best cat food

In theory, the best cat food brands should be easy to distinguish from the rest, but in practice, it may require some research. Your cat’s needs, which may be established by their life stage, activity level, digestive health, and general well-being, should be taken into consideration when choosing a pet food, in addition to satisfying industry and veterinary standards (more on that below).

Oh, and you ought to probably seek out a kind of food that your cat actually enjoys eating as well. Cat meals don’t come in one size fits all, says Aimee Simpson, VMD, medical director of the VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia. You can, however, be well on your way to discovering the best cat food brand for your feline friend with some expert advice and research.

What should I look for when buying cat food?

Like dog food, cat food must meet specific criteria established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in order to be considered nutritionally complete. The AAFCO is not a governing body. Instead, it establishes industry standards for a wholesome, balanced diet. AAFCO recommends that commercial cat food have at least 30% protein on a dry matter basis for kittens and 26% for adults; looking for an AAFCO statement on the food’s label is a smart first step in identifying a high-quality cat food, according to Dr. Simpson.

She continues, saying that the amino acid taurine is another crucial nutrient for cats and that some foods contain much higher amounts of protein and other nutrients than is healthy and can cause illnesses: “Excess levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium can aggravate chronic kidney disease, while too much calcium may cause the development of urinary tract crystals and stones.”

Dr. Simpson also cites international dietary recommendations from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), which expressly address the caliber of pet food producers in addition to the AAFCO. These recommendations incorporate numerous crucial inquiries you have to make regarding the cat food:

  • Do they have at least one full-time veterinary nutritionist on staff who is either board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition or holds a PhD in veterinary nutrition?
  • Do they operate their own factories?
  • To continuously improve their diets, do they conduct and publish nutritional research?
  • Do they adhere to tight quality control procedures and guidelines?

Again, these are rather generic suggestions, but they help distinguish between high-quality cat food and cat food that simply fulfills the bare minimum requirements. You may always contact a company’s customer care team for further information if you aren’t completely certain about the caliber of a particular brand or ask your veterinarian about it.

What should I look out for on a cat food’s ingredient list?

According to Dr. Simpson, it can be difficult to read pet food labels, and the order in which ingredients are listed can be deceptive. She gives the following illustration: “Items like chicken meat are mentioned before dehydrated ingredients like the chicken meal that may supply more nutrients because they retain more moisture and consequently weigh more.”

You might notice grains on your food’s ingredient list in addition to superior protein sources and nutritive animal protein by-products like liver and other organ meats; this is entirely fine for your cat’s diet. says Dr. Simpson. Although cats are obligate carnivores, she says, they can digest the carbohydrates found in typical cat meals. “Grains and corn are typically portrayed as pet food fillers; nevertheless, these components are actually rich providers of vitamins, minerals, vital fatty acids, and fiber,” she says.

How do I choose between the different types of cat food?

When choosing the proper consistency of food for your cat, Dr. Simpson adds that factors including age, breed, and health, as well as their individual tastes, can all be important. Dry cat food, such as kibble, is available in a variety of shapes and textures and can aid in dental issues including tartar control. Additionally, pet owners with limited time and money may appreciate that dry food is typically more convenient to feed and more affordable than wet cat food.

Wet food, on the other hand, has a higher moisture content, which, according to Dr. Simpson, can be advantageous for cats who require more hydration in their meals, such as those with diabetes, chronic kidney illness, and lower urinary tract disease. She adds that cats with fewer teeth find it easier to eat wet food because of its consistency, which can range from pates to stews. If your cat doesn’t seem to like the texture of just one type of food, you can even combine a little dry and a little wet food.

What not to feed your cat

Dr. Simpson advises cat owners against giving their cats diets that are entirely raw or homemade in addition to the normal dry, moist, and wet cat foods. She notes that the former has no nutritional advantages over typical commercial cat food and may even cause nutritional deficits and food-borne infections. The latter, however, also increases the chance of deficits in cats. Dr. Simpson advises contacting a veterinary nutritionist through the American College of Veterinary Nutrition if you’re thinking of creating your cat’s food at home.

Speaking of consulting a professional, this is the ideal course of action if you have no idea whatsoever about, instance, the best canned or dry cat food for your cat. Choosing the ideal diet for your cat can be perplexing and irritating because there are hundreds of different brands, as well as possibly deceptive advertising and online information, according to Dr. Simpson. “Asking your veterinarian for advice on a suitable diet is the best method to make a decision.”

The best vet-recommended cat food to try

Given this, there’s no way we could list every brand of protein- and health-rich cat food available today. Nevertheless, using Dr. Simpson’s recommendations (along with some assistance from the internet’s most ardent reviewers), we’ve highlighted some of the top cat food companies for you to try below.

Hill’s Science Diet

Foods from Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet, the company’s division that targets health issues like sensitive stomachs, urinary tract problems, and maintaining a healthy weight, frequently show up on the shelves at veterinary clinics. This is not a coincidence. At its Global Pet Nutrition Center, this company, which sets the bar high for AAFCO and WSAVA-compliant foods, employs over 200 scientists.

Hill’s Science Diet for Adults: Perfect Digestion Salmon Dry Cat Food
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Chicken Recipe

Royal Canin

Another favorite among veterinarians, Royal Canin’s internal team of nutritionists and veterinarians undergoes a rigorous development process before offering any of its meals to customers. Its unique products include recipes high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for shinier coats, meals designed especially for older and senior cats, and food for kittens.

Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Adult Instinctive Cat Food
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan

Purina Pro Plan is a great option if you want meals that are supported by research and full with nutritious proteins and carbs without breaking the bank. This brand’s selection has a product that will keep your cat well-fed and healthy, whether they are indoor cats, geriatric cats, or cats who are prone to hairballs. While there are less health-specific recipes in Purina One, a less expensive alternative from the same brand, it still offers a balanced diet for cats.

Purina Pro Plan Gravy, High Protein Wet Cat Food Variety Pack
Purina Pro Plan True Nature, Natural High Protein Adult Dry Cat Food


Because of its staff of nutritional specialists, company-run canneries and factories, and its steadfast commitment to producing foods free of artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers, Merrick stands apart among pet food brands. All the essential vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber that a happy, healthy cat requires are included in its Purrfect Bistro line of cat foods. Additionally, the range offers recipes for chicken, beef, and salmon that support good skin and coats and the prevention of hairballs.

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Canned Wet Cat Food
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Beef Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food


Although this brand doesn’t have the same amount of name recognition as, say, Purina, its nutritional prowess nonetheless puts it on the map. Farmina’s Vet Research team collaborates with independent veterinarians to create its recipes in the interest of advancing pet nutrition moving forward. You can be sure your cat is eating nutritious, high-quality food since these recipes include products from carefully screened farms and providers.

Farmina N&D Urinary Duck and Quinoa for Cats
Farmina Natural & Delicious Pumpkin, Apple and Venison Grain Free Dry Cat Food


VetDiet’s goal is to produce meals that promote the health and wellbeing of your cat, and it does this by using premium ingredients and a growing internal Health and Nutrition Advisory Board. Delicious foods are available from this 25-year-old, family-run business for all life phases (from kittens to senior cats) and for particular requirements like immune system support and weight management. Even nutritious cat treats are available for when your cat has been really good (in other words, always).

VetDiet Chicken & Rice Formula Adult Dry Cat Food

Nature’s Logic

Since Nature’s Logic was established on the principle of whole-food nutrition, none of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your cat requires are contained in Nature’s Logic products; instead, they are found in meat, vegetables, and nutritious carbohydrates. The brand personally purchases or authorizes all of its ingredient sources for quality control and contamination prevention, and it tests each batch of food that leaves its U.S.-based manufacturing facilities.

Nature’s Logic Canned Food – Chicken
Nature’s Logic Cat Food Feline Meal Feast Chicken

Earthborn Holistic

The cat foods made by Earthborn Holistic are produced in the United States in family-run kitchens and facilities that have been in operation for almost a century. It provides both grain- and gluten-free wet cat food formulated with substantial proteins like chicken liver and whole-grain and grain-free dry cat food. Animal protein sources like fish, chicken, duck, and beef are always the first ingredient in all of its dishes.

Earthborn Holistic Chicken Catcciatori Gravy Wet Cat Food
Earthborn Holistic Feline Vantage Natural Dry Cat Food