Some cats have special dietary needs, and often to feed them, owners must source their food from vets, online, or from specialist pet stores. But many of us feline owners have perfectly ordinary and generally healthy cats, who simply need a balanced and nutritious diet.
You don’t have to go out of your way to shop for an excellent diet for your cat. There are a range of great products available as close as your local grocery store. Grocery store cat foods can be affordable, convenient, and nourishing. Here are our top 10 favorite choices, all supported by positive reviews from happy cat owners.
A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Iams ProActive Health Cat Food||
|Best Value||Purina Cat Chow Dry Food||
|Premium Choice||Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Cat Food||
|Best for Kittens||Purina Kitten Chow Cat Food||
|Fancy Feast Canned Cat Food||
The 10 Best Grocery Store Cat Foods
1. Iams ProActive Health Indoor Cat Food – Best Overall
|Calories||302 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Chicken, corn product, turkey|
From the cat foods we reviewed, Iams Proactive Health was our pick best overall grocery store cat food. It comes with many positive reviews from cat owners who claim this cat food is the perfect balanced diet for their felines.
Specifically designed for indoor cats, this diet has added L-carnitine. This amino acid assists in metabolism and will help keep your cat within a healthy weight range, despite not getting outdoor exercise. The blend is in the correct range of fat and protein levels to support a cat’s system while not being too high in calories.
In addition, a blend of dried beet pulp is included to boost fiber, thus reducing hairballs and aiding in digestion. While this diet is marketed towards indoor cats, it is suitable for cats of all lifestyles and contains all the nutrients any pet cat needs to thrive.
As with any cat food, some owners state their cats did not like the taste or texture. But overall, this product is very highly rated and easily found at most grocery stores! Overall, any healthy cat may be more than happy with this product as their main diet.
2. Purina Cat Chow Indoor Cat Food – Best Value
|Calories||358 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Chicken by-products, corn products, beef fat|
Value is an integral part of how we choose what products we buy, our cat food included! Finding the balance of a balanced and complete diet for an affordable price can be awkward. In our reviews, we chose Purina Cat Chow as the best grocery store cat for the money.
Many past customers have reviewed this product as a great choice for general cat maintenance and affordability. This product from Purina is a complete diet that will support your cat’s overall health. Aimed towards indoor cats, it also focuses on weight management and hairball control.
However, a great value has some tradeoffs. While this product provides complete nutrition, it also contains many “filler” ingredients of corn and soy products that bump up the carbohydrate content. The protein content also primarily comes from by-products of chicken rather than the chicken itself. For a regular cat with no health issues or sensitivities, this usually isn’t an issue. Still, for delicate cats, this product may cause upsets.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Cat Food – Premium Choice
|Calories||524 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Chicken, egg, rice|
The Hill’s brand has a vast range of different prescription cat foods to aid various health issues. But not all their products are prescription; they do have some regular maintenance diets available at many standard grocery stores.
We consider this product as premium because it is more costly than many other cat foods available in grocery stores. While it is suitable as a balanced maintenance diet, it also has the added benefits of supporting cats with sensitive skin and stomachs.
The ingredients in this food are higher quality than many grocery store cat foods, making the nutrients much more digestible. Added components such as prebiotics support digestion by maintaining good gut bacteria. This benefits all cats but can be specifically helpful for cats with sensitive stomachs.
4. Purina Kitten Chow Dry Cat Food – Best for Kittens
|Calories||414 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Chicken by-products, rice, beef fat|
It is no surprise to any of us pet owners that kittens have different requirements than adult cats. Fortunately, finding a suitable diet for a growing kitten is easier than ever, with grocery stores stocking kitten food alongside adult diets. Our favorite pick for kittens from the grocery store is Purina Kitten Chow.
This product is perfectly formulated to provide all the nutrients for a kitten to grow and develop. High in protein, it contains all the energy requirements to support healthy growth. Additions such as DHA offer vital vitamins to the developing brain.
The primary protein source is a by-product of chicken, so it is of lower quality than other products. It does have whole chicken listed as an ingredient further down the ingredient list. Reviewers say that this product is so tasty that all their other cats prefer it over their own diets! But it is not suitable for maintenance for adult cats, so make sure to feed it to your kitten separate from any other cats.
5. Fancy Feast Canned Grilled Seafood Feast Canned Cat Food
|Calories||70 per can|
|Main ingredients||Fish broth, various fish (tuna, salmon, ocean fish), chicken|
It’s not just dry cat food you can find available at grocery stores. Most will stock a range of canned foods also. Fancy Feast is a trendy choice as wet food for cats. Its soft texture makes it incredibly palatable for cats that struggle with hard textures, such as seniors.
This particular product comes in a variety of different seafood flavorings. Despite being mainly seafood, it also features added chicken. While this can boost the protein, this product is not for you if you are looking for a chicken-free option.
The strong scent of Fancy Feast may be off-putting to you, but it seems to be a hit with cats. Many owners review that this product’s taste is loved by their cats and makes a good choice for cats that often turn their nose up at other foods.
6. Sheba Perfect Portions Grain-Free Salmon Wet Cat Food
|Calories||29 per serving|
|Main ingredients||Salmon, chicken|
This cat food is made free of grains, corn, wheat, soy, and pea. These products are all common “fillers” in complete cat diets. Water is used in the place of these ordinary dry fillers to create this moist cat food.
Sheba Perfect Portions are named this way due to their packaging. Each individual package is an average portion of food, so one package is opened per feed. This is favored by many due to the lack of leftovers when feeding their cats. It also means there is no excess food to store in the refrigerator alongside your own food.
With a taste loved by many cats, this food is a popular cat food choice in the grocery store. The watery texture of the food does tend to be messy, though, with negative reviews stating that they can be hard to open and are easily spilled.
7. Friskies Savory Shreds Salmon in Sauce Canned Cat Food
|Calories||138 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Poultry, salmon|
This product is highly popular with cats. Owner reviews broadly state that their cats go crazy for the taste and texture of this food. Some negative comments include that it is messy to serve, but that seems a common theme with most wet foods.
This product offers the benefits of wet food, including easy to eat, flavorsome, and high moisture content to assist in hydration. It serves its purpose as a total diet for a healthy cat, and cats seem to love it! For something you can purchase in your regular grocery shop, there is little negative to say about a product like this.
On review, we did find this flavor to be somewhat misleading in its packaging and marketing. At first glance, it’s assumed that the base of this food is salmon, but upon reading the ingredients, poultry is listed above salmon. The product states “with salmon,” so it is more of a flavoring than a source of protein.
8. Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food
|Calories||308 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Corn products, chicken by-products, beef fat|
This dry food contains various protein and flavor sources, including chicken, turkey, salmon, ocean fish, and beef fat. All these ingredients ensure that all the essential nutrients for cats are met. However, food with many ingredients is unsuitable for cats with sensitive stomachs as it can pose a challenge for compromised digestive systems.
Overall, this product meets all the needs of an ordinary, healthy adult cat. Its calories are low, so weight management is simple. Its affordable price tag is due to lower quality ingredients and artificial additives for flavor, color, and preservation. Still, all ingredients are approved to be safe.
9. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food
|Calories||398 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Chicken, corn, salmon|
Many cat foods available in grocery stores tend to be more affordable than premium foods because they use lower quality ingredients, such as by-products. This product stands out from many other common grocery store products as the primary ingredient and protein source is whole chicken.
The quality protein sources mean that this product is high in protein in its nutrient breakdown. The relative fat levels are also in a healthy range. While this diet is slightly higher in calories than some of our other picks, it is still suitable for weight maintenance.
This product also takes a natural stance and does not contain artificial additives such as colors, flavors, or preservatives.
10. Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Adult Dry Cat Food
|Calories||402 per cup|
|Main ingredients||Chicken, fish meal, rice|
Blue Buffalo cat food is on the higher end of the price scale compared to some of our other favorite grocery store brands, but for a good reason. The protein in this food come from complete sources, not by-products. It also contains a handful of real fruits and vegetables, including carrot, alfalfa, blueberries, barley, parsley, and dried kelp. This diet approaches your cat’s nutrition with natural inspiration.
In addition, Blue Buffalo has their own patented blend of natural antioxidants called “LifeSource Bits.” These ingredients offer added nutrients to healthy digestion, a shiny coat, and great general health. Not just a marketing gimmick, this blend supports your cat’s immune system.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Grocery Store Cat Foods
Cats Nutritional Requirements
- Recommended Read: 10 Best Cat Foods with Taurine: Reviews & Top Picks
Do Cats Need Carbs?
The concise answer to this very common question is no. Cats are evolutionarily adapted to eating diets without carbohydrates. It’s suggested that they can’t properly digest carbohydrates due to lacking the enzyme glucokinase. But lacking this enzyme, they instead use a different enzyme called hexokinase, which allows them to digest and use the energy from carbohydrates.
There is no harm in your cat’s diet containing some carbohydrates; they can be used by their body to produce some extra energy. In fact, it tends to be challenging to find any dry cat foods that do not have any carbohydrate contents. Wet foods often have lower carb contents and, thus, higher moisture instead. “Filler” ingredients, such as grains and wheat, are often used to bind together essential components of dry food.
So, there’s no need to be afraid of carbs in a cat’s diet but do keep in mind that carbohydrate contents that are far too high can cause a build-up of more difficult-to-digest calories. High-carb contents are not ideal for managing overweight cats. They are more likely to be stored as fat. Also, many filler carbohydrates in diets are common allergens for cats. If your cat seems to get an upset stomach from their diet, keep this in mind as they could be sensitive to some of these ingredients.
What to Consider When Choosing Cat Food
So now we know just what our cats need in their diet to thrive, right? You’ll find when choosing a diet for your cat that many, if not all, of the popular options, meet these nutritional requirements. There is a wide range of different cat food in your local grocery store that would be suitable for your cat, so which one to get?
Some things to consider when choosing cat food include:
Cat Food for Different Life Stages
Differing diets for different ages of cats (kitten, adult, senior) is not just some way for cat food companies to make more money! The various life stages of cats have different dietary requirements due to their differing body functions and conditions.
Kittens need nutrients to produce energy for growth and development. Protein, fats, and calcium are the three big keys to a healthy kitten. Many kitten formulas will also contain extra DHA, a fatty acid, to support development. It’s also suggested that feeding kittens various flavors and types of food early in life will prevent them from becoming selective eaters later in life.
Cats are classified as adults from 1 to 8 years of age. At this stage, they simply need general maintenance (granted that they are in good health). This maintenance will differ based on their gender and whether or not they have been fixed. Male cats tend to grow larger and, thus need to be feed larger amounts, especially if they are intact as their breeding functions will use more energy. Similarly, intact females will require extra feed during their estrus cycle and a special diet during pregnancy and lactation.
Senior cat food contains higher levels of protein to support energy levels. They also have extra prebiotics to support digestive health and fatty acids for skin and coat conditions. These functions can slow over time and need additional support in old age. Consider the texture of food for elderly cats. A cat’s dental condition can decay with age making biting and chewing harder food more difficult. Wet food may be preferred for this reason and also for the higher moisture content.
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For the best overall grocery store cat food, we recommend Iams ProActive Health Indoor. This product supplies all an ordinary cat need to thrive, with added additions to support gut health and reduce hairballs. Similarly, Purina Cat Chow Indoor is our choice for the best value; with similar benefits, it covers all bases while being affordable for most owners.
Getting your cat’s food from the grocery store is convenient for many households. There are many options available that will support your cat of any age through their life to live their happiest and healthiest life!
- Next on your reading list: Buying Cat Food in Bulk: Prices, Deals, Wholesale Pros & Cons
Featured Image Credit: Elena Spac, Shutterstock