When it comes to keeping your cat healthy and happy, it’s important to pick the highest quality food for them to enjoy. With this in mind, our review team has curated a list of the best cat food of 2024, based on a combination of first-hand experience with the foods, vet recommendations, AAFCO approvals, customer reviews, ingredient quality, and price.

Whether your feline fancies dry cat food or wet cat food, we understand that you want to keep your cat in optimal health—today and in the future. So all the brands we recommend offer the nutrition and protein your cat needs to fulfill this goal in making our list of the best types of cat food approved by vets.

Read on to find the best healthy food fit for your cat—depending on their age, their preferences, and your family’s lifestyle. Remember, when it comes to the top cat food brands, always choose the one(s) that suit your cat’s needs.

Our List

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Vetstreet may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

15 Best Cat Food Options, According to Vets

Best Overall Premium Cat Food

Our Pick: Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food

kitten eating Smalls human-grade fresh food

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FlavorFresh BirdFresh Other BirdFresh Cow
Life StageAllAllAll
FormGround, smooth, or pulledSmooth or groundSmooth or ground
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liverTurkey thigh (skin on), chicken liverGround beef 90% lean, beef liver, beef heart
Protein Analysis17% min18.5% min15% min
Meets AAFCO Standards?YesYesYes

We love Smalls because they are a brand that puts felines first. It’s a cat food brand really dedicated to optimal cat nutrition, small batches, fresh ingredients, and excellent customer service. Their Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food is exactly what it says it is. It’s human-grade quality, USDA certified, and made from humanely harvested and sustainable protein sources. The food is available in four different recipes: Bird (Chicken), Cow, Other Bird (Turkey and Chicken Liver), and Fish.

Smalls is a most popular cat food selection because there are no preservatives, no mystery fillers, and no artificial colors. The recipes are lightly cooked and delivered to your home as part of a cat food subscription service, making your life easier! What’s not to love? 


  • Human-grade, USDA-certified recipes.
  • 4 different fresh food options to choose from.
  • Humane and sustainable protein sources.
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
  • Home delivery makes it easy. 

Things to Consider

  • This food should be kept in your freezer until 24 hours before you are ready to serve it. It can last up to 12 months when frozen. 
  • Smalls Fresh Cat Food does need to be refrigerated. It can be kept in a sealed bag or container in the fridge for 5-7 days after opening. 
  • Smalls is only available as a subscription. However, you’ll receive 25% off your first trial order. You can postpone orders at any time.  

Best Dry Cat Food Veterinarians Recommend

Our pick: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Hills Science Diet Chicken Recipe
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken, chicken fat, chicken liver
Protein Analysis30% min
Calories502 kcal/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

When it comes to dry cat food recommended by vets, it’s hard to beat Hill’s Science Diet. This chicken-based recipe features lean protein to help your cat build muscle mass and it also contains essential taurine to support heart health. This recipe is also veterinarian formulated and made in the USA, making it a top choice of Dr. Barnette. “Hill’s Science Diet cat food is a good all-around diet for healthy adult cats,” she says. “It’s formulated to meet cats’ nutritional needs, and most cats seem to enjoy the flavor.”

Hill’s makes our list as one of the best cat kibble brands because it is free of any artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors and is manufactured in the United States. Formulated for cats between one and six years of age, your cat is set up with the nutrition needed for a lifetime of good health.

Things We Like

  • Offers important ingredients like taurine, vitamin E, and omega fatty acids to support overall health
  • Chicken flavor is enticing to most felines
  • Formulated by veterinarians and tends to be a veterinarian approved cat food (talk to your cat’s healthcare team)
  • Made in the USA
  • Available in a variety of different bag sizes

Things to Consider

  • Food can be a bit crumbly in the bag
  • Size of kibble changed a few years ago

Best Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food

Our Pick: Vetdiet Adult Indoor Cat Food Chicken and Rice Formula

Vetdiet adult indoor cat food
FlavorChicken and Rice
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Deboned chicken, chicken meal
Protein Analysis30% min
Calories352 kcal/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?No

Developed by veterinarians and nutritionists, Vetdiet’s Adult Indoor Cat Food Chicken and Rice formula is nutritionally balanced for cats who live indoors. High-quality deboned chicken is the main protein, so cats are getting an optimal meal. With a blend of probiotics and L-carnitine to help maintain a healthy weight, pet parents can feel good serving this food to their cat.

Things We Like

  • Formulated and proven through the Health and Nutrition Advisory Board from Vetdiet
  • Developed by veterinarians and nutritionists for indoor adult cats
  • 100 percent satisfaction guarantee
  • Contains no wheat, corn, or soy
  • Includes antioxidants for immune system support
  • Prebiotics help support your cat’s digestive health

Things to Consider

  • Made in Canada
  • Does not have the AAFCO seal of approval

Best Wet Cat Food

Our Pick: Tiki Cat Emma Luau Variety Pack

Tiki Cat Variety Pack
FlavorTilapiaWild Salmon & ChickenWild SalmonChicken & EggSucculent ChickenAhi Tuna & Mackerel
Life StageAdultAdultAdultAdultAdultAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Tuna, chickenSalmon, chickenSalmonChicken, dried eggChickenTuna, mackerel
Protein Analysis17% min15% min14% min17% min16% min17% min
Calories83 kcal/can71 kcal/can59 kcal/can70 kcal/can69 kcal/can72 kcal/can
Meets AAFCO Standards?YesYesYesYesYesYes

Canned wet cat foods are a great option for cats who struggle with staying hydrated as they contain a higher moisture content. They also work wonders for the pickier eaters. Tiki Cat’s Emma Luau Variety Pack is an excellent choice when it comes to choosing wet food for your feline friend.

“I like canned cat food that is simple – contains a protein source and water and very little else,” says Dr. Sarah Wooten, a Colorado-based veterinarian. “This cat food does just that. It is also great because it has several flavors, and it is good to rotate flavors within one brand of food to prevent strong food preferences.”

Things We Like

  • All of these formulas contain taurine which helps support heart health.
  • Tiki Cat’s recipes are only made with pure ingredients and are free from grains, wheat, corn, soy, GMO ingredients, MSG, and carrageenan.
  • These formulas help cats stay properly hydrated without the hassle

Things to Consider

  • Opened cans need to be properly stored in the refrigerator to protect freshness
  • Some cats may not like all the flavors in this variety pack

Premium Suitable for Kittens and Cats Customized Cat Food

Our pick: Cat Person

Best cat food Cat Person brand
FlavorChicken Shreds in BrothTuna PateDuck & Turkey Kibble
Life StageAllAllAll
TextureShredded meat in brothPate formatKibble
Protein (Ingredients)ChickenTunaDuck, turkey, peas, pea protein
Protein Analysis54% min55% min66% min
Calories99 kcal ME/2.75 oz cup107 kcal ME/2.75 oz cup463 kcal ME/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?YesYesYes

With 19 varieties catering to every feline palate, Cat Person offers wet food shreds in broth, wet food in pate format, and dry food. Pet parents are invited to log onto the site and answer a few questions about their cat, and a customized meal plan is designed for you. Each recipe is high in protein, grain-free, low-carb, and suitable for both cats and kittens. Each recipe contains one to two animal proteins so your cat can avoid any known allergens.

The wet food arrives in easy-open cups, while the dry food arrives in smaller, resealable two-pound bags for maximum freshness. Meal plans ship every four weeks, but you can stop or adjust your schedule as needed. You are not required to have a subscription and can purchase Cat Person products ala carte. Cat Person suggests beginning with the Starter Box to see which recipes your cats love most. We spotlighted a few varieties in our chart above. Visit the Cat Person site for a complete listing.


  • Dry food recipes and Goodness Blends are made in the United States by pet food manufacturers with over 50 years’ experience.
  • Comes with a 30-day satisfaction/money-back guarantee.
  • Seafood in the wet food and Goodness Blends is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified.
  • 19 delectable recipes packed with high protein but without any unnecessary fillers.
  • Easy-to-follow quiz to help customize your cat’s meal.
  • Subscription service means you never run out of your cat’s favorite food.
  • Cat Person worked with experienced animal nutritionists to create their recipes.

Things to Consider

  • Due to the high-protein content in our food, Cat Person cannot recommend recipes for cats with kidney disease or renal issues.
  • Each account can only have one subscription, so you’ll need to create multiple accounts for multiple feline households.
  • Wet food is made in Thailand

Best Cat Food for Picky Eaters

Our pick: Meow Mix Tenders in Sauce Variety Pack

Meow Mix poultry beef favorites for cats
FlavorTurkey & GibletsChicken & BeefChicken & Liver
Life StageAllAllAll
TextureTender chunks in a savory sauceTender chunks in a savory sauceTender chunks in a savory sauce
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken, tuna, turkey, poultry gibletsChicken, tuna, turkey, poultry gibletsChicken, tuna, turkey, poultry giblets
Protein Analysis11% min10% min10% min
Meets AAFCO Standards?YesYesYes

If you have a finicky feline on your hands, finding the right cat food to tempt their palate can be quite a challenge. Luckily, there’s Meow Mix, a brand with a longstanding reputation for crave-worthy cat food that’s sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Known far and wide as “the only brand cats ask for by name,” Meow Mix recipes are specifically formulated to deliver the tastes and textures cats love, plus the complete and balanced nutrition they need to thrive.

We chose the Meow Mix Tenders in Sauce Poultry & Beef Favorites Variety Pack as our top pick for picky eaters because the recipes contain tender, juicy chunks of real chicken, beef, or turkey in a rich sauced made with fish broth. Each one is like a gourmet meal designed just for cats, at a price that won’t break the bank. For extra picky kitties (or just to kick mealtime up a notch), add some Meow Mix Original Choice or Meow Mix Tender Centers dry cat food for an irresistible crunch.


  • Made with tender pieces of real meat and poultry in a savory sauce.
  • 100% complete and balanced nutrition for cats of all ages.
  • Available in convenient, recyclable cups with peel-off lids
  • Cat food with high-quality protein for strong muscles
  • Low carb
  • Affordable and widely available

Things to Consider

  • Contains both natural and artificial flavors

Best Eco-Friendly Cat Food

Our pick: Open Farm Homestead Turkey & Chicken Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Open Farm humanely sourced cat food

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FlavorHomestead Turkey & Chicken
Life StageAll
Protein (Ingredients)Humanely raised turkey, humanely raised chicken, ocean whitefish meal, herring meal
Protein Analysis41% min
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

This high-quality, protein-rich kibble is packed with delicious farm-to-food-bowl flavor cats love. We love that Open Farm’s ethical, eco-responsible practices are good for pets, people, and the planet, too! 

The company’s commitment to sustainability means every bite is built from 100% humanely raised chicken and turkey meat paired with nutritious superfoods like non-GMO pumpkin, carrot, and turmeric. You can even trace where every ingredient comes from using the lot number on the bag. Speaking of bags, Open Farm offers a free, nationwide recycling program for its Hopen Farm Homestead pet food bags — a pet industry first!


  • Made from ethically sourced proteins raised on family farms
  • Includes superfoods like cranberries and dandelion greens for UTI health
  • Herring and whitefish oils provide omega-3 fatty acids
  • Free of fillers, by-products, or unnecessary preservatives
  • Commitment to transparency and sustainability
  • Free, recyclable packaging program — a pet-industry first!

Things to Consider

  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs, so be sure your cat is properly hydrated
  • Manufactured within the US, but formulated in Canada
  • Given the farm-fresh nature of the ingredients, customers should be especially mindful of any “best before” dates before offering it to their cat

Best High-Protein Cat Food

Our Pick: Orijen Original Recipe High-Protein Cat Food

Orijen original cat food
FlavorChicken, turkey and wild-caught fish
Life StageAll
Form Dry
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken, turkey, whole mackerel, turkey giblets (liver, heart, gizzard), flounder, chicken liver, whole herring, eggs, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, dehydrated egg, chicken fat
Protein Analysis40% min
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

If you’re looking for a high-protein cat food to fuel your pet’s daily adventures, consider Orijen’s Original Recipe High-Protein Cat Food. It’s crafted with high-quality ingredients like meat, organs, cartilage, and bone. We also love that it’s rich in omega fatty acids from wild pollock to help support your cat’s skin and coat health and taurine to support a healthy heart.

Things We Like

  • Features real chicken, turkey, and mackerel as delicious protein to fuel your cat’s active lifestyle and help maintain lean muscles.
  • Made with up to 90% real animal ingredients. This formula is made to fit the wholeprey diet, meaning that it contains organ meat, cartilage, and bones, which are all nutrient-dense food additions for your feline friend. 
  • This is a great high-protein cat food for cats of all life stages, including kittens or seniors. 

Things to Consider

  • It is an expensive dry cat food
  • Doesn’t come in a resealable bag

Best Grain-Free Cat Food

Our pick: Purina Beyond: Wild-Caught Whitefish and Cage-Free Egg Recipe

Purina Beyond cat food
FlavorWild-caught whitefish and cage-free egg
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Hake, chicken meal, dried egg product
Protein Analysis35% min
Calories392 kcal/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

Have a cat with food allergies or a sensitive stomach? Then a grain-free formula might be the perfect fit! We landed on Purina Beyond’s Grain-Free formula as the best grain-free option for cats. “With Purina, you know that you are getting food that is the result of decades of solid research,” says Dr. Wooten. “This food contains cod, which is high in good quality protein, low in calories, and rich in B Vitamins.”

“This diet provides necessary carbohydrates in the form of cassava root flour, pea starch, and
sweet potatoes, avoiding the use of grain,” adds Dr. Catherine Barnette, a veterinarian based in Florida. “This is a well-balanced diet that will provide quality nutrition for your cat.”

Things We Like

  • Purina Beyond is formulated with real whitefish as the first ingredient, giving your cat the necessary protein to grow strong muscles.
  • This recipe also includes natural probiotics to promote healthy digestion, along with added vitamins and minerals for optimal health.
  • Most cats enjoy the taste. Even your pickiest eater will like this option while also receiving all of the healthy benefits.

Things to Consider

  • This food does contain a strong fish smell
  • Price of this food has increased over the past couple of years

Best Kitten Food

Our pick: Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula

Wellness kitten pate cat food
FlavorChicken Entree
Life StageKitten
FormSmooth pâté
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken, chicken liver
Protein Analysis11% min
Calories97 kcal/can
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

In order for your kitten to grow into a healthy, happy cat, it’s important to make sure you give them healthy kitten food right from the start. This kitten-specific formula from the Wellness brand is a nice option to help your kitten get optimal nutrition. “This is a nice, simple formula that contains chicken ingredients, including chicken liver, which is high in B vitamins, iron, and selenium,” says Dr. Wooten. “It also contains fish oil, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids. All of these ingredients support healthy kitten growth.”

Things We Like

  • The first ingredient is protein-rich chicken to help aid in muscle development.
  • This formula is packed with nutrients to support your kitten including antioxidant-rich cranberries, vitamins, balanced minerals, omega fatty acids, and essential taurine.
  • Wellness Complete emphasizes that this recipe supports the 5 signs of kitty wellness—a lustrous skin and coat, a healthy stomach, bright eyes, strong teeth and gums, and plenty of energy and immune health.

Things to Consider

  • Open cans need to be stored properly to maintain freshness
  • Available in two can sizes (3 oz and 5.5 oz), so pay attention when ordering

Best Cat Food for Seniors

Our pick: Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+

Purina proplan wet cat food variety pack
FlavorOcean Whitefish & SalmonSalmon & TunaCod & Shrimp
Life StageSenior 7+Senior 7+Senior 7+
Protein (Ingredients)Ocean whitefish, liver, meat by-productsSalmon, liver, meat by-productsCod, liver, chicken, meat by-products, shrimp
Protein Analysis10% min10% min10% min
Meets AAFCO Standards?YesYesYes

Our aging cats often need special nutrition, and this seafood variety pack from Purina is one of our top senior cat food picks. It’s formulated specifically for cats who are over 7 years old and comes with three different flavors—Ocean Whitefish & Salmon, Salmon & Tuna, and Cod & Shrimp. All the flavors in this pack help senior cats build lean muscle mass and protect their immune systems. We also like that it’s a highly digestible formula, which is easy on an aging cat’s gut. 

“For older cats, it is nice to feed the part of their calories in easily digestible canned food that is high in protein and moisture,” says Dr. Wooten. “This diet also is formulated to help extend the lives of older.” cats.

“As cats age, their nutritional needs change significantly. Senior diets typically contain a lower
caloric density, to reduce the risk of obesity in older cats,” adds Dr. Barnette. “This food also contains antioxidants, fatty acids, and other ingredients that are also designed to maximize the health of older cats.”


  • Designed specifically for aging cats 7+
  • Variety pack allows felines to try new flavors
  • Nutrients support lean muscle mass and a cat’s immune system
  • Cats with dental problems will find this food easier to eat than dry kibble
  • The price is affordable

Things to Consider

  • It’s a pâté formula, which not all cats will enjoy
  • This pack comes with 3-oz cans only
  • Uneaten food should be refrigerated after opening

Best Sensitive Stomach Cat Food

Our pick: Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Tastefuls
FlavorChicken & Brown Rice
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Deboned chicken, chicken meal, menhaden fish meal
Protein Analysis32% minimum
Calories422 kcal/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

This cat food from Blue Buffalo made the top of our list of Best Sensitive Stomach Cat Foods— and for good reason. It features prebiotics to support healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, deboned chicken as the first ingredient, and wholesome grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley. You’ll also find an assortment of veggies and fruits, including peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and antioxidant-rich cranberries and blueberries, on the ingredient list. 

“Blue Buffalo created a sensitive stomach food that packs a healthy punch with mixed grains like oatmeal and brown rice, vegetables and fruits, and real chicken,” says Dr. Sylvalyn Hammond, a South Carolina-based vet and founder of The Honest Vet on Instagram. This option offers the vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that not only aid in digestion but will help a cat’s immunity.”


  • FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) prebiotics for healthy digestion 
  • Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids from flaxseed and fish oil for skin and coat support 
  • Protein from deboned chicken and chicken and fish meals help build and maintain strong muscles
  • Enhanced with special blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (LifeSource Bits) to support immune system, lifestage requirements, and oxidative balance
  • No chicken/poultry byproduct meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Available in 5-, 7-, 10- and 15-pound bags
  • Subscribe on Amazon and save 5% on your delivery

Things to Consider

  • Some reviewers say they had to mix it with other dry food to appeal to their finicky cats

Best Newcomer Cat Food Brand

Our pick: Made by Nacho Dry Cat Food

Made by Nacho cat food
FlavorChicken, Duck & Quail Recipe
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken, chicken meal, freeze-dried chicken livers, deboned duck, quail, chicken livers
Protein Analysis32% minimum
Calories455 kcal ME/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

Inspired by celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s 6-year-old orange Maine Coon cat, Made by Nacho is a relative newcomer to the cat food market. Many pet parents are fans of the Chicken, Duck & Quail recipe with bone-broth-coated kibble and freeze-dried chicken liver pieces for extra protein. Featuring cage-free chicken as the first ingredient, this recipe also contains wholesome grains, pre- and probiotics, and fiber-rich fruits and veggies. 


  • Real chicken as the first ingredient, plus deboned duck, quail, and chicken livers as additional sources of protein
  • Bone broth serves as a source of protein and collagen to support healthy skin and coat
  • Fruits and veggies like apples, blueberries, pumpkin and squash, are packed with antioxidants to support your cat’s immune system
  • Pre- and probiotics support digestive health and nutrient absorption
  • Contains added vitamins, minerals, and taurine
  • No corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Available in 2-, 4- and 10-pound bags

Things to Consider

  • U.S. made but ingredients are globally sourced
  • Mainly available through PetSmart, though you can find some items on Amazon or buy direct through the Made by Nacho site
  • If your cat isn’t a fan of chicken, additional flavors are available

Best Hairball Control Cat Food

Our pick: Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control

Hills Science Diet for Hairball Control
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Chicken, pork fat
Protein Analysis29.5% minimum
Calories327 kcal/cup
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

Cat hairballs are unpleasant for both pets and their people. Thankfully, there are a number of cat foods formulated to help reduce hairball development. A good hairball control cat food contains increased fiber and fatty acids for skin and coat support. This pick from Hill’s Science Diet has more than 9 percent crude fiber from ingredients like whole grain wheat and beet pulp, as well as fish oil for omega-3s, to reduce hairballs. “This diet is high in fiber, to reduce the risk of hairballs,” says Dr. Barnette. “In addition, it has optimal magnesium levels to help reduce the risk of certain urinary crystals and bladder stones.”


  • Contains high-quality fiber, fatty acids, and antioxidants for healthy digestion, skin and coat, and immune system support
  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • No chicken byproduct meal, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Available in 3.5-, 7-, and 15.5-pound bags (bundle with canned food also available)
  • Subscribe on Amazon and save 5% on your delivery

Things to Consider

  • Made in the USA but ingredient are globally sourced
  • Contains corn gluten meal and wheat gluten

Best Limited-Ingredient Cat Food

Our pick: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein PR Dry Cat Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein
FlavorRabbit and Peas
Life StageAdult
Protein (Ingredients)Rabbit meal, pea protein
Protein Analysis30% min
Calories334 kcals / cup 
Meets AAFCO Standards?Yes

If your cat is experiencing a food sensitivity, finding a limited-ingredient option could help to cut back on your feline’s discomfort. “By putting your cat on a limited ingredient diet like Royal Canin — that has been specifically formulated for cats with adverse food reactions — you can be assured that your cat is eating food that does not contain any allergens that they are sensitive to,” says Dr. Wooten. “Therapeutic diets like these are manufactured under strict parameters that prevent cross contamination with any other ingredients.”


  • Made with rabbit meal and pea protein
  • Offers EPA and DHA to help your cat’s skin and coat
  • Meets AAFCO requirements for complete and balanced diet
  • Manufactured under parameters that prevent cross contamination
  • When it comes to the most recommended cat food by veterinarians, this diet from Royal Canine is vet-recommended and available only with a veterinary prescription.

Things to Consider

  • This food requires a prescription from your vet
  • It is on the expensive side, but it’s worth it if it helps your cat feel better
  • The dry food is okay to feed to kittens, but the wet version of this food is not. Be care if ordering for your kitten

Cat Food Buyer’s Guide

Cat eating food from bowl

When it comes to cat food, the best for your feline family member can seem daunting. With all the varieties and formulations available, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. We asked veterinarian Dr. Sarah Machell, medical director at Vetster and Dr. Maranda Elswick of The Meowing Vet to offer some advice on what to look for and consider when shopping for cat food. After all, veterinary recommended cat food is something pet parents can feel good about. Here’s what they had to say:

Consider Your Cat’s Life Stage

One of the first things pet parents should do when choosing a cat food is to pick a food formulated for their pet’s specific life stage. “Life stages in cats can generally be broken down into the segments of baby kitten, adolescent, spayed/neutered adult, senior, and geriatric,” says Machell. “Across these life stages there are different needs when it comes to energy requirements, diet digestibility, and nutrient composition.”

You may even ask what is the best cat food recommended by vets to your feline’s vet or nutritional team. Life stage has a lot to do with what they will suggest. Just because a popular cat food gets recognition or is seen in advertisements doesn’t mean it is most ideal for your feline.

Look Closely at the Ingredient Label

While all cat foods will feature different ingredients and offerings, pay attention to what is listed and the order. A high-quality protein source should be within the first few ingredients listed. “The list of ingredients is always presented in order of those that are present in greatest to least greatest quantity,” says Dr. Machell.

But Dr. Elswick warns that cat parents should beware of false advertising on cat food labels. “Pet parents should be aware of pet food marketing ploys and avoid pet foods that hop on the bandwagon of human food trends, which can falsely anthropomorphize pets and cause pet parents to believe a certain trend is healthier than other more traditional commercial diets,” she says.

Make Sure Protein is Present

“Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning the majority of their diet should contain protein and fat from meat sources,” says Dr. Elswick. “While some carbohydrate content (including grains) is okay for cats, too many carbs is not biologically appropriate for cats as a species.”

Read the label carefully and discuss with your veterinarian whether the protein content in your selected cat food is appropriate for your cat. Things like the ‘healthiest cat food’ should be closely scrutinized to ensure it is as healthy as it claims to be. Cat food recommended by vets will likely pass the proper amount of protein test.

Check for the AAFCO Seal

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a non-profit organization that offers guidelines for pet foods to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. If the seal is present on the bag or container of cat food, it has been formulated to meet those guidelines. “The fact that each diet listed here passes The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines is a fantastic first foundation step of any reputable pet food,” says Dr. Elswick.

“Having an AAFCO seal of approval can be a piece of mind for a cat owner to know that the manufacturer of the diet has taken some effort to work within their recommended standards,” adds Machell. 

Consider Your Cat’s Medical Needs

All cats have individual dietary needs, and some cats may require special diets due to certain medical conditions or digestive issues. Machell explains that a medical diagnosis from your veterinarian may bring about a dietary change. This is common in the management of certain conditions such as kidney disease or allergies. In these cases, it’s important to work with your veterinarian to find the best cat food cats in your home will enjoy and benefit from eating.

Take Cost Into Account

“It is always important to work with a diet that fits within your budget,” says Machell. Use your veterinarian as a resource to come up with some suggestions for cat foods that won’t break the bank.

“Pet parents should also note that a more expensive diet does not necessarily mean it is of higher quality,” says Dr. Elswick. “Many moderately priced diets offer some of the best nutrition.”

Keep in mind that specialized diets and prescription cat foods may be more expensive than other cat foods, but the cost tends to be worth it in the long run. “A specialized diet may be more expensive,” says Machell, “but if that expense spares your cat illness and distress, then it also likely spares you expensive veterinary care.” 

Cat Food FAQ

Cat eating from two bowls

What are good cats foods? What’s in cat food? Is wet better than dry cat food according to vets? Aer quality cat foods expensive? When it comes to cat food, there are plenty of questions out there. We have the answers to some of the ones that pop up most frequently. 

What Is in Cat Food?

Cat food is made up of a combination of protein (like chicken, fish, beef, and liver), carbohydrates (like grains, corn, and certain vegetables), fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

All cat food manufacturers include their own blend of ingredients to make dry cat food, wet cat food, and fresh cat food. All ingredients should be clearly marked and listed on the cat food packaging. 

When It Comes To Dry Cat Food Veterinarians Recommend, Is Wet Better?

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, dry cat food will not dry out and may pet parents enjoy feeing it to their cats. However, some cats may prefer wet cat food or semi-moist cat food if the dry formula is not as palatable. Store dry cat food in an airtight container to preserve the nutrients and maintain the flavor.

How Much Is Cat Food?

Cat food costs range quite a bit depending on the brand and type of food that you decide to feed your cat. Pet owners can expect to pay, on average, anywhere from $120 to $800 per year on cat food. 

Vet-recommended dry cat food in 5- to 10-pound bags tends to range between $8 and $60 per bag, while bags over 20 pounds range from $15 to $80 per bag. Wet cat food tends to range from $6 to just over $100 per case, depending on the size and quantities of the cans. Fresh, freeze-dried, or raw cat food delivery services tend to be more expensive than purchasing dry kibble or cans of wet food. 

How Much Food Should I Feed My Cat? 

Cats will need different amounts of food based on their life stage and the type of food you are feeding. Consult with your veterinarian and follow the directions on your cat’s food packaging to determine the appropriate serving size. 

Can Kittens Eat Adult Cat Food?

No, it is not recommended that kittens eat cat food formulated for adult cats. Kittens have specific nutritional needs and require more calories than adult cats. Kittens should be fed kitten food that is formulated for kittens or for all life stages. 

What Cat Foods Do Veterinarians Recommended?

As you can see from our list of the cat foods, according to vets, there are both wet and dry options available along with a few others. Those that provide balanced nutrition and meet your cat’s dietary needs in their specific life stage are the ones to consider with your veterinarian’s input.

Cat Food Storage Tips

It’s important to take all the proper precautions to store your cat’s food appropriately to ensure freshness and avoid potential contamination or spoiling. Follow manufacturer recommended storage instructions, which can be found on the food packaging, and use or throw away food by the “best by” date. 

“Dry foods obviously have a longer shelf life than canned or fresh foods and should be kept in a cool, dry, airtight container and opened canned diets not consumed should be refrigerated,” says Machell. 

When dealing with cat food, the best or any cat food should always be kept in the original cat food packaging, even if you store the food in a different container. This will help you check your cat’s food against any cat food recalls should they arise. 

Why Trust Vetstreet

Our editorial and product teams have been creating pet-centric content and recommendations for over a decade and we have previously worked for leading pet-industry brands including petMD.com, PetSmart, and Petco. It’s our job to stay on top of trends and new products that are available to pet parents, and this list is based on in-depth brand and product knowledge and research. 

Additionally, we consulted three veterinarians to compile our cat food recommendations. These experts include:

We also asked for vet approved cat food buying advice from two veterinarians. These experts include:

We also had this article reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Emily Swiniarski, medical director of the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois.

Besides consulting with veterinarians, Vetstreet also compiled this list of the best cat food selections based on the following criteria:

AAFCO requirements: The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a non-profit organization that sets nutritional requirements for pet food. Cat foods that feature the AAFCO label are considered a complete and balanced diet. 

Access and availability: The cat foods on this list are accessible to pet parents for both in-store and online shopping. They represent a variety of price points, giving cat owners a wide range of options to meet their budgetary and lifestyle needs.

Nutrient profiles and analysis: These cat-food recommendations all offer a guaranteed analysis to meet the minimum protein and fat requirements for (non-pregnant) adult cats. These minimums include 26% protein and 9% fat. Additionally, we prioritized foods with human-grade ingredients and safety testing.


Keeping your cat healthy and happy begins with a diet that is focused on optimal nutrition and pure ingredients. A healthy cat food is essential to maintain your cat’s optimum vitality. We hope that our curated list helps you find the best formulas for your feline friend depending on their specific needs and your specific wants.