I am a writer with a great interest in German Shepherds, cats, and animals in general. I hope you enjoy my articles.
Cats Can Be Picky Eaters
Our current cat is a difficult eater. She rarely eats wet food, and if she does, she never finishes. For dry food, we had to try enough types to make sure she was well-fed. Due to the varying needs and conditions of each cat, there is no singular preeminent cat food. Many people seem to agree that wet cat food is better than dry food, especially regarding urinary problems. Each individual cat is special, and a broad selection of available brands provides a much better chance of finding the exact food that your beloved pet needs.
Cat Food and Catchy Advertisements
You remember the commercials. A fancy, white cat, groomed to perfection, lying about like royalty in a well-kept home. The owner fills a glass dish with food, the cat enjoys the meal, and the narrator ends with, “Good taste is easy to recognize.”
The manufacturer was so adamant about portraying an image of elegance that they employed Lauren Bacall herself to narrate the commercials. The result was an overwhelming success that produced a massive uptick in sales and conversions. The brilliant ad convinced legions of pet owners that Fancy Feast was the best brand for their pet too.
It’s easy to fall victim to catchy advertisements. They are designed to make sure you do. Yet, when it comes to the best brand for your friend, should you leave it up to convincing ads to tell you what’s best?
How can we educate ourselves on the best cat foods for our pets? You will find that many of the advertisements are misleading, and that the majority of department and grocery outlets are filled with junk that can harm your cat and unnecessarily shorten its life. So, what do you do?
Top-Rated Healthy Cat Food Brands
Top-Rated Dry Food:
- Taste of the Wild Canyon River Feline Formula
- ZiwiPeak Daily-Cat Air-Dried Lamb Cuisine
- Evanger’s Grain-Free Meat Lover’s Medley with Rabbit
- Holistic Select Adult Health Duck Meal Recipe
Top-Rated Wet Food:
- Tiki Cat Ahi Tuna and Chicken
- Rad Cat Free-Range Raw Turkey (shutdown, will update this soon)
- Stella and Chewy's Duck Duck Goose Freeze-Dried Dinner
The Bad in Cat Food
First, it’s easier to remember what you don’t want in your cat food. Certain ingredients are either high-glycemic (spikes your cat’s sugar levels), filled with gluten or chemicals that induce countless consequences. The statistics on cat diabetes alone should be enough to scare owners into buying a proper food for their cats. The fillers below undoubtedly contribute to the decline in health and the eventual early demise of your cat. Once you consign them to memory, shopping for the right brand of food will already be much easier.
Cat Food Ingredients to Avoid
The Good in Cat Food
Just like their canine counterparts, cats thrive on meat and proteins. You’ll find that many excellent alternatives exist that contain meat as the primary ingredient. The word "meal,” in the ingredients list, connotes dry meat that has been weighed after the water has been removed. Meat meal is terrific because it stimulates satiation and provides a superb source of protein.
Some meat meal ingredients include:
- Pollock meal
- Herring meal
- Chicken meal
- Turkey meal
- Whitefish meal
- Duck meal
Meat meal, although very beneficial, is still second best to crude meats that are easily digested and provide the highest benefit to your cat. They are very appetizing and grant the energy and primary nutrients your cat deserves.
You’ll find crude meats under terms such as:
- Deboned turkey
- Deboned haddock
- Deboned chicken
- Boneless herring
- Chicken fat
These ingredients are always at the top of the list in reviews. If your brand has any of these meats as the first ingredient along with a proper balance of secondary items, you have chosen well.
Finding the Best Combination of Ingredients
Your cat’s body demands an array of important elements for optimal survival. The best food will always carry ingredients that accommodate those needs. Proteins, water, minerals, vitamins, and fats all toil together to make a complete meal for your cat.
What becomes difficult is discerning which brand contains all of these ingredients. Should you rely on ratings? Can you trust the words of pet store clerks? Even online reviews can be skewed in favor of one item over the other. You’ll find that in the end, it all distills down to which of the top tier brands is right for your pet.
Before discussing the best brands, it should be noted that the average cat thrives on a mixture of dry food AND wet food. The moderation of both will not only provide diversity, but give your cat more water and increase hydration. Wet food comes in an array of flavors and is often more palatable to finicky cats. Of all the choices, canned food has the longest shelf life.
Dry vs. Wet Cat Food
Top-Rated Dry Cat Food
The best offerings with the highest ratings are often called “Super Premium Cat Foods.” These products excel in their ability to supply the utmost quality ingredients for your pet, and are often no more expensive than many retail premium brands. For some, accessibility may be an issue, but if you maintain reserves, online ordering is a cinch, and there are many reputable outlets to consider.
Of the plethora of dry food reviews and ratings, the following have been found to represent the peak grade available. Our research has gone beyond just review boards and delved into professional opinion, veterinarian observations, and firsthand accounts. The brands listed here are in no specific order.
Taste of the Wild Canyon River Feline Formula
With ingredients like fresh trout, ocean fish meal, and sweet potatoes, Taste of the Wild’s formula is a healthy grain-free, dry food high in valuable proteins and fats.
You’ll find that it also contains fruits and vegetables that are said to support your cat’s immune system and boost their overall health. This is a perfect choice for all cat ages.
The only caveat we could find with Taste of the Wild was their lack of product diversity. Given that many cats are picky eaters, their deficiency of choices could force some prospective purchaser to consider another brand.
ZiwiPeak Daily-Cat Air-Dried Lamb Cuisine
This grain-free brand provides over 56% lamb meat and 34% organs. Such ingredients make a powerful formula for growing cats, those with allergies, and even ones with renal issues and digestion difficulties.
ZiwiPeak’s product is an outstanding selection for the discerning pet owner. They even offer portion guides because of their claim that one portion of ZiwiPeak air-dried cat food is equivalent to three whole portions of raw meat.
ZiwiPeak also has three different options for the finicky cats out there. Other than their relative obscurity in the United States, they are an excellent food to consider. If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area though, you might be forced to order it online.
Evanger’s Grain-Free Meat Lover’s Medley
A unique product, Evanger’s supplies a vivid example of healthy eating and is made in the United States. They are the only premium brand to use rabbit, beef, and pork together. Their claim is that the product, also infused with fruits and vegetables, instills optimal pet health for all life stages. This removes the need to change the food as the cat ages, keeping things simple as long as the cat prefers it. The probiotics in Evanger’s are a welcome addition and contribute to a healthy digestive tract while supporting your cat’s immune system.
While we are impressed with the research and reviews, our limited concerns with this brand are still to be noted. The meats, while impressive, are relegated to a position behind peas and beef meal. Even though the product is still outstanding, this is still something to be considered. Also, like Taste of the Wild, a finicky cat won’t find many options here.
Holistic Select Adult Health Duck Meal Recipe
We really liked Holistic Select’s focus on digestive health. Their natural preservation methods and careful approach to manufacturing are also nice to see. They claim that their food assists in the proper absorption of the necessary nutrients your cat needs.
Holistic Select supplies a healthy dose of fiber and enzymes as well, promoting a healthy intestinal tract. We also like the distinction of choice in their foods. Your cat can try chicken, duck, herring, or even sardines.
Our only real concern with this brand was the addition of brown rice in a couple of their selections. Some reviewers also felt the same even though there is no real substantiated problem with the addition; it’s still debatable.
Overall, any of the above choices would furnish your cat with optimum nutrition. It seems that the only prevalent concern with our top picks was accessibility. Yet, given the options available in retail locations, it’s well worth getting online and doing the right thing.
Top-Rated Wet Cat Food
As part of your cat’s balanced diet and need for proper hydration, wet food is highly suggested. It’s best to blend it with dry in order to keep your cat’s teeth healthy, and the two together create an optimal balance of sustenance. Here are the best brands we could find:
Tiki Cat Ahi Tuna and Chicken
These guys are obviously madly in love with cats. Their canned food formula is even certified by the USDA for human consumption! They claim that their food possesses the best wet food safety standards in the world. One look at the ingredients only adds to the thought that they might just be right. The list is short and sweet (only five primary ingredients), containing all that is necessary for the best overall health of most cats.
The only negative we could find with this canned food was that one of its choices contained the controversial ingredient brown rice. Otherwise, just stick to the choices without brown rice, and you will have the perfect wet food for your best pal’s bowl.
Rad Cat Free-Range Raw Turkey Cat Food
Rad Cat is different than most suppliers because their food is not just wet, it’s raw. This is a refrigerated wet food containing only the best ingredients they could find. Actually, we couldn’t find one thing wrong with their ingredients no matter how much we scrutinized. Their claim is that vegetables or grains are not a natural part of a cat’s diet; hence, nothing but valid and proven ingredients. Rad Cat’s wet food is a perfect blend that is sure to meet anyone’s expectations.
Even though there is not one noticeable flaw in Rad Cat’s product itself, you still have to consider its use if you travel a lot with your cat. The need for refrigeration limits its use to places where it can be stored appropriately.
Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dinner
Although this dinner isn’t wet initially, per the guidelines, add a bit of water and it will fully reconstitute. The amazing thing about this product is that not only are the ingredients fantastic, but even the fowl are 98% cage-free. Mix that with healthy probiotics and a disdain of all hormones, and you’ve got a perfect wet food. With six different flavors, you are sure to find one to satisfy even the pickiest of bad kitties. Stella and Chewy’s is an all-around splendid product. Other than a possible lack of retail locations, we could find nothing negative of note.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2015 Sam Shepards
Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on August 10, 2019:
I will add some more information about wet food and dehydration problems from kibble.
On your remarks, I follow to suggestions from our vet and clinic. In my country, I give my cat Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Urinary kibble and in the evening she gets some wet food (something I thought she would find tasty, not suggested by the vets) from the same brand. In general, she doesn't touch that much wet cat food, I tried different options in the past. I guess I can force her, by just stopping giving her dry cat food, but I will not. We have a running water fountain for her with a filter and she drinks often. This is one thing I can recommend to all people, especially those giving kibble. Cats drink a lot more if you have a good running water source.
This cat is now 12 years old hasn't been sick a day (my moms previous cat same thing (18.5 years), but different food brands) and is very playful. I can understand some of your remarks. The one thing I notice when I compare is that family members or friends who have certain special purebred cats have more problems no matter what food they give them. Most people will keep giving kibble no matter what I or anyone else on the internet will tell them and most vets don't seem to argue against it as long as you watch your cats health, possible allergies, drinking,...
If people want to dive deeper into wet cat food I'm ok with recommending www.catinfo.org for extensive information on the topic and I'll adjust my own article with some of this information for people who want to go that route. The other information from the article comes from friends in the US, because we don't have most of those brands in my country.
Rubi on August 27, 2018:
I second the comment left by mmctaq. Dr Lisa Pierson's website catinfo.org is superlative. Feeding fresh raw with fresh organs, egg yolks, ground eggshell calcium, and wild-caught fish oil is the way to go.
No cat should ever be given dry food/kibble. There is no "good" brand, and Blue Buffalo is especially bad, using gimmicky marketing to push its lousy food, wet or dry. The latter is full of carbs from the dangerous addition of fruits that the company claims will keep a cat's urinary system healthy. It is a con, and sadly many people have fallen for this company's lies. Remember, no kibble ever, for cats. Kibble has no nutritional value, leaves the cat in a permanent state of dehydration that knocks out the kidneys especially, and causes cancers, allergies, urinary blockage and diabetes, etc.
Kat on August 11, 2018:
You need to double check the Taste of the Wild. I dont believe its gluten free which is why I dont feed it to my cats. I feed them Blue Buffalo.
mmctaq on March 28, 2018:
Please visit www.catinfo.org for understanding on why a dry food - every dry food, the best dry food - is an unhealthful choice for any and all cats. Most of the degenerative ailments (kidney disease, urinary tract issues, diabetes) are directly the result of long-term, sub-clinical dehydration caused by the feeding of dry cat food. Even mediocre wet food is more healthful to feed than the highest regarded kibbles or dried foods (not that I am suggesting crappy wet food!). Please read... study... comprehend... research further, if you feel the need to do so. Your cat will thank you!