10 Best Dry Cat Food Brands: Your Buyer’s Guide (2018)

best dry cat food brands

Just as when shopping for dog food, there are many things to consider when choosing what you’ll feed your cat. You’ve likely heard it before, but the very first thing to keep in mind is that cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they must eat meat as a biological necessity. It’s part of their evolution and something they share with wild big cats.

The reason for this is that sometime in the distant past, cats lost the ability to synthesize certain chemical compounds. These include the amino acids taurine and arginine, as well as niacin and vitamin A. The bodies of other animals, including dogs, can create these essential compounds out of other building blocks from non-meat sources, but cats cannot. Thus, a high-protein feed with a high proportion of animal meat is even more vital to cats than it is to dogs.

When choosing a dry food, something high quality is best. High quality foods tend to limit the number of unnecessary ingredients and fillers so you know your cat is getting what they need. Additionally, if you’re inclined to free feed dry food, it’s more likely that a high quality food will keep them full for longer, which will reduce the urge to keep eating and thus control their weight. You should keep your cat’s activity level in mind when choosing a food.

In compiling this list, we surveyed cat owners we know personally, tried a few with our own cats, and read extensively about the options. One source we found, Reviews.com went through a very elaborate process for choosing their winners, which makes for an interesting read. One thing we noted about their process was the exclusion of some brands due to recall history. We certainly can’t argue with their logic, and to that end, we’ve taken their suggestions under advisement.

In an effort to balance convenience and in some cases, price, we’ve included a few brands they left out after having good success with them personally. While an abundance of caution is certainly best, it may do you no good to begin using a certain brand if you can neither afford it nor find it regularly. We tried to balance these factors somewhat, honoring personal feedback we encountered alongside other research. As with any choice when it comes to your pet’s health, we strongly advise discussing with your veterinarian and making the choice that feels best to you.

We’ve opted for bags of at least ten pounds and presented a price per pound for each. Prices vary, but this should give you a rough estimate of how expensive a given food is relative to the others. Some of these have a Subscribe and Save option via Amazon, which will lower the price even further and ensure you always have enough on hand. Finally, all of these are adult cat formulas, since that’s what you’ll feed your cat the majority of its life.

If you opt for a large bag, you’ll also want to have a look at our best pet food containers so you have something airtight to store the food in. While you shop for dry foods, you might also want to consider wet foods, too. Our best wet food brands for cats post is here.

For the health of your frisky feline, here’s our list of the top ten best dry cat food brands.

1. Acana Regionals Grasslands Dry Cat Food

Image of acana regionals grassland cat food


When we compiled our best dry dog food brands, we included Acana on that list because of its focus on animal meat ingredients and good reputation. As for dogs, the first six ingredients of the cat formulation is all animal protein. Meat meals, like the lamb, goat, and catfish listed here, are perfectly safe concentrates that increase the protein content. This food is made in the U.S. of regional ingredients and the production is never outsourced.

In addition to the Grasslands flavor, there is also Meadowland, Appalachian Ranch, Wild Prairie, Pacifica, and Wild Atlantic, among others.

Price: $61.98 for a 12-pound bag
Price per pound: $5.16

First Six Ingredients (Grasslands variety):

  • Deboned lamb
  • Deboned duck
  • Whole eggs
  • Lamb meal
  • Goat meal
  • Catfish meal

Buy Acana Regionals Grasslands Dry Cat Food here.

2. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Cat Food

Image of eagle pack natural dry cat food

(Eagle Pack)

Most of the foods on this list are grain free, simply because grains are a common allergen for cats. Grains are also used as a filler, though this isn’t always a bad thing. One look at the price difference between this and that Acana above and it’s easy to understand why having options is a good thing. This all-natural food still begins with an animal protein, includes no wheat, corn, by-products, or artificial flavors or colors. This one is also vitamin fortified to ensure that your cat is getting everything they need. Made and sourced in the U.S.

You can opt for the indoor formula, as well, which raises the price somewhat. This version is higher in fiber to promote digestion and reduce calories. You’d choose this one if your cat prefers to only move when its time to find a new sunbeam to lay in.

Price: $17.63 for a 12-pound bag (37 percent off MSRP)
Price per pound: $1.47 — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients (Original):

  • Chicken meal
  • Oatmeal
  • Peas
  • Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • Brewers dried yeast
  • Dehulled barley

Buy Eagle Pack Natural Dry Cat Food here.

3. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Image of wellness core dry cat food


With my last cat, this was the dry food I had the most success with. Cats are notoriously finicky, so when she took to this one, I was pleased. It’s about middle of the pack on price for higher end foods and is widely available. I noticed that she tended to eat less of it, as well, and trimmed down a few pesky pounds she’d been holding onto. Wellness claims that this CORE has 80 percent more meat than traditional cat foods.

It is a grain free food, so consider this one if your cat has developed a sensitivity to filler grain products. Made in the U.S. of all natural ingredients and includes no grains, corn, soy, by-products, or artificial ingredients.

You can choose a two, 5.9, or a 12 pound bag of either this recipe, the Original Turkey and Chicken, or either Indoor Chicken & Turkey or Turkey & Duck.

Price: $37.98 (11 percent off MSRP)
Price per pound: $3.17 — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients (Original Turkey & Chicken):

  • Deboned turkey
  • Deboned chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Whitefish meal
  • Herring meal
  • Peas

Buy Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food here.

4. Earthborn Holistic Natural Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Image of earthborn holistic dry cat food

(Earthborn Holistic)

Another solid grain free option, Earthborn Holistic produces a full range of pet foods aimed at providing a solid foundation of nutrition. The protein level in this one is a guaranteed minimum of 44 percent with only 17.5 percent carbohydrates. That’s pretty good considering the fifth ingredient is potatoes, which is generally used as perfectly viable filler in grain free foods, but can tend to increase the amount of carbs. They balance it well in their offerings, making this an affordable grain free feed for your cat.

Flavors include this one, Wild Sea Catch, and the turkey-based Primitive Feline. Size options include five and 14 pound bags. (Note: We noticed the Wild Sea Catch smaller package is mislabeled as six pounds; it’s actually five.)

Price: $31.99 for a 14-pound bag
Price per pound: $2.29 — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients (Wild Sea Catch flavor):

  • Salmon meal
  • Herring meal
  • Canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken meal

Buy Earthborn Holistic Natural Grain-Free Dry Cat Food here.

5. ZiwiPeak Air-Dried Cat Cuisine

Image of ziwi peak dry cat food


To be fair, this particular dry cat food is extremely expensive. It’s far and away the priciest food on this list, and perhaps the most extreme. Boiling its ingredients down to like items, there are only nine ingredients: animal meat, mussels, lecithin, inulin (from chicory), dried kelp, vitamins, minerals, DL-Methionine (an amino acid supplement), and Taurine.

You would look into something like this if you’d tried everything else with no success. Cats with IBD, food allergies, or prolonged illness or injury can benefit from the stripped-down approach of this food. The animal ingredients are produced on traceable New Zealand farms, and are air-dried raw to achieve a product similar to what they’d eat in the wild.

This 14-ounce bag will feed a 13-pound cat for seven days, according to the Ration Guide on the manufacturer’s website. If accurate, that works out to just under $70 per month. Not cheap by any means, but if your cat needs such a diet, you might be grateful the option exists. Flavor options include beef, lamb, venison, and venison and fish.

Price: $17.81 for a 14-ounce bag for lamb and beef, $22.72 for venison or venison and fish
Price per pound: $20.35 — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients (Lamb flavor):

  • Lamb meat
  • Lamb or sheep heart
  • Lamb liver
  • Lamb tripe
  • Lamb lung
  • Lamb or sheep kidney

Buy ZiwiPeak Air-Dried Cat Cuisine information and reviews here.

6. Wysong Vitality Adult Feline Formula Dry Diet Cat Food

Image of wysong vitality dry cat food


While not grain free, this Wysong option is wheat and gluten free, and is certainly on the cheaper side compared to the last option. This Vitality formula would be considered to be the entry point into the Wysong line, offering a more-conventional mix of ingredients guaranteed to be at least 36 percent protein and 16 percent fat. Their special process includes a step where they add a proprietary probiotic and enzyme solution after cooking to restore some of what is lost during processing.

The next step up would be the Optimal Vitality, while the top of the range is their Epigen 90 formula, which boosts the protein content up to a minimum of 63 percent. Choose the formulation that works best for your particular cat. All are made in the U.S.A.

Price: $48.42 for a 20-pound box (four 5-pound bags)
Price per pound: $2.42 — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients (Vitality formula):

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Fish meal
  • Turkey meal
  • Brown rice
  • Peas

Buy Wysong Vitality Adult Feline Formula Dry Diet Cat Food here.

7. Canidae Grain Free Pure Elements Cat And Kitten Formula Food

Image of canidae pure dry cat food


Made from about eight key ingredients, Canidae’s Pure Elements line strips out many other irritants like corn, rice, wheat, soy, and others. Just like the Wysong above, Canidae adds probiotics to aid in digestion. Potato is present in this recipe, but again, there are certainly worse fillers and it tends to be gentle on most cats’ stomachs. Minimum protein in this formulation is 35 percent.

Flavors include Fresh Chicken, Fresh Salmon, Fresh Trout, and an Indoor formula. You can get any of them in a 2.5, five, or ten pound bag.

There’s also an alternative Canidae grain free product called Under the Sun which is potato free if that is a concern. The sizes are the same, but the flavors are Salmon, Turkey, and Indoor.

Price: $29.71 for a 10-pound bag (5 percent off MSRP)
Price per pound: $2.97 (Fresh Chicken)

First Six Ingredients (Fresh Chicken flavor):

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Turkey meal
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)

Buy Canidae Grain Free Pure Elements Cat And Kitten Formula Food here.

8. Nulo Dry Cat Food

Image of nulo dry cat food


A relatively new product is the Freestyle line from Nulo. This is a grain free dry cat food that combines proper nutrition with sustainability. The two flavors contain a minimum of 40 percent protein, of which 83 percent is animal-based. Thanks to the use of lentils and sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes or tapioca, Nulo is low carb and low glycemic.

The sustainability portion comes from relationships with free range farms in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand, as well as wild-caught fish from sustainable populations. The resulting ingredients are combined in the U.S. Like a couple of the others, probiotics are added, as well as the required supplemental vitamin A and taurine.

The two flavors of chicken and turkey are available in five or 12-pound bags.

Price: $36.99
Price per pound: $3.08 (Chicken) — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients (Chicken flavor):

  • Deboned chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Turkey meal
  • Deboned cod
  • Whole peas
  • Lentils

Buy Nulo Dry Cat Food here.

9. Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Image of natures variety dry cat food

(Nature’s Variety)

As I mentioned in that best dry dog food brands post, Nature’s Variety is the brand I settled on for my dog who is allergic to potatoes. He tolerates it extremely well and hasn’t grown sick of it after several years of eating it. I find the batches to be very consistent, which is good for peace of mind.

There are no potatoes in the cat formula, either, with tapioca and alfalfa meal standing in. The real key to this food is the appeal of the freeze dried raw coating, which boosts nutrition and keeps pets interested. Cats reluctant to try new foods may find themselves enticed by this addition.

In addition to chicken, flavors available include duck and turkey, rabbit, and salmon, in 2.2, 5.5, and 12.1-pound bags.

Price: $35.17 for a 12.1-pound bag (10 percent off MSRP)
Price per pound: $2.90 (Chicken) — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon

First Six Ingredients:

  • Chicken meal
  • Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid)
  • Tapioca
  • Chicken
  • Menhaden fish meal
  • Tomato pomace

Buy Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Dry Cat Food here.

10. Fromm Four-Star Chicken a La Veg Cat Food

Image of fromm four-star dry cat food


If the recalls highlighted by the Reviews.com research do trouble you, it could be worth considering Fromm as an option. Their foods are relatively expensive despite the fact that they aren’t grain free and use a rice as a filler. Despite that, their ingredients are sourced from extensively tested and sampled products from traceable suppliers.

Each package comes printed with a batch code that allows you to follow the process that brought it to your hands. The food itself is made in one of three facilities in Wisconsin under strict supervision. All of that ensures that recalls will be infrequent and that food safety is at the forefront. Aside from this, the food is 32 percent minimum protein, and reviewers note that their cat’s coat looked markedly better after switching to it.

In addition to chicken, Fromm makes Beef Liváttini Veg, Game Bird Recipe, Salmon Tunachovy, Duck a La Veg, Salmon a la Veg, Hasen Duckenpfeffer, and Surf and Turf flavors. Sizes available are 2.5, five, and 15-pound bags, though availability of each on Amazon at the time of this writing was mixed.

Price: $61.95
Price per pound: $4.13

First Six Ingredients (Chicken a La Veg flavor):

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Pearled barley
  • White rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Sweet potatoes

Buy Fromm Four-Star Chicken a La Veg Cat Food here.

See Also:

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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1 Comment

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There is nothing I want to do more than to feed my cats the right kinds of food, BUT, I have 7 cats ranging from 2 years to 14 years and there is absolutely no way I can feed my fur babies any of these better for them foods! It makes me so said that these companies sell these products for outrageous amounts of money and the poor common folk, who love their fur babies just as much as anyone, can’t feed them the best. Unfortunately, these companies are all about making money and not about having a product everyone can afford. It’s just sad.

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