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10 Best Poultry Free Cat Foods in 2021


Cats need animal protein to thrive, and chicken is one of the best protein sources for them. And yet, sometimes we don’t want or can’t feed felines with chicken. The reasons are two: poultry allergy or a cat’s unwillingness to eat chicken. And that’s when poultry-free cat food comes in top place. This cat food without chicken by-product is nutrient-rich anyway, providing felines with all the elements they need for a healthy life. In this guide, we’ll share the best poultry-free cat food options at the market for you to decide on alternative sources of protein for your furry friend.

Why cat food without chicken?

  • Your vet suspects poultry allergy in your cat In this case, a specialist may prescribe a food sensitivity trial for your feline. (That’s when you shift to hypoallergenic food for a month to see if the cat’s reaction stops.) For kitties with poultry allergy, such a trial involves consuming cat food without chicken.
  • Chicken upsets your cat’s digestion As well as people, cats may have sensitivities of different kinds. Most pet owners know that fish and dairy products are the most common allergens for cats, but they somehow forget about poultry. Chicken or its by-products may upset a cat’s digestion, and if that’s the case – poultry free cat food becomes your only option to try.
  • Your cat does not like chicken Strange but true: Your four-legged friend may not like the chicken taste and smell, refusing to consume the corresponding food when you buy it. Or, a cat eats it but grudgingly, simply because you don’t offer her anything else. As a result, your cat may become undernourished and get health problems in the long run.

Be cautious!

Once you decide to try feeding your furry friend with chicken free cat food, please check the ingredients’ full list in your chosen alternative.

The thing is that many cat foods still feature chicken by-products or chicken broth in the formulas. So, even if you choose salmon, rabbit, or beef flavors in the hope of getting poultry free cat food, they may include unwanted elements somewhere at the end of the ingredients’ list. Even if in tiny amounts, they can harm cats with poultry allergy.

Chicken can be found even in recipes “with no chicken”

Even with no chicken on the label, dry and wet cat food may contain its traces in formulas. As the 2015 study by AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) found, about 40% of dog and cat foods (from those tested) contain ingredients that aren’t on the label.

Thus, some added meat that wasn’t in their ingredient lists, while others label one kind of meat but use others instead. And the most common unlabeled ingredient appears to be chicken. Well, no comments here. In the past and present, and well into the future dishonest business is.

What does it mean for us, pet owners? Let’s choose reputable cat food manufacturers only, those known for stringent quality control.


Top 10 Cat Foods Without Chicken of 2021:

The brand tolerates cats with poultry allergy. In both dry and wet formulas, ZIWI offers beef, lamb, rabbit, and mackerel recipes along with a chicken flavor. All their chicken-free cat food is natural, grain-free (no corn or wheat), yet protein-rich for our felines to stay healthy and active.

ZIWI wet cat food is a limited ingredient diet. You won’t find any additional elements a la by-products, artificial colors and flavors for triggering a cat’s interest, or preservatives there. Lamb (beef, rabbit, you choose!) meat and water are two primary ingredients, enriched with essential vitamins and minerals, including taurine (a must-have amino acid for cats to support healthy vision, heart, and immune system). This formula is also a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health.

Related guides:

  • Type: wet, grain-free, limited ingredient diet
  • Weight: 3-oz or 5.5-oz cans
  • Protein: 9.5% (min)
  • Calories: 113 kcal/3-oz can

With green peas and salmon meat as two primary ingredients, this dry cat food without chicken deserves its place in our guide. All the components are natural and enriched with the essential vitamins and minerals a cat needs to thrive. Each recipe contains a single animal protein source, making Natural Balance diets perfect for felines with food allergies or sensitive digestion.

The formula is vitamin- and mineral-rich. It provides a cat with such essential elements as taurine (for heart and vision health) and omega fatty acids (for healthy bones, skin, and coat). There are no grains or artificial ingredients in the recipe. Plus, it contains limited carbohydrate sources for higher energy and more comfortable digestion. Please follow the manufacturer’s feeding instructions when planning to transit your furry friend to this poultry free cat food.

  • Type: dry, grain-free, sensitive digestion diet
  • Weight: 2-, 5-, or 10-lb bags
  • Protein: 30.0% min
  • Calories: 410 kcal/cup

This cat food without chicken by-product is from real beef meat complemented with cheese. Also, you can find other flavors in this food line from Purina: beef with carrots, beef with rice, and more. If looking for the ultimate texture and taste for your feline, the beef/cheese one is the optimal choice to try.

The formula is 100% complete and balanced. It contains the only source of animal protein and is water sufficient to support a proper moisture level in cats’ bodies. Please pay attention that this cat food is not grain-free, and it also contains soy and meat by-products. And yet, the concentration of these elements in the formula is too low to harm a cat’s health. All the essential vitamins and minerals are here to support our furry friends’ healthy lifestyle and overall happy well-being.

  • Type: wet
  • Weight: 3-oz and 5.5-oz cans
  • Protein: 10.0% min
  • Calories: 73 kcal/3-oz can

This chicken free dry cat food is perfect for the food sensitivity trial of your cat. Thanks to just one animal protein source in the recipe, it’s easily digestible for felines with allergies or stomach problems. Real rabbit meat and peas are the primary ingredients here, providing a cat with both proteins and carbs she needs.

Vitamins (B, D, E), natural amino acids (omega, taurine), and antioxidants in the formula promote our felines’ immune health. The food contains no grains, eggs, chicken by-products, and no artificial preservatives. So, choosing this cat food, you ensure to exclude any potential allergens from your four-legged friend’s diet. The manufacturer takes meat of farmed-raised rabbits, free of antibiotics and added growth hormones, to make sure you’ll get 100% natural product for your cat.

Related guide:

  • Type: dry, grain-free, limited ingredient diet
  • Weight: 4.5-lb and 10-lb bags
  • Protein: 35.0% min
  • Calories: 457 kcal/cup

This formula is for cats in need of yummy food and active lifestyle. American Journey tolerates fussy eaters, offering chicken free dry cat food for them. Their grain-free recipe contains deboned salmon meat as a primary ingredient, enriched with vegetables (peas, carrots, pumpkin, spinach) and fruits (apples, blueberries, carrots, cranberries). All they provide a cat with enough protein and an adequate quantity of carbs for energy and health.

Thanks to powerful nutrients and essential amino acids (omega and taurine) inside, this food is among the best ones on the market. Its antioxidants support a healthy immune system; no by-products or artificial preservatives in the formula guarantee more comfortable digestion. But please read the full list of the ingredients before purchasing food for your feline: For instance, this one contains a dried egg product that may be a potential allergen for cats with sensitivities.

  • Type: dry, grain-free
  • Weight: 5-lb and 12-lb bags
  • Protein: 40.0% min
  • Calories: 410 kcal/cup

With real rabbit as the only source of animal protein, this chicken free cat food is perfect for cats with allergies or food sensitivities. Designed in collaboration with vets and professional pet nutritionists, the wet formula from Royal Canin is ideal for both long-term nutrition and food sensitivity trials.

The ingredients include all the essential vitamins and minerals a cat needs for a healthy life. Amino acids, such as omega-3 (EPA and DHA) and taurine, promote healthy vision, heart, and bones. Plus, they work on strengthening a cat’s immune system and reducing skin sensitivity and irritation. Please note that this poultry free cat food requires veterinary authorization: Most pet stores won’t sell it with no confirmation from a vet about prescribing this diet to your cat.

  • Type: wet, limited ingredient diet
  • Weight: 5.1-oz or 5.9-oz cans
  • Protein: 9.4% min
  • Calories: 167 kcal/5.9 oz can

This cat food without chicken contains a single animal protein source, and it’s real whitefish. The formula is packed with natural ingredients from vegetables (carrots, peas, pumpkin) and fruits (cranberries, blueberries) to provide felines with an adequate level of carbs for more energy. Enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this wet cat food from Blue Buffalo serves well for cats with poultry allergy or sensitive digestion.

This delicious pate-style formula is grain-free, with no corn or wheat inside. It’s also free from artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives that some reckless manufacturers might add to trigger more interest toward food in cats. Blue Buffalo Basics doesn’t contain any by-product meals and possible allergens such as dairy, eggs, chicken, or soy. Feeding instructions are on the pocket, and they depend on your cat’s weight.

  • Type: wet, grain-free, sensitive digestion diet
  • Weight: 3-oz or 5.5-oz cans
  • Protein: 8.0% min
  • Calories: 80 kcal/can/3-oz can

This one is perfect for cats in love with sea products. This Taste of the Wild formula’s primary ingredients are trout, smoked salmon, and ocean fish meal! Together with pea and potato protein, it provides an adequate balance of carbs for a cat’s energy and overall health. The manufacturer tolerates felines with poultry allergy, designing this cat food without chicken by-product.

Canyon River is grain-free, which makes it ideal for cats with sensitive stomachs. Enriched with a proprietary probiotic blend, the recipe promotes digestive health of our furry friends. This cat food is nutrient-rich; added vitamins and antioxidants from natural ingredients support our feline’s overall condition. Taurine and omega fatty acids are also here to help with eye, heart, and bones health.

  • Type: dry, grain-free
  • Weight: 5-lb and 14-lb bags
  • Protein: 32.0% min
  • Calories: 350 kcal/cup

This chicken free dry cat food aims to satisfy your furry friend’s wild instincts. With real venison as a primary ingredient, the formula is 96% made of fresh meat and free of antibiotics, added hormones, or growth promotants. Besides venison, ZIWI Peak contains New Zealand green mussels, a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine, serving to support joint health.

Choose this food for your cat if she needs a complete and balanced diet that meets her nutrition needs. ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Venison is grain-free, protein-rich, and 95% digestible; it provides all the essential nutrients for a cat’s strong muscles, energy, and overall health.

  • Type: dry, grain-free, limited ingredient diet
  • Weight: 2.2-lb and 14-lb bags
  • Protein: 45.0% min
  • Calories: 267 kcal/cup

Last but not least in our review, this poultry free cat food will be the ideal choice for cats in love with sea products. Cod, sole, shrimp, fish broth – all are here to satisfy even the fussiest eaters. Please note that this formula from Fancy Feast contains meat by-products and added colors/flavors: They are in small amounts, but they can impact the digestion of felines with allergies or sensitive stomachs.

At the same time, the food is free of grains, providing a 100% complete and balanced diet for adult cats. Crafted with a smooth pate texture, this formula is moisture-rich to help felines support the proper water balance in their bodies. For feeding and transition instructions, please read the guidelines on the package carefully.

  • Type: wet
  • Weight: 3-oz cans
  • Protein: 12.0% min
  • Calories: 82 kcal/can

How to choose a high-quality grain-free cat food

Step 1 – Consider those with fewer ingredients

Common grains in cat food are corn, barley, wheat, rice, and oats. When choosing high-quality formulas for your feline, check the ingredients and follow the rule, “the fewer ingredients, the better.”  Poor by-products, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives – all they are a no-no for cats to consume.

Step 2 – Check every single ingredient

To replace grains, manufacturers often add potatoes, tapioca, peas, and lentils. They aren’t that awful but still can make grain-free foods even higher in carbohydrate levels than cat food with grains. Please read the ingredients’ lists carefully and check the guaranteed analysis to see how much protein and carbs the food contains.

Step 3 – Make sure that alternative protein source is high-quality

While cats require animal protein to stay healthy and energetic, they can digest and absorb other protein sources as well. What we need to consider is the quality of those alternative protein sources in cat food. Beef, lamb, fish, eggs – all they are great to feed instead of chicken or other poultry. Plant-based ingredients are also OK if providing adequate carbohydrate calories.

Step 4 – Check if it’s AAFCO approved

AAFCO is for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the organization regulating the sale and distribution of animal feeds and drug remedies. If AAFCO approved cat food, it means it follows all the standards of production, contains high-quality ingredients, and is nutrient-rich for our felines to get all the essential elements they require to thrive.

Step 5 – Check if it’s vet recommended or consult your vet

A vet myself, I often deal with pet owners who don’t care enough about the quality of food they give. They come and ask for feeding instructions only after some medical problems happen. That’s wrong. I recommend choosing food formulas designed in cooperation with professional vets or pet nutritionists (as a rule, reputable pet food brands act this way), or consult your vet before shifting a cat to a new diet.

Top 5 alternative sources of protein

Chicken is the most common protein source used in cat food. That’s because it’s not that expensive, and most felines enjoy it. But if you need cat food without chicken or, even more than that, poultry free cat food because of your feline’s tastes or sensitivities, consider those with alternative sources of animal protein.

The top five are:

  1. Beef. It’s high in zinc, iron, and vitamins. A natural source of antioxidants, beef provides a cat’s body with all the necessary minerals for more energy and health. Also, it contains taurine, which is an essential amino acid cats need for healthy eyes, heart, digestion, and immune system.
  1. Fish. This one is low-fat but high in protein, perfect for cats in love with sea products. Salmon and tuna are the two most popular in cat food, but you can also find flavors with mackerel, herring, sardines, or trout. Fish formulas are rich with calcium and omega fatty acids, essential for a cat’s bones, skin, and heart.
  1. Lamb/rabbit. This meat has more iron than chicken and can become a perfect animal protein alternative in a cat’s diet. Vitamins, essential minerals, taurine, natural antioxidants – everything is here for your feline to have a complete and balanced diet.
  1. Turkey. Sure, this one is not an option for cats with poultry allergy, but it is OK to try if you look for cat food without chicken only. Turkey has a similar nutrient profile but with fewer calories. More than that, it’s more protein-rich than chicken! And even though chicken is higher in niacin than turkey, the latter contains more vitamins and minerals.
  1. Eggs. This animal protein source is for your cat if she doesn’t have any sensitivities to this product. Eggs are the most bioavailable among other protein sources, which means they are more comfortable for a cat to digest.

Best dry cat food without chicken

The five best options for chicken free dry cat food are as follows:

All contain high-quality alternative protein sources and are safe to consume for cats with poultry allergy. If your feline has some individual needs, please consult a vet before feeding her with any of these recipes. And do your best to provide free access to clean water: dry cat food alone can’t support a necessary moisture level in felines’ bodies.

Best chicken free canned cat food

In this guide, we’ve reviewed the top five wet poultry free cat food formulas. Here they go again:

Approved by vets, all work as complete and balanced diets for fussy eaters or cats with poultry allergy. Any of these canned cat food options is perfect for both long-term nutrition and food sensitivity trials.


Should cat food be egg-free as well?

Together with fish and dairy products, eggs are among the most common allergens for cats. If yours is allergic to eggs, in particular, it stands to reason to boot this product from her diet. But as a rule, chicken or poultry sensitivity doesn’t mean the reaction to eggs, though your vet may suggest you take this precaution.

Find out if cats can eat eggs by reading our guide.

What about hydrolyzed chicken protein?

Hydrolyzed protein is the one broken down into its component amino acids. Most vets recommend it for cats with allergies and sensitive stomachs because it’s easier to digest and it serves to remove existing allergens. If you choose cat food with hydrolyzed chicken protein, it shouldn’t provoke an allergy in your feline. And yet, it may cause bloating.

In a word

So, here it goes, the best cat food without chicken for our furry friends with poultry allergy or specific tastes. Now you know why to consider such food for cats, how to choose it right, and what alternative sources of protein can serve well for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Any questions left? If you have any comments or concerns about the poultry free cat food options reviewed in this post, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments.

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