Best dry cat foods? (with caveats)

eating-dry-food1-300x225 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food

NOTE: As of 2013, this dry food list is not  updated. The wet food list is updated more often.

ALSO: Please avoid feeding the high-protein DRY foods listed on this page to cats with kidney trouble or elder cats who are vulnerable to kidney trouble.

I like people who want to find the best food for their cat, because I have come to believe that cat food choice alone can actually prevent diseases and extend a cat’s life.

It’s important to know that many cat health & nutrition experts do not recommend dry kibble cat food because:

  • it’s more of a strain on kidneys and urinary system over time (because it’s dehydrating) and could lead to health problems
  • the extrusion process of creating dry cooked food results in a less digestible protein
  • most dry cat foods have a lot of carbs, which are particularly fattening for indoor cats
  • most have grains, which can wreak havoc on a cat’s digestive system over time (possibly leading to IBD and lymphoma, I believe)

Having said all that:

  • there are some quality low-carb, grain free dry cat foods–listed below
  • feeding dry cat food on a rotation basis (eg, wet food at night, dry in the morning) or only occasionally (eg, when you are rushed) may be a reasonable compromise

For the purists who believe kibble should not even be discussed, I understand where you are coming from, but here’s where I’m coming from:

I provide this list because I know most people (and mainstream vets) choose dry cat food at least some of the time and I want to make sure that these people can at least help their cat avoid diabetes and digestive diseases by making better dry food choices.

To find out more, see the post on how I selected these foods.

A good alternative to these dry foods is the raw dry cat food ZiwiPeak, listed in Best canned and raw cat foods.

If your cat has special health needs, please be sure to consult with a good vet about their food.






grain free  orijen-150x150 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food
  • Meats are certified free of antibiotics and
    artificial hormones; sustainably farmed. Fish are wild-caught.
  • Grain free, low-medium starch (about 17%)
  • Low cost compared to others on list
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food. 
Several experts say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Young Again 50/22, dryyoungagain-150x150 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food
  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Includes omega 3’s from fish oil. To
    preserve health qualities, it’s added after cooking.
  • US-sourced meat
  • Small company, passionately advocates
    preventing feline diabetes and more through low-carb, grain free food.
  • Low starch, grain free
  • Low cost compared to others on list
Contains active dry yeast (don’t feed if cat has yeast allergy)
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only
occasionally or in rotation with wet food
Tip: I can only find it online, directly from the Young Again site.
Several experts say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Made with “pork protein concentrate,” a new term that raises questions for some. Young Again explains that it is pork with collagen extracted, leaving behind “highly digestible pork meat which is 80% protein, 10 % fat and very low in ash.”


Nature’s Variety Instinct dry **Chicken
or turkey/duck formula(not
rabbit formula)
Instinct-150x150 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food
  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Meats sourced from US and New Zealand
    (except rabbit)
  • Semi-low (17%) starch, grain free
  • Med-low cost compared to others on this
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food.
Avoid the Rabbit formula, as the rabbit is processed in China.
Several experts
say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Core grain free drywellness_core_dry-150x150 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food
  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Grain free, low-medium starch (about 17%)
  • Medium cost compared to others on list

Petcurean GO! cat


Grain Free Chick/Turkey/Duck
Grain Free Freshwater Trout

GoNaturalGrainFree-125x150 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food

  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Hormone free Meats, US sourced; Fish is
    tested for heavy metals. No by-products.
  • Slow cooked at low temperatures (better
    for digestion and retaining nutrients)
  • Low starch, grain free
  • High cost compared to others on list
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food. (Did I say that enough?!)
Several experts
say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Wysong Epigen
, dry 
Only Epigen 90 is recommended.(I
do not recommend standard Epigen, which has gluten)
epigen90-150x150 Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food
  • Organic
  • Very low starch, grain free
  • High cost compared to others on list
Introduce slowly and gradually. Minimal-starch cooked food can require time for system to adjust to.
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food.
Several experts say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Wysong Archetype (raw dry) archetype Best dry cat foods? (with caveats) Young Again cat food review Nature's Variety Instinct cat food review Go! Natural cat food review best cat food
  • Grain, free very low starch
  • 99% meat
  • Raw, cold-processed (using proprietary technology) that makes nutrients more digestible and available
  • Very high cost compared to others on list, but similar in cost to good canned foods!
Includes ground bones, which some cats have trouble digesting.
Ground bones may also not be ideal for cats with kidney disease (check with your vet).

If your cat’s favorite natural cat food didn’t make the list…

See These natural cat foods didn’t make the “best” list: here’s why.

Many cat foods almost made this list. There were so many foods, I had to be brutal in selecting. Maybe I missed a food.

Let me know if you have questions. Looking for the Best canned and raw cat foods?


Where to find these foods

  • Only Natural Pet Store (carries most of these foods – affiliate store chosen for their reasonable prices)
  • also carries many of these foods and sometimes you can find good deals there
  • Many brands are available online directly from the company that makes them (like Young Again)
  • Your local pet food store (especially holistic stores) have some brands

How to get your cat to eat new foods?

Your experience? Let’s talk!

None of these foods are perfect, but they met the “best of” criteria for dry cat food.
However, every cat has different needs, just like you and I do.

I welcome your experiences, opinions, and contributions in the comments below.

Love to hear your thoughtful thoughts! Leave a reply...


  1. I am curious to know your thoughts on Feline Greenies–would you recommend? And if not… what would you consider the best treat for dental health? Also, my cat can’t go outdoors (apartment living 🙁 I wish that he could) – I want to switch him to the Nature’s Variety Instinct but I feel like he needs something beyond that being an indoor cat. I have seen grass that you can grow for indoor cats-I had some trouble with him chewing on a few houseplants and I researched the ones that I need to keep out of reach (avocado and aloe!). Any recommendations? Again, Thank you for all of your valuable insight! 🙂

  2. Hi Liz!

    I recently rescued a male, neutered cat who is approximately 1.5-2years old. I’ve done research & research trying to find him the best food & I came up with Natural Balance Grain-Free Salmon Formula. Then I got to thinking, there has to be something better out there & came across EVO Salmon & Herring Formula-HUGE MISTAKE! My cat was on it for approximately 2.5-3 weeks. He began scratching continuously & resulted in his hind legs being almost completely raw. 🙁
    I changed his food to Instinct Raw Boost Duck/Turkey Formula & feed Instinct canned food, a variety of them. However, he is still scratching & licking.
    I took him to the vet because he began licking his cat litter (I’ve changed to Blue Buffalo Walnut based cat litter) & the vet told me he has auto-immune skin disease (without doing any tests)-SCARY. I have to take him back in one week after giving him Nutra-Cal because his hair is not fully grown back in on his hind legs & he has a few scabs on his body, mostly by his ears.
    I plan to get a second opinion on this auto-immune skin disease, if that is what is determined he has.
    … However, what food do you recommend?
    I wonder if he might have a skin allergy instead of this auto-immune skin disease.

  3. I have been feeding my 3 California Naturals for a couple years. I had a bad scare with all of my cats becoming seriously ill from Purina One which is when I switched to Evo. One of my cats then developed allergies, I suspected fish but I’m not sure so I went to the California Naturals Chicken and brown rice. All of my cats are a healthy weight 2 and around 11 lbs and my boy is 17 lbs (he’s a big cat!) The cat that had the allergy is now showing the same symptoms: excessive scratching, grooming, chewing, hair loss, etc and I haven’t changed her food. I’ve been debating whether to try a raw diet for them but I’m worried about if she can tolerate it as everything else I try seems to make her worse and the vet doesn’t know what else to do for her either. Any ideas about what I can do?

    Also regarding P&G and the ingredients I don’t know about what they’re saying but I have noticed in the last 2-3 months the bags of food I’ve gotten were much more crumbly and the smell is different, it smells more like the cheap foods one of my neighbor uses and my cats’ boxes are stinkier too. This is another reason I’m looking for a new food.

  4. I’m curious why Blue Buffalo Wilderness didn’t make the cut. I’m guessing there were questionable ingredients or something…?

    1. I asked that too – I was feeding Blue Wilderness and Taste of the Wild – they didn’t make the list because their carb percentage was way too high. I will say when I switched my boys off of it they did lose a lot of the excess poundage they had collected over several years on high carb foods (Blue/Taste of the Wild/Science Diet/Wellness).

  5. What do you think of the nature’s variety instinct raw boost dry cat food which combines the kibble with the freeze dried formula?

  6. Hi! I’ve had our two cats on Wellness since they were kittens. We do a mix of wet and dry. I see that you recommend Wellness Core but not Wellness Indoor. I’ve had them on Wellness Core Indoor formula. Since that one is Core, is that acceptable? They are both indoor cats. Our boy is very active and stays slim but our female tends to put on a little bit of weight. They are almost two years old and are in great health so far. Recently, I’ve been looking at switching them to Blue Buffalo Freedom. Do you have any thoughts on that one? Do you have any idea how it compares to Wellness Core Indoor? Thanks!

  7. My cat has awful smelling stools. Recently, she has had hairball problems as well. At the shelter, we were told she was on Iams dry cat food. When we first adopted her, we started her on Simply Nourish Turkey and Oatmeal Formula by PetSmart along with Feline Greenies Dental Treats and a little organic fat free milk. Right now, she is getting a mix of Petcurean Now Fresh Grain Free and Halo Indoor Cat Chicken formulas. She still gets her dental treats, and we’ve also added Feline Greenies SmartBites Chicken Flavor for Hairball Control. Any other suggestions? (We only feed her dry food, treats, and water.)

  8. I recently switched my older female cat to Organix, made by Castor and Pollux. I had been feeding her Go! Natural grain free dry, and Wellness chicken. She gained a LOT of weight on that diet, unfortunately…. and Go! Natural changed their ingredients so that the first ingredient is chicken meal. She’s doing quite well on Organix, which altho it has chicken meal as the second ingredient, everything else is purported to be organic. I like the product and wish I could just feed her canned, but i’m a shift worker so that doesn’t work, and she won’t touch raw.

    Worth a try! Seems to be a good food, she’s lost a little weight and definitely has more energy.

  9. I’m interested in knowing if you ever reviewed Solidgold or Azmira? I have a new foster cat and I am trying to wean him over to better food…

  10. Hi Liz-Cat,…… Just curious about how you would rate the Acana dry cat foods. It looks like a REALLY good and healthy food to me, but, I would like your opinion. Thanks for your time. I’ve heard and read about the Royal Canin foods and how good they are, but, I’m still not sure. The company does do a lot of research and testing of their foods, which I think is a good thing, but, I get uncomfortable when I see ingredients like Corn Gluten Meal and Wheat Gluten. And, what REALLY makes me ANGRY and FRUSTRATED is when someone tells me certain ingredients are good and someone else tells me they’re bad,…….. WHO THE HELL DO I BELIEVE ???!!!!!??? I just want my ”Boys” to have the best, or damn close to it. Again, thanks for your time.

  11. Hi thanks for your web site!

    1.I found some posts where many people’s cats have trouble with crystals and urinary issues while using Wellness Core. Are you aware of it?

    2. My cats had higher Ph and crystals. I switch him to a more wet diet. But if go on vacation or week end he won’t eat wet from the babysitter,so I am looking for the best dry cat food option for this problem. He used to eat life abundance dry (which I see has a lot of carbs). It seems confusing to me though as I hear some people blaming the carbs and other blaming the high protein for this kind of problems. Any insight?

    Thank you

  12. Hello there,

    I have an older kitty that I adopted last year. She had been eating Iams and Fancy Feast her whole life but I suspected that she has food allergies since she has itching that causes hair loss, redness and scabbing. I’m done with the depo medrol injections.

    I’ve switched her to Wellness Core but I’ve noticed that her stools have been hard and she seems a bit constipated. Have you heard of Wellness causing these sorts of issues? Her itching has been dramatically reduced but I’m not sure where to go from here. I appreciate any help you can offer. 🙂

  13. Hello, I live in Canada, and used to purchase the GO! Natural line exclusively… both the dry grain free and the wet grain free.

    However, this summer they changed their formula so that chicken meal is the first ingredient, and their price went up. Thought you would like to know….

  14. I’ve been using Max Cat and Nutro for several years now, but recently my big guy has started throwing up when feeding him the Max Cat Indoor Weight Management Formula. He seems to like the Nutro Natural Choice Weight Management kibble though and he does pretty well with it, as does his sister. I did not hear about the Melanamin scandal until just recently but it got me to thinking to switch to a different brand, to a company that is more focused on quality and my research brought me to this website.

    Both cats are indoor cats, they are 10 years old and don’t get any excercise, so I am trying to find something that will not make them gain weight. Any suggestions would be welcome!

  15. Hi! I was wondering what are your thoughts on Nature’s Variety Instinct “Raw Boost” cat food? It is dry mixed w/ freeze dried raw. I only use dry on rotation with wet cans, it wouldn’t be the main source of food for my cats.

    Also, for the same brand of raw cat food, you say that it has ground bones so it could affect a cat’s kidney function, so is it healthy enough to feed my cats in place of wet cans? Is raw the best option healthwise?



    1. Hi Madelyn,
      Assuming cats don’t have an immunity-compromised condition (like cancer), raw food is considered the healthiest option because it lets them digest all the nutrients – and very easily, as all the enzymes are intact in the food.

      I don’t have strong feelings about the Raw Boost…well, nutritionally and taste wise I think it sounds like a good thing. My mixed feeling comes up around the bacteria issue…I don’t understand how they can be sure there is no bacteria risk if the food is not refrigerated. I thought freeze dried raw food needed to be refrigerated. I think NV is a good company though, so I hope we can trust they’ve thought this through and have created it so that it’s all hygienic.

      The kidney thing with ground bones – no worries if your cats don’t already have a kidney condition. Ground bones should be fine for cats who have normal kidneys and no constipation. (Cats with kidney conditions may need a different formula because phosphorous levels probably need to be controlled.)

      1. I don’t think freeze dried needs refrigeration. Stella and Chewy’s is a free dried line and it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. K9 Naturals does a freeze dried line for dogs and you don’t have to refrigerate that either. NV’s freeze dried treats do fine without refrigeration as well. I’ve used the raw boost with my boys since it was first available and everyone’s doing fine (and the food just goes in a bin in a random mixture – NV, Orijen and Earthborn – anyone have a comment on Earthborn? I just started feeding it because I got a sample at work and my guys love it. They get it maybe once every third time I throw something in the bin so it isn’t the base of their diet – I would say NV raw boost dry and Weruva cans are.)

      1. I would also love to hear your thoughts on solid gold canned cat foods! I notice there’s no mention. 10 years ago when I was working at a pet store in high school that carries just about every brand of food available (including raw diets), solid gold was considered one of the best foods available, but the holistic pet food game has changed a lot since then, so I am curious as to how it stacks up now.

        I am asking because our cat just had an ultrasound on Wednesday to determine whether his heart was healthy enough to go under anesthesia for dental surgery (he has a heart murmur). His heart is fine, but what we unexpectedly found instead is either IBD or small cell lymphoma – we get the results today 🙁 we adopted this cat 4 years ago, and I was feeding him Natural Balance LID canned foods from the start. We’ve since tried Merrick BG and wellness CORE as well. However, the cat (“Bill”) is almost 9 years old, so there is no telling what his previous owner fed him 🙁 (he was found as a stray, but he was declawed in the front at some point so he was obviously someone’s cat). He has always thrown up a lot ever since we got him, but we never worried bc our vet never made a big deal about it – thank goodness we switched vets a week ago and discovered all these issues before it was too late!!

        ANYWAY lol, I would love to hear your thoughts on solid gold 🙂 thanks so much!! Great blog!!!

  16. I have a cat with IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) and Diabetes. Having learned as much as possible over the last year about feline diabetes, he was switched to a raw food and wet food diet (Fancy Feast Classic only – miraculously good for diabetic cats). However, he has not lost his obsession with dry food. I tried to buy a decent dry food and only feed it to him as a treat and maybe 10 kibbles a day, some days none. However, I notice his glucose values spike when he even has this little bit of dry!

    So, I’m curious about the Young Again Zero Carb food and the comments about diarrhea. Were you all feeding this as a primary food source (i.e. they were getting it frequently or as meals during the day)?

    I have gone ahead and ordered it and plan to only continue giving it to him as a treat and am quite hopeful that it does not give him diarrhea. Given his IBD, he is on daily steroids which has pretty much overridden any food allergies and issues he’s had so my fingers are crossed that he will (1) like the YAZC food and (2) not have adverse digestive issues with it!

    I certainly appreciate any feedback…thank you!

    1. Hi Amy and Sweet Grey Kitty,

      I’m overdue to post on here about my experience with Young Again Zero Carb and Young Again 50/22 so, Amy, you’ve inspired me to take the time to do it! But to zip to my bottom line reaction to your question, it sounds like the YA zero carb might be ok with feeding such a small amount as you described. I don’t have any training/experience with IBD, allergies, etc. so please accept this as just a guess from a caring friend. However, don’t be surprised if YAZC doesn’t satisfy the dry food craving. I’ve become convinced that the craving is for the carb content, not the dry kibble form. So, here goes:

      My cat Jupiter had a brush with feline diabetes last year and we went through some of the trials it sounds like you’re having with trying to get him off of dry (high carb) food. I’m convinced Jupiter was addicted to carbs.

      I used Fancy Feast classic as well and used dry food as “crunchies on top” to get him to eat it. Then I was traveling for work a lot and with the sitter only coming in once a day, had to go with more dry. That’s when I tried Young Again zero carb. I’ll try to be brief (if Liz wants to give you my email address, I’m happy to have more detailed conversations with you that way):

      Young Again Zero Carb
      At first Jupiter loved it. A day or two into it, his poop was very soft and VERY stinky. I’d read the diarrhea reports here so was planning to send it back. (Yay for the 60 day money back guarantee!) I had a long phone conversation with the sales manager at YA and she said that’s usually a temporary result. She said it takes a week or two for cats to adjust to eating less food. With the food full of carbs, they have to eat a lot more just to get the nutrition they need. So if they eat the same amount of YAZC, they’re taking in too much protein and that gets eliminated as loose, stinky poop. You can read more from me on this over on the wet food page of this site – a discussion between me and another reader who was concerned about guar gum. (And she could be right.) But Jupiter’s experience reflects what YA said – it was temporary…within about a week and a half, he was eating way less of the YA and was having normal poop again. (not soft, not super stinky.) But after maybe 3 weeks, Jupiter just didn’t like the YAZC — couldn’t get him to eat it! Because he isn’t diabetic, I had the option of trying the Young Again 50/22 (low carb rather than no carb).

      Young Again 50/22 (I like this company a lot, by the way. They’ve given a lot of thought to their foods and I learned a lot talking to them.)
      This is a dry, kibble food that for some reason turns to dust if you just look at it crosswise. When I first opened the bag, a lot of it was tiny bits. I use a coffee cup to scoop dry kibble into a jar so I can keep most of the bag closed up rather than exposing it to air at every feeding. I realized that just the action of the cup sliding across the food to scoop it up was turning it to dust! I’d already gotten a refund for the YAZC and so worked hard to just tolerate the crumbliness of the YA50/22. (Read as major hassle!) After a month or so, Jupiter just didn’t like it any longer. Sigh. I still have a bunch of it. Meanwhile, I’d discovered Wysong Epigen 90 (also low carb) when Liz posted that here.

      Wysong Epigen 90
      At first Jupiter really liked it and I like what I read on their website and receive in their emails that I signed up for. Sounds like a smart, caring company. I bought a 2-pound bag directly from Wysong. Literally the week that I brought home a case of it (8 2-pound bags), J decided “this food bores me.” Yeah this feline finickyness is a trial! He’ll still eat it most days…so far. Maybe by the time he just won’t eat it, I’ll switch back to the YA 50/22! Or the YAZC! 🙂

      Somewhere along the way, I wanted to try again to upgrade from Fancy Feast classic. (I’d tried that before and threw away a LOT of expensive, high quality cat food! But I wasn’t crazy about some of the ingredients of FF.) I hit the jackpot! At Liz’s rec over on the wet food page, I tried Nature’s Variety Instinct. Jupiter loves it. The shop that ordered the case of Wysong for me also recommended Hound & Gatos. 98% meat!!! Jupiter loves it too! So now he’s eating about half canned and half dry. Each of the NVI and the H&G has at least one ingredient I wish was’t there but mostly, I think these foods are fabulous and Jupiter agrees.

      Amy, if Sweet Grey Kitty can have those ingredients, you may not need dry kibble at all! (I bet the flax in the NVI is a no no for IBD etc — I’m not crazy about it being in there but from what I could learn online, it’s ok-ish if the cat tolerates it and J seems better than fine. The H&G has guar gum and brewer’s yeast – also perhaps questionable but J especially loves this food and is showing no ill effects.)

      Good luck Amy! And Liz, thanks as always.

      1. Hi Cynthia, I just want to thank you so much for your super detailed dispatch from the frontlines of real-world cat-food research! Very helpful. So glad you’ve found two reasonable foods that are working for Jupiter. I totally understand that when you’re busy, traveling, and don’t have a “live in catsitter,” there’s a need to have a decent dry food on hand. For the record, I don’t take a stand against guar gum or brewer’s yeast. As far as I know they are both harmless, unless a cat is allergic to yeast (which is rare -and you’d know). Plus the yeast adds some good nutrients.

        1. Liz, you’re welcome and thanks for the reassurances about guar gum and brewer’s yeast. Jupiter is having zero discernible reactions to anything in the NVI, the H&G (both canned) and the Wysong Ep90 (dry). I’ll move back to the wet good page with a new question.

      1. It’s going great with the Young Again Zero Carb dry food. I have three cats – one with no health issues, one who probably has cancer so he has a whole world of issues I can’t fix with food 🙁 🙁 and Sweet Grey Kitty – the IBD/Diabetic cat. The healthy cat and Sweet’s love the food. In fact, I think Sweet’s obsession has increased now that he has the YAZC dry!!

        That said, I feed him less than 1/4 cup per day. I feed him his main meals of either Fancy Feast Classic or Rad Cat raw food. I put the dry in a timed feeder so he gets a few kibbles as a treat a few times a day and then about 1/8 cup at 4:30 in the morning. He has a terrible habit of waking me up then because he’s hungry so I’m training him to go to the food dish before coming to me 🙂

        I don’t think they are eating enough to get diarrhea but their poop is smellier, for sure!

        He also just had a fructosamine test and it is in “normal” cat range so his blood glucose is well regulated which tells me this food really is zero or low carb.

        The other thing I think we have going for us is that because of his IBD, he is on a daily steroid. There is probably not much that is going to upset his tummy or GI tract, in all honesty 🙂

        At any rate, I’m currently a fan of this food at the amounts I’m feeding. However, I would never go back to a main diet of dry ever again and thus, they will not be feed more than the current levels. There is just too much research on feline nutrition overall as well as diet for diabetic cats, to not believe that a wet/raw food diet is the way to go – providing it’s the right low-carb foods.

        Hope this helps, Amy

  17. Thank you so much for all of the great info! I was trying to decide between wellness core and instinct raw boost. What are your thoughts on Chicken vs Chicken meal?

    Also, I know that wet food is better generally, but what about the theory that the dry food helps to prevent plaque build-up? That’s one of the reasons I give my boy a tiny bit of dry food each day. (His dad also brushes his teeth every day!) Another reason is that cats are supposed to be grazers and I’ve read that it’s unnatural to limit them to 2 meals a day. Any truth to this?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Melissa,
      In my opinion, Chicken is always going to preferable to Chicken Meal. (But Chicken Meal is better than “Meat Meal”!) The vets I trust say the plaque build up being mitigated by dry food is a myth. Seems logical since I don’t think crunching through Captain Crunch would reduce my plaque! Sugar is worse, but most foods can cause plaque. Plus, Dad brushes your cats teeth every day? Wow! He’s way ahead of most cats dental-wise then. : )
      I don’t know if we know for sure about the grazing, but I think eating twice per day is pretty natural for cats, and well worth it if that’s what it takes to feed healthy food.

  18. Hi- thanks for all the great research! We just brought home a 14 week old Bengal boy and I am wondering about switching him off of the food that he was eating at the breeder. He was eating chicken soup for the kitten (dry), which I purchased a small bag of, and she sent us home with Innova cat and kitten wet and some cans of fancy feast chicken and spinach florentine (ack!) I have read that bengals can get upset tummies easily, so I want to switch him slowly, but I feel the need to get away from the fancy feast right away (kitty twinkies!). I noticed that none of your recommended foods are kitten formulas, should I stick with a kitten foods until he’s 1 or are some of them good enough for kittens too? Also, I have been feeding close to the recommended amount on the wet food, and leaving the dry out for him to nibble when he likes. Any thoughts on that? He does seem to like grazing on the dry food. Any other kitten food advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for all the advice.

    1. Hi CKZ, thanks for your comment on the blog and congrats on the new addition to your family. On kitten formulas, let me quote Dr. Hofve: “there are only TWO nutritional standards for cat food: adult and growth (kitten, pregnancy, lactation). “All life stages” foods comply with growth requirements. Everything else–everything–is purely marketing.”

      In other words, all good cat foods are good for kittens, but it is true that kittens typically need 2x as much food each day as adult cats, so be sure to follow the instructions on the label for kitten amounts. I wouldn’t worry about letting him nibble, as he’s a growing boy who should instinctively know how much to eat. UNLESS he’s a got a food obsession like our little Joel does. It’s not normal, but cats with a starvation experience in kittenhood can’t seem to shake it. Doubt that would be the case with your Bengal though!

      1. Thanks so much for the info!! He’s doing great! We have settled on WeRuVa cats in the kitchen pouches at this point, because he LOVES them, although I am trying to suss out which one gave him an upset tum…and a squirty bum in the last day or two. I think it was their green eggs and chicken. I thought I saw somewhere your comments on these, but I can’t seem to find it now. I hate to make you repeat yourself, but your thoughts on WeRuVa? He seems to love lapping up the liquid and the fresh chunks of meat. He won’t go near pate style food now. He just mopes at me when I have tried it. And leaving out a small handful of dry seems to do the trick, as he never completely cleans out the bowl. Thanks again!

        1. CZK, that’s great news. About your Weruva question – I feel pretty confident in the quality of Weruva, and I love that they are BPA-free, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan.

  19. Liz-Cat;
    Thanks for the info on cat food. were you able to find out Where the rest of the pet food manufacturer’s ingredients originated from ? I’m researching foods for my cat again.. now that a that some of the brands have been purchased by Procter&Gamble. I Also was wondering
    Why cat food always has Ash in it. It seems like a strange ingredient, don’t you think? I came across a website ) which said that the meat is cooked at a very temp. and the higher the quality of meat used, the less ash. When you think about it, in the wild cats would never eat ash because their food is always raw. I’m wondering if the lower the ash content, the Better?

    Another reason for researching cat food is that I want to avoid aliments that can be caused by diet. According to Cats Suit 101; “It does appear, however, that diet may increase the risk of a cat developing urinary crystals, stones, and urethral plugs. Struvite crystals are made up of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate.” The article recommended a food that “maintains a lower PH level in the urine.”.
    Instinct brand looks like a possibility…. got more checking to do.

    All the best

    1. Hi Teri,

      I have sent a message to Natura asking for total clarity about the source of Innova cat food meats. Their site claims no ingredient quality changes since P & G, but I hope we can settle the mystery here.
      About the ash – yes, strange sounding ingredient, but it refers to the mineral content in general ( see
      Target pH, yes the ideal range for urinary health is generally considered 6 – 6.5 pH. I have investigated and listed the target ranges for most of the foods in the dry cat food tables above (on my site). It’s a good question and something to keep an eye on.

  20. I am so happy to have discovered this site. Thank you for the information and help you are providing. After experiencing some health problems on 4 separate occasions after adding flax seed/oil to my diet I no longer consume flax. I noticed that flax was in the food that I was feeding my cats. I prefer not to feed my cats food that contains wheat, soy or by products. I began researching the premium or human grade foods sold at my local pet store and could only find one that did not contain flax seed/meal. However the food has chicken meal instead of meat. My cats are seniors and unfortunately I started them eating dry food as kittens. Attempts to get them to eat can food have been unsuccessful. Are there any dry foods that do not contain flax seed/meal that you would recommend?

    1. Hi Betsy, I too am not a huge fan of flax in cat foods. For one thing, cats can’t convert flax omegas to the EPA/DHA that we take omegas for. And, flax has to be very fresh or it become oxidized and less healthy anyway. It’s a gimmicky, annoying ingredient for cats in my opinion! Pet peeve, yet I gave up worrying about it because everyone is using it, it seems. However, not Petcurean – check them here Probably a couple more on my list here ( omit it as well.

      1. Hello! Thank you for having this site up! 🙂 I have been looking for some good options and this site is very helpful! I just wanted to comment on the newer Nature’s Variety Instinct Rawboost–Specifically the Rawboost varieties all seem to contain flax oil or ground flax seed 🙁 Otherwise they look pretty good. The other Instinct varieties do not seem to have flax. 🙂

  21. Hi, I was considering trying Redmoon Pet Food Chicken & Turkey Dry Cat Formula to feed along with one of your Canned Cat food picks. What do you think or know about Redmoon Custom Pet Food?

    1. Larry, repeating answer here so everyone can see it: They are interesting – I like the idea that the food may be fresher, and the custom supplement additions are kind of fun and make some sense. The trouble is I feel their carb count of 25% is a bit high – especially for indoor cats – cats are more likely to get overweight and be diabetes-prone with high carb foods. So I don’t have anything on my dry cat food list with more than 18% carbs. But Redmoon is right on the border – could be worse.

  22. I always thought Innova Prime was a better quality dry food, but its not on your list (I don’t feed dry anymore, but if I had to choose one, I would choose Innova Prime). I know it was bought by Procter and Gamble and that will always be a concern, however if the ingredients don’t change, what are your reasons for not including it?

    Great blog by the way! Very informative and I have used your suggestions for wet and raw many times!



    1. Holly,
      Thanks for writing in about Innova Prime dry – and thanks for you kind words too. Looks like Innova Prime is a new grain-free food that I will add to the dry foods “best of” list. Thanks very much for bringing it to my attention.

    2. Holly;

      Oh, No.. not P8G foods. First off, P & G for many years has conducted Cruel Experiments on Cats, Dogs, Rabbits and other animals all for profit. Could you even imagine cutting putting harsh chemicals into the eyes of an innocent cat, dog, or rabbit? How about cutting open a dog or cat to see how their food is digested ?? These are true examples of the kinds of experiments conducted by
      P &G.

      In relationship to safe and healthy Pet food ingredients, you cannot trust the quality or even the true identity of ingredients from Asia where P&G sources much of their ingredients, and you can’t trust the ingredients for us humans either! Do you remember the Melamine poising in pet foods back in ’06 or ’07 ??? The Canadian company who imported the pet food tested the pet food for the amount of protein in the product. They were fooled because it just so happened one of the ingredients was tainted with a Toxic Chemical used to manufacture plastics, dishware, and countertops called; Melamine, Thousands of pets in the US and Canada died.
      Three years later, infant baby formula was also contaminated with Melamine both in China AND the U.S.! Therefore,we can’t trust what comes from Asia… and P&G uses ingredients from Asia!!

      Call or email these companies and find out if 100% of their ingredients are from the USA.

      1. Holly;

        I neglected to mention that Melamine tests High for Protein and that is how the pet food companies were fooled.

        1. I emailed them and so far there have been no new changes to Evo or Innova and they claim that the majority of their ingredients are sourced from the US and New Zealand. They also claim that none of their ingredients are from China and they guarantee their products are 100% free of Melamine and Cyanuric acid.

          I also understand that P&G has treated animals cruelly, however they have not always owned Naturapet food, this is new. I definitely do not support P&G in general, I have never bought any of their shampoos, lotions, etc., because whether its cat food or human products, they always use the cheapest ingredients, but until I see some definitive change in the food, I am still going to recommend it (with caution) since in my opinion its one of the better foods out there.

          If you hear otherwise with definitive evidence, let me know.


      2. Thanks for the heads up. So far we haven’t seen any changes on the Naturapet product ingredients, so I am wondering where the change is. Other than P&G buying the food, its one of the best dry foods out there, however If they are sourcing their food from Asia than that’s a different story. I will send them an email see what they say.

  23. Hi everyone,

    A week or so ago after reading Liz’s recommendations above, I was on a quest for samples. Even though some sources have no-questions-asked-money-back guarantees on the pet food they sell, I don’t like waste (their product, my time and shipping costs) so I’m a big fan of giving Jupiter sample tastes whenever I can. I wanted to pass along some intell:

    The Petcurean website has a “wanna coupon” button. When you click that, you can request either a $3 off the purchase of 6 lbs or more OR a free product sample. Their system restricts you to one coupon per household so you’ll need to decide on one or the other. But here’s the kicker: Petcurean is located in Canada and they can’t ship samples across the border. Therefore, if you go for the product sample, you’re emailed a coupon worth a free trial 1/2 lb package of whatever food you selected. The you have to find a local retailer to fulfill your request. I called 3 shops near me who carry Petcurean products. The 1 of the 3 that stocks the specific food Liz recommends doesn’t carry the 1/2 pound size. The store manager told me she can’t justify ordering a case of that size just to give me my sample. Struck out! The next thing I’ll try is with online retailers but pretty soon, this particular sample isn’t going to be worth it.

    Better news on the Young Again and Wysong fronts! I contacted each of them through their websites requesting samples of the specific foods I want to try and in both cases received prompt emails that yes! they’ll send me samples. Being a potential new customer is just the best! 🙂 Both of those companies made me feel like I made their day requesting samples and they made my day with the warmth of their responses. Samples are on the way to me.

    Good luck to all of you and thanks to Liz, as always, for providing this place,
    Washington DC

  24. I’m trying to improve my cats’ diet – but with 8 of them it gets expensive fast (even with a pet retail store employee discount). Currently they are eating Weruva canned (the ones without the carrageenan) at night and dry in the morning – I mix Taste of the Wild and Blue Wilderness Duck formula for the dry – I see what you had to say about TOW being too high carb – I suspect Blue Wilderness is the same? I find it interesting that Wellness is recommended over TOW – my 4 older cats got really fat on Wellness indoor and did start losing (a bit, we’re still working on it) when I switched them to the TOW/Blue mix. The younger ones that haven’t ever eaten anything else are nice and lean.

    I have one that is fat, tends to constipation, and has some special digestive needs so I’m not sure raw is the way to go for this crowd (though they occasionally get Stella and Chewy’s as treats when I get samples). They all passionately despised Honest Kitchen.

    1. HollyAnne – right, I do NOT recommend Wellness INDOOR – that stuff has about 35% carb. What is Wellness thinking? As if cats are supposed to lose weight on 35% carb? No wonder your cats gained weight on it. The only dry Wellness I would ever use is the CORE grain-free one. And yes, Blue Wilderness also is around 30% carb.

      Thanks for the update and keep me posted.

      1. Well, after more research and the TOTW recall, I switched. There’s now 9 of them in the picture, #9 is 13, neutered male, skin and coat issues (from a rescue), was eating Science Diet D/D when I got him, had a “food allergy” alert on his profile. My gut said it was grain not really a need for the DD.

        I switched to Instinct/Orijen combo dry in the morning, still with Weruva cans at night, I added the Honest Kitchen Perfect Form digestive supplement to the wet food (they weren’t impressed at first but now they don’t care).

        When I got #9 I added Grizzly salmon oil and Pet Wellness kelp based skin and coat supplement

        Results so far:

        #1 8 year old Alpha male black short hair that was VERY overweight, has lost the bloated unhealthy look he had, has dropped weight, less shedding, fur is shiny. I noticed the most change in him.
        #2 Red tabby bobtailed brother of #1, also very overweight. Still is, but has slimmed a bit I think. He has an overgrooming issue we’re still working on. Not a lot of change in him.
        #5 5 year old Megacolon?/Chronic constipation cat (male mackerel weegie/coon mix) has lost weight, fur looks better, no IBD flareups, fairly regular bowels. Still has a lot of weight to lose. He also gets laxatone during shedding season because his system can’t process hairballs.
        #4 6 year old male B&W Coon mix – looks great – he was one of the few that wasn’t overweight on TOTW/Blue, and he still looks good on this mix. If I had to pick one I thought did better on TOTW he would be the one.
        #3 6 year old male ginger tabby poly w/dry fur – thicker, nicer fur, less hairballs, but I didn’t see a big change in him one way or the other. He has lost a bit of weight.
        #7&8 1 year old male tigers – they are the only two that only ever had the TOTW/Blue and then switch to Instinct/Orijen – one of them was a bit fat and he lost that, might just have been baby fat. They have the most amazing fur of any short haired cat I’ve ever had.
        #6 3 year old black coon/himalayan mix with a bad attitude- lost weight, fur condition improved, less hairballs. He’s a small cat, especially for a coon, but he looks really great.
        #9 – gave up his science diet after a few days when he figured out what he has versus what the others had. (oddly enough #6 and #1 actually like the science diet). His skin has all healed up, his fur is much shinier. Only negative I’ve noticed is he seems more arthritic. Trying Pet Naturals Hip and Joint and Daily Best Senior.

        Any opinions on Instinct’s new Raw Boost Formula? I’m intrigued, I don’t do raw because of #5 (though he’ll try to get through a door for Stella and Chewy’s samples when I can get them.) The bits in the Raw Boost are really small, I thought he might be able to handle it or I could pick them out of his bowl, thought it might be a nice way to give my old guy even more of a nutritional improvement.

        1. Holly, wow, your comment was like a whole blog post. Very interesting and informative, thank you! And I love all the good news of health improvements for most of your cats. Way to go!
          The Instinct Raw Boost Dry food formulas look good at first glance. I assume it’s just like Instinct grain free but with Raw freeze dried bits for extra nutrition and taste? Shouldn’t hurt and might help.

  25. My FLUTD cat will be the end of me, not in the least because he’ll hardly touch wet food! (And he especially hates grain free wet food, bless his difficult and expensive little heart.) Based on my own reading and a long talk with my vet, I just ordered a bag of Young Again 50/22. I had never even heard of it until a few days ago, so fingers crossed.

    Still working on the wet food problem and keeping the cat fountain clean and appealing for my little problem child.

      1. Young Again update: Love. Their coats weren’t bad before but they’ve gotten even better, they have more energy, and my boy Jasper has had his first crystal-free checkup ever. At five years old and with three UTI hospitalizations behind him already, this is a big deal. We haven’t had any trouble with dehydration on Young Again, but we did get a small bag of NVI to fill an ordering gap, and had very obvious dehydration in at least two cats. I’d avoid that one unless they eat a lot of canned food.

        (I can’t afford to feed six cats primarily canned food, even if they would all eat it. People fussing about how cats should never eat dry food, please take a moment to consider that money is a huge issue for some of us.)

  26. Thanks for narrowing down the task of cat food selection. One of my young overweight cats refuses to eat wet food, so I am planning to work her into a (80%Wet, 20%Dry) rotation within the near future. But for now, I am using Epigen 90 and was surprised that she took right too it without a fuss. Her digestive tract showed no problems with her stool or anything. This is the first time that I have tried Wysong Epigen 90 and so far I am very pleased, except for the price. However, she is also satisfied quicker, so I use less food.

    As far as wet foods are concerned, I used your “best wet” list for our other cat and she seemed to like Taste of the Wild and Nature’s Variety right away (Newman’s Own Beef and Liver was another story.) It always helps when a cat takes right away to a food.

    Again, thanks for sharing you knowledge.

    Quick Question: Carageenan is in almost everything (ie wet cat foods), why is it viewed as a “BAD” ingredient?

    1. Hi Eric,
      You are most welcome. Kudos to you on how you are helping your young cat get healthier! I agree that the foods they take to easily are your best bets.

      Here’s the deal with carageenan:
      Several research articles cited by Wikipedia say that even regular (nondegraded) carrageenan looks guilty of suppressing the immune system and inflaming the intestinal lining–which, I might add, is the kind of thing that causes intestinal bowel disease (IBD). Some of my favorite cat food companies don’t seem to have heard about this particular study on non-degraded carrageenan yet:

      (Another concern is that degraded carrageenan, which occurs at high temperatures and acidity, has been associated with ulcerations in the gastro-intestinal tract and gastro-intestinal cancer in animals. We are just hoping the carrageenan in high quality pet foods has not been degraded – at least that’s the implication.)

      We don’t know yet exactly what amount of carrageenan cat food is a threat. But I am avoiding it because I don’t want any Bad Stuff ™ in cat food that is eaten regularly over a period of years. What if it’s the affect over time that does the damage? Carrageenan is in a lot of cat food and a lot of human food these days. There are also a ton of cats & humans with IBS or IBD these days.

  27. I am considering trying the Young Again dry food for my 5 house cats. Three of my kitties are overweight…one is old. I didn’t see taurine listed anywhere in the information about this product. I have been told by a friend who teaches at a veterinary school that taurine is essential for feline health, especially for their heart.
    Please advise.

    1. Hi Charlotte, I just double-checked the 50/22 product from YoungAgain and Taurine is indeed in there. You’re right – it’s essential for cats! All cat foods that are AAFCO approved have to have taurine.
      By the way, I don’t recommend the “zero carb” YoungAgain because it gave one of our cat’s the runs. (Something weird in the formula in order to make it zero carb.) The 50/22 was fine though.

  28. Hi! I just came across your blog and am blaming myself for just finding it now! Thank you so much for sharing all these information. I do have a quick question though – Orijen / Evo / Wellness seem to be a lot of cat parents’ (including myself) favorite amongst “premium” dry foods. Why didn’t they make the list (did they at least make it to “almost made it” list)?

    1. Be, thanks for asking! Those are all pretty good foods. Yes, they are on the runner-up list.

      I think I skipped Orijen before because they had grains, but because your message I investigated and found they are grain free now and don’t have any red flag ingredients.

      Orijen and Wellness carb percentage is a little high (17.5 – 18%). But I do say Wellness is a fine substitute for the Instinct dry food. Evo got demoted to runner up because they were purchased by a non-cat-food conglomerate, Proctor & Gamble, and many people don’t trust they will keep up the quality. It may not be a fair demotion. We don’t know if they changed the source of their meats.

      I would also now say that Orijen should probably be on the “best of dry” list.

  29. There is one thing I’d like to add about the Natural Balance LID Duck–all of my cat’s poops have changed to a lighter color and they are either going more often or having bigger bm’s, they are a heck of a lot more smelly, and they also seem to want to eat a lot more! What’s that about?

  30. I have 4 cats, one of them a Sphynx dx’d with IBS over two years ago. After trying courses of several different prescription meds and probiotics I finally agreed to put him on prednisolone every other day along with Hills Prescription Z/D dry. That worked just okay although my Sphynx was still having loose stools although not as bad as before. After about a year none of my cats would eat the Z/D. I had two other unopened bags which they would not touch either so I returned them. My local natural pet food store recommended the Natures Bounty LID Turkey and my Sphynxes bm’s improved to normal–I was so thrilled until 6 mos later when they would not eat the Natures Bounty either. Now they are on Natural Balance LID Duck, but I just read some very disturbing things about pets becoming sick and/or dying on a consumer website!

    What is a cat mom to do?

    1. Deborah, I hadn’t heard about the consumer complaints about Nature’s Balance, but I found them too after seeing your message—either it’s a consipiracy against the company or they had a bad batch. I hadn’t heard anything like that before.
      Did you try Nature’s Variety Instinct LID? (You said Nature’s Bounty, but maybe you meant Variety) At any rate, any of the grain free options on this site may work for many cats with allergies, unless of course they allergic to a particular meat. Can you bear to try wet food? that’s what I would do.
      Also, perhaps try having 2-3 different foods you switch between each week–that helps avoid the “cats suddenly not liking a food” issue.

  31. I give my cats the dry Taste of the Wild. I see you recommend the brand for canned, is it ok in the dry form (I supplement with the canned Taste of the Wild).

    1. Hi Eileen, that’s a good question too. The only reason I didn’t include Taste of the Wild dry cat food is that I calculated about *27% carbs* for that food, even though it’s grain free! Becaues they use a lot of sweet potato. They also use potato protein, and plant proteins are not considered ideal for cat digestion.

      So anyway, I believe that indoor cats are much more likely to develop weight problems (possibly even leading to diabetes) at 27% carbs. Serving once in a while would not be so bad though.

  32. Hi again, I was about to order some Young Again but wondered why you recommend the 50/22 over the Zero Carb formula? Stella

    1. Good question Stella. Honestly, it’s because one of our two cats got the runs from the Zero Carb. It makes me wonder what kind of processing they must have had to do to the meat to get it to hold together without carbs–how that might be affecting the digestibility. For this reason, I didn’t want to wish it on any other cats.

  33. Seeing the words “best” and “dry cat food” used in the same sentence makes me so uncomfortable, even though I know what you were trying to accomplish with your post. Cats just shouldn’t eat dry food. Period. For all the reasons you mention in your post. Taking a cat off dry food is the single best thing a cat parent can do for a cat’s health.

    1. Hi Ingrid, I hear you.

      Since dry food is so much more popular than wet food (even popular with many vets, sadly) I want people to know how they can do best by their cat within the limitations of the dry food world.

      Thanks for your heart-felt and thoughtful opinion.

    2. Liz;

      There a New website called; They sell Orijen Grain Free and they’re offering 15% off your order and free shipping if you purchase $49.00 or more of merchandise. Another advantage to this site is that they Support Best Friends Animal Rescue. ;))

      All the best;
      Teri aka Cat mom.