The Best Dry Cat Food For 2020

You may have heard concerns that dry kibbles are detrimental for cats since it can affect the health of their kidneys. However, this is merely a myth that results from poor-quality mass-produced pet food. The best dry cat food is by no means harmful, as it strikes the right balance between nutritional value and flavor.

As you may already know, our feline companions are natural predators, and evolution has taught them not to chow down fruits or pounce on vegetables. However, many of the nutrients our domesticated felines need are found in plants. That is why we need to incorporate many of these healthy fruits and vegetables into their diet by giving them the best dry cat food.

Nutritious food lessens vet visits, as well as improves the overall health and wellbeing of your pet. So, don’t take their food lightly and don’t buy the cheap stuff. If there is one thing you should invest in, it should be one or two of the following foods.

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Blue Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet Indoor Cat Formula – Editor’s Pick

best dry cat food blue wilderness

If you have an indoor kitty that is feeling so-so inside the house, give this cat food a shot. The Adult Indoor Cat formula is best known for improving the vitality of our feline companions.

Supposedly inspired by a lynx’s diet, it offers a tremendous amount of proteins. In fact, the top three ingredients are meat, headed by real chicken. That given, this food satisfies the cravings and simultaneously provides the nutrition your little carnivore needs to thrive. The list of ingredients discloses all sources of proteins, fats, and amino acids to give you the peace of mind knowing that all ingredients are sourced naturally.

Another outstanding quality of this cat food is the inclusion of Blue’s patented formula, LifeSource Bits. These pieces undergone a process called “cold-forming” so that the kibbles don’t lose its heat-sensitive nutrients, including the antioxidants it offers.

Moreover, this cat food is free of artificial flavors, preservatives, and poultry by-product meals. Compared to Blue Buffalo, Blue Wilderness products do not contain grains of any kind to benefit kitties with grain-related allergies. And because of its high-density formula, you don’t need to feed your kitty large quantities to achieve its minimum dietary requirements.

While this food can be pretty pricey, many cat owners attest to its efficacy. Consider buying bigger bags so that you can save money. As far as ingredients and safety are concerned, the Adult Indoor Cat Formula by Blue Wilderness is the best dry cat food.

ProsCons
Offers 38% protein, 16% fat, and 6% fiberOther cat owners may find it a bit expensive
First three ingredients are meat proteins headed by real chicken
Fortified with vitamins and minerals, as well as LifeSource bits that provide a wide range of antioxidants
Free of grains and synthetic ingredients

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Recipe – Runner Up

best cat food for weight gain merrick backcountry raw infused

Whether you have a hyperactive cat, a finicky diner, or a senior pet with a poor appetite, the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Recipe will bring out the best of your kitty! If you get this food, your cat will demand that you feed it right away because its aroma alone is so enticing.

This cat food features deboned salmon as its primary source of protein, followed by whitefish and trout. Rich in taurine and omega fatty acids, these medium-fat fish make your kitty healthy inside and out! Salmon meal and whitefish meal are also added to provide high-dense proteins that cats can digest without difficulty.

Merrick Backcountry is also available in Game Bird Recipe where it sources its protein in turkey, instead of salmon. The said recipe also includes duck and quail as its secondary protein sources.

merick backcountry game bird recipe

What makes the Merrick Backcountry special is that it contains real freeze-dried fish pieces. Both variants include mouthwatering chunks of either fish or poultry, offering nutritional benefits in its purest form.

Best of all, this cat food is free of wheat, corn gluten, or anything of that kind. Nor does it contain artificial colors, dyes, or preservatives. If you want your pet’s food to be as natural as possible, this cat food would be a fabulous option for you.

ProsCons
Offers 41% protein from deboned salmon, whitefish, and troutNot budget-friendly
Includes freeze-dried fish chunks
Rich in omega-fatty acids and amino acids
Free of grains, gluten, and artificial ingredients

Nulo FreeStyle Chicken & Cod Recipe – Best For Outdoor Cats

best cat food for weight gain nulo freestyle

Outdoor kitties that are playful and as energetic as the Energizer Bunny tend to veer to the svelte side. Does this situation sound all too familiar? If yes, consider feeding your adventurous feline with the best dry cat food for weight gain, such as the Nulo FreeStyle Chicken and Cod Recipe.

This cat food supplies a whopping 82% of proteins soured from deboned chicken, chicken meat, turkey meal, and deboned cod. Nulo’s first four ingredients offer your feline athlete the amino acids it needs to build strong, lean muscles. At the same time, these ingredients create a vivid flavor profile that will satisfy the fussiest of eaters.

Besides, this cat food also appeals to cat owners who are leery of grains and gluten meals. Nulo goes beyond grain-free and excludes potatoes, soy, and tapioca starch from its recipe. In place of controversial ingredients, Nulo uses low-glycemic chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and lentils for fiber.

If you are hoping to see improved digestion and bowel movements in your cat, I suggest you try this food right away. This cat food includes Nulo’s patented BC30 human-grade probiotics that support gastrointestinal health.

Aside from protein-rich meats, your whiskered friend will also receive a dose of vitamins and minerals sourced from a variety of fruits and vegetables. With an increased vitality and immunity, you can rest assured your adventurous feline will receive all the nutrients it needs to bounce back from a fun-filled day outdoors.

You will also witness a difference in your cat’s fur quality in a short period because the food is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

ProsCons
First four ingredients are meats, offering 82% proteinsSome cat owners find it expensive to be used as a staple food
Features Nulo’s patented BC30 human-grade probiotics and highly digestible produce that offers prebiotics
Contains antioxidants and essential nutrients
No rains, starches, and artificial ingredients

Hill’s Science Diet Chicken Recipe For Indoor Adult Cats

best dry cat food blue hills science diet

For over 70 years, Hill’s has established itself as one of the leading cat food manufacturers across the globe. So, it is no surprise that the brand always makes it to the cut each time our team makes a list of the best dry cat food.

This particular formula has recently undergone a few ingredient changes, with the protein content boosted from 29.5 to 31 percent, and the fat content lowered from 16 to 13 percent. Being an indoor formula, Hill’s also kept the calorie count down low, supplying only 319 calories for every cupful of kibble.

As the name hints, this food features real chicken as its primary source of protein and fats, with the addition of fish oil to provide your kitty a substantial amount of omega fatty acids. I have seen many cat owners talk around the web saying they witnessed a significant improvement in the condition of the skin coat of their felines’ coat.

Many cat owners have likewise shared that this provides a reduction in hairball occurrence, as well as positive effects on the digestion and bowel movement of their pets. These improvements are due to the 12% fiber content of the food, which Hill’s sourced from an array of digestible produce.

Hill’s has always used high-quality ingredients and shun from artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives. However, their dry cat food formulations still include grains and gluten meals, and the Chicken Recipe is no exception. So, if you are against such ingredients, you might want to look for something else.

But if your cat doesn’t have grain-related sensitivities, this formula should provide the well-balanced nutrition your pet needs. Likewise, it is an excellent option for an outdoor feline that needs to shed a few pounds. The Chicken Recipe also has a variant suitable for senior cats aged 11 years or older.

ProsCons
Offers 31% protein, 13% fat, 6% fiberContains grains and gluten meals that some cat owners are wary of
Real chicken is the no. 1 ingredientExpensive
Fortified with omega fatty acids and a wide range of micronutrients
Supplies adequate calories to help an indoor cat maintain weight

Hill’s Prescription Diet Urinary Care c/d Multicare – Best For Urinary Health

hills prescription diet cd multicare

Renal failure tends to happen in the majority of cats as they age. If you suspect your feline companion is showing early signs of a kidney problem, you might want to feed your poor feline with Hill’s Prescription Diet Urinary Care c/d Multicare.

According to Hill’s, the Urinary Care c/d Multicare is formulated with minimum levels of phosphorus so that it will not burden feline kidneys during filtration. The first three ingredients of this cat food are ocean fish, Brewer’s rice, and barley.

Moreover, Hill’s slightly increased its potassium content to inhibit bladder stone formation and increase urine output. This food is also designed to control calcium and magnesium levels to help limit the formation of urine crystals.

Although this product can be pricey to be used as your cat’s new maintenance food, it is among the best ways to minimize the recurrences of urinary stones, as well as delay the horrifying consequences of renal failure.

ProsCons
Helps prevent the formation of urine crystals and bladder stonesExpensive
The formula is adjusted to meet the needs of cats with impaired urinary/renal healthNeeds a vet’s prescription even for online purchases
Fortified with essential nutrients
Controls calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium levels

Blue Buffalo Indoor Cat Hairball & Weight Control – Best For Hairball

best cat food for hairballs blue lifesource bits

Is your cat’s hairball problem getting out of control? Kick off your kitty’s new diet with Blue Buffalo Indoor Cat Hairball and Weight Control, which is the best dry cat food for hairball management.

This cat food lists deboned chicken as its first ingredient and only source of protein. Know that feeding your cat with a single-meat protein is an excellent way to determine which type of meat your pet is allergic to.

Blue Buffalo also includes balanced proportions of whole grains and garden-fresh vegetables to this particular recipe. The cellulose and psyllium content of these wholesome ingredients promote the normal peristaltic movement of your cat’s intestines; thereby, it facilitates the removal of hairballs the natural way.

Similar to Blue Wilderness, its formula features LifeSource Bits. What’s more, it includes five different strains of gut-friendly probiotics to aid the digestion of your whiskered friend.

ProsCons
Uses deboned chicken as the formula’s single-source proteinNot budget-friendly
Includes Blue’s antioxidant-rich LifeSource bits, plus five strains of prebiotics
Rich in cellulose and psyllium fiber for proper elimination and hairball management
Made with natural ingredients only

Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe – Best For Budget

best dry cat food rachael ray nutrish

If you are looking for the best dry cat food at the lowest price point, this product should fit your needs.

With the help of experts, celebrity chef and TV personality Rachael Ray formulated a line of dry cat food human-grade ingredients. This cat food uses real meat and wholesome vegetables, and the fact that it is exclusively made in American facilities is a nice bonus.

With farm-raised chicken as the number one ingredient, it offers more meaty goodness in the food than any other ingredient. Also, the food includes chicken meal as a secondary protein source. The chicken meal also provides an adequate amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to nourish the skin and condition the coat of your four-legged chum.

The kibbles are small in size, making it easy for kittens and senior kitties to chew their food. Also, this food benefits kitties with sensitive tummies because it is packed full of natural prebiotics sourced from beet pulp. Both brown rice and beet pulp are wholesome fiber sources to boot.

best dry cat food rachael ray nutrish salmon

This product is also available in Salmon and Brown Rice Recipe so that you can find which formulation provides ultimate satisfaction for your feline’s demanding palate. Likewise, it comes in bags of three, six, and fourteen pounds. Therefore, you have plenty of buying options regardless of how many felines you are caring for.

Both variants are free of wheat, soy, ground corn, poultry by-product fillers, and synthetic ingredients. Note that ground corn is different from corn gluten meal, which is a concentrated source of amino acids that is much lower in carbohydrates than whole corn.

ProsCons
Real chicken/salmon is the no. 1 ingredientPet owners may shy away from this food due to the corn gluten meal
Offers 34% protein, 14% fat, and 4% fiber
Enriched with omega fatty acids, calcium, zinc, biotin, and taurine
Does not contain wheat, soy, ground corn, unspecified by-products, and artificial ingredients

IAMS Proactive Healthy Kitten – Best For Kittens

iams proactive health

Kittens aged 12 months or below require all the nutrition they can get to develop properly. To achieve that, feed your kitten with IAMS Proactive Healthy Kitten.

This formula features many of the nutrients found in mother’s milk, which includes vitamin E to help boost your kitten’s immunity against illnesses. Likewise, it provides your growing feline the heart-healthy omega-3 that also promotes proper brain development, as well as nourishes the skin, and adds luster to the coat.

Made with real chicken, its formula offers 33% proteins and 21% fat to match the rapid progression of your Itty bitty kitty.

ProsCons
Offers high calorie, fat, and protein contents for rapidly growing kittiesNone
Fortified with vitamin E, taurine, and omega-3 fatty acids
Made without wheat, dyes, or artificial preservatives
Affordable

Purina Tender Selects With Real Salmon

purina one tender selects with real salmon

If you like the idea of infusing real meat bits with kibble, but you find the Merrick Backcountry dry cat food too expensive, I suggest you try the Purina Tender Selects with Real Salmon. This product contains tender meaty morsels of fish that cats crave.

This protein-rich cat food is formulated with real salmon to help maintain strong lean muscles. Also rich in omega fatty acids, it nourishes the skin and adds luster to your cat’s coat.

While this brand is cheaper than others, it offers complete nutrition since it is fortified with vitamins and minerals. Purina also added that its formula contains 0% fillers, as they consider each ingredient with a specific purpose.

ProsCons
High-quality and affordableThere are only a few meaty morsels
Features salmon as the primary source of protein, plus grape-sized meaty bits
Rich in omega fatty acids and other essential nutrients
Made with natural ingredients only

Wild Frontier Ancestral Diet with Chicken

wild frontier ancestral diet chicken

If it’s a high-protein diet you are after, the Wild Frontier Vital Prey dry cat food is a fantastic choice as it offers 40% more protein compared to most commercial cat foods in the market.

Inspired by the ancestral feline diet, it is crafted with real chicken as its number one ingredient. Its formula also includes salmon meal to augment its protein content, as well as provide your cat with omega-3 fatty acids that help promote a healthier skin and a softer, glossier coat.

To aid proper digestion, its formula includes beet pulp, lentils, tapioca, split peas, and flaxseed. If you are apprehensive about grains, then you will be happy to know that this food is free of corn, wheat, and soy. Best of all, it does not contain artificial ingredients.

What’s more, it offers an exceptional profile of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.   

ProsCons
Supplies 40% more protein than most commercial brandsThe kibble size is larger than expected
Features a low-carbohydrate, high-fiber, and high-protein diet
Enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
No grains and artificial ingredients

How To Pick The Best Dry Cat Food

overflowing kibble

Our whiskered friends are notoriously picky about many things, which makes choosing the best dry cat food a little difficult for the average cat owner. So, how do you do that? Here are some tips to help you select the most appropriate chow for your kitty.

The First Five Ingredients Matter

Always check the fine print for the first five ingredients since these comprise the bulk of the formula. As much as possible, the principal ingredients should come from meat sources. While this concept is ideal, it is an expensive proposition. That is why some pet food manufacturers would include grains, fruits, or even vegetables in their first five.

Named meat meals, on the other hand, are fine, as long as they are used as secondary sources of proteins. Besides, meat meals offer substantially higher protein content. The only downside is that you can’t easily determine which animal proteins your cat is allergic to.

Keep Carbohydrates To A Minimum

striped grumpy cat sitting on table

Our pampered felines are predatory in nature, but it is acceptable for them to eat carbohydrates in meager amounts. After all, the wild ancestors of our darling pets used to consume their prey whole, which includes the digested plant material inside the stomach.

Don’t be alarmed to find starches and grains as you read the list of ingredients. Dry kibble also needs carbohydrates to bind the ingredients together. But if your cat has the bad luck of experiencing allergies due to these ingredients, then it is best to exclude them from your pet’s diet.

Also, consider using an automatic cat feeder so that you won’t overfeed your cat.

Hunt For High-Quality Animal Protein

cat eating large chunk of meat

When looking for the best dry cat food, meat should be listed as the number one ingredient. As heirs of wild carnivores, our domesticated felines require a high percentage of protein, fat, and amino acids like taurine.

But aren’t high-protein diets hard on feline kidneys, especially for older cats? Certainly, not! In fact, the best cat foods for older cats and urinary health abound in deliciously meaty proteins.

The truth is that animal protein is vital to our cats throughout their entire lives. Feeding your kitty with a high-protein diet is likewise the best way to maintain a low urinary pH; thereby, reducing the risk of FLUTD.

The main problem with cheap brands is that they tend to boost the protein content of their products using low-cost vegetable proteins. These ingredients don’t benefit our whiskered friends. Plant-based proteins, such as those sourced from soy and corn, only put added strain on cats because their bodies aren’t designed to process such ingredients.

When choosing the best dry cat food, avoid products that feature corn, legumes, and soy as prominent ingredients. You want the primary ingredient to be whole meat. A named meat meal is acceptable as a secondary protein source.

Supplement Your Cat’s Diet

cat head on table

When choosing the best dry cat food, your focus should also be on the supplements it contains.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients, also known as vitamins and minerals, play a variety of roles in the body. These functions include metabolism, fluid balance, and bone health, among others. But just like us, our feline companions cannot synthesize vitamins and minerals. Therefore, we need to give them essential nutrients through their food.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are crucial as they aid in digestion and help cats transition from one food to another without difficulty. These enzymes work by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that some cats find indigestible. When food is properly broken down, cats can get the most nutrition from their diet.

Essential Fatty Acids

Two cats eating from heart shaped pet bowl

The majority of commercial pet foods do not contain essential fatty acids. Therefore, serve your kitty only the best dry cat food if you don’t want her to miss out on omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, stronger immunity, and a reduced risk of certain diseases. Frequently probiotics come in the form of bacteria, but some types of yeasts can also function as probiotics. On a side note, do not confuse probiotics with prebiotics. The latter are dietary fibers that feed gut-friendly bacteria of your cat.

Conclusion

cat head inside bowl

Choosing the best dry cat is also about understanding the individual needs of your pet. For instance, growing kittens will require different nutrition from a cat that is already in its prime. Lazy cats require few calories, lest they become obese and diabetic.

Although the moisture content of kibbles pales in comparison to wet canned food, there are advantages to feeding your kitty with dry cat food. Dry cat food is available in a wide range of formulations to fit every kitty’s needs. Adding to that, it is economical to buy dry cat food in the long term. The food doesn’t require refrigeration. Nor does it spoil quickly when left out during the day.

Nevertheless, it is best to feed your kitty with canned food and dry kibble alternately since cats enjoy and gain nutritional benefits from a diverse diet.

Lastly, don’t forget to provide your cat access to free-flowing water to encourage it to drink. The feline brain is not wired to recognize thirst, so we need to be extra creative so they will approach their water stations.

Lara Jill Regencia-Baylosis

Lara's love for animals started at the age of 5 when she took care of a little injured chick. She's now the proud fur momma of a mischievous and highly energetic Chow Chow and a supporting patron of The Philippine Animal Welfare Society.

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