What is the Best Freeze-Dried Cat Food?

Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
  • Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw retains the nutritional benefits of a raw, high-protein diet.
  • Now available in 3 proteins (Bird, Other Bird, Water Bird).
  • Raw recipes that are freeze-dried for maximum crunch and convenience.
  • Get 5% off use code VETS5

What is Freeze-Dried Cat Food?

Freeze-dried food cat food is a novel type of pet food type – a raw food product that has not been subdued to traditional heat cooking or pasteurization.

Freeze-dried cat food can be sold on its own as a complete & balanced raw meal, topper, or cat treats. It can also be used to coat regular kibble, thus making it more enticing.

Freeze-dried food is increasingly gaining popularity among pet parents as the most nutritious and healthy food option for cats.

Are Freeze-Dried Food Good for Cats?

Yes, freeze-dried food cat food is good.

According to evidence, raw cat food is a better option than regular processed meals (dry cat food and wet food). The raw diet is closer to the cat’s natural diet – it is more enticing, more nutritious, and rarely contains unnecessary ingredients like fillers and preservatives.

Freeze-dried cat food is complete and balanced – contains all essential macros (proteins and fats), as well as micronutrients (antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids, taurine).

Freeze-dried foods have no space for fillers or added flavors and chemicals harmful to your cat’s health.

What is the Difference Between Air-Dried and Freeze-Dried Cat Food?

Air-drying and freeze-drying are both preservation techniques that have the same goal – to remove moisture from the food, thus increasing its shelf life. However, they do the removal differently.

Air-drying (also known as dehydration) uses hot air to remove the water content. It is usually done on a conveyor in which the product is sprayed with hot air. Once air-dried, the product looks pretty much like it originally did (it is just a little bit wrinkled).

Freeze-drying uses a process called sublimation. First, the raw meal is frozen and then placed in a vacuum chamber where sublimation occurs. Sublimation refers to the process of extracting ice and transforming it directly into vapor.

Air-dried and freeze-dried food differ on several levels, including:

  • Appearance. Air-dried raw meals have a wrinkled appearance as the water is lost unequally from different parts of the food. Freeze-dried meals have a smoother and more well-defined appearance.
  • Texture. Air-dried cat food is denser and does not have any crunch to it. On the other hand, frozen food has a very light texture and is crunchy. Your cat will surely love the crunch with each bite and nib.
  • Nutrition. Freeze-dried food retains the integrity of the raw ingredients better than air-dried food. This is because the heat applied during the air-drying process can disintegrate some of the nutrients.
  • Shelf Life. The shelf life of food depends directly on its moisture content. Since freeze-dried food has lesser water content, it has a longer shelf life.

The Best Freeze-dried Cat Food Reviewed

Given a large number of benefits of freeze-dried food for your cat, you may be considering it for your cat as well. We have curated a list of the best freeze-dried raw food available in the market.

Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird

Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird

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Summary: Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Bird is a human-grade cat food made with several carefully selected and high-quality ingredients. To ensure maximum nutrient density, they are freeze-dried. The recipe is available in three texture options – ground and smooth. The same freeze-dried line comes in two additional flavors (Other Birds and Cow). 

Type: Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all ages

Price: $1.25-1.93/meal

Pros

  • Nutrient-dense, high-protein formula
  • AAFCO-approved recipe
  • Mess-free and practical raw meal
  • Customizable subscription plans
  • 100% money-back guarantee

Cons

  • No significant cons

Ingredient Analysis

  • Great Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, green beans, peas, chicken hearts, kale, taurine, vitamins & minerals
  • Not-so-Great Ingredients: Canola oil

Review: Pet owners are delighted with this recipe. They are happy they can provide their cats with the goodness of a raw diet without the typical mess that comes with this food type.

Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Toppers

Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Toppers

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Summary: A freeze-dried food made with cage-free chicken and human-grade superfoods such as carrots, pumpkin, apples, and blueberries. The food is made without grains, fillers, and by-products and is very high in proteins and healthy omega-fatty acids. Salmon oil promotes skin and coat health and fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants. In addition to the chicken recipe, it comes in a farm-raised rabbit flavor. The food can be used as a treat or topper.

Type: Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $2.99 per ounce

Pros

  • Health-boosting freeze-dried food
  • Delicious chicken and turkey recipe
  • Fortified with multiple superfoods
  • Made with non-GMO fruits and veggies
  • Soft and easily chewable food chunks

Cons

  • Not a complete and balanced meal

Ingredient Analysis

  • Great Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, turkey liver, turkey heart, pumpkin seeds, carrots, apples, butternut squash, ground flaxseed, salmon oil, rosemary extract, blueberries, dried chicory root, dried kelp, and broccoli
  • Not-so-Great Ingredients: None

Review: Based on 2,927 global ratings, this chicken dinner food has an average rating of 4.4/ 5 stars. Customers claim that it is very effective for their cat’s health, even for the picky eaters.

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Dinner Morsels

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Dinner Morsels

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Summary: A chicken-flavored freeze-dried cat food for a balanced raw meal. This cat food formula contains probiotics that improve digestion and gut health. It contains 98% protein content derived from cage-free chicken. The food is boosted with antioxidants and taurine for improved immunity and stamina. It comes in several flavors, including chicken, duck, rabbit, turkey, salmon & chicken, and salmon & cod.

Type: Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $2.87 per ounce

Pros

  • Made with a single-source animal protein
  • Grain and gluten-free formula
  • With probiotics for improved digestion
  • Supports the cat’s overall health
  • Affordable and made in the USA

Cons

  • The food pieces are a bit hard

Ingredient Analysis

  • Great Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, dried Pediococcus acidilactici, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bacillus coagulans fermentation products, taurine, vitamins, and minerals
  • Not-so-Great Ingredients: None

Review: Based on 6,043 global ratings, this product has an average rating of 4.3/5 stars. Customers claim that their cats love the flavor and enjoy their meals.

Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

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Summary: A protein-rich freeze-dried food inspired by your cat’s natural diet needs. This delicious, grain-free chicken and salmon recipe ensure complete and balanced nutrition and can be used as a main meal or as a topper. It contains an added probiotic strain that supports healthy digestion and boosts the cat’s immune system. The formula is also available in a turkey and duck recipe.

Type: Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $3.24 per ounce

Pros

  • Grain-free, ultra protein-rich formula
  • Delicious chicken and salmon recipe
  • 98% of nutrients derived from meat
  • Features added probiotics and prebiotics
  • Available in two different flavors

Cons

  • The food pieces are relatively big

Ingredient Analysis

  • Great Ingredients: Chicken, chicken necks, chicken liver, chicken hearts, salmon, flaxseed, salmon oil, spinach, inulin, dried kelp, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, taurine, vitamins, and minerals
  • Not-So-Great Ingredients: None

Review: Based on 1,041 global ratings, this product has an average rating of 4.1/5 stars. Pet parents claim that this is a high-quality food that their cats love.

Feline Natural Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food

Feline Natural Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food

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Summary: This is a grain-free raw freeze-dried cat food made with grass-fed, free-range meat and sustainably caught fish. The formula is complete and balanced for cats of all breeds and life stages. It is very rich in animal-sourced proteins and low in carbohydrates thus supporting weight control. The food can be used as a raw meal or sprinkled on top of the cat’s regular dry or wet food.

Type: Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $4.19 per ounce

Pros

  • With grass-fed lamb and salmon
  • Gluten and grain-free food formula
  • Enriched with superfoods
  • High protein, low-carb for weight control
  • No fillers, legumes, and GMO ingredients

Cons

  • Highly priced compared to the quantity

Ingredient Analysis

  • Great Ingredients: Lamb heart, lamb kidney, lamb liver, lamb blood, salmon, flaxseed flakes, New Zealand green mussels, dried kelp, taurine, and vitamin E supplements
  • Not-so-Great Ingredients: None

Review: Based on 848 global ratings, this product has an average rating of 4.2/5. Customers love the ingredient quality and health benefits for their cats.

Vital Essentials Vital Cat Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties

Vital Essentials Vital Cat Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties

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Summary: Freeze-dried dinner patties made with raw rabbit meat and organs mixed with naturally preserved herring oil. Rabbit meat is a healthy source of lean proteins and supports healthy weight control. Plus, it is not a common allergen thus being perfect for cats with skin and food allergies. It is free from fillers, by-products, preservatives, colors, and flavorings.

Type: Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $3.43 per ounce

Pros

  • Grain-free, limited ingredient formula
  • Made with farm-raised rabbit
  • Suitable for cats with skin allergies
  • No fillers, by-products, and preservatives
  • Made and packaged in the USA

Cons

  • Often out of stock due to high demand

Ingredient Analysis

  • Great Ingredients: Rabbit meat, rabbit liver, rabbit heart, rabbit kidney, herring oil, vitamin E, iron, amino acid complex
  • Not-so-Great Ingredients: None

Review: Based on 299 global ratings, this product has an average rating of 4.6/5. Customers claim that even the pickiest eater cats love this flavor.

Do You Have to Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Cat Food?

Yes, you may need to rehydrate freeze-dried cat food using a little amount of broth or warm water before serving it to your cat.

This is only applicable if the food comes in big chunks that may be difficult for your cat to swallow. If the food comes in small bites, you might not need to rehydrate it.

How Long Can You Leave Out Freeze-Dried Cat Food?

Once out of the fridge and unpacked, most freeze-dried cat foods tend to stay fresh between two and four hours. However, the duration can vary from brand to brand (read the information on the package or brand’s website for more information).

The shelf life of freeze-dried food is an average of 2 years from packaging. However, there is some evidence that it can be shelf-stable for up to 20 years if unopened.

How Do You Feed Cats Freeze-Dried Food?

Here are some tips for feeding your cat freeze-dried food:

  • If the raw meat pieces are large, break them down into smaller pieces for easy feeding
  • If the food is very dry for your cat, mix it with other food or use it as a food topper.
  • If you want to rehydrate the food, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Then add some warm water and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

However, the specifics vary depending on the brand. Every brand comes with feeding instructions and preferred dosage. Refer to the back of the package for the details.