Best dry cat foods (with caveats)

NOTE: As of 2013, this dry food list is not  updated (except EVO was recently removed due to several recalls). The wet food list is updated more often.

ALSO: Please avoid feeding the high-protein DRY foods listed on this page to cats with kidney trouble or elder cats who are vulnerable to kidney trouble.

I like people who want to find the best food for their cat, because I have come to believe that cat food choice alone can actually prevent diseases and extend a cat’s life.

It’s important to know that many cat health & nutrition experts do not recommend dry kibble cat food because:

  • it’s more of a strain on kidneys and urinary system over time (because it’s dehydrating) and could lead to health problems
  • the extrusion process of creating dry cooked food results in a less digestible protein
  • most dry cat foods have a lot of carbs, which are particularly fattening for indoor cats
  • most have grains, which can wreak havoc on a cat’s digestive system over time (possibly leading to IBD and lymphoma, I believe)

Having said all that:

  • there are some quality low-carb, grain free dry cat foods–listed below
  • feeding dry cat food on a rotation basis (eg, wet food at night, dry in the morning) or only occasionally (eg, when you are rushed) may be a reasonable compromise

For the purists who believe kibble should not even be discussed, I understand where you are coming from, but here’s where I’m coming from:

I provide this list because I know most people (and mainstream vets) choose dry cat food at least some of the time and I want to make sure that these people can at least help their cat avoid diabetes and digestive diseases (possibly even intestinal lymphoma) by making better dry food choices.

To find out more, see the post on how I selected these foods.

A good alternative to these dry foods is the raw dry cat food ZiwiPeak, listed in Best canned and raw cat foods.

If your cat has special health needs, please be sure to consult with a good vet about their food.

To assure you these food reviews are unbiased, I never use an affiliate (referral) link for a cat food.





grain free  
  • Meats are certified free of antibiotics and
    artificial hormones; sustainably farmed. Fish are wild-caught.
  • Grain free, low-medium starch (about 17%)
  • Low cost compared to others on list
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food. 
Several experts say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Young Again 50/22, dry
  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Includes omega 3’s from fish oil. To
    preserve health qualities, it’s added after cooking.
  • US-sourced meat
  • Small company, passionately advocates
    preventing feline diabetes and more through low-carb, grain free food.
  • Low starch, grain free
  • Low cost compared to others on list
Contains active dry yeast (don’t feed if cat has yeast allergy)
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only
occasionally or in rotation with wet food
Tip: I can only find it online, directly from the Young Again site.
Several experts say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Made with “pork protein concentrate,” a new term that raises questions for some. Young Again explains that it is pork with collagen extracted, leaving behind “highly digestible pork meat which is 80% protein, 10 % fat and very low in ash.”


Nature’s Variety Instinct dry **Chicken
or turkey/duck formula(not
rabbit formula)
  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Meats sourced from US and New Zealand
    (except rabbit)
  • Semi-low (17%) starch, grain free
  • Med-low cost compared to others on this
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food.
Avoid the Rabbit formula, as the rabbit is processed in China.
Several experts
say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Core grain free dry
  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Grain free, low-medium starch (about 17%)
  • Medium cost compared to others on list

Petcurean GO! cat

Grain Free Chick/Turkey/Duck
Grain Free Freshwater Trout

  • Target pH is in ideal range for urinary
    health (generally 6 – 6.5 pH)
  • Hormone free Meats, US sourced; Fish is
    tested for heavy metals. No by-products.
  • Slow cooked at low temperatures (better
    for digestion and retaining nutrients)
  • Low starch, grain free
  • High cost compared to others on list
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food. (Did I say that enough?!)
Several experts
say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Wysong Epigen
, dry 
Only Epigen 90 is recommended.(I
do not recommend standard Epigen, which has gluten)

  • Organic
  • Very low starch, grain free
  • High cost compared to others on list
Introduce slowly and gradually. Minimal-starch cooked food can require time for system to adjust to.
For kidney and urinary health, use dry food only occasionally or in rotation with wet food.
Several experts say dry foods are too dehydrating for cats with kidney problems.
Wysong Archetype (raw dry) 
  • Grain, free very low starch
  • 99% meat
  • Raw, cold-processed (using proprietary technology) that makes nutrients more digestible and available
  • Very high cost compared to others on list, but similar in cost to good canned foods!
Includes ground bones, which some cats have trouble digesting.
Ground bones may also not be ideal for cats with kidney disease (check with your vet).

If your cat’s favorite natural cat food didn’t make the list…

See These natural cat foods didn’t make the “best” list: here’s why.

Many cat foods almost made this list. There were so many foods, I had to be brutal in selecting. Maybe I missed a food.

Let me know if you have questions. Looking for the Best canned and raw cat foods?


Where to find these foods

  • Only Natural Pet Store (carries most of these foods – affiliate store chosen for their reasonable prices)
  • also carries many of these foods and sometimes you can find good deals there
  • Many brands are available online directly from the company that makes them (like Young Again)
  • Your local pet food store (especially holistic stores) have some brands

How to get your cat to eat new foods?

Your experience? Let’s talk!

None of these foods are perfect, but they met the “best of” criteria for dry cat food.
However, every cat has different needs, just like you and I do.

I welcome your experiences, opinions, and contributions in the comments below.

, , ,

156 Responses to Best dry cat foods (with caveats)

  1. Pamela Clark November 15, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    What do you think about the starch in Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula dry?

  2. Kathleen December 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Thank you for this list. I am a believer in canned cat food, for all the reasons you mention, but my cat is not. I don’t know if it’s because he has asthma (though it’s under control), but he does not have a good appetite, and he will gradually waste away if only fed canned food. So I’m glad there are some low carb dry foods available. I’m going to work on getting more liquid into him, since I know cats on dry food won’t drink enough water to stay fully hydrated. Perhaps he’ll drink chicken broth.

    • Valerie Baldino April 7, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      I’m new to this blog, so perhaps I’m too late to reply to you, Kathleen, but I’ll go ahead & do so anyway. I have had many cats over the years (strictly indoor) & have found they drink more water from the fountain style watering systems. I’ve tried a couple of different kinds in the past. The first was constructed of plastic which I ultimately got rid of. I didn’t like the way mineral deposits from my water accumulated on the plastic. A couple years ago I splurged & bought the stainless steel version which both I & my cats have been very happy with. No mineral deposit accumulations. While the bowl part of the system is rather large, my cats always drink from the fountain portion. I also have a reverse osmosis system hooked up to my kitchen sink & use only that water to fill the bowl. I feed my cats a combination of canned & dry food. One cat has allergies & putting her medication in the wet food works wells for us.

      • Larry April 8, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

        Hi Valerie, I feed my cat Natures Variety canned & dry but also looking for another brand to rotate with. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Therese Blackburn May 15, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

      I read that chicken broth has things in it that are not good for cats, too much salt for one can cause hyperthyroid, id google it first. Dr Karen Becker has a video on how to make homeaid bonebroth for cats & dogs

  3. Hermione January 21, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    Can you please review the new formula of Wysong Epigen 90? My cat was very happy on Epigen 90 along with her wet food. But they recently changed the formula. Although the carb % remains the same, some of the ingredients look questionable and pple have been saying their cats are getting sick from it. My cat has a very sensitive stomach and is allergic to fish. Epigen 90 was the perfect choice. But with all complaints, I have been debating whether to have her try the new formula. She is currently on wet food only but is losing weight bc she prefers the dry. I would appreciate any advice you can provide. Thank you!

  4. melissa March 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    About to try Fromm Family cat food. They are based out of Wisconsin and are a family business. Interesting history and some good looking products. We’ll see how it goes. Has anyone had any experience with them?

    • Hillary March 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

      Fromm is an excellent food! Part of my regular rotation and I don’t believe they’ve ever had a recall which is hugely important to me. Comparable quality to Orijen.

  5. Brandy April 15, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Thought i was doing well feeding ( 2- 1 year olds )them Fromme- costs more than i eat in a week- but no? I’ll be shopping around then,they deserve the best& are pretty sedentary housecats . Any wet-dry recommendation combinations??

    • Dee April 22, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      I have 3 young boys, and considering one has already had urinary issues, I have switched them to mostly canned. It is amazing how much more urine is in the litter box now. They are BIG eaters, and need several “meals” a day to keep them out of my hair. I do canned food for breakfast and dinner, and give a small amount of dry food at midday and bedtime to hold them over. For canned I have been feeding Innova EVO 95% chicken, b/c it comes in large cans, but will be switching due to the carrageenan in it. I plan on trying Tiki Cat Puka Puka. For dry I do Nature’s Variety Instinct Chicken. Check Amazon (esp. if you have Prime) and also Petfood Direct, which you can usually get coupons and/or free shipping.

      • Jalane December 29, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

        This is amazing to me that cats eating dry food do NOT drink enough. My cats hardly drank on wet food because of the moisture in the canned food. They have all drank 3 times daily more than ever on canned foods

  6. Dave April 26, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    I originally used Orijen for my two girl kittens. They did very well on it. However, I thought I’d try Young Again 50/22. I tried for over a month to switch them without success. YA seems to be way to rich for kittens, at least for mine. I was not able to give them enough in the way of calories without causing diarrhea and awful smelly poo, thus they were loosing weight. One really was becoming quite skinny. After switching back to Orijen, they have had much greater energy and seem to feel much better. As they are now about 1 year old I may attempt AT SOME TIME to switch them over, because it has a much lower percentage of carbs. However, Orijen works very well with no issues and is an excellent food, so I’m definitely going to wait and go slow, it at all.

    Looking at other comments re: YA, most comments seem to be owners who are using their carb-free formula for diabetic cats. I’ve not read any comments re: the 50/22 formula, so I’m wondering if the diabetic formula is where their market is.

  7. Amelia May 12, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    I have been feeding my girl Pure Vita but am now very thrilled with it. She has thrown this up a few times but before when we kept her on Blue Buffalo, she was constantly throwing up. I am hoping to put her on a much better dry food and was wondering what your thoughts were on Nulo. It must be a new brand as I’ve never heard of it until recently. I unfortunately do not have stores that carry Orijen or the other top brands so I am somewhat limited.

    • Emelia Oleson May 13, 2015 at 3:39 am #

      Amelia — You can buy Orijen dry cat food through online pet food supplier, — stick with the original recipe to begin with. Always check with your vet but, if you absolutely have to feed your kitties dry food, I have found Orijen of high quality and my cats love it. Emelia

    • Christina June 29, 2015 at 2:14 am #

      Amenia ~ I’ve been feeding my kittens Nulo for two weeks. It looks great but it is causing diarrhea. I feel it may be due to the agar agar since it known to cause a laxative effect. Or it may simply be to rich for them. I’m also giving my dog Nulo and her stools are fine but she has horrible gas. I switched the kittens to Tiki now for two days and no gi issues. I wanted to switch my dog also but the Tiki for dog has garlic in it.

  8. Helen May 24, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    When I feed dry food, I add water to help with hydration. I’m surprised this isn’t a more common practice: is there something I’m missing? I’m not concerned about freshness, since the cats finish their food within minutes of being served.

    • Callaine September 15, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

      Hey Helen,

      Dry cat food contains a lot of bacteria. When you add water, you give them an environment to thrive and grow. You may want to discontinue this method.

  9. Jamie July 15, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    I switched to Wellness and my cat got a UTI, first and only one she’s ever had. Looking online I am not the only one who has had this issue.

    • Susan December 19, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      My cat got a uti after 3 weeks on wellness turkey (green can). He never had a uti before. He had to eat purina ur for 6 months dry and wet. I feed him Orijen dry now but mostly wet natural balnce, aheba and fancy feast and he has been fine for 2 years.

  10. deb July 27, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    For those concerned about UT issues in their cats, please google D-Mannos for cats. One of my boys had severe problems, but since adding D-Mannos to their diets along with their wet food, none of them have had any problems. do the research and see what you think.

  11. Rachael Gallagher August 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Can anyone tell me if they used EarthBorn grain free cat food canned or dried? I just ordered it from vitacost due to the fact that I just got a kitten and I am switching my 12 year old kitkat to it. Thank you

  12. Cara October 7, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    Is there an updated list for 2015? Any thoughts on Blue Wilderness? My cats love it, but I’m skeptical – I tried slowly switching to Orijen, but they wouldn’t touch it so I gave up and stuck with what they love.

  13. Larry October 8, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I feed some Dry Cat food along with Wet. Wysong Epigen 90 formula has changed. Is the new formula recommended? I have been
    feeding Fromm dry,

  14. Allison November 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    So my kitten has been on several types of food since we got him from his foster mom Labor day weekend. He was such a tiny kitten for 10 weeks (wasn’t nursed for too long). She was feeding him Friskies which I knew was a low quality food. I didn’t have time (since it was a quick decision) to go shopping for kitten supplies, my fiance went. He never grew up with or raised a kitten before, so picked up Blue Buffalo thinking that it was the best. I did my research the day after we brought home Peaches and I discovered so many health problems reading reviews from owners who feed their pets BB. The next take I returned the BB and switched him to Nature’s Variety Instinct chicken kibble. He grew so fast, and he’s a really strong muscular cat with a trim waist. He has lots of energy and his poops have gotten so much cleaner since the switch in foods. His coat is soft, smooth and shiny, his eyes are clear and no allergies. He’s intelligent, learns fast and is a friendly cat.

    He’s almost done with the 12 LB bag of chicken kibble and now will be starting the duck and turkey kibble. In edition to the kibble we also got the duck and turkey cans so he can fill out a little more. I’d have to say I’m a NV fan for life!

  15. Suzanne November 18, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    Would love to know your thoughts about Grandma Mae’s County Naturals. Thanks!! 🙂

  16. Anonymous November 30, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    One of the best dry foods on the market now is Instinct Ultimate Protein (No Animal Meal0.

  17. BJ January 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    I’m not sure what to do. I’ve been feeding my 3 boys Fancy Feast twice a day and leaving Nulo dry food out all day. Twice a day I only give them one maybe two cans split between them, because of their eating habits. My 13 year old is very fussy and will like something one day, but not the next, then eat it again the following week. One of the twins will eat very little of the wet food, always leaving some for the two alpha males, but grazes on the dry food all day. The other twin will eat just about anything, but he gobbles everything and throws it up 5 minutes later, so I have to separate him from the other two. And their tastes are all different. One doesn’t like chicken or turkey, one doesn’t like salmon, beef is a hit or miss with them, and I can never know what the 13 year old will want for that meal (fussy).

    I’ve recently switched to Nulo wet food and after trying all their flavors they liked the Duck and Tuna. So I bought two cases, they loved the it for about 2 weeks, but now they just nibbled at it. Reading this blog, I need to switch again because of the tuna causing cancer.

    My 13 year old has end stage renal failure and hyperthyroidism. He only weighs 7 lbs now; he lost 4. The vet gave me meds for his thyroid and heart. The heading of this blog said not to give DRY high-protein food to cats with kidney problems. For as long as I can remember he has always vomited 1 or 2 times a week, not food, but some hair in a lot of stomach fluid. There has never been any correlation between what he’s eating and his vomiting as far as I can tell. I want to get him on more wet food because he needs the liquid.

    The twins are 12 years old; one is overweight and the other is the one who gobbles his food but maintains an appropriate weight (11 lbs.)

    Here’s my question. What do I feed these guys? I’d give them different foods according to their tastes, but they can’t eat a whole can and they all refuse to eat any leftovers from the fridge. I tried warming it to room temperature but they won’t eat it. So it gets expensive to throw out what they don’t eat.


  18. OldtoysNewplastic February 13, 2016 at 12:53 am #

    I feed my Siamese kitten (although too quickly nearing 1yo) almost entirely wet food, and only putting out dry on days where I’m running late to work, or won’t be home to open another can for him.

    My question is about Nature’s Variety Instinct dry. I found it on amazon, but I also found the same food with “Raw Boost”. What are your thoughts on how the raw boost version compares to the one in you put in your list?

    Thank you!

  19. PZL April 7, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    When my 13 year old male was diagnosed with diabetes I gave YA zero carb a try but the high protein wreaked havoc with one of his kidneys and he lost weight (which he did not need to do). So, back to wet food along with grazing on low carb/lower protein dry as I continue working with his vet. Luckily he’s willing to work with us.

Love to hear your thoughts! Leave a Reply...

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes