), they offer one of the most impressive nutritional profiles available at this price range. Cats love the real seafood ingredients (of which there are plenty), and the variety of flavors here keeps them from getting bored. Highly recommended. Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Feast Canned food review.

3. Best Senior Food: Royal Canin Aging 12+ Senior Canned

Protein: 9.0% (min) | Fat: 2.5% (min) | Fiber: 1.8% (max) | Moisture: 82.0% (max)

Senior cat foods cater to the specific needs of older cats by tweaking the formula to better match their lifestyle. Royal Canin’s Aging 12+ formula does this perfectly. Though not the cheapest by far, it’s in categories like these that Royal Canin’s expert formulas shine. This senior cat food will take excellent care of your cat’s joint and kidney health as they age. It provides them with an endless list of vitamins and minerals to keep them feeling young and healthy.

The thin slices in gravy make sure that even the fussiest of cats can’t get enough of this high-quality cat food. If the price tag is an issue, consider using this food alongside a dry food for older cats. It’s perfect, and according to Chewy’s reviews section, a staggering 98% of previous buyers would recommend this food. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Senior Canned food review.

4. Best Kitten Food: Nature’s Variety Original Kitten

Protein: 42.5% (min) | Fat: 22.5% (min) | Fiber: 3.0% (max) | Moisture: 9.0% (max)

Featuring one of the best balances of kitten nutrition and affordability, it’s hard to choose anything other than Nature’s Variety Original Kitten formula for the title of best kitten food. The grain-free recipe contains everything you could hope to find in a good kitten food, including DHA for eye and brain development, taurine, and plenty of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, to name a few.

Though we’d suggest pairing dry kitten food with canned kitten food for variety and hydration, this takes the crown as the overall best value for money. We’ve even seen owners describe it as a miracle food for the positive effects on coat and skin health. Highly recommended. Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Kitten food review.

5. Best Diet Food: Royal Canin Ultra Light Canned

Protein: 9.0% (min) | Fat: 1.6% (min) | Fiber: 2.1% (max) | Moisture: 84.5% (max)

With one of the lowest calorie counts around at a staggering 54kcal/3oz can, this formula blows the competition out of the water in terms of effectiveness. Royal Canin are well respected for their specialist formulas, but this diet cat food pushes the bar even higher.

Packed with goodness in every bite, but light enough to be super-effective at weight reduction, it’s no surprise it’s so highly rated among owners. We’d recommend pairing this with a cheaper dry weight loss cat food for the best economy, but in terms of effectiveness, nothing comes close. Royal Canin Ultra Light weight loss food review.

How We Chose The Best Cat Foods Overall

The best cat food depends entirely on your cat’s needs. This section highlights the best of the best; these are our top picks from each specialist cat food category. Each of these foods was chosen based on criteria that are exclusive to the formula’s intended purpose. For example, weight loss foods typically are low in calories, while senior foods are excellent in terms of kidney and liver support.

If our picks of the best cat foods aren’t to your liking, or you’d like to see some other options, it’s worth skipping to the section for that particular category. There, you’ll find a handful of picks that better cover the options available, and a description of how we came to choose them.

This summary list should give you a quick glance of what works, and a rough idea of the best cat food brands currently out there today. There may be another option better suited to your needs or budget, so we encourage you to read a little deeper to find the most cost effective cat food for you.


The Best Dry Cat Foods – Summary

Quality dry cat foods need to offer a finely balanced feline diet, with excellent protein sources and just the right amount of nutrients to maintain a healthy weight. It’s all too common for lesser-known manufacturers to include “filler” ingredients that beef up quantity without adding any real substance. In the best dry cat foods, each ingredient should serve a meaningful purpose. Below are our picks for the best dry cat foods available today, perfectly suited to providing a nutritionally complete meal.

1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Chicken Dry Cat Food

Protein: 38.0% (min) | Fat: 16.0% (min) | Fiber: 6.0% (max) | Moisture: 9.0% (max)

Blue Buffalo’s entire range of cat foods never ceases to impress us, but it’s their selection of dry foods that put them at the top of the pile in terms of value for money. Deboned chicken is the first ingredient on the list, along with chicken-meal and pea protein as supplementary sources of protein.

A 38.0% minimum protein content is staggering, and at 410 kcal/cup it’s a food that will last a while given the relatively small portion sizes required. Without a doubt, this will always be one of our go-to cat food recommendations for any adult cat owner looking to make changes to their cat’s diet. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Chicken food review.

2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

Protein: 31.0% (min) | Fat: 13.0% (min) | Fiber: 6.0% (min) | Moisture: 8.0% (max)

Hill’s Science Diet cat foods are one of the most well-established brands around today. It’s no surprise. Their vast range of specialist cat food formulas has helped countless owners overcome diet-related issues. This adult indoor chicken recipe dry food has recently undergone a formula change, boosting the minimum protein content to 31.0% from 29.0%, and lowering the fat content from 16.0% down to a leaner 13.0%.

These two key changes make an already fantastic formula even more aligned to the dietary requirements of cats. The icing on the cake is that Hill’s Science Diet remains extremely affordable. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Dry food review.

3. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Indoor Dry Cat Food

Protein: 38.0% (min) | Fat: 9.0% (min) | Fiber: 5.4% (max) | Moisture: 12.0% (max)

Cat Chow Naturals Indoor dry food from Purina has become a bit of a favorite among cats and owners alike in recent years. This real chicken and turkey formula boasts an impressive 12.0% moisture content, far above the industry average of around 8-10%.

With no artificial flavors or preservatives, Cat Chow Naturals has an “every ingredient must count” attitude that we love to see. Purina are well versed in the dietary requirements of cats, so you can expect nothing less than 100% satisfaction in nutritional terms. You’ll likely see 100% satisfaction in happiness terms from your cat, too, given the outstanding reviews this cat food receives. Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry food review.

How We Chose The Best Dry Cat Foods

While looking through the dry cat food options available today, we had three main priorities in mind: high-quality protein sources, balanced nutrition, and value for money. We compiled a long list of dry foods that ticked these three boxes, then set about narrowing it down to a select few that stood out.

High-quality animal-source ingredients are present in foods where meats or meat by-products occupy the first ingredient slot on the packaging. Animal-source ingredients are absolutely key to ensuring your cat receives the required amount of essential amino acids and fatty acids in their diets.

We’re all aware by now that dry cat foods are extraordinarily economical and convenient, but did you know that they’re also typically higher in carbohydrates? Because of their tendency to be carbohydrate-heavy, finding dry cat foods that have good protein and fat vs. carbohydrate ratios is essential. Many of the top dry cat food brands have this down to a tee by now, and sticking to respected brands often guarantees you’re buying a nutritionally complete dry food.

Cats typically prefer foods with a strong odor, something that’s often missing in dry cat foods. To make sure cats are open to eating our suggested best dry foods, we’ve scoured countless manufacturer pages and retailers to check out the reviews for each food carefully. The number of cat owners who report that fussy cats have taken to the new food despite previously turning their nose up at other brands is usually a great indicator of how cats generally react to the food.


The Best Canned Cat Foods

Although more commonly used alongside dry food, the best canned cat foods offer a nutritionally complete meal by themselves. Canned foods feature a far higher moisture content. This increased moisture content not only makes canned foods more appealing to cats by releasing appetizing aromas, but it also makes them more easily digestible.

Choosing the best wet cat food is as much of an obstacle course as dry foods, so thankfully, we’re on hand to help guide you through the good and the bad. Here are our top picks for canned cat foods that have excellent nutritional profiles.

1. Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Feast Canned Cat Food

Protein: 11.0% (min) | Fat: 2.0% (min) | Fiber: 1.5% (max) | Moisture: 80.0% (max)

Fancy Feast canned cat foods are huge favorites in the online cat owner’s community. Manufactured by Purina, these gourmet-style canned cat foods are irresistible to cats and each of the flavors in this variety pack offers a delicious, nutritious meal that keeps cats wanting more.

Despite their rather up-market branding, Fancy Feast foods provide incredible value for money, especially when purchased in the variety packs. For each of the flavors, fish broth is swiftly followed on the ingredients list by an array of real meats including tuna, salmon, ocean fish, and liver. Each provides 11.0% protein with 80.0% moisture, which equates to a dry matter protein content of 55.0%! Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Feast canned food review.

2. Royal Canin Adult Instinctive Canned Cat Food

Protein: 10.5% (min) | Fat: 1.9% (min) | Fiber: 1.8% (max) | Moisture: 81.5% (max)

We make no secret of the fact that we love Royal Canin foods. We’re firm believers that if you can afford the premium price tag, then Royal Canin is the way to go. This Adult Instinctive canned food formula is another example that strengthens our beliefs. A 56.75% minimum dry-matter protein content is seriously impressive, and given Royal Canin’s outstanding reputation of creating healthy formulas, you can rest assured it’s nutritionally complete in every way.

At the time of writing, 95% of reviewers on Chewy would recommend Royal Canin Adult Instinctive, if that doesn’t convince you that they’re worth the extra cost, nothing will. Royal Canin Adult Instinctive canned food review.

3. Wellness Complete Health Turkey & Salmon Canned Cat Food

Protein: 10.5% (min) | Fat: 5.0% (min) | Fiber: 1.0% (max) | Moisture: 78.0% (max)

Wellness cat foods boast a loyal customer base, and with good reason. Their natural formulas and insistence on preferring real meats over by-product meats have endured them to cats and cat owners alike. Their Turkey & Salmon canned cat food formula is one of our favorites.

An ingredients list that starts with turkey, chicken liver, whitefish, chicken broth, and salmon sums up Wellness foods perfectly; wholesome ingredients that cats love. The 10.5% minimum protein content isn’t half bad, either. We’d recommend this canned food to owners who value grain-free foods and more natural approaches to nutrition. Wellness Complete Health Formula canned food review.

How We Chose The Best Canned Cat Foods

Choosing between wet cat foods isn’t easy for most people. It’s an unfortunate truth that our day to day lives don’t afford us the time to examine every ingredient. The decisions of most people boil down to value for money alone.

Sticking to well known canned cat food brands makes choosing value a safe choice, but since no two cat foods are equal, you’re not necessarily getting the value you expect. We picked apart the ingredients list first, then choose the canned cat foods we believe offer the best value given the quality of their ingredients.

Comparing dry food labels to canned food labels can easily mislead owners. At a glance, dry foods seem to be higher in protein, but these comparisons are unfair due to the analysis of the canned food taking moisture into account. To fairly compare the two foods, moisture must be removed from the equation; you can find an excellent post detailing how to do that here.

If you’re willing to take our word for it, for foods with 80.0% moisture, you should be looking for a protein content of around 10.0% on the label, give or take a few percent. This balance is equal to a level of 50.0% protein in dry matter analysis; well above the minimum 26.0% described by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile guidelines. Rest assured, the canned cat foods we list here are well over this minimum level.

There’s more to cat food than protein, though. Just as with dry foods, the ingredients label is ordered by quantity descending, so you should expect high-quality sources of animal meats right at the start. All major cat food producers are safe bets with regards to nutrition. Our decisions between foods mostly come down to the quality of ingredients, reception from the community, our personal experiences, customer reviews, and the feedback we receive from our readers (of course)!


The Best Senior Cat Foods – Summary

Senior cats have significantly different dietary needs than their younger counterparts. Cat foods formulated for older cats take this into account by lowering the fat content, increasing support for joint health, and typically lowering the general calorie intake. Though all senior cat food formulas differ, most target their health benefits at the same key areas; kidneys, joints, coat, and teeth.

There are several excellent cat foods for older cats, which we’ve looked at in-depth previously. Here are our picks of the bunch, what we consider to be the best senior cat foods available.

1. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Canned Senior Cat Food

Protein: 9.0% (min) | Fat: 2.5% (min) | Fiber: 1.8% (max) | Moisture: 82.0% (max)

Royal Canin’s aging formula contains a nutrient profile that is perfect for older cats. Their long history of in-depth research into cat nutrition puts them in a prime place to tailor cat foods to the specific needs of senior cats.

With a 50.0% dry-matter protein content, this food caters excellently to the reduced-fat requirements, all while ensuring the essential acids for a healthy lifestyle remain present. Royal Canin foods come with a rather hefty price tag when compared to some of the budget brands, but this is one instance where they are definitely worth the extra few bucks. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Senior Canned food review.

2. Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Dry Senior Cat Food

Protein: 32.0% (min) | Fat: 15.0% (min) | Fiber: 5.0% (max) | Moisture: 9.0% (max)

Blue Buffalo has worked its magic again to produce an affordable senior cat food formula that featured incredibly high-quality ingredients throughout. With deboned chicken making the number one spot on the ingredient list, this grain-free formula prioritizes natural sources of protein and fiber over all else.

If there’s one universal feature that ties all Blue Buffalo food formulas together, it’s that cats go wild for it. Your senior cat will have no trouble mustering up an appetite with this food around. For an affordable, high-quality dry senior cat food, look no further. Highly recommended. Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Dry Senior food review.

3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Chicken Recipe Dry Senior Cat Food

Protein: 28.0% (min) | Fat: 18.0% (min) | Fiber: 3.5% (max) | Moisture: 8.0% (max)

Renowned for their excellent specialist formulas, Hill’s Science Diet has produced a fantastic formula for older cats that cats can’t get enough of. With 95% of previous buyers recommending this food on Chewy, it’s fair to say that it has impressed the vast majority of cat owners.

Hill’s formulas offer surprisingly good value for money considering the careful science behind them and the quality of ingredients sourced. Manufactured in the USA, this excellent blend of nutrition and specialist vitamins is perfect for helping your cat through their older years. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Senior Dry food review.

How We Chose The Best Senior Cat Foods

For older cats, typically 11 years or older, things start to slow down. Their levels of activity can significantly drop, and their diet must adapt to their new, slower lifestyle. This adaptation means a drop in fat content, a slight bump in fiber content, and the inclusion of several other important nutrients that aid cats in old age.

As always, the most prominent cat food manufactures have gotten this down to a tee, so choosing a food that’s backed by a big brand name is a safe bet.

Many, if not all, senior cat food formulas will focus extensively on digestion. The marginally higher fiber content helps the gut deal with things it might otherwise struggle with, and smaller kibble sizes, or soft wet foods, help them to chew and swallow the food. The second point is especially important when you take into account dental issues that typically arise in old age. You can find tender slices of food or loaf-style pate foods that are suitable for cats with a very poor dental condition.

We chose our list of senior cat foods based on how well they cater to the aforementioned specific needs of older cats. Considerations to joint and kidney health are especially desirable, and food that drives appetite is crucial. All of the foods we shortlisted provide older cats with all the nutrients they need to live a long healthy life.

Deciding between the top picks is a matter of budget, and whether or not a certain formula caters more to the specific needs of your cat. For example, if your cat has had kidney issues in the past, you’d be better off preferring a senior food that specifically aims to improve kidney health.


The Best Kitten Foods – Summary

Kittens have very different nutritional needs to those of adult and senior cats. These differences a include a higher calorie intake along with increased levels of ingredients crucial to development such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Thankfully, kittens are typically less fussy about the food they eat than adult cats.

Despite their ravenous appetite, it remains vital that you choose a kitten food that’s tailor-made for their needs. We’re on hand to show you which foods are excellently formulated to help kittens develop into healthy adults. Below are the best kitten foods designed to provide them with every nutrient required for healthy development.

1. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Kitten Dry Cat Food

Protein: 42.5% (min) | Fat: 22.5% (min) | Fiber: 3.0% (max) | Moisture: 9.0% (max)

Nature’s Variety’s Instinct Original Kitten has been one of our top kitten food picks for some time. It’s super affordable and perfectly formulated. With chicken featuring as the main ingredient and a whole host of vital nutrients included, it’s one of the best kitten foods available today.

The recently updated formula bumps up the fat content (a good thing!) ever so slightly to better reflect the macronutrient requirements of growing kittens. A grain-free recipe packs in a minimum of 0.2% DHA to promote healthy brain and eye development, and contains plenty of vital Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It’s everything you could ask for and more at an incredibly competitive price. Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Kitten food review.

2. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Canned Food

Protein: 9.0% (min) | Fat: 4.0% (min) | Fiber: 1.9% (max) | Moisture: 81.0% (max)

Royal Canin is well respected as one of the industry’s leading researchers. This Mother & Babycat formula is absolutely perfect for kittens who are transitioning from milk to solid kitten foods. The texture, a super soft mousse, makes it very appealing to kittens who might struggle with getting to grips with kibble.

As always, Royal Canin formulas are balanced to perfection; packed with crucial nutrients and vitamins required for healthy development. Though Royal Canin’s foods often command a premium price tag, they truly are the best of the best in terms of quality. According to Chewy’s reviews section at the time of writing, a huge 96% of previous buyers would recommend this food. We easily recommend this as the best canned kitten food for kittens between the ages of 1 to 4 months. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat kitten food review.

3. Wellness Complete Health Kitten Canned Cat Food

Protein: 11.0% (min) | Fat: 7.0% (min) | Fiber: 1.0% (max) | Moisture: 78.0% (max)

This pleasing, chicken-flavored pate from Wellness’ Complete Health range is a perfect food for kittens up to a year old. With an impressive crude protein content of 11.0% min to 78.0% moisture, this wholly nutritious kitten food weighs in at 122kcal/3oz can; perfect for rapidly growing cats.

Wellness pride themselves on using only the highest-quality natural ingredients in their 100% grain-free formulas. The chicken broth drives kittens wild, and having peace of mind that each mouthful is packed with nutrients and vitamins required for growth is priceless. Wellness’ Complete Health formulas are excellent, and this kitten food is one of the best cat foods available in general today. Wellness Complete Health kitten food review.

How We Chose The Best Kitten Foods

Rapidly growing kittens require a diet that is well balanced in protein and fat content while providing all the added nutrients required for healthy development. It’s not easy to know what you’re getting with cat food, but when feeding a kitten, nutrition must be right.

Our selections of the best kitten foods are checked against the AAFCO recommendations to ensure that each food meets the standards. On top of this, we check the ingredients to be sure that each food contains everything it needs and doesn’t include a ton of filler ingredients that offer little value.

Once nutrition is covered, we turn our attention to value for money. It’s clear that budget kitten foods sacrifice quality in some areas, and it’s important to understand where.

Cheap kitten food could mean sacrifices in animal ingredient quality, such as poorly sourced chicken. With respectable brands, you can rest assured that the sources of their ingredients meet the strict standards set by their manufacturing country, which is often the USA.


The Best Diet Cat Foods – Summary

Weight loss foods for cats are formulated to have high protein content and a low-calorie count. Since diet cat foods strip out unnecessary carbohydrates in favor of protein, they work to retain lean muscle mass while shedding fat.

Choosing the best weight loss cat food for effectiveness is important; it’s likely you’ll be paying more than you would for their regular diet. Here are our top picks for the best diet cat foods, each designed to provide a wholly nutritious meal and shed some weight in the process.

1. Royal Canin Ultra Light Canned Weight Loss Cat Food

Protein: 9.0% (min) | Fat: 1.6% (min) | Fiber: 2.1% (max) | Moisture: 84.5% (max)

Royal Canin’s Ultra Light weight management formula really is ULTRA light. Weighing in at a remarkably low 54 kcal/3oz can, it’s one of the most effective weight loss foods available over the counter.

This formula has 15% fewer calories than their Adult Instinctive formula, another that we rank as one of the best cat foods available today. A 15% drop in calories is huge, so be sure to pay close attention to the feeding guidelines. Nothing comes close to the effectiveness of this food for weight loss; it’s a no-brainer. Royal Canin Ultra Light weight loss food review.

2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Cat Food

Protein: 36.0% (min) | Fat: 8.5% (min) | Fiber: 10.0% (max) | Moisture: 8.0% (max)

Although this Hill’s Science Diet is also suitable for cats who want to maintain a healthy weight, it’s real magic is in its effectiveness as a weight loss food. A dry-matter protein content of almost 40% is impressive for a dry diet cat food that weighs in at just 300kcal/cup.

As with all Hill’s Science Diet formulas, each mouthful is packed with nutrients that support a healthy immune system and general health. It’s one of the most effective dry cat foods for weight loss available without a prescription, and thoroughly deserves a spot on our best cat foods list. Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight food review.

3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Loss Cat Food

Protein: 46.0% (min) | Fat: 8.0% (min) | Fiber: 5.0% (max) | Moisture: 12.0% (max)

The value for money option. Purina’s Pro Plan formula weighs in heavier than the others at 427kcal/cup, but this means each meal requires smaller portions, and as such, more for your money. This higher calorie count is partly due to a staggering 52.3% dry-matter protein content.

It’s still packed with all the nutrients required for a nutritionally complete meal, and Purina has a good reputation for using high-quality sources. At the time of writing, 99% of reviewers on Chewy would recommend this food, and we’d happily count ourselves as one of the 99%; it’s a superb weight loss cat food for those on a budget. Purina Focus Weight Management food review.

How We Chose The Best Diet Cat Foods

Weight loss cat foods must strike a balance between protein content and calorie count. This balance is usually achieved by lowering fat content and removing filler ingredients that offer little more than making food stretch further. Choosing the best diet cat food means finding a formula that has a perfect balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. It should also weigh in light on calories and leave cats feeling full.

When researching cat foods for weight loss, we found that the best options are typically formulas that have been built from the ground up to be weight loss foods, as opposed to existing formulas that have reduced-calorie tweaks. Armed with this discovery, we set out to compile a list of super-effective weight loss foods; and we think we’ve done a pretty good job.

As always, economy is a factor, and specialist cat food formulas don’t come cheap. Because of this, we’ve tried to choose foods that are effective while being affordable.

In instances where you cannot justify a premium brand’s price tag regardless of its effectiveness, we’d recommend pairing it with a cheaper dry or wet food. Doing so will boost your value for money while ensuring your cat gets a rounded diet that’s helping them achieve their weight loss goals. Our picks feature some of the best cat food brands around, and we’re confident they’ll help your cat return to a healthy weight in no time.


A General Guide To Choosing The Best Cat Food

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Cat Food

This guide will discuss common themes in choosing the best cat foods. We’ll cover macronutrient content, protein sources, grain content, and present some resources to guide you on helpful vitamins and essential acids. Our goal is to leave you better informed on the contents of your cat food, and able to make a smart decision on which cat food is best for you.

It’s best to open a general guide such as this with a few key points worth keeping in mind.

The first point is that there’s a lot of debate (even among experts) regarding what makes the best cat food. You’ll hear scare stories of grains being bad, taurine being dangerous, and much more. Despite all these scare stories, you can take comfort from the fact that the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has careful guidelines in place that the best cat food brands must adhere to. All of the foods listed in this article comply with those safety guidelines.

The second point is that your cat’s needs are individual and only a qualified veterinarian can give you tailor-made advice for your cat’s nutrition. For day to day feeding with regular formula wet and dry foods, there’s not much to worry about if your cat is healthy.

If you’re looking for a specialist formula like weight loss cat food, you should ALWAYS consult your veterinarian first. Making drastic changes to your cat’s diet can cause problems that are avoidable with the guidance of a veterinarian.

Continuing from that second point; it’s important to remind you that, though we do occasionally seek advice from veterinarians, none of the advice here is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified veterinarian.

Right, now that’s all out of the way, let’s talk about some common themes that creep up in the hunt for the best cat food.

Macronutrient Ratios: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates

Cats require protein-heavy diets. Though there’s still debate about exactly how much protein, studies suggest that a range of 30-50% is ideal. Some recommend a protein level of 30-40%, though the AAFCO minimum level is currently a measly 26%.

It has been shown that cats have a “ceiling level” for carbohydrate intake. If the cat food you choose is too high in carbohydrates, your cat will not gain the necessary nutrition from their diet and fall into a deficit in protein and fat intake. If you’re interested in working out a rough estimate of how much protein your cat is currently consuming, check out this handy post.

Thankfully, it turns out cats are excellent at balancing their own diets when presented with multiple food options. If you give them one option that’s higher in fat, and one that’s higher in protein, they’ll portion their food in a way that gets them close to their optimal macronutrient ratio.

It’s because of this amazing ability to balance their diets that many recommend feeding both wet and dry food options. Your cat is left to decide what they need and when.

Interestingly, in an experiment where domestic cats were left to choose their own macronutrient ratio from a selection of wet foods; they chose a ratio of 52% protein, 36% fat, and 12% carbohydrates. This clearly suggests that high-protein cat foods should be favored over foods that contain high carbohydrate levels.

Protein Sources In Cat Food: The Good, The OK and The Ugly

Not all protein is equal; there are animal-sources (the good), plant sources (the OK), and some manufacturers have even found clever ways of “boosting” the protein content shown when cat food is analyzed (the Ugly).

First up, animal-sources contain proteins that are natural and necessary for a cat’s diet. They’re packed with essential amino acids that cats require and can digest and use.

When shopping for the best cat food, it’s important to know that animal-sourced proteins are king in terms of cat nutrition. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to survive. In the wild, a cat’s diet exists exclusively of other animals.

Protein that comes from plant sources is not so good. It’s not harmful by any means, but it doesn’t contain the right essential amino acids required to support a cat.

You should always prioritize cat foods that have real meat ingredients listed at the very beginning of the ingredients label.

Now, onto the cheating. Real animal meats are expensive, and mass-manufactured cat foods often cheat their way out of using enough.

So how do they cheat? When cat food content is analyzed, protein content is determined based on the nitrogen levels present. This analysis cannot determine the source of the protein, or how digestible it is to cats. By adding Melamine (which contains a lot of nitrogen), the Protein content reading is skewed to be higher than the true value. Very sneaky.

Grains vs. Grain-Free Cat Foods, Which Is Best?

There is much debate over grains in cat foods and whether or not it’s always the best choice to avoid them.

Most of the fuss around grains stems from cats who are allergic to them (and some cats actually are). There are definitely cases where choosing grain-free food is advisable, and your veterinarian will be able to tell you more about that.

If your cat has an allergic reaction, you may turn to the internet for help and see endless posts that say nothing more than “grains are BAD!”. While it’s definitely correct to question the food your cat is eating, it turns out corn (a common source of grain), is actually one of the least likely causes of the reaction.

With that in mind, our opinion on the subject is that, for healthy cats, it doesn’t matter. The best food for your cat may include grains, or it may not. Grains are not bad, and unless your cat has a specific reaction to them (which your veterinarian needs to diagnose), then don’t worry about grains.

Important Nutrient Inclusions In Cat Foods

The best cat food is a balanced, well-rounded blend of everything your cat requires to live a healthy life and not a single gram of anything else. Realistically, because cat foods have to cater to a vast demographic of cats, foods like that don’t exist. You can get pretty close, though, which is what this article is all about.

The Feline Nutrition Foundation has an excellent resource on the basics of cat nutrition, and we urge you to have a read. It breaks down the requirements for specific amino acids such as taurine, and minerals that support healthy living. The Drake Center for veterinary care also has a brilliant guide to optimum feline nutrition which is worth your time.

Our Conclusion

Stick to food from the very best cat food brands. Choose a formula that fits your cat’s needs closely. Look for meats as the number one ingredient and source of protein. Choose a cat food with high protein content and low carbohydrate content. Use a combination of different wet and dry foods in unison with the portions adjusted accordingly.

If you can put a tick next to each of those sentences, you’ve done fairly well. Remember that the best cat food differs from cat to cat, and that provided the basics are right, it may be a matter of trial and error to find something to their taste.

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