Cat owners only want what’s best for their kittens, so naturally, they want to give them a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet with the best cat food. But how do owners navigate the aisles of kibble, cans to find the best cat food? 

Since studies show that proper nutrition is critical for overall health and wellbeing, in this article, we will review the seven best cat foods of 2021. We will talk about their pros and cons and reveal what other customers feel about each brand.

Read on to find out what to look for in quality cat food. Plus, we will also give you some helpful tips for accurate cat food label interpretation and explain the AAFCO standards.  

Best Seller
The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters
10/10Our Score
  • Use code VETERINARIANS30 for 30% off
  • WORLD’S FIRST HUMAN GRADE DRY CAT FOOD: Most pet food is something called ‘feed grade.’ Whole Food Clusters are the world’s first human-grade dry food.
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Clusters are made by mixing human-grade nutrient-rich whole foods.
  • WE SAY NO TO: This recipe contains no feed-grade ingredients, meat meals, fillers, GMO ingredients, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives.

What is the Best Cat Food?

  1. Best Grain-Free Cat Food: Open Farm Homestead Grain-Free Formula
  2. Best Cat Food for Adults: Smalls Cat Food 
  3. Best Wet Cat Food: Tiki Canned Food

Best Cat Foods: Our Top Picks Reviewed

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters

Price:  $27.99

Item Form: Dry Food

Special Diet: Grain-Free

Pet: Cat

Lifestage: All Life Stages

Flavor: Chicken

Storage Instructions: Stored in a room temperature

Summary: The Honest Kitchen is a family-owned, US-based company that formulates healthy pet food from minimally processed, human-grade ingredients. These grain-free, protein-rich, bite-sized chicken clusters were developed in collaboration with a veterinary nutritionist using a bunch of cage-free chicken, natural foods, and a probiotic boost to aid digestion.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters contain premium ingredients to anchor your feline’s overall health and wellness. This recipe includes cranberries to support your cat’s urinary health, probiotics, gentle ingredients to achieve healthy digestion, and flax seeds to help reduce hairballs and maintain a healthy coat for your feline.

Pros

  • 30% off on first orders of $30+ using code VETERINARIANS30
  • All-natural, Non-GMO ingredients
  • Has higher protein and fiber content
  • No preservatives, artificial colors, fillers, and meat meals
  • Human-grade quality
  • Boosts energy levels and improves digestion

Cons

  • Rich in calories

Full Ingredient List: Chicken, peas, eggs, chicken liver, lentils, potatoes, tricalcium phosphate, natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, salmon oil, sodium chloride, vitamins [niacin supplement, vitamin e supplement, vitamin a supplement, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin b1), calcium pantothenate (vitamin b5), biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), vitamin d3 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin b2), vitamin b12 supplement], fenugreek seed, taurine, choline chloride, dried organic kelp, minerals [zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite], pumpkin, blueberries, cranberries, carrots, organic barley grass, yucca schidigera extract, potassium chloride, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), rosemary extract, turmeric, l-carnitine, dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product. Contains a source of life, naturally occurring microorganisms.

Nutrient Analysis: 

  • Protein: 35.0%
  • Fat: 16.0%
  • Fiber: 4.0%
  • Moisture: 8.0%

Customer Review: Satisfied customers report that The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters recipe has contributed a lot to their cats’ healthy weight management and has helped them achieve a healthy set of teeth and coats. Some of them have also posited that the quality of The Honest Kitchen’s cat food is unmatched and this has been consumed by their pets for a couple of years already.

Veterinarians.org Review: Our team at veterinarians.org is giving The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters an overall 9/10 star rating. A breakdown of our rating is listed below:

  • Pet Suitability (9/10): This grain-free and human-grade product is 100% safe for all cats of all sizes, breeds, and all life stages. 
  • Ingredient Quality (10/10): Made with the best ingredients. 100% safe for all cats and contains quality ingredients. 
  • Cost Effectiveness (8/10): For $27.99 you will have a grain-free chicken tasty bite-sized cluster that is worth every penny based on the customers’ feedback. 
  • Customer Feedback (10/10): Based on the customers’ feedback this product has quality ingredients with no added garbage, and they confidently say that this is the best cat food on the market. 
  • Product Variety (7/10): this product comes in three sizes such as 1lb, 4lb, and 10lb, and one flavor.
  • Taste (9/10): Cats loved the taste of this product specifically of its protein content and its tasty bite-sized clusters.
Open Farm Homestead Grain-Free Formula

Price:  $26.99

Item Form: Dry Food

Special Diet: Grain-Free

Pet: Cat

Lifestage: All Life Stages

Flavor: Turkey, Chicken

Storage Instructions: Stored in a room temperature

Summary: Open Farm’s Homestead offers premium quality and grain-free cat food for indoor and outdoor cats. All ingredients are natural and 100% traceable, and the protein sources are ethically raised. 

Featuring superfoods like pumpkin, carrots, and turmeric, as well as fresh cranberry and dandelion greens for urinary tract health, the Open Farm’s healthy Homestead diet, is suitable for all cats regardless of age and breed. Plus, the kibble is conveniently sized and shaped. First-time customers can also get 20% off their first auto-ship order using code VET20!

Pros

  • 20% off your first auto-ship order using code VET20!
  • Humanely and sustainably sourced
  • Helps support healthy digestion

Cons

  • High demand

Full Ingredient List: Humanely raised turkey, humanely raised chicken, ocean whitefish meal, herring meal, garbanzo beans(chickpeas), red lentils, coconut oil, ocean menhaden fish meal, green lentils, pumpkin, natural flavor, non-GMO cranberries, Dried chicory root extract, apples, choline chloride, salt, dandelion greens, taurine, turmeric, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, dried yucca schidigera extract, mixed tocopherols, calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin A acetate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract

Nutrient Analysis:

  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Fiber: 4.5%
  • Moisture: 10%
  • DHA: 0.05%
  • Calcium: 1.2%
  • Phosphorus: 1.0%
  • Vitamin A: 5000 IU/kg
  • Vitamin E: 50 IU/kg
  • Omega-6: 1.25%
  • Omega-3: 0.4%

Customer Review: Customers say the food “smells amazing,” and cats are delighted with it, including cats that generally dislike dry food. They also say the formula is more expensive but “worth every penny.” All in all, we rate the Open Farm Homestead Grain-Free Formula as the Best Dry Cat Food.

Veterinarians.org Review: Our team at veterinarians.org is giving Open Farm Homestead Grain-Free Formula an overall 9/10 star rating. A breakdown of our rating is listed below:

  • Pet Suitability (9/10): This product is safe to use by cats in all life stages, breeds, and sizes. 
  • Ingredient Quality (10/10): This product contains protein, fiber, fat, moisture, and taurine that is 100% safe for cats. 
  • Cost Effectiveness (8/10):  Based on customer reviews they say that this product is high quality that is worth every penny. 
  • Customer Feedback (10/10): Most of the customer reviews are positive the cats love it and this product is highly recommended. 
  • Product Variety (7/10): Contains two varieties of size 4lb and 8lb and have one flavor.
  • Taste (9/10): The cats loved this product specifically the flavor. Based on most of the customers.
smalls wet cat food

Price: $1.25/can

Item Form: Wet Food

Special Diet: Grain-Free

Pet: Cat

Lifestage: All Life Stages

Flavor: Chicken

Storage Instructions: These are wet foods and spoil at room temperature 

Summary: Smalls is a fresh cat food manufacturer and delivery service based in NYC. The brand used human-grade ingredients and premium animal protein sources including chicken, turkey, and fish.

Its USDA-certified recipes are available in two options – minced style and classic pate. In terms of flavors, there are four combinations – Bird (Chicken), Other Bird (Turkey and Chicken Liver), Cow, and Fish. 

With min 21% protein and low in carbs, the Smalls formulas are suited for cats of all life stages. Consistent use results in improved digestion, better weight and hairball control, and balanced energy levels. 

Pros

  • Human-grade manufacturing 
  • Great for stomach sensitivities
  • High-protein source as the first ingredient
  • Does not contain fillers
  • Helps boost immunity

Cons

  • More expensive as compared to other brands

Full Ingredient List: 

Chicken, chicken liver, green beans, peas, water (sufficient for processing), chicken hearts, kale, tricalcium phosphate, canola oil, choline chloride, potassium chloride, salt, taurine, magnesium sulfate, niacinamide, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), copper sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), manganese sulfate, riboflavin (vitamin B2), potassium iodide, folic acid, biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement 

Nutrient Analysis:

  • Protein: 15.5%
  • Fat: 8.5%
  • Fiber: 1.5%
  • Moisture: 72%
  • Taurine: 0.08%

Customer Review: Satisfied customers report fresher breath, fewer hairballs, shinier coats, and energy outbursts after using the Smalls food for their cats. They also say the food is “easily digestible” and “improves the poop quality” (firmer and less stinky). Plus, the customers are more than happy with the “professional customer service” and home delivery. All in all, we rate the Smalls Cat Food as the Best Overall food for cats. 

Veterinarians.org Review: Our team at veterinarians.org is giving Small Cat Food an overall 9/10 star rating. A breakdown of our rating is listed below:

  • Pet Suitability (9/10): These treats are highly suitable for a cat’s nutritional needs, and are greatly appropriate for cats of different ages and breeds. 
  • Ingredient Quality (10/10): Made solely from 100% natural sweet potatoes, Chicken Breast, and other natural ingredients that are safe for all cats. 
  • Cost Effectiveness (8/10): These cat food are well-formulated and reasonably priced. Its quality matches its cost. 
  • Customer Feedback (8/10): The majority of the customers’ feedback on Amazon is positive they say that this food is seriously the best thing to happen to them. Both suffer from gastrointestinal issues and this food is the only thing they have found that is easy for them to digest.
  • Product Variety (9/10): This cat food has several varieties, such as ground bird, smooth bird, pulled bird, ground other bird, and other flavors.
  • Taste (8/10): The majority of the customers’ feedback stated that their cats loved the taste of this product. They will not gonna go back to canned paste or crunchy balls of kibble dust again.
Purina Beyond Grain-Free Formula

Price:  $70.40

Item Form: Dry Food

Special Diet: Grain-Free

Pet: Cat

Lifestage: All Life Stages

Flavor: Ocean Whitefish & Egg

Storage Instructions: Stored in a room temperature

Summary: The Purina Beyond Grain-Free Formula features certified and sustainable seafood ingredients and is free from cheap fillers, allergenic grains, and artificial additives. The added vitamins, minerals, and natural probiotics contribute to the overall quality profile.  

Plus, the diet can be served with Beyond wet cat food for an extra protein boost. Mixing the two foods also improves palatability and supports hydration. As the famous cat food brand says, its diets allow you to “feed your cat the way nature intended.”   

Pros

  • High in protein and made with natural probiotics
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Complete and balanced nutrition for adult cats

Cons

  • Some cats may not like the flavors offered

Full Ingredient List: Hake, chicken meal, cassava root flour, dried egg product, pea starch, pea protein, dried yeast, canola meal, beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, pea fiber, natural flavor, dried sweet potatoes, potassium chloride, sunflower oil, l-lysine monohydrochloride, Dl-methionine, phosphoric acid, salt, calcium carbonate, sodium bisulfate, choline chloride, taurine, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (vitamin B-5), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B-1), vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B-6), folic acid (vitamin B-9), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin (vitamin B-7)], dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product. 

Nutrient Analysis: 

  • Protein: 35.0% 
  • Fat: 14.0% 
  • Fiber: 4.0% 
  • Moisture: 12.0% 
  • Linoleic Acid: 1.3% 
  • Calcium: 1.0% 
  • Phosphorous: 0.9% 
  • Taurine: 0.15% 
  • Zinc: 150 ppm
  • Selenium: 0.35 ppm
  • Vitamin A: 12,000 IU/kg 
  • Vitamin E: 150 IU/kg 
  • Bacillus Coagulans: 600 million CFU/lb

Customer Review: Delighted customers say the Purina Beyond Grain-Free Formula is the solution to the most common cat owner complaints – “stepping on cat food crumbs, stinky litter box, cleaning up vomit every day.” All in all, we rate the Purina Beyond Grain-Free Formula as the Best Cat Food for Adults. 

Veterinarians.org Review: Our team at veterinarians.org is giving Purina Beyond Grain-Free Formula an overall 9/10 star rating. A breakdown of our rating is listed below:

  • Pet Suitability (9/10): This product is grain-free and contains natural ingredients that are 100% safe for cats. 
  • Ingredient Quality (10/10): Made with 100% natural ingredients. Ocean whitefish and eggs and does not contain any harmful ingredients. 
  • Cost Effectiveness (8/10): For $69.95 you will have an 11-pound cat food that matches the cost. 
  • Customer Feedback (9/10): Most of the customer reviews on Amazon are positive, Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars which says how good the product is. 
  • Product Variety (7/10): This product has three sizes, 3lb, 5lb, and 11 pounds, and has one flavor.
  • Taste (9/10): Since this product is grain-free, cats loved the taste of it.
Tiki Canned Food 

Price:  $21.49

Item Form: Wet Food 

Special Diet: Grain-Free

Pet: Cat

Lifestage: All Life Stages

Flavor: Seabass, Tilapia, Succulent Chicken, Wild Salmond, and Chicken

Storage Instructions: These are wet foods and spoil at room temperature

Summary: The Tiki brand offers gourmet recipes specifically formulated for cats with delicate palates. The real meat and broth improve the formula’s moisture content, and together with the added nutrients, they support digestive, cardiovascular, and urinary health. 

The Tiki Canned Cat Food can be used as a complete and balanced meal or based on the cat’s preferences as a topper. Plus, the food comes in convenient and easy-to-open BPA-free cans for straightforward usage. 

  • Has a high moisture content
  • Contains beneficial nutrients
  • Made using real protein
  • Made using premium ingredients
  • Value for money

Cons

  • The flavor might not suit some cats

Full Ingredient List: Chicken, chicken broth, sunflower seed oil, calcium lactate, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, taurine, choline chloride, salt, magnesium sulfate, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B1), vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B3), zinc oxide, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, calcium pantothenate, copper amino acid chelate, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B2), sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), folic acid, potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement.

Nutrient Analysis: 

  • Protein: 16.0% 
  • Fat: 2.6% 
  • Fiber: 0% 
  • Moisture: 80.0% 
  • Ash: 1.6% 
  • Taurine: 0.2%

Customer Review: Customers describe the Tikki Canned Food as “top-notch” and say that “cats go crazy for the shredded chicken.” They are also happy about the diet’s easy digestibility and soft texture suitable for cats with dental problems. All in all, we rate Tiki Canned Food as the Best Wet Cat Food. 

Veterinarians.org Review: Our team at veterinarians.org is giving Tiki Canned Food an overall 10/10 star rating. A breakdown of our rating is listed below:

  • Pet Suitability (9/10): This product is 100% safe for cats of all ages, breeds, and sizes. 
  • Ingredient Quality (10/10): This Grain-free product is made of 100% natural ingredients. And does not contain any harmful chemicals. 
  • Cost Effectiveness (10/10): For $21.48 you will get to choose a different size and colors and flavors that match its cost. 
  • Customer Feedback (8/10): Most of the customers on Amazon say that this product has a very simple ingredient but the flavoring is great. Rated as 4.3 out of 5 stars. 
  • Product Variety (10/10): This product has different varieties of colors and sizes that you can choose from.
  • Taste (10/10): This product offers different flavors that your cats can choose from.
PETLIBRO Granary Camera Monitoring Feeder
  • Easy-to-clean, food-grade stainless steel bowl
  • Smart app control and 1080P HD Camera
  • Built-in advanced microphone and speaker 
  • Motion detection, smart notifications, and indicators
  • Use the code Vets15 for 15% off

What Should I Look for in the Best Cat Food?

First, let’s dispel the myth that homemade cat food is better than commercial brands. Although it is possible to craft a diverse and balanced homemade diet, you would need a great deal of knowledge and ingredient combinations to satisfy every aspect of your cat’s complex dietary requirements.  

On the other hand, while some brands are better than others, the majority of commercial cat foods are just what your cat needs to be healthy and live a long and happy life. The best cat food is made to benefit the health of cats, not only to make a profit from selling a substandard product! 

But let’s go through the important buying factors and considerations to avoid substandard food brands and ensure the best cat food for your feline friend. 

Protein Type and Content. Cats are obligate carnivores – that does not mean they should eat only meat and nothing else. However, it means they need meat or animal-sourced protein to thrive. 

In terms of type, there are various options – chicken, turkey, salmon, etc. Unless your cat is sensitive to certain proteins, you can choose the taste they like most. As for content, it depends based on the cat’s age and life stage. 

The Ingredient List. Reading and understanding the entire ingredient list can be lengthy and confusing. The most important thing is to focus on the first five ingredients as they make up most of the food. 

Once again, since cats are carnivores, the majority of these five ingredients should be meat. Namely, listing a carbohydrate source or a veggie among them is not necessarily a bad thing. However, at least three out of the five ingredients must be meats. 

Health concerns. Obviously, if your cat is diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes, arthritis, or food allergies, it will need a diet formulated specifically for those needs and requirements.  

Addressing health issues through diet requires prescription foods. In other terms, it is best advised to consult with your vet and ask for a prescription diet that will satisfy your cat’s nutritional necessities. 

Reputable Brands: Reputable and trustworthy brand. When looking into different cat food brands, you need to consider their reliability. Generally speaking, a good brand will be transparent about its ingredients and manufacturing practices. 

Some cat food brands are now using ethically sourced meats, cage-free eggs, and wild-caught fish. Others practice sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing processes or donate funds to pets in need. 

Your Budget. When shopping for cat food, it is important to bear in mind the adage “You get what you pay for.” Cheaper lines of cat food may cost you in the long run as vet expenses from associated health issues can quickly pile up. 

Then there is the fact that cats will have to eat more significant quantities of the carbohydrate-packed cheaper foods to satisfy their hunger and nutritional needs. That being said, the market does include many nutritional dry cat foods without the premium price tag.

How do You Read a Cat Food Label?

Cat food labels are long and loaded with complicated words. Therefore they are hard to read and understand. To make things easy, we will list the few things you need to pay attention to:

  • Ingredient list. Since cats are obligate carnivores, animal-sourced proteins should be high on the list
  • Guaranteed analysis. Explains the percentage of each nutrient (protein, fat, fiber) found in the diet
  • Calorie content statement. Must be clearly listed and expressed in kilocalories or k/cals
  • AAFCO complete and balanced statement. To ensure the diet is complete and third-party lab-tested. 

But, what does the abbreviation AAFCO mean? AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials – a voluntary membership association of local, state, and federal agencies that regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.

In other words, the AAFCO sets pet food nutrition standards based on the requirements of the National Research Council (NRC). Practically speaking, a cat food labeled as AAFCO-approved is considered to be of high quality. 

With that being said, we should say that you also need to look beyond labels, claims, and popular keywords. For example, let’s discuss two ingredients with bad reputations – meat by-products and grains. 

When a food includes meat by-products, it is immediately discarded as low-quality. This is not necessarily true. By-products, if properly sourced and processed, can be healthy. In fact, raw-feeders base their meals on meat by-products (livers, chicken feet, hard-to-reach muscles). 

Grains are another factor. While it is true that some cats can be sensitive to grains, the incidence of grain allergies is not nearly as high as marketed. Grains are rich in nutrients that cannot be found in other foods, and their unnecessary exclusion may result in health issues. 

Bottom line, even if you do your research on cat food brands and label interpretation, choosing the right option for your cat and objectively supporting the choice can be tricky. 

Our Final Thoughts on Best Cat Food

choosing the best cat food

Whether dry kibble, raw or wet food, ingredients are what matter the most when choosing the best diet for your cat. As a quick walkthrough in the cat food world – always check the label and remember:

  • A high-quality animal-based protein source as first ingredients.
  • Less than 10% of calories should come from carbohydrates.
  • Unspecified meats and by-products are a definite no-no.
  • Essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics are a plus.
  • GMO ingredients, unnecessary fillers, and artificial additives must be avoided. 

With these general guidelines in mind, you are ready to find the best cat food for your pet and your budget. And do not forget, if your feline friend has a chronic condition or specific dietary requirements, talk to your vet before purchasing on Amazon or Chewy.