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5 Very Best Wet Cat Foods For Health

Disclaimer: As a Chewy and Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons.

Cats are carnivores.

Big cats. Small cats.

All cats.

High protein and low carb is the aim of the game for cats.

Here’s our 5 best wet cat foods based on testing:

  1. Fancy Feast | Best Overall
  2. Tiki Cat After Dark | Best for Indoor Cats
  3. Friskies Pate | Best Affordable
  4. Feline Natural | Best Quality
  5. Wellness Core Tiny Tasters | Best for Picky Cats

There’s a huge range of wet cat foods.

You want healthy cat food your cat will love that doesn’t get binned.

I’ve tested many wet cat foods with my cat team and weighed the nutrition benefits.

In this article I’ll help you with a buying guide to know what to look for. Then, I’ll run through my top choices and why I picked them.

Finally, I’ll go through frequently asked questions on the topic.

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.

Let’s get into the article.

5 Very Best Wet Cat Foods for Health

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 flavors for variety
  • Not the most pretty
  • Mixed quality

Review

Fancy Feast just does most things right for me. I recommend it for most cat owners.

It’s affordable. Cats enjoy it. There’s a lot of variety.

This choice is suitable for all life stages (there’s options for kittens too). Fancy Feast is low in carbs which is easy on digestion.

Whilst this one uses meat by-products, there’s little else to critique.

Unless you’re after a premium cat food, Fancy Feast is my pick.

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. Tiki Cat After Dark

Best for Indoor Cats

Tiki Cat After Dark

Pros and Cons

  • Low calorie
  • Real shredded texture
  • No fillers
  • Not for underweight cats
  • Pricey

Review

Tiki Cat After Dark is your best choice for indoor cats and weight loss.

Why?

It’s lower in fat and high in protein. The calorie density of this one is low compared to most other wet cat foods.

Plus you get real authentic shreds and variety of flavors.

Main downside?

Pricey. Also, every recipe in the After Dark range use chicken.

Underweight cats will need a higher fat to help maintain weight.

Read More: Tiki Cat Food Review

Tiki Cat After Dark dry matter nutrition analysis
Tiki Cat After Dark dry matter nutrition analysis
Tiki Cat After Dark cat food review score
Tiki Cat After Dark cat food review score

4. Friskies Pate

Best Affordable Wet Cat Food

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

Review

Friskies are a very popular choice online and with good reason. Picky cats love it.

It’s high in meat based ingredients, albeit from by-products. And there’s a lot of variety.

There’s a few things we don’t like.

The carb content is a tad high (16% dry matter). Better than most dry cat food, but still.

Finally, it’s not the most versatile. There’s no kitten or older cat friendly choices (although you can serve it to any cat in a pinch).

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

4. Feline Natural

Best Quality Wet Cat Food

Feline Natural cat food (picture)

Pros and Cons

  • 98% grass fed animal produce
  • Easy to chew pate texture
  • No added grains for easy digestion
  • Pricey
  • Mixed taste results

Review

I believe Feline Natural is the best quality cat food.

It’s the swiss army knife of cat food. Suitable for any cat, young and old.

No grains. No gums. No carrageenan. No legumes.

It has joint friendly nutrients including chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega 3 fatty acids. A great choice for older cats.

The main problem is the price, but justifiable if you really want the best for your little guy.

Also mind the exotic tastes, that will put off finnicky eaters.

Read More: Feline Natural Cat Food Review

Feline Natural dry matter nutrition analysis
Feline Natural dry matter nutrition analysis
Feline Natural cat food review score
Feline Natural cat food review score

5. Wellness Core Tiny Tasters

Best Wet Cat Food for Picky Eaters

Wellness Core Tiny Tasters

Pros and Cons

  • Meat as a first ingredient
  • No added grains
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • A little pricey
  • Added gums

Review

Wellness Core is the healthiest and best testing cat food we’ve found. Picky cats rejoice!

It’s meat rich and free of grains.

With a great range of flavors, there’s something to tickle any cats fancy.

The only downsides are the price and added gums. Gums may test a sensitive stomach.

Learn More: Wellness Core Cat Food Review

Wellness Core Tiny Tasters dry matter nutrition analysis
Wellness Core Tiny Tasters dry matter nutrition analysis
Wellness Core Tiny Tasters cat food review score
Wellness Core Tiny Tasters cat food review score

How Did I Choose These Cat Foods?

I’ve analyzed over 50 popular cat foods. Many tested with my cat team.

I sorted cat foods based on:

  • Nutrition
  • Ingredients
  • Taste
  • Cost
  • Trust

We use a qualitative and quantitative scoring system.

I picked out options that best meet the categories in the round up.

I omitted cat foods that scored well, but had some issues (e.g. availability problems, lack of customer reviews, untested).

Here’s a comparison of the 10 best wet cat foods using our scoring.

Best wet cat foodTypeLifestageProtein*CarbKcal/kgCostTasteNutritionScoreNotes
Fancy Feast Creamy DelightsPateAll45.5%0.7%1,340$9.59.584Great all round affordable choice
Tiki Cat After DarkShredsAll77.7%0.1%751$$$8.58.583Low calorie choice, but pricey
Meat MatesPateAll41.7%1.7%1,084$$$91083Great choice, but limited availability
Instinct OriginalPateAll59.1%3.2%944$$98.582Solid choice on paper, but yet to test
Nulo FreestylePateAll51.4%5.8%1,225$8.59.581As above
Friskies PatePateAdult50.0%15.9%1,117$9.57.580Value for money choice with lots of variety
Wellness Core Tiny TastersPateAdult46.7%3.7%1,291$$$9.5980Good quality and taste for picky cats
Feline NaturalPateAll51.5%2.1%895$$$7.51079High quality cat food, but mixed taste results
Avo DermGravyAll55.6%11.1%829$$97.578Good choice, but limit the tuna intake
Ziwi PeakPateAll54.2%10.4%1,200$$$9978Healthy grass-fed meats, but adds chickpea
A comparison of the 10 best wet cat foods *dry matter basis.

Buying Guide

Cats are part of the carnivora order of the animal kingdom.

Doesn’t get more carnivore than that.

As the cat food market continues to grow more attention will go to affordability. This can come at the expense of nutrition quality.

Keep that in mind when looking for wet cat food.

Ok, so what to look for?

Bump up the Protein

Cats have double the protein needs of omnivores (e.g. humans). They use protein for energy production.

AAFCO recommends at 26% protein (dry matter basis) for maintenance and 30% for growth.

Most wet cat foods easily meet this.

But check with a calculator. Take the guaranteed analysis (usually on the back) and crunch the numbers.

A guaranteed analysis on a cat food label
Use the guaranteed analysis and calculate the dry matter nutrition.

Senior cats need more protein in their diet for sarcopenia. Aim for 40% with older cats over 12.

Food sources affect protein quality.

Meat by-products and grain based protein sources lower quality, especially the latter.

In general, the lower the quality the more protein needed to make up for it.

If you find the cat food barely scrapes in with protein, and uses low quality sources, maybe reconsider.

Consider that cats prefer a high protein diet. The ‘sweet spot’ is 50% (dry matter).

Bump up the protein to get picky cats on board.

Also, a meaty rich diet also seems to help reduce hunting behavior. Cool.

Cut Down on Carbs

Cats have zero need for carbs.

High carb foods include:

  • Rice
  • Brewers rice
  • Corn
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Wheat
  • Wheat gluten meal
  • Tapioca starch
  • Oats
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

A cat has a limited digestive capacity for carbohydrate digestion.

Cats digest cooked starch efficiently (85-95%), however it’s the quantity of most concern.

A cat can tolerate ~16g of carbs per day (~12% carbs dry matter).

Feeding cats more than this results in digestive upset and high blood sugar.

One carb rich meal elevates blood sugar for up to 10 hours post consumption in cats. Injecting insulin into a cats liver doesn’t help metabolize sugar.

Despite claims a rats gut is ‘carb loaded’ and is evidence cats need carbs, all cats (even big cats) tend to avoid the gut when eating prey.

Whilst I don’t think you need to avoid carbs entirely, I feel that keeping the carb content low is best for health.

Long term, high carb diets can damage the kidneys and may cause cataracts.

Diabetic cats should have no more than 15% carbs (dry matter).

A cat with bananas.
Limit carbs to less than 15% dry matter in diabetic cats.

Less Fillers

1-11% of cats have food intolerance.

This can cause:

  • Itchy skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Gums can interfere with taurine absorption and may cause food intolerance in some cats.

Some grains like wheat and barely also cause intolerance in some cats. Well, aren’t we cutting back on that (see above)?

Carrageenan can inflame the gut.

Degraded carrageenan is of most concern. It’s used in research to model inflammation. Although carrageenan is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by FDA standards I would use caution.

Be weary of ‘fancy ingredients’ like vegetables.

Functional foods do not benefit cats based on current evidence.

Consider a simple novel protein wet food if your cat continues to have food intolerance.

Choosing Cat Food for Old Cats

The cat world has a hard time categorizing older cats.

Here’s how research looks at it:

  • Adult 1-7 years
  • Mature 7-12 years
  • Senior 12-14 years
  • Geriatric 14+ years

The metabolic rate of cats plateaus at the mature range. These guys are at highest risk of weight gain.

However, its at the ‘senior’ range where muscle loss from sarcopenia begins. Seniors struggle to digest protein.

A lot of ‘mature’ cat food is low calorie and high fiber. Not great for seniors!

Instead you’ll want a calorie dense and protein rich food for bony older cats. More in my guide I wrote here.

Low fiber diets and small frequent meals can help stop cats vomiting. They can also help alleviate constipation, a common problem in older cats.

Any benefit of fiber to health may already be in meat anyway. The tough collagen rich fibers of meats contain animal derived fermentable substrates (ADFS).

What Wet Cat Food is Best For Kittens?

Kittens need a high calorie and protein diet.

This is due to their fast growth in the first few weeks and months of life.

You’ll also notice food labelled for kittens. What’s more important that you look for the label that says it’s balanced for ‘growth’.

The main benefit of kitten foods is added calcium.

This is needed for strong bones and to prevent nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism.

What Wet Cat Food is Best for a Sensitive Stomach?

High carb diets can cause diarrhea.

Cat’s have a limited ability to digest carbs and they even impair protein digestion.

Some cats are sensitive to fillers such as carrageenan and xanthan gum.

Also avoid leftovers, as cats are intolerant to many.

Learn More:

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should I Introduce New Wet Cat Food?

Do this:

  1. Add 1/4 new food to 3/4 old
  2. Increase over 2 weeks
  3. Done

That’s it.

The key is to go slow.

Cats are neophobic, meaning they are averse to new foods. Give them time to warm up.

Speaking of warming up:

Cat’s prefer their meats served warm (~15-50 degrees Celsius) as this improves smell. Don’t serve cold!

Using a microwave.
Heat cat food to improve smell for picky cats.

Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Cats?

Wet is best.

Cats are carnivores. Wet cat food offers a ratio of dietary nutrients and water that reflect a cats needs.

Dry cat food is linked to obesity. It’s easy to overserve and is calorie dense.

What Is the Best Inexpensive Wet Cat Food?

Friskies are our favorite.

They offer a range of flavors, and our cats approved of the taste.

Learn More:

Why Do Cats Need a High Protein Diet?

A cat can’t conserve body protein with low protein diets.

A cat’s diet must be 16% protein by energy or they lose muscle.

As carnivores, cats prefer animal based foods as a main source of nutrition. They can’t get most nutrients from plants.

Cats hunting
Cats hunt for meats, not sweets.

Why Do Cats Need Fat in Their Diet?

Fat provides energy and essential fatty acids for health.

Without fat, cats will find it hard to meet their calorie needs.

Cats need essential fats, from animal sources.

This includes:

Cats can’t convert plant based linoleic acid into AA.

Inflammation requires AA. Inflammation sounds bad but is necessary for healing.

Cats need EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids). Omega 3 helps with immune system health.

Again, it’s got to be meat (e.g. salmon). Cats can’t convert plant-based omega 3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid) into EPA and DHA.

Do Cats Need Carbohydrate in Their Cat Food?

No.

Cats are carnivores, and evolved on a diet with almost no carbs.

They have low levels of enzymes that don’t increase in response to dietary carb intake. More carbs don’t help cats adapt.

Learn More:

Are Meat By-Products a Good Source of Animal Protein?

Yes.

There are three types of meat found in cat food:

  • Meat
  • Meat by-products
  • Meat meal

Named body parts are ideal. It tells you what’s in the tin.

Whilst sounding bad, by-products aren’t bad. They are the unused meats not used for human consumption.

Think brain, kidney, lungs, and heart. We don’t eat that much.

But they offer protein.

By-products don’t contain hair, horns, teeth, hooves, or manure.

Meat meal is a different beast. It contains rendered and heat treated food. This food source can include dead, diseased and dying meat.

Generally, meat meal is high in dry cat food.

Read More:

What Is Best Quality Cat Wet Food?

Feline Natural.

It’s got named meat ingredients. It’s a complete meal for all life stages.

No gums, carrageenan, grains, or legumes.

Feline Natural are the best ‘off the shelf’ option.

Learn More:

What Is the Healthiest Cat Food for Indoor Cats?

Tiki Cat After Dark.

It’s low in calorie, and high protein. This cat food will help cats with low energy needs, including indoor cats.

Learn More:

Is Grain Free Better or Worse for Cats?

Grains are high in carbs. Cats don’t need carbs.

So yes, grain-free is better….

The trick is cat foods substitute for other high carb foods.

Including:

  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Sugar
  • Pumpkin
  • Chickpea
  • Lentil
  • Pea

So you’ll end up still getting a high-carb food a lot of the time.

Ignore the front label and instead go right to the ingredients.

If you see potato high on the list, reconsider. It’s probably high carb.

Use a dry matter basis calculator. Steer clear of high carb foods (anything over 25%).

Learn More:

Chickpeas
Grain-free doesn’t mean low carb.

Is Fancy Feast a Healthy Cat Food?

Yes.

It’s low carb and high protein.

High in animal ingredients. Low in plant ingredients and grains.

Not much else to say wrong. It’s meat in a tin, which is what cats need.

Nothing fancy, ironically.

Learn More:

Conclusion

Cats are carnivores. The best wet cat food reflects a normal diet of cats, being high in protein and animal foods.

Choose wet cat food that are high in animal ingredients and low in fillers like grains. Also look for the sign of nutritional adequacy, from AAFCO.

Speak with a vet for more help on specific situations.

>> Our very best wet cat food is Fancy Feast.

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