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10 Best Dry Cat Foods in 2021 — Reviews & Top Picks
If you enjoy being confused, spend time comparing labels on dry cat food while trying to find the best one for your kitty. Figuring out protein levels, fat content, and fiber dosage is stressful!
Fortunately, we did all the legwork for you, so you don’t have a breakdown in the pet food aisle. In these reviews, you’ll find our picks for the best dry cat foods on the market today, as well as detailed explanations of what sets them apart from the competition.
A Quick Look at Our Favorite Picks for 2021
|Best Overall||Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food||
|Best Value||Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food||
|Premium Choice||Tuscan Natural Carne Grain-Free Dry Cat Food||
|Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food||
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food||
The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods
1. Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food — Best Overall
Orijen Cat & Kitten is a grain-free option that’s designed to have everything that a cat needs in their diet — and that’s it.
You’ll run quite a ways down the ingredients list before coming across something that isn’t a high-quality meat. It has chicken, turkey, flounder, mackerel, and a variety of organ meats, which is why the protein levels are so high.
Most of the nutrition comes from these meat sources, but the kibble fills in any gaps with nutritious fruits and veggies, like pumpkin, kale, spinach, mustard greens, and more.
The manufacturer doesn’t skimp on ingredients that other cat foods neglect either. You’ll find ground-up bones, fat, and parts like necks in here. They might sound gross to you, but your cat will love them, and their body needs the nutrition.
There are plenty of omega fatty acids inside this food as well, thanks to ingredients like pollock oil and fish. All those fish give the food a strong odor, though, so you may not want to serve it near your own dinner table.
Orijen Cat & Kitten may not be perfect, but it’s close enough to earn the title of best overall dry cat food here.
2. Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food — Best Value
If money is tight but you don’t want your cat’s diet to suffer as a result, Cat Chow Naturals Original is a surprisingly good food at an equally surprising price, which earns it the title of best dry cat food for the money.
The protein levels are high due to the fact that real chicken is the first ingredient. Some of that protein comes from animal by-products, which aren’t ideal but are hard to avoid at this price point.
It has other ingredients that aren’t usually found in cheap foods, though, like beef tallow, which gives your cat extra omega-3s while also improving the taste.
There are questionable ingredients, like corn gluten meal and whole wheat, that mostly serve as fillers, so this isn’t a great kibble for overweight cats. It’s somewhat balanced out by the fact that it has quality ingredients like dried spinach and salmon, though.
The formula includes extra taurine, which is important for a cat’s heart health, as well as biotin for healthy skin and fur. There are quite a few important vitamins added to the mix, in fact.
Cat Chow Naturals Original certainly isn’t the best dry cat food in the world, but it’s probably the best cheap dry cat food that you’ll find — and that’s worth something, to be sure.
3. Tuscan Natural Carne Grain-Free Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice
It’s not cheap, but if you can afford it, Tuscan Natural Carne is one of the best kibbles that you could possibly buy for your cat.
There’s plenty of meat inside each bag, and most of it comes in “meal” form. That means it includes ground-up bone and other tissue that often gets screened out, depriving your cat of important nutrients.
The meals come from all sorts of animals, including chicken, turkey, and herring, giving your cat a varied nutritional profile. There’s also plenty of flaxseed and herring oil for antioxidants and pumpkin for fiber.
It’s loaded with probiotics, as there are several strains added to the formula. That should keep your cat’s digestive tract in prime working order.
Besides the price, the biggest issue that we can find with this food is the fact that it doesn’t have any added taurine, but that shouldn’t be a problem given how much meat is inside.
It’s not in everyone’s price range, but for those who can swing it, Tuscan Natural Carne is a great food to serve your cat.
4. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain has more protein than most of its competition, but it doesn’t always come from the best sources.
The first ingredient is chicken meal, which provides a variety of important nutrients. Past that, though, you’ll find protein from peas and potatoes, which cats don’t process as well as they do protein from meat sources.
There are quite a few other animal proteins inside, such as venison, salmon, and fish meal, but these are lower on the list than the vegetable proteins.
It’s packed with premium fruits and veggies like tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries, and over half the ingredients seem to be probiotics of some kind.
Some of those fruits and veggies (particularly the potatoes) are hard for cats to digest, though, and their litterbox might suffer as a result. The kibble itself tends to be especially crumbly as well.
None of this changes the fact that Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain is an excellent food; it just can’t be listed among the best of the best.
- You might also be interested in: 10 Best Cat Feeding Mats in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness has quite a bit of protein in it, but not all of it will do your cat much good.
The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, but after that, you’ll find pea protein. Still, the upshot is that your cat will get plenty of protein, even if some of it will likely go to waste.
It’s also loaded with omega fatty acids, as you’ll see foods like fish meal, chicken fat, and flaxseed listed among the primary ingredients.
There’s a good amount of fiber in here, with pea fiber, alfalfa pellets, and chicory root all providing bulk for your cat. However, it’s not all good news for their tummies, as the formula includes things like eggs and potatoes, which can cause upset stomachs in many cats.
The moisture levels are also low, so you might want to pair it with a wet food to make sure your cat doesn’t get dehydrated.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a good food, but it has a few flaws that need to be corrected before it can truly be considered great.
6. American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe is a middle-of-the-road option that truly lives up to that title, as it’s good (but not great) and not that expensive (but not super cheap either).
The ingredients list starts strong, with turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal being the first foods listed. After that, though, you’ll find questionable ingredients, like pea protein and dried egg product.
Those aren’t all that questionable as far as ingredients go, though. You won’t find corn, wheat, soy, or other cheap fillers inside, nor will you encounter any animal by-products.
Regardless of what goes into this food, most cats seem to love the taste, making it an excellent choice for picky eaters. There are omega fatty acids inside as well, making it great for skin and coat health. There is a strong odor, though, which may put off some owners.
If you want a good food but don’t want to pay through the nose for it, American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe is a good compromise.
7. Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Herring Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore certainly lives up to its name, as it’s a nice mix of fish and poultry in an overall grain-free formula.
It has one of the highest protein levels of any kibble that we’ve found, and the first six ingredients are all some sort of animal protein. That includes both lean cuts and meals, giving your kitty a well-rounded nutritional profile.
The fat content is outstanding as well. If your cat is constantly hounding you for seconds (and thirds and fourths), this kibble should keep them full for longer than a few hours.
The protein isn’t perfect, though. Some of it comes from eggs, which can upset a cat’s stomach.
It’s also one of the pricier kibbles on this list, and the kibble itself is on the large side, so smaller cats or those who are missing teeth might have trouble crunching it.
These are all minor quibbles, and Tiki Cat Born Carnivore is certainly an excellent food. However, minor quibbles are usually what makes the difference on a list like this.
8. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Formula Dry Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan Dietetic Management Formula requires a vet’s authorization to buy, so it’s not for every cat. If your little furball is turning into more of a butterball — and has the diabetes to prove it — this might be a great option for you.
It’s absolutely loaded with protein, so your cat will get long-lasting energy from meat sources rather than cheap, carb-loaded calories. However, all that protein comes from animal by-products or synthetic sources, so it’s not quite as good as the real thing.
While the protein certainly outweighs the cheap carbs, there are a surprising number of filler foods in here. Soy flour, corn gluten meal, soy protein isolate are all here, and none of them are particularly welcome.
This food is also expensive, which is odd considering that it uses bargain-basement ingredients for the most part. Still, those ingredients will help keep your cat’s urinary tract in prime working condition, so they’re worth the cost.
Purina Pro Plan Dietetic Management is a niche product for diabetic cats, but given how many felines are afflicted with the disease nowadays, we felt that it deserved a spot on this list.
9. Purina ONE Indoor Advantage Adult Dry Cat Food
Purina ONE Indoor Advantage might be the easiest to find of all the cat foods on this list, as it’s usually one of the best kibbles carried by your local big box store.
The ingredients list has an interesting mix of stomach-friendly foods, like brewers rice and fish meal, but it alternates those with less-than-desirable products, like corn gluten meal and soybean meal. As a result, it’s anyone’s guess how your cat’s tummy will react to the stuff.
While the protein amounts are good, there’s not much fat in here, so your cat may seem hungrier more often than usual. We also don’t like the fact that it uses artificial colors, which do nothing for your cat.
Still, the price is good, and it has all the vitamins and minerals that your kitty needs, including animal fat for omega fatty acids. The animal liver flavor may just inspire your cat to dig in as well.
Purina ONE Indoor Advantage isn’t a great food, but it’s easy to find and relatively cheap, so it will do in a pinch.
10. Iams ProActive Health High Protein Chicken & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food
Iams ProActive Health High Protein has plenty of meat inside because chicken is the first ingredient, but it also has other stuff that we feel would’ve been better left on the cutting room floor.
The next three ingredients after the chicken are animal by-products, corn grits, and whole-grain corn, none of which you really want your cat to eat. There are also artificial coloring and eggs inside. All that corn gives it a distinctive taste that’s hit-or-miss with cats as well.
This would all be more forgivable if the nutrient levels were top-notch. This food does have quite a bit of protein, fat, and fiber but not enough to set it apart on this list.
The kibble itself falls apart at the slightest touch, so you’ll have plenty of unusable crumbs at the bottom of the bag.
Iams ProActive Health High Protein is a good food, especially compared to most of the foods in the pet aisle at your local big-box store. That’s not quite enough to get it high on this list, though.
Buying a quality food for your cat isn’t easy, and sometimes it can feel like you need to be a licensed veterinarian to figure out the labels. Here, we fill you in on everything that you need to know to make an informed decision and bring home a top-notch food for your kitty.
What Should I Look For in a Dry Cat Food?
The most important thing to consider when picking out a kibble for your cat is the nutrition inside. Look for something high in protein (at or above 40% is ideal), and make sure it has plenty of omega fatty acids, fiber, moisture, and nutritious fruits and veggies.
While the percentages are important, how the food gets there is important too. Avoid ingredients like animal by-products, which are made from animal parts that have been rejected for every other purpose.
You’ll also want to steer clear of cheap fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, which are used to add bulk at little cost to the manufacturer. Unfortunately, your cat can’t process them well, and they’ll probably just turn to fat inside their gut.
Beyond that, examine the kibble itself. Is it small enough for your cat to eat comfortably? Is it too hard for their teeth? Does it have an odor that might be off-putting to your kitty (or to you)?
At the end of the day, you’re looking for a nutritious kibble that your cat will actually eat, so the final decision won’t be up to you, anyway.
Is Dry Kibble Enough, or Does My Cat Need a Wet Food as Well?
We recommend combining a dry food with a wet food for best results.
The issue with dry kibble is just that: It’s dry. Many cats don’t drink much water, so they may dehydrate if they don’t get plenty of moisture from their food. Mixing in wet food will give your cat the moisture that they need.
On the other hand, wet food isn’t nearly as good for their teeth as dry kibble is. Crunching kibble keeps their teeth strong, and it can also help clear away plaque that might build up inside their mouths (you should still brush their teeth, though).
Wet food is generally tastier for cats, but it’s also calorie-dense, so it might not be a good choice for felines that struggle with their weight. It can help encourage them to eat a nutritious-but-not-tasty kibble, though.
You won’t go too wrong just feeding your cat a dry kibble, but mixing in a dab of wet food might make things easier for everyone involved.
Does My Cat Need Fruits and Veggies in Their Food?
No, they don’t need it. Cats are obligate carnivores, so all they need to survive is plenty of meat.
However, fruits and veggies can still play an important role in dry cat food. For one thing, they’re usually lower in calories than many meats, so they help fill your cat up without expanding their waistline. They also provide valuable moisture, which is hard to come by in a dry kibble.
Fruits and veggies are also cheaper than meat, so adding a bunch of produce to the recipe helps the manufacturer keep costs down, and those savings will presumably be passed down to you. This isn’t always the case, though, so if you see an expensive food that has more fruits than meat inside, you should question if you’re truly getting your money’s worth.
For the most part, though, manufacturers put a bunch of fruits and veggies in cat food because they know that cats don’t buy kibble — their humans do. If they can impress the owners with an ingredient list that includes so-called superfoods like kale, spinach, and blueberries, that increases their odds of making a sale.
All in all, high-quality fruits and veggies in a cat food are a good thing — provided that they don’t crowd out the animal protein along the way.
Orijen Cat & Kitten is our favorite dry cat food, as it’s packed with nutritious animal protein and even includes things like ground-up bone, which is something cats need that many foods neglect to provide.
It’s expensive, though, so if you want a good kibble that won’t put you in the poorhouse, consider Cat Chow Naturals Original. You’ll find plenty of quality ingredients inside, and it doesn’t cost much more than the stuff that you can find at your grocery store.
Picking the right kibble for your cat can be difficult, and we hope that these reviews have simplified the process for you.
Quincy has been around mutts his entire life and has been writing about them for the past nine years and now consists of sharing a house with three spoiled pups who couldn’t hold down a job to save their lives. Quincy never intended to be a cat person. When his wife brought home a kitten one day, he told her she had one week to find it a new home. That week turned into 10 years (his wife moves very slowly), and that kitten turned into three (they got two more, the kitten didn’t self-replicate). After a decade of sharing his home with the dogs and three cats, one horrifying realization finally set in: oh God, he’s a cat person now too, isn’t he???
- A Quick Look at Our Favorite Picks for 2021
- The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods
- 1. Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food — Best Overall
- 2. Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food — Best Value
- 3. Tuscan Natural Carne Grain-Free Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice
- 4. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- 5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- 6. American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- 7. Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Herring Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- 8. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Formula Dry Cat Food
- 9. Purina ONE Indoor Advantage Adult Dry Cat Food
- 10. Iams ProActive Health High Protein Chicken & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food
- Buyer’s Guide
- What Should I Look For in a Dry Cat Food?
- Is Dry Kibble Enough, or Does My Cat Need a Wet Food as Well?
- Does My Cat Need Fruits and Veggies in Their Food?