Cat eating

Cat eating (Photo by Abeer Zaki on Unsplash)

Cats are beloved family members for many Americans. When cats and people emotionally bond with each other, the result can often manifest in a deeply held desire to provide the best care and nutrition possible. Many brands purport to be feline favorites, but veterinarians have the best advice when it comes to nutrition. We love our cats and want the best for them, so we turned to our sources to create our list of the top five best cat food brands.

Are cats really as aloof and indifferent toward humans as their reputation suggests? Probably not, according to a recent study. Felines may crave our attention more than they let on.  In fact, when given a stark choice, they’ll even forego eating just to bond with us. Now that’s love.

Cats can live long and happy lives when cared for properly, but this lifetime commitment can be costly. There is a price tag that comes with owning a cat — but many feline families say their pet is “priceless” no matter what. The average American spends $25,304 on their friendly fur ball during their life, according to a poll of 2,000 cat owners. For two in three, it’s led to the belief that their cats are truly the queens and kings of their home.

Based on an average 15-year lifespan for cats, the costs really stack up. Over that lifetime, people spend $764 just replacing or repairing scratched-up furniture. Per visit, vet appointments cost $111 out of pocket on average — twice to four times as much as the copay from a human doctor visit. These costs don’t even include food or toys, which can run up an average $109 per month and $108 per year, respectively.

In order to spend your money wisely on your pretty kitty, we’ve compiled a list of the best cat food brands available. Cats can bring unmeasurable joy to the lives of people that bond with them. Our expert sources were integral for putting together our list that kitties are sure to love. Let us know your cat’s favorite food in the comments below!

silver tabby cat in white ceramic bowl Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash
Cat eating (Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash)

The List: Best Cat Food Brands Most Recommended by Experts


1. Purina Pro Plan

Purina is an industry leader when it comes to pet nutrition. Although many consumers prefer brands with “natural” labeling and clean ingredient lists, Purina Pro Plan is consistently top-rated by our sources. The Strategist writes, “according to the veterinarians I spoke with, this Purina Pro Plan formula should check all the nutritional boxes for most adult cats without any special needs. Because Purina employs full-time veterinary nutritionists and invests heavily in research and development, it’s a favorite brand of veterinarians like Cori Blair of Feline Health.”

Purina Pro Plan Gravy, High Protein Wet Cat Food Variety Pack, Complete Essentials Chicken and Turkey Favorites - (24) 3 oz. Cans
Purina Pro Plan

Insider offers a more detailed breakdown of the benefits of Purina Pro Plan which they name as one of their best budget wet foods, “Wet cat food doesn’t have to cost a premium to be nutritionally complete and balanced. Our budget picks for the best cat food are significantly higher in protein than the 26% AAFCO [Association of American Feed Control Officials] minimum recommendation for healthy adult cats without kidney problems… Animal-based proteins typically provide the 11 essential amino acids and levels of taurine a cat’s diet requires.”

“Cats eating Purina Pro Plan can have several small meals throughout the day, which is considered ideal for feline behavior and satiety (the feeling of being full). Cats that don’t feel full may bother you for more food, which can be a massive barrier to healthy weight loss. The protein content is high at 54% (dry matter basis),” details Excited Cats.

2. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food

Smalls brand offers an online subscription service that is very well regarded by both pet owners and veterinarians. Though this product is a bit pricier than other options, the service is top rated by our sources. The details of production are explained by The Strategist, “Dr. Paola Cuevas, veterinary consultant at Hepper and Pet Keen, likes that Smalls’ human-grade food is high in moisture and meets AAFCO formulation standards. The direct-to-consumer brand’s minced and pâté varieties use only USDA-certified ingredients, and each meal is gently cooked, as opposed to canned, which can contain toxic by-products that Cuevas says have been linked to cancer in humans.”

Conscious Cat further details that, “Smalls is a cat food delivery service that provides protein-rich formulas in textures cats love. The company’s Fresh Smooth Bird recipe is our pick for best overall cat food thanks to its familiar, pate-like texture and protein-focused recipe. With real chicken as its first two ingredients and a unique blend of vitamins and minerals, you know you’re providing your kitty with the best fresh recipe possible. In addition, this recipe has a low carbohydrate content and is high in moisture to ensure cats get the hydration they need to thrive.”

“We love Smalls because they are a brand that puts felines first. It’s a cat food brand really dedicated to optimal cat nutrition, small batches, fresh ingredients, and excellent customer service. Their Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food is exactly what it says it is. It’s human-grade quality, USDA certified, and made from humanely harvested and sustainable protein sources,” explains Vet Street.

3. Tiki Cat

Tiki cat has a smart marketing campaign that combines knowledgeable claims of nutrition with fun Polynesian-inspired flavor names. Apart from the consumer appeal, this brand is also well reviewed with our sources. CatFoodDB writes, “Tiki Cat products, according to their website, are inspired by the carnivore diet cats were meant to eat. True to this claim, their products consist primarily of named proteins with few if any fillers. As a result, they are high in protein, low in carbs, and rate highly here at CatFoodDB.”

Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Variety Pack, Seafood Flavors with Pumpkin, Wet, High-Protein & High-Moisture Cat Food, For All Life Stages, 3 oz. Cans (Case of 12)
Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Variety Pack

“The protein content of the brand’s Succulent Chicken Recipe is incredibly high at about 80% measured as dry matter, and there is no significant carbohydrate content… This recipe from Tiki Cat is low in ash, which will help lower the risk of urinary crystal formation. This recipe also has enough moisture to flush the urinary tract and has a species-appropriate pH that won’t cause crystal formation. We’ll admit, this food is very expensive to feed as a staple diet. However, the cost may be less than a prescription diet formulated to support urinary tract health,” claims

Consumer also calls out two flavors of Tiki Cat as being high protein and low carb, “Tiki Cat’s Kapi’Olani Luau Tilapia recipe is an excellent option for senior cats. The increased protein helps your senior stay healthy, while the high moisture levels help with your cat’s hydration and urinary health… With 20 percent protein, 83 calories per can, and less than one percent of fiber per meal, Tiki Cat’s ahi tuna and chicken recipe can help reduce the amount of insulin your [diabetic]cat needs. The moisture level is a bit lower than other wet cat food, but it still offers way more moisture than kibble.”

4. Royal Canin

Royal Canin is another brand that is a favorite among vets. This is because their offerings are aimed at very specific cat needs like urinary support or spayed & neutered support.  Self explains, “Another favorite among veterinarians, Royal Canin’s in-house team of veterinarians and nutritionists puts all of its meals through an extensive development process before presenting them to customers. Among its special offerings you can find kitten food and meals made especially for older and senior cats, plus recipes rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for shinier coats.”

Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food
Royal Canin Feline Cat Food

They are particularly praised for kitten nutrition as Excited Cats explains, “This cat food comes very highly rated by vets and owners alike. It has been developed by scientists at Royal Canin to provide optimal nutrition for growing kittens. They’ve balanced for gentle growth while still providing energy for play, meaning this kitten food will keep your cat happy and well-fed to 12 months of age.”

“If you’re buying food for a kitten, make sure to look for the AAFCO nutritional-adequacy statement for growth… Blair and Parker [veterinarians] are fans of Royal Canin, and the brand’s just-for-kittens food is packed with protein and fortified with all the vitamins and minerals the littlest kitties need to thrive,” according to The Strategist.

5. Hill’s Science Diet

Hill’s Science Diet offers a wide array of pro-health cat food options. Both their wet food and dry food offerings are great options depending on the needs of individual cats. Self writes, “It’s no coincidence that foods from Hill’s Science Diet—and Hill’s Prescription Diet, the brand’s arm that addresses health concerns like sensitive stomachs, urinary tract issues, and maintaining a healthy weight—regularly appear on the shelves at vets’ offices. This brand is a standard-bearer when it comes to AAFCO- and WSAVA[World Small Animal Veterinary Association ]-compliant foods, and it employs over 200 scientists at its Global Pet Nutrition Center.”

Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food for sensitive stomach
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food for sensitive stomach and skin

“For cats, being a pound or two overweight can lead to cardiovascular and physical health issues. To help your cat get back to their optimal weight Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Cat Food provides balanced nutrition, fiber, and lean protein in a liquid-rich formula, all of which will help them feel full in between meals. Hill’s Science Diet is formulated in the United States, and in their clinical trials, over 70% of adult cats lost weight within 10 weeks by eating Perfect Weight Cat Food,” states The Spruce Pets.

“For cats that need a helping hand in the urinary department, veterinarians like to reach for Hills. This diet is perfect for cats that are prone to suffering from urinary issues, such as indoor cats and overweight cats. The key feature of this wet cat food is the careful balance of minerals to avoid crystals, sludge, and stones forming in the urinary tract,” claims Excited Cats.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Alan Corona

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Andrea says:

    I’m not sure that all cat foods were reviewed before the article was written. There are several very good raw food brands out there. Stella and Chewy’s is my favorite. It’s by far my pets’ favorite too.
    I have personally given Hill’s, from my veterinarian office, to several cats in my lifetime. My cats have never liked it. My dogs don’t even like their dog food!
    I’m not sure HOW Purina ended up here! As far as I’ve seen in my comparisons, Purina has never had a food that would even compare to the raw diet foods out there.
    Do you want to see a huge difference in your cats coat and health?
    I HIGHLY recommend Stella and Chewy’s brand. NO QUESTION.

    1. Smallwood says:

      I thought it was my cat. My cat also doesn’t care for Hills. Not sure how Purina ended up on the list as well. My cat will eat Purina but I just don’t see it as the top 4 food for pets. Is this a list comparing all pet foods?

    2. Sarah says:

      Preach! Royal Canin, Hills, and Purina, I despise them all equally. I actually started using Savage Cat frozen raw recently and it took my cats a bit of convincing to get on board with it since they were used to kibble/canned but they eat it up like crazy now – it closely resembles RadCat. Granted I still use Annamaet Sustain 29, Farmina, and Fromm kibble mixes if I need to prep something quickly, and they still love that as well, but not quite like the raw and wet stuff. For canned I use mainly farmina and weruva and maybe some others if I feel like changing things up.

    3. Angela M. Sheppard says:

      Agree. My cats never like ‘diet’ hills. Also…Purina? Yeah…if you want your cat to live a shorter life. My car eats Blue Buffalo wilderness dry food and several wet foods (tiki cat, grandma’s kitchen, etc). This article obviously did not review all the other expensive brands.

  2. Lauren says:

    Cats are obligate carnivores. The best food is Raw meat. You don’t have to worry about processed kibbles that denaturs proteins or water depleted diets with high amounts of carbohydrates. The pet food industry needs to change. Animals are just surviving from kibbles but not thriving

  3. cass says:

    wet food is best for you kitties – they don’t drink enough, so they need to get water from wet food. dry kibble is so bad for them. and hill’s and royal canon have some of the worst ingredients i’ve ever seen for such an expensive food. seriously. especially royal canin! are you kidding, at that price! instinct is a great brand, so is wellness (especially wellness core). tiki cat is another great one.

  4. Meghan Law says:

    Please look into the over the counter foods of Purina, Hills, and ESPECIALLY Royal Canin. They aren’t as good as they boast. It’s mostly corn, by-product, filler and VERY high I’m preservatives. None of which is good for your kitties. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE research these things and ingredients before making these lists. Not sources, just read the bags

  5. Mia says:

    Who are the experts that are referenced in this study? Royal Canin is not one of the best, especially for the price point. It’s full of fillers. I’d have to agree that Smalls is a good brand, though. This article reads like a paid promotion.

  6. Rafael Rohena says:

    If you live in the suburbs. Here in NYC, they sell the other brand names. Sorry writer.

  7. Jeff says:

    Obviously writer is taking a bribe , hush money , his recommendations are so wrong that can’t be explained by ignorance.

  8. Marta says:

    Lol, what? It was well payed study for sure😂 Royal canin is one of the worst cat food, expensive and full of carbs.

    1. Kristina m says:

      Marta ! Girl all I did was scroll down and seen your comment and bursted out laughing !!! Sometimes we need people like you to tell us we’re not wrong ! And don’t you like how they say “ leave it to the professionals “ yea the professionals that kill are babies sooner then needed .

      I tried smalls but she wasn’t a fan and it’s too expensive when she does t clean the bowl, so I went back to CAT PERSON which she seems to LOVE, but I just wanted to venture off and see but I tell ya, you can’t trust nothing , you gotta have your own trial run and look at all the ingredients and basically compare them.

      But I appreciate you being honest ! It will help a lot of people weather they wanna believe it or not

  9. Amanda says:

    Apart from Smalls which I have no experience with, all are rubbish. Orijen or Acana are the only brands I’d use for dry, and Applaws for wet.