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The best dry cat foods: Which cat kibble comes out top?

dry cat food
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When choosing food for your kitty, dry cat food is a popular and convenient option. And for good reason, since it provides all the goodness and flavor your cat needs. Generally, the best types of dry cat food are low in carbs and high in protein, while simultaneously having sufficient moisture for the purposes of water intake. With this in mind, your cat should be the recipient of a balanced diet, in turn helping them remain active and healthy.

There are a number of reasons why people choose dry cat food over wet. It lasts longer, is easier to store, and in most cases is more cost-efficient. The crunchy kibble gives your cat's teeth more of a workout, and the food is less prone to spoiling if not stored at room temperature.

Even so, there are so many brands of premium dry cat food out there that choosing one can be a tricky experience. From grain-free and organic, to calorie controlled, it’s important that you find a brand that contains the right amount of nutrition, bearing in mind your cat’s age, condition, and eating habits. Moreover, you will know by now that cats are notorious for being picky eaters, so make sure it's something they enjoy!

We’ve picked the best dry cat foods based on factors like ingredients, flavor types, and cost, all of which we are confident will keep your cat fit, healthy, and purring for more!

If you think your cat fancies a change from dry food, take a look at our round up of the best wet cat food or consult our guide to the best cat food.

1. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Cat Food: Best overall dry cat food

dry cat food

(Image credit: Rachael Ray)

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Cat Food

A premium brand of natural cat food that combines high nutrition and delicious flavour

Weight: 14lbs | Flavor: Chicken | Calories: 354 per cup | Protein: 34% min | Fat: 14% min

Made from real US farm-raised chicken and chicken meal
Reasonable price
No artificial flavors or colorings
Heavy on carbohydrates
Cats may be prone to gaining weight
Contains corn gluten meal, which is a potential allergen

Founded by the eponymous celebrity chef, the Rachael Ray Nutrish brand is well-known for its natural ingredients and nutritional benefits. It is therefore no surprise that this chicken-based, dry cat food option is a bestseller, and popular among cat owners to boot. 

This particular brand uses real US farm-raised chicken and chicken meal, free from poultry by-products. Full of Omega-6 fatty acids – not to mention protein – your cat’s skin and coat will be guaranteed a healthy shine should you choose to purchase it.

Moreover, it’s grain-free, which effectively reduces any risk of allergies for your cat. Further reducing this risk is the fact that this contains a number of natural ingredients, such as ground rice, brown rice, corn gluten meal, as well as dried ground peas to contribute on the carbohydrate front. Added vitamins and minerals  aid your cat’s digestion and overall health, and there are no artificial fillers.

The small pieces of kibble make it easier to chew and digest, and the crisp and crunch texture is kinder to cats’ teeth, also ensuring that they are kept clean. Many owners praised it for making great treats when training their kitties, too!

However, it should be mentioned that the recipe does contain corn gluten meal, which could be a potential allergen for your cat. So if your cat does suffer from corn allergies, this is probably not the one for you. Also, bear in mind that the formula is quite high in carbohydrates, so you’d need to keep track if your cat starts getting tubby!

Overall, this is the ultimate in dry cat food that provides natural flavors, nutrition, and bags of protein, as well as representing good value for money compared to other premium cat food brands. And with a winning formula created by cat nutritionists, you can only expect the best balance of flavor and nutrition for your feline friend.

2. Purina Kit and Kaboodle Adult Dry Cat Food: Best budget dry cat food

dry cat food

(Image credit: Purina)

Purina Kit and Kaboodle Adult Dry Cat Food

More variety to wet your cat’s appetite without breaking the bank

Weight: 16lbs | Flavors: Chicken, salmon, turkey and garden greens | Calories: 382 per cup | Protein: 28% min | Fat: 9% min

Specially formulated for adult indoor cats
Extra fibre to aid digestion
Low price
Great variety of flavors
Can create dietary upset
Not for all aged cats just for adult cats

If you’re after a healthy yet more cost-effective option for your feline friend, Kit & Kaboodle dry cat food is the ideal budget buy. Specially formulated for adult indoor cats, this formula comes with extra fibre to help strengthen their digestive systems as they grow old. 

Your cat is certainly in for a tastebud treat, with not just one flavor, but a delicious mixture of chicken, salmon, turkey, and garden greens. The formula also supports your cat’s immune system and promotes a healthy weight.

Thought has been given to appearance and texture, and cats won’t get bored with the exciting shapes of the kibble and tasty crunch. Plus, the fun kibble stimulates her playful nature, making mealtimes more enjoyable!

Starting from just $8.49 for a 13lb bag and around $17.98 for the 30lb, Purina Kit & Kaboodle is considerably cheaper than other brands. But this doesn’t compromise on quality. And it successfully offers a full balanced and complete nutrition for your adult cat, at no extra cost.

Something to note though, is that this formula is for adult cats only, and wouldn’t be suitable for all-aged cats. It may also cause dietary issues in some cats, so keep an eye out on what could be upsetting their delicate tummies. But this shouldn’t happen if your kittie is generally healthy with no existing illnesses.

Purina Kit & Kaboodle offers exceptional value for money, and cats will love the taste and crunch of the kibble. Ideal for fussy eaters, or if you have a lot of hungry cats to feed!

3. Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food: Best for weight management

dry cat food

(Image credit: Blue Buffalo)

Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

Calorie-controlled formula designed to stop your hungry feline friends from piling on the pounds

Weight: 15lbs | Flavors: Chicken, turkey | Calories: 346 per cup | Protein: 30% min | Fat: 10% min

Natural ingredients
Deboned chicken with no meat by-products
No adverse effect on cat behavior
Bit more expensive
Can upset sensitive stomachs

If your cat tends to overeat on those lovely treats and is looking rather plump, Blue Buffalo Weight Control is the best choice to help slim them down.

Blue Wilderness is a product of the US-based Blue Buffalo company, known for making premium-quality pet foods featuring real meat, fruit, and vegetables. The main feature is the real deboned chicken with no meat by-products. The special formula is packed with whole grains and garden vegetables, as well as having carefully balanced calories to help your kittie maintain a healthy weight.

Since older cats develop difficulty chewing, the small pieces of food make it easy to gobble up, and the key thing is they contain hardly any fat.

Priced at around $21.98 (£15.49) for a 7lb bag, it is slightly costly. However, this can be overlooked if it means a more nutritious and calorie-controlled diet for your pet.

While it may be tricky to know straight away of its affect on weight loss, many owners have stated their cats’ have felt lighter within a couple of months. Some owners have even said their kittie seems more energetic, running and playing more, while their coats have a lovely glossy shine.

Bear in mind, some cats may have trouble digesting the food at first, so it’s advisable to monitor portions. Overall, this is a healthy, filler-free, low carb meal for your food-loving kitty.

4. IAMS Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food: Best dry kitten food

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(Image credit: Iams)

IAMS Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

Packed with all the essential nutrients needed for kittens healthy development

Weight: 16lbs | Flavors: Chicken, turkey | Calories: 373per cup | Protein: 34% min | Fat: 22% min

Formulated for the needs of kittens
No harmful additives and fillers
High level of protein and essential Omega-3
Risk of cats shedding
Risk of vomiting after meal

When you have little kittens at home, you’d want to take extra care on the meals that you give them. Younger cats especially can be prone to much sensitivity, so it’s important to find the right food that is formulated for the needs of your kitten.

One of the top brands on the market today is IAMS, and it comes highly recommended by vets. Its special formula is created for 1-12 months old or younger kittens that may need to build stronger immune systems. This is also to avoid the risk of different diseases they may develop as they grow.

Packed with all the healthy benefits for a young one, it has prebiotics and pulp to support their developing digestive systems. It contains Omega-3 to aid with healthy brain development and to promote healthy skin and shiny coat. And its high protein and essential minerals help to build strong muscles and bones. This quality formula is essentially designed to help your kitten thrive, and also suitable for pregnant and lactating feline friends.

Kittens really enjoy the flavors, and we liked the fact that the kibbles are small, making it much easier to eat and digest. Another bonus is the kibble soaks up water fast for those kittens that need softer food.

Bear in mind the formula contains corn, so keep an eye out if your kitten may have a potential corn allergy.

Overall, this is packed with all the healthy nutrients to give your young cat the best start in life, and a delicious treat.

5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food: Best for older cats

dry cat food

(Image credit: Blue Buffalo)

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food

Providing the best nutrients for older cats to prolong a healthy lifestyle

Weight: 12lbs | Flavors: Chicken | Calories: 443 per cup | Protein: 40% min | Fat: 18% min

Packed with real chicken
BLUE’S ‘LifeSource Bits’ of vitamins and minerals
Slightly more expensive than other brands
Only sold in the US

As your feline friend gets older, there are some things to consider. Firstly, their metabolism starts to slow down, as they no longer get as much exercise. As a result, they need fewer calories in their meals, and smaller portions. Another worry with older cats is they may develop specific health problems and not be eating as well as they should be. To care for your senior cat, you would need to tailor their diet to ensure optimum health and a longer life.

The Blue Buffalo formula has been enriched with its special, LifeSource bits (a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and superfoods), and made with the best natural ingredients.

The first ingredient is real chicken, which packs a powerful protein punch. It’s also loaded with antioxidant-rich superfoods to support immunity, Omega-3 for a healthy skin and coat, taurine for vision and heart health, and essential amino acids to fuel all their fun activities. Plus, its fiber blend helps maintain healthy digestion, and is kind to tummies. There are never any grains, gluten, wheat, or by-products. It has the added benefit of having more than 75% moisture content that will help your feline pal stay hydrated much longer.

Cats seem to love this brand, and enjoy the flavors, although a few owners have mentioned the kibble being too small for their older cats, causing them to drop out of their mouths. Others have stated that it has helped to alleviate existing stomach problems, and vomiting from other brands. And many have praised the formula for making their feline friend’s coat super soft and shiny.

Bear in mind that a few owners mentioned that it made their cats sick after eating; however this could be due to an undiagnosed allergy. 

Compared to similar brands, prices are expensive, ranging from $16.98-$31.44. The brand is also only sold in the US which means you’ll need to order online if you live outside of the US. However, with all the nutritional benefits, you wouldn’t mind paying a little bit more for quality.

6. Purina Beyond Grain Free Cat Food: Best grain-free

dry cat food

(Image credit: Purina)

Purina Beyond Grain Free Cat Food

An affordable, quality grain-free dry food to help alleviate cat allergies

Weight: 11lb | Flavors: Ocean white fish, chicken meal and pea protein | Calories: per cup **Protein:** % min **Fat:** % min

No ground corn, wheat, or soy
Ocean whitefish provides amino acids
Reasonable price
Strong odor
Unappealing texture

Cats, like humans, can suffer from allergic reactions to certain foods including grains, wheat, corn. or rice. If your feline friend has a health condition or reaction towards a traditional brand, then it’s best to switch to a healthy alternative. Vets and experts alike have suggested grain-free diets are good options for allergy-prone cats.

For a completely grain-free food that isn’t too pricey, Purina’s Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg dry cat food is the best option.

Its premium formula, overseen by in-house nutritionists, is designed for optimum health. Perhaps the key selling point here is ocean whitefish as its first ingredient, followed by chicken meal and pea protein. Ocean whitefish is important for amino acids, and an excellent source of protein to help cats build and maintain muscle.

The meal provides fiber and carbohydrates, as well as essential minerals and daily vitamins to support nerve and muscle functions. High quality ingredients cassava root flour, pea fiber, and pea starch all help with healthy digestion, as well as provide energy.

There is also no ground corn, wheat or soy added to the kibble, and it’s free from artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This is ideal for cats with pre-existing intestinal conditions.

Generally, cats seem to enjoy the taste, but it does have a strong odor, which can be a little off-putting. Some cat owners also thought that the food’s texture felt ‘icky’ and unpleasant compared to others. However, they were pleased that its nutritional properties seemed to improve overall health.

Overall, Purina Beyond Grain Free Cat Food is worth trying based on its ingredients, reasonable price, and that cats seem to enjoy it. If you can overlook the strong smell and unappealing texture, this is a worthwhile purchase for your furry friends.

How To Choose The Best Dry Cat Food

Finding the right dry cat food to suit your feline friend can be challenging. But there are a few important things to consider when purchasing.

First, consider your cat’s age. Dry cat foods are often formulated and specifically designed for the age and size of your kittie. So whether you have older or younger cats, you’ll need a formula to provide the right amount of nourishment. When researching brands, carefully read the ingredients on the labels. Look for quality first ingredients such as real chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon and tuna, which are all rich in protein. Chicken liver and heart are both rich in taurine, an amino acid that humans produce but cats cannot. Generally, focus on foods that contain calcium, fats and essential vitamins. And try to avoid those with artificial fillers designed to make your cat feel full, and lack any nutritional value.

Consider your cat’s dietary restrictions, needs or conditions, such as allergies or weight issues. There are some dry cat food brands tailored to specific dietary needs to help maintain optimal health. Cost and value for money is another factor, as cat food can often be expensive. Choose a suitable quality brand within your budget and avoid the latest expensive trends. Of course, you need to consider your cat’s tastes and preferences as to what they like and dislike. Whether they prefer chicken or tuna, or large or smaller-sized kibbles, this will influence what you purchase. Plus it will make your beloved cat more happy, healthy and content in the long run!

If your cat decides dry food isn't for him/her then our round up of the best wet cat food or our guide to the best cat food 2020 will offer some tasty alternatives.