The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods

Cat Food March 29, 2021

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The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods

When it comes to choosing the best food for your cat, a cat owners first decision is between wet and dry food. Dry cat food offers a long shelf-life, it is easy and convenient to feed, and it comes in a wide range of flavors and formulas.

If you’ve decided to feed your cat dry food, take the time to choose a high-quality product made with premium ingredients and properly balanced for optimal nutrition.

Compare Best Dry Cat Foods

Overall Best
Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Pieces Dry Cat Food

1. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Pieces Dry Cat Food

Best Affordable
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

Best For Kittens
Canidae All Life Stages Dry Cat Food, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb and Fish

3. Canidae All Life Stages Dry Cat Food, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb and Fish

Best For Seniors
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Indoor Senior Recipe Dry Cat Food

4. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Indoor Senior Recipe Dry Cat Food

Best For Weight Control
Solid Gold Fit as a Fiddle Weight Control with Alaskan Pollock Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food

5. Solid Gold Fit as a Fiddle Weight Control with Alaskan Pollock Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food

Best For Allergies
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Duck & Potato Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food

6. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Duck & Potato Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food

Best For Indoor Cats
Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

7. Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Best High-Protein
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Red Meat Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Red Meat Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach
Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

9. Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Best Vet-Recommended
Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

10. Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Protein
43% Min
Protein
34% Min
Protein
32% Min
Protein
38.5% Min
Protein
31% Min
Protein
30% Min
Protein
42% Min
Protein
36% Min
Protein
42% Min
Protein
31% Min
Fat
20% Min
Fat
14% Min
Fat
20% Min
Fat
12% Min
Fat
9% Min
Fat
14% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
16% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
13% Min
Fiber
3.5% Max
Fiber
4% Max
Fiber
2.5% Max
Fiber
7.5% Max
Fiber
9% Max
Fiber
6% Max
Fiber
3% Max
Fiber
5% Max
Fiber
3% Max
Fiber
6% Max
Moisture
 9% Max
Moisture
 9% Max
Moisture
 9% Max
Moisture
 11% Max
Moisture
 10% Max
Moisture
 9% Max
Moisture
 10% Max
Moisture
9% Max
Moisture
 10% Max
Moisture
 8% Max
Caloric Content
 480 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 359 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
521 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 353 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 360 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 402 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 390 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 427 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 390 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
 319 kcal/cup

Continue reading to learn more about your cat’s basic nutritional needs and to receive some simple tips for picking the best cat food to provide for those needs. You’ll also receive our top 10 picks for the best dry cat food brands.

The 10 Best Rated Dry Cat Food Reviewed And Compared

Now that you have a better understanding of your cat’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping.

Remember, the best dry cat food will be focused on animal-based ingredients including premium animal proteins, healthy fats, and beneficial supplements for nutritional balance.

Here are our top 10 picks for the best dry cat food brands that pet parents should consider:

Overall Best
1.

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Pieces Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 43% Min
  • Fat: 20% Min
  • Fiber: 3.5% Max
  • Moisture:  9% Max
  • Caloric Content:  480 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made from premium-quality, all-natural ingredients
  • High protein kibble blended with freeze-dried raw pieces
  • Beneficial nutrients like chelated minerals and probiotics
Cons
  • Very expensive to feed as a staple diet
If you want your cat to enjoy the best that nature has to offer, feed it this Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Natural Cat Food. Not only is this chicken recipe made with premium natural ingredients, but it is a combination of high-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces for maximum nutrition and flavor.

This recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient with plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It also contains beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.
Best Affordable
2.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 34% Min
  • Fat: 14% Min
  • Fiber: 4% Max
  • Moisture:  9% Max
  • Caloric Content:  359 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made from all-natural ingredients, no by-products or fillers
  • Real chicken as the number-1 ingredient
  • Highly digestible recipe for maximum nutrient absorption
Cons
  • Not a grain-free recipe, some cats may be sensitive
  • Doesn’t contain probiotic supplements
If you’re on a budget, you can still provide your cat with a high-quality diet in this Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food. This cat food features real chicken as the number-1 ingredient and it is completely free from artificial additives. It is inspired by Rachael Ray’s cooking, so you can bet that it is full of natural flavor.

This adult cat food recipe contains wholesome, nourishing ingredients to ensure complete and balanced nutrition and it is also highly digestible – all at an affordable price!
Best For Kittens
3.

Canidae All Life Stages Dry Cat Food, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb and Fish

Product Info

  • Protein: 32% Min
  • Fat: 20% Min
  • Fiber: 2.5% Max
  • Moisture:  9% Max
  • Caloric Content: 521 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with only 8 main ingredients to reduce risk for allergies
  • Contains several sources of quality animal proteins
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
Cons
  • Some kittens may be sensitive to poultry ingredients like chicken and turkey
To get your kitten started on the right foot with a high-quality dry food, consider this Canidae Life Stages Dry Cat Food For Kittens, Adults & Seniors Recipe. This recipe features a limited number of ingredients to prevent food allergies and it is made with premium protein sources like fresh chicken.

It contains only the highest quality natural ingredients with no fillers, by-products, or artificial additives. Plus, it is supplemented with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics for healthy digestion. Overall, it contains 32% protein and 20% fat.
Best For Seniors
4.

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Indoor Senior Recipe Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 38.5% Min
  • Fat: 12% Min
  • Fiber: 7.5% Max
  • Moisture:  11% Max
  • Caloric Content:  353 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with a total of 70% protein and fat ingredients
  • Features real deboned chicken as the main ingredient and a lean source of protein
  • Plenty of beneficial supplements for healthy and balanced nutrition
Cons
  • Contains some plant protein (potato protein)
As your cat gets older, it may not need as many calories, but it still needs a nutrient-rich diet. This Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Senior Dry Food is a great option because it features all-natural ingredients, 70% of which come from healthy proteins and fats.

This recipe is formulated for both indoor and outdoor cats, plus it is grain-free for digestibility. It doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy ingredients and it is free from by-products and artificial additives as well. It just consists of real, whole foods to ensure premium balanced nutrition for older cats.
Best For Weight Control
5.

Solid Gold Fit as a Fiddle Weight Control with Alaskan Pollock Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 31% Min
  • Fat: 9% Min
  • Fiber: 9% Max
  • Moisture:  10% Max
  • Caloric Content:  360 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Formulated to support healthy weight
  • High in protein, low in fat and calories
  • Lean animal proteins as first two ingredients
Cons
  • May be too high in fiber for some cats
Featuring lean proteins like Alaskan pollock and turkey meal, this grain-free dry cat food helps support your cat’s healthy weight. It is formulated with high protein levels, low carb content, and moderate calories with 16 nutrient-dense superfoods to ensure balanced nutrition.

This healthy weight formula is just what your cat needs to regain his figure and maintain optimal health. In addition to helping him lose weight, it also supports immune system health and will boost the condition of his skin and coat as well.
Best For Allergies
6.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Duck & Potato Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 30% Min
  • Fat: 14% Min
  • Fiber: 6% Max
  • Moisture:  9% Max
  • Caloric Content:  402 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with a limited number of premium natural ingredients
  • Contains 30% protein and 14% healthy fats
  • Free from corn, wheat, soy, by-products, and artificial additives
Cons
  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)
  • Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
Pet owners worried about allergies or food sensitivities should consider this Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Cat Food. Available in several flavors, this cat food features a limited number of main ingredients to reduce the risk for triggering your cat’s allergies.

It features only the highest quality natural ingredients and it is grain-free for digestibility. You’ll find that it contains plenty of healthy supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics but is completely free from corn, wheat, soy, by-products, and artificial additives.
Best For Indoor Cats
7.

Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 42% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 3% Max
  • Moisture:  10% Max
  • Caloric Content:  390 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Contains several sources of premium animal protein
  • Rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
Cons
  • Contains some plant proteins (pea and potato protein)
  • First source of fat is plant- not animal-based (canola oil)
For maximum flavor and nutrition, give your Maine Coon this Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Canyon River Recipe Cat Food. It features several premium proteins including fresh trout, smoked salmon, and ocean fish meal as well as plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.

It contains grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas for digestibility as well as probiotics to support your cat’s digestion. It also contains beneficial supplements like dietary fiber and probiotics.
Best High-Protein
8.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Red Meat Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 36% Min
  • Fat: 16% Min
  • Fiber: 5% Max
  • Moisture: 9% Max
  • Caloric Content:  427 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with several sources of real animal protein
  • Balanced with healthy animal-based fats
  • Supplemented with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
Cons
  • Some cats may be sensitive or allergic to beef ingredients
  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)
If you’re looking for a cat food made with real meat, consider this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Red Meat dry food. This grain-free dry cat food features premium animal proteins like deboned beef, deboned lamb, and deboned venison for a total of 36% crude protein.

In addition to being packed with protein, this formula has a healthy blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, plus fresh fruits and veggies to provide natural sources for key nutrients. It is highly digestible and supplemented with both prebiotics and probiotics.
Best For Sensitive Stomach
9.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Senior Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 36% Min
  • Fat: 17% Min
  • Fiber: 6% Max
  • Moisture:  10% Max
  • Caloric Content:  385 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Supplemented with vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants
Cons
  • Some cats develop allergies to chicken
  • Not a grain-free recipe, some cats may be sensitive
As your cat gets older, it still needs a healthy and balance diet to avoid digestive problems. This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Cat Food recipe is a great option because it provides plenty of animal protein with moderate fat content to control calories.

It features farm-raised chicken and digestible brown rice, plus plenty of beneficial supplements like fish oil, chelated minerals, and vitamin supplements.
Best Vet-Recommended
10.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 31% Min
  • Fat: 13% Min
  • Fiber: 6% Max
  • Moisture:  8% Max
  • Caloric Content:  319 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Formulated to address common concerns
  • No prescription needed for purchase
  • Complete and balanced nutrition
Cons
  • Somewhat more expensive than regular cat food
  • Contains corn and wheat ingredients (some cats are sensitive)
This line of cat foods does not require a prescription to purchase, but it is still recommended by veterinarians. It is designed to address common issues like hairballs, digestive upset, sensitive stomach, urinary tract health, and even immune system health.

Hill’s Science Diet Cat Food comes in both dry food and wet food recipes, including variety packs of wet food to give your feline friend options. All recipes are complete and balanced for cats in all life stages.

What To Look For In Dry Cat Food?

Your cat is an obligate carnivore which means that its body is better adapted to deriving nutrition from animal than from plant sources.

Both protein content and fat content should come from animal sources, though some plant foods can be used for supplemental fiber and essential nutrients.

Overall, your cat’s food should provide optimal nutritional balance for long-term health and wellness.

Here are some things to look for in a good adult dry cat food:

  • Premium Ingredients. The higher the quality of the ingredients in your cat’s food, the better it will be able to digest them. Animal-based ingredients should be the focus in any cat food.
  • Animal Protein. Your cat requires a protein-rich diet to support lean muscle mass, so look for quality animal proteins like real meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Omega Fatty Acids. Healthy fats provide your cat with energy and support its skin and coat health. Look for a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA.
  • Nutritional Balance. Most dry cat foods contain vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure nutritional value. Chelated minerals are the best mineral supplements because they’ve been bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your cat’s body to digest and absorb.
  • No Artificial Additives. The majority of your cat’s nutrition should come from quality ingredients. Avoid recipes that contain too many additives like artificial flavors and colors.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best dry cat food. Here’s what you need to know:

Special Dietary Requirements Of Cats

As has already been mentioned, the majority of your cat’s food should be made up of animal-based ingredients to ensure optimal nutrition and well-being.

Protein provides the building blocks for strong muscles and lean mass, so it should make up at least 26% of your cat’s pet food.

The healthiest protein sources for cats are things like meat, poultry, and fish because they are complete proteins – this means they contain all of the essential amino acids your cat needs in its diet.

After protein content, the next most important nutrient is fat. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, so it is a highly concentrated source of energy.

Essential fatty acids also support your cat’s healthy skin and coat. Look for a recipe balanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Generally speaking, your cat needs a minimum of 9% fat, though highly active cats and growing kittens may need more.

Cats have no nutritional requirements for carbs in their diet, but wholesome foods like whole grains and veggies can provide fiber and essential nutrients. The key is to keep the carbohydrate content as low as possible without sacrificing balanced nutrition.

You should also look for beneficial supplements like prebiotic fibers, probiotics, and chelated minerals.

Should You Mix Wet And Dry Cat Food?

Dry cat food is typically more affordable than wet food when it comes to your cat’s staple diet and it also provides dental benefits to help keep its teeth clean.

On the other hand, wet food is higher in moisture which is beneficial for urinary tract health and it can support your cat’s metabolism and help it maintain a healthy weight.

To ensure that your cat gets the benefits of both, consider feeding it a mixed diet of wet and dry food.

For general health, mix about 25% canned food with 75% dry food. If you’re concerned about your cat’s weight or its urinary health, increase the amount of wet food to 50/50 or even more to 70% wet food and 30% dry food.

For more information on the best wet cat foods on the market today, Click Here.

Another concern with feeding your cat dry food is that there is some risk for kidney problems as well as urinary tract blockage and inflammatory bowel disease.

In many cases, these problems can be avoided by boosting the moisture content of your cat’s diet. To do so, mix some wet food with your cat’s dry food or try moistening its wet food with water or broth.

What About Food Allergies And Sensitivities?

In addition to thinking about the quality of your cat’s food and mixing dry and wet food you should also think about the potential for food allergies and sensitivities.

Cats have the potential to develop allergies at any point in their lives and common allergens include beef, chicken, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, and artificial additives.

If your feline friend has itchy skin, recurrent ear infections, or a dry and brittle coat, it could be suffering from a food allergy.

Switch to a hypoallergenic cat food made without the ingredients your cat is allergic to or try a limited ingredient diet to reduce the risk for triggering food allergies.

Final Remarks

Dry cat food is cost-effective, convenient to feed, and it comes in a wide range of formulas to meet your cat’s individual needs and preferences.

The best dry food for cats will be made with premium-quality animal ingredients including animal proteins, healthy fats, and a balance of vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal nutrition and to support your cat’s overall health.

If you’re not sure where to start in shopping for dry cat food, try one of our top picks reviewed above!

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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