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5 Best Human-Grade Cat Foods – Reviews & Top Picks in 2021

cat eats from a plate with wet cat foodAre you confused by the list of ingredients on the cat food label? You are not the only one. The marketing of pet foods containing human-grade ingredients is becoming common. This marketing appeals to many pet owners, but it is important to understand that this term has no legal definition and is used primarily for marketing purposes. Indeed, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the term “human-grade” has no definition in any animal feed regulations. Moreover, extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human-grade, and pet food that actually met these standards would be expensive. So, given the current lack of official human-grade cat food regulations, it is not easy to determine the best options for your feline companion. However, after reviewing the options available online and consulting expert sites such as PetMD, AAFCO, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we have selected the five best human-grade cat food available on the market. Nevertheless, we suggest that you also discuss with your veterinarian, who will be able to guide you towards the best option for your kitty’s needs. hepper single cat paw divider

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Nom Nom Fresh Cat Food Nom Nom Fresh Cat Food
  • High in protein
  • Made with real and whole ingredients
  • Meal packs made of recycled materials
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Caru Free Range Chicken Bone Broth Caru Free Range Chicken Bone Broth
  • Organic ingredients
  • Great human-grade cat treat
  • USDA-inspected chicken bones
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Smalls Smalls
  • USDA-certified ingredients
  • No BPAs, preservatives, fillers
  • Good for gastrointestinal issues
  • The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe
  • High-protein
  • Meet AAFCO standards
  • No by-products, preservatives, or GMO ingredients
  • Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew
  • High-quality proteins
  • Limited list of ingredients
  • The 5 Best Human-Grade Cat Foods – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Nom Nom Fresh Cat Food – Best Overall

    cat eating Nom Nom Now

    Type of food: Fresh, wet
    First ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Water
    Protein: 18% min
    Grain-free: Yes
    Nom Nom Fresh Cat Food is a food delivery service that ships throughout the United States. This is by far the best human-grade cat food option. Each recipe is created by two certified veterinary nutritionists and meets the standards set by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. The ingredient list for whole foods is impressive: chicken, chicken thighs, vegetables, etc., and does not contain any grains, additives, or by-products that are usually found in canned dry foods or kibbles. Plus, all single servings are packed with a personalized blend of nutrients and vitamins to meet your beloved kitten’s needs. However, this high-quality food and service come at a price that might not be affordable for most budgets, let alone if you have multiple small mouths to feed.
    Pros
    • Formulated by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists
    • Made with real and whole ingredients
    • Meet AAFCO standards
    • High in protein
    • Meal packs made of recycled materials
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Only available in the United States

    2. Caru Free Range Chicken Bone Broth – Best Value

    Type of food: Bone broth
    First ingredients: Water, Chicken Bones, Organic Carrots
    Protein: 3.5%
    Grain-free: Yes
    While there really isn’t a better-for-the-money option in the expensive world of human-grade cat food, Caru Free Range Chicken Bone Broth is a practical, lower-cost option if you want to give it a try before splurging in the more expensive options. Indeed, this bone broth is to be poured directly on the dry or raw food of your kitty, in order to moisten its food and to enhance its flavor with high-quality ingredients. However, while the label says all cats love the taste, some owners report that their felines don’t really enjoy this bone broth.  
    Pros
    • Great human-grade cat treat
    • Organic ingredients
    • USDA-inspected chicken bones
    • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
    Cons
    • Some cats may not like it

    3. Smalls – Premium Choice

    Smalls subscription

    Type of food: Fresh
    First ingredients: Ground Beef (90% Lean), Beef Liver, Green Beans
    Protein: 21.6%
    Grain-free: Yes
    Smalls is another human-grade cat food home delivery service, making it a premium option but also convenient for busy people. The recyclable fresh meat packages come in several options (cow, bird, turkey) and are made with fresh ingredients sourced from the United States and Canada. They also use the same chicken in their cat recipes that you buy at the grocery store. However, it is not mentioned whether the recipes meet AAFCO standards.  
    Pros
    • USDA-certified ingredients
    • No BPAs, preservatives, fillers
    • Good for gastrointestinal issues
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Must live in the United States

    4. The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

    The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

    Type of food: Dehydrated Cat Food
    First ingredients: Dehydrated Chicken, Eggs, Potatoes
    Protein: 39%
    Grain-free: Yes
    Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe is a dehydrated cat food made with human-grade ingredients. Its short list of ingredients is a good sign, as it contains far fewer preservatives and additives that are commonly found in canned foods. In addition, this food option is high in protein and does not contain grains. Moreover, it meets AAFCO standards, which is a guarantee of complete and balanced nutrition for the maintenance, growth, and reproduction of adults, or at all stages of life. However, it is also expensive and contains eggs, which may not be suitable for cats with allergies.
    Pros
    • High-protein
    • Meet AAFCO standards
    • No by-products, preservatives, or GMO ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Not suitable for eggs allergies

    5. Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew

    Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew

    Type of food: Wet
    First ingredients: Venison, Venison Broth, Carrots
    Protein: 13%
    Grain-free: Yes
    Lotus Just Juicy Turkey Stew is canned food containing almost 95% meat, which ensures high protein and low carbohydrate content. The list of ingredients is minimal, which limits the addition of grains, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. However, this is an expensive option and the manufacturer seems to have changed its formula recently as a few cat owners have complained about the lower amount of juice.
    Pros
    • High-quality proteins
    • Limited list of ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Contains potato starch

    Related Read: Best Premium Cat Food – Reviews & Top Picks

    hepper cat paw divider

    Buyer’s Guide

    What exactly is human-grade cat food?

    Human-grade means that the ingredients used in the manufacture of the food product meet the demanding sanitary rules of human hygiene. It also indicates that the product in question is safe for human consumption. The raw materials that make up pet foods include animal protein. These proteins are suitable for human consumption which are not or little used. For example, we are eating fewer organ meats. We prefer cuts of poultry to whole poultry. The industry makes it possible to promote these excellent quality products which are despised for cultural or seasonal reasons. While the food manufacturing process is rigorously adhered to in our feed chain, it remains less essential in the feed chain. However, food safety is as essential for the health of the animal as it is for that of its owner. The fight against the formation of pathogenic bacteria or any other undesirable substances in foodstuffs helps prevent food poisoning. On the other hand, the only way to manufacture pet food containing ingredients deemed to be “human-edible” is to never let the meat leave the human food chain, to manufacture this food in facilities intended for food suitable for human consumption and transport it in trucks intended for food for human consumption. Thus, the claim of a product indicating that it contains “ingredients for human consumption” is therefore false if the product is not manufactured in facilities intended for food for human consumption.

    Should you buy human-grade cat food?

    The bottom line is that your cat needs food that is high in protein and several other nutrients for optimal health. Perhaps more importantly, you and your cat need very different nutrients. Just because a particular can of cat food is labeled “human-grade” doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice. In general, if you read reviews or talk to your vet, you can choose a cat food that’s right for your pet and know you’re doing what’s best for your furry friend.

    Bonus: Here are some tips to help you better understand what the ingredient labels say

    • The ingredient list is not the only method to use in choosing the best food for your cat, as this list does not provide enough information on the quality of the ingredients or the nutritional value of the product as a whole.
    • Rather than focusing on the ingredients, pet owners should consult the AAFCO profiles on nutrients in pet food as well as the quality control protocols put in place by the manufacturer. For more information, you should check the guidelines on selecting pet foods of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).
    • The list of ingredients can be organized in such a way as to make the food as appealing as possible to consumers (e.g., listing the veal first in the list) or to include ingredients that appear desirable in the diet, but often they are in amounts so small that they have little or no nutritional benefit (e.g., artichokes and raspberries listed after vitamin and mineral supplements).
    • The number of ingredients does not make food more nutritious.
    • Just because cat food is not advertised as “human-grade” does not mean that the ingredients it contains are of poor quality.
    hepper cat paw divider

    Conclusion

    What you should take away from our human-grade cat food reviews is that there are, indeed, quality choices available on the market right now. Nom Nom and Smalls are by far the more expensive options, but the freshness of the ingredients and especially the fact that the recipes meet AAFCO standards are a guarantee of high quality. However, there is still too little information on the real benefits of human-grade food for our pets. Your best bet is to discuss with your vet the best option for your cat, and if he concludes that human-grade food is an appropriate choice, you can come back to our list and satisfy your kitten’s palate!


    Featured Image Credit: correct pictures, Shutterstock

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