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Purina One, Fancy Feast, and Friskies all made the list
Cats are an endless source of entertainment — they’re always getting into hilarious mischief or sleeping in the most adorable positions — and to keep your precious pet healthy and happy, it’s important to feed them the right food. However, any pet owner knows that’s often easier said than done. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of cat food varieties out there today, and picking the best option for your pet can be a daunting task.
So how do you find the best cat food for your feline friend? The first step should always be consulting with your pet’s veterinarian — after all, they’re the true experts and can offer insights about your cat’s individual needs. When comparing different foods, you’ll want to look at the ingredients, calories, and nutritional adequacy statement and choose a product that’s formulated for your cat’s age. “Kittens should be fed a kitten specific diet until they are between 9 and 12 months old or until they are at their full adult height,” explains Dr. Jessica Hess, DVM, Owner and Medical Director of GoodVets Denver. “Adults should be on an adult food diet, and seniors (over 10 years old) should be on a senior diet.” Other things to consider include your cat’s medical conditions or health problems, as well as the benefits of wet vs. dry food.
It’s definitely a lot to sort through, so to help narrow your search and pinpoint the best cat food brands, we surveyed 300 cat owners, asking for their experiences with different products. They provided insights on ease of use, quality, engagement, and value, and in the end, there were nine cat food brands that got the seal of approval from real cat owners.
These are the best cat food brands to consider for your pet, according to PEOPLE Tested.
Owners say their cats love the taste, and some even refuse to eat other brands.
There are a wide range of formulas available, tailored to different life stages and health needs.
The foods are formulated by veterinary nutritionists and made with high-quality ingredients.
Some owners say this food brand helped with weight management and/or hairball control.
The prices have been steadily increasing over the past several years.
Larger bags can’t be resealed, making storage more challenging.
Among all the cat owners we talked to, Purina One was the most popular food brand — 15 percent of survey respondents said they feed their pets Purina One food. Not only was it the most popular choice, but it was also one of the highest-scoring brands when it came to ingredient quality, engagement (a.k.a. whether cats like the taste), and overall value.
Purina One offers both wet and dry cat foods, as well as options for different life stages, including kittens and senior cats. Two of the most popular formulas among our respondents were Purina One Indoor Advantage, which is designed to help indoor cats maintain a healthy weight, and Purina One Tender Selects Blend, which has tender kibble pieces to entice picky eaters. In terms of price, this brand is a mid-tier choice from Purina, which manufactures several different lines of cat food, and the formulas are available in large 22-pound bags (as well as several smaller sizes), which is handy for anyone with multiple cats.
Hill's Science Diet
This brand received the highest ingredient quality satisfaction rating among our surveyed cat owners.
Specific formulas can help manage medical conditions like urinary tract infections, sensitive stomach, hairballs, and bladder stones.
The brand employs multiple veterinary nutritionists and tests its products at its nutrition center.
The formulas are notably more expensive than other brands.
If you want the highest quality ingredients for your cat, Hill’s Science Diet is one of the best brands to consider. It’s known for its science-backed approach to pet nutrition, and the brand actually employs multiple veterinary nutritionists and runs its own nutrition research center. For this reason, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Hill’s Science Diet earned the highest scores for ingredient quality among the cat owners we surveyed. All-around, cat parents are pleased with the quality of Hill’s food, but the one major downside that many people noted was the higher-than-average prices.
You can get both wet and dry cat food from the brand, and while they do have a variety of over-the-counter formulas, such as Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight, the brand also makes prescription cat food. There are formulas to manage a variety of medical conditions, including urinary tract infections, bladder stones, kidney problems, food sensitivities, and more — just keep in mind that these are only available with a prescription from your veterinarian.
Purina Fancy Feast
The majority of owners surveyed say their cats love the taste of this food.
The brand has a large variety of flavors to choose from, especially with its wet formulas.
Fancy Feast is reasonably priced, especially when compared to other wet foods.
The can size is smaller than average.
Purina Fancy Feast was another popular cat food brand in our survey, with 14 percent of respondents feeding it to their pets. While the brand does offer a few types of dry food, the majority of cat owners use Fancy Feast wet food, which comes in 3-ounce cans. Many commented that they love the variety of flavors available, which makes it easy to cater to their cat’s preferences. Plus, many people also noted that the brand is budget-friendly, especially when compared to other wet food options.
Fancy Feast wet food comes in several forms, including paté, grilled, and gravy recipes, and there are dozens of flavors to choose from, including a wide range of poultry and seafood protein sources. You can buy the cans in packs of 24 or 30, and there are several popular variety packs available if you want to switch things up for your cat.
The food is made with high-quality, human-grade ingredients.
Most Blue Buffalo food isn’t as expensive as other high-quality brands.
Some cat owners say this brand helped their pet’s digestive health.
There aren’t as many flavor options available.
If you’re looking for cat food made from high-quality ingredients that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, Blue Buffalo is a top choice when it comes to value, according to our survey. Cat owners like that the brand uses human-grade ingredients, but the formulas generally aren’t as expensive as other high-quality brands, such as Hill’s Science Diet or Purina Pro Plan. The downside, however, is that there often aren’t as many flavor options available, which can be limiting if your pet is choosy about what they’ll eat.
Blue Buffalo doesn’t have quite as many cat food options as some larger brands, but there are both wet and dry formulas available, as well as food specifically for indoor cats, weight management, and sensitive stomachs. The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Cat Food was a popular choice among cat owners in our survey, and this particular line from the brand contains high levels of protein and is grain-free.
Purina Pro Plan
The brand is known for its high-quality pet foods, which are made with good ingredients.
There are formulas to manage health issues like weight, sensitive digestion, and urinary health.
The packaging can be hard to open and isn’t recyclable.
Among Purina’s family of pet food brands, Pro Plan is considered the most premium option and, by extension, is often the most expensive. Only 7 percent of our surveyed cat owners use this brand, but the ones who did chose it for the high-quality ingredients and trusted reputation. Many also noted that Pro Plan offers cat food that caters to their pet’s specific health needs, such as weight management or sensitive digestion.
Purina Pro Plan offers both wet and dry cat foods, including options for kittens, adult cats, and seniors. The Pro Plan Complete Essentials Dry Food is a popular choice for adult cats, and the Pro Plan Complete Essentials Wet Food comes in several cat-approved flavors. However, both are more expensive than options from Purina One or Fancy Feast.
This brand was ranked as the best overall value by cat owners.
Because the cans are larger, you can often get multiple servings from them.
The food comes in a variety of flavors, and owners say their cats love the taste.
The ingredients aren’t as high-quality as wet foods from other brands.
If you’re on a budget, Friskies was the top-scoring brand when it came to value. This wet food comes in large 5.5-ounce cans (almost twice the size of Fancy Feast cans), and you can buy a pack of 32 for a very reasonable price. Plus, the larger cans can often be used for multiple servings, meaning one box will last you longer. The brand also ranked the highest in terms of engagement — many owners said their cats love the taste of Friskies food. Some even noted that their cats refuse to eat anything else!
Friskies wet food comes in a wide variety of flavors, including poultry and seafood options, and most of its formulas are served in gravy, making them extra-appealing to kitties. While the food is a complete source of nutrition for your pet, it’s worth noting that the ingredient list isn’t as high-quality as some other foods — for instance, many of the formulas simply list “meat by-products” instead of a specific protein source.
Many formulas are designed to help with health problems like urinary tract issues, diabetes, or bladder problems.
Several owners say they feed this brand at the recommendation of their veterinarian.
The triangle-shaped kibble pieces are easy for smaller cats to chew.
Many of the brand’s products are quite expensive.
Some formulas aren’t available in both wet and dry forms.
Royal Canin is another brand worth considering if your cat has health issues. Many of our survey respondents chose this brand at the suggestion of their pet’s veterinarian, as it has formulas tailored to digestive problems, urinary tract issues, diabetes, bladder health, and allergies. Another highlight is that the kibble comes in triangle-shaped pieces that are easy for smaller cats to eat.
While many of its health-specific formulas are only available by prescription, Royal Canin does have several over-the-counter cat foods, including both wet and dry options. Royal Canin Indoor Cat Food contains high-quality ingredients and can help indoor pets maintain a healthy weight, and Royal Canin Hairball Care is often beneficial to long-hair cats who are prone to hairballs.
Cat owners say this food keeps their pet’s coat shiny and smooth.
The brand offers formulas to help with urinary problems, digestive issues, and hairballs.
This brand is widely available in big box stores and supermarkets, making it more accessible.
The packaging isn’t resealable, so it may need to be stored in a separate container.
While not as popular as several of the other brands among the cat owners we spoke to, Iams still received positive scores in our survey. Respondents like that the brand has readily available formulas that help with specific health conditions, such as urinary tract problems and sensitive stomachs, and they also noted the food makes their cat’s fur shiny and smooth. Iams is also widely available in retail stores — you can often find it in the grocery store, making it convenient to pick up a bag when you run out.
Iams has a mid-tier price point — it’s not as expensive as, say, Hill’s Science Diet, but it does cost more than brands like Meow Mix. The majority of cat food options from the brand are dry foods, but there are a few wet options, as well, such as the Iams Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Variety Pack, allowing you to mix things up for your pet.
This food rated highly as a budget-friendly option.
Cat owners say that their pets like the taste of this food.
There aren’t many flavors available, and wet food options are limited.
Because it’s a value brand, the ingredients aren’t the best quality.
Meow Mix is another popular dry cat food for budget-conscious shoppers. Cat owners who feed this brand say that their pets enjoy eating it, and several called out the Meow Mix Tender Centers food, in particular, for being a hit with their felines. Beyond that, the biggest selling point of this brand is its reasonable price point — you can get a large bag of Meow Mix dry food for significantly less than many other cat foods.
There are only a few different types of Meow Mix available, but the brand does offer both chicken and beef-flavored kibble, which is helpful if your cat has a sensitivity to one of the proteins. You can often find this brand in grocery stores and big box retailers, as well. Just keep in mind that the ingredients aren’t the best quality — for example, the first ingredient in the Tender Centers dry food is actually ground corn, which is often considered a filler.
Things to Consider Before Buying Cat Food
When selecting cat food for your pet, the first thing you should look for is the Nutritional Adequacy Statement. This statement indicates that the food is a complete and balanced form of nutrition for your pet, meeting the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. A nutritionally adequate food will provide your cat with all the necessary nutrients in proper ratios.
It’s also important to select a food that’s designed for your cat’s specific life stage — adult, kitten, or senior — which will be listed in the statement. While some foods are listed for “all life stages,” Dr. Hess says these aren’t generally the best choice: “To attain this label, the food must be formulated for the life stage with the greatest nutritional and caloric need, which is the kitten stage. So, these diets tend to be too high in calories for adults and seniors.”
It’s also a good idea to look at the ingredients when shopping for cat food. Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need meat as part of their diet. You’ll want to select a food with a named protein source, when possible — for instance, look for a food that lists “chicken” or “salmon” in the ingredient list, instead of just “meat by-products.” Many experts also recommend choosing a food that’s free from fillers, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
Wet vs. Dry Food
Cat food comes in both wet and dry forms, and there are benefits to each style. Wet food is often more appealing to cats, making it a top choice for picky eaters, and because it has higher moisture content, it can help them stay properly hydrated. “Cats in general are very poor water drinkers,” explains Dr. Hess. “Wet food helps bridge that gap.”
On the other hand, dry food or kibble is much easier to serve and store. “Dry food is much more convenient for owners to feed,” she says. “It allows the owner to leave some food out at all times, and it works really well in an automatic feeder.” Dry food can also promote dental health, as it helps scrape plaque off your cat’s teeth as they chew.
How We Tested
It would be hard to test cat food, in the traditional sense, so we relied on a survey of pet owners to compile this list of the best cat food brands. We received responses from 299 cat owners, who told us what type of food their cat eats and scored the product on ease of use, engagement (or whether cats like to eat it), ingredient quality, and value. We also collected open-ended responses about what owners like and dislike about different food brands, which ranged from hard-to-open packaging to flavor variety.
After we evaluated all the data, the top scoring cat food brands were Friskies, with an overall score of 4.5, followed by Purina One, Hill's Science Diet, and Blue Buffalo, all of which earned an average score of 4.2.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to give cats wet food every day?
If your cat turns up their nose at dry kibble, there’s no problem with feeding them wet food every day. “Cats will do really well on a diet consisting completely or mostly of wet food,” says Dr. Hess, noting that she actually recommends cats eat a diet of at least 50 percent wet food.
The downside is that wet food isn’t as convenient to use. “Wet food can be a bit of a hassle when compared to dry kibble,” she explains. “You cannot leave wet food out all day. The owner really has to commit to meal feeding at least twice a day.”
Do cats get bored of eating the same food every day?
Eating the same food every day might seem boring to you, but your cat typically won’t mind. “A consistent diet is ideal for most cats,” explained Dr. Hess. “If cats are getting mental stimulation in their environment through toys, human interaction, or a housemate, they shouldn't get bored.” Keep in mind that switching your cat’s food can lead to stomach upset — just another reason to keep things consistent in their diet.
Should I mix wet and dry cat food?
If you want to provide some variety for your cat, you can offer a combination of wet and dry food throughout the day. There are actually a few benefits to this feeding strategy: Your cat will get the added moisture from wet food, helping to keep them hydrated, and chewing on kibble will help keep their teeth clean.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product tester who specializes in home and pet products, and she’s written extensively about pet food throughout her career, interviewing close to a dozen different veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists. She’s also owned several cats over the past 10 years, and she has firsthand experience with many of the brands on this list.
To put together this article, she sorted through the data collected in the survey, using insights from real cat owners to highlight the pros and cons of each brand. She also interviewed veterinarian Dr. Jessica Hess for tips on how to select the best cat food for your pet’s individual needs.
Meet Our Expert
Veterinarian Dr. Jessica Hess, DVM, is the owner and medical director at GoodVets Denver, a veterinary franchise with locations around the country.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.