Which is the best cat food for your cat? My picks for the top cat foods for 2017 are chosen for their high quality ingredients and their approximation to a cat's natural diet in the wild - mainly the kinds of foods cats hunt. No rats or rabbits, but protein-rich meat, foul, and fish. These foods contain the same high grade protein that is sold for human consumption - no fillers or by-products.
How We Picked Our Top 5 Recommended Cat Foods
We started by reviewing cat food evaluations conducted by pet nutritionists that focus on ingredients, dietary and nutritional values, and taste and texture of the cat foods. Then we compare those evaluations with the actual dining, digestion, and health responses of the cat who eat the foods - via the cat's parents, of course, who review the foods on Amazon and PetSmart. From these we chose the top 5 based on the the highest grade ingredients, the sources of the ingredients, proportions (e.g., proteins vs. carbs, added nutrients, etc.) and, of course, the cat (mom and dad) reviews.
(If you are curious as to what we think are the worst cat foods, take a look at my picks for the Top 8 Worst Cat Foods.)
Based on the above analysis, here are our picks for Top 5 Best Cat Foods of 2017.
Orijen received a 5-star rating from the Pet Products Review, and it's well-deserved, considering it is nourishing and 'biologically appropriate.' Orijen, which comes in dry formulas that can be served wet or dry, includes a variety of protein choices for cats and kittens. It has a 75 percent protein content to a 25 percent fruit and vegetable content. In terms of high quality proteins, we are talking about things like real eggs, free range antibiotic free chicken and fresh wild caught fish. It is also grain free. Customers say that their pickiest of cats love this brand; the only negative comments are about the higher price of it as compared to some other cat foods. Clearly, the higher quality ingredients require the higher price tag. Orijen does not make a canned diet for cats. (See reviews and buy Orijen cat food here.)
5-Star-rated Blue Buffalo has a great reputation for quality ingredients and real meat, fish, or fowl is always the first ingredient. Special recipes are made for kittens and mature cats in both canned and dry food varieties. Grain-free recipes are also available.
Blue Buffalo's dieticians and veterinarians have developed a special method to preserve the natural and added vitamins and minerals in the dry food recipes. Blue Buffalo has a ton of cat fans, but families warn of possible allergies to certain formulas. If your cat does develop an allergy to one of Blue Buffalo's recipes, try another formulation of its food.
Stella & Chewy's cat food comes in two varietals; raw frozen and raw freeze-dried. Raw frozen would have to be purchased locally from a pet store because it's meant to be defrosted only once - just before you cat eats it. A very convenient way to purchase Stella & Chewy is in freeze-dried packages, as the original recipes are kept dry and hard until you add water just before serving.
Stella & Chewy's offers organic meat, fish, and fowl recipes - hormone and antibiotic-free. It is grain and gluten free, but the good stuff - taurine (a must for cats) and probiotics are added. Because it is more pricey than many cat foods, Stella & Chewy's is the brand turned to when cats won't or can't eat anything else. They do tend to fall in love with it pretty fast, but some actually prefer Stella & Chewy's in its dry state, rather than moistened with water.
Another 5-star cat food that's quite popular is Wellness, with its high quality proteins and vegetable mix, grain-free, and primarily protein varieties in wet and dry food. No matter how fussy your cat is, you will find something in the Wellness line of cat foods that he really likes.
Wellness uses no animal by-products in its formulations, something which sets it apart from some of its peers. It adds to its formulations: vitamins and minerals, flaxseed and salmon oil (for essential fatty acids), and taurine for healthy hearts and vision.
Wellness is highly rated among pet owners, but they complain vociferously when the formulations are not consistent from case to case and when cans of food are dented, which, according to customers, is an occasional problem. I feed my cat Wellness wet cat food and I've not had this problem; my cat is happy and healthy (he's 13) and eats both wet and dry formula Wellness foods. If you do receive different formulations of the same foods or dented cans, be sure to return them - I know Amazon will refund these purchases.
Taste of the Wild is another cat food brand that cats seem to like, which is always a plus. Owners like it too, although some would prefer to have chicken as the main ingredient rather than chicken meal. But the reviewers support the brand, noting that it is less expensive than Orijen, but suggest that Taste of the Wild is great nutrition for a good price. Grain free, Taste is made in dry and canned versions. (See reviews for and buy Taste of the Wild Cat Food here.)
Cats need a high quality protein-rich diet in order to live a healthy and long life. The above 5 cat foods are some of the best available of the more popular and affordable cat foods and we recommend them for your cat.
Other Great Cat Foods
There are other premium cat foods that are not as widely available, but still worth considering, if you are willing to search for them in stores or order them online. Some folks argue that these less well known cat foods are of a much higher quality and use a better manufacturing process than the more popular cat foods listed above (since manufacturers for almost all of those mentioned above have had manufacturing issues or product recalls in the past).
These premium cat foods are not always more expensive than the popular cat foods and certain flavors are priced cheaper than others. They all use high quality human grade or organic proteins as their primary ingredients. They don't contain unhealthy preservatives, formulations or dyes, and are made by manufacturers with good to excellent reputations. There are usually rave reviews for these cat foods.
Our favorites of the smaller brand cat foods are by:
Addiction Cat Food (you can see reviews and order this here).
Nature's Variety Cat Food (you can see reviews and order it here)
Eagle Pack Cat Food (you can see reviews and order it here).
Earthborn Holistic Cat Food (you can see reviews and order it here)
Honest Kitchen Cat Food (you can see reviews and order it here)
Like with human diets, higher quality foods will make a big difference in the well being and health of your cat. All of the top cat foods we recommend are well liked by many cats. But each cat is different and will have preferences. So if any one of the foods recommended above do not seem to be liked or tolerated by your cat, just try another quality brand or perhaps even a different formulation in the same brand. You are sure to find one that one that is tasty and healthy for your cat.
If you pick one of these tasty foods, your cat is likely to squeal out "Yum Yum Yum" like this adorable kitty.
If you are curious about what are the worst foods for your cat, check out our picks for 8 Worst of the Popular Cat Foods.
Originally published March 2012 and updated yearly. Last updated January 2017.