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Best cat food: The 9 tastiest choices for your moggy

Included in this guide:

best cat food
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking for the best cat food is one of the first things that new owners have to do – preferably something that keeps them healthy, has a balanced variety of vitamins, and, most importantly, tastes good.

It's not just cat owners who have this issue - for all you dog owners out there, check out our list of the best dog food.

But how do you go about choosing cat food, considering just how many different types and brands there are out there? As with dogs, you need to work out what best suits your cat's lifestyle, whether they have any particular dietary needs, or if they prefer wet or dry cat food.

What the food contains should also be considered too. For example, what's the protein source? Is it natural or artificial? Cats are carnivores, so you ideally need at least one out of chicken, beef, or fish to be present. These all help to maintain healthy skin, keep fur shiny, and look after their heart.

When it comes to wet or dry food, the best wet cat food will have a soft texture, being made up of slivers of meat or pate in a form of gravy, so it is more suitable for senior cats, or those that have dental issues. It is also high in water content, making it useful in the treatment of urinary tract or kidney problems. It can help to avoid dehydration, particularly if your cat doesn't tend to drink a lot during the day. 

The best dry cat food has some plus points too. For example, it has a crunchy texture, and you can store it for longer. It is also beneficial for dental health, as it helps to remove plaque and tarter while being eaten. On the other hand, it doesn't have any water content, so you'll need to make sure they stay hydrated through the day via other means. To help with this, perhaps you can look at our list of the best water fountains for cats.

Anyway, here is our guide to the best cat food that is currently available...

PetRadar's pick of the best cat food

best cat food

(Image credit: Iams)

Best overall cat food

Specifications
Available online: Yes
Item form: Dry
Amazon Star Rating: 4.8
Reasons to buy
+
Good source of omega-3 fatty acids
+
Natural animal protein 
+
100% complete and balanced nutrition
Reasons to avoid
-
Contains several forms of corn, which is an allergen for some cats

With excellent reviews everywhere from Amazon to Chewy, Iams’ reputation as a  brand that delivers on quality and can be trusted makes it an obvious choice in a marketplace with plenty of competition.

Containing chicken as the number one ingredient, and not being accompanied by any nasty fillers or additives, Iams is a triumph with  pet parents and cats alike. The complete and balanced formulas will meet all of your cat’s nutrition needs, containing  doses of omega-3 to keep their coat shiny, and prebiotics and beet pulp in order to help along the digestion process.

Crunchy kibble is something that cats can't get enough of, which is handy in this case,  as it has been specially formulated with the correct blend of vitamins and minerals to ensure that good dental health is maintained. 

This also means that you’re bound to find something that meets your cat’s specific needs among their product range, with everything from hairball control and urinary tract health to healthy digestion and weight management options being targeted.

The Proactive range is probably our pick, especially in the US. Its products are backed by veterinarians, meaning that you can rest assured that your cat's food will be of the highest quality.

However, while we have a lot of positive things to say about Iams, its products certainly aren't immune to criticism. For example, some of the formulas are higher in carbohydrates than what we would ideally like to see, which isn’t great for cats with more sedentary lifestyles. Moreover, the presence of several forms of corn may be an issue for cats with allergies or sensitive digestive systems.

Regardless, with so many cats giving it their mew of approval, it’s definitely our recommended first choice for cats.

For more information, read our Iams Proactive Health Adult Dry Food review.

best cat food

(Image credit: Applaws)

Applaws Natural Cat Food Tasty Tuna Fillet with Prawn in Broth

Best budget cat food

Specifications
Available online: Yes
Item form: Wet
Amazon star rating: 4.6
100% natural: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Only has human-grade ingredients
+
High percentage of protein
+
No meat by-products, additives, or preservatives
Reasons to avoid
-
May not be ideal for sedentary cats due to high carbohydrate content

Are you looking for a nutritionally sound product that is good for both your cat and your bank balance? In this case, Applaws is well worth a try.

Unlike some of the other more budget-friendly options that are available, Applaws doesn’t compromise on quality by adding in animal by-products, additives, or preservatives. They clearly understand how important your cat's health and wellbeing is, meaning that only 100% natural, human-grade ingredients are used. 

Opening up a tin from the Applaws fish selection range is a bit like taking a trip to the seaside – you’ll be greeted with that ocean-fresh fish smell that cats absolutely love. There will only be one or two other ingredients, depending on what flavor you go for, so you can rest assured that your cat isn’t ingesting anything else

Applaws is ideal for fussy cats who can smell the fake stuff a mile away, and the limited ingredients and often single-protein formulas are perfect for cats that have digestive issues or certain food intolerances.

If your cat is a tad on the lazy side, however, you should bear in mind that the carbohydrate content is pretty high, so in this instance it may not be a good fit. It also doesn’t have a lot in the way of vitamins or minerals, so we wouldn’t advise having it as your cat's sole means of nutrition. 

Overall, however, we have a lot to recommend about this product.

Best cat food: A tin of Ziwi Peak Wet Mackerel and Lamb

(Image credit: Ziwi Peak)

Ziwi Peak Wet Mackerel and Lamb

Best premium cat food

Specifications
Available online: Yes
Item form: Wet
Amazon star rating: 4.2
Reasons to buy
+
Limited ingredients – no additives, fillers or carrageenan 
+
Free range and sustainable farming practices
+
92% raw meat, organs and bone
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive if used as staple diet

If you’re wanting to treat your cat to a Michelin-starred dining experience then look no further than Ziwi Peak, a New Zealand-based company that’s quickly making a name for itself as one of the top cat food manufactures in the world.

It’s not hard to see why: made with 92% fresh meat, organs, bone, and seafood, all of its ingredients are human-grade, free-range, sustainably-caught and sourced within New Zealand using ethical farming and fishing practices.

If your little feline fur baby is prone to shooting you wistful and longing glances each time you sit down to try and enjoy your dinner, then you’ll be relieved to know that you can say goodbye to all that guilt-tripping. Your cat will love this meaty and moisture-rich meal that will leave them feeling less like a cat and more like a human.

This formula offers great peace of mind for you as a cat parent, as no animal by-products, additives or fillers make it into the Ziwi Peak range. It is also free of controversial ingredients such as carrageenan and guar gum, which have the potential to impair nutrient absorption.

While there is a lot to love about this premium product, price may be a factor here. It’s an expensive option if you have multiple cats or are wanting it to form the main part of your cat’s diet. It also contains a small percentage of green-lipped mussels, which not all cats enjoy – this is reflected in the less-favorable consumer reviews, so we would recommend trialling this before committing to buying in bulk.

However, if your cat isn’t averse to the taste, the addition of green-lipped mussels provides glucosamine and chondroitin, vital for healthy joints. The range also features chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption.

All in all, this high-quality, nutrient-dense range is cat food at its best.

Best cat food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Blue Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

Best grain-free formula

Specifications
Available online: Yes
Item form: Dry
Amazon star rating: 4.8
Reasons to buy
+
High-quality proteins
+
Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
+
Great for weight-management
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive

If you’re looking for a tasty and nourishing recipe with everything your cat needs and none of what they don’t, then this high-quality formula from Blue Wilderness is well worth considering.

Granted, it’s a little more expensive than many other products on the market, but you get what you pay for with only the best real meats, healthy complex carbs and plenty of fruits and vegetables to provide a powerful hit of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Designed for indoor cats, this grain-free kibble helps protect against the weight gain that can often plague sedentary cats and being gentle on the digestive system, it’s ideal for kitties with stomach issues or allergies.

Featuring Blue’s exclusive LifeSource Bits, designed by veterinarians, this is a balanced recipe with a precise blend of all the nutrients your kitty needs to aid muscle development, keep their skin and coat healthy, and their immune system firing on all cylinders. 

With a minimum of 38% protein, 16% fat, and 6% fiber, this kibble will keep your cat feeling full and is available in 2lb, 5lb, and 11lb bags.  

For more information, read our Blue Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food review.

Best cat food for weight management: Blue Buffalo Weight Control Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hill’s Science Plan Perfect Weight Adult Cat Food

Best for weight management

Specifications
Available online: Yes
Item form: Dry
Amazon star rating: 4.7
Reasons to buy
+
Only natural ingredients
+
No corn wheat or soy
+
No artificial flavors or preservatives
Reasons to avoid
-
More expensive than their other formulas

It's not only humans who suffer from middle-aged spread, so if you've been noticing there's more of your cat to love than usual then feeding them food that helps control their weight may be a sensible option. And a much healthier one for your kitty.

This calorie-controlled food from Blue Buffalo is based on their normal cat food with a more carefully balanced formula to help your cat achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Made from all natural ingredients including deboned chicken, whole grains and vegetables, it provides a mix of protein and calories that's designed to get your cat tipping the scales in a more favorable direction while keeping them full.

With 30% protein, only 10% fat and no artificial colours or preservatives, this kibble is designed to give your cat everything it needs to thrive and survive. This is helped by the addition of Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits – a blend of apples, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, pomegranate, pumpkin and spinach designed by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists. They contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as the antioxidants and vitamins needed to support your furry friend's immune system and promote a shiny, healthy skin and coat.

This all-natural cat kibble made without poultry by-product meals is more expensive than their other formulas, so it may make your wallet thinner too, but compared to potential vet bills caused by the potential complications caused by cat obesity it may be a sensible investment in the long run. Not to mention how much better your fur baby will feel not having to carry around those excess pounds.

Best cat food: A pack of Royal Canin Hairball Care

(Image credit: Royal Canin)

Best for hairballs

Specifications
Available online: Yes
Item form: Dry
Amazon star rating: 4.7
Reasons to buy
+
Veterinarian approved
+
Special blend of dietary fibers helps prevent vomiting and hairballs
+
High protein and fat content
+
Reduces plaque buildup 
Reasons to avoid
-
Contains wheat and corn

If you’ve ever heard your cat making that dreaded retching noise in another room then you’re familiar with the mad dash to find them and get them outside before they bring up a hairball all over your carpet! 

While you might think that owning a cat means you’re destined to spend time up to your elbows in warm water scrubbing hairball residue off your floors, you’ll be delighted to know that Royal Canin has come to the rescue with a formula that helps move hairballs through the stomach and into the gastrointestinal tract, where they can’t be regurgitated.

What makes this product so special is its blend of insoluble and dietary fibers. The former acts as your cat's very own internal brush, sweeping the hairballs through the body and into the bowel, while the latter makes sure all the nutrients are fully absorbed, keeping your furry friend’s skin and hair healthy. 

The combination of fatty acids and fibers means that this blend has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great choice if your cat suffers from digestive issues. It also includes nutrients to prevent tartar buildup on teeth, which contributes to dental health.

We love this product for its effectiveness in preventing hairballs and because it comes from Royal Canin, a brand with a reputation for delivering high-quality products that keep cats healthy. However, it does contain wheat and corn, so if you don’t want those in your cat’s diet then you’ll want to give this product a miss. It’s also more expensive than some of the other hairball-prevention cat foods on the market, so this is also worth considering if price is a factor.

However, if those things don’t bother you then this is a great choice that allows your cat to groom themselves to their heart's content without you having to worry about cleaning up after them.

Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food pack shotPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food

Best for sensitive stomachs

Specifications
Item Form: Dry
Protein: 34% min
Fat: 14% min
Moisture: 12% max
Reasons to buy
+
Easily digestible food
+
Contains real turkey
+
Helps sensitive skin
Reasons to avoid
-
A bit more expensive than some

The Purina One range is designed to add complete nutrition to a cat's daily diet and the manufacturer promises to only use natural, high quality ingredients, all of which are included purely for their dietary purpose.

It means you're not getting fillers here and, because there are different formulas to suit the specific needs of different cats, you can be sure that you're supporting your feline's health concerns: this one, for example, being tailored for cats which have sensitive stomachs and skin.

The main ingredient of this dry food is real turkey and it's supplemented by chicken by-product meal, thereby ensuring a plentiful supply of protein. Indeed, your cat will get 36 grams of protein per cup here, which is more than enough to support a healthy heart and provide the building block of his or her nutrition.

The food also includes wholesome grains for energy as well as real carrots and peas. Vitamin D is provided naturally by beef fat. It's little wonder that a lot of vets will recommend Purina One because it's premium food, for sure. Not only will it give your cat a totally balanced diet, it should help them to stop vomiting and scratching. Many owners who have tried it, says it certainly does the trick.

How? Well, it's been created to be easily digestible so it shouldn't upset your feline's stomach (although a very small number of owners claim their cat had diarrhoea after eating it). Vitamins E and A will support your cat's immune system and the omega-5 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals support healthy skin and coat. The crunchy kibble works wonders on your cat's teeth too.

The main downside is that it's a little more expensive than some other dry food but you generally get what you pay for.

best cat food

(Image credit: Sheba)

Sheba Perfect Portions Paté Wet Cat Food Tray Variety Packs

Best cat food variety pack

Specifications
Item form: Wet
Protein: 9%
Fat: 5%
Moisture: 8-%
Reasons to buy
+
Contains a number of options
+
Reasonably high level of protein
+
No grains or corn
Reasons to avoid
-
Recent price increase

Sheba has long been a trusted brand for the best cat food, and so it continues to be the case with its Perfect Portions variety pack.

This product comes with a number of different flavors: savory chicken, roasted turkey, and tender beef. The trays are easy to open, and designed to be eaten out of, saving you from having to use bowls or plates.

The ingredients come with the finest quality protein, and the fish is sustainably sourced, giving your conscience some peace of mind. 

While no grains or corn are used as ingredients, this doesn't rule out the possibility of some trace products making it through during the manufacturing process. Even so, it's good to know.

One quibble is that the price appears to have gone up a fair amount during the last few months, and since the portion sizes aren't the biggest, they could set you back a bit. Even so, there's a lot to like about these variety packs.

Royal Canin Kitten food gravy reviewPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Royal Canin)

Royal Canin Kitten

Best overall kitten food

Specifications
Item Form: Wet (Gravy)
Protein: 11% min
Fat: 3% min
Moisture: 80% max
Reasons to buy
+
Thin slices make it easy for young kittens to eat
+
Excellent protein, fat, and carbohydrate ratio
+
Antioxidants boost immune system
Reasons to avoid
-
High price point for a staple diet

If you’re keen to ensure that your new four-legged friend has a balanced and nutritious diet, it’s hard to look past Royal Canin’s Kitten food. 

Royal Canin is a hugely respected cat food brand, earning praise from owners and veterinarians alike for its specialist formulas. It may be a little pricier per can than others on this list, but there’s little substitute for knowing that you’ve got your kitty some quality dinner from a trusted brand. 

The ratio of proteins to fat and carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients, in Royal Canin’s Kitten food is perfectly set up to deliver everything a growing kitten needs. This means that unless you’ve found yourself a fussy little fluff ball who craves a bit more variety, Royal Canin can easily be your kittens-only food. Though it’s useful to note that Royal Canin’s dry kitten food is formulated to complement the wet stuff so you can add a bit of crunch to your little one’s diet.

The meat comes in gravy (which can be a bit messy), and is deliberately sliced small and thin to make it easier on tiny mouths transitioning to solid food.

Of course, we do have to return to that price point, a kitten will need to be going through three or four of these cans a day to get everything they need. That might mean it’s a little much for some people to keep as a staple diet – it is worth noting that Royal Canin is often prescribed for kittens with digestive issues though. So, as long as you manage it properly, Royal Canin Kitten food could work well as part of a regular rotation. 

How to choose the best cat food

As a cat parent your precious fur baby is likely a much loved member of your family, so it goes without saying that you want to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible. 

Feeding them a high-quality, nutritious diet is one of the best ways you can do that, but with so much choice available trying to decide on the best option can be confusing and more than a little headache-inducing!

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Just like humans, every cat is unique and so focusing on your cat's individual needs is the best way to ensure that you’re fueling their body with exactly what they need to thrive.

All cats need high-quality proteins for lean-muscle growth, omega-3 and 6 fats to keep their skin and coat healthy, fiber to support digestive health, a range of vitamins and minerals, and plenty of water. However, your cat’s age, activity level, metabolism, and health issues are key areas to consider. 

Older and more sedentary cats will have different dietary needs to younger and more active cats. Likewise, those with specific health issues, such as allergies and food sensitivities, digestive or urinary tract issues, or weight problems, will require a different diet to otherwise healthy cats. 

Ingredients and budget are two other factors that are worth considering. Think about what you feel comfortable including in your cat's diet. Potential allergens such as corn, soy, wheat, and gluten can be problematic for some cats, as can artificial colours, flavors and preservatives. 

Price may also be a factor, and while it’s true that the more expensive brands on the market tend to be higher quality, our budget option featured in this guide is there to show you that there are choices available that are kind to your wallet while not compromising your cat’s health. 

Remember that one size doesn’t fit all, and your cat's dietary needs will be determined by their activity levels, weight, and overall health. Always check with your veterinarian to ensure you’re feeding the four-legged members of your family the most appropriate diet for their specific requirements.

You can find out more about specific types of in our round up of the best wet cat food and the best dry cat food.

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.