Choosing quality dry cat food for your feline friend is important for her overall health and well-being. We know it’s difficult to pick the great dry cat food out from the subpar options.
This guide contains all the basics you need to know to pick the best dry cat food. Our favorite option is Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. This high-quality dry cat food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of cats as obligate carnivores.
What to know before you buy a dry cat food
Cats are carnivores, which means their diets should consist exclusively or predominantly of meat. While this is rare in commercial cat food, it’s best to pick one with a high protein content as possible. The absolute minimum protein content a dry cat food should contain is 26%, but ideally, choose one with 30% protein or more. Some options have more than 40% protein.
It can be difficult to quantify the ingredient quality of cat food simply by looking at the package, but there are some signs to watch for. Quality foods generally contain named whole meats or meat meals as well as fruits, vegetables, and some carbohydrate sources. Poor-quality foods contain animal by-products, and unnamed meats, meat meals, or other animal products (for instance “animal fat”). They may also contain too many grains or other starchy fillers.
Age of cat
Cats 1 year and older should eat adult dry cat food, with cats younger than one year sticking to kitten food. As your cat ages, it may benefit from senior cat food, but some felines thrive on standard adult cat food their whole lives.
What to look for in a quality dry cat food
As cats are obligate carnivores (unlike omnivorous dogs), it makes sense to opt for grain-free dry food. That said, many grain-free options contain alternative starches, such as potatoes, which aren’t any more appropriate for cats than grains are. Look for foods with the highest meat content as possible.
You can find raw dry cat food — generally either freeze-dried or dehydrated. These types of foods consist almost exclusively of meat and are generally of high quality, but they can be expensive.
How much you can expect to spend on a dry cat food
Dry cat food can cost anywhere between $0.50-$5 per pound, depending on the overall quality of the food and the bag size (it costs less per pound to buy in bulk).
Dry cat food FAQ
Q. Why choose dry cat food rather than wet?
A. Dry cat food isn’t necessarily better than wet cat food, but there are several reasons why cat owners might prefer it. First off, it’s convenient to feed and isn’t as messy or smelly as wet cat food. It’s also great for cats who prefer to pick at their food throughout the day rather than eat it all in one go because it won’t spoil if left out on a hot day. What’s more, dry cat food is generally cheaper than wet cat food.
Q. What should I do if my cat refuses the food?
A. Cats can be extremely picky eaters, and it isn’t uncommon for them to go hungry rather than eat food that doesn’t meet their high standards. Don’t assume your cat will eat when she’s hungry because they can be stubborn when it comes to food. If your cat really doesn’t like her food, you may need to switch to another brand. If it’s dry food in general she objects to, consider mixing some wet cat food with dry cat food or adding a wet topper to her dry food.
What are the best dry cat foods to buy?
Top dry cat food
What you should know: Free from grains and containing 30% protein, this is an excellent food for any cat.
What you’ll love: Contains quality protein without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. No animal by-products or unnamed meats. Contains a precise blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
What you should consider: Fairly expensive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top dry cat food for the money
What you should know: An affordable cat food designed for indoor cats. Decent for the price, but it contains some ingredients we’d prefer to avoid.
What you’ll love: No artificial flavors or preservatives. The blend of natural fibers helps control hairballs. Lower in calories to avoid weight gain in house cats.
What you should consider: Chicken by-product meal is the number one ingredient and contains unnamed animal fat.
Worth checking out
What you should know: With an impressive 42% protein content, this food is tailored to the needs of your little carnivores.
What you’ll love : Tasty roasted venison and salmon formula. Uses high-quality proteins. Contains probiotics for improved digestion. Grain-free recipe.
What you should consider: Some picky cats won’t eat it.
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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