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Home > Cats > 8 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

8 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

cat paws and cat food in a bowl

Whether your cat struggles with a sensitive stomach or you simply want to try the more naturalistic approach to feeding your cat, limited-ingredient cat food is becoming more praised and popular. The first step to keeping your cat healthy is to provide them with balanced food that meets their needs. Limited cat foods can offer your cat a complete diet without the addition of unnecessary or potentially harmful ingredients. We understand that it can be difficult to find cat food that truly has limited ingredients.

Fortunately, in this article, we’ll be reviewing some of the best limited-ingredient cat foods on the market today. Each product in this review has been certified as a limited ingredient food by the manufacturer, which means that these are products you can guarantee will not expose your cat to excess additives.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription
  • Human-grade food
  • Animal protein as first ingredients
  • Free from fillers, preservatives, and byproducts
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Blue Buffalo Basics LID Cat Food Blue Buffalo Basics LID Cat Food
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for sensitive cats
  • No-allergy formula
  • Third place
    Instinct LID Dry Cat Food Instinct LID Dry Cat Food
  • Minimal processing
  • First raw coated kibble
  • Complete holistic cat food
  • Natural Balance Dry Cat Food Natural Balance Dry Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Balanced diet
  • Wholesome ingredients
  • Instinct Grain-Free Kitten Food Instinct Grain-Free Kitten Food
  • High in protein
  • Wholesome ingredients
  • Ideal for sensitive kittens
  • The 8 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Foods

    1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall

    smalls fresh ground cow recipe with a tabby cat

    Protein content: 16.5%
    Fiber content: 1.5%
    Fat content: 12%
    Flavor: Beef

    Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow is the overall best choice for limited-ingredient cat food for cats with food sensitivities or allergies. The food is human-grade and features ground beef and beef liver as the first ingredients. To support overall health, the formula also contains green beans, organ meat, spinach, and a concentration of vital nutrients and vitamins like vitamin E, copper, biotin, selenium, and vitamin B12.

    Like other Smalls products, the Human-Grade Fresh Cow food is formulated to meet nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages. All ingredients are USDA-certified, humanely harvested, and sustainably sourced, free from preservatives, fillers, and byproducts. Nearly half of the caloric intake comes from animal protein, which supports skeletal, muscular, and organ health in your cat. The recipe is available in smooth and ground texture formulas to suit your cat’s preferences and needs. The only downside is that this food is expensive and only available through a subscription.

    All in all, we think this is the best limited-ingredient cat food you can buy this year.

    Pros
    • High-quality human-grade food
    • Animal protein is the first ingredients
    • Fresh, moist recipes
    • Two textures for picky cats
    • Free from fillers, preservatives, and byproducts
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Only available through a subscription

    2. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet – Budget Buy

    Protein content: 30.0%
    Fiber content: 6.0%
    Fat content: 14.0%
    Flavor: Duck & Potato

    Blue Buffalo Basics is our budget pick. In comparison to competitors’ products, this cat food is on the more affordable side while offering a decent portion of cat food that can last a good few months. This limited-ingredient food features real duck as a single animal protein source with the addition of pumpkin and potatoes for gentle digestion. This product contains no gluten-containing grains which makes it ideal for cats with sensitive stomachs. Natural fiber sources have been included to meet the natural fiber requirements without any allergen-containing ingredients such as chicken, beef, corn, or wheat.

    This product also provides your cat with a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that have been selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists. Which makes it a reliable cat food you can trust. A downside to this cat food is that it does contain products that may be undesirable for some cat owners.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Ideal for sensitive cats
    • No-allergy formula

    Cons
    • Contains byproducts


    3. Instinct Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food

    Instinct Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food Rabbit Recipe

    Protein content: 35.5%
    Fiber content: 4.0%
    Fat content: 16.5%
    Flavor: Rabbit

    Another great choice in this category is the Instinct limited ingredient dry cat food. This cat food has so many holistic benefits to offer your cat. This natural cat food was created for sensitive cats who are prone to a wide range of allergies when it comes to their diet. It’s the first raw-coated kibble, and each piece is coated in freeze-dried raw ingredients for picky eaters. The main noticeable ingredient is a rabbit which has been chosen for its easy digestibility while providing your cat with all the essential amino acids they require. Each raw ingredient has been minimally processed and packed with protein. A quick look at the guaranteed analysis indicates that this food is low in fat, so it is better suited for obese cats or cats who can maintain a stable weight.

    Pros
    • Minimal processing
    • First raw coated kibble
    • Complete holistic cat food

    Cons
    • Low in fat


    4. Natural Balance Diets Dry Adult Cat Food

    Natural Balance Diets Dry Adult Cat Food

    Protein content: 30.0%
    Fiber content: 4.5%
    Fat content: 12.0%
    Flavor: Salmon & green peas

    Another good option is the Natural Balance salmon and green pea flavored limited ingredient cat food. This food has been formulated specifically to provide your cat with a complete and balanced diet without any excess harmful or unnecessary ingredients. This cat food is grain-free and contains a single animal protein source which is beneficial for cats who have sensitive stomachs. The ingredients aim to support your cat’s fur and skin to produce the appearance of a shiny coat. The main ingredient is chicken which is a reliable protein source for proper muscular development in cats.

    No fillers have been added to the food, even after the formula change. This food can be fed to cats who have sensitivities towards other foods or if you prefer to feed your cat foods that contain no unnecessary additives.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • Balanced diet
    • Wholesome ingredients

    Cons
    • Formula change
    • Pricey


    5. Instinct Grain-Free Kitten Food

    Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food (1)

    Protein content: 42.5%
    Fiber content: 3.0%
    Fat content: 22.5%
    Flavor: Chicken

    This food is specifically formulated for kittens under 12 months of age. It contains a range of healthy and organic ingredients that will aid in a young kitten’s growth and development. This is a grain-free cat food that contains natural animal ingredients and nutritious oils. Some other wholesome ingredients that are included are fruits and vegetables. This food contains probiotics for digestive and immune health, with omegas for skin and coat health. This product is great for kittens with sensitive stomachs as it excludes some common allergens like soy, corn, wheat, and grains. This is a natural kitten food that is coated with raw ingredients and packed with chicken protein. It is on the pricier side in comparison to other kitten foods.

    Pros
    • High in protein
    • Wholesome ingredients
    • Ideal for sensitive kittens

    Cons
    • Low in fiber
    • Pricey


    6. Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Canned Cat Food

    Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Real Meat Canned Cat Food Turkey

    Protein content: 9.0%
    Fiber content: 1.4%
    Fat content: 5%
    Flavor: Turkey

    This is a single-source animal protein that contains real deboned turkey. The Merrick limited ingredient food is a wet adult cat food with a turkey flavor. It has simple ingredients for cats with food sensitivities and fish is excluded from the formula as it has the potential to trigger allergies in cats. This grain and gluten-free formulation make this wet cat food easy to digest while providing omega 3 & 6 for healthy skin and fur. This food should be served at room temperature but should be refrigerated after its opening to which can last around 2 to 3 days. It is quite expensive for a small portion of canned food, but the overall quality and benefits are worth it. It is a pate cat food, but juicy enough to entice cats that refuse to eat dry cat food.

    Pros
    • Contains essential fatty acids
    • Supports a healthy coat
    • Limited ingredient wet cat food

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Low in protein


    7. Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Protein content: 34.0%
    Fiber content: 4.0%
    Fat content: 14%
    Flavor: Chicken

    The Merricks limited ingredient dry cat food is excellent for cats who are sensitive to certain ingredients. This food targets cats with food allergies and it features a grain-free recipe with a single protein source which is chicken. The main protein source is deboned chicken, and peas and chickpeas have been used to replace grains that are typically used in cat food. This helps to limit any ingredients that can cause digestive issues or allergies in adult cats. Chicken fat has been added as a source of fatty acids which are ideal for cats. This food contains decent protein content, with a low amount of fat and carbohydrate content.

    Pros
    • Free from artificial ingredients
    • Supports digestive health
    • Grain-free recipe

    Cons
    • Contains high amounts of plant protein
    • Poor moisture content


    8. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato Wet Food

    Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Wet Pate Cat Diet Indoor Turkey and Potato

    Protein content: 8.0%
    Fiber content: 1.5%
    Fat content: 6.0%
    Flavor: Turkey & Potato

    This limited ingredient pate wet cat food is suitable for cats who have sensitivities towards grain and gluten ingredients. The ingredient list is short, and it is easy to distinguish what exactly is in this food. It features a single source of real turkey to support the energy requirements of an adult cat. This food excludes chicken and beef which are potential allergens in cats. The Blue Buffalo Basics pate cat food is made of the finest ingredients and enhanced with vitamins and minerals. It has a smooth texture and turkey flavor that entices fussy cats who do not enjoy eating dry cat foods. Blue Buffalo Basics uses no wheat products in this formula which is a common thickening agent in other limited ingredient cat foods. This food is helpful for cats who suffer from digestive issues due to poor-quality ingredients, and it is also known to help cats with mild allergies. This food should be refrigerated after being opened, although one tin will not last very long once it has been opened and exposed to air. It can also become dehydrated after being exposed to air for a few hours.

    Pros
    • Grain and gluten-free
    • Limited ingredient recipe
    • Allergy sensitive formula

    Cons
    • Quickly dehydrates when exposed to air
    • Expensive

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    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Limited-Ingredient Cat Food

    Why Choose Limited Ingredient Cat Food?

    There are many unnecessary ingredients added to cat food, and this can be avoided by choosing foods that claim to have limited ingredients on the packaging. This means that the food itself has easy-to-understand ingredients without exposing your cat or kitten to unnecessary or harmful additives.

    Limited-ingredient cat foods are better suited for cats who have allergies and food sensitivities. Many triggering ingredients such as wheat, soy, grains, gluten, corn, and artificial colors are excluded from the recipe to support sensitive cats and promote proper digestion.

    cat eating food from a bowl
    Image Credit By: Viktor Lugovskoy, Shutterstock

    What Types of Limited Ingredient Cat Foods Are There?

    Choosing the right limited ingredient food for your cat depends on what type of food interests them.

    Fresh Wet Food

    Fresh food is packed with healthy, premium ingredients and gently cooked to preserve nutrients. This wet food provides great hydration to your cat, and you can typically choose between different protein sources to avoid your cat’s allergens.

    Dry Food

    This is the most popular type of cat food on the market. This type of cat food lasts for a long time and has a more diluted taste and smell than other cat foods. Dry limited ingredient cat foods are simple yet effective at offering your cat the main benefits of a limited ingredient cat food.

    This type of food is typically higher in protein, fat, and fiber in comparison to wet or minced cat foods.

    Kitten Formula

    This type of limited ingredient cat food has been specifically formulated with ingredients necessary for a young kitten’s growth and development. Kittens have faster metabolisms than adult cats and require more protein to fuel their energy levels and muscular development.

    Wet (Pate) Food

    Wet cat foods are tailored towards more fussy cats who do not like the crunchy texture of kibble. Wet cat foods are more luxurious and have a higher moisture content. Another plus is that wet cat foods contain a concentrated level of protein, fat, and fiber so you can tell how much nutrition your cat is getting from each feeding.

    Mince and Gravy-Based Foods

    This type of cat food is similar to wet pate cat foods, however, the mince pieces are finely chopped and separated. The texture may be more appealing to cats who refuse other types of foods. It is less slimy than wet cat foods and contains more moisture in the form of gravy.

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    What Allergenic Ingredients Should You Avoid in Cat Foods?

    If your cat is prone to allergies, these ingredients should ideally be avoided in their food:

    • Wheat
    • Grains
    • Soy
    • Gluten
    • Chicken
    • Pork
    • Artificial colors and flavors

    Most limited ingredient cat foods will exclude this from the food’s formula, except if the flavor of the food is pork or chicken.

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    Conclusion

    We hope you have enjoyed this detailed roundup of the best cat foods with limited ingredients. Our top pick is the Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow for its good protein content and all-natural ingredient list. Our budget pick is the Blue Buffalo Basics. These two foods contain minimal and easy-to-read ingredients that are more beneficial to your cat’s health and no unnecessary additives are included.


    Featured Image Credit: kholywood, Shutterstock

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