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The Best Dry Cat Food Formulas Reviewed

Charles Grisham
By Charles Grisham
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Best Dry Cat Food Summary

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters
  • 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 — made with 100% human-grade ingredients and produced in a human food facility. That means higher quality ingredients and more safety standards, just like you’d expect from your own food!
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Clusters are made by mixing human-grade nutrient-rich whole foods, cold pressing them into bite-sized clusters, and then gently roasting and dehydrating them to maintain the nutrients, aroma, and taste of whole foods.
  • WE SAY NO TO: This recipe contains no feed-grade ingredients, meat meals, fillers, GMO ingredients, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives.

Is Dry Cat Food Better than Wet Cat Food?

There is no definitive answer – it all depends. Both dry and wet cat food have their pros and cons. Which food type is better depends on the cat’s health, nutritional requirements, and taste.

Dry food is usually more affordable and practical – mess-free and easy to use. It also supports oral health as chewing is good for the teeth. Wet cat food is more flavorful, promotes hydration, and is easier for older cats to eat. However, it is also more likely to contain preservatives and additives.

What are the Benefits of Dry Cat Food?

As mentioned, dry cat food is convenient and affordable. However, there are other benefits of dry food for cats. Here are the benefits:

  • Convenience. Dry food is convenient and can be left out for long periods of time. Some cats like to graze rather than eat the entire meal at once. Plus, dry cat food allows mealtime to be a mess-free experience.
  • Caloric Density. Some cats are picky eaters or don’t regulate their food intake appropriately. Using dry food allows for more calories to be consumed in a smaller amount of food than wet food can allow.
  • Use with Toys. Dry food can be used in puzzles and in toys to excite and stimulate your cat while it feeds. Puzzle toys that serve as feeders are excellent for entertainment and provide mental stimulation for indoor cats.
  • Dental Health. Dry food can act as a dental cleanser. Munching on dry kibble helps remove tartar and plaque from a cat’s teeth. This is critical for preventing dental issues and promoting overall oral health.

The Best Dry Cat Food Formulas Reviewed

Searching for the best dry cat food for your feline friend can be challenging. With so many brands and flavors, making the right choice is confusing. To make things easier, we have reviewed some of the best-selling dry food formulas for cats.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters

Buy at The Honest Kitchen     Buy at Amazon

Summary: A family-run business with headquarters in the US, The Honest Kitchen makes nutritious pet food using only minimally processed, human-grade ingredients. Using a variety of cage-free chicken, natural foods, and a probiotic boost to help with digestion, these grain-free, protein-rich, bite-sized chicken clusters were created in partnership with a veterinary nutritionist.

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $7.99/lb

Pros

  • All-natural, Non-GMO ingredients
  • Rich in moisture and protein
  • No additives, artificial colors, and meat meals
  • Human-grade quality
  • Promotes regular bowel movement
  • Irresistibly delicious

Cons

  • High in calories
  • High in fat content

Ingredient Analysis: The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters recipe is an exceptional dry cat food since it uses high-quality ingredients sourced from around the world. It contains rosemary extract, carrots, organic barley grass, and turmeric, which are all helpful in providing a stronger immune system for your cat.

Review: The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters recipe, according to many valued clients, has significantly aided in the proper weight management of their cats as well as helping them obtain a good set of teeth and coats. Some of them have also asserted that The Honest Kitchen’s dry cat food is of unrivaled quality and that their pets have been consuming it for a number of years.

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cat Food

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cat Food, Best Dry Cat Food Get it on Amazon      Get it on Chewy

Summary: This dry food uses ingredients formulated to mirror the benefits of raw food, with 95% of its protein content coming from cage-free, real chicken. It is enriched with natural probiotics and omega-fatty acids for skin and immune health. Each kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw chicken, and the recipe is fit for adult cats. This is our choice as the best dry cat food. 

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $5.70/lb

Pros

  • Chicken recipe with high-quality protein
  • Grain-free and free from animal meal
  • Rich in probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Kibble coated with raw, freeze-dried chicken
  • Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients

Cons

  • Limited stock on Amazon and Chewy

Ingredient Analysis: The ingredients in this food are outstanding, with 95% of the protein coming from real chicken. The added crude fat and fiber aid digestion and hairball control. Lacking grains, this is the perfect formula for cats with grain sensitivities.

Review: Overwhelmingly, cat owners tout this formula as one of the best dry foods. Customers with senior cats have noted improvement in kidney and digestive problems after switching to the diet. They also mention that the kibble is well-accepted even by picky eaters.

Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Dry Cat Food

Dr. Elsey's Cleanprotein Dry Cat Food

Get it on Amazon     Get it on Chewy

Summary: Over 90% of this food is animal-based, meaning your cat can digest it easily and extract the nutrients needed to live a healthy life. Made with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients, to support a healthy immune system. It can be used as an adult dry cat food or dry food for kittens and older cats.

Best for: Cats in all life stages

Price: $6.00/lb

Pros

  • Grain-free and easily digestible formula
  • 95% of protein sourced from animals
  • Supports healthy appetite and weight
  • High in omega fatty acids
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Cost per pound is higher than some of its competitors

Ingredient Analysis: The ingredients start out strong, with more than 90% of its protein coming directly from animal sources like chicken and chicken by-products. Every ingredient is bioavailable and easily digestible. The formula does include flaxseed, which we should note that, contrary to popular belief, is not a grain.

Review: Customers on Amazon have stated how the food helped their cats’ skin and digestion issues. Despite being a less-known brand, cat owners come as far as to compare it to Blue Buffalo, Royal Canin, and Orijen.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

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Summary: Made to support healthy heart function, muscle growth, and maintain a healthy weight Blue Buffalo has designed this food to be grain-free and high in protein. The formula features peas and sweet potatoes as sources of complex carbohydrates. These ingredients work together to offer your indoor cat all of the nutrition it needs to live a healthy and active life.

Best for: Indoor adult cats

Price: $3.20/lb

Pros

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • With antioxidant-rich blueberries and cranberries
  • BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits
  • Veterinary-recommended formula
  • By-product, artificial flavor, preservative-free

Cons

  • Faulty packaging is possible

Ingredient Analysis: The first ingredient is deboned chicken, a good sign a food is made of high-quality ingredients. They make this food to be high in protein with safe sources of complex carbs like sweet potatoes and peas, although the use of rosemary oil can make some pet owners uneasy about using the food.

Review: Over 80% of reviewers on Amazon claim this food has helped with their cat’s vomiting, and even the pickiest of cats choose to eat this over other cat food brands. It seems Blue Buffalo has won over the crowd with their products, although a small number of users report faulty packaging.

Acana Dry Cat Food

Acana Dry Cat Food

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Summary: Using a high protein formula made of animal protein sources, this dry cat food provides cats with everything they need to be healthy and strong. The food is ideal for maintaining a healthy weight and the addition of taurine and fatty acids make it a great source of energy. It is suitable for cats of all breeds and life stages.

Best for: Indoor adult cats

Price: $3.99/lb and up

Pros

  • With tasty, small prey ingredients
  • Excellent for weight management
  • Promotes healthy skin, heart, and eyes
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • Transparent breakdown of the ingredients

Cons

  • The first ingredients are meals

Ingredient Analysis: With the first three ingredients being meals (salmon meal, catfish meal, and oatmeal), the formula is of good quality and provides cats with essential nutrients. It also contains chickpeas, salmon oil, cranberries, and kelp as excellent sources of protein and micronutrients.

Review: Reviews on Amazon were mostly high rated, and customers on Chewy seemed pleased with the ingredients and ingredient sources. Some consumers even stated it had helped with their cat’s food allergies. They are also happy with the brand’s transparency.

Purina ONE Natural Dry Cat Food

Purina ONE Natural Dry Cat Food

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Summary: Made for adult cats with real animal protein as the main ingredient and fiber to support gut health. The formula includes no artificial flavors or preservatives and provides 100% nutrition required in a cat’s diet.

Best for: Adult cats 1-7 years old

Price: $1.66/lb

Pros

  • Real salmon is the first ingredient
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Made with prebiotic fiber
  • Supports gut health and immunity
  • Extremely affordable cat food

Cons

  • Relatively high in calories (not fit for lazy cats)

Ingredient Analysis: The first ingredient is real salmon indicating the formula is rich in high-quality protein. Rice flour and corn gluten meal are the second and third ingredients, meaning the diet is high in grains. Some cats have trouble digesting and utilizing grains.

Review: Thousands of customers have rated this product highly and are satisfied with their cat’s overall well-being. There are some concerns about the change in formula to include grains in their “tender select” kibbles with claims of cats vomiting.

IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

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Summary: Made with real chicken as the first ingredient, IAMS has formulated this dry kibble to contain animal proteins and amino acids for muscle growth and beet fiber for hairball control. The formula contains 10% less fat than the original adult cat food and l-carnitine to maintain a healthy weight.

Best for: Indoor cats; Weight control or hairball management

Price: $2.25/lb

Pros

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • 100% complete nutrition with 0% fillers
  • Supports weight loss and weight management
  • Made with dietary fiber to reduce hairballs
  • Available at a budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Recent changes in the diet formula

Ingredient Analysis: The ingredients list starts with chicken, a good indication the brand takes into consideration the cat’s needs. The formula provides them with high-quality protein and vitamins as well as amino acids. We dislike the use of corn grits (a grain not necessary for obligate carnivores).

Review: With over 85% of the 27,000+ reviews rating this product as a 5-star on Amazon alone, it is a crowd-pleaser. Pet owners of finicky cats or cats with sensitive stomachs saw improvements in their cats’ symptoms after eating this kibble.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food for Kittens

Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food for Kittens

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Summary: The natural DHA from fish oil in this premium quality kitten food supports healthy brain and eye development. The blend of antioxidants and vitamins promotes healthy body function. The food is made with natural fibers to promote healthy digestion and animal protein for growth. The small kibble size is perfect for kittens.

Best for: Kittens, pregnant & nursing cats

Price: $4.07/lb

Pros

  • Roasted chicken & rice medley recipe
  • Small-sized kibble
  • Rich in calcium, vitamin E, and omega fatty acids
  • Supports easy litter box cleanup
  • Veterinarian-recommended formula

Cons

  • Five of the first seven ingredients are grain products

Ingredient Analysis: The first ingredient is chicken, followed by wheat gluten and brown rice, which can be allergens. The formula also features chicken fat and chicken liver, thus being rich in nutrients and suitable for kittens as long as they are not sensitive to gluten and grains.

Review: Most of the 6,000+ users on Chewy and Amazon rated this food highly and say they are likely to recommend the formula. However, there were some Amazon reviewers who were suspicious they had gotten the wrong product or a different product altogether.

What is the Best Quality Cat Dry Food?

Instinct Ultimate Protein Cat Food is our top choice for the best dry cat food. It is a grain-free dry cat food made to be higher in protein than its competitors. It features an excellent ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats. Plus, the formula is free from fillers, artificial additives, and preservatives.

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cat Food
  • Made with guaranteed levels of natural probiotics for digestive health, omegas for skin & coat, and antioxidants for immune health. Made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by product meal, artificial colors or preservatives.
  • Instinct Ultimate Protein dry cat food has up to 3x more real chicken & 95% of the protein comes from chicken vs. vegetables or animal meals.
  • Our cat food is made with the pure, real nutrition of raw. Raw is natural, made from real meat & whole food ingredients, protein packed & minimally processed.

What Should I Look for in Dry Cat Food?

Quality and life-stage suitability are the main things to consider when choosing pet food. Here is a closer look at the factors worth thinking about when looking for the best dry cat food:

  • Ingredients. The first thing is the ingredient list (the first five items matter the most). Ideally, the food will feature real meat and healthy fruits and veggies. It should be free from harmful ingredients like by-products, preservatives, and artificial colors/flavors.
  • Added Nutrients. High-quality formulas are enriched with nutrients like amino acids, omega fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins A, E, D, and B.
  • Special Needs. You need to consider the cat’s individual needs. For example, cats with kidney problems need diets low in protein and phosphorus, while cats with food sensitivities benefit from limited-ingredient formulas.
  • Life-Stage. Cats in different life stages have different nutritional requirements. Ensure the formula checks the nutritional requirements provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
  • Kibble Taste & Size. Pay attention to the kibble taste and size. The taste determines whether your cat will like the food. The kibble size is important to ensure easy chewing.
  • Brand. Finally, research the pet food brand. Some food brands offer higher quality foods than others. The right brand will be transparent about the ingredients it uses and its manufacturing practices. It is also helpful to read reviews from other customers.

How Much Dry Food Should I Feed My Cat?

How much to feed your cat depends on its age, lifestyle, and the food’s nutritional values. Based on Chewy, it is important to consider the cat’s age, activity level, needs, and size when creating the right portion size.

Refer to the manufacturer’s label for further guidance on how much to feed your cat based on its specific needs, as the range can be anywhere from 150 calories to 440 calories a day. If making the calculation seems complex, you can always ask your vet for help.