5 of the Best Dry Cat Food Brands Recommended by Experts

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As the old saying goes, cats have nine lives. This is fortunate, as it can take around 3285 days to go through all the feline food options available on the market today.

Along with the plethora of cat food companies, there’s a mountain of information to digest to figure out what to feed your cat. “Cats are true carnivores, so a high-protein, relatively low-carb diet is ideal,” Chewy senior veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson tells Mental Floss. “Unlike dogs, cats cannot manufacture the amino acid taurine, so taurine must be added to the diet to ensure adequate amounts, especially in low-protein diets.”

But when it comes to planning your cat’s diet, taurine isn’t the only thing that matters; there are several other important factors to keep in mind. Choosing the right food for your pet is a very individual decision, based on your preferences and those of your furry friend. To help you find the “perfect” dry cat food for your cat, we reached out to several leading experts to identify the best brands. Below are some of their picks, along with some helpful tips to keep in mind before buying anything.

Cat food options are vast, but according to experts, dry cat food (also known as kibble) is one of the most popular because it’s convenient and relatively inexpensive. According to Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care, founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition and author of The Ultimate Guide to Pet Health: Breakthrough Nutrition and Integrative Care for Dogs and Cats, pet owners should look for foods that are primarily meat-based and contain fresh, whole ingredients. “Frequently foods add vitamins and minerals and that’s fine, but beyond that all ingredients must be real foods,” he wrote in an email.

Another important thing to keep in mind, according to Dr. Richter, is that cats tend to “adapt” to the food they ate as kittens, so cats that grew up with kibble will often only want to eat kibble. It’s ideal to start your pet early on a diet rich in fresh, whole foods, but if you haven’t, don’t stress them out. You can always modify his diet, although Dr. Richter suggests doing it slowly after consulting a trusted veterinarian. “For any change in diet, a very gradual transition over one to two weeks is recommended,” he adds.

Although kibble is easy to buy and very affordable, experts say it may be higher in carbohydrates than wet cat food. It also has a low moisture content, which means cats will need to hydrate elsewhere. That said, Tracy Donnelly, category manager for cat consumables and litter supplies at Pet Supplies Plus, notes that dry food can benefit feline dental health. “Crispy kibble helps reduce plaque and tartar buildup on cats’ teeth,” she says.

As a cat’s primary source of nutrition, Donnelly says all cat food should also meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition. In the event of food recalls, Dr. Nelson urges pet parents to refer to the FDA and consult with the Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA), as the latter organization seeks to promote pet nutrition worldwide by asking hard-hitting questions to manufacturers via its Dare to Ask Reports. (For example, Dr. Nelson reveals that the PNA asks whether companies own their manufacturing facilities and whether they employ board-certified veterinary nutritionists (ACVNs) or nutritionists with PhDs.)

Royal Canin Mother & Babycat dry cat food on a white background.

Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Dry cat food / Royal Canin/Amazon

This cat food from Royal Canin is specially designed for newborn kittens and pregnant or nursing cats. The easy-to-chew kibble is a good transitional choice for weaning kittens and contains antioxidants and vitamins. John P. Loftus, Ph.D., DVM, assistant professor at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, tells Mental Floss that he regularly recommends Royal Canin (as well as Purina Pro Plan and Hill’s Science Diet), noting, “These are all companies I know have many years of research behind them, veterinary nutritionists on staff, and rigorous quality control protocols. Plus, these brands are where most of our therapeutic diets go to help treat various conditions in cats (and dogs). ”

Buy it: Amazon

Iams Proactive Health bag on a white background.

Iams Proactive Health / Iams/Amazon

Does your cat have a sensitive stomach or irritated skin? Iams Proactive Health is a great choice that helps maintain strong muscles and promotes better digestive and skin health with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It’s one of the brands (along with Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin and Purina) that Cori Blair, DVM, veterinarian and owner of Feline Health in New York, swears by. She encourages shoppers to look beyond the ‘simple’ appearance of the packaging, adding: “They invest their money to ensure the highest quality products, but most consumers are drawn to prettier packaging. with better marketing… [it leads] to many cats being fed less than stellar food.”

Buy it: Amazon

Acana Indoor Adult Entree dry cat food on a white background.

Dry food for adult cats Indoor entry Acana / Acana / chews

Dr. Nelson recommends Acana because this premium brand carefully prepares foods with farm-fresh, protein-rich ingredients to meet the nutritional needs of cats. The dry cat food line includes seven varieties, but this particular kibble is ideal for picky eaters as it carefully balances calories, protein and fat, and includes ingredients that will help your feline maintain a healthy weight, as well as the skin, the coat, the eyes. , and heart health, says Dr. Nelson. Acana follows AAFCO guidelines and could be a great option for pet parents who want to try a diet produced outside of major manufacturers.

Buy it: Soft

Hill's Science Diet Urinary and Hairball Control dry cat food on a white background.

Hill’s Science Diet Urinary and Hairball Control Dry cat food / Hill’s Science Diet/Amazon

Cats are notorious for getting hairballs, which can happen after swallowing too much hair while grooming. Over time, it builds up in their systems, leading to those yucky hair tubes (not balls) of hair you’ve probably seen coming out. To help them better manage this chronic problem, Donnelly of Pet Supply Plus recommends Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control, writing that it has “the optimal level of magnesium to support overall urinary system health; natural fiber comfortably reduces hairballs; [and has] vitamin E, omega-3 [and] -6s for beautiful skin and fur.

Buy it: Amazon

Purina Pro Plan LiveClear on white background.

Purina Pro Plan LiveClear / Purina/Chewy

Many people are allergic to cats, but according to Dr. Nelson, feeding these four-legged friends from the Purina Pro Plan LiveClear range allows cat lovers to breathe easier. It’s the first and only food proven to reduce allergens simply and safely, with a key protein from eggs. This popular choice includes protein-rich probiotic salmon and rice.

Buy it: Soft

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