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

“WHAT? This can’t be right! My food’s perfect!”

UPDATED July 2013
You can help me keep this list current by leaving info or questions in the Comments. (To be notified of big updates, get on the news list here.)

There I was cursing at a coffee house and nearly giving up on getting those “best cat food” tables to format.

The cat food cost calculations also made me cranky, but writing buddy and fellow cat fan, Teresa, gave me the moral support to see through publishing Today’s best cat foods and Today’s best dry cat foods.

Why isn’t _____  on this list?

The project was worth the trouble because of all the people, like you, who continue to respond with great interest in finding cat food that’s truly healthy.

A common question is: “Why isn’t ________ on the list?” Sometimes the answer is: “You’re right, I need to add it.”

One of the challenges is that some good brands, like Wellness and Blue Buffalo, have some stellar products as well as some I cannot recommend.

And it depends on whether we’re talking canned or dry here too. It would be so much easier if we could just say “This brand is always great.” But it’s not that simple. So, most of the time the answer is one of the following…

Almost fabulous Runners Up: One iffy ingredient

These are still decent choices if your family is attached to them.

Here are the reasons these Runners Up for Today’s best cat foods didn’t make top billing:

  • Newman’s organic Grain Free canned – carrageenan was recently added
  • Wellness Grain Free Canned – carrageenan
  • Halo Canned – some have carrageenan, some have garlic powder  (UPDATE April 2013: cans do not have BPA in lining. UPDATE 2015: Halo Impulse does not have carrageenan or garlic)
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Canned and Blue Buffalo Basics Canned – carrageenan
  • BeforeGrain Canned – carrageenan
  • Evo Canned by Innova – carrageenan
  • Natural Balance LID Canned (Limited Ingredient Diet) – carrageenan
  • ZiwiPeak Canned (lamb or venison) – carrageenan

To understand the carrageenan concern, scroll down to the section titled “Shock #2″ on this post here or see this article by Susan Thixton. Garlic? A little probably doesn’t matter, but since a lot will cause a blood cell disorder (hemolytic anemia), many vets recommend not using it on regular basis.

Special exceptions! Where a good product has variations

The following products are mostly great, but have variations in the ingredients.

Just check the labels to get the ones that don’t have the iffy stuff, as follows:

  • Weruva Canned – I feel pretty confident in the quality of Weruva, and I love that they are BPA-free, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan. 
  • Tikicat Canned – These guys have a reputation for strict quality and eco-fishing sources. They are also BPA-free, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan. 
  • Addiction Grain Free Canned – Good stuff, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan (currently: salmon, venison, unagi, and brushtail have it). The salmon also contains citrus, which is supposed to be toxic to cats. (What were they thinking?)
cat on scale

High carbs increases obesity and diabetes risk

Cat foods with too many carbs: Fattening

I believe high carb percentages are to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemics in indoor cats today.

  • Halo Grain Free Dry – 25% carbs (could be worse – this one is on the border)
  • BeforeGrain Dry – 30% carbs
  • Fromm Dry Grain Free – 29% carbs
  • Blue Buffalo Dry – 28 – 40% carbs (also some have grains)
  • Natural Balance Grain Free/LID Dry – 40% carbs
  • Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dry- 27% carbs
  • Addiction Grain Free Dry – 31% carbs

For more on this fattening carb business, see Overweight Cat? The Hidden Cause and Solution.

Cat foods made with grains: can lead to digestive problems (and hairballs)

  • Wellness Canned (all the ones NOT labeled grain free) – grains
  • PetGuard canned – grains

For more on the grains and digestion topic, see WARNING: Your Cat’s Tummy Troubles Could Lead to Cancer, by Karen Becker, DVM and Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs by Fern Crist, DVM.

Cat foods with more than one issue: High carb, grains, and/or iffy ingredients

All good brands, but these specific products from them are too flawed to recommend – here’s why:

  • Blue (Buffalo) Spa and Blue (Buffalo) Healthy Gourmet Canned – carrageenan; grains
  • Lotus Dry – grains; 25% carb
  • Wellness Indoor Dry – grains; 30 -35% carbs
  • Life’s Abundance Dry – grains; 35% carbs
  • Organix Castor and Pollux Dry – grains; 32% carbs
  • AvoDerm canned cat food – carrageenan, avocado (may be risky over time – see comments discussion), synthetic vitamin K

Again, thank you for continuing to help me keep this and the Best cat foods “living lists” correct and up-to-date!

225 Responses to These natural cat foods didn’t make the “best” list: here’s why

  1. Kathleen January 19, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    I feed lotus grain free do you still recommend that brand?

  2. Jaclyn Battle February 11, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    How do you feel about Fussie Cat brand canned food?

  3. Victoria February 20, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    Whats your rating on Daves cat food

  4. Natasha Botyanovskyy February 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    Does wellness wet food and blue buffalo wet food have carragenan. I am trying to find excellent wet food gor my cats to avoid health problems. Unfortunately petsmart does, not have a big selection on healthy foods that does not contain bad I gredients. If I feed my cats blue buffalo and wellness wet food in small portions will try risk of cancer.

    • Marie August 18, 2016 at 9:43 am #

      You turn the can around and look at the ingredients…it will say if it has that ingredient or not.

  5. marlene March 15, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    did you ever have ‘mauri’ brand on the list?

  6. Melina April 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

    An animal communicator just r commended feline instincts and I don’t see this on any of your lists, yes or no?

  7. Alexis Seely-Carroll April 13, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    Any news on merrick limited ingredient?

  8. Ale April 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Hi just wanted to update you on Nature’s instinct dry food, rabbit single source food. I spoke with a representative from the company today. She said the rabbit for the past couple years is sourced from France and Italy. She said the are humanely raised in hutches. I just wanted to let you know. David

  9. marlene May 28, 2016 at 6:08 am #

    still waiting to learn if ‘mauri’ brand was ever on list… thoughts?

  10. Dusti May 31, 2016 at 6:04 am #

    Applaws? The pouches only have 1-2 ingredients and they’re now at my local Petco. Have you heard anything about them?

    • Sabrina May 31, 2016 at 6:20 am #

      From what i read on the ingredients, this is not a complete cat food and should only be used as a topper of other food maybe. It does not contain necessary nutrients, including Taurine, which is of utmost importance.

  11. Jean Tobias June 6, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    How do you rate Nutrisca dry cat food (chicken recipe) by Catswell?

    • Rosalie Smith June 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Have you heard of the brand “Nulo”, both dry and canned food for cats that are no grain? Any research?

  12. Cadie Bandy June 18, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

    Hi, I was wondering your opinion on Solid Gold cat food? I can’t seem to find the carb % online so I wrote them but haven’t heard back yet.

  13. Cadie Bandy June 18, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    Hi, I was also wondering what your opinion on Soulistic was?

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