Cat Food Breakdown: The Good, The Bad, & The Heinous

cat eating raw meat

The pet food industry and I have always had a bit of a rocky relationship. We don’t call, we don’t write. We definitely don’t send Christmas cards. We have what you might call a dark and storied history.

Call me overdramatic (because I probably am), but few things get my blood boiling more than seeing ads on TV from big pet food brands, touting “happy, healthy” pets with “glossy coats” and “increased energy and vitality!!”


Stick it where the sun don’t shine, big pet food brands.


Why so much angst, you ask? My childhood dog and best friend of 13 years died (relatively early, for his breed) from canine leukemia, caused in no small part by the various bits of garbage that pet food manufacturers are shoveling into our furry family members. After his death, I spent months researching pet food, going on mini-crusades against the pet food industry, and annoying the crap out of my family and friends.


The (cat-related) fruits of that labor, I present to you below.



Basic cat food rules:
  • Before you buy anything, check the ingredients on the back. By law, ingredients must be listed according to content, with the most prevalent ingredient listed first. The first 5 ingredients should always be a protein of some sort, and ideally not a by-product (by-products are beaks, feathers, hooves, rancid meat, euthanized pets, etc.. yum)
  • No more than 10% of calories should come from carbohydrates (grains, potatoes, soy, peas, etc). Grain-free is best, if you can swing it.
  • Wet food will generally be better for your cats than dry foods, since dry foods tend to be heavily processed, have high carb content and very little water content.
*I’ll go more in-depth into why these things are important at the end of this post




cat eating food


Best bang for your buck:

Don’t feel like spending hundreds of dollars a month on cat food? I feel you. These are a few great options that won’t have you eating top ramen every day.

*slightly less-than-ideal ingredients are highlighted in red



Natural Balance canned cat food

Natural balance cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the ultra formula):

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Duck

Price range:

$30-35 for 24 6-oz cans

Not grain free







Newman’s Own canned cat food

Newman's own cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the chicken/salmon formula):

Organic Chicken, Sufficient Water for Processing, Poultry Liver, Salmon, Ocean Whitefish (fish used in cat food can be high in mercury/toxins)

Price range:

$25-30 for 24 6-oz cans

Not grain free




Sheba Turkey Entree

Get it on Amazon, while you can

First 5 ingredients (for the Turkey formula):

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Meat By-Products, Chicken, Chicken Liver (vague descriptors and by-products = no bueno)

Price range:

$32 for 24 3-oz cans  (prices are climbing because this formula has been discontinued, in favor of a slightly lower-quality product called “Perfect Portions Pate”)

Grain free!




Slightly more buck:

The ingredient quality will be higher here, with fewer fillers and fewer (or zero) non-animal protein sources.



Petcurean Go Fit + Free canned cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the chicken/turkey formula):

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Turkey Liver

Price range:

$55 for 24 5.5-oz cans

Grain free!



Wellness Core canned cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the chicken/turkey formula):

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal

Price range:

$40 for 24 5.5-oz cans

Grain free!





Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient canned cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the turkey formula):

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Peas, Montmorillonite Clay (a natural anti-caking agent with supposed detoxifying health benefits)

Price range:

$25 for 12 5.5-oz cans (so approximately $50 for 24 cans)

Grain free!




Blue Buffalo canned cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the chicken/turkey formula):

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Turkey, Chicken Liver

Price range:

$46 for 24 5.5-oz cans

Grain free!





Nutro canned cat food

Nutro cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the chicken formula):

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Egg Product, Pork Broth  (Egg Product = egg waste product, cheap protein)

Price range:

$25 for 24 3-oz cans (so approximately $50 for 24 6-oz cans)

Grain free!



Nature’s Logic canned cat food

Nature's Logic cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients (for the chicken formula):

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Dried Egg Product, (Egg Product = egg waste product, cheap protein)

Price range:

$23 for 12 5.5-oz cans (so approximately $46 for 24 cans)

Grain free!



There are other canned food options out there, but from my digging these appear to be your best bet (both in terms of price and quality). Know a great brand* that you don’t see here? Please leave me a comment and I’ll commence my obsessive research.

*I know Weruva is also meant to be a good choice, but I can’t justify paying that price for so much…water. It’s a super watery food, y’all.



Dry food options worth a look

“But Stef,” you say, “I heard that dry cat food is literally from the devil. Literally.”

Well, not exactly. Although dry food isn’t optimal (nothing beats a homemade, raw diet), if you choose the right brand it can be a fantastic supplement to wet food, or at the very least a cheaper alternative. And by right brand I mean: high quality animal protein content / low carb & grain content.

*If you’re feeding your cat dry food exclusively, closely monitor their water intake. If your cat doesn’t drink at least 8-10 fl oz (about 1 cup) of water per day, please consider switching them to wet food! Why? Cats generally have very low thirst drive and derive most of the water they need from their food.



Orijen Cat & Kitten dry cat food

*Dec 2016 update: Thanks to a commenter for bringing this to my attention: Orijen has recently moved their manufacturing (for the US only) from Canada to Kentucky, US. Ingredients have changed as well, and initial reviews indicate strange fishy odors and kitty reluctance to partake. I’ve highlighted the major changes below.


Get it on Amazon

[CANADA] First 5 ingredients:

Boneless Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chicken Liver, Whole Herring, Boneless Turkey

In fact, the first 14 ingredients are all high-quality proteins. No grains and no preservatives. (There’s a reason it’s so expensive)

Price range:

$60-65 for a 15-lb bag

Grain free!




[USA – NEW] First 5 ingredients:

Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Yellowtail Flounder, Whole Eggs, Whole Atlantic Mackerel

Major changes:

  • Chicken meal has been replaced by deboned turkey as the second ingredient. Deboned meats are weighed before being cooked, so their weight includes water, disproportionately inflating their percentage in the final product. Their actual content in the formula is much lower. Chicken meal, on the other hand, has the water extracted beforehand, so it’s a far superior, more concentrated form of protein.
  • If we consider the aforementioned change, most of the protein in this formula comes from fish (including scales, bones, & fins)
  • Maximum level of Phosphorus, Calcium, Ash, etc. are not mentioned
  • Magnesium increased from 0.09% to 0.1%
  • Proteins reduced from 42% to 40% (min)
  • Omega-3 reduced from 1.2% to 0.8% (min)
(See a full breakdown of the new formula here.)


Price range:

Here is the most irritating part. They’ve degraded their ingredient quality (and protein content) and decreased their bag size, while keeping prices the same. Smells like a cash grab.

Here’s the new price breakdown:

$60-65 for a 12-lb bag (so approximately $75-80 for 15 lbs). What. the. f#$%. 

Still grain free. No exclamation point for you though, because fuck you.



Petcurean Go! Fit & Free dry cat food

Petcurean cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Duck Meal, Turkey Meal

With just as impressive an ingredient list as Orijen, Petcurean go! checks all the boxes

Price range:

$60 for a 16-lb bag

Grain free!


[Another advantage of Petcurean go!: It’s manufactured in Canada (like the Orijen US formula used to be), where the pet food industry is much more heavily regulated.]



Acana Grasslands dry cat food

Acana cat food

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients:

Deboned Lamb, Deboned Duck, Whole Eggs, Lamb Meal, Catfish Meal

Price range:

$55-65 for a 15-lb bag

Grain free!






Wellness Core dry cat food

*June 2017 update: Formula has changed to include peas in the top 5 ingredients. I can no longer recommend this brand as whole-heartedly as before, especially since bag size has decreased as well. 

Get it on Amazon


First 5 ingredients:

Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whitefish Meal, Herring Meal

Price range:

$30-40 for a 12-lb bag (so approximately $40-50 for 15 lbs)

Grain free!




[NEW] First 5 ingredients:

Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas

Price range:

$30-40 for an 11-lb bag (so approximately $40-50 for 15 lbs)



Open Farm Homestead Turkey & Chicken dry cat food

Open Farm is interesting, since they’re the first pet food manufacturer (that I know of) to mass-produce “ethical pet food,” which means their farm animals are all humanely raised and sourced. I dig it. 


Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients:

Humanely Farmed Turkey, Humanely Farmed Chicken, Ocean Caught Whitefish Meal, Ocean Caught Herring Meal, Chickpeas (no brotato, cats shouldn’t eat chickpeas… although this ingredient isn’t quite as bad as some other cheap fillers)

Price range:

$25 for a 5-lb bag (so ~$75 for 15 lbs)

Grain free!





Merrick Before Grain dry cat food

Merrick before grain

Get it on Amazon

First 5 ingredients:

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Potato Dehydrated, Turkey Meal, Chicken Fat (silly Merrick, cats don’t eat potatoes)

Price range:

$25 for an 11-lb bag (so $35 for 15 lbs) <–steaaaallllll

Grain free!






I’ve left off a lot of otherwise-decent brands with higher carb content (like pea proteins or oats) and excessive use of fish.

Know a good brand you think should be included? Clue me in in the comments!




Things to absolutely avoid

Looking to do your own digging? Here are a few things to look out for:



Avoid like the plague:
  • Corn, corn meal, corn gluten (just anything corn-related). It’s a shit filler product and it’s killing both us and our pets
  • Soy. Another cheap filler protein, that commonly causes pet food allergies
  • Wheat and wheat gluten. More cheap filler protein used to increase profit margins
  • Cellulose/Powdered cellulose: 10000% empty fillers
  • By-products. These are all the leftover scraps deemed unfit for human consumption, like intestines, feet, bone—often from diseased animals
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), or Ethoxyquin. All chemical preservatives known to cause cancer in humans and animals
  • Any “natural”/artificial flavors or colorings




Test your knowledge!

Here’s a real life cat food ingredient label from a very well known, TV-ad-running, pet-health-touting manufacturer. Feel free to cross check with the “to avoid” ingredient list above!


Now do you see why I LOATHE big pet food brands?



Why does any of this matter?

Your cats are doing just fine on TV-ad-running garbage food, you say? They just love it, you say? That’s equivalent to saying that a toddler loves having Lucky Charms three meals a day. Of course they love it! It’s sugary, nutritionally-barren filler laced with chemicals and artificial flavors.

Cats have evolved to subsist on animal protein, period. In fact, they need 5 times more protein in their diets than dogs do, making careful meal-planning on our parts even more crucial. Their bodies were simply not made to digest carbs like grains, corn, soy, or rice, and forcing them to do so inevitably leads to:


  • Diarrhea, skin problems, allergies & arthritis, to start
  • Feline diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Urinary crystals
  • Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  • Bladder / kidney stones
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease)
  • Cancer (and premature death)


If you love your kitties (and I know you do!), give them the best possible chance at a long, healthy, happy life—just like their wild, fearsome (and very very carnivorous) ancestors had before them.


Nutrition is only one factor (albeit an extremely important one) affecting your cat’s longevity and health. Here’s how to ensure your cat lives to the ripe old age of 20, and beyond.

Check out my breakdown of what to indulge and what to avoid in cat treats.

Read my comprehensive guide to another essential cat need – vertical space.


What do you feed your little wombats? Anything I missed? Let me know!


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100 comments on “Cat Food Breakdown: The Good, The Bad, & The Heinous”

  1. Ellen Pilch says:

    I didn’t know Trader Joe’s had cat food- I am going to get some. Thank you- this is an excellent post. I am always so conflicted on what to feed my cats and with 13 cats I can’t afford the more expensive ones.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks a lot ! And yup, Trader Joe’s canned food is pretty unbeatable for the price. The only downside is they’re only sold in individual cans, so lugging a month’s supply home is a bit of a pain.
      I totally feel you on the expensive food! Good job taking care of all your babies!

      1. Greg says:

        Our Trader Joe’s runs $0.79 per can, so that’s $18.96 per 24. Still a great price. We’ve tried a few other brands, but our picky cat only likes the TJ Chicken and Turkey flavors. I guess she picked a decent one for us. Since we don’t regularly venture to TJ, every 2 or 3 months we’ll make a run, hoping they have them in stock, and buy 60-90 at a time. Thanks for the article.

        1. Why Cat Why says:

          Yes, Trader Joes is my lifeblood! We do the same and haul home huge quantities every few weeks or so.

          1. David H says:

            Trader Joes premium chicken turkey canned food gets a 1 star rating for toxins, the lowest rating meaning a high amount of toxins, from the clean label project that tested over 200 pet foods. It was high in heavy metals and contaminants. The chicken dry food also gets 1 star. The fish canned food got 3 stars (out of 5) which is a bit surprising as fish based foods usually have higher toxins. Anyway I wouldn’t touch the stuff.

          2. Why Cat Why says:

            Thank you for this info! I’ve never looked into toxins before. I’ll definitely have to read up about it.

        2. Meghan says:

          At my local Trader Joe’s you can call ahead and order it by the case!

      2. Melissa says:

        I’ve been feeding my little girl Whole Earth Farms Graun Free Recipe with real chicken. It’s made in the US & she seems to like it. It’s $22.48 for a 10 lb bag on What do you think?

        1. Why Cat Why says:

          The potatoes and peas in the first 5 ingredients concerns me, but you could certainly be doing worse. Aim for animal-based protein in the first 5 ingredients if you can. I know the price tends to skyrocket, but your cat will be much healthier in the long term!

  2. Engineer L says:

    The most cost effective option for wet cat food is actually to buy the 13 oz cans, instead of the 3-6 oz cans. I recommend Wellness and Dave’s Pet Food (get the grain-free ones). I buy them off, which I find to be much cheaper than your local pet store.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks for the tip! And yes, I love I get packages from there practically every week. :]

  3. Andrea Smith says:

    I just went through a thorough research and found that Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet, Grain Free high quality is as comprable to the Core Wellness, Nutro etc listed above..

  4. Kerri says:

    I, too, do my shopping via Love them! After our previous baby, Kramer, developed diabetes due to a diet consisting mainly of dry food (thanks, vet, for that advice!), we now feed our two current babies only Weruva wet food. But boy, it does cost a fortune, however, it’s worth it to see how healthy they are, how soft and shiny their coats are, etc. Currently looking for a more affordable option to supplement it.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Yes! I stopped listening to our vet’s advice on nutrition after the 3rd time she recommended Science Diet, haha. So glad your babies are doing well on Weruva! It’s definitely expensive. I’d look into Tiki Cat for something similar and slightly cheaper!

  5. Corey says:

    You aren’t being fair to Fromm’s, I think… All of the premium dry foods have a shockingly steep price curve from the low volumes to the high: Wellness Core Original is ~$23 for a 6 lb bag, $38 for a 12 lb, for example (on A 15 lb bag of Fromm’s runs around $45 depending on the flavor, vs. the $25 you cite for 5-lb. (I’m a bit biased here because one of my cats is very picky, and rejected every premium dry food until I got to one particular variety of Fromm’s.) That said… The premium dry foods also go rancid fairly quickly unless you keep them sealed in an airtight container, so a 15-lb bag may also not be a good buy unless you have enough cats to go through it quickly. (Tip: If you’re past the halfway point in a bag of dry food, and kitty suddenly seems reluctant to eat it and/or starts throwing up frequently… The food has gone off. Took me a while to figure this one out, but my cats are now much happier with me buying smaller bags of food.)

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Corey, thanks so much for your comment! I think you’re right, Fromm’s is actually cheaper than Orijen for their 15-lb bag. Prices are always fluctuating so thanks for the heads up.

      My issue with Fromm’s is their ingredient list though – the 3rd ingredient is pea protein, which is a cheap filler product with no nutritional value for our kitties. Given what Fromm’s is charging, this is an unacceptable ingredient for them to include anywhere in their food, let alone in the first 5 ingredients! Other than that, Fromm’s seems like a decent quality food with very little additives, so I’m glad your picky cat is doing well on it. I know how tough it is to find something they actually like eating, so keep it up! :]

  6. dmk says:

    Great article, thanks for the research!

    I’m also a (new) fan of .

    My cat had a few bouts of UTI as a kitten, and recently as a 9-year-old cat (I slipped and bought a cheap bag of dry food; I’m pretty sure that was the cause). We now know she is prone to bladder stones. Tiki Cat canned food is her primary food, since they have great nutritional info on their site.

    My Mom feeds her ten-year-old cats Trader Joe’s; it’s high quality, and you cannot beat that price!

    I’m currently researching food options for two 11-week-old bundles of energy.

    – Change the red color to something less brown; it’s a little too dark and doesn’t stand out. I recommend something more like #d06040 ; Check out for text samples.
    – In addition to the prices you already quote, please add price per ounce for wet food, and price per pound for dry food; that makes it easier to compare across brands and sizes.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks for your great feedback! I’ll get on the readability/comparability issues pronto.

      And yes, you really can’t beat Trader Joe’s for price/quality.

  7. Jessica says:

    You might want to check the latest on Orijen. I stumbled across your site while searching out new options for our felines.

    I got a shipping update from Chewy that my autoship of Orijen was changing without an explanation why so I started looking into it. Us folks in the USA will no longer be able to get the version made in Canada and instead will be getting the version now made in KY. Lots of reviews I have read did not have good things to say about the changes or their cats reaction to the changes. So…I stocked up on all the Canada version I could and am hunting for a new food.

    Petcurean GO seems to be the next possible contender (if they will eat it). But for now we have a few more bags of Canadian Orijen and Tiki Cat.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Oh no! My cats love their Orijen, and I’ll definitely have to look into the changes… Probably a cost-cutting measure of some sort. >:/

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  8. KellyZ says:

    Thank you for your research! Just wondering if you have any advice for a male cat that has to be on “urinary tract health” food? (I see another commenter was concerned about this also). I feed my cat Royal Canin SO and Purina ProPlan Urinary wet food, but looking at the first 5 ingredients, it’s not looking so good anymore. Any advice, as I’m sure others have cats with the same problem? ( I see someone mentioned that TIKI food has a lot of water….is that good enough?) Thank you!!!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Kelly! Normally I’d always default to asking to your vet for their recommendations, but past experience tells me that most vets tend to shill sub-par pet foods with supposed “health-boosting” benefits. Here is a pretty informative article I found on the subject:

      Essentially – high quality, high-protein canned food with high water content is key. Tiki cat sounds like a good choice, especially if your cat has a low thirst drive. One caveat is to avoid feeding your cat exclusively the fish flavors, as too much fish can be detrimental to kitty’s health!

  9. jean says:

    just found your helpful, informative site. trying to figure out what to feed my 12 week old kittens! they seem to eat anything..but i am in this for the long haul and would like to get a couple of wet products lined up to use daily.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Jean! You’re on the right track already if you’re feeding them high-quality, nutritionally dense wet food. Kittens can generally eat the same kind of food as adult cats, just in larger quantities relative to their body weight. You know, to fuel all that exponenetial growing and extreme hyperactivity. :]

  10. Arabella says:

    Was just wondering if you knew about Avoderm wet canned food? Also if Blue Buffalo dry cat food is okay. My cats generally like Blue Buffalo over the years and are healthy. However I am always open to switching to something else if there are healthier options.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Arabella! Just did a quick search for Avoderm’s ingredient list, and right off the bat I’d say to stay away from any foods with added salt and carrageenan. I’ve also looked into Blue Buffalo before, and while they are a decent brand, their use of tapioca starch and pea protein (zero-nutrition filler) is disappointing given their reputation–which is why I’ve left them off this list.

  11. Judie says:

    I couldn’t figure out why my 3 cats, 2 are 11 year old Bombays, 1is a 6 year old disabled. I bought the Bombays from a pet store, they were living in horrible conditions, the 6 year old, I rescued from a hoarder. They have been given the best, so when they refused to eat the dry Orijen returned bag to store, after 2 different bags, & finding out food was no longer from Canada, & the ingredients have been changed, the light bulb went off. Researched ingredients, hope I can get Go Fit & Free Chix, Turkey, & Duck from Chewy. Iam a senior & my cats mean the world to me ? Glad I found

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Judie, thanks so much for your comment! So happy to have helped!
      I’ve fed my cats a few samples of Go Fit & Free (Turkey, Chicken, Duck) and they seem to love it (and my hyper-sensitive allergic cat has had no reactions to it). So there’s a bit of anecdotal evidence for you! :]

  12. Delta says:

    What do you think of dehydrated foods like Primal or Stella & Chewy’s? Are they good quality and worth the cost?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Delta, I’m not too familiar with freeze dried cat foods, but a cat blog I love (natural cat care) has a pretty informative article ranking raw foods here:

  13. LG says:

    Any suggestions for low calories food. Vet wants a 250 calories diet. We used to feed our cat dry food only. Now we want wet food during the day and some dry food over night. She lost about 2 lb over year and a half. We would like something grain free and low fiber for dry food. We started on hills diet light wet (138kcal/can) and hills light dry food, Currently Traider Joe tuna and Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Dry Cat Food, but we think she gaining weight back because of the Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Dry Cat Food has too many calories.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.


    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Right away I’d say to cut out the dry food completely. Dry food has too many carbs for our cats, especially for those trying to lose a few pounds. Go for a high-protein, grain-free wet food only. The Hills “light” diet you were feeding kitty is chock-full of empty fillers and carbs–try to avoid it! And never free-feed (leave food out for) an overweight kitty.
      Also, portion control is much more important than calorie counting. Give her set portions, 2-3 times per day. If she doesn’t finish her portion, throw it out. She’ll learn to adapt to this feeding schedule and eat everything you put in front of her, no more, no less!

      More info:

      1. LG says:

        By being on Hills wet food is how she lost weight. Vet wanted wet food as it has more moisture and keeps her full for longer time. She has been throwing up before, but now with weight loss she still throwing up. So we switched her to TJ tuna and it seems to help. We did blood panel/work and all came good.
        Is TJ tuna ok?
        Any recommendations for wet food?

        We can’t cut out dry food completely as she becomes very very vocal at night.

        1. LG says:

          Any suggestions, please?

        2. Why Cat Why says:

          Trader Joe’s canned is a great place to start. I’d say stick with the chicken/turkey formula since too much fish is bad for our cats (particularly tuna, which can be high in mercury).

          Totally understand about the cat being bothersome at night–but it will take perseverance and patience (and sometimes sleepless nights) to condition our cats out of unwanted behavior!

          1. LG says:

            We rotate it with tuna. Did you see people were talking that chicken turkey rice dinner has Carrageenan? What is your opinion on it?

          2. Why Cat Why says:

            I don’t know enough about carrageenan to speak definitively about it, but I understand it’s “possibly” cancer-causing in humans. While I’d normally try to avoid such ingredients, considering the low price of Trader Joe’s canned food there are bound to be some trade-offs (no pun intended)!

  14. Kaitlyn says:

    I buy my cat Weruva and he absolutely loves it! I can get 6 oz cans 24 pack for about $31.00 off (they give discounts based on different thing like paying with a debit card etc) I also supplement with dry food (taste of the wild) at night just to help stretch his wet food out a little more.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Supplementing with dry food is a great way to go! Thanks for your tip about, I’ll have to check them out. :]

  15. Bethany says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for all the great info! What about Nulo (?) food? The dry chicken/cod…it is grain free…I know they are not supposed to have fish so I’m wondering about the cod? One of my cats has bloody stool the vet said it was his food. I was horrified. I’m now switching from Purina Beyond and wet Friskies to Trader Joe’s wet food and Nulo instead. Wondering if these are good choices? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Bethany! Just did a quick search of Nulo’s ingredients, and for the price it looks like decent food. There are some less-than-ideal ingredients in there like peas and “natural” flavor, but overall it’s not bad! I’d try to balance out the fish content with a fish-free wet food option (Trader’s is great for the value), or by mixing it with a grain/fish-free value dry food like Merrick’s Before Grain.

  16. Jerry. Hall says:

    For the sake of convenience we feed our kitties stuff of many a nightmare. As a pet care provider, I see a lot of kitties come and go every year and I can tell you right away which of those are on dry food diets just by looking at their charts. By age 8 most kitties on exclusive dry food diets will be showing signs of renal failure. A direct cause of kibble only diets. A lucky few who brave the outdoors and survive that long can supplement their diets with a natural raw selection. (Each of which come in unique bacteria resistant packaging). Renal failure is just the beginning of a long list of miseries that our fur babies will suffer due to our trust placed in a dizzying array of shiny bags showing Thankgiving style spreads of wholesome goodness taking center stage at every pet food aisle. The television ads touting the health and wellness to be had border on criminality. Many canned diets are not much better, but will usually present with a dramatic decrease in carbs which cats simply cannot process. Cats are Obligate carnivores. Google that and then explain to me how little brown bits of processed chemicals (along with a healthy dose of powdered cellulose) can come close to meeting the nutritional requitrements of our unsuspecting fur babies.
    At $5.00 a pound for the so-called premium diets?!
    That pays for a whole lot of chicken thighs my friends.

    There are a couple of brands attempting to cut down on the carbs by gluing their gloop together with tapioca instead of various starches, and that’s commendable but your crack baby kitty- accustomed to their kibble being slathered with “animal digest” won’t take to it right away and we still have issues of plant based proteins and a laundry list of carcinogens. So, please…. read the labels, seek out websites such as this one and catinfo, and educate yourselves a little bit – then take two extra minutes to serve your loved ones something you yourself might be inclined to eat (in a pinch). The savings in Vet bills alone will more than make up for any uptick in the food bill and your heart will not hurt when you have to say goodbye to your ten year old best friend whose kidneys are shot.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks for your comment! Sums up my rage/indignation at the pet food industry quite succinctly. Raw food is always best, but canned food will always be better than the alternative!

  17. Rob Fisher says:

    Loved the article what about “young again zero carb cat food”??

  18. Molly says:

    Have you ever heard of tiki cat or fussy cat because I’m pretty sure even I could eat those 😉

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Tiki cat is supposed to be great, human-grade food! They’ve been having quality control issues lately, so keep checking the latest reviews!

  19. Cassie says:

    Hello! What do you think of Petco’s brand Soulistic? Also, how do you figure the amount of wet food your cat will eat to determine monthly cost of feeding your cat? We will be getting a baby kitten soon and just trying to do my research!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Lots of red flags in Soulistic’s ingredient list. The first ingredient being water is sketchy. Any kind of starch in the first 5 ingredients is a big no-no. If you’re looking for relatively cheap wet food, I recommend Trader Joe’s brand!

      Check out the handy chart under the “Food” section of my Cat Care 101 article for feeding portions!

      1. Why Cat Why says:

        Hi Cassie! After further research it looks like I was wrong about Soulistic. It appears to be, at the very least, a more nutritious cat food than the Trader Joe’s brand. Trader Joe’s is decent for the price, but as with all cheap cat foods, isn’t ideal. I’d go with Soulistic if you can swing it.

  20. Mary says:

    So, what about for cats with vicious hairball problems, such as the Maine Coon variety pack? I mean, I brush him, but hairballs are inevitable. Advice on a decent dry food that isn’t going to kill him?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Natural hairball control remedies can help. Commercial hairball-control gels typically contain a mineral oil or petroleum that coats hairballs in your kitty’s digestive tracts, allowing them to pass through their systems. The problem with these is that mineral oil/petroleum is harmful to cats when ingested (shocking, I know).

      Some natural remedies here!

  21. Suha Daghestani says:

    Hi there , I just stumbled on ur article and got me interested , now my problem is I live in Amman Jordan , and we don’t have the high quality brands that you have either in Canada or the states , we have royal canin , happy cat , ANF Tamiami , taste of the wild .I’ve been going crazy trying to find a good balanced food for my baby read sooooooo many reviews and articles and I’m more confused than ever ? Can you give me ur feed back on Tamiami and happy cat ?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      I’d take Taste of the Wild over any of the other brands you mentioned. Aside from that, your best bet would probably be a canned (wet) formula with as little corn, soy or grain content as possible. Avoid artificial coloring and flavoring if you can, and look for a formula with chicken/turkey/duck as the main source of protein, not fish.

      Best of luck!

      1. Suha says:

        Hi dear I found a supplier in Jordan for Origen (Canada) and acana, which is best plz advise ?

        1. Why Cat Why says:

          If you can get the Canadian Orijen, I’d go with that. Wish I could still get my hands on some!

  22. Vivian Russo says:

    Hi there…writing to you from sunny Miami, FL. I had both my cats on Prescription Diet for a while until I started reading the crap put in these cans – then I started reading up on dry food vs wet food. Based on what I read, my indoor cats really have no need for the dry food. I also read that male neutered cats have a higher tendency to have UTI’s because of their small tract. You should also know that my vet told me he would have to be on an antibiotic that goes on the inside of his ears for the rest of his life. Well, I gradually switched him to Trader Joes cat food and since then, he’s peeing in his litter box, no longer peeing in my bathtub and seems to be happy again. I also have started putting a drop of CBD oil to my cats’ food and my dog’s food as well. There are lots of natural alternatives to most ailments. Thank God for the internet!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Love! It’s amazing the health issues that resolve themselves when we switch our cats over to high-quality foods. And I’ve never heard of using CBD oil for pets, but I’ll definitely have to look into that! Thanks a ton for sharing.

  23. Becky says:

    Another to add to the “Best Bang for Your Buck” list is Blue Healthy Gourmet. I have two kitties who are active and voracious eaters. After MUCH research, I found that this was the most affordable option, especially since I don’t feed them fish varieties. Runs about $27 for 24 5.5oz cans. I plan on getting an Amazon Dash button just for the kitty food! Already have one for their litter.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks for the reco! I checked them out and the price is great, but I’m a little wary of their use of carrageenan. More on the perils of carrageenan here:

  24. shellee says:

    Hi. Great info, thanks for sharing it. I am from BC. I have 7 cats, 4 are over 13 years. I have one 18 year old. I have been feeding my kitties Cat Chow dry and Friskies wet for years with no health problems. My 18yo starting losing weight so I started looking at different foods. The information out there can be overwhelming. I have tried Pride, Blue Buffalo, Halo, Wellness and a few others. Its hit or miss with the 18 yo, he likes wet stuff with gravy. Any recommendations? Thanks

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Shellee! Wet foods with gravy don’t tend to be the most nutritionally sound, since the gravy is made up of a lot of unnecessary carbs and “natural” flavorings.
      Try Nutro for something a bit more nutritious, with a bit of gravy made from chicken broth. Tiki Cat is also great, but the consistency is more watery and less gravy-like. Good luck!

  25. Karen says:

    I recognize that I am on a cat site, but you start out by saying that you lost your best friend (a dog) at a relatively early age due to in part to the garbage he ate in the manufactured pet food. As I own both a cat and a dog, can you recommend a site that rates dog food? Thanks!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Yep! A good list here:

      The same rules of thumb that apply to cat food applies to dog food as well–the first 5 ingredients should be a protein of some kind, ideally not a by-product, and DEFINITELY not corn, soy, or carbs. Dogs require less protein than cats, so their dietary needs are slightly less stringent. To be safe, I’d still adhere to the top 5 ingredient rule. Good luck!

  26. Cheri Pixley says:

    Is the wellness core you listed the new or old formula? I currently use wellness core original but am looking to change this really helped me and taught me something at the same time.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      I believe it’s the old formula. I’m just reading that their ingredient list has changed, while prices have gone up—big red flag. I’d make the switch over to Petcurean go or Acana.

  27. Sarah says:

    What about Halo wet cat food–the Duck and Turkey pate? I’ve been feeding my lovely main coon rescue Beau (he’s about 9 now) this since I got him a couple years ago. It’s *not* cheap! Also wondering if there’s a wet food especially for older cats? Or does this mater?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hey there! Any wet food will typically be better than kibble. Halo is a decent choice, but is not grain free.
      A good article detailing dietary needs for older cats here!

  28. diane says:

    I’ve been feeding both wet and dry to my cats. The dry is a mix of Solid Gold and Halo formulas. I’ve just read that Halo has changed theirs and the dry foods now contain soy protein concentrate. This seems like a step in the wrong direction and I’m thinking I need to quit buying the Halo. Isn’t soy a dangerous ingredient?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Yes! Soy is one of the top ingredients to avoid when searching for high-quality cat food. I’d steer clear.

  29. Eileen says:

    I have been feeding my cats Wellness Natural Pet Food for Dogs and Cats for over 17 years. They changed their formula and not only are my cats not eating it, they are having “digestive issues” and I’m worried about that. We need to find something that works for all of them. One has mega colon, another can get UTI, another is susceptible to pancreatitis and is stage I renal, the last one has food sensitivities. Wellness wet food was the only thing they could all eat without issues. I need something comparable.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Wow, sounds like quite the balancing act. I’ve had good luck with Petcurean go! dry kibble, or Nature’s Variety limited ingredient canned. Since your kitties are experiencing a host of digestive/urinary complications, I’d consider trying to slowly transition them to a 100% raw diet (if you’re up for it).

      I’ll do a post about my own experiences transitioning to raw soon.

  30. Dee says:

    hello and Im enjoying reading all of these comments. After a vet visit with one of my cats being sick, I eliminated all dry food…use to give them Merrick and Go. Now they get Weruva paw lickin chicken. Does it matter if we stick to only one flavor? Should we be concerned that Weruva is made in Thailand?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      It’s always a good idea to switch up the protein source (or flavor) once in a while to prevent your cats from developing a food allergy. I haven’t heard anything particularly negative about pet food sourced from Thailand, but it wouldn’t hurt to do some googling!

  31. Denise says:

    hello and Im enjoying reading all of these comments. After a vet visit with one of my cats being sick, I eliminated all dry food…use to give them Merrick and Go. Now they get Weruva paw lickin chicken. Does it matter if we stick to only one flavor? Should we be concerned that Weruva is made in Thailand?

  32. Emily says:

    My male cat has skin problems, he constantly licks and bites and has sores and scabs as a result. I’ve changed his food about 4 times based on various vet recos, but I can’t seem to find the right dry food for him. I strongly believe it’s his food that causes skin irritation (we treat for fleas monthly). Any recos for a good dry food/ingredients for skin irritation?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hello! My cat had the exact same issue–no matter what high-priced, organic, grain-free wet food we tried, the problem would resurface after a few months. I initially had really good luck switching him to Orijen (the original formulation), but since their ingredients changed I’ve successfully transitioned him to Petcurean Go. No more issues so far. Every cat is different, so your mileage my vary.
      However–if you look at both Orijen and Go’s ingredient lists, you’ll see that they are miles ahead of other cat foods in terms of high-quality proteins.

      I’m currently working on transitioning both cats to a raw-only diet. Will share my experience on that soon!

  33. Taylor Kline says:

    Im sorry but im a bit confused… What makes you think your 13 year old dog got Leukemia from his food? Did you read a research article that indicated a link between contaminants in pet food with early onset of Leukemia? Did you stop to think that elderly pets in their teenage years are the most likely ones to be diagnosed with cancer? Seems like a huge leap and one that you made with little to no reliable resources apart from BS blog posts.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think my dog’s food was the sole cause of his leukemia–but as with all things, was likely due to a variety of factors. And as diet is probably one of the leading factors affecting health (in humans and animals), I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that feeding a dog a diet loaded with carbohydrates (which is not found in their ancestral diets and metabolises into simple sugars), preservatives (known carcinogen), and that’s been highly processed/heated (also produces carcinogens like acrylamide), probably had some role to play in his early passing.

      Good of you to assume I get my information from “BS blog posts,” however. This is probably one of them!

  34. beverly walton says:

    I need to find a item like w/d hills formula,but can’t afford their price, one with lots of fiber. My cat gets consitapated real easy. Please any help for my fur baby ????

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hello! If you believe your cat is constipated, I’d recommend transitioning her to a wet food diet ASAP. She may not be drinking enough water, and combined with a diet of dry kibble, may be leading to constipation (among other things). You could also try mixing in a bit of organic canned pumpkin to add fiber and moisture to her diet.

      I’ve also had really good results using a digestive aid called “Optagest” (you can find it on Amazon). Just a tiny dusting (about 1/4 teaspoon) sprinkled on their food every morning helps with hairballs and digestive issues like constipation.

      Simply switching her to a commercial “high-fiber” diet will be costly and ineffective in the long run, and typically she won’t be getting adequate nutrition from a brand like Hills. Good luck!

  35. beverly walton says:

    do you know of a can cat food with a good amount of fiber?

  36. Ann says:

    If only I could get our cat to eat wet food! When he was a kitten we had to feed kitten formula because he was weaned to early from the person we got him from. He ate wet food with the formula then when he got bigger I made a fatal error and gave him dry food too. Thought it was a good food but had grain. He was a dry food carb junkie and puts his nose up to wet food. I have successfully switched him to a good high protein no grain dry food which took some work but still can’t get him to touch the wet stuff. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Ann, I totally get your struggles! It’s like telling a kid they can’t have lucky charms every day anymore.

      Try introducing wet food into his diet slowly, slower than you think. Mix 1 teaspoon into his dry food every day, just enough to coat it. It should be barely noticeable. Gradually increase the amount, teaspoon by teaspoon, as he gets used to it. If he suddenly stops eating, back off the ratio of wet food slightly, but don’t remove it altogether. When he gets hungry, he’ll eat. Cats may be picky, but they’re not stupid enough to starve themselves in protest. After a few weeks (or even months!) he should be eating mostly wet food, or 100% wet food. It’ll take patience and perseverance, but i’ll be worth it in the long run!

      Gradual, microscopic (ha!), incremental changes are the key when introducing any new “thing” to our cats, be it new food, new litter, or even a new cat friend. Best of luck! Let me know how it goes.

      1. Ann says:

        Thank you! I will give it a go.

  37. Tracy says:

    Do you like young again lid zero mature for cats with diarrhea? I have a few cats with food allergies, small cell carcinoma and kidney disease. Is this a high quality chemical free no bad additives cat food?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Tracy! Ran the food through one of my favorite cat food review sites:

      It seems to be a decent food. Not the best of the best, but decent. It sounds like a few of your cats have lots of special needs–I’ll try to refrain from making specific recommendations on their health/nutrition, but it might be worth reading into feeding raw, if you don’t already. Raw food is meant to be enormously beneficial for cats, seeing as processed/commercial foods are the root cause for so many common cat health maladies.

  38. Sarah says:

    Ziwi pearl is an excellent brand of cat food but very expensive! I recommend you check it out.

    1. Sarah says:

      *Ziwi Peak

    2. Why Cat Why says:

      Thanks for the reco!

  39. Susie Kelley says:

    Are any of the Blue Buffalo or Blue Wilderness okay?

  40. KT says:

    I don’t see anything about Sheba cat food. This is the only brand that I found that does not have grains, veggies or fruit. So why is this not listed?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi KT, thanks for the heads-up. Fruits and vegetables in small amounts are not necessarily bad for cats, but that doesn’t change the fact that Sheba is a very decent cat food. Better than a few on my list, actually. I’ll have to update this article soon. Thank you!

  41. Abi says:

    I’ve been feeding my cats Orijen Kitten and Cat formula, but it’s so expensive and I’m slightly peeved that they recently changed it.
    How do you feel about Purina (I know, I hate them too!!) Beyond Grain Free Ocean Whitefish?
    The ingredient list and nutritional content seems to be there…? Any thoughts?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      At first glance, the inclusion of pea starch and cassava root flour are immediate red flags. Popped it in my favorite cat food review site:

      I’d avoid. For something cheaper than Orijen (but still high quality), I’d try Nulo brand. If you’re willing to shell out for something better than Orijen’s new formula (but in the same price bracket), I’d go with Petcurean. They’ve yet to let me down!

  42. JJ says:

    What are your thoughts on the brand “Fromm” and the food model for cats “Hasen Duckenpfeffer”

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      The ingredients look great. Nutritional value, not so much. Check out the breakdown here, under “Nutritional Analysis:”

  43. Marty says:

    What are your thoughts on the ZiwiPeak cat food products?

  44. rachel says:

    Thank you for this very informative article – I’ve been struggling to make sense of the ingredients listed in cat food here in the UK, and found your red highlighting very helpful. Here, it is hard even to identify which wet foods are grain free. I was alerted to the grain issue through this article: after my 10-year old cat was found to be borderline diabetic; changing her diet to wet grain free food has made a remarkable difference already to the frequent painful, messy regurgitation of hairballs. I’m hoping she will now start to gain weight and that her fur will improve. Having read your article, I’ve decided to wean my other two cats, younger and rather fond of a home-caught mouse, off dry food entirely. And then there’s the dog….. (BTW, it’s interesting that veterinarians I’ve seen over the years don’t talk about diet much, and all sell dry food and ‘prescription diet’ cans, but not raw or grain-free.)

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Amazing! So glad you’re taking these important steps to improving your cats’ (and dog’s) health. From what I understand, many vets don’t spend much time studying animal nutrition, so have very little insight to pass on (this obviously doesn’t apply to every vet, but I even have friends in veterinarian school who can attest to this). So, much like people doctors, they simply peddle whatever big pharma (or in this case, big pet food brands) “persuades” them to sell.
      That’s why I find it so important to always be an engaged, educated consumer, like yourself.

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