The Best Dry Cat Food: Reviews of the 4 Healthiest Options
Trying to figure out what food would be best for your cat? Just like you would do for yourself, finding the right cat food for your beloved furbaby is an essential task that helps ensure your pet’s health and wellness. The right food prevents a host of different cat-specific conditions and diseases, and makes sure that your cat looks and feels healthy on the daily.
There’s a ton of different cat food choices on the market. But possibly the easiest to find and the easiest to prepare for your pet would be kibble. If you’re hoping to find the best dry cat food there is, be sure to take a minute to read this complete guide on buying the right kibble for your little feline.
Quick Snapshot: The 4 Top Dry Cat Foods
Wet Food vs Dry Food
The two main categories you’ll find for cat food are wet and dry. Choosing between the two types depends mostly on your cat’s preference and their current health status. To learn more about these types of food, their pros, and cons, check out our short breakdown.
1. Wet Food
Essentially, wet food gets its name from its texture. These types of cat food are either mashed or in chunks, and some may have sauce that adds flavor and nutritional value.
Because they are made from moist, wet ingredients, this type of food tends to have stronger smells than kibble. Usually, companies that produce wet cat food enhance their products’ smell with fish and other pungent ingredients to make them more appealing to cats.
2. Dry Food
The other obvious type of cat food is dry food or kibble. Let's explore the pros and cons of this type.
The Different Types of Dry Cat Food
The types of dry cat food are categorized based on a cat’s age or health status. By making sure you’ve got the right type of dry cat food for your feline, you can be sure they're getting the nutrition they need to meet their specific needs.
Here’s a low down on some of the types of dry cat food you might find:
1. Kitten Food
Kittens have different nutritional needs compared to adult cats. Generally, cats under 1 year of age need to consume more calories, fats, and proteins in order to meet the demand of their growth and development.
Dry food for kittens is usually formulated to be significantly heavier in terms of caloric value compared to what’s usually given to adult cats. Feeding an adult cat kitten kibble could turn out to be problematic as they will pack on extra weight as a result of the high caloric value.
2. Adult Cat Food
This is the most common type of dry cat food you’ll find and is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of grown cats 1 year and above. There are a few very well-known brands of adult cat food, but there are also a few smaller companies that sell unbranded or repackaged bags of adult cat food. As some of the most affordable cat food choices on the market, some pet owners opt for typical adult cat food for kittens and special needs cats.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that cat kibble might not always be the best choice especially if the feline you’re caring for has specific nutritional needs.
3. Senior Cat Food
Senior cats have very specific nutritional needs. As cats age, they become predisposed to a variety of health conditions that need to be addressed or prevented with the food they eat.
For senior cats, specifically formulated dry food helps prevent dehydration which is a high risk for older felines. This can help prevent urinary blockage as well as renal failure.
A cat is considered elderly when it reaches the age of 10. By this time, it would be in your pet’s best interest to be switched to a senior cat dry food formulation in order to keep them in the best possible condition.
4. Urinary Care Cat Food
When we say that urinary health is a common problem for cats, we mean it. In fact, it’s become such a widespread problem that companies have now come out with urinary care cat food options to help prevent and manage a variety of urinary problems in felines.
Kibble options that are labelled ‘urinary care’ help provide cats with enough moisture to maintain proper hydration. These formulations also typically don’t absorb a lot of moisture once ingested, so your cat shouldn't lose essential hydration even after they eat the kibble.
While urinary care cat food is often recommended for cats that have already had a history of urinary tract infections or other renal problems, there’s no harm in putting a healthy adult cat on a diet of urinary care cat food.
Advice on Looking for the Best Dry Cat Food
So you’re sure you want to put your cat on a diet of dry food, but you’re not exactly certain how to pick the good choices from the ones that could potentially harm its health. No problem – here are a few questions you should ask before making a purchase to help guarantee your feline’s wellness.
1. Is It Age Appropriate?
The first thing you should ask yourself when considering a specific cat food choice is whether or not it’s suitable for your cat’s age. As we previously discussed, cats of different ages have varying needs. Choosing dry cat food that’s intended for your cat’s age group will help guarantee that these needs are properly met.
2. Does It Satisfy Nutritional Needs?
Cats’ nutritional needs are mostly protein, fats, and calcium, and micronutrients. Reading the labels on your chosen food should help you determine whether or not these specific nutritional needs are met.
As a general rule, you may want to avoid choices that incorporate a large amount of fad ingredients that don’t really do much for your cat’s health and wellness. For instance, a lot of manufacturers have come out with kibble that incorporates “meal” which is basically a mishmash of carbohydrate rich ingredients that cat’s don’t actually need.
These cat food choices often fall short of cats’ needs. So while they might satiate your pet’s hunger, there’s no guarantee that they will meet nutritional requirements on a molecular level. That said, cat’s that are put on diets that incorporate just this type of kibble can be prone to different kinds of nutritional deficiencies.
3. Does It Meet Dietary Restrictions?
Some cats – especially those that have already had medical issues in the past – become prone to more complications and disease if their diets aren’t properly maintained. For instance, those who have a history of urinary tract infection can experience the same multiple times over if they keep getting fed the wrong dry food.
Special formulations that take specific health conditions into consideration are best for cats with health problems. The most common conditions in cats involve the renal system, so any choice that maximizes urinary health can be a smart pick.
4. Is It Veterinarian Recommended?
Don’t be fooled by fancy packaging – sometimes, the most ideal picks for your pet could be hiding behind simplistic aesthetics. The best way to find out whether it can really be a good choice for your cat would be to check in with your vet.
You probably already head down to your vet’s clinic once a month for your cat’s routine check-up. While you’re there, you might want to ask your specialist what specific dry food they can recommend to keep your pet in the best possible shape. While they might tell you to mix it up by adding some wet food or fresh chicken breast now and again, there’s likely a few kibble picks that they can vouch for.
5. Does It Come From a Reputable Brand?
There are some pet owners who are all about saving an extra buck. Although it’s completely understandable why anyone would want to stay within a specific budget, your cat’s health should be something you’re willing to spend a little extra for.
With that, you might want to consider buying cat food only from reputable brands. Sure, those really cheap deals on repackaged or unbranded choices might seem enticing because of their insanely affordable price tags. But because you can’t be sure of their quality, it would be best to choose cat food that comes from a reputable brand so you can enjoy consumer protection.
The Top Brands for Dry Cat Food
On the topic of brands, there are quite a number of companies in the cat food market all vying for the top spot. These brands have well-established reputations among consumers, which make them a much more reliable choice if you’re looking for the best pick for your pet.
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Purina cat food is one of the oldest brands of cat food on the market. It started out in 1894, and has since been purchased numerous times by different enterprises. Currently, it belongs to Land O’Lakes which bought Purina in 2001.
The brand manufactures animal feed for numerous types of animals, but they are quite prominent for their cat food choices. In terms of quality, Purina is a pretty reliable brand, with very little controversy behind their formulations.
Of course, they’ve had their share of backlash from animal rights’ groups. But the brand has been able to bounce back consistently from such issues.
When it was first established in 1936, Whiskas was known in the market as Kal Kan. But as the brand grew over the years, it changed its name to Whiskas.
A sister company of Pedigree Pet Food, Whiskas is the enterprise’s specialty brand that caters specifically to cats. With that, you can expect to find a variety of cat food choices including kibble, wet food, treats, and other food items for your feline under the brand.
3. Hill’s Science Diet
The Hill’s Science Diet was established way back in 1951 by researcher Dr. Mark Morris. He started Science Diet after having met a blind man who had a seeing eye dog that was riddled with kidney disease.
Dr. Morris believed the dog was in bad shape due to poor nutrition, so he and his wife developed a dog food formulation that would guarantee optimal health for dogs. The Hill’s Science Diet Prescription Diet was then produced, and it has since been made available in 86 different countries.
The brand has also dabbled in manufacturing food for cats. What’s nice about the Hill’s Science Diet is that their products are often specially formulated to meet specific health needs for different cats.
4. Royal Canin
Royal Canin is known for its formulations that are intended for specific cat breeds. The brand leverages the idea that different feline breeds have varying nutritional requirements, thus their line of cat food choices.
Their different breed-specific kibble formulations also have sub-formulations for specific age groups. So if you want dry cat food that’s scientifically developed to meet the age and breed of your furry friend, Royal Canin offers very precise formulations to satisfy your standards.
5. Blue Buffalo
For pet owners who want something that’s more natural and organic, Blue Buffalo could be a good choice. This brand banks on their cat food formulations that maximize healthy, natural ingredients to give your pet a diet that’s free from artificial ingredients that could be dangerous to its health.
Blue Buffalo kibble is available for cats of all ages. They also have a few choices that are specifically formulated to meet the needs of cats with unique health issues.
6. Whole Hearted
Another all-natural cat food alternative for those who want to steer clear of man-made or artificial ingredients is Whole Hearted. This brand promises to provide cats with substantial nutrition that’s both delicious and beneficial to their health.
Whole Hearted pet food offers treats, dry food, wet food, and a few other formulations that claim to be free from grain, starch, and other filler ingredients that don’t really satisfy cats’ specific nutritional needs.
The 4 Best Dry Cat Food Choices on the Market
Because cats are particularly prone to developing a host of urinary problems, it would be best to invest in their health with dry food that doesn’t put them at further risk. That’s why the Hill’s Science Diet Urinary and Hairball Control Cat Food ranks first on our list of the best kibble for cats.
This specific formulation was designed to keep cats in optimal renal health, allowing you to achieve the peace of mind knowing your pet isn’t eating anything that could be contributing to the development of disease.
Hill’s Science Diet Urinary and Hairball Control Cat Food is the second most expensive pick on the list, second only to Fancy Feast. However, unlike Fancy Feast, this specific cat food isn’t so much a treat as it is an investment for your pet’s future health.
Looking for something that’s a little more on the natural side? You should probably check out Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Natural Adult Dry Cat Food. This particular formulation is packed with protein – one of the main nutritional needs of adult cats. This keeps them well-nourished and strong, allowing optimal muscle growth and health.
What sets it apart from other choices is the fact that it claims to be an evolutionary diet. This simply means that the cat food was formulated with cats’ actual needs in mind based on how they would be surviving in the wild. So it incorporates a lot of natural, real chicken and meat which it uses as its main ingredient.
Fancy Feast is Purina’s sub-brand of gourmet cat food, which offers unique cat food formulations that are said to be much more palatable and appealing to cats. Their Fillet Mignon Flavor with Real Seafood and Shrimp is a solid best seller among cat lovers, and has a well-established reputation as one of the best dry food choices for picky eaters.
While it isn’t specifically formulated with renal health in mind, this specific dry food’s appeal is undeniable to cats. So if you struggle to get your cat to finish up a bowl of food, then offering this option might help turn things around.
Of course, because it is “gourmet” cat food, you should expect that it’s not quite as affordable as other picks on the list. We mostly recommend Purina Fancy Feast as an occasional treat for cats instead of as a staple food choice, especially if you’re working on a budget.
If you’re looking for affordability without sacrificing quality, this one might be the right choice. The Purina ONE Indoor Advantage Adult Dry Cat Food is a top pick for a lot of cat owners who work on a budget, but don’t want their cat’s nutrition to take a blow.
This specific food is made mainly from turkey meat, and is intended to minimize the production of hairballs. It’s also packed with protein, promising to keep your cat feeling satiated and satisfied after each serving.
Another reason why it ranks high on our list is the fact that it doesn’t use any filler ingredients. So while it does come at a pretty affordable cost, this cat kibble won’t stuff your pet with unnecessary ingredients that don’t really do much for overall health.
It’s no secret that choosing the best dry cat food isn’t easy, especially if you think about how it affects your cat’s health. Based on what we’ve seen and read, the Hill’s Science Diet Urinary and Hairball Control Dry Cat Food is the very best investment you can make for your cat’s future. Sure, it’s not the cheapest, but because it reduces the possibility of disease, it’s definitely a choice you should try to consider.
If you think it’s not the right pick for your cat, go ahead and try any of the other three choices we’ve listed. These cat kibble formulations have been vouched for by thousands of buyers worldwide, so you can be sure they won’t disappoint you or your furry friend