In the modern world, one thing we’re rarely short on is choices. Even purchasing cat food can be made into a complex decision when so many different options are available. You want the best for your cat, but trying to decipher nutrition labels and marketing tricks in an attempt to compare different cat foods can be time-consuming and frustrating.
We faced this problem with our cats, and we think we can help you through the same process. In the following reviews, you’ll see how some of the best wet cat foods on the market compare, allowing you to decide quickly and easily which food is the best bet for your cat. We’ll even spend some time discussing how you can compare these foods on your own so you can make the most informed decision possible about your cat’s nutrition.
A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2023)
|Best Overall||Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription||
||Click to Save 40%|
|Budget Buy||9 Lives Seafood & Poultry Wet Cat Food||
|Fussie Cat Wet Cat Food||
|Tiki Cat Canned Cat Food||
|Fancy Feast Canned Cat Food||
The 10 Best Wet Cat Foods
1. Smalls Human Grade Fresh Bird Wet Cat Food – Best Overall
Our pick for the best wet cat food overall is Smalls Human Grade Fresh Bird recipe. Whether your cat will eat anything or is the pickiest eater alive, this wet cat food will have them coming back for more!
Made with only high-quality ingredients, this high-protein wet cat food contains 92% chicken breast and thigh, along with 6% chicken liver, as its first two ingredients. Other ingredients include kale, peas, and green beans. The blend of foods in this recipe adds up to a minimum of 21.2% crude protein and only 8.05% crude fat.
Along with the high protein, this wet cat food comes in two different textures: smooth and ground. If your pet doesn’t like one version, you can keep them satisfied with the other.
Because of the high-quality ingredients used in the recipe, this is a premium-grade cat food. Some cat owners might find the cost of Smalls Human Grade Fresh Chicken wet food over their budget. It is also important to remember that this food can only be ordered as part of a subscription.
2. 9 Lives Seafood & Poultry Wet Cat Food – Budget Buy
Most cat owners want to offer their felines the best nutrition possible, but many premium pet foods are prohibitively pricey. Thankfully, 9 Lives offers a more affordable solution that’s one of the best budget wet cat foods. 9 Lives wet cat foods are dirt-cheap in price compared to the competition, and they come in large 5.5-ounce cans that are perfect for large cats or can be split into two meals for a smaller feline.
Of course, what matters with cat food is the nutrition it offers. In the case of 9 Lives wet cat food, you’ll be providing your cat with multiple animal-based protein sources such as ocean whitefish. Granted, there’s also a lot of protein coming from by-products. In one recipe, the three main ingredients excluding water for processing are meat by-products, ocean whitefish, and poultry by-products. By-products might not sound like your top choice, but in the wild, your cat would be eating animals whole, including all of the by-products.
While there are plenty of protein sources in each recipe, overall protein content is a bit lower than some competitors at just 9%, though added vitamins and minerals enhance nutrition in other areas.
3. Fussie Cat Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
It shouldn’t be too surprising that our next recommendation is a rather expensive canned cat food. While cost isn’t everything, sometimes, you do get what you pay for, and we feel that’s the case with Fussie Cat premium grain-free canned cat food. Since it’s grain-free, it will be easy on feline stomachs. A maximum of 0.5% carbohydrates demonstrates that Fussie Cat understands feline nutritional needs better than many manufacturers that utilize far too many carbohydrates in their recipes. Unfortunately, these cans are low in calories compared to competitors, despite the higher cost, so Fussie Cat isn’t going to offer the best bang for your buck.
With a minimum of 12% crude protein, this cat food contains more of this vital nutrient than many cheaper alternatives, which often contain just 9% protein. Helping to provide all that healthy protein are multiple high-quality animal-based protein sources. For example, tuna is listed as the primary ingredient. Next is water for processing, followed by salmon, which is another premium animal-based protein. You’ll also see sunflower seed oil right after salmon, and this oil is used to provide sufficient essential fatty acids to keep your cat’s coat, immune system, joints, and brain health.
4. Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Tiki Cat might not be one of the biggest names in cat food, but their foods combine top-quality ingredients with an ideal blend of nutrition for your feline, which is why we think Tiki Cat makes some of the best overall wet cat foods. Inside, you’ll find no peas, corn, wheat, soy, or GMO. There are also no grains, which makes this food very easy on a cat’s digestive system. The entire ingredient list is quite short because this food doesn’t contain a bunch of cheap fillers.
The total moisture content in most of these best-canned cat food blends is just 78%, leaving more room for nutrients and less water. Protein content ranges from a pretty standard 11% up to an impressive 17% depending on the recipe you choose. These Tiki Cat foods also contain an ample 0.2% taurine, which is several times more than other leading brands.
In truth, Tiki Cat foods are a bit pricey, but you’re getting what you pay for. One quick look at the ingredient list shows that only top-quality premium ingredients were used, such as flaked ahi tuna or mackerel cutlets, which are both main ingredients in different blends.
5. Fancy Feast Canned Wet Cat Food
Combining a reasonable price with solid ingredients and adequate nutrition, Fancy Feast canned cat food just misses our top three, but still offers a viable solution for feeding your feline. These recipes are made with high-quality animal-based ingredients. For instance, the Turkey Feast recipe lists poultry broth, turkey, liver, wheat gluten, and meat by-products as the five primary ingredients. The broth is a better substitute for water since it contains plenty of nutrients. Turkey is a premium protein source, as is the liver. Wheat gluten, however, is an ingredient that we’d be just fine without.
With 0.05% taurine, Fancy Feast canned cat food isn’t far behind the competition, but our favorite blends contain several times this amount because taurine is an essential nutrient for felines. Additional vitamins and minerals are added to this food to complete the nutritional profile. While we prefer nutrients from whole-food sources, at this price, we’re just happy to see those nutrients included at.
6. Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Wet Cat Food
Instinct Original is one of the most expensive wet cat foods on this list, but it also utilizes some unique protein sources. Instead of traditional chicken, turkey, or fish, Instinct Original opts for ingredients your cat would be more likely to eat in the wild. This recipe, as an example, uses rabbit as the main source of protein. In total, 95% of this blend is made up of rabbit, pork, and liver, providing ample nutrients and sufficient protein for any cat. Granted, you can still opt for more traditional blends like chicken, but we prefer the more interesting options like salmon or duck.
This is one of the few wet cat foods that you’ll notice lists its fatty acid content. Cats need these fatty acids, and Instinct Original provides plenty. Since it’s a grain-free recipe, it’s easy on digestive systems and unlikely to cause any issues. Overall, it’s a health-packed premium wet cat food that’s just a bit overpriced compared to other comparable options on the market.
7. Wellness CORE Signature Selects Wet Cat Food
If you’re looking for premium nutrition, you’ll certainly find it in Wellness CORE Signature Selects wet cat food, but you should expect to pay an arm and a leg for it. Despite the outrageously high price of this cat food, it’s mostly water. The moisture content of this food is 85%, which certainly doesn’t leave much room for nutrients. We prefer blends with less than 80% moisture, especially when they’re this expensive!
Still, there’s no question about the quality of the ingredients used in Wellness CORE Signature Selects. The very first ingredient listed in this recipe is tuna. In the five primary ingredients, you’ll also find mackerel and salmon, which is a major testament to just how many premium animal-based protein sources make up this food.
In addition to the ample protein sources on the ingredient list, you’ll also find sunflower oil, which provides loads of essential fatty acids. Most of the ingredients are whole foods, though you’ll also find some added minerals and vitamins to ensure a complete nutrient profile.
8. Tiny Tiger Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
If you’ve never heard of Tiny Tiger cat foods before, you’re certainly not alone. They don’t have the sort of name recognition you’ll see with the bigger names in the industry, but that doesn’t mean they can’t produce quality pet foods. This recipe is grain-free, making it easier for cats to digest. And while it does have a rather high moisture content of 82%, most of that comes from broth instead of water, providing valuable nutrients for your feline.
The overall protein content of this food is just 9%, which is notably lower than many competitors. However, the protein sources are adequate, with multiple meat-based protein sources listed in the top five ingredients, including beef, liver, and poultry. Even so, picky eaters seem averse to this food for some reason. It’s made with lots of gravy, and usually, gravy can convince a picky cat to indulge, but in this case, picky eaters seem to be uninterested.
9. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Canned Cat Food
We’re generally fans of Blue Buffalo Wilderness foods, but their wet canned cat food is a bit of a letdown compared to their other products. It’s pretty pricey, though, to be fair, that’s normal for Blue Buffalo. Their wet cat food has a low moisture content of just 78%, which is great, but the outrageous 9% fat content throws us off. That’s quite a few times higher than most competitors that often offer less than 2% fat in similar canned cat foods.
One thing we often like about Blue Buffalo is that they tend to use whole food products whenever possible. Unfortunately, their wet cat food contains far more supplemental vitamins and minerals than ones sourced from whole foods. Still, there’s plenty of taurines here at 0.1%; double what you’ll find in many competitors.
Thankfully, Blue Buffalo wet cat foods are grain-free for easy digestion. They contain 10% crude protein, which is sufficient. The protein comes from high-quality sources with a premium animal-based protein listed as the main ingredient in every blend, such as chicken, duck, or salmon. It’s not a bad choice altogether, but considering the high-fat content and price, it’s not one of our top picks.
10. Friskies Shreds in Gravy Canned Cat Food
At first, we were pretty attracted to the affordable pricing of the Friskies Shreds in Gravy. Moreover, they come in large 5.5-ounce cans, offering an even better value for the price. Even so, there are some quality ingredients used in the manufacture of this food, including liver, chicken, beef, and turkey, which are all listed in the five main ingredients of the Beef in Gravy blend. As you can see, there are plenty of animal-based protein sources here to provide a diverse amino acid profile, but the total protein content is rather low at just 9%.
Continuing down the ingredient list, you’ll notice that most of the vitamins and minerals in this blend are supplemental, rather than being derived from whole-food sources. Worse, there are artificial flavors used and sub-par ingredients like wheat gluten. Taurine content is just 0.05% while moisture content is 82%. All in all, we think that Friskies Shreds in Gravy is sub-par wet cat food, even if the price is attractive.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Wet Cat Food
If you’re still having trouble deciding on which wet cat food to purchase even after reading our reviews, then this short buyer’s guide is meant to help by clarifying the most important traits you should be comparing on cat foods to help you come to the right decision.
While all of these cat foods have the same goal, they’re all made up of entirely different ingredients with vastly different nutritional offerings. But comparing two different cat foods isn’t as simple as it might sound. After tons of research and comparing, we’ve narrowed down all the differences to the most important factors that can help you determine which foods are winners and which are better left on the shelf.
Naturally, the ingredients used to make any cat food will determine the overall quality of that food. High-quality ingredients make for healthier food, while low-quality ingredients can hamper your cat’s health. We prefer to see whole-food ingredients whenever possible; particularly of the animal-based variety. Keep in mind, cats are obligate carnivores. In the wild, you won’t find cats eating plant matter. They get all of the nutrients they need from eating other animals, and your cat’s food should reflect that as much as possible. Look for ingredient lists that are packed with premium options and devoid of low-quality fillers and carbohydrates.
- You might also like: 10 Best Cat Food Bowls – Reviews & Top Picks
Aside from the ingredients, the nutrition label is your second primary source of information regarding any cat food. On this label, you can see how much of each important nutrient the food contains. Protein is one of the most important nutrients here, and we prefer blends that offer higher concentrations of protein. You also want to ensure that essential nutrients such as fatty acids and taurine are present in ample amounts.
Wet cat foods need moisture to remain wet. However, the moisture content of different foods varies drastically, with some blends containing up to 7% more water than others. Some of our favorite blends use broth instead of water. It’s easy to tell which is used by checking the ingredient list. The broth will provide extra nutrients that are not found in plain water. Still, we want to get more food for our money, which is why we prefer wet cat foods with moisture levels of 80% or lower.
You can pick the most nutrient-packed cat food on the market, but if your cat doesn’t like it, then you waste your money. Cats are notoriously picky eaters. If your cat decides it doesn’t want the food you’ve offered, it will turn up its nose and refuse to eat, wasting whatever money you invested into that food.
We don’t recommend picking cat food based entirely on price, but it should certainly be a factor. Some cat foods are outrageously pricey while others seem ridiculously cheap. Often, the products at either end of the spectrum are disproportionately priced. You can find some excellent-quality wet cat foods at reasonable prices, so don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune to provide your feline with adequate nutrition. Narrow down your choices based on what each food offers first. Then, compare their prices, taking serving size into account, so you can determine which of them is the best value.
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!
Cat foods are almost as diverse as the felines they feed, which is why we recommended three options in our reviews. Smalls Human Grade Fresh Chicken offers our favorite wet food overall, with limited ingredients, low moisture, ample protein, and more taurine than competitors. For a cheaper alternative, 9 Lives makes affordable wet cat foods that contain multiple animal-based protein sources with added vitamins and minerals.
We truly hope that our guide helps you find the best canned cat food for your feline!
Featured Image Credit: Viktor Lugovskoy, Shutterstock