What Is The Healthiest Cat Food For Cats?

Last updated:
We may earn through links from our affiliates including Chewy, Amazon, and Pet Circle.

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

What is the healthiest cat food for cats?

A wet canned food high in animal protein and low in carbohydrate is the healthiest choice for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores and thrive off the nutrients in meat, organs, and bones.

Wet foods give cats enough moisture for hydration.

I’ve tested over 50 popular cat foods and researched cat nutrition to get to these recommendations.

In this article I’ll help you find the healthiest cat food, what to look for, and what to avoid.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article isn’t a replacement for medical advice.

Let’s get into the article.

What Is the Healthiest Cat Food for Cats?

What is the healthiest cat food for cats?

Wet cat food high in animal protein.

Cats are carnivores and thrive off meats, organs and bones. Choose cat food that meets AAFCO’s nutrition guidelines as a complete and balanced meal.

Why is a carnivore diet is best for cats?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity

The goal of diet is to keep your cat free of disease, but improve quality of life.

Cats are obligate carnivores.

They evolved to eat prey for nutrition.

This includes:

  • Birds
  • Rodents
  • Fish
  • Lizards
  • Insects

Cats also like milk. There’s evidence feral cats steal milk from seals.

A cat has differences to their bodies including:

  • Don’t go into ketosis with a low-carb diet
  • Higher protein need compared to omnivores
  • Can’t convert tryptophan to niacin
  • Can’t convert beta carotene to Vitamin A
  • Can’t convert linoleic acid to arachidonic acid
  • Can’t make taurine (essential amino acid)
A cat with a fish
Cats are obligate carnivores that consume small prey including mice, fish, and insects

When given a choice, cats prefer a low carb diet (~12% dry matter basis). In the wild, cats seldom eat any carbohydrate based foods.

I’ve looked at over 50 popular cat foods.

The average carbohydrate content in wet food is around 10%, whilst it hovers around 20% for most dry cat foods. Wet food is closer to a cats wild diet.

Is there any problem to feeding foods other than meats, organs, and bones?


Cats are in gluconeogenesis. Their livers make sugar from protein for energy throughout the day.

Cats don’t adapt to eating higher carb diets. Their livers doesn’t stop producing sugar, and their digestive system doesn’t make more enzymes.

High carb diets raise blood sugar.

Sugar in the urine, can damage kidneys.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Healthiest Cat Food Brand?

Feline Natural.

Their offer wet cat food that is a complete and balanced meal for all life stages.

The food contains no fillers, and is packed with grass-fed meats for top health.

Learn more:

What Is the Healthiest Dry Food for My Cat?

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried cat food.

This contains almost no carbohydrate. It uses dried grass-fed meat, so there’s no fillers.

This is also a complete and balanced food for all life stages.

Learn More:

What Is the Healthiest Cat Food for Indoor Cats?

Tiki Cat After Dark.

It’s low calories, and high in protein. This option is a complete meal for all life stages.

It’s a top choice for keeping calories under control.

Learn More:

Is It Better for Cats to Eat Dry Food or Wet Food?

Wet is best.

Canned cat food is lower in carbs, and higher in protein.

It’s easier to digest and better for long term health.

Should Cats Be Grain Free?


Grain-free cat food may help with food intolerance, which causes digestive upset.

Corn gluten meal decreases water in feces, increasing constipation risk.

Cats digest cooked starch, but excess raises blood sugar. Grains may increase the risk of diabetes and kidney disease.

Rice bran is known to reduce taurine absorption, and essential amino acid.

There’s no real benefit to giving cats grains, and potential downside.


Is a Homemade Diet the Healthiest Choice for Cats?


It’s not as simple as meat in a bowl.

Cats need a range of vitamins and minerals.

A meat only diet creates a calcium deficiency. This results in depression and bone abnormalities.

Some recipes online contain ingredients toxic to cats include garlic and onions (even ones made by vets). Picking a recipe online is a game of Russian Roulette.

For most people it’s easier and safer to buy commercial cat food.

I’ve written a guide to making homemade cat foo below.

Learn More:

Is Canned Tuna Good for Cats?


Tuna is high in mercury, a trace mineral that is toxic. A 3 ounce tin of tuna contains too much mercury for cats.

Excess tuna can cause health problems like depression.

Learn More:

A cat eating tuna
A tin of tuna contains too much mercury for cats

Is Chicken or Fish Better for Cats?

Both are good.

The two are high in protein. Cats need a diet of at least 26% protein (dry matter basis) for health.

Senior cats and kittens need higher protein diets.

Remember that tuna is high in mercury.

Salmon is a best, providing omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids may help with inflammatory bowel disease and reduce shedding.

Cats also have a strong taste preference for salmon oil. Helpful for fussy cats.

What to Look for When Buying Cat Food?

Complete cat food.

Look for the statement of nutritional adequacy on a cat food label. This tells you if the cat food contains all the nutrients your cat needs.

Beyond that, wet cat food is lower in carbohydrate, and may be best for long term health.

Learn More:

Dry Cat Food Comparison Chart

Here’s a comparison chart of the best dry cat foods.

It shows nutrients, price, and our ratings for key areas.

Dry cat foodPriceLifestageProtein*CarbKcal/kgScore
Orijen Original$All44%20%4,12083
Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein$$All67%0%4,03082
Solid Gold Indigo Moon$All47%19%3,95879
Tiki Born Carnivore$$All48%14%392279
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain$All47%20%3,74579
Go! Solutions Carnivore$All51%17%4,29877
Wellness Core$$Adult50%18%3,56175
Purina Pro Plan Kitten$Growth48%25%4,37074
Blue Buffalo Wilderness$Adult44%25%3,83274
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried$$$All41%5%5,60072
Purina ONE$Adult39%33%3,97769
Purina Fancy Feast$All38%33%4,00067
Crave Chicken & Salmon$$Adult44%22%3,78867
Hill’s Science Diet$Adult34%36%4,02567
A comparison of the healthiest dry cat foods *dry matter basis


The healthiest cat food is a complete and balanced high protein food.

As carnivores, cats are adapted to a diet of prey. This includes a mixture of meats, organs, and ground bones.

Unlike humans, cats don’t benefit from carbohydrate. Their bodies aren’t well suited to this type of diet.


Photo of author


I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.