Three best cat foods
We all know cats can be picky eaters, so finding a food they love that's also good for them can be a long haul. Wet food, kibble, grain-free, high protein, pouches, and cans -- with so many cat food options on the market, it's tough to pick the right food to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
The good news is there's no single "right" cat food out there, but there are higher and lower quality options. Once you know what to look for in a cat food, it should be far easier to pick out a great one for your kitty. Check out our guide to cat foods for all the relevant info.
Considerations when choosing cat food
What age is your cat? If your feline friend is under a year old, she'll need kitten food. Kitten food offers a slightly different nutritional profile to support the needs of a growing cat. Most adult cats do well on a standard adult cat food or one listed a "suitable for all life stages." However, some older cats will thrive on a formula designed for senior felines.
How active is your cat? Your cat may need specific food depending on his activity level. If you have a very active kitty who struggles to maintain weight, he might do better on a high-protein formula. On the other hand, a cat that prefers lounging to leaping might need a lower-calorie option to stop him from gaining excess weight. You can also find special formulas designed for indoor cats, who tend to be less active.
Do you want wet or dry food? Dry food lasts longer, is great for cats who pick at their food gradually all day, is less messy, and tends to be more affordable overall. Wet food is often more palatable to picky eaters and because of its high water content is excellent for cats who don't drink a lot. It also tends to contain fewer fillers. Some cat parents choose to find a happy medium by feeding a mixture of wet and dry cat foods.
Cat food features
Ingredient quality: Quality ingredients are what make an excellent cat food. Look for whole meats and named meat meals (such as "chicken meal" or "salmon meal") in the ingredient list. We'd generally avoid foods with unnamed meats or meat meals. Some high-end brands only use locally sourced or wild-caught meats, which some consumers may prefer.
Flavor: Cat foods come in a wide range of flavors, containing all kinds of meats from tuna to buffalo. Ultimately, the flavor you pick doesn't make much of a difference, so long as your feline friend enjoys the taste!
Nutritional completeness: Look on the package for a statement of nutritional completeness. This means that the food contains the correct balance of nutrients to keep your cat healthy.
Cat food prices: Most cat foods cost somewhere between $1 and $6 per pound, but some cost as much as $10 per pound. While you don't have to go right up to the high end to get a quality food, we wouldn't recommend the very cheapest foods. You can generally find a decent cat food for between $2 and $4 per pound.
Q. Should I choose grain-free food for my cat?
A. Unless your cat is allergic to grain, there's no reason to choose a grain-free cat food. That said, too high a proportion of grains or other carbohydrates tends to indicate a poor-quality food.
Q. How long can I leave wet food down for my cat?
A. You shouldn't leave wet food down for more than three to four hours, otherwise, bacteria can grow that could be harmful to your cat. After a few hours, either throw the food away or refrigerate it for later use.
Cat foods we recommend
Best of the best: Nutro Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food
Our take: High-end cat food that uses quality whole meal and meat meal. No animal by-products.
What we like: Grain-free formula with less filler than some alternatives. No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or GMOs.
What we dislike: Fairly expensive.
Best bang for your buck: Purina Fancy Feast Medleys Tuscany Collection
Our take: Extremely palatable wet food. Perfect for picky kitties. 24 cans offer exceptional value for the money.
What we like: Predominantly made from whole meats. Variety pack is great for cats who don't like to eat the same thing every day.
What we dislike: Contains unnamed meat by-products.
Our take: High-quality, minimally processed wet food to tempt almost any cat. Six flavors and variety pack option available.
What we like: High-protein, low-fat, grain-free formula. Very wet texture ideal for older cats.
What we dislike: Can be messy to dish up.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.