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7 Best Freeze-Dried Cat Foods of 2021

Gray cat eating from the bowlFreeze-dried cat food is a great way to introduce your cat to fresh, raw food, without the need to have to store, prepare, or convert your cat over to this raw style of feeding. Options include full freeze-dried meals, as well as toppers that are used to enhance existing meals by adding flakes or freeze-dried raw dust on top of the meals that are served. Read on for reviews of ten of the best freeze-dried cat foods you can give to your feline friends. At the bottom of the article, we have also included a guide to choosing your own freeze-dried products.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken
  • Made from a single meat source
  • Made in small batches so some quality control issues
  • Good range of flavors to suit your cat’s preferences
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs
  • Cheaper than most freeze-dried alternatives
  • New range of flavors
  • Filling food goes a long way
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Purpose Carnivore Freeze-Dried Cat Food Purpose Carnivore Freeze-Dried Cat Food
  • Good selection of flavors available
  • Made from 99% meat
  • Instinct Raw Meals Cage Free Chicken For Kittens Instinct Raw Meals Cage Free Chicken For Kittens
  • Small kibble is easy for kittens
  • Made from ethically sourced meat
  • 39% protein
  • Dr. Tims Beef Taurine Supplement Dr. Tims Beef Taurine Supplement
  • Give your cat essential taurine
  • Food topper is easy to feed
  • Tasty
  • The 10 Best Freeze Dried Cat Foods – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken – Best Overall

    Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard
    Protein:  45%
    Cats are obligate carnivores, and in the wild, they would eat every part of the small animals that they would hunt and kill. They get essential vitamins and minerals from the bones and organs, as well as from the meat and flesh, and this is one area where freeze-dried raw food like Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken excels. The food is 98% animal protein and there is a good variety of other flavors to choose from, just in case your cat isn’t a fan of real chicken food. Serving the meal is easy, simply add cold or warm water, and allow the food to rehydrate before serving it. You don’t have to warm the food or serve it with anything else. Although the food is 98% animal protein, this leaves just enough room for added probiotics and fortified vitamins and minerals to help ensure a balanced diet for your feline friend.
    Pros
    • Made from a single meat source
    • Made in small batches so some quality control issues
    • Good range of flavors to suit your cat’s preferences

    Cons

    • 98% animal protein
    • Fortified with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals


    2. Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs – Best Value

    Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver
    Protein:  55%
    Vital Essentials has increased its Mini Nibs range, which was originally limited only to a duck flavor meal, and owners can now enjoy access to flavors like chicken or duck. The food uses all the animal, including the meat, bones, organs, and even the skin. It uses free-range and cage-free animals where appropriate and as is common with this type of food, it does not need cooking. Whereas some foods need to be rehydrated or reconstituted, this isn’t necessary with the Vital Essential Mini Nibs that simply need serving and feeding. Freeze-dried food does cost more, per ounce, than other types of food, but it is made primarily from meat protein which means that it fills your cat quicker, and Vital Essentials is one of the cheapest of these high-quality and highly appealing foods, making it the best freeze-dried cat food for the money.
    Pros
    • Cheaper than most freeze-dried alternatives
    • New range of flavors
    • Filling food goes a long way

    Cons

    • 55% protein will be rich for some cats


    3. Purpose Carnivore Freeze-Dried Cat Food – Premium Choice

    Purpose Carnivore Freeze-Dried Cat Food (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Ground Chicken, Chicken Heart, Chicken Gizzard
    Protein:  54%
    There are several varieties of Purpose Carnivore Freeze-Dried Cat Food available. While the chicken variety is reasonably priced, some other flavors like the duck and the rabbit flavors are more expensive. In all cases, the food is made from 99% meat and all formulae are free from grains, soy, corn, potato, and sugar. The natural food is nutritionally healthy for your cat, although it does have a high 54% protein ratio. If this is your first tiem feeding a freeze-dried food to your feline, you may need to take it slowly because going from a commercial complete food to a freeze-dried meat meal like this can cause upset stomachs. Follow guidelines on how best to introduce a new food to your cat, which typically means gradually introducing the food over the course of a week or two. Also, because cats are used to food with a range of flavors and some artificial ingredients, not all felines will take to this style of food without some level of persistence.
    Pros
    • Good selection of flavors available
    • Made from 99% meat

    Cons

    • Some flavors are expensive
    • 54% protein means it can be quite rich for some cats


    4. Instinct Raw Meals Cage Free Chicken For Kittens – Best for Kittens

    Instinct Raw Meals Cage Free Chicken For Kittens (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Chicken, Beef Liver, Beef Spleen
    Protein:  39% protein
    It is generally recommended that kittens should be fed commercial complete food until they are at least 6 weeks old, although many owners will wait longer than this. Kittens cannot handle the potential pathogens in raw food until they reach this age. When it is time to swap your kitten over to a raw diet, however, Instinct Raw Meals is a good choice. It contains a combination of raw meats, is freeze-dried to lock in nutritional goodness, and it is easy to prepare by mixing it with a little cold water to rehydrate the food cylinders. It also has 39% protein, which is a little lower than other freeze-dried foods and should be easier for your little one to be able to handle. If you have fed a commercial complete food already, it is best to wean your kitten over to the new food by gradually phasing out its existing food and replacing it with the freeze-dried alternative. There is a higher concentration of fruit and vegetables in this food than others and although Instinct has introduced a couple of new recipes, the choice remains limited.
    Pros
    • Small kibble is easy for kittens
    • Made from ethically sourced meat
    • 39% protein

    Cons

    • More fruit and veg than other brands
    • Limited recipes


    5. Dr. Tims Beef Taurine Supplement

    Dr. Tims Beef Taurine Supplement (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried food topper
    Primary Ingredients:  Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver
    Protein:  35%

    Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. This means that they require quite a lot of it in their diets because they are unable to produce a reasonable quantity of the acid themselves. It helps ensure a healthy heart function and is also responsible for good vision, digestion, and a host of other biologically critical processes within the body. A deficiency can lead to blindness, heart disease, and poor reproductive performance. Cats get essential taurine from meat protein sources, and if a cat has a high enough level of meat in its daily diet, it should not suffer a taurine deficiency, but some cats have a greater need than others. Dr. Tims Beef Taurine Supplement is a combination of natural meat proteins with taurine. It can be used to supplement a cat’s existing meat diet and is simply sprinkled on top of their food as a food topper. The supplement is easy to feed, can be given to dogs and cats, and has an appealing beefy taste. However, if your cat has a nutritionally balanced diet, it may not be necessary to incorporate this supplement unless your vet has told you to do so.

    Pros
    • Give your cat essential taurine
    • Food topper is easy to feed
    • Tasty

    Cons

    • Unnecessary for most cats with a good diet


    6. Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Turkey, Turkey Necks, Turkey Liver
    Protein:  42%

    Raw food is considered nutritionally beneficial for cats. It enables you to feed your cat precisely what the obligate carnivore requires. This means that most of the the cat’s diet would come from meat and meat sources, including the organs and even bones of its prey. It would also get some very small volume of fruit and vegetables from the stomach of its prey. Proponents of the raw food diet argue that we should feed exactly this diet to ensure that our cats get the most nutritionally beneficial diet. But feeding a raw diet can be troublesome. It means sourcing whole chicken or other whole meats, grinding, and breaking it down, and then feeding it while fresh to ensure that your cat gets the required goodness. Freeze-dried raw cat food, such as Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food, presents a means of giving your cat a raw diet without the hassle of preparing it.

    Pros
    • Made with 98% meat
    • Included added taurine
    • Fortified with probiotics

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Limited selection of ingredients


    7. Feline Natural Chicken And Lamb Feast Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food

    Feline Natural Chicken And Lamb Feast Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Chicken, Lamb Heart, Lamb Kidney
    Protein:  48%
    Feline Natural Chicken and Lamb Feast Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food boasts being made up of 99% chicken, lamb, and organs. It has 48% protein, which is higher than commercial and complete foods, but raw food protein is highly bioavailable, which means that, except for those cats that suffer from kidney and liver disease, this protein rate should be perfectly safe. With that said, cats that are used to commercial foods can struggle when transitioning to a raw diet. The food is richer than they are used to, so you may need to take it easy with the freeze-dried food for the first week or two. This food has added taurine and has been fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure a balanced diet for your cat, but it is expensive even compared to other freeze-dried products.
    Pros
    • 99% meat and organs
    • Includes added taurine

    Cons

    • Might be too rich for some
    • Expensive food


    8. Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Digestive Health Recipe Cat Food Topper

    Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Digestive Health Recipe Cat Food Topper (1)

    Food Type: Freeze-dried topper
    Primary Ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds
    Protein:  36%
    Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers offer something of a compromise between the expensive but nutrionally beneficial freeze-dried foods with a more affordable but somewhat beneficial complete food. These are toppers, which means that they are not designed as a complete food but are meant to be added to the top of a dry kibble dish. Doing so will enhance the flavor and improve the nutritional benefit offered to your cat. It also means that you can increase taurine and enhance the protein your cat gets in its diet without breaking the bank. The compromise comes in the fact that IInstinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers contain ingredients other than meat and organs. Chicken and chicken liver are the primary ingredients in this food, followed by pumpkin seeds. Other ingredients include dried pumpkin and sweet potato. The protein ratio of 36% is lower than expected in other freeze-dried products but it is highly bioavailable because the ingredients are still much higher quality than those in a complete, commercial food.
    Pros
    • Cheaper than freeze-dried meals
    • 36% protein topper
    • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken liver

    Cons

    • Not a complete meal solution
    • Contains more fruit and vegetables than other options


    9. Primal Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Cat Food

    Primal Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Cat Food

    Food Type: Freeze-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken Livers, Salmon
    Protein:  49%
    With several flavors to choose from, including chicken and salmon, there is a good range of Primal Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Cat Food options to choose from. While a lot of the freeze-dried foods boast 98% or 99% meat content, however, Primal Nuggets is only 90% meat with the remaining 10% of the ingredients coming from fruit, vegetables, and supplements. With that said, it does still achieve 49% protein and its main ingredients include chicken, chicken liver, and salmon. The main ingredients do vary according to the recipe, but the primary ingredients are always meat. Additional taurine is good to see, but if you have fed any other type of freeze-dried alternatives, the long list of fruit and vegetable ingredients may come as an unwelcome surprise. Also, the food is solid and takes time to rehydrate with cold or warm water, so you will need a patient moggy.
    Pros
    • 49% protein
    • Primary ingredients are meat-based

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Only 90% meat and bones


    10. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Recipe Cat Food

    Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Recipe Cat Food (1)

    Food Type: Air-dried meal
    Primary Ingredients:  Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe
    Protein:  35%
    Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Recipe Cat Food is made with the primary ingredients of lamb, lamb heart, and lamb tripe. It also contains liver and lungs, as well as additional ingredients like green mussels. There are added prebiotics and probiotics to ensure good gut health while added taurine is provided to ensure that your cat gets enough of this essential amino acid. The kibble does look leathery, having been air-dried like jerky, and some cats might struggle to eat it. What’s more, 35% protein is actually among the lowest protein ratios on this list. Because the protein in this food comes from a single source, it can be useful food for cats with lots of allergies.
    Pros
    • Single protein source
    • Primary ingredients are meat and meat-based
    • Reasonable price

    Cons

    • 35% protein is lower than others
    • Leathery kibble is difficult to stomach

    Buyer’s Guide

    Freeze-dried cat food is vacuumed so that the moisture in the food becomes a vapor. The food is then sealed in an air-tight pack, ready to be shipped to you and eaten by your cat. Such foods tend to be nutritionally beneficial because the process is used primarily with fresh meat-based food, or raw foods, and freeze-drying offers several benefits, such as a longer shelf-life. The food itself has a high protein ratio, but the protein is highly bioavailable, which makes it beneficial compared to commercial complete foods, and because the food is made up, in a lot of cases, of 98% or more meat, it is a very good source of food for cats.

    cat eating Nom Nom Now
    Image Credit: Nom Nom Now

    The Benefits of Raw Food

    A raw food diet attempts to mimic the diet of a wild cat. Cats are obligate carnivores. Not only does this means that most of their food would be meat-based, but it means that they would eat a diet that consists almost solely of meat. They would consume the flesh, but they would also eat the organs and bones of their prey. This prey would consist of small animals like chicks, young rabbits, and other small animals. The prey would have a very small amount of fruit and vegetable in its stomach, but cats would not eat grains and they would not intentionally eat cereal and vegetables. Raw food aims to replicate this diet. It consists of meat, with a very small amount of fruit and vegetables, which are used to ensure that the cat gets a fully balanced diet consisting of all the essential vitamins and minerals it requires. Proponents point to the fact that this type of diet closely mimics the natural diet of cats in the wild.

    The Convenience of Freeze-Dried Raw Food

    A raw diet might be healthy and nutritionally balanced, but it can be inconvenient and time-consuming. Owners need a source of whole meat and other ingredients, need to safely prepare it, and they need to supplement the ingredients with any essential amino acids, such as taurine, that might be missing from their cat’s diet. Freeze-dried raw foods, such as those on the list above, offer the nutritional benefits of raw food but with the added convenience of having the work already done for you.

    Dog and cat eating dry food
    Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

    Is Freeze-Dried Cat Food Better Than Kibble?

    It is widely accepted that freeze-dried food is better for cats than dry kibble. The process retains and stores virtually all the nutrients in the food, and it meets a cat’s specific dietary requirements.

    Is Freeze-Dried Cat Food Expensive?

    There are benefits to feeding freeze-dried cat food, but the rehydration process may be considered too slow for some owners, and there is no denying the fact that freeze-dried food is one of the most expensive ways to feed your cat. Consider starting out with a topper just to test the water and see if your cat takes to the food before committing to paying a lot of money out for the freeze-dried whole meals.

    How Much Freeze-Dried Cat Food To Feed?

    With that said, the high protein and nutritional value of freeze-dried food mean that a little does go a long way. Always check manufacturers’ instructions and base the amount you feed on your cat’s size, age, and activity level. But as a rule, expect to feed one cup of food for every ten pounds of cat weight.

    Conclusion

    Freeze-dried cat food offers a convenient way of feeding a raw food diet to your cat, without the hassle of having to source, prepare, and offer raw food to your cat. We have included reviews of what we believe to be ten of the best freeze-dried cat foods, including the excellent Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken, which is one of the more affordable and high-quality freeze-dried foods available. For those on a budget, Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs are still pricey, but less so than most other foods, and they still offer great nutritional benefits to your feline friends.

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    Featured Image Credit: Skrypnykov Dmytro, Shutterstock

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