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Choosing The Best Dry Cat Food

How many times have you purchased a dry cat food only to have your feline turn up his or her nose up at it? Cats can be finicky when it comes to the foods they like, so finding one they will eat on a regular basis can be an expensive pursuit. But the reward of finding the one they love makes the search worth it. Other important factors to throw into the mix are finding a dry cat food that is healthy for your pet and has the right types of nutrients for their stage in life.

best dry cat food taste of the wild

We’ve just made your search much easier by turning to our expertise, the reviewers at Amazon and compiling a list of the top three best rated dry cat foods. We review the companies that make the food, the types of formulations and nutrients they contain, and why cat families say they are the best.

We’ve also included a vital tool that every cat owner should have on hand – The Best Dry Cat Food Ultimate Buyer’s Guide. Our Guide will provide tips on choosing the right food for your beloved pet, what to look for in dry cat foods, and tips on feeding cats and kittens.

So, let’s get started finding that perfect dry food for your cat!

Top Three Best Rated Dry Cat Foods

1. Taste of the Wild Canyon River Dry Cat Food

Just the packaging itself, with a cougar looking over a lovely Rocky Mountain scene, will get your kitty excited. Taste of the Wild Canyon River Dry Cat Food is made by Diamond Pet Foods in the USA. They are a family owned and operated company that prides itself on the highest levels of quality and safety in manufacturing. Part of their mission is to “only make products that we would be proud to feed to our own pets.” Their Taste of the Wild is meant to give your kitty “something wild” to tap into that wild cat DNA from their distant ancestors.

The food is available in two sizes, a 5lb bag or 15lb bag, and comes in three feline pleasing flavors that sound pretty yummy: Trout and Salmon, Venison, and Seafood. The formulations, depending upon flavor, have between 32% to 42% protein and just 16% to 18% fat.

The water used in the cooking and processing is all purified with a reverse osmosis process, which is the same that many bottled water manufacturers use. The food is made with real roasted meats and supplemented with vegetables and fruits. They are a grain-free formula and highly digestible with antioxidants to support a healthy immune system. Their Amazon page gives a full listing of ingredients as well as directions on how much to feed by weight.

Their foods are formulated both for kittens and adult cats, with recommended feeding guidelines for each on the package. All their foods are complete and balanced, with no extra supplement needed and they come with a Guaranteed Analysis on the package, which includes vital information on ingredients.

Taste of the wild Canyon River Dry Cat Food has a top 4.5 star rating on Amazon with a total of over 1,750+ reviews and an impressive 74% of cat owners giving it 5 stars. One owner of a Siberian cat whose breeder and friends are now using the food stated, “Mimic loves this stuff…I have not found a better balance of price, quality of ingredients and palatability.” Another pet lover gave this tip, “Don’t feed your fuzzballs sub-par food!” and “This is easily the best dry cat food I’ve ever used for my pets.”

2. Orijen Grain-Free Dry Cat Food 15 lbs

Canadian company, Champion Petfoods makes Orijen Grain-Free Dry Cat Food and prides themselves on delivering “biologically appropriate” pet foods, which provide a protein-rich and carbohydrate-limited diet. We should be so lucky to have the same fresh, never frozen ingredients in our own human food; All their ingredients are sourced locally from the rich agricultural region and fresh waters of western Canada. Their poultry is free-run raised with no hormone enhancements and the five different species of fish used are all sustainably caught. You can be rest assured that your cat is getting the best, as all ingredients in Orijen dry cat food are fit for human consumption.

The food is available in a 15lb bag size, and is formulated to match the natural feline diet. The “biologically appropriate” formulation ratio is 80% protein-packed animal ingredients, 20% fruits and vegetables, and 0% grain.

Orijen is made with top quality chicken, turkey, fish and eggs that arrive fresh daily, with zero preservatives. The dry cat food is also infused with marine-source DHA & EPA omega-3 fatty acids to support peak skin and coat conditioning. Their award-winning formulas are made to support healthy blood sugars for peak health and optimal body weight.

Their cat food is appropriate for both kittens and adult cats and their package includes a handy feeding chart. Their foods are made to nourish your feline completely and give them a diet rich and varied in fresh whole meats with smaller amounts of fruits, vegetables and grasses. They come with a Guaranteed Analysis on the package, which includes vital information on ingredients.

Orijen Grain-Free Dry Cat Food 15 lbs has an excellent 4.8 star rating on Amazon with a total of 56 reviews and an impressive 84% of cat owners giving it 5 stars. A cat owner whose veterinarian told him about Orijen stated that his six cats and kittens love it. “I feel good knowing that I’m feeding them something healthy.” Another helpful reviewer said, “Feeding your felines correctly prevents many health issues in the future….supermarket dry cat food does not compare to Orijen.”

3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Cat Food

Wellness is a pioneer in holistic nutrition. Their Wellness Difference means that every ingredient has a purpose in every food they make. They have a rich history that harkens back to 1926, when a sailor visiting the A. Hubbard and Sons Bakery in Massachusetts threw one of their hard tack sea biscuits to his dog, who happy gobbled it up, and a pet food company was born. Their dedicated team of animal nutrition experts work hard to ensure their cat food contains only whole foods, with no wheat, corn, soy, preservatives or artificial colors or flavors.

Wellness is a pioneer in holistic nutrition. Their Wellness Difference means that every ingredient has a purpose in every food they make. They have a rich history that harkens back to 1926, when a sailor visiting the A. Hubbard and Sons Bakery in Massachusetts threw one of their hard tack sea biscuits to his dog, who happy gobbled it up, and a pet food company was born. Their dedicated team of animal nutrition experts work hard to ensure their cat food contains only whole foods, with no wheat, corn, soy, preservatives or artificial colors or flavors.

The food is available in six sizes, 2.5lb, 2.9lb, 5lb, 5.9lb, 11.5lb, or a 12lb bag. They also have a wide variety of types to meet any feline taste or special need: Hairball Control Chicken, Healthy Weight, Indoor Chicken, Indoor Salmon & Whitefish, Chicken & Rice, Salmon & Turkey, Kitten, and Senior.

Each ingredient undergoes a rigorous selection process to ensure its quality and nutritional value. They scrutinize each supplier and test every ingredient to ensure it is the best of the best. In every bag of Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Cat Food they include wholesome, natural ingredients plus a boost of super nutrients including antioxidants, omega fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics.

From kitten to senior cat, hairball control to healthy weight, Wellness has you covered with their wide variety of food options for every stage of your pet’s life. They have an extensive quality assurance program, guaranteeing that their products are safe, pure, and balanced.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Cat Food has a top 4.4 star rating on Amazon with a total of  over 1,000 reviews and an impressive 73% of cat owners giving it 5 stars. One owner of both a happy cat and dog that love this food said, “Their coats are outstanding, and their overall health excellent.” Many of the reviewers also noted that their cats had less issues with vomiting after switching to this food. Another cat parent who was writing the review on behalf of his cats stated, “My cats love it. If I run out of it, they will reuse to eat anything else.”

Summing up the best of the best!

As a dedicated cat parent, you know the importance of both good nutrition and finding a food that your cat will like and eat. Even the healthiest food won’t do any good if your cat doesn’t like it. We’ve worked to make the choice much easier by choosing and reviewing these three top rated dry cat foods, which were specifically designed to meet those key needs – to taste good and be good for your cat.

These three brands have the highest quality ingredients and owners and their pets rank them high consistently for a reason. They are specifically made of the best natural ingredients and designed for the complete health of your cat in every stage of his or her life.

To help you further make the best decision possible when choosing the perfect dry cat food, we have compiled the Best Dry Cat Food Ultimate Buyer’s Guide, which gives you important information on what to know before you choose, what to look for in a dry cat food, and tips for feeding your cats and kittens.

Best Dry Cat Food Ultimate Buyer's Guide

By putting in a little homework up front, you can ensure years of health and happiness for your feline. Choosing the best dry cat food doesn’t have to be daunting, and the choice you make will make a world of difference for your cat.

Before you choose your dry cat food product.

You can ensure that you get off on the right track with choosing the best dry cat food for your pet by starting with a list of key pet information:

  1. Age of your cat. Knowing the age of your cat will help you zero in on the right range of products, many are specially formulated for kittens, adults, seniors and stages in between. Kittens tend to need larger amounts of energy, about two to three times that of an adult cat, so dry foods for kittens are specially formulated to meet a growing kitty’s needs. Senior cats may need a diet that helps them keep an optimum body weight or slow or prevent development of some chronic cat issues, such as kidney disease. So knowing whether you need to take a look at a food for a particular age consideration will help narrow the choice.
  2. Weight considerations. Is your cat at a healthy weight? Obesity can be common especially in indoor cats, and even though cats may look totally adorable and fluffy, too much weight can cause unwanted health issues. Certain dry foods are specially formulated to help animals maintain a healthy weight and keep them fit and happy.
  3. Health considerations. There are foods for many different health considerations. Does your cat hack up hairballs quite regularly? Well, there are dry cat foods to help by using a blend of natural fiber that helps prevent hairballs. Urinary tract health is also another important health consideration, and dry foods high in meat-based ingredients and low in grains are best for this. Does your cat often get an upset tummy? Then you’ll want to look for foods that are easy to digest and make a note to check reviews for what others say about a particular food easing vomiting.
  4. Indoor/Outdoor. Does your cat enjoy all the comforts of home, living safely in their kingdom never setting a toe outside? Many dry cat foods are made specifically for indoor cats to balance their typically more sedentary lifestyle. Their coats can also tend to get dry in controlled temperature settings with less humidity, so these special “indoor” formulations address that as well.
  5. Your cat’s medical history. If your cat has undergone surgery or had any health issues in the past, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to see if they have any special suggestions for types of dry cat foods that you should be considering.

What to look for when choosing your dry cat food.

Now that you’ve delved into all the special considerations pertaining to your cat, here are some key things to look for when making that perfect food choice.

  1. Types of Dry Cat Food. All kibble is not created equal. I’m sure you’ve figured this out by your cat’s reaction when you’ve tried to get away with buying the cheap stuff on a late Friday night at the corner convenience store. The main three types are “store brand”, “name brand”, and “healthy/natural.” The cheapest is the store brand, and while some can be just fine for your cat, you’ll need to carefully check the ingredients to ensure they don’t have a bunch of fillers or preservatives. The name brand type tends to be a bit more reliable, but can still have some undesirable ingredients. The highest level is the all natural and healthy foods which are made with no fillers or preservatives and quality ingredients. 
  2. Meat for your carnivore. Cats are naturally carnivores so the type of meat in their dry cat food is very important. One vital ingredient cats require in their diet is a preformed Vitamin A (also known as retinyl palmitate or acetate), which is only present in foods of animal origin. Make sure that real meat, fish, or poultry (and NOT meat by-products) is listed as one of the first two ingredients in the dry cat food you choose. This will ensure a healthy and happy little carnivore.
  3. Good fruits and veggies. Look for fruits and vegetables in the ingredients that are vitamin-rich, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and cranberries. These can also offer antioxidant nutrients.
  4. No fillers - just good fiber. Good fiber comes from potatoes or beet pulp and can help digestion and bowel functions. You want to avoid fillers that are meant to be just that – filling a spot to make the food go farther – but are not aiding your pet’s nutrition or long-term health. These can include: corn and wheat gluten, meat and grain meals or by-products.
  5. Spotting those undesirables It may be surprising but there actually are some preservatives that can be good, these are natural preservatives, and include Vitamin E, mixed tocopherois, and citric acid. These are natural ways to keep the dry food from spoiling. Unfortunately, there are many undesirable, not-natural preservatives as well that you need to watch out for. These include: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), and Ethoxyquin. Some of these aren’t legal to use in human food, but can be used in pet foods. But no one wants to feed their beloved pet something outlawed in human food. Food dyes are another thing to avoid as they can cause hypersensitivity. Rendered fat, which doesn’t sound particularly bad, is also something to avoid because it can be a source of microorganisms like Salmonella, and can harbor harmful bacteria or mold if the food is exposed to moisture.

Important information to know

  1. Protein levels. We’ve mentioned that cats are carnivores, so protein is very important in their diet. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), adult cat foods must have a minimum protein level of 26% on a dry matter basis. Kittens and reproductively active animals must have a minimum of 30% on a dry matter basis.
  2. Pet food label requirements. The AAFCO rules state that a Guaranteed Analysis must be included on the pet food label and must include information about a cat food’s minimum percentages of protein and fat and maximum percentages of water and fiber. It’s important to read the labels and compare the percentages of protein. In order to get the REAL protein percentage on a “dry matter basis” you need to adjust by the percentage of moisture.
  3. Key needs for your cat. Some of the key nutrients that your cat needs in their diet are: Amino acids arginine and taurine and fatty acid arachidonic. But don’t worry, if you find the right food these are all covered because they are all specific nutrients found in animal products contained in any quality dry cat food.
  4. What's in the bowl? A healthy dry cat food should have each of the following categories of ingredients for a happy kitty: Protein (meat, fish, poultry), Carbohydrates (grains or potatoes), Fats & Oils (flaxseed and fish oils), Vitamins (Vitamin C and E), Minerals (naturally found in fruits/vegetables). Looks for each of these categories to find a well-balanced dry cat food.
  5. How to read the label. The order of the ingredient list on that bag of cat food is very important. The ingredients are required to be listed in the order of weight, the more prevalent listed first. But be aware that water is included in the weight, so if a heavy ingredient, like chicken, contains a lot of water it may appear higher on the list but not contribute as much as you think to the whole. It’s important to read the whole label to check for any of the undesirable additives that might be present.
  6. Check out the manufacturer. While reviewing ingredients of any dry cat food is important, you also want to check out the manufacturer. Read their reviews, check out their Facebook or Twitter and see what customers are saying. Once you find a manufacturer you can trust to provide high quality, natural and healthful ingredients in their cat food, then you can rest easy knowing you’ve found a brand you can rely on for years to come.

Tips on feeding your cats and kittens

You wouldn’t feed a baby and adult the same types of foods, and just like humans, kittens and cats have different nutrition requirements. We provide you with some tips below that apply to one, the other, and both.

Kitten Feeding Tips. During the first four weeks of life, mom provides the kittens with all their nutrients through her milk. If needed, there are also kitten milk replacements on the market. By the time they are five to six weeks old, dry food can start to be introduced during the weaning process. The nursing process in total lasts around eight weeks and by the end of it kittens should be getting 80-90% of their nutrition from the kitten food.

The little youngsters do a lot of growing during this first year, and need about 30% of their total energy from protein. You want to make sure during that first year that you are feeding them a designated ‘kitten-formula” food. When you introduce dry food they might want to bat it around like a toy at first, but rest assured, they’ll soon learn that this stuff tastes good!

Cat Feeding Tips. The energy requirements for cats can differ widely according to their activity level, size and weight. A cat with a low activity level may require less energy stores from their cat food than cats with higher activity levels. As we’ve mentioned earlier, protein is a vital source of many of the key amino acids that your cat needs in order to stay healthy, so you need to ensure you are choosing food with enough needed protein. Adult cats typically require from 25% to 30% of their energy from protein, depending upon activity level.

Tips for Both Cats and Kittens. There are some general tips that cover both cats and kittens. One of these to always have fresh water available and change it daily. You wouldn’t want to drink 2-day old water that had been sitting the your cup stagnating, and neither does your cat or kitten.

Free feeding versus controlled feeding – Free feeding means always having food available in the bowl, typically dry food that won’t spoil, and of course most cats think this is wonderful. Controlled feeding is done at certain times per day, usually twice, to help a cat maintain a proper weight and nutrition balance. It is typically fine to free feed kittens, as they are growing and have a high energy output. For adult cats, it is easier for some to overeat with the free feeding method and for those and any that may be overweight, the controlled feeding method may be best. However timing is important when using controlled feeding, and if you feel you’re going to be away from home way past feeding time, then you may want to adjust accordingly and leave some food out. I have to admit that my cats rule me on this one, they are “free feeders” all the way.

Forget what you’ve seen on television about cats and milk. We’ve all grown up watching cartoons with cats loving milk, so it seems like a natural treat. But unfortunately, except for specially formulated kitten milk for kittens, milk and milk-based products can cause your cat to vomit or have diarrhea due to the lactose, which cats cannot digest easily. You want to avoid them.

Now you’re an expert on cat nutrition!

We hope that you feel at least a little more like an expert on cat nutrition after perusing the Top Three Best Rated Dry Cat Food Reviews and our Best Dry Cat Food Ultimate Buyer’s Guide. We’ve learned a lot just by writing it for you, and this reviewer will definitely be paying more attention to the listing of cat food ingredients. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming to choose the perfect dry cat food for your cat or kitten, if you just follow the important rules of thumb that we’ve laid our in our Guide.

You may want to save this article in a safe place, highlight the most important tips, and keep it on hand to refer to in the future. We’ve done the homework so you don’t have to. Share it with family and friends that have cats in their family as well.

Good feline health starts on the inside with good quality food. Feeding your cat quality ingredients, enough protein and foods without preservatives can mean a world of difference to their overall health and their longevity.

Good food in = Happy cat for years to come.


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