Despite 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 in 2023
|Best Overall||Wysong Archetype Freeze-Dried||
|Best Value||Dr. Elsey's Grain-Free||
|Premium Choice||ORIJEN Cat & Critters||
|Wysong Epigen Canned Formula||
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness||
The 6 Best Cat Foods for Ferrets
1. Wysong Archetype Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food – Best Overall
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.
2. Dr. Elsey’s Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Value
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- 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.
3. ORIJEN Cat & Kitten Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice
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.
4. Wysong Epigen Canned Formula
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.
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness 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.
6. Whole Earth Farms 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.
Related Read: Can Ferrets Eat Peanut Butter?
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Cat Food for Ferrets
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.
Types of Cat Food to Feed Ferrets
There are three main types of cat food that can be appropriate to feed ferrets:
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: The 10 Best Ferret Cages
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.
- Related read: Do Cats And Ferrets Get Along? What You Need To Know!
Featured Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock