Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning meat protein should be their primary nutrient source to keep them at their healthiest. What’s even better is if that protein source is high-quality. Unfortunately, many cat foods are made with feed-grade ingredients, meaning they aren’t of the best quality and are often highly processed meat meals instead of actual raw meat.
But you don’t have to be stuck feeding your cat low-quality ingredients when better products are out there. That’s where human-grade cat food comes in. Human-grade cat food is made with the same ingredients that you and I would eat, and it’s both delicious and nutritious for your cat. If you’re interested in making the switch, we’ve rounded up the best human-grade cat foods, complete with reviews of each one, to help make your decision easier.
A Glimpse at Our Favorites in 2024
|Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription
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|Applaws Variety Pack Wet Cat Food
|Open Farm Harvest Chicken Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food
|Best for Kittens
|Applaws Tuna Fillet Kitten Food
|Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food
The 8 Best Human-Grade Cat Foods
1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall
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|Chicken, turkey, or ground beef with green beans, peas, and kale
We think that the best overall human-grade cat food is Smalls. Smalls’ human-grade cat food comes in three different chicken flavors, a turkey flavor, and a beef flavor, all containing vegetable ingredients, including green beans, peas, and kale. All their recipes have a high protein content, which is exactly what your cat needs to be at its healthiest. We also like that a few vegetable ingredients are included in each recipe, as they provide additional nutrients that your cat won’t get from meat. However, meat is still this food’s primary and most important ingredient.
Smalls is a subscription delivery service, meaning you receive their cat food directly at your door in regularly scheduled intervals based on your needs. Because of this, it is hard to determine exactly what the cost will be as it depends on how many cats you have and the frequency of your deliveries, but they do charge you regularly, so you have to make sure that whatever price you pay is feasible with your monthly budget. Some people may see that as a downside, but Smalls is a great option for human-grade cat food.
2. Applaws Fish Selection in Broth Variety Pack Wet Cat Food
|Tuna fillet, fish broth, rice, seaweed, and prawn
We think the best human-grade cat food for the money is Applaws Fish Selection in Broth Variety Pack Wet Cat Food. Not only do you get three different flavors for your cat to enjoy: Tuna, Tuna with Shrimp, and Tuna with Seaweed. Besides tuna fillet being the main ingredient in each food, there is a maximum of only three other ingredients. And the price is very affordable per can.
This wet cat food has a high protein and low-fat content, and there are only 40 calories in each can so that your cat’s muscles will stay lean while maintaining his ideal weight. Plus, Applaws is accredited by the Ethical Company Organization for sustainably sourcing their fish using dolphin-friendly methods.
While Applaws wet cat food is made with only the best quality and 100% natural ingredients, it is not a complete and balanced food. It is meant to be served complementary to a complete wet or dry cat food, including their own product Applaws complete dry cat food, for a balanced diet.
3. Open Farm Harvest Chicken Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food
*Use code PETKEEN20 and save on your first auto-ship order.
|Humanly-raised chicken, chicken bone broth, pumpkin, carrots, red lentils
Open Farm Harvest Chicken Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food is another premium choice. Not only is this food made with 100% human-grade and natural ingredients, but the chicken in the recipe is humanely raised, which means the chicken was raised on a farm, living cage-free to display natural behaviors and fed a healthy vegetarian diet without the use of hormones or antibiotics. This results in the best quality meat you can feed your kitten as a protein source. The rest of the ingredients in this amazing recipe are chicken bone broth and healthy veggies such as pumpkin, carrots, red lentils, garbanzo beans, spinach, kale, and cranberries to provide sources of fiber, beta carotenes, antioxidants, and vitamins. The recipe also contains turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory with antioxidant benefits to help neutralize the negative effects of free radicals at a cellular level. This quality food has everything your little carnivore needs to thrive. It is a species-appropriate diet that is high in all animal-derived protein, low in carbohydrates, and moisture-rich, closely resembling the diet a cat would eat in the wild.
The unique tetra paks are resealable, so you can safely save any leftovers back in the fridge if you are not feeding a whole portion. Obviously, just as in the case of human food in the fridge, this should be consumed within three days after opening.
Having a single source of protein and limited ingredients, this product is a great choice for cats with sensitivities or intolerance to certain foods. If your cat is allergic to chicken, this brand also offers turkey, salmon, need, and mackerel recipes.
The only downside of this amazing product is that it is not as widely available everywhere!
4. Applaws Tuna Fillet in Broth Wet Kitten Food – Best for Kittens
|Tuna, rice, rice flour, fish broth
Applaws Tuna Fillet in Broth Wet Kitten Food is the perfect choice if you’re looking for human-grade food for your cute little kitten. This food is high in protein, so it is great for helping your kitten gain muscle mass. It also contains taurine (naturally found in fish) to help your kitten’s eyes and heart function properly. Plus, the food only contains four ingredients, so you can be assured that your kitten isn’t eating anything that isn’t beneficial or nutritious for him.
While this food is a great way to add good quality protein to your growing kitten, it is important to note that it is not a complete and balanced diet. This product is meant to be used only as a complement to add up to a complete kitten formula. This food has an extremely low-fat content, so it may not be the best choice if your kitten is too small and needs to gain a little weight.
5. The Honest Kitchen Human-Grade Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food
|Dehydrated chicken, dehydrated eggs, dehydrated potatoes, dehydrated sweet potatoes, organic flax seed
The Honest Kitchen Human-Grade Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food is made with 100% human-grade and natural ingredients and is free of artificial preservatives, by-products, fillers, corn, wheat, and soy. It’s a great choice if your cat has a sensitive stomach or intolerance to certain foods.
The dehydrated formula is also meant to add water or broth, which rehydrates and softens it. It’s good if you have an older cat who can’t chew dry food and you want something that you won’t go through as quickly as wet food. This food is high in protein, which is exactly what cats need, but it’s also a bit higher in fat than what is normal for cat food. That said, it may not be the best choice if your cat is overweight.
6. Caru Classic Wild Salmon and Turkey Stew Grain-Free Wet Cat Food
|Salmon, fish broth, water, turkey, tapioca starch
Caru Classic Wild Salmon and Turkey Stew Grain-Free Wet Cat Food is a semi-liquid cat food—in other words, it’s very wet. With that being said, it may not be the best choice for the average adult cat, but it’s great for older cats that might have trouble eating other types of food. Since this food is called ‘Wild Salmon and Turkey Stew,’ we will say that it is also cooked like stew very slowly so that it maintains its nutritional value, which is a good thing.
We like that this food uses salmon and turkey as the main protein ingredients, which most cats love. It also contains carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples that provide extra nutritional value and contain no grains, gluten, or preservatives. But it does contain tapioca starch, which is generally used as a filler ingredient and provides no nutritional value. Plus, it’s lower in protein than other wet cat foods.
7. Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon Dry Cat Food
*Use code PETKEEN20 and save on your first auto-ship order.
|Wild Pacific salmon, ocean whitefish meal, ocean herring meal, chickpeas, red lentils
Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon Cat Food is another great dry cat food that uses human-grade ingredients in the formula. It contains more meat-based protein ingredients that your cat is sure to love. It contains plant-based ingredients considered “superfoods” such as pumpkin, cranberries, and apples that are more easily digestible and provide essential vitamins and minerals plus antioxidants that help to support different aspects of your cat’s body. Overall, this is a super product, and the only reason it is last on our list is that it is not 100% human-grade. It contains natural flavor in the formula; these are natural ingredients from sustainably caught fish or from non-GMO yeast cultures used to increase the palatability for cats but that we humans do not consume.
This food is free of grains, corn, wheat, and soy that your cat may have trouble digesting. All ingredients are humanely and sustainably sourced, and pet owners can even trace where the ingredients come from with information provided on the bag. Besides this food is a bit expensive, the only other downside is that although the kibbles are small, older cats may still have a hard time chewing them.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Human-Grade Cat Foods
Now that you’ve seen what we think are the best human-grade cat foods, there are a couple of things to consider when deciding which food is best for your cat. Hopefully, these tips will help make your decision easier when you’re ready to choose one.
One of the first things to consider when choosing cat food, in general, is the ingredients. Since cats are obligate carnivores, at least 70% of their nutrition needs to come from meat. At least the first ingredient of any cat food you buy should be meat, but it’s even better if the first two or three ingredients are meat.
You don’t have to worry about that too much with human-grade cat food, especially the ones we’ve reviewed, because they all have meat listed as at least the first ingredient. But what’s going to be important to consider is the types of vegetables and plant ingredients the food contains.
Vegetables can provide essential nutrients to your cat that he or she can’t get from meat. However, there are certain types of vegetables and plant ingredients that cats can’t digest easily, such as grains and fruits and vegetables that are high in sugar.
Pumpkin, spinach, green beans, carrots, and peas are all great additives to cat food that most cats shouldn’t have any trouble digesting. They can also add a nice flavor to the food. However, even if a food does contain these ingredients, meat should still be listed as at least the first ingredient.
High-quality cat food is an important part of fostering a long and healthy life for your cat but the right cat food and water dish will promote good posture, offer whisker relief, and aid in good digestion. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite bowl since it offers all of the above and is beautifully crafted to meet modern home stylings. The wide tray design catches any food and water spills and the entire setup is dishwasher safe. Learn more about the Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl here.
At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
Your Cat’s Health/Age/Preferences
Something else to consider when deciding which human-grade cat food to choose for your cat is their health, age, and personal preferences. For example, some cats may have trouble digesting certain meats or just may not like the flavor of them. For example, they may prefer turkey over chicken.
You’ll also want to consider whether or not your cat is overweight or underweight, as different cat foods have different levels of protein and fat content in them. Adult cats with a healthy body weight should eat food that contains at least 26-40% protein regardless of whether the food is wet or dry, and some senior cats might need at least 50%.
Dry cat foods have a protein content that is generally pretty accurate. However, the protein content of wet cat food can be deceiving because they often show low protein percentages on the packaging since moisture is being taken into account. In reality, the protein content of wet cat food is much higher than what is listed on the packaging. This article from PetMD explains how to calculate exactly how much protein is in wet cat food.
The same is true of fat in cat food, with cat food needing to contain a minimum of 9% fat on a dry matter basis. However, the amount of fat healthy cats need in their diet may be as much as 20–25%. Cats that are overweight or underweight may require more or less protein or fat, but that would be something you would need to discuss with your veterinarian before choosing cat food.
Finally, consider your cat’s age when deciding whether to choose wet or dry food. Kittens and senior cats often can’t chew normal dry cat food as easily as adult cats can, so you may need to feed your kitten or senior cat wet food or dry cat food that is designed for kittens or seniors, as these are easier for your cat to eat or digest, and have different nutrient contents.
The last thing to consider is your budget. What you should know about human-grade cat foods is that many of them can be expensive since they are made with higher-quality ingredients. Plus, the cost can be even more if you choose a fresh food subscription and delivery service.
When choosing human-grade cat food, make sure that your budget can sustain paying for that food over time. Consider how many cats you have if you intend to feed them all the same food. More cats mean you’ll go through the food faster and purchase it more frequently.
And remember that just because a particular cat food is more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better for your cat. You still need to take the ingredients and your cat’s health and preferences into your account as well. You may find that cheaper human-grade cat food is actually better for your situation than a more expensive one.
Human-grade cat food is a great way to ensure that your cat is getting nutritious food that is made with high-quality ingredients. For the best human-grade cat food, we like Smalls Fresh Cat Food, a subscription and delivery service. For the best human-grade cat food for the money, we like the Applaws Fish Selection Variety Pack Wet Cat Food. Whichever human-grade cat food you end up choosing, even if it isn’t from this list, we hope you found these reviews and Buyer’s Guide helpful in making your decision.
Featured Image Credit: Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock