These natural cat foods didn’t make the “best” list: here’s why
“WHAT? This can’t be right! My food’s perfect!”
UPDATED July 2013
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There I was cursing at a coffee house and nearly giving up on getting those “best cat food” tables to format.
The cat food cost calculations also made me cranky, but writing buddy and fellow cat fan, Teresa, gave me the moral support to see through publishing Today’s best cat foods and Today’s best dry cat foods.
Why isn’t _____ on this list?
The project was worth the trouble because of all the people, like you, who continue to respond with great interest in finding cat food that’s truly healthy.
A common question is: “Why isn’t ________ on the list?” Sometimes the answer is: “You’re right, I need to add it.”
One of the challenges is that some good brands, like Wellness and Blue Buffalo, have some stellar products as well as some I cannot recommend.
And it depends on whether we’re talking canned or dry here too. It would be so much easier if we could just say “This brand is always great.” But it’s not that simple. So, most of the time the answer is one of the following…
Almost fabulous Runners Up: One iffy ingredient
These are still decent choices if your family is attached to them.
Here are the reasons these Runners Up for Today’s best cat foods didn’t make top billing:
- Newman’s organic Grain Free canned – carrageenan was recently added
- Wellness Grain Free Canned – carrageenan
- Halo Canned – some have carrageenan, some have garlic powder (UPDATE April 2013: cans do not have BPA in lining. UPDATE 2015: Halo Impulse does not have carrageenan or garlic)
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Canned and Blue Buffalo Basics Canned – carrageenan
- BeforeGrain Canned – carrageenan
- Evo Canned by Innova – carrageenan
- ZiwiPeak Canned (lamb or venison) – carrageenan
To understand the carrageenan concern, scroll down to the section titled “Shock #2″ on this post here or see this article by Susan Thixton. Garlic? A little probably doesn’t matter, but since a lot will cause a blood cell disorder (hemolytic anemia), many vets recommend not using it on regular basis.
Special exceptions! Where a good product has variations
The following products are mostly great, but have variations in the ingredients.
Just check the labels to get the ones that don’t have the iffy stuff, as follows:
- Weruva Canned – 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.
- Tikicat Canned – These guys have a reputation for strict quality and eco-fishing sources. They are also BPA-free, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan.
- Addiction Grain Free Canned – Good stuff, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan (currently: salmon, venison, unagi, and brushtail have it). The salmon also contains citrus, which is supposed to be toxic to cats. (What were they thinking?)
Cat foods with too many carbs: Fattening
I believe high carb percentages are to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemics in indoor cats today.
- Halo Grain Free Dry – 25% carbs (could be worse – this one is on the border)
- BeforeGrain Dry – 30% carbs
- Fromm Dry Grain Free – 29% carbs
- Blue Buffalo Dry – 28 – 40% carbs (also some have grains)
- Natural Balance Grain Free/LID Dry – 40% carbs
- Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dry- 27% carbs
- Addiction Grain Free Dry – 31% carbs
For more on this fattening carb business, see Overweight Cat? The Hidden Cause and Solution.
Cat foods made with grains: can lead to digestive problems (and hairballs)
- Wellness Canned (all the ones NOT labeled grain free) – grains
- PetGuard canned – grains
For more on the grains and digestion topic, see Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs by Fern Crist, DVM.
Cat foods with more than one issue: High carb, grains, and/or iffy ingredients
All good brands, but these specific products from them are too flawed to recommend – here’s why:
- Blue (Buffalo) Spa and Blue (Buffalo) Healthy Gourmet Canned – carrageenan; grains
- Lotus Dry – grains; 25% carb
- Wellness Indoor Dry – grains; 30 -35% carbs
- Life’s Abundance Dry – grains; 35% carbs
- Organix Castor and Pollux Dry – grains; 32% carbs
- AvoDerm canned cat food – carrageenan, avocado (may be risky over time – see comments discussion), synthetic vitamin K
Again, thank you for continuing to help me keep this and the Best cat foods “living lists” correct and up-to-date!
Hi there and thank you !
I was wondering what are your thoughts on KOHA Pet cat food .
Our cat has allergies and is overweight , so our options are very limited .
Thank you !
Hi Dana , I just want to let you know my prior cat was on koha , and overweight , had diabetes and kidney issues at the time . Do the cat carb calculator to see the carbs . Most flavors ok . It worked to get my cat’s weight down , very meat based with novelty flavors like kangaroo and guineau fowl which mine liked at the time .
Dana, I hear you—always good to find Limited Ingredient options. My quick take on KOHA, from what I can read in their ingredients and FAQ, is it’s a pretty good LID canned option. I just wouldn’t do their cat “stews” which have things like chickpeas in them, but the more simple ingredient options look pretty good.
Please let me know if Fancy Feast Classic canned cat food meets your criteria.
I haven’t seen anything mentioning Applaws wet food, do you recommend it?
What about Victor brand car foods?
Halo’s Turkey and Duck Pate has tiny bone fragments, less than 1/8 inch in size and generally easy to break with my fingernails. Should I be concerned by this? It’s otherwise been keeping her very healthy for about 4 months, and we really hope it’s okay. Your advice is most appreciated.