Finding the best cat food for your pet can be tough. We all want to buy the best quality pet products we can afford, but faced with an often confusing list of ingredients and selling points to make sense of, it can be difficult to identify those best suited to your animal.
Luckily, there are some straightforward tips that can help make the process simpler. Whether you’re the owner of a senior cat, kitten or cat that suffers from allergies, The Recommended has found out everything you need to know when shopping for cat food, including what ingredients you should look out for and avoid, and why it’s important to consider the life stage of your animal when it comes to their meal times. In line with this general advice, we list some of our top picks of the best cat food to buy for your pet.
The best cat food at a glance:
- Best dry cat food: Purina ONE Adult Dry Cat Food
- Best dry food for kittens: Royal Canin Kitten Dry Cat Food
- Best dry food for older cats: Royal Canin Senior Consult Cat Food
- Best wet food for older cats: Lily's Kitchen Marvellously Mature Wet Cat Food
- Best for sensitive stomachs: Purina Pro Plan Hypoallergenic Dry Cat Food
- Best cat food multi-pack: Felix Original Fish & Poultry Cat Food 80x100g
- Best natural cat food: Lily's Kitchen Everyday Favourites Pate - Adult Wet Cat Food
- Best alternative wet cat food: HiLife it's only natural - Complete Wet Cat Food
- Best alternative wet kitten food: IAMS Delights Wet Food for Kittens
The best cat food
Best dry cat food: Purina ONE Adult Dry Cat Food
Complete and balanced for adult cats
Nutritionally complete and balanced, this dry cat food from Purina is designed to improve cats’ digestive health, promote healthy eyes, encourage high energy levels, and keep your cat’s coat shiny.
Purina’s dry food for adult cats comes in a range of flavours to suit your pet’s preferred taste, including chicken, salmon, turkey, chicken and beef, ocean fish and lamb, as well as a multipack that includes a mix of flavours. Purina claims it makes roughly 100,000 quality and safety checks each day across its portfolio of pet foods before food leaves its factories.
Best dry food for kittens: Royal Canin Kitten Dry Cat Food
For natural growth
This dry kitten food from Royal Canin is formulated for kittens aged between two and 12 months and is designed to help support the immune system, digestive health and natural growth of your cat.
Nutritionally complete, this cat food includes vitamin E, vitamin C, taurine and lutein to help support the natural defences of a growing kitten. It is also formulated with L.I.O proteins, which Royal Canin claims reduces the amount of fermentable residue in kittens’ intestines, helping to reduce the smell of faeces.
Best dry food for older cats: Royal Canin Senior Consult Cat Food
Designed to support ageing
This nutritionally complete dry cat food from Royal Canin is designed specifically for mature cats over the age of seven without obvious signs of ageing.
Royal Canin says this cat food is formulated to support vitality in older animals and is enriched with antioxidants to neutralise free radicals. Experts recommend pet owners with older cats have a consultation with a veterinary expert before feeding this cat food to their animal. Royal Canin tests every batch of their pet food to validate its safety, nutrient composition and quality.
Best wet food for older cats: Lily's Kitchen Marvellously Mature Wet Cat Food
For cats over seven years old
This grain-free wet food for mature cats is made with all-natural ingredients, has no added sugar, and is nutritionally complete.
This senior cat food is nutritionally complete and balanced and has a soft and smooth texture. It consists of 60% meat and fish, 4% carrots, and a combination of minerals, salmon oil and algae.
Best for sensitive stomachs: Purina Pro Plan Hypoallergenic Dry Cat Food
For cats with allergies
This hypoallergenic cat food from Purina is designed to help avoid allergic reactions for cats with sensitive stomachs. It is nutritionally complete and suitable for cats of all life stages.
Purina says this dietetic cat food is formulated with single hydrolysed proteins with low molecular weight, which is said to help avoid allergic responses in cats when eating. It is also made up of what Purina describes as high-quality ingredients and hydrolysed digest, which is said to make the food more palatable.
More like this
Best multi-pack: Felix Original Fish & Poultry Cat Food 80x100g
100% nutritionally complete and balanced, this 80-pack of wet cat food pouches is great value for money.
This multi-pack of Felix Original cat food comes with 20 100g sachets of each of the following flavours: tuna and cod; shrimp and plaice; chicken and kidney; and duck and lamb. It is also a source of Omega 6 and vitamins D and E. Felix is a brand of cat food owned by Purina and is subject to the same testing as Purina products.
Best natural cat food: Lily's Kitchen Everyday Favourites Pate - Adult Wet Cat Food
Grain-free and nutritionally complete
Lily’s Kitchen’s grain-free wet cat food for adults is nutritionally complete, made with natural ingredients and has no added sugar, derivatives, preservatives or fillers.
Lily’s Kitchen’s smooth paté range comes in a choice of four flavours - catch of the day, chicken, hunter’s hotpot, and lamb casserole. Lily’s Kitchen says their food is developed by animal nutritionists, product developers and vets, and each is tested to check it meets nutrient requirements before it is sold, as well as by independent labs for food safety and nutritional value.
Best alternative wet cat food: HiLife it's only natural - Complete Wet Cat Food
All natural ingredients
HiLife’s wet cat food is made using 100% natural ingredients and is suitable for cats between 1 and 7 years old. It is also 100% nutritionally complete and balanced and contains no artificial additives.
This multi-pack of natural wet cat food consists of 32 70g pouches and is available to buy in three flavours: fish selection, tuna, and chicken. HiLife is a voluntary member of the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, which requires manufacturers to conduct routine microbiological testing of finished products and keep batch records.
Best alternative wet food for kittens: IAMS Delights Wet Food for Kittens
Designed to promote healthy growth
IAMS’ wet food for kittens is nutritionally complete and balanced and is designed to help support cats between one and 12 months old with essential minerals to aid their development.
Formulated with essential minerals and animal proteins, this cat food claims to help support a strong immune system, help build muscles, and aid the development of strong bones. IAMS says it tests each batch of cat food that it produces with more than 120 quality assurance tests.
What should you feed your cat?
Cats need a well-balanced diet in order to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. The RSPCA recommend the following when it comes to what to feed cats, all dependent on their age and health requirements:
- Meat-based - cats need meat in their diet in order to gain a mixture of nutrients.
- No human food - certain foods that we eat are a big danger to cats, for example, onions, and therefore human food should be avoided. It also will not provide the right nutritional value they need.
- Little and often - cats like to eat several small meals a day so split their daily intake across different meal times.
- Read the instructions - follow the feeding instructions on the cat food you purchase.
- Feed the right amount - be guided by your cat's age, health requirements and lifestyle. Speak to your vet if you need assistance.
What ingredients should owners avoid when shopping for cat food?
Steer clear from preservatives and food dyes, including BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and Ethoxyquin. According to Petsafe.net, these are harmful 'chemicals added to oils (fats)'. Instead, look for natural options such as Vitamins C and E, which are often present in cat food. Rendered animal fat should be avoided as it can become harmful with toxins if it has too much moisture exposure. Excess corn, wheat gluten and grain meals are also detrimental.
Do you need to go to a vet to find out your cat's dietary requirements?
Cats Protection, the UK's largest feline welfare charity, states: 'if you’re ever unsure about how much your cat is eating, speak to your vet as they can give you the best advice based on your cat’s needs.'
Is it worth considering the life stage of your cat when buying cat food?
Yes. Depending on your cat's age and stage, it will require different foods. Cats Protection provides a general guide:
Kittens: they need to be fed little and often. They 'have small stomachs and need lots of energy as they grow and develop, so it is vital they are fed specific kitten food which provides nutrients required for growing and is more energy dense.'
Adult cats (1-8 years old): they need to be fed at least twice a day. They 'don’t need quite as much energy as kittens, but they will need a different balance of nutrients to stay healthy.'
Senior cats (8 years+): they 'may need more digestible protein than younger cats and require a different balance of nutrients to support their muscles and organs as they age'.
Want to read more expert-recommended pet product round-ups? Check out our Pets page for a full list of recommendations, including our list of the best cat litter and the best cat litter trays, as recommended by cat experts, as well as the best pet cameras for keeping an eye on your animal.
Luke Chamberlain is a Staff Writer for The Recommended, and interviews some of the world’s most knowledgeable product experts to help readers make smarter decision about the products they buy online.