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9 Best Dehydrated Cat Foods of 2021

With many alternative types of pet products available on the market, dehydrated cat food has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Being prepared with minimal processing, it is considered to be rich in vitamins and minerals. In this definitive guide, we will find out which benefits it has compared to other foods and review the best brands.

With many alternative types of pet products available on the market, dehydrated cat food has become increasingly popular in the last years. Being prepared with minimal processing, it is considered to be rich in vitamins and minerals. In this definitive guide, we will find out which benefits it has compared to other foods and review the best brands.


What is dehydrated cat food?

Dehydrated cat food is prepared by slow drying instead of baking. During this process, pieces of meat retain protein and other vital components. Typically, manufacturers use deboned meat for making such products. For higher palatability, dehydrated raw meat is usually mixed with water. Small dry pieces are used as treats.


Dehydrated is different from freeze-dried

 

Some consumers mix up dehydrated and freeze-dried food. However, the process of cooking varies. Air-dried cat food is heated slowly to remove moisture but preserve the majority of nutrients. Freeze-dried food is prepared by shock freezing and then vacuuming (it also allows removing moisture). In the second case, products are not exposed to heat or chemicals.


Pros of dehydrated cat food

1. Improved digestion

All cats are carnivores, which means their intestinal system produces enzymes for digesting meat only. Their digestive tract emits a lot of acid that helps to process raw food within 12 hours. Thanks to that, bacteria don’t have time to evolve – that’s why cats are naturally not prone to food poisoning.

Usually cats don’t need additional carbohydrates and fiber in their diet. They lack enzymes to digest plant fibers and carbs. That’s why raw dehydrated cat food is more appropriate for them than processed foods with plant-based components – it causes fewer disturbances and helps to avoid stomach upset.

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2. Greatly reduced stool odor and volume

When cats eat natural food that’s digested as it should be, the amount of stool reduces by 50% because it’s mostly processed into proteins and nutrients, and the calories received are burnt. Besides, pets that are fed dehydrated raw food poop once a day or even less. Their stool is hard, crumbly, and does not emit much smell at all. This can be logically explained by cats’ behavior in the wild: they don’t want to leave smelly signs of their presence to avoid being hunted.

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When a cat consumes many carbohydrates, the digestive system tries to process them, which results in larger softer poop with a stronger odor. A lot of stool with a foul smell isn’t right – it means that the pet’s diet is far from ideal.


3. Healthy coat, less shedding, fewer hairballs

 

Cats require saturated Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for sustaining the health of their skin and fur. Those are not naturally found in vegetables and grains – meat is the primary source of such acids. When people feed their cats with dehydrated food for a few weeks, they start noticing that pets have better fur, and the issue of hairballs resolves by itself.

Omega fatty acids which stay preserved in dehydrated food contribute to a healthier coat and skin. As a result, cats experience less shedding and don’t have problems with skin prone to drying, irritation or itching.


4. Increased energy

While humans and dogs can use carbs and fat for burning and getting energy, the cat’s body works differently – it burns proteins for receiving necessary calories. This is called gluconeogenesis, it takes place in the liver that processes nutrients. Thus, in order to stay full of powers, felines need high-quality sources of protein with a high level of digestibility.

This is why dehydrated food with minimal processing is the best source of energy for our four-legged pals. By eating more species-appropriate food, they receive enough easily-processed protein that converts into energy. Many pet owners serving dehydrated products admit that their feline kids become more playful and start running around exposing maximum vitality.


5. Weight loss

When cats are served the wrong food, they start eating more trying to make up for the nutrient requirements. They still don’t receive enough minerals and protein, which just results in weight gain and health issues.

When being served species-appropriate food, cats aren’t likely to overeat because they receive the necessary nutrients and proteins. Thus, they feel saturated with a lower amount of meat and don’t feel hungry all the time. Such pets don’t nag food and sleep better because the increased amount of healthy calories that’s burned thanks to vitality.

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6. Better dental health

Cats living in the wild don’t suffer from dental issues, such as gum inflammation and periodontal disease. That’s explained by one simple fact: they chew on bones, connective tissues, fur, and skin of the prey. It allows removing plaque and keeping teeth clean. Raw meaty bones act as a natural toothbrush for felines.

On the contrary, the starch in plant-based food forms a film on teeth: it promotes the development of bacteria and the formation of plaque. It’s more dangerous than it seems to be because bacteria can get further into the digestive tract. By reducing or eliminating carbs from your cat’s diet, you improve dental health.

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7. Better urinary health

Although dehydrated food is absolutely dry, it is usually served after being prepared with water. Cooked pieces of meat contain 50-70% of moisture, which is close to a natural diet. Thus, dehydrated cooked cat food is healthier for digestion than kibbles or pate-style products.

Foods that are rich in carbs and low in moisture cause alkaline urine in cats and chronic dehydration, which takes a negative toll on kidneys and the overall urinary health. It can lead to urinary tract inflammation. So if you want to prevent such problems, properly prepared dehydrated food is a must.

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8. Can be safely stored at room temperature

Although frozen raw and dehydrated foods have a lot of advantages in common, the latter can be stored at room temperature. It lasts long and doesn’t require any specific storage conditions aside from optimal moisture.

Top 9 dehydrated cat foods of 2021

That’s a 100% natural protein-rich product made of beef and various beef organs (liver, heart, kidney, lung). The meat was slowly heated to evaporate moisture without nutrient loss. Aside from meat, the recipe contains dried kelp and the whole range of minerals and some vitamins. Lecithin, folic acid and taurine included. No chemical preservatives and fillers were added, the formula is organic.

This product can serve both as food for daily nutrition or like a topper – choose what’s appropriate for your cat’s diet. Make sure not to exceed the recommended portions, such meat is pretty high calorie content. What makes Ziwi Peak Peak the best dehydrated cat food brand is a rich choice of air-dried products and well-balanced contents. Such a cooking method allows preserving maximum nutrients without compromising flavor. The food is recommended for those who want to serve their feline pals sufficient amounts of high-quality origin protein.

Pros:

  • Variety of flavors available;
  • High-quality protein source;
  • Minerals and vitamins are added.

Cons:

  • Pricey;
  • Not all cats like the hard consistency.
specification
  • Flavors: Beef, chicken, lamb, venison, mackerel & lamb
  • Protein: 38%
  • Calories: 312 kcal/scoop

This recipe contains 70% of chicken that was raised without antibiotics and steroids. The meat was dehydrated by slow heating, which means it’s a high-nutrient product. That’s a great source of protein and calories for adult and senior cats. The manufacturer positions it as human-grade food, and it’s produced according to FDA standards. It is produced on USA facilities without anything from China, including the meat.

The food is easy to prepare – only water should be added. Aside from chicken, it contains dehydrated potatoes and eggs, pumpkin, spinach and cranberries. Also, there is a range of vitamins and minerals included (amino acids, taurine, choline, riboflavin). No preservatives and GMO were used. Please, note that this is a high-calorie recipe, so you should control the size of portions accordingly.

Related guide: Best human-grade cat foods

Pros:

  • High-quality meat;
  • Contains vitamins;
  • Easy to prepare.

Cons:

  • Contains vegetables, it’s not equally suitable for all cats;
  • Not all cats like the formula because of whole cranberries and consistency.
specification
  • Flavors: Chicken, Turkey
  • Protein: 39%
  • Calories: 576 kcal/cup

If you are in search of dried food for cats without grains, this is the right option. The formula is based on deboned turkey and deboned chicken together with chickpeas. There are a few plant-based components (tomato pomace, flaxseed, cranberries, chicory root). It can be used as cat food for daily nutrition or as a topper.

The manufacturer added the whole range of vitamins and minerals (taurine, folic acid, biotin). There are no artificial preservatives and flavors added. This food can be served to cats of all ages and kittens.

Pros:

  • Optimal protein content;
  • Contains vitamins and minerals;
  • All-natural.

Cons:

  • Pricey;
  • Some cats don’t like the product.
specification
  • Flavors: Turkey & Chicken
  • Protein: 34%
  • Calories: 419 kcal/cup

This recipe is 96% made of salmon, turkey meat and turkey organs, and also contains bamboo fiber and parsley. There’s also the whole range of vitamins and minerals. Taurine and folic acid are included, as well. It is highly recommended for cats with sensitive digestion because it features a 95% digestibility rate. Meat components (turkey meat and alaska wild salmon) are sourced from the USA, so their quality is undoubtable.

No fillers, grain, antibiotics, preservatives, artificial colours or flavours were added. The food can be served to cats of all life stages. Since the pieces contain 14% of moisture, they can be served both dry and cooked with water.

Pros:

  • Optimal protein amount;
  • Quality-sourced meat;
  • Contains vitamins and minerals.

Cons:

  • Some cats don’t like it raw without cooking.
specification
  • Flavors: Turkey, Salmon
  • Protein: 34%
  • Calories: 310 Kcal ME/level scoop

Although those are not just dried pieces of meat, Tiki Cat offers a highly palatable formula with herring, herring meal, dried eggs and salmon meal – they provide 44% of protein together with chickpeas and whole peas. Kibbles are slowly baked to preserve all nutrients. The formula also includes some vitamins and minerals (folic acid, taurine) that boost the immune system and make up for well-balanced development.

Aside from animal-sourced components, the recipe contains pumpkin, tomato pomace, tapioca flour, and ground flaxseed. No grains and fruit were added, so the product can be safely served to cats with digestion problems. It’s appropriate for kittens older than 12 months. According to dehydrated cat food reviews, this product helps cats with health issues, such as poor digestion and diabetes.

Pros:

  • A high protein content;
  • No grains and fruit;
  • Suitable for cats with diabetes.

Cons:

  • Tomato pomace might cause allergy in cats;
  • Poor choice of flavors.
specification
  • Flavors: Salmon & herring, seafood
  • Protein: 44%
  • Calories: 428 kcal/cup

Like the above-mentioned recipe, Lotus kibbles are slowly baked to preserve as many nutrients as possible. The product is proudly made in Canada with locally sourced meat. The formula is based on chicken, chicken meal, lentils and dried eggs – they make up for 35% protein. All fruits and vegetables used in the formula are non-GMO, and the manufacturer did not add chemical preservatives and flavors. It contains pumpkin, apples, sweet potatoes, blueberries, spinach, and carrots.

This food is appropriate for all life stages. It has a moderate amount of calories, so it’s equally good for indoor and outdoor cats. Thanks to slow baking, many nutrients and antioxidants have been preserved, but the manufacturer also added taurine, folic acid, biotin, and inulin. Salmon oil was also used to serve as the primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Pros:

  • Well-balanced recipe with all essential vitamins and minerals;
  • No grains, preservatives, or GMO.

Cons:

  • No choice of flavors;
  • Not always available because it’s produced in small batches.
specification
  • Flavors: Chicken
  • Protein: 35%
  • Calories: 437.4 kcal/cup

If you are in search of 100% cat treats, consider these pure dried bonito flakes. They are equally suitable for cats and dogs of all stages and serve as a source of quality protein. The natural fish oil provides Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids improving your pet’s fur and skin. The food contains nothing but dried bonito – no GMO, grains, preservatives and vitamins were added.

Thanks to the process of slow drying, the flakes contain all natural nutrients and taurine which protects eyes. They have a fresh and strong fishy aroma, which attracts cats and makes them crave for more. If you don’t exceed the daily recommended dose, these treats would be a great additional source of nutrients for your beloved pet.

Pros:

  • 100% natural;
  • Appealing flavor;
  • Top-rated product.

Cons:

  • Cannot replace regular cat food;
  • No vitamins and minerals added.
specification
  • Flavors: Bonito
  • Protein: 76%
  • Calories: 5 kcal per serving

This is a nice treat option for your cats of all ages because it has all-natural formula based on only three components: chicken breast, brown rice and potato flour. The chicken was raised without antibiotics, hormones and GMO, so this is a 100% natural product. The treats are made in the form of bones and feature an appealing smell, which attracts many cats.

The crunchy treats are low in fat and rich in protein, which makes them superb for daily serving. Note that no vitamins and minerals were added. Since there are potatoes and rice included, you should avoid giving this product to cats who have allergies to any of those.

Pros:

  • All-natural formula;
  • Chicken is ethically raised in the USA;
  • The product is crunchy and smelly, which appeals to cats.

Cons:

  • No vitamins and minerals;
  • Relatively low amount of protein;
  • Contains brown rice and potato flour.
specification
  • Flavors: Chicken
  • Protein: 28%
  • Calories: 3,740 kcal / kg

Although this formula is created for dogs, it can also be perfect dehydrated raw cat food! The product is made of pure turkey meat, slowly air-dried to preserve all essential nutrients and vitamins. It is based on turkey and its organs (liver, heart, lung). It also contains ground turkey bone which provides calcium and other nutrients. Aside from that, the manufacturer also added pumpkin and parsley for additional fiber.

There is a range of vitamins and minerals included together with biotin and taurine. Since this is dog food, the balance of nutrients might not be perfect – consult with a veterinarian before switching to this food. Generally, it’s safe for cats and made without chemical preservatives and flavors.

Pros:

  • Optimal amount of protein;
  • Quality components used;
  • Contains vitamins and minerals.

Cons:

  • Since it’s dog food, the balance of nutrients might not be appropriate;
  • Sometimes, the meat is delivered stale.
specification
  • Flavors: Turkey, venison, beef
  • Protein: 34%
  • Calories: 451 kcal/cup

Any cons? 

Like any other pet food, dehydrated products have a few downsides, which makes them not as commonly used as kibbles and wet foods. Here are a few disadvantages worth mentioning:

  • High cost. This is the major downside of dehydrated cat food. While some medium-quality kibbles cost $0.40-0.60 a day, air-dried foods might be worth $0.80-1.60 per day, which is twice more expensive. Be prepared to increase your expenses if you have a multi-cat household.
  • Poor variety. There aren’t many manufacturers producing air-dried (as opposite to freeze-dried cat food) with Ziwi Peak being the leader on the US market. The majority of lineups are limited by a couple of flavors, so finding the best one for your pet might be a true challenge.
  • Consistency. When you add water to dehydrated pieces of meat, they are rather like pate-style food than kibbles – some cats hate that. When served dry, this food is not very palatable. 

In a word

If you want your feline friend to enjoy an all-natural diet with the maximum amount of organic nutrients, consider serving it the best dehydrated cat food. By being slowly heated, these products preserve the majority of vitamins and minerals, not mentioning the enticing meaty flavor.

Many cats love dehydrated food when it’s cooked properly. Find a suitable product for your four-legged pal and you will see positive changes in his health and well-being pretty soon.

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