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13 Best Soft Dry Cat Foods of 2021

 

Dry cat food is the essentials of feline nutrition. However, it’s not equally palatable for all pets – kittens and senior cats have problems with teeth, so biting and chewing become problematic. Soft kibble cat food is the best way out in this situation. It allows getting all vital nutrients without damaging teeth or causing digestion disorders. Let’s review the best soft dry cat food for you to make an informed decision.

24 hours spent to prepare this guide

22 brands considered

What is soft dry cat food?

 

Soft cat food has the same contents as hard kibbles but it is formulated to be chewed easier. Manufacturers use a different baking technology or make kibbles with softer bits or centers. That makes such recipes appropriate for kittens or senior cats who cannot bite traditional hard pieces of food. Also, it has a slightly higher moisture content than regular hard kibbles (8-10%), but not as much as wet meals (75-85%).

Top 13 soft dry foods for cats 2021

If you have a picky cat, choosing the best soft cat food flavor can be tricky, but not with Meow Mix. It offers the lineup of delicious foods with a low calorie content and an optimal amount of protein. The manufacturer uses chicken and turkey by-products and salmon meal for some flavors. There’s whole wheat and ground corn added – they serve as a filler.

There’s the whole gamut of vitamins and minerals included, so the food is perfect for daily nutrition. Note that some artificial preservatives and colors were used: this product contains potassium sorbate, BHA, DL-Methonine, and titanium dioxide. It’s recommended rather for adult cats than kittens or senior pets.

Pros:

  • Great variety of flavors;
  • Non-expensive.

Cons:

  • Contains artificial components.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 31%
  • Flavors: : Salmon & Turkey, Chicken & Tuna, Beef & Salmon, Salmon & Chicken, Tuna & Whitefish
  • Calories: : 325 kcal/cup

The recipe from Purina is a combination of meaty bites and tender bits with 12% of moisture – a perfect formula for healthy digestion and full-fledged nutrition. 34% of the protein is sourced from fresh salmon and chicken by-products. There are no artificial additives, but white rice serves as a filler – keep that in mind.

The formula is enhanced by vitamins and minerals, it has zinc, phosphorus, taurine and folic acid. Overall, this option is recommended to senior cats since it has enough protein and vitamins. Yet, there’s 15% of fat so it should be served carefully to overweight (or prone to obesity) cats.

Pros:

  • Optimal texture for cats with weak teeth;
  • Has fruits, veggies, and grains for better digestion;
  • Balanced vitamin and mineral content.

Cons:

  • Too fatty.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 34%
  • Flavors: : Salmon, Chicken
  • Calories: : 364 kcal/cup

This item may seem irrelevant because most of the foods here are designed for older/adult cats that have problems with gums or teeth. But I did not make a mistake when adding this one. This formula has very tiny kibbles. If your cat does not chew her food and just swallows it – this option is for you. Its tiny kibbles are easy-to-swallow and easy-to-digest in this case. But please, keep in mind that this is a high-protein formula that doesn’t fit cats with kidney or renal problems. So please, consult with your vet prior to purchasing it.

Pros:

  • easy-to-swallow
  • easy-to-digest

Cons:

  • Not easy to chew
  • Doesn’t fit cats with kidney/renal disease

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Calories: 370 kcal / 100 g

Is your cat allergic or sensitive? Then you should consider a recipe without artificial components – the chicken recipe from Blue Buffalo is made of the chunks of real meat in gravy. There are no by-products, corn, wheat, or soy. It has an appealing flavor and is easy to chew. The recipe has peas that serve as the additional source of protein together with dried egg products. Potatoes, carrots, and chicory root provide fiber for better digestion.

The whole gamut of vitamins and minerals is included in the recipe together with folic acid. Omega 6 fatty acids and taurine. Generally, this formula is safe for pets without sensitivity to peas.

Also I recommend this separate guide with best recipes for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Pros:

  • No artificial preservatives;
  • High protein content.

Cons:

  • Contains cellulose;
  • Not suitable for the full daily diet;
  • Dries up quickly after opening.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 38%
  • Flavors: : Chicken
  • Calories: : 410 kcal/cup

IAMS offers a formula for senior cats that boasts soft, easily chewable texture – it’s perfect for pets with weak or no teeth. The mix has the complete array of nutrients, including taurine, folic acid, L-carnitine, and niacin. Chicken, dried eggs, and chicken by-products serve as the main source of protein (30%) while beet pulp and whole grains provide enough fiber for digestibility. Chicken oil and fish oil contain tocopherols.

This option is recommended to cats older than 11. It boosts the immune system and helps pets avoid some diseases and health issues.

Pros:

  • Perfect texture;
  • Contains all necessary nutrients.

Cons:

  • May cause diarrhea;
  • Low in calories and protein.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 30%
  • Flavors: : Chicken
  • Calories: : 325 kcal/cup

Why was this cat food soft kibble included in our list? According to customer reviews, this food has optimal size and consistency – it’s easy to chew and swallow even for senior cats and kittens. A high amount of protein (34%) is sourced from chicken, salmon, chicken meal together with peas. The formula is enhanced by fiber-rich products, such as beet pulp, rice, lentils, pumpkin, and cranberry.

The formula is enriched with the whole gamut of vitamins and minerals, including taurine, folic acid, and Vitamin K complex. No artificial flavors and preservatives were used. Generally, the recipe from Rachael Ray is safe for cats of any age – there are practically no questionable ingredients.

Pros:

  • No artificial components;
  • Variety of flavors;
  • Great for all life stages.

Cons:

  • Costly.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 34%
  • Flavors: : Chicken, Chickpeas & Salmon, Turkey & Salmon, Chicken & Lentils
  • Calories: : 371 kcal/cup

What is the best soft dry cat food from the safety standpoint? The air-dried kibbles from Wellness Core are made of 70% raw components and don’t contain wheat, gluten, soy, by-products, and artificial preservatives. This 100% natural formula contains deboned turkey and chicken that serve as the source of 34% protein.

Kibbles have semi-soft texture which makes them suitable for kittens and seniors. However, you should not exceed the recommended portion size – it has 24% fat and is high in calories.

Pros:

  • 100% natural contents;
  • Optimal protein content;
  • Semi-soft texture.

Cons:

  • Expensive;
  • Contains peanuts.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 34%
  • Flavors: : Turkey & Chicken
  • Calories: : 445 kcal/cup

Formulated for all life stages, the formula from Instinct is pretty soft but crunchy. The small kibbles are easy to chew and digest. This is a protein-rich recipe that is based on chicken, chicken meal, and peas. It also has fiber-rich products, such as tomato pomace, carrots, apples, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.

There’s the whole gamut of vitamins and minerals included together with prebiotics and taurine. Please note that the formula is high in calories, so it’s not recommended for overweight cats.

Pros:

  • Natural formula based on raw meat;
  • Optimal amount of fiber;
  • No artificial components.

Cons:

  • High in calories.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 41%
  • Flavors: : Chicken
  • Calories: : 505 kcal/cup

Taste of the Wild offers a high-protein recipe with a moderate amount of calories. Although kibbles are not soft, they are pretty small and easy to chew. The formula is based on chicken, peas, roasted venison, and smoked salmon – this is what makes it so delicious. It has a lot of fiber-rich products (chicory root, raspberries, yucca, blueberries, tomatoes) and the whole array of essential vitamins and minerals.

Also, the manufacturer added prebiotics, Omega fatty acids, and folic acid with taurine. The product is appropriate for all life stages.

Pros:

  • All-natural formula;
  • High in protein;
  • Small kibbles.

Cons:

  • Some cats don’t like the flavor – it’s specific.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 42%
  • Flavors: : Venison & Salmon
  • Calories: : 390 kcal/cup

This all-natural formula from Nulo has 40% of protein (80% of which is animal-sourced). It’s based on chicken, turkey, and deboned cod. There is an optimal amount of carbs and fiber that’s obtained from sweet potato, cranberries, and other plants.

The kibbles are small and easy to chew, so this recipe would be equally good for adult cats and kittens. Additionally, it has prebiotics that boost metabolism and support the immune system.

Pros:

  • Optimal protein and carbs content;
  • Natural formula;
  • Suitable for kittens.

Cons:

  • High calorie content;
  • Expensive and not always in stock.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 40%
  • Flavors: : Chicken, turkey
  • Calories: : 486 kcal/cup

This is a 100% natural formula that does not contain wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, or meat by-products. The optimal amount of protein (36%) is sourced from real chicken, chicken meal, and peas. The manufacturer included all essential vitamins and minerals together with biotin, folic acid, and taurine.

According to customer reviews, kibbles are pretty small and easy to chew – they are perfect for kittens. Besides, they admit that this formula eliminates the problems with digestion, hairballs, and smelly poop.

Pros:

Pros:

  • All-natural formula;
  • Optimal content of protein;
  • Helps to maintain healthy digestion.

Cons:

  • High in calories (not suitable for inactive adult cats);
  • No choice of flavors.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 36%
  • Flavors: : Chicken
  • Calories: : 439 kcal/cup

If you need a cheaper alternative to the above-mentioned product, opt for Purina Friskies. This is a combination of crunchy and tender food. The formula seems to be a one-for-all solution, but I would recommend it as a temporary option for adult cats with weak teeth. Why? The recipe is far from perfect: it’s based on ground corn, wheat, chicken by-products and meat meal – these components are not healthy and might cause problems with weight in the long term.

Yet, the formula has 30% protein and 11% fat, which is an optimal level. There are all essential vitamins and minerals included, as well as biotin and taurine.

Pros:

  • Non-expensive;
  • Small kibbles.

Cons:

  • Not the best ingredients

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 30% (dry food)
  • Flavors: : Vary depending on the product in the combo
  • Calories: : Vary depending on the product in the combo

If you are in search of soft dry cat food for older cats, this chicken formula from Hill’s Science is a perfect pick. It has a soft texture and contains a lot of fiber for easier digestion (it’s sourced from carrots, apples, cranberries, broccoli, and green peas). The formula features a great balance of vitamins and minerals together with folic acid, biotin, taurine, and L-carnitine.

Note that the manufacturer used whole grain wheat, pork fat, wheat gluten, and brewers rice – all these components might cause allergic reactions in cats. Generally, it’s a safe product, but you should watch your pet’s reaction when you switch to it.

Pros:

  • Perfect texture and shape;
  • Made with natural ingredients;
  • Contains all essential vitamins and minerals.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for allergic/sensitive cats.

Main characteristics:

 

specification
  • Protein content: : 38%
  • Flavors: : Chicken
  • Calories: : 394 kcal/cup

Quick comparison chart

Soft dry food for cats Softness Score Ingredients Score Calories, kcal
Meow Mix Tender Centers Dry Cat Food 9 7 325
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free 8 7 410
Purina Kitten Chow Nurture Kitten Dry Cat Food 6 7 370
Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend Adult Dry Cat Food 7 6 364
Iams Proactive Health Healthy Senior Dry Cat Food 8 7 325
Rachael Ray Nutrish SuperFood Blends Dry Cat Food 8 7 371
Wellness Core Air Dried Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food 8 7 445
Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food 7 8 505
Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe 7 8 390
Nulo Adult & Kitten Grain Free Dry Cat Food with BC30 Probiotic 7 7 486
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Kitten Dry Cat Food 7 8 439
Purina Friskies Tender & Crunchy Combo Adult Dry Cat Food 7 5 389
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult 11+ for Senior Cats, Indoor 6 6 394

How to choose the best soft dry cat food?

Step 1 – Check how soft it is

The softness of dry cat food may vary. Your goal is to find kibbles that will be easy to chew for your cat. While pieces with a soft center are a perfect solution, there’s not much choice, and the ones available have drawbacks in the contents. Read customers’ reviews and choose smaller kibbles – they are easier to chew for felines.

Step 2 – Check the brand reputation 

There’s a huge variety of cat food brands present on the market. Soft dry food is often offered by unpopular manufacturers. Study the brand reputation and recall history to make sure its products could be safely served to cats. 

Step 3 – Check if it’s AAFCO approved 

The Association of American Feed Control Officials is the major regulator of pet food quality in the States. It has certain guidelines on the contents and nutritional value of pet products. Although it does not grant any licenses, seeing “Formulated according to AAFCO statements” label on cat food is one more proof of its quality.

Step 4 – Check the essential nutrients

It’s not enough to figure out a good texture – cat food should be nutritious enough. Watch the amount of protein: it should be in the range of 30-40%. High-protein foods are recommended for kittens and seniors. Fat content should not exceed 15% because fattier products can lead to overweight.

When it comes to carbs content, there are no strict requirements for the percentage of nutrients. Instead, make sure that carbohydrate-rich products are not at the beginning of the contents list. If you see that wheat, soy, or corn are listed before meat, this is low-quality cat food with a high amount of fillers.

Step 5 – Make sure your cat likes the flavor

Unfortunately, the majority of soft cat food brands offer chicken and turkey recipes. If your cat is averted to such flavors, search for alternatives. You can find brands offering fish and mixed flavors. Buy a small package for a trial period and see how your four-legged pal reacts to it. 

Step 6 – Check the price 

With so many brands and options available around, it’s simple to find something that fits your budget. If you need cheap options, consider the food from Purina and Whiskas. Such brands as Hills’ Science and IAMS offer the best trade-off between the quality of components and cost. 

FAQ’s

Is there any difference between soft dry and semi-moist cat food?

There is practically no difference between those types of products in terms of palatability – only texture varies. In this guide, we describe soft dry cat food, and there is a separate guide that reviews semi-moist cat foods.

How to make dry cat food soft?

There is a separate guide on making dry cat food soft. Basically, it all boils down to adding some water. However, the formulas mentioned above are a good alternative to cooked recipes.

Where to buy soft dry cat food?

Each brand has its channels of distribution. You can find all the suitable products in one place – Amazon. It provides offers from different sellers together with complete descriptions of the products. 

At the end of the day 

If your furry friend has problems with teeth, you don’t have to force it to eat wet food. There’s a decent array of soft dry kibbles that can be served to pets of all life stages. They have all the necessary vitamins and minerals for proper nutrition together with a high amount of protein. After defining your cat’s nutritional needs, finding the right product with an excellent price/quality ratio is not hard.

Hopefully, this guide will help you pick a budget-friendly and safe option. You can discover even more suitable products by reading consumers’ reviews. There are plenty of dry foods in the form of small kibbles – this is a nice alternative to soft pieces of meat.  

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