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7 Best Cheap Cat Food Choices in 2021

After a top-quality cat food at a budget price?

Many cheap cat food products use low-quality fillers or are high in carbohydrates.

However, there are some good options out there that give your cat the nutrition they need for optimal health and happiness.

We’ll help you find out what your best cheap cat food options are in this article.


In this article, I’ll discuss what is the best cheap cat food choices for a range of situations.

I’ll also give you a buying guide to learn more about what to look for when buying cat food and what to avoid.

My name is Derrick, and I write for Simply Cat Care. Our goal with this website is to help cat owners improve their cat’s health.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet before continuing.

Let’s get into the review.


Product Review: The 7 Best Cheap Cat Food in 2021

Best Cheap Cat Food Overall: Purina Beyond Grain-Free Natural

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Trout & Catfish Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 12

High in animal protein for strength

High in moisture for kidney health

Grain-free for digestive health

No carrageenan

Not enough variety of flavors

Slightly high in carbohydrates

Product Review

Purina Beyond Grain-Free is a great quality affordable cat food for a balanced meal.

I like that this food is high in animal protein including chicken, liver, catfish, and egg. This is easy to digest protein for cats that support optimal health and energy. The fish broth gives your cat added moisture for kidney and urinary health.

Other benefits include a low filler profile with no pea, potato, grains, gluten soy, or rendered by-products. This product is also carrageenan-free for peace of mind.

The main downside is the lack of flavor variety for this product range and the inclusion of a small number of vegetables in the can. Some cats may not like the taste of vegetables or other plant products in their food.

Ingredients List

Trout, Fish Broth, Chicken, Liver, Catfish, Egg Product, Carrots, Inulin, MINERALS [Potassium Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide], Guar Gum, Taurine, Salt, Choline Chloride, VITAMINS [Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement]

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Energy: 1,168 kcal/kg (99 kcal/can)
  • Crude Protein: 10.0% (*45.5%)
  • Crude Fat (min): 5.0% (22.7%)
  • Carbs (estimated): 2.2% (10.0%)
  • Crude Fiber (min): 1.5% (13.6%)
  • Ash (max): 3.3% (15.0%)
  • Moisture (max): 78.0%

*dry matter basis %


Best Cheap Cat Food Limited Ingredients: Almo Nature HQS

Almo Nature HQS Natural Atlantic Tuna, Mackerel, Chicken & Shrimp, Trout & Tuna Variety Pack Canned Cat Food, 2.47-oz, case of 12
Pros
  • High-quality human-grade animal protein for top health
  • Limited ingredients for maximum tolerability
  • Four flavors in the pack for a variety
Cons
  • High end of cheap cat food price range
  • Not suitable as a sole source of nutrition due to very low fat content
  • Too many seafood flavors

Almo Nature HQS is an interesting and unique product.

The tins come in four flavors that only contain meat and water. There are no synthetic vitamins, minerals, or carbohydrate foods in these cans. What is more, the meat is high-quality human-grade meat.

For the price, this is about the highest quality food you are going to find. The high-quality protein will help keep your cat healthy and strong. The tins have limited ingredients to help with sensitive stomachs. That means for the price, the tins give you top value for your money.

On the downside, the products are very low in fat. For a sole source of nutrition, the product does not have enough calories to provide for your cat’s dietary needs.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS (TROUT AND TUNA)

Crude Protein: 13.0% (65.0%)

Crude Fat: 3.0% (15.0%)

Carbs (estimated): 0.0% (0.0%)

Crude Fiber: 1.0% (5.0%)

Ash: 3.0% (15.0%)

Moisture: 80.0%

Energy: 710 kcal/kg (49.7 kcal/can)


Best Cheap Cat Food Dry: Nulo Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Nulo Freestyle Duck & Lentils Recipe Grain-Free Indoor Dry Cat Food, 2-lb bag
Pros
  • High in animal-based protein for top health
  • Grain-free for better digestion
Cons
  • Not appropriate as a sole source of nutrition due to high carbohydrate content
  • Needs to be supplemented with wet cat food for moisture

Nulo Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is the best option I could find in the budget dry cat food range.

The first four ingredients on the pack are all animal-based protein sources. On the downside, two of those are chicken and turkey meal which is a litter lower quality due being heat treated. However, that is still much better than the majority of cheap dry cat foods that are front-loaded with grains.

The total carbohydrate content is 27.4%. Preferably, you would like to see a value less than 10%, but for dry cat food, this is better than most competitors. You will need to provide wet cat food on top of this food for a balanced diet.

The addition of a few fruit and vegetable foods is probably unnecessary for healthy cat food. If your cat’s digestive system is sensitive, then these ingredients may test them.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

Crude Protein: 40.0% (44.4%)

Crude Fat (min): 17.0% (18.9%)

Carbs (estimated): 24.7% (27.4%)

Crude Fiber (min): 5.0% (12.5%)

Ash (max): 3.3% (3.6%)

Moisture (max): 10.0%

Energy: 3,724 kcal/kg (468 kcal/C)


Best Cheap Cat Food Pate Wet Food: Sheba Premium Cat Food

Sheba Perfect Portions Grain-Free Multipack Seafood Entrees Cat Food Trays, 2.6-oz, case of 12 twin-packs
Pros
  • High in animal protein for strength and immune system function
  • High moisture content to support kidney health
  • Grain-free for healthy digestion
  • Affordable choice
  • Chunky pate for fussy cats
Cons
  • Chicken is the main ingredient in the flavors which may test a sensitive stomach
  • Too high in carbohydrate due to tapioca starch
  • Limited variety of options
  • Guar gum might be hard on digestion for some cats

Sheba Premium Cat Food is a variety pack of chicken and turkey flavors in a tasty pate.

The packs are conveniently portioned for ease of use and are high in animal protein. The packs do contain a mixture of chicken and pork, so if your cat is after a limited ingredient diet, these packs won’t be for you.

The lack of grains and gluten helps sensitive stomachs. However, the addition of tapioca starch raises the carbohydrate content to as much as 18.4% which is a little high for optimal health.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

Crude Protein: 9.0% (47.3%)

Crude Fat (min): 5.0% (26.3%)

Carbs (estimated max): 3.5% (18.4%)

Crude Fiber (min): 1.5% (7.8%)

Moisture (max): 81.0%

Energy: 941 ME/kg (35 kcal/serving)


Best Cheap Cat Food Budget Pick: Iams Perfect Portions

Iams Perfect Portions Indoor Multipack Salmon &Turkey Recipe Pate Grain-Free Cat Food Trays, 2.6-oz, case of 12 twin-packs
Pros
  • High in animal-based protein for top health
  • High moisture content to support your cat’s kidney health
  • Grain-free for healthy digestion
  • Fish oil added for healthy skin and immune system
  • Affordable choice
Cons
  • Chicken is the main ingredient, which may not suit all cats taste preference
  • Only 2 options in a variety pack

Iams Perfect Portions is another good affordable wet food option on the market.

The products contain a lot of good animal-based protein foods to support your cat’s health. None of the protein sources are rendered meals, so this gives the food the best quality for nutrition. The carbohydrate content is 11.3% which is slightly high but better than many options at this price point.

There are no artificial preservatives or artificial flavors in this product. The product is also grain-free to give your cat’s digestive system an easier time. The product also contains added fish oil for healthy skin and immune system function.

Since this is a ‘recipe’ product the ingredients are scattered between different sources. The salmon is mainly chicken for example. If you were after a specific meat source (e.g. limited ingredient) then this won’t be the product for you.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

Crude Protein: 9.5% (43.1%)

Crude Fat (min): 5.0% (22.7%)

Carbs (estimated max): 2.5% (11.3%)

Ash (max): 4.0% (18.1%)

Crude Fiber (min): 1.0% (4.5%)

Moisture (max): 78.0%

Energy: 1,207 kcal/kg (45 kcal/serving)


Best Cheap Cat Food Gravy: Weruva Classic Cat Stewbacca

Weruva Classic Cat Stewbacca Chicken, Duck & Salmon in Gravy Stew Canned Cat Food, 5.5-oz can, case of 8
Pros
  • Whole animal-based protein for strength and vitality
  • Rich in moisture for healthy kidney function
  • No added nasties such as carrageenan or gluten
  • Two can size to suit cats of all life stages
  • Great low carbohydrate choice
Cons
  • Won’t suit a cat needing a limited ingredient diet
  • Cat’s that prefer a pate texture won’t be satisfied

Weruva Classic Cat Stewbacca is another good choice on the menu for cat foods if you are after a gravy option.

It’s made with predominately chicken, duck, salmon, and broth. This is a great start for providing your cat the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive. As with all wet cat food, the moisture content keeps your cat’s kidneys healthy.

The product avoids grains, gluten, carrageenan, and has no artificial flavors or colors. There are two sizes to suit cat needs for all life stages.

The product uses a small amount of tapioca starch which raises the carbohydrate and lowers the protein. This means, on a dry matter basis, the product is less optimal for your cat’s needs. This might test overweight cats who might need fewer carbs.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

Crude Protein: 7.0% (46.6%)

Crude Fat (min): 4.0% (26.6%)

Carbs (estimated max): 1.0% (6.6%)

Ash (max): 3.0% (18.1%)

Crude Fiber (min): 1.0% (6.6%)

Moisture (max): 85.0%

Energy: 1,092 kcal/kg (87 kcal/serving)


Best Cheap Cat Food Variety Pack: Purina ONE High Protein

Purina ONE Grain-Free Variety Pack Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 24
Pros
  • Great variety of flavors
  • High amount of animal meat for perfect health
  • Low carbohydrate content for weight control
  • No grains or legumes for easier digestion
Cons
  • Minced texture might turn off fussy cats
  • Contains guar gum which might test a sensitive stomach

Purina ONE High Protein range is a good overall choice.

The cans are rich in meaty goodness, providing your cat the protein and fat it needs to live and thrive. The carbohydrate content is low with no added grains, legumes, corn, or potato. This is great to see in budget cat food options to help cats with sensitive stomachs or weight control issues.

Unfortunately, the tins only come in a minced texture. Some cat’s simply don’t like mince, and prefer a chunky or pate mix. The tins also contain guar gum which is a thickener. This might be another troubling ingredient for a sensitive stomach and reduce nutrient absorption.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

Crude Protein: 11.0% (50.0%)

Crude Fat (min): 5.0% (22.7%)

Carbs (estimated max): 1.1% (5.0%)

Ash (max): 3.4% (15.4%)

Crude Fiber (min): 1.5% (6.8%)

Moisture (max): 78.0%

Energy: 1,127 kcal/kg (95 kcal/serving)


Buying Guide: The Best Cheap Cat Food

Not sure what to look for when buying cat food on a budget?

Caring for your cat involves a lot of investment.

Many cat owners want to give their cats a healthy product that doesn’t break their budget.

There are many great budget cat food picks on the market. This buying guide will help you learn more about finding the right option for your cat.


How Do I Choose The Best Cheap Cat Food?

Wet canned cat food is the best choice on a budget.

As cats are obligate carnivores, they benefit from foods high in animal protein and moisture.

Budget wet canned cat food sometimes contains off-cuts of meats (called by-products), however, these cuts are nutritious and healthier than plant-based foods.

Budget dry cat food tends to contain high amounts of carbohydrate ingredients. These ingredients may be harder to digest and create frequent digestive issues.

Wet foods have a higher moisture content which is important for cats of all life stages, and especially older cats. This helps with keeping your cat’s kidneys healthy.

Where Can I Buy Budget Cat Food?

The main two outlets for budget cat food online are Amazon and Chewy.

It’s easy to get a price check between different brands when using these sites, which are easier to navigate than other sites.

What Should I Avoid In Budget Cat Food?

Look for budget cat food with fewer filler ingredients such as:

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

These types of foods are less digestible than animal-protein foods and don’t provide many nutrients to your cat.

Cheap ingredients save costs for the manufacturer, at the cost of your cat’s health.

Let’s take a closer look at some ingredients to steer clear of.

Cat food manufacturers use many different foods which may or may not benefit your cat

Rice

Rice is a high carbohydrate grain that is usually added to cheap cat food.

Unfortunately, rice is terrible for cats.

The rice itself inhibits the absorption of taurine, an essential amino acid crucial for healthy eyesight development and heart health.

Brewers rice is a lower quality form of rice made from the husks of rice that are normally removed.

This form of rice provides no nutritional value to cats.

Powdered Cellulose

Cellulose is an indigestible fiber that bulks up cat food.

It is often referred to as sawdust in its consistency.

Cellulose does appear to offer some benefits to reducing energy intake and managing hairballs in small amounts.

Check out my article on the best cat food for hairballs to learn more.

Cellulose helps decrease the gastrointestinal transit time of ingested hairs.

A small amount of powdered cellulose may not be bad for your cat. However, excess cellulose displaces high-quality protein foods.

Powdered cellulose is made from trees as a thickener in some cat food brands

Pea Protein

Pea protein is a cheap replacement for animal foods.

On the bright side, isolated pea protein is better digested than in whole pea form.

Cats are able to digest small amounts of pea protein.

That said pea protein should not be the main food source for cats.

Pea protein is a low-cost alternative to meat. Cat’s may be able to digest a small amount but prefer meat.

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a seaweed-based thickener used in moist wet canned cat food.

There are some reports linking carrageenan to increased immune response and digestive-related issues.

It’s best to stay on the safe side and avoid carrageenan.

Carrageenan is made from seaweed to thicken cat food products. It may lead to digestive issues in some cats.

What’s Better: Dry or Wet Cat Food?

Wet canned cat food is best.

This is because wet cat food contains less carbohydrate and more meat. This is a more species-appropriate nutrient profile for cats, given their carnivore nature.

Wet cat food also has more moisture which is important for kidney health.

Generally, there is a good range of acceptable cheap wet cat food.

It is much harder to find great quality cheap dry cat food.

You need to invest quite a bit more to get top-quality dry cat food.

Canned wet cat food is usually the best budget cat food choice due to the high protein and moisture for top health

What Should I Look For When Reading a Cat Food Label?

The main key to reading a cat food label is to read the ingredients list.

The front label is usually misleading containing lots of buzzwords and imagery that confuses people. However, the ingredients list tells the real story about your food.

Check out my guide to reading a cat food label to learn more.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces guidelines for general labeling in the USA.

Some states use the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines for pet food labels.

Is It Bad to Feed Cats Cheap Cat Food?

Some budget foods aren’t optimal for cats.

Cats are obligate carnivores in the wild.

This means cats rely upon animal-based protein and the nutrients found in animal foods to survive and thrive.

Without animal-based foods, cats are not able to get the vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids, and high-quality protein they need.

In many cases, cats cannot use plant-based food sources to replace these important nutrients.

For example, cats cannot convert beta-carotene (a plant-based form of Vitamin A) into the active form of Vitamin A called retinol.

Felines also need the essential amino acids taurine in their food.

This is only found in animal-based protein sources. A deficiency leads to blindness and heart-related diseases. In the 1980s many thousands of cats died due to eating a taurine deficient diet.

The good news is regulations around cat food require supplementing the vitamins and minerals needed for health.

It is unlikely a cheap cat food will lead to nutritional deficiencies.

However, the lack of high-quality ingredients may lead to an increased risk of other health issues such as weight gain, diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, diarrhea, and other conditions associated with poor diet.

Best cheap cat food

Conclusion: The Best Cheap Cat Food (Final Thoughts)

In this article, I’ve looked at the best cheap cat food on the market.

Many cheap cat food products use low-quality fillers or are high in carbohydrates.

However, there are some good options out there that give your cat the nutrition they need for optimal health and happiness.

Wet canned cat food is the best choice on a budget. These foods give your cat more animal protein and moisture which is better for their health.

Budget dry cat food is high in fillers such as wheat gluten, cornmeal, oats, potato, corn, and peas. Too many filler ingredients don’t benefit your cat’s digestive health.

Ask your vet for more help choosing the best cheap cat food product for your needs.

Our Top Pick: Best Cheap Cat Food in 2021

Best Cheap Cat Food Overall: Purina Beyond Grain-Free Natural

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Trout & Catfish Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 12

High in animal protein for strength

High in moisture for kidney health

Grain-free for digestive health

No carrageenan

Not enough variety of flavors

Slightly high in carbohydrates

After More Cat Content?

Check out more of our guides below.

Affiliate Disclaimer Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for yourself. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As a Chewy affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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