The best foods for your cat. What to look for when choosing a canned food.
How do I know which food is best for my cat? Which are the healthiest cat foods? These are common questions most cat owners ask.
You need to know what the names of the ingredients mean, in order to assess what is good and what is not. It is easy to be fooled by a picture of a pretty cat on the can. It makes the food seem so benevolent and innocent, healthy and safe. All this is is clever marketing methods. Visit the website of one of the foods you normally purchase in a grocery store, or maybe the one your vet recommends. These companies have deceitful advertising campaigns and outright lies proclaiming how nutritious their food is. This sickens me, as I recognize the lies. I visited many cat food company websites when researching this article, and found that the more dangerous ingredients in their foods were lied about. Anyone who tells you that a known carcinogen is a safe and necessary ingredient ought to be run out of business. I'll tell you who it was later on.
So what do you look for? What are the best ingredients?
The very top notch quality canned cat foods are always grain free. If you do not know about the health dangers of grains, please read my other cat food article, which you can find here on Hub Pages. The Hub is "Commercial Cat Food is Dangerous".
The first ingredient should be a named meat source, such as chicken, turkey or beef, for example. The next several ingredients should also be in that vein, other meat proteins listed by type. Next is usually a starch, such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, etc. Then other vegetables are usually listed, followed by a lot of vitamins. Sometimes you see fruits listed, which appear to make a food healthier, but really have no place in a cat's diet.
These kinds of fruits and vegetables have no place in cat food as they bring the carb count way up which is harmful to cats. However, a great deal of companies use them as a binder and filler and to please our human sense of what is healthy, knowing that most folks have no idea about feline nutrition.
The next best type of canned cat foods are premium foods that do have grains. You do need to make sure the grains are whole grains, and not flours of any sort. Also, corn and wheat are highly allergenic. Most premium foods don't use such garbage grains, but read labels to make sure. I really don't recommend ANY canned food with grains, but I also know that any canned food is better than dry food.
Again, make sure the meats sources are named. The last thing you want is some ambiguous term like "meat". That literally can mean any type of flesh from any type of creature. If you don't know exactly what I mean by that, prepare to be repulsed when you read my "Commercial Cat Food is Dangerous" article.
Ingredients to avoid.
Wow, there are practically too many poor quality ingredients to name, but I will give you some common ones that are in all inferior foods. These ingredients are harmful to your cat if fed over time, and will result in poor health and a shorter life span.
The word by-product in any form, such as meat by-product, or chicken by-product. This is always very bad news.
Wheat gluten. This is what was contaminated and killed thousands of pets in 2007, when Menu Foods allowed adulterated wheat gluten into its cat and dog foods. It is highly allergenic for cats and can cause irritable bowels, just like it does in humans. It is used as a very cheap filler and very poor source of protein. It is used to boost the protein content of the food, so that it appears to be healthier than it is.
Any type of flour is not good. Wheat, rice, soy or corn flour. All bad.
Ground rice or brewers rice.
BHA, and BHT are both known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction
Ethoxyquin, a known carcinogen. Most companies are not using this anymore, as far as I can see, but one MAJOR cat food company does. I'll tell you later.
Carrageenan is a known carcinogen that also causes irritable bowel disease. It also happens to be in MOST all canned cat foods. HARD to avoid!
The BEST Canned Foods for your Cat
Top brands that I use include Weruva, Tiki Cat - the kinds with NO FISH, Pure Vita, Hound and Gatos, Soulistic, some grain free Wellness and some Merrick Pate Perfect Bistro.
Please note that not all of these are carrageenan free, and most have BPA in the can linings.
More good canned cat foods
Nature's Logic Canned Cat Food -grain free
Available in chicken, rabbit, duck & salmon. ( AVOID the Fish one)
Natures Variety Instinct Cat Food: Comes in chicken, beef, lamb, rabbit, duck, venison.
Daves Canned Cat Food - uses carrageenan and is a little veg heavy but is on the lest costly side for those on a budget.
Where to BUY Good Canned Cat Food
Most pet food stores won't carry the canned cat food brands I have listed, or only a few of them.If a pet store is one that specializes in "natural" or "holistic" pet foods you have a better chance of finding them there.
I found a place online that ships for FREE if your order is over $49.
The place I order my canned cat food by the case is Chewy.Com
I am not affiliated with this store at all, just a happy customer of a couple years now.
Best Canned Cat Food Prices Online
- Dog and Cat Food, Treats, and Supplies | Free Shipping at Chewy.com
Delivering pet happiness by conveniently shipping 300+ brands of pet food and stuff (for free!) while ensuring at-risk animals' lives are improved across the planet. 1-800-67-CHEWY
More healthy canned cat foods
Innova EVO 95% Meat Canned Cat Food
- Beef, chicken & turkey, duck and venison. No grains
ZiwiPeak Daily Cat Cuisine Canned Food
Grain Free! Odd and interesting ingredients. Comes in several flavors.
Earthborn Holistics- uses potato starch so may be carb heavier.
Castor and Pollux Organix is one I personally feed some of my cats.
Precise Holistic Complete- I use this one also, chicken and beef
Newman's Own Organics- grain free- watch the others as he used to use SOY in his food.
Wild Calling- a fairly new food and VERY expensive
Innova EVO Canned Cat Food
Canned Cat Food DECEPTIONS!
Harmful ingredients passed off as healthy.
The manufacturers of these foods lie about them being premium. They are complete crap.
Want to know the REAL reason vets recommend Iams, Science Diet and Eukanuba? The manufacturers of these foods supply veterinary colleges with study aids, reading material and make grants to the schools so that the future doctors will recommend and push their poisons onto an unsuspecting public. They dupe the doctors and the doctors dupe you.
Max Cat- This is awful cat food. Here are the first few ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Poultry Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Ground Whole Wheat. ABSOLUTE GARBAGE. This is no better than Friskies or any other store brand.
Hill's Science Diet- This food is a gross violation of what a cat should eat. The first ingredient is WATER, followed by meat by products. Remember, if it doesn't name the animal the meat came from, you may be serving the remains of euthanized house pets. (cats and dogs) Please read my other article on COMMERCIAL CAT FOOD to learn the alarming source of "meat" in foods like this.
Water, Liver, Meat by-products, Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Chicken Liver Flavor, Rice Flour.
IAMS- Toxic garbage that killed thousands of cats in the 2007 cat food poisonings by Menu Foods. Here are the first several ingredients- Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken By-Products, Wheat gluten, Meat By-Products.
Eukanuba- In my opionion, and that of any educated consumer, this is TOXIC CAT FOOD- It uses the very carcinogenic preservative Ethoxyquin. Then, on their website, they try to say it is safe, when it has been PROVEN to cause cancer! STOP FEEDING THIS FOOD Immediately!
Some of the ingredients: Chicken By-Product Meal, Cornmeal, Corn Grits, Chicken, Fish Meal, and of course Ethoxyquin.
Grocery store JUNK. The cheap crap.
Now for the grocery store brands we all grew up feeding; Friskies, Nine-Lives, Fancy Feast, and Whiskas. Sadly, these familiar and comforting cans of cat food are bottom of the barrel in nutrition.
Friskies- first couple ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, beef, liver, wheat gluten, meat by-products, turkey, corn starch-modified, soy flour, artificial and natural flavors.
Oh God, there is that wheat gluten again. No wonder so many cats get IBS!
I am not even going to bother listing Nine-Lives, Whiskas and Fancy Feast. They are on the same sub-par level as Friskies.
Of all the above, I must say that Fancy Feast Classic at least does not contain grains, but all the others in the Fancy Feast line do. Fancy Feast may not be a healthy cat food, but cats do love it and if you have a cat who refuses to eat due to illness, they usually will at least eat this. Just avoid the ones with fish- and you MUST read the labels. Some that you may think are just chicken also contain fish.
Premium Cat Food Source
Merrick Canned Cat Food
afterglo on August 10, 2013:
Regarding your comment on Tiki Cat foods all being fish heavy. That might have been true, but now they have two varieties of chicken (one with egg and one without, both with broth). Squeaky loves her Tiki Cat chicken which, other than the added vitamins and minerals, is 100% animal protein.
Cat Guardian on January 18, 2013:
I meant to mention in my previous comment re: Weruva that the extremely HIGH CARB CONTENT comes from their potato starch thickener.
They claim it is only 1-2% of the formula, but they are misinformed about the total carb content that their starch thickener contributes to the food.
They also load the cans with species inappropriate vegetables - most of them are high oxalate (sweet potato, potato, carrot) and as we all know, can cause the dangerous kind of oxalate crystals in a cat's bladder, only removable via surgery.
gracewithin on December 15, 2011:
I'm glad I read this very informative
jacque setmayer on November 21, 2011:
in merricks cat food also a concern, potato starch modified, anything modified is unhealthy look it up. the wellness cat food also has carrageenan, trying to pick the best food here, it is not so easy chosing after i researched some of the ingredients other then the meats, veggies and fruits.
jaclyn setmayer on November 21, 2011:
i ordered a case of a canned cat food by merrick, but i researched a couple ingediants that i did not know about. i called the company and cancelled the ordered after i read about carrageenan. Not good news as this is an carcinogen. i read a very long paper on it. i see that itis in the number 1 food on your list, please explain. I was feeding Newmans organics my cats are not crazy about it. i have an FIP survivor as i cured him with natural meds he is now 5 years old, he was a rescue vet gave him a mobnth to live. his story can be read on marathonjournalus.com april 2008 issue. so i need to have the best for him. he also had a broken pelvic and needs extra help to move stools properly. thanks i will be waiting for your response!!
rob on April 05, 2011:
I would avoid Avoderm for kittens and elderly cats. It proved quite problematic for me and I lost my kittens.
ginger kelly on March 09, 2011:
i adopted a kitten 5 mo ago and only feed her wellness dry and wet thought it was number one well look now ive changed her to halo dry only. im 53 and growing up my animals were never sick all this fancy stuff is killing our animals. tgey all say tgere the best to sell tge product and make money makes me sick were makings our babies sick what to do what to do
Chris, Cat Advocate on March 08, 2011:
No potatoes, cranberries, starches, vegetables...
I agree with Paula & highly recommend Dr. Hodgkin's book too.
(FYI: I am providing links to education site, not advertising or promoting anything to do with me. Only promoting feline health & welfare.)
[Dr. Hodgkins is pet food industry insider & provided expert supplemental testimony at the pet food hearings in 2007:
“Supplemental Testimony for Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Hearings”
- I consider this information important to EVERYONE who is truly concerned about pet health and welfare & REQUIRED READING FOR ALL PET OWNERS. Please see http://landofpuregold.com/petfood-hodgkins.htm]
Dr. Hodgkins also bred award winning Ocicats. She owns (or used to) the All About Cats Health Center in Yorba Linda, California.
(Chapter “The REAL Problem with Commercial Pet Foods”)
“If a food is marketed as “complete and balanced for the life of a pet” with the AAFCO statement on the label assuring this completeness, pet food purchasers have no reason to doubt the safety of that food. This assurance is unfounded, however. Because of the strong profit-motive of the pet food companies to rush products to market, and the lack of governmental regulation controlling this…, pet owners are themselves providing the experimental animals for testing the actual truth of adequacy claims…
…Not only are pet owners unaware of the untested nature of the claims on pet foods, the veterinary profession is equally unaware of it.”
She shows throughout the book how we see over and over again how pet foods are not safe for the lifetime feeding of pet cats, and how these food cause many life-threatening diseases without veterinarians or pet owners suspecting the link b/n a cat’s diet and its disease.
(Chapter “What to Feed, What to Feed”)
“We want plenty of meat in a kitten’s diet, and very little or no cereal grains, fruits and vegetables. Grains, fruits, and vegetables are inexpensive filler ingredients added to cat foods because they appeal to the pet food purchaser. Some manufacturers add cranberries with the promise that cranberries are good for feline bladder health. This is absurd. In fact, the sugar from cranberries can increase the cat’s urine PH, actually contributing to bladder problems. Cats do not need fruit or vegetable matter in their diet; they consume little or no plant material in the wild, and get no benefit from having plant ingredients added to their diets a home.
…food from our own tables is not taboo for our kittens and cats. As long as th foods we select to feed are not high in carbohydrate, these additions to the pet’s routine diet can be nutritious and enjoyable for your cat.
I personally feed ground meat and bone mixtures with a single vitamin/mineral/essential fatty acid supplement to my kittens as soon as they are weaned. I have a number of clients who do the same. Our results are uniformly excellent.”
Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life
Adelynn Tan on February 06, 2011:
it's sad that even the higher quality cat foods contain carrageenan, which is a known irritant and allergen highly suspected to be responsible for aggravating or causing inflammatory bowel disease. even innova EVO's "seaweed extract" i suspect is carrageenan in disguise. i would actually worry about this ingredient more than the indigestible grains.
as for meat sources....euthanised pets in canned food is horrible, but even the "fish" and "chicken" in pet food is said to often come from the dead and diseased members of the farm. animals which have been loaded with antibiotics and hormones when they were alive. so in that sense, how much worse is a euthanised dog or cat? and "by-product" is not necessarily a bad thing. it means the stuff that would not go into HUMAN food, like organ parts or ground bone/cartilage, but are actually a healthy addition to any diet, for pets AND humans, just that most humans would be too squeamish to eat those parts.
Adelynn Tan on February 06, 2011:
have you ever seen a wild cat hunt down a fresh snow pea? or a sweet potato? or a dried blueberry? no. why? coz they don't need it or are unable/hardly able to process nutrients from fruit and vegetable sources. holistic and good for humans may not be equally great for cats.
Puddin on July 02, 2010:
KNOWN TOXINS TO CATS (and dogs)
* Yucca schidigera and all Yucca species.
* Alfalfa - any form especially raw.
* Propyl gallate
* Grapes and raisins
paula on October 14, 2008:
our cats should NEVER EVER HAVE Fresh Sweet Potato, Fresh Carrots, Fresh Snow Peas, Fresh Whole Granny Smith Apples, Potato Starch-modified, Dried Egg, Dried Blueberry, Dried Cranberry,YOU WILL BE DOING THE CAT MORE HARM THEN GOOD.i feed my cat avoderm AvoDerm Natural Select Cuts all good no bad no avocados in it.read the book that just came out today YOUR CAT simple new secrets to a longer stronger life by Elizabeth M Hodgkins all cat owners should read this book it is wonderful full of information.