Best Cat Food for Ferrets 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated: September 14, 2020

eating brown ferret in front of white background_cynoclubDespite their small size and playful personalities, ferrets are highly capable predators. As obligate carnivores, they require a consistent supply of meat protein to stay happy and healthy. Additionally, your ferret’s digestive system can’t handle complex carbohydrates like grains and sugars — which may leave you wondering just what they can eat!

While there are commercially available pet foods designed specifically for a ferret’s diet, they can often be quite expensive when compared to dog or cat food. And since cats are obligate carnivores as well, their food can sometimes be substituted for more expensive ferret formulations.

Taking a ferret’s specific nutrition requirements into account, we’ve compiled reviews of the six best cat foods to feed your ferret. In this article, you’ll find our top choices for every budget, as well as a guide to the most frequently asked questions about feeding cat food to ferrets.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall Wysong Archetype Freeze-Dried Wysong Archetype Freeze-Dried
  • Maximum nutrient retention
  • Free of starches, grains, and fillers
  • Full profile of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
  • Best Value Dr. Elsey's Grain-Free Dr. Elsey's Grain-Free
  • Whole animal proteins
  • Free of grains, gluten, and peas
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Premium Choice ORIJEN Cat & Critters ORIJEN Cat & Critters
  • 90% animal-derived ingredients
  • Mimics the diet of predators
  • Completely grain and filler-free
  • Wysong Epigen Canned Formula Wysong Epigen Canned Formula
  • Over 95% meat products
  • 6 flavors
  • Free of starches, grains, fillers, and artificial ingredients
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Blue Buffalo Wilderness
  • Extremely affordable
  • Chicken as its primary ingredient
  • Good source of all necessary vitamins and minerals
  • 6 Best Cat Food for Ferrets – Reviews 2020

    1. Wysong Archetype Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food– Best Overall1Wysong Archetype Chicken Formula Freeze-Dried Raw Dog & Cat Food

     

    Most remarkable for its “True Non-Thermal” processing, Wysong’s Archetype Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food most closely resembles the natural raw diet of predator animals like cats and ferrets. Never heated to above 118° F, this truly raw meat cat food aims to provide 100% of any obligate carnivore’s dietary needs.

    High in natural animal proteins that provide a rich base of amino acids, this food also contains a large portion of animal fats that are great for your ferret’s joint and organ health. Based around whole chicken, it provides a complete vitamin and mineral profile through the inclusion of bone and organ meat as well.

    Overall, the Wysong Archetype food is far from being the cheapest product in our reviews — but given its uncompromising quality and near-perfect composition in addition to a long shelf life, it’s a fantastic investment in your ferret’s long-term health. If we could only choose one cat food to feed our ferrets, this would be the one.

    Pros
    • Based on raw meat and freeze-dried for maximum nutrient retention
    • Completely free of starches, grains, and fillers
    • Contains a full profile of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
    • Low-temperature processing maintains the integrity of all ingredients
    • Long 1-year shelf life
    • Includes probiotics to help with proper digestion
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Requires additional time to prepare by reconstituting with water

    2. Dr. Elsey’s Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Value2Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

     

    As an affordable alternative to our top pick, Dr. Elsey’s Grain-Free Dry Cat Food offers substantial value at a very reasonable price, all while maintaining an impressive nutrient profile. Available in 2.0 or 6.6-pound bags and boasting an extremely long shelf life, it may well be the best cat food for ferrets for the money.

    Containing over 90% animal protein and a whole host of added vitamins and minerals, Dr. Elsey’s is an exceptionally high-quality dry cat food that’s entirely suitable for ferrets. Based around whole chicken with the addition of pork and egg proteins, it’s a well-balanced food that is entirely free of grains, gluten, and pea proteins — common fillers used in other dry cat foods.

    The only downside? Some owners report that their ferrets just don’t have much of a taste for the food. Because of this, we recommend starting with the smaller bag and testing to make sure that your ferrets enjoy Dr. Elsey’s before committing to the savings of a bulk size bag.

    Pros
    • Based on whole animal proteins
    • Free of grains, gluten, and peas
    • Added vitamins and minerals provide complete nutrition
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Dry, crunchy food may not be every ferret’s favorite
    • Contains dried egg, which may upset some ferret’s stomachs

    3. ORIJEN Cat & Kitten Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice3ORIJEN High-Protein, Grain-Free, Premium Quality Meat

     

    The only cat food for ferrets in our reviews to be based around free-run and wild-caught animal proteins,Orijen’s Cat & Kitten Dry Food is designed to mimic the diets of predators found in the wild. By including plenty of meat protein as well as organs, cartilage, and bone, it provides an extremely high-quality nutritional source. If it were just a bit more affordable, this cat food may have easily secured our top spot.

    Consisting of 90% whole animal ingredients and 10% vegetable, fruit, and botanical supplements, Orijen’s dry cat food also has the benefit of being the freshest-tasting dry food we tested. Our ferrets unanimously agreed that it was the tastiest food of all, and had no problem digesting it after a hearty meal. In short, it may be the best cat food for any ferret that is a picky eater — and is an excellent premium choice even if your pet isn’t so particular about their food.

    Pros
    • Contains 90% animal-derived ingredients
    • Mimics the diet of predators in the wild
    • Completely grain and filler-free
    • Made in the United States
    Cons
    • Quite expensive

    4. Wysong Epigen Canned Formula4Wysong Epigen Variety Pack

     

    Featuring an impressive 95% meat composition, Wysong’s Epigen Canned Formula is a tremendously well-designed food for predator animals. Available in proteins from six different single-animal sources, this variety pack provides plenty of options for even the pickiest of eaters while still offering a complete nutritional package.

    Like all Wysong’s pet food products, the Epigen Canned Formula contains no starches, grains, or fillers that could interfere with your ferret’s digestion. Because of its rich and fatty nutrient profile, however, Wysong recommends rotating their canned diets with dry food and other non-thermal raw foods. While this makes it an excellent complement to our top pick, it limits overall utility from this six-flavor package.

    Pros
    • Contains over 95% meat products in each can
    • 6 flavors make this variety pack suitable for picky eaters
    • Completely free of starches, grains, fillers, and artificial ingredients
    Cons
    • Intended to be rotated with other foods
    • Not for use as a sole food source over long periods of time

    5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Cat Food5Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

     

    Another dry cat food based around chicken protein and available in bulk, Blue Buffalo’s “Wilderness” Dry Cat Food offers another affordable alternative to freeze-dried or wet foods. Featuring over 90% animal protein, it’s a suitable choice for ferrets that is only held back by its moderate use of filler ingredients.

    Tapioca starch is the main offender in Blue Buffalo’s dry cat food, providing a slight boost to protein while helping to keep the dry kibble from crumbling. Additionally, small portions of pea protein may end up causing an upset stomach for ferrets with sensitive digestion.

    For healthy ferrets, this food is unlikely to present any problems even with extended use — but we don’t necessarily recommend using it for older or more sensitive pets.

    Pros
    • Extremely affordable and available with deep discounts on bulk sizing
    • Based on chicken as its primary ingredient
    • Good source of all necessary vitamins and minerals
    Cons
    • Contains tapioca starch that’s mainly used as a filler ingredient
    • Contains protein filler that may upset some ferrets’ stomachs

    6. Whole Earth Farms Dry Cat Food6Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Dry Cat Food

     

    Advertising itself as containing “100% all-natural ingredients”, Whole Earth Farms’ Dry Cat Food is made in the United States from a base of turkey and chicken. Furthermore, it’s grain-free and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Why, then, has it come in dead last in our review?

    Upon closer examination, two filler ingredients make up a large portion of the total recipe: dried potatoes and peas. While technically free of grains, this makes the Whole Earth Farms food a less-than-desirable source of nutrition for ferrets and cats alike.

    Simply put, we’re not impressed with the quality of ingredients in this cat food, no matter if they’re “all-natural” or not.

    Pros
    • Free of grains as well as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
    • Inexpensive
    Cons
    • Second most prevalent ingredient in the recipe is dried potatoes
    • Third most prevalent ingredient in the recipe is peas
    • Too many fillers to be a useful and healthy food for ferrets

    Related Read: Can Ferrets Eat Peanut Butter?


    Buyer’s Guide

    The same foods that might be okay for cats to eat aren’t always the best choice for your ferret. To get the inside scoop on our selection process and answers to common questions about feeding cat food to ferrets, follow along with each section of this buyer’s guide.

    Is Cat Food Safe for Ferrets to Eat? Why Should You Feed Your Ferret Cat Food?

    As obligate carnivores — animals that require high amounts of animal protein in their diets — both cats and ferrets have similar nutritional requirements. This should come as no surprise, as in the wild both cats and ferrets are predators that rely on the flesh of prey animals to survive.

    While cats have evolved to be able to get away with a certain amount of carbohydrates or sugars in their diets (likely from living with humans for generations), ferrets have never developed an ability to digest grains or other complex carbohydrates. For the purpose of feeding cat food to your ferret, this means choosing only those foods that are free of grains and based entirely around animal proteins.

    In short, there are many types of commercially produced cat foods that are safe for ferrets to eat — as well as plenty that are not. In the next section, we’ll cover what you need to look for to make sure a cat food is safe for ferrets to eat.

    What to Look for In a Cat Food to Feed Your Ferret

    Providing for a ferret’s nutritional needs with commercially available cat food will be challenging if you don’t know what nutritional requirements you need to look at.

    We recommend that your search for cat food for ferrets focus on these issues:
    • Based on animal proteins. Complete animal proteins, preferably from chicken or prey animals, should form the bulk of the ingredients for any cat food you choose to feed your ferrets.
    • A complete source of essential nutrients. A well-rounded vitamin and mineral profile will clue you in to whether the ingredients used are sufficient to provide daily nutrition for your ferret.
    • Grain-free. Wheat and rice are common additives to poorly produced pet foods and will have a terrible effect on your ferret’s digestion.
    • Filler-free. Binding agents like molasses and corn syrup aren’t digestible by ferrets and can quickly lead to serious health problems.

    Types of Cat Food to Feed Ferrets

    There are three main types of cat food that can be appropriate to feed ferrets:

    • Dry cat foods have the advantage of a long shelf life and easy bulk storage. They’re often the most affordable option for a cat food to feed your ferrets but are also the most likely to contain fillers or grains. Choose dry cat foods that are specifically marketed as being grain free and based on animal proteins, not vegetable proteins.
    • Wet cat food usually provides more whole prey products, with a greater proportion of fat and minerals as compared to dry foods. Wet foods will often be more expensive and come in single-serving cans; this makes them best suited to occasional treats rather than daily feedings.
    • Freeze-dried cat foods combine the best of wet and dry foods but tend to be the most expensive option of all due to their extensive and specialized processing. It offers a shelf life of up to a year, and a complete nutrient profile from raw meats that is especially well suited to a ferret’s nutritional needs.

    Cat Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Ferret

    Because of their inability to digest complex carbohydrates, we would like to reiterate here that not every cat food can be fed to your ferret. Dry foods are especially susceptible to being loaded with fillers and grains, both of which are harmful to your ferret’s digestion and overall health. If you’ve never fed a specific brand of cat food to your ferret before, proceed with extra caution and monitor their health and digestion carefully until you’re sure that it’s a good choice for your pet.

    Related Read: Best Ferret Cages 2020

    divider-ferretConclusion

    As far as quality goes, it’s nearly impossible to beat the minimal processing methods of the Wysong’s Archetype Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food. Because of the completely raw ingredients used in its preparation, it provides a greater range of nutrients that are perfect for keeping your ferret healthy. It’s certainly not cheap, but of all the foods for ferrets in our reviews, only the Wysong stands out as providing perfectly balanced nutrition.

    Anyone on a tighter budget would do well to invest in the Dr. Elsey’s Grain-Free Dry Cat Food as an excellent alternative to our top choice. Its 100% grain-free, filler-free formula is based on chicken as the main protein, making it a desirable choice for ferrets of all ages. Plus, since it’s a dry food, you can take advantage of significant savings by ordering in bulk 6.6-pound bags.


    Featured image credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock