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10 Best Dry Cat Foods in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

calico cat eating

Dry cat food is convenient and on the whole, a healthy choice for your feline. The best dry cat food needs to be nutritionally balanced and taste great to your cat, and it should ideally be suited to your cat’s life stage, activity levels, and breed. There are a ton of cat foods on the market nowadays, and the process of choosing the right one can quickly become confusing.

When choosing dry food for your feline, the most important aspect is protein, as cats are obligate carnivores and need animal-based protein in their diet to stay happy and healthy. There are certain vital amino acids that cats cannot make themselves, including taurine, so they must get these from their diet. The food that you choose needs to have an animal-based protein as the first-listed ingredient, so you can be sure your feline is getting the essential amino acids that they need.

Besides protein, there are various other important factors to consider when choosing the right dry food for your cat, and the options can quickly become overwhelming. We rounded up 10 of our favorite dry cat foods and gave each one an in-depth review to help you choose the best dry cat food to suit your needs. Let’s get started!

hepper cat paw dividerA Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food
  • Contains real chicken
  • Veterinary formulated
  • Packed with healthy vitamins and minerals
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Friskies Seafood Sensations Dry Cat Food Friskies Seafood Sensations Dry Cat Food
  • Inexpensive
  • Contains seaweed
  • 100% balanced nutrition
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • High protein content
  • Grain-free
  • Contains LifeSource Bits
  • American Journey Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food American Journey Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Contains turkey and fish meal
  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food
  • High fiber content
  • Contains L-carnitine
  • Free from artificial preservatives
  • The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods — Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food — Best Overall

    Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 34%
    • Weight: 16 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    The Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend is our favorite choice of cat dry food overall, with a 34% crude protein content and real chicken as the first listed ingredient. This dry food is veterinary formulated for adult cats and is free from artificial ingredients. Instead, it contains healthy vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A and calcium, as well as taurine and omega fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat. The formula combines crunchy bites that help keep your cat’s teeth clean with tender morsels that are easy to chew, and it is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

    Our only concern with this food is that it contains unnecessary filler ingredients, including corn, rice flour, and soy.

    Pros
    • Contains real chicken
    • Veterinary formulated
    • Packed with healthy vitamins and minerals
    • Combination of crunchy and tender kibble
    • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
    Cons
    • Contains filler ingredients

    2. Friskies Seafood Sensations Dry Cat Food — Best Value

    Friskies Seafood Sensations Dry Cat Food

    • Total crude protein: 30%
    • Weight: 16 pounds
    • Lifestage: Kitten-adult

    The Seafood Sensations dry cat food from Friskies is the best dry cat food for the money, with a 30% crude protein content. The kibble is made using real salmon, tuna, and shrimp, providing essential omega fatty acids to support your cat’s skin and coat, as well as seaweed, which provides several healthy antioxidants. It is formulated with essential vitamins E, B12, and D3 and minerals calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. It contains a 3% fiber content for healthy digestion. The 100% balanced nutrition will provide for your feline’s nutritional needs from kittenhood until well into adulthood.

    This dry food does contain grains and poultry by-products in the top three ingredients, which is disappointing. The slight seaweed flavor may put some cats off.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Made with real salmon, tuna, and shrimp
    • Contains seaweed
    • Formulated with essential vitamins and minerals
    • 100% balanced nutrition
    Cons
    • Contains poultry by-product
    • Pungent seaweed odor

    3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 40%
    • Weight: 12 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    If you’re looking for a premium dry cat food for your feline, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness range is a great choice. The protein-rich, grain-free formula contains 40% crude protein sourced largely from chicken, the first listed ingredient, and has healthy carbohydrates like peas and sweet potatoes to give your feline an energy boost. The food also contains unique LifeSource Bits, a healthy blend of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that help support your cat’s immune system. The food is free from by-products and artificial flavors and colors and is packed with only the nutritious ingredients that your cat needs to thrive.

    This food is pricey, though, and if you have multiple cats, the cost can quickly add up. Also, due to the inclusion of potatoes and peas, the food has a fairly high carbohydrate content, which is unnecessary for cats.

    Pros
    • High protein content
    • Grain-free
    • Real chicken is the first listed ingredient
    • Contains LifeSource Bits
    • Free from by-products and artificial flavors and colors
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • High carbohydrate content

    4. American Journey Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    American Journey Chicken dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 4o%
    • Weight: 12 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    This grain-free food from American Journey contains deboned chicken as the first listed ingredient, providing the basis of a 40% crude protein content overall. The food also contains turkey and fish meal for added protein and essential fatty acids, as well as healthy vegetables, like carrots and spinach, and wholesome fruits, like apples and blueberries that are packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants provide the basis for a healthy immune system, the included taurine will aid in eyesight and heart health, and essential omega fatty acids are for a healthy coat and skin. Best of all, the food is crafted in the U.S.A. and is free from poultry by-products and artificial preservatives.

    This food has a pungent odor, though, which several customers reported that their cats didn’t like, and is comparatively expensive.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • Deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient
    • Contains turkey and fish meal
    • Packed with antioxidants
    • Free from poultry by-products and artificial preservatives
    Cons
    • Comparatively expensive
    • Some cats may not enjoy it

    5. Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food

    Iams ProActive Health dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 30%
    • Weight: 16 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    The Iams ProActive Health dry cat food is specially designed to reduce hairballs with its high fiber content of around 8% and has real chicken as the first listed ingredient. The formula is made with weight management in mind and contains L-carnitine to help burn fat and support a healthy metabolism. It also contains 10% less fat than other Iams formulas. The kibble has a nutritious blend of carbohydrates from beet pulp, rice, and whole grains to keep your kitty active and energized, and the food is made in the U.S.A. and is free from artificial preservatives.

    Unfortunately, this food has chicken by-product meal and corn as the second and third listed ingredients, which is disappointing. Also, many customers reported that the food did not help reduce hairballs or help weight loss in their cats.

    Pros
    • May help reduce hairballs and aid in weight management
    • High fiber content
    • Real chicken is the first listed ingredient
    • Contains L-carnitine
    • Contains 10% less fat than other Iams formulas
    • Free from artificial preservatives
    Cons
    • Contains chicken by-products
    • Corn is the third listed ingredient

    6. Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 34%
    • Weight: 14 pounds
    • Lifestage: All lifestages

    The Nutrish Indoor Completes from Rachael Ray contains healthy and natural ingredients, including U.S.A.-farm-raised chicken, which is the first listed ingredient. The food is grain-free and free from poultry by-products and is packed with 34% protein content and healthy fruits and veggies, including antioxidant-rich blueberries and nutritious pumpkin. The added lentils are a great source of fiber and will help support a healthy metabolism. The included salmon is a great source of essential omega fatty acids to give your cat a healthy, shiny coat. The food also contains dandelion greens as a source of natural prebiotics and will help support a healthy digestive system.

    This food contains plant cellulose in the ingredients, though, which is a non-nutritious filler ingredient, as well as artificial colors. Also, the pellets are small, which is great for kittens but not for adults.

    Pros
    • Contains U.S.A.-farm-raised chicken
    • Grain-free
    • Free from poultry by-products
    • Added healthy fruits and veggies
    • Includes salmon
    • Contains natural prebiotics
    Cons
    • Contains plant cellulose
    • Added artificial colors
    • Small kibble size

    7. Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Purina Beyond dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 35%
    • Weight: 16 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    This grain-free food from Purina Beyond is a limited-ingredient, protein-rich dry cat food that has real chicken as the first listed ingredient and contains only nutrient-rich ingredients and leaves out all the rest. It is free from grains and contains no poultry by-product meals. It is also free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. The kibble contains natural probiotics and natural pea fiber to help with your kitty’s digestion, with a 4% fiber content overall and a mix of healthy vitamins and minerals. The food is manufactured in U.S. facilities with earth-friendly practices, like efficient water use and renewable energy sources.

    This food has a fairly high carbohydrate content at around 28%, which is almost double what a cat needs and may cause weight gain. Also, the food has a pungent smell that many customers reported their cats do not like.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • Limited-ingredient recipe
    • Free from poultry by-products
    • Contains natural probiotics
    • Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
    Cons
    • High carbohydrate content
    • Some cats may not enjoy it

    Related Read: 10 Best Grain-Free Kitten Foods in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks


    8. Iams ProActive Health Healthy Adult Original with Chicken Dry Cat Food

    Iams ProActive Health cat food

    • Total crude protein: 32%
    • Weight: 16 pounds
    • Lifestage: All life stages

    The Iams ProActive Health dry cat food has chicken as the first listed ingredient, with a 32% protein content overall. It also contains beet pulp to aid in digestion, taurine for a healthy heart and eyes, fish oil with essential omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, and added essential vitamins and minerals, like B6, A, and zinc. The crunchy texture has a flavor that your cat will love, and it will help reduce tartar buildup.  The food is also free from artificial preservatives and is 100% complete and balanced.

    This food contains a few less-than-ideal ingredients, including poultry by-products and corn. Also, several customers report that their cats did not enjoy this food because it has a pungent odor.

    Pros
    • Chicken is the first listed ingredient
    • Contains taurine
    • Packed with essential omega fatty acids
    • Added essential vitamins and minerals
    • Free from artificial preservatives
    Cons
    • Contains poultry by-product and corn
    • Pungent odor that some cats may not enjoy

    9. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 42%
    • Weight: 14 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    This grain-free dry cat food from Taste of the Wild includes novel proteins, like smoked salmon and roasted venison, giving it a total protein content of 42%. The food contains peas and sweet potatoes that will give your feline a highly digestible energy source; fruits and veggies, like blueberries, that add a natural source of antioxidants; and chicory root for prebiotic support and healthy digestion. It also contains chelated minerals to optimize their absorption and add to immune health. The food is free from artificial flavors and colors.

    Several customers reported that their cat suffered from diarrhea after switching to this food, and the kibble crumbled into powder easily, leaving a powder at the bottom of the bag. Many customers also reported that their cats simply would not eat it.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • Contains novel protein sources
    • High protein content
    • Natural source of antioxidants and prebiotics
    • Free from artificial flavors and colors
    Cons
    • May cause diarrhea
    • Powders easily
    • Some cats may not eat it

    10. Fancy Feast Gourmet Filet Mignon Flavor with Real Seafood & Shrimp Dry Cat Food

    Fancy Feast Gourmet Filet dry cat food

    • Total crude protein: 34%
    • Weight: 12 pounds
    • Lifestage: Adult

    The Fancy Feast Gourmet Filet Mignon dry cat food contains real seafood and shrimp, which add healthy essential omega fatty acids to your cat’s diet. The food contains fish and shrimp with essential omega fatty acids to give your cat a shiny, healthy coat, as well as taurine for optimal heart and eye health. The kibble is lightly baked to provide a crunchy texture that is easy to eat and will help reduce tartar build-up. It is crafted in the U.S.A.

    Unfortunately, this food contains a few less-than-ideal ingredients, with poultry by-product meal in the first three ingredients. It also contains corn, artificial flavors, and colors. The food has a pungent smell, and several customers reported that their cats did not like it as a result.

    Pros
    • Made with real seafood
    • Contains essential omega fatty acids
    • Lightly baked for a crunchy texture
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    Cons
    • Contains poultry by-products
    • Contains corn, artificial flavors, and colors
    • Pungent odor that some cats may not enjoy

    hepper cat paw divider

    Buyer’s Guide

    With all the available options on the market, choosing the right dry food for your cat can be confusing, to say the least. Luckily, we are here to help! When looking for the right dry food to give your feline, there are a few important things to consider. Read this guide to find out exactly how to find the right food to suit your needs. However, it’s important to note that there is no “perfect” dry cat food, and all available foods have their unique pros and cons that may be ideal for other cats but not yours or vice versa.

    What to look for in dry cat food

    Lifestage

    The food that you choose to give your feline must be made to match their life stage, breed, and activity levels. Kittens, for example, have different nutritional needs than adults, so they need a uniquely formulated food that will give them a balanced diet. Senior cats also have different nutritional needs because they are less active, and it makes sense to feed them accordingly. Many commercial cat foods are made for all life stages, which makes things a bit easier.

    Protein

    Siamese cat eating dry food from a bowl
    Image Credit: catinrocket, Shutterstock

    As cats are obligate carnivores, they need a high-quality source of protein that is derived mostly from animal sources, like chicken, fish, or beef. The crude protein content indicated on the food does not always tell the whole story, though, as some of this protein may come from vegetables. The first listed ingredient — or at least, one of the top three — should be an animal-based protein. This way, you’ll know that most of the listed protein content comes from animal sources. Meat proteins contain all the essential amino acids that your cat needs, but plants do not.

    Meat by-products are often debated as to whether they are healthy or not, as they contain all the digestible parts of the animal source, including intestines, bones, and skin. In our experience, by-products are generally fine, but there is uncertainty about the quality of this type of protein.

    Grain-free?

    There is still a great deal of debate about whether grain-free foods are safe for cats. The argument comes not from the fact that your cat needs grains in their diet — they don’t — but about how safe the replacement ingredients are. These foods usually swap the grains for potatoes and peas, which dramatically increases the overall carbohydrate content and can easily cause weight gain in some cats. Of course, you don’t want to feed your cat foods with too much corn or other grains either, but the jury is still out on just how beneficial grain-free foods actually are. Most commercial foods will contain either grains or their replacements, like potatoes, so it’s best to make a judgment on the other ingredients first.

    Avoid artificial ingredients

    persian cat eating
    Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

    You should always try to find cat foods that are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives because these can cause various health issues over time.

    Is dry food better than wet food?

    While dry food is certainly convenient because it’s easy to buy in bulk and store and is generally cheaper, it’s not necessarily better than wet food, as both have their positives and drawbacks. One thing to be aware of when feeding dry food to your cat is the lack of moisture. Wet food has more moisture in it, so you should always make sure your cat has constant access to fresh, clean water when they are being fed dry food.

    hepper cat paw dividerConclusion

    Our favorite choice of dry cat food overall is the Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend. It has a 34% crude protein content with real chicken as the first listed ingredient, and it is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

    The Seafood Sensations from Friskies is the best dry cat food for the money. It has a 30% crude protein content; is made using real salmon, tuna, and shrimp, and seaweed; is formulated with essential vitamins E, B12, and D3; and is ideal for all life stages.

    If you’re looking for high-quality, premium dry cat food for your feline, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness range is an ideal choice. This grain-free kibble has a 40% crude protein and contains unique LifeSource bits — a healthy blend of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. It is also free from by-products and artificial flavors and colors.

    We all want the best for our feline friends, and good health begins with good nutrition. With this in mind, it can be a stressful and overwhelming process to find the perfect food for your cat. Hopefully, our reviews have helped narrow down the options somewhat so you can find the right dry cat food to suit your unique needs.


    Featured Image Credit: Stamat Vitalii, Shutterstock

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