Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

10 Best Soft Dry Cat Foods – 2024 Reviews & Guide

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Gray cat eating from the bowlDry food is a great option for your cats since it’s relatively inexpensive, convenient, and easy to store. That said, some cats have trouble chewing hard dry foods. Kittens with developing teeth, seniors that have lost a few teeth or have gum issues, or even just cats with dental issues in general can benefit greatly from dry food that is softer and more palatable than usual.

Cats are obligate carnivores and need a high percentage of animal-based protein in their diet. Soft dry foods need to have the usual balanced nutrient content, a slightly higher moisture content, and preferably, a soft, chewy center. Some dry foods are purposefully formulated to be softer and more tender, and other foods that are made to be easy to digest or formulated for seniors are also great options if you’re looking for a softer food for your feline.

We know how difficult it can be to sift through all the available dry food options for your cat, and we’re here to help! In this article, we put together our top soft dry cat foods, complete with in-depth reviews, to help you choose the best option for your feline friend. Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Applaws Complete Chicken w/ Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food Applaws Complete Chicken w/ Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food
  • Made in the USA
  • Includes salmon
  • No artificial flavors
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina One Indoor Advantage Senior 7+ Purina One Indoor Advantage Senior 7+
  • Designed for senior cats
  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Antioxidants and fiber included
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Acana Senior Entrée Free-Run Chicken & Turkey Dry Cat Food Acana Senior Entrée Free-Run Chicken & Turkey Dry Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Made using high-quality ingredients
  • High-protein recipe that includes mostly animal ingredients
  • Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Kitten Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Kitten
  • Made in the USA
  • Lots of fiber added
  • Free from artificial preservatives
  • Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe
  • Trusted company
  • Limited-ingredient
  • Free from artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
  • The 10 Best Soft Dry Cat Foods

    1. Applaws Complete Chicken w/ Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food – Best Overall

    Applaws Complete Chicken w/ Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Salmon, Peas, Lentils, Chicken Fat
    Protein Content: 8%
    Fat Content: 3%
    Calories: 3,825 kcal/kg

    Applaws Complete Chicken w/ Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food isn’t one of the most popular cat foods out there. However, it is the best overall soft dry cat food according to our research. It’s extremely soft when compared to other foods on the market, which is why we recommend it so highly.

    It’s also made from pretty good ingredients, including chicken, chicken meal, and salmon. The salmon provides added omega fatty acids, which are great for a cat’s joints and brain health. If you have an older feline, this food may be exactly what they need.

    It’s free from potatoes and grains. However, it does include peas and lentils, which may be associated with some health problems in dogs. Because this is a cat food, we still felt safe recommending it as a great cat food despite these ingredients.

    Pros
    • Chicken and chicken meal as the first ingredients
    • Made in the USA
    • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
    • Includes salmon
    • Very soft
    Cons
    • Peas and lentils included

    2. Purina One Indoor Advantage Senior 7+ – Best Value

    Purina One Indoor Advantage Senior 7+

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-product Meal, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal
    Protein Content: 36%
    Fat Content: 13%
    Calories: 3,953 kcal/kg

    For those looking to save a bit of money, we highly recommend the Purina One Indoor Advantage Senior 7+. This formula is designed for seniors, which means it tends to be a bit softer than other options on the market. It is also extremely inexpensive compared to other foods out there, making it the best soft dry cat food for the money.

    That said, it is cheaper for a reason. Chicken is the primary ingredient, which is great. However, it also includes by-products and soybean meal, which aren’t the best options. It’s still nutritionally complete and plenty healthy for your cat, though.

    This formula is also designed to reduce hairballs, which may be something to consider if that’s a common problem you have with your felines.

    Pros
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Inexpensive
    • Designed for senior cats
    • Antioxidants and fiber included
    Cons
    • Some poor ingredients

    3. Acana Senior Entrée Free-Run Chicken & Turkey Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice

    Acana Senior Entrée Free-Run Chicken & Turkey Dry Cat Food

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Oat Groats, Whole Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas, Chicken Fat, Eggs, Turkey
    Protein Content: 33%
    Fat Content: 14%
    Calories: 3670 kcal/kg

    We absolutely love Acana Senior Entrée Free-Run Chicken & Turkey Dry Cat Food. However, it is quite expensive. It’s made in the USA using quality ingredients from around the world. It’s an extremely high-protein recipe that includes over 65% animal ingredients, utilizing mostly chicken and turkey. However, ingredients like egg and chicken fat are also included.

    It’s grain-free, though it does include some peas and green lentils. It’s nutritionally complete and has everything your kitty needs and then some. For instance, it includes EPA and DHA to help maintain your kitty’s eyes and heart health. Plus, the added omega fatty acids can also support your cat’s brain and joints.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • Made using high-quality ingredients
    • High-protein recipe that includes mostly animal ingredients
    • Added nutrients, like DHA and EPA
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Kitten – Best for Kittens

    Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Kitten

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes
    Protein Content: 36%
    Fat Content: 18%
    Calories: 3540 kcal/kg

    Kittens sometimes need extra-soft food that is still nutritionally complete. The Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Kitten is a great option in this case. It’s specially crafted for growing kittens and includes probiotics to ensure your furry friend’s gut health is supported. It’s 100% free from grains and gluten, which is great for sensitive felines, too.

    It’s made with tons of different veggies, including sweet potatoes as the main ingredient. It also includes things like beets and carrots, which add tons of nutrients to the food. It also includes a lot of fiber, which is an often-overlooked necessity for cats.

    This food is proudly made in the USA using ingredients from around the world. It’s free from artificial preservatives and soy, including mostly animal ingredients.

    Pros
    • Chicken and turkey as the main ingredients
    • Lots of fiber added
    • Made in the USA
    • Free from artificial preservatives
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Includes peas and pea protein

    5. Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe

    Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Pea Starch,
    Protein Content: 35%
    Fat Content: 14%
    Calories: 3588 kcal/kg

    Purina is a fabulous cat food brand, as they have very few recalls and are considered one of the safest brands on the market. We particularly like the Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe, which is high in protein with plenty of added ingredients. It’s a limited-ingredient cat food that works well for those with sensitive stomachs. With fewer things to react to, the odds of a reaction are lower.

    This food doesn’t include any by-product meals, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors. It’s also gluten-free.

    However, it is high in peas (which is common in the industry today). Therefore, it ended up lower on our list than other recipes.

    Pros
    • Free from artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
    • Limited-ingredient
    • Trusted company
    Cons
    • High in peas
    • Expensive

    6. Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Rice Formula with Probiotics Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Rice Formula with Probiotics Cat Food

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-product Meal
    Protein Content: 36%
    Fat Content: 16%
    Calories: 4358 kcal/kg

    Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Rice Formula with Probiotics Cat Food is another great recipe from Purina. This time, the ingredient list is completely different, and the food is cheaper. Plus, it is more calorie-dense, so you’ll need to feed your cat less, as well.

    This food starts with chicken and rice, as you might expect from the label. It also includes corn gluten meal, which is a processed, protein-rich corn product that many cats can digest well. Sadly “poultry by-product meal” is also included. While by-products are often not a great choice themselves, the vague label “poultry” also has us raising our eyebrows a bit.

    This formula does include some good additives, like omega fatty acids and vitamin A. Therefore, it’s nutritionally complete and a good choice for many felines. We just wish the ingredients were a bit better.

    Pros
    • Nutritionally complete
    • Inexpensive
    • High in protein
    • Chicken as the main ingredient
    Cons
    • Some low-quality ingredients
    • Soy protein concentrate added

    7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Brown Rice, Brewer’s Rice, Dried Peas, Poultry Fat
    Protein Content: 34%
    Fat Content: 14%
    Calories: 3635 kcal/kg

    Most people have heard of Rachael Ray’s Nutrish pet food brand. We like several of the recipes, including the Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe. This formula includes farm-raised chicken and chicken meal as the primary ingredients. Chicken meal is simply a concentrated form of chicken, making it a great option for cat food. It is very nutritionally dense.

    This food also contains other nutritious ingredients, like corn gluten meal and brown rice. Whole grains provide some extra fiber and add several nutrients to the cat’s food. Yeast is added as a natural source of B vitamins, biotin, and zinc. This ingredient isn’t found in cat food all that much, but it can make the food more nutritionally dense.

    Plus, this food is also made in American facilities (though not all of the ingredients are sourced from the USA). Our main gripe with this food is the inclusion of “poultry fat,” which isn’t specifically named.

    Pros
    • Includes chicken and other great ingredients
    • Made in American facilities
    • Yeast added for increased nutritional content
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Vaguely named “poultry fat”

    8. Taste of the Wild Lowland Creek Dry Cat Food

    Taste of the Wild Lowland Creek Dry Cat Food

    Main Ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, Peas
    Protein Content: 36%
    Fat Content: 16%
    Calories: 3558 kcal/kg

    Taste of the Wild Lowland Creek Dry Cat Food is another solid cat food option for most cats. It includes pretty high-quality ingredients, including duck, duck meal, and turkey meal. It’s a conglomerate of different types of poultry, for the most part.

    It is a grain-free recipe, which is good for cats with sensitivities. However, it includes lentils and peas, which may not be the healthiest option for felines. This formula is full of probiotics and prebiotics, which are vital for your cat’s overall well-being.

    However, it is expensive, and the price tends to change a lot.

    Pros
    • Includes high amounts of animal proteins
    • Grain-free recipe
    • Probiotics and prebiotics included
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Includes peas and lentils

    9. Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Chicken & Chicken Meal

    Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Chicken & Chicken Meal

    Main Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat
    Protein Content: 40%
    Fat Content: 18%
    Calories: 3907

    We also liked Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Chicken & Chicken Meal, which is made with chicken and chicken meal as the main ingredients. It’s packed with all the vitamins and nutrients your feline needs to thrive, making it a great choice for just about any feline.

    That said, this formula is grain-free. While this isn’t a problem in itself, the recipe also includes a high number of peas, which isn’t the best choice for our cats. In fact, peas are the third ingredient, so they are plentiful in this recipe.

    We do like that this formula doesn’t include any artificial colors or flavors. It’s also made in the USA, which is an added bonus.

    Pros
    • Chicken and chicken meal as the first ingredients
    • Chicken fat included for added nutrients
    • Nutritionally complete
    Cons
    • High in peas

    10. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice

    Main Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Chicken Fat
    Protein Content: 33%
    Fat Content: 14%
    Calories: 3586 kcal/kg

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice is made mostly with chicken and chicken meal. Therefore, it’s a nutritious option for many felines. It also includes whole-grain brown rice and brewer’s rice—two-grain ingredients that are packed full of nutrients. We love that real chicken is included as the first ingredient and the inclusion of grains.

    However, this formula includes a lot of pea protein. The protein content of the food isn’t that high, anyway, and a large majority of this protein seems to come from peas. For this reason, we placed it at the bottom of this list.

    This formula does have a lot of fiber, which can help lazy cats keep off the pounds. It’s also great for healthy digestion, especially for indoor cats that don’t have access to grass. It also includes non-GMO ingredients, though these come from around the world.

    Pros
    • Chicken and chicken meal as the primary ingredients
    • High in fiber
    • Whole grains added
    Cons
    • High in pea protein
    • Low in animal protein

     

    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Soft Dry Cat Foods

    While wet food is a great option for cats with dental issues or older felines, it can get expensive and is certainly not as convenient as dry food. Dry foods that are specially formulated to be softer, have a higher moisture content, and be easier to chew are ideal for aging felines.

    Of course, you could always soften a dry food yourself with warm water in the form of broth or stock, but this can soften it a bit too much for some cats, so a purpose-made soft dry food is the best option. But how do you find a good option of soft dry food for your feline?

    We are here to help! Here are a few things to look for when choosing a soft dry cat food for your feline.

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

    Moisture Content

    Most dry cat kibble has a moisture content of around 10–12%, and even commercial “soft” dry cat foods have a similar moisture saturation. Looking at the moisture content and making sure it’s above 10% can help, but it will not ensure that the food is actually softer than usual.

    The best bet is to purchase kibble that has a soft center and hard exterior, giving your cat a crunchy texture than they love with a soft center that makes chewing easier. The problem with this type of kibble is the ingredients. In order to make kibble with this soft center, there are often questionable ingredients used — notably, grains — which are not always great for your cat’s health.

    Ingredients

    No matter what food you choose to feed your cat, looking at the ingredient list is vital. Cats are obligate carnivores, and as such, they need animal-based protein in their diet to stay healthy. An animal protein should always be the first ingredient, as this is what constitutes the majority of the food.

    Soft dry foods often contain many grains, which may be fine for some cats, but be cautious of soft dry food that has grains listed as the first ingredient. You want the protein to be at around 30–40% ideally, and this should come primarily from animal-based proteins.

    Soft dry foods often use meat by-products and meals too. This is to make the food more chewy and palatable, but since you don’t know exactly what a by-product or meat meal can contain,  which could be anything from organ meats to bones, skin, and even hair, this is somewhat risky.

    Essential Nutrients

    Besides protein, you also want to make sure your cat’s food contains all the other vital nutrients that they need. The food should be nutritionally balanced and age-appropriate for your feline. Check for essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, taurine, and L-carnitine. Omega fatty acids should also be included for skin and coat health.

    Make sure the food does not have too much fat content or too many filler ingredients, like grains, and ideally, is free from any artificial ingredients, like flavors or colors.

    cat hungrily eats dry food
    Image Credit: yykkaa, Shutterstock

    Why Not Just Give Your Cat Wet Food?

    Wet food is a great option for cats that need softer food in their diet due to dental issues. It is easy to chew, has a high moisture content, and has a texture that most cats adore, making it a great option. That said, dry food has great benefits and many cats simply prefer it.

    Dry cat foods are easy to store and last a long time, while wet food needs to be used directly after opening. Dry foods can also help with dental health, as the dry texture of kibble can help remove plaque and tartar build-up. Lastly, dry food is super convenient, especially if you have more than one cat, and is generally more affordable than wet food.

    Regardless of the type of food your feline companion prefers, finding a bowl that is sure to keep the mess contained can be tough. Our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl features a wide tray designed to ensure that all food stays exactly where it should—inside the bowl and off the floor. The whisker-friendly bowls fit securely into the PP plastic base and are low and wide to prevent whisker fatigue. Its contemporary style will fit seamlessly into any home and it is completely dishwasher safe. 

    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
    169 Reviews
    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
    • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
    • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...

    Conclusion

    All the above soft dry foods are great options, and while we highly recommend all of them, the Applaws Complete Chicken w/ Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food is our favorite overall.

    If you’re looking for soft dry food that is slightly more budget-friendly, the Purina One Indoor Advantage Senior 7+ is the best option for the money. This formula is designed for seniors, which means it tends to be a bit softer than other options on the market.

    Proper nutrition is vital to the health and well-being of your feline, and it can be stressful to find the right food for them, especially if they need soft dry kibble. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped you find the best soft dry cat food to suit your unique needs.

    See also:


    Featured Image Credit: Skrypnykov Dmytro, Shutterstock

    Related Articles

    Further Reading

    Vet Articles

    Latest Vet Answers

    The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database