3 Best Budget Cat Foods Your Cat Will Love

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Dry cat food is cheaper than wet.

The problem dry cat food is much higher in carbs. Not best for long term health.

Our 3 best budget cat foods strike a balance between health and affordability.

  1. Fancy Feast – Best Wet Cat Food
  2. Friskies Pate – Best Bulk Buy
  3. Tiki Cat Born Carnivore – Best Quality Affordable Dry Cat Food

Finding affordable cat food that your cat likes is hard.

Many low cost cat foods are high carbs, which cats don’t need as carnivores. For the health conscious cat owner, that won’t do.

In this article, I’ll go through my budget cat food buying guide.

Then I’ll go through my recommendations. Finally, I’ll answer frequently asked questions.

So how do you know what to look for?

Read on to find out.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

3 Best Budget Cat Foods

Buying Guide

How do you choose healthy cheap cat food?

First, choose a sole feeding cat food option per AAFCO’s nutrition guidelines.

If the label says it’s only for supplemental feeding, it isn’t complete nutrition.

AAFCO label on a cat food.
Look for what life stage the cat food is intended for and whether it’s a sole or supplemental feeding food.

Dry or wet cat food?

Dry is cheaper.

The problem is dry cat food is higher in carbs. Dry contains more grains, legumes, and potatoes.

This isn’t optimal for the long term health of your cat.

Why do cats love it though?

Cat crack.

Cat foods use flavors to mimic a meat taste (that cats love as carnivores). Learn more in my article here.

As carnivores, cats have no need for carbs.

Less is good. None is best.

Cats eat meats, not sweets.

Cheap wet cat food are lower in carbs.

Whilst it costs a tad more, wet is best. Be ultra selective with dry cat food.

Check the carbs.


  • Calculate
  • Check the ingredients

Use an online calculator to find the dry matter basis.

Shoot for less than 15% carbs (dry matter) for health.

Spoiler alert:

99%+ of dry cat food is higher than 15% carbs.

Unfortunate, but there you go.

If you can’t calculate, check the ingredients.

Ingredients list by weight. The higher on the list, the more of it.

High carb ingredients include:

  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Wheat
  • Tapioca starch
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Rice

Watch sneaky labelling tricks. For example, the ‘with’ descriptor is only 3-25% named ingredient.

This is why ‘first ingredient’ is often meaningless.

The label could have chicken as the first ingredient.

Sounds great right?

Not if it’s something like ‘cat food with chicken’. That means chicken is no more than 25% of the bag.

If it’s chicken than oats, rice, barley, wheat, chickpeas (etc.) you’re probably getting a high carb cat food.

Use your best judgement to make the call.

But the calculator is best to make an informed choice.

I’ve left some handy guides below.

Learn More:

3 Best Budget Cat Foods

1. Fancy Feast Creamy Delights

Best Wet Cat Food

Fancy Feast cat food (picture)

Pros and Cons

  • High protein and low carb
  • Great for picky cats
  • Lots of variety
  • Not the most pretty
  • Mixed quality


Fancy Feast is the best cat food on a budget.

Their wet cat foods are low carb and high in animal protein. Fancy Feast is complete and balanced for all life stages.

They offer variety packs to save.

The main downside is the use of meat by-products. That leads to mixed quality from tin to tin.

Read More: Fancy Feast Cat Food Review

Fancy Feast Creamy Delights dry matter nutrition analysis
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights dry matter nutrition analysis
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights cat food review score
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights cat food review score

2. Friskies Pate

Best Bulk Buy

Friskies pate wet cat food

Pros and Cons

  • High in animal based ingredients
  • Great taste for picky cats
  • Complete meal for adults
  • Carbs borderline high
  • Uses meat by-products


Friskies are a popular bulk buy wet cat food. Fussy cats will love it.

Whilst the carb content is borderline high (hovers around 15% dry matter), it is still higher in animal based ingredients than dry cat food.

For picky cats that just won’t budge, Friskies is worth a look.

Read More: Friskies Cat Food Review

Friskies Pate dry matter nutrition analysis
Friskies Pate dry matter nutrition analysis
Friskies Pate cat food review score
Friskies Pate cat food review score

3. Tiki Cat Born Carnivore

Best Quality Affordable Dry Cat Food

Pros and Cons

  • High in animal based ingredients
  • Low carb for easy digestion
  • Complete meal for all life stages
  • Not much variety
  • A tad pricier than other dry foods


Tiki Cat Born Carnivore falls under 15% carbs on a dry matter basis.

That’s far better than, well 99% of what’s out there! It’s the only cheaper dry cat food I can recommend without hating myself.

Whilst it’s a little pricier than the ultra budget cat foods, it’s worth it for your cats health.

Read More: Tiki Cat Food Review

Tiki Cat Born Carnivore dry matter nutrition analysis
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore dry matter nutrition analysis
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore cat food review score
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore cat food review score

How Did I Choose These Cat Foods?

I filtered a database of cat foods I’ve tested and/or analyzed.

I’ve sorted foods based on a price per ounce basis for the purpose of this article.

I converted this a score based on the average price of cat food.

Higher score = cheaper.

I opted for foods I’ve tested with my cat testing team (with the exception of Tiki Cat Born Carnivore).

From the best picks I sorted them using our scoring system.

This score is based on

  • Trust
  • Ingredients
  • Nutrition
  • Cost
  • Taste

Here’s a complete list of budget cat foods to check out:

Best budget cat foodsPriceTypeTextureCarb*Lifestage
Friskies Pate94WetPate15%Adult
Halo Chicken Recipe91WetStew8%Adult
Dave’s Naturally90WetPate4%Adult
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights87WetPate1%All
Nulo Freestyle87WetPate6%All
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore87DryKibble13%All
Natural Balance Duck & Pea85WetPate8%Adult
Avo Derm Tuna & Crab83WetGravy11%All
Sheba Perfect Portions Roasted83WetPate7%All
Hound & Gatos82WetPate0%All
Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein81DryKibble0%All
Best budget cat foods comparison table *carbs on a dry matter basis

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Feed My Cat Cheaply?

Here are my tips:

  • Look for bulk buy options
  • Don’t overfeed your cat
  • Taste test first to find what your cat enjoys

Which Budget Cat Food Is Best?

I rate Fancy Feast the best choice.

It’s low carb and high protein. As a wet cat food it also helps keep your cat hydrated.

Finally, it’s a complete meal for all life stages.

Are Canned Sardines Good for Cats?

In small amounts, sardines are ok. Sardines are high in protein.

Sardines are high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA).

Eating high amounts of PUFA changes the ratio of PUFA to other fats in fatty tissue.

AAFCO recommends balancing the ratio of PUFA to Vitamin E in a cats diet.

Excess PUFA may increase the risk of renal failure due to inflammation, however the link is unclear.

What Ingredients Should Not Be in Cat Food?

Try to steer clear of the following ingredients as much as possible:

  • Corn gluten meal
  • Wheat gluten
  • Pea protein
  • Potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Brewers rice
  • Carrageenan

Many of these ingredients increase the carbs in cat food. Cats don’t need carbohydrate in the diet and aren’t able to tolerate high amounts in their diet long term.

Brewers rice is a form of rice made from the husks of rice. It impairs the absorption of taurine, an essential amino acid crucial for healthy eyesight development and heart health.

Carrageenan is a seaweed-based thickener used in wet cat food. There are some reports linking carrageenan to increased immune response and digestive-related issues.

Learn More:

Bag of rice
Rice is a high carbohydrate grain that doesn’t provide any benefit to cats.


Wet cat food is the best choice on a budget. They are lower in carbs and help keep your cat hydrated.

Look for cheap cat food that meets AAFCO’s nutrition targets for your cats life stage. This makes sure your cat gets a balanced diet.

Try giving your cat a taste test before committing to a cat food. Then look at bulk buy packs to save long term.

>> We recommend Fancy Feast as our top budget cat food pick.

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