The Best Cat Food Brands - CatFoodDB's Unbiased List


The Best Cat Food Brands

One question that I am asked over and over again is "What is the best cat food brand?"

The annoying answer, of course, is "it depends".

Every cat is different, and has different needs. The best cat food brand for your cat is the one that meets their individual needs.

If your cat has medical issues or allergies, then their needs may be different than the typical house cat. If this is the case, I encourage you to work with your vet to help determine the best foods for your particular feline.

Medical issues aside however, there are nutritional needs that are common to the average, healthy cat. A good cat food focuses on these.

All cats are obligate carnivores. In its simplest definition, animals that are obligate carnivores must eat meat to survive.

For centuries, felines have fed themselves whole prey from their hunt that included birds, rodents, and insects. Of course, the average house cat no longer needs to hunt to survive. Their nutritional needs have not changed as drastically as their lifestyle when compared to their feral ancestors.

The best cat foods will meet the nutritional needs of most cats with significant amounts of protein from quality meat-based sources.

In ingredient lists, you will see this as named meats or meal (like chicken, chicken meal, turkey, turkey meal, duck, duck meal, etc).

Side Bar: What is "meal"?

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a named protein meal, like chicken meal, is "dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with and without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails".

In other words, chicken meal is effectively the result of taking a roaster chicken, grinding it up, and mixing everything together including muscle, skin and bones. Then it is dried such that there is exactly 10% moisture remaining.

Because the majority of the moisture is removed, ounce for ounce a named protein meal like chicken meal contains up to four times more protein than chicken alone.

Hence, a quality grade meat meal can actually be a more abundant source of protein than the whole meat from which it was made. Better meals are typically made from the meat of clearly identified sources.

On the other hand, sub-par meals, which are not quality ingredients in pet foods, will often include “by-products” in its name, or will fail to identify the specific source animal.

In addition to protein sources, a quality cat food should also contain a minimum of carbohydrate fillers. You will find these fillers in ingredient lists listed as corn, rice, wheat or soy products.

These filler carbs are typically the cheaper ingredients in cat food, and tend to be more prevalent in lesser-quality products.

At CatFoodDB, we've reviewed the nutritional breakdowns and ingredients lists of thousands of individual products and scored each according to the quality of both.

Products containing by-products, low-quality fillers and unidentified mystery meats were ranked lower. High protein, low carbohydrate products with plentiful quality ingredients scored best.

Side Bar: What are the best individual cat food products?

For more information on specific products, checkout out our previous posts - CatFoodDB's Best Dry Cat Foods, and the Best Wet Cat Foods

To rate each brand, we averaged the individual product scores. Brands with only high-scoring products and hence few if any low-scoring products score better than brands who have lower scoring products.

Note that the following list is accurate as of November 2017. It is possible that over time rankings may change slightly as products are updated, added and removed.


The Results: Best Overall Cat Food Brands


Primal

1: Primal

CatFoodDB's top scoring brand, Primal, is not a traditional cat food brand.

Instead of producing the more familiar canned and dry cat food products that fill most pet food shelves, Primal offers shelf-stable raw food diets. At Primal, this means products made from fresh, antibiotic- and steroid-free whole muscle meat, organ meat and meaty bones with no added hormones.

Each of these products is very high in protein and contain very few carbohydrates with no questionable ingredients. These qualities are what earned them high scores and their #1 rank.

Primal's products come in both frozen and freeze-dried formulas. In addition to the typical proteins found in cat food like chicken and salmon, several varieties utilizing novel proteins such as rabbit, pork, duck and venison are also available. Novel protein-based varieties may be easier to tolerate for some cats who suffer from food sensitivities.

For more novel-protein based diets see our post on our best hypoallergenic cat foods.

Primal foods can be purchased at Chewy.com, Amazon and at many specialty pet food stores across the USA and Canada.

Tiki Cat

2: Tiki Cat

Tiki Cat rocketed up our charts after they introduced their After Dark line of cat food products. These products are consistently high in protein, low in carbs and list many quality protein sources in their ingredient lists.

Overall, all Tiki Cat products scored well in our evaluations. This includes the Grill, Luau, Born Carnivore, Velvet Mousse and Aloha Friends branded products. It's this consistency across their product line that earned Tiki Cat the #2 spot in CatFoodDB's list of the top brands.

Tiki Cat products can be purchased at Chewy.com, Amazon and at many specialty pet food stores across the USA and Canada.

Bravo

3: Bravo

Bravo produces two lines of cat food products - Feline Cafe 95% Meat & Poultry and Feline Cafe Fricassee.

All Bravo products are rated highly here at CatFoodDB. The 95% products average score is marginally better than the Fricassee products, however.

None the Bravo products contain any questionable ingredients. All contain average or higher amounts of protein, and fewer carbohydrates than average.

Additionally, Bravo also produces of line of raw, frozen diets for cats but these products have not yet been reviewed at CatFoodDB.com

The entire canned cat food line of Bravo products can be purchased at Chewy.com and at specialty pet food retailers across the USA and Canada. The 95% line is also currently available for purchase on Amazon.

Against The Grain

4: Against The Grain

Of Against the Grain's seven cat food products, 6 have earned a score of 8 out of 10 paws - enough to land then in 4th place overall.

Each of Against The Grain's products contains significantly more protein than average, and significantly fewer carbohydrates. The 6 top rated products are also free of all questionable ingredients.

However, its worth noting that one variety includes carrageenan. Carrageenan is a food additive extracted from seaweed. Due to the extraction process, certain forms of carrageenan may be a possible human carcinogen. Hence, carrageenan's use and safety in cat food products can be controversial and is sometimes questioned by experts.

Against The Grain Products can be purchased from Chewy.com, Amazon and at specialty pet food retailers across the USA and Canada.

ZiwiPeak

5: ZiwiPeak

ZiwiPeak, coming in 5th place in our list of top food brands, offers both wet and canned food products to cat owners.

Dry cat foods, by nature, are higher in carbohydrates and lower in moisture. These higher carb counts mean on average, dry cat foods score lower in CatFoodDB's ranking than their wet food equivalent.

However, ZiwiPeak's dry offerings are not the usual kibble most cat owners are familiar with. Instead, ZiwiPeak makes what they call "air-dried" cat food. Their "air-dried" process results in a lower carbohydrate and higher protein product compared to traditional dry food.

Several of ZiwiPeak's products feature novel proteins such as venison, rabbit and lamb. These novel proteins are often better tolerated by cats with sensitive stomachs or allergies.

All of the ZiwiPeak products are free of questionable ingredients. They are available for purchase from specialty pet food retailers across the USA and Canada and online at Amazon and Chewy.com.

Crave

6: Crave

Crave is a new cat food brand, entering the market in mid 2017.

Their initial lineup of products includes 6 wet and 3 dry food varieties. This makes Crave the highest-ranking brand whose product offerings includes both wet and dry food in the traditional kibble format.

All Crave products are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. However, it's important to note that all of Crave's wet food varieties include both carrageenan and guar gum.

Carrageenan, as mentioned previously, is a food additive extracted from seaweed. It is still unclear as to whether or not is a human carcinogen. Hence, some pet owners may choose to avoid products that contain this ingredient as a result.

Guar gum is a thickening product commonly used in both human and pet food. However, it may be linked to digestive issues in some cats. Therefore some pet owners, especially those whose pets suffer from digestive irregularities, may choose to avoid products containing guar gum for this reason.

CatFoodDB's ratings of the Crave projects are adjusted to reflect the presence of these questionable ingredients. Regardless, these products still rate highly due to their high protein and low carbohydrate percentages, in addition to the quality of their other ingredients.

Crave products are readily available for purchase at most pet food retailers across North America, including Amazon, Chewy.com and PetSmart.

Nulo

7: Nulo

With a large number of named proteins in the ingredient list, Nulo products, both wet and dry, consistently score high enough to earn them the #7 spot on our list.

Each of their wet varieties are marketed as "grain-free", but it should be noted that some varieties do contain guar gum. All of their dry products are free of questionable ingredients, however.

Nulo's MedalSeries product line is available exclusively at PetSmart. Other varieties are available at select pet food retailers, and online via Amazon and Chewy.com.

Young Again

8: Young Again

Young Again's entry into this list is unique as Young Again only produces dry, kibble-esque cat food products. For these products to rank amongst the best of all brands, including those that only produce wet food varieties, is a significant feat. Dry foods, who are often higher in carbs due to the nature of their kibble composition, almost always score lower than their moisture-based counterparts.

All Young Again products contain significantly more protein and fewer carbohydrates than average. It's important to note however that guar gum is an ingredient in all Young Again varieties. Guar gum is thought to be linked to digestive issues in certain cats.

Young Again products can be purchased via their website here.

Stella & Chewys

9: Stella & Chewys

Stella & Chewy produces two lines of raw cat food products - frozen and freeze-dried. These products require a small amount of time to prepare for your cat before feeding. The frozen varieties require a few minutes to defrost, while the freeze-dried will require you to add warm water before serving.

In addition to traditional cat food proteins, Stella & Chewys also has several novel proteins in their line up. These novel proteins rabbit, duck & goose. Novel proteins may be beneficial for cats with sensitive stomachs or allergies, although can be appreciated by all!.

All Stella & Chewy products have average or better amounts of protein, and are free of questionable ingredients.

All varieties can be purchased from many specialty pet food retailers, The freeze-dried varieties can also be purchased from Amazon and Chewy.com.

Orijen

10: Orijen

Rounding out our top cat food brands in the #10 position is Orijen, the second brand on our list who only manufactures dry cat food products.

It's important to note that Orijen (in addition to their sister brand, Acana), produces different product lines for Canada and the USA. All products from both countries were included when calculating the brand average, and all products score similarly.

All Orjin products (from both countries) are free of questionable ingredients. Each product has average or better protein and carbohydrate percentages.

Orijin products are readily available for purchase at most pet food retailers across North America, including Amazon, Chewy.com and PetSmart.


Wrapping Up

It's worth repeating that the best cat food, and therefore the best cat food brand, depends on your cat's individual needs.

Health concerns can often dictate a specific diet, or specific ingredients, that work best for your cat. You should always consult a veterinarian if your cat is exhibiting any symptoms that cause you concern.

For the typical house cat however, a high protein, low carbohydrate food made with high-quality ingredients is always a good choice. CatFoodDB's purpose is to help you determine which cat foods, and cat food brands, provide these qualities by deconstructing and analyzing the data provided to us by the cat food manufactures in an unbiased, consistent way.

At CatFoodDB, we decode nutrition labels so you don't have to!

Please feel free to reach out to us via email or facebook with feedback, questions or comments!


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