The 10 Best Grain-Free Cat Foods
10. Wellness Core Indoor Classic Pate
- made with kelp and flaxseed
- can be stored for a long time
- may cause soft stools
|Brand||Wellness Natural Pet Fo|
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
9. Whole Earth Farms Naturally Complete
- can decrease shedding issues
- simple to understand feeding chart
- not completely filler-free
|Brand||Whole Earth Farms|
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
8. Solid Gold Holistic
- contains no meat by-products
- emulates the diet nature intended
- includes canola oil
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
7. Purina Beyond Natural
- includes dried sweet potatoes
- added amino acid for good eyesight
- transition may take a week or more
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
6. Wellness Core Original
- doesn't contain artificial flavors
- includes probiotics and antioxidants
- four different varieties
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
5. Halo Spot's Stew
- guaranteed to improve a cat's health
- provides a balanced nutrition
- can moisten it for a softer texture
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
4. Taste of the Wild
- easy to transition cats to it
- contains folic acid for stamina
- beneficial omega-3 fatty acids
|Brand||Taste of the Wild|
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness
- suitable for cats of all ages
- made with premium fruits and veggies
- available in six bag sizes
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
2. Nutro Specialized Care
- provides all-day energy
- no additives or preservatives
- sourced from american crops
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
1. Nature's Variety Instinct
- doesn't contain fillers
- great for a cat's metabolism
- helps to maintain healthy gums
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
A Brief History Of Cat Food
Cats were originally domesticated in large part because they're so adept at finding and catching their own meals, so the idea of store-bought cat food is relatively new.
In fact, the entire reason why feeding cats initially became commonplace is because it was thought it would make them better hunters. In 1837, the French writer Mauny de Mornay suggested that serving cats a steady diet would keep them supple and lithe, allowing them to be more proficient at sneaking up on rodents. Ill-fed felines, he surmised, would be too tired and sickly to catch anything.
In 1876, Spratt's, one of the first manufacturers of dog biscuits, also became the first company to produce commercial cat food. The brand's big hook was that their cat food was healthier than boiled horse flesh. This slogan was actually a reference to "cat's meat men," who were itinerant salesmen that sold boiled horse meat out of carts on the street.
Almost all of these early cat foods were of the wet variety, and most were made of different types of chopped fish. As a result, they were more popular in coastal areas, where you could be more certain that your furry little friend would be served a fresher catch.
As with so many other industries, though, everything changed when WWII broke out. Since pet food was considered a non-essential good, it was harder to find fresh meat, and the metal for the cans was reserved for other purposes. Dry kibble, which could keep for longer even when stored in paper bags, became the definitive food form for both cats and dogs.
Manufacturers were intent on bolstering the popularity of dry kibble even after the war was over, as it was cheaper to produce and allowed them to make use of meat by-products. Today, dry food outsells its wet counterpart by a healthy margin, but many vets recommend feeding your feline a mixture of both. This is because the kibble is good for their teeth, while wet food tends to have more of the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.
Regardless of what you give your cat, one thing's for certain : if you don't feed him enough, he won't have the energy required to hide his dead mice in your shoes every morning.
Why Go Grain-Free?
Before we get started discussing the merits of a grain-free diet, it's important to know one thing about your cat: he's a carnivore. While dogs can enjoy a diet filled with fruits and vegetables, cats need meat — it's filled with important nutrients and amino acids like taurine that they can't produce on their own.
That's also the linchpin of the grain-free argument. It's theorized that, since cats didn't evolve to eat things like corn or wheat, they shouldn't be forced to consume it now, and indeed, some cats suffer from grain allergies or otherwise have difficulties digesting the stuff. If that sounds familiar, then by all means consider going grain-free.
Another reason why many people oppose feeding their pets grains is that those ingredients usually serve as cheap fillers in dry food. Meat is expensive, whereas corn and wheat are not, so if you can convince cats to eat food filled with grist, it will save the manufacturer (and the pet owner) money. It's the feline equivalent of filling up on bread at a steakhouse.
All that grain comes at a price, though: more evil carbs. Kibble loaded with fillers will be less satisfying than food packed with meat, so the cat will have to eat more to get full. As a result, you really need to watch those portion sizes, because feline obesity — while cute — is extremely unhealthy. Make sure they get plenty of exercise to offset those calories by investing in toys or a cat tree as well.
Ultimately, going grain-free will likely be healthier (especially if your cat's allergic), but it will also be more expensive. Whether or not the benefits will outweigh the costs is a decision to be made in conjunction with your vet.
Just don't tell your cat you're eliminating carbs from his diet, because if Garfield has taught us anything, it's that all cats love lasagna.
How to Pick a High-Quality Cat Food
Many pet-food labels are made in such a way as to mislead you into thinking you're feeding your buddy a healthier diet than you truly are — and it can be difficult to determine exactly what you're really giving him to eat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect food.
First off, you should know that if a manufacturer claims that their food contains a single ingredient or mix of foods, then that ingredient had better make up at least 95 percent of what's inside. So, if it says it's pure turkey, the food has to be 95 percent turkey by law. If it's a pâté, the listed ingredients only have to make up 25 percent of the food. Meanwhile, if all it says is that it's flavored with a certain meat, then it merely has to contain trace amounts.
Next, look at the nutritional information. Specifically, you're looking at the percentage of protein versus carbohydrates. You want to make sure that your pet is getting mostly meat, so a higher amount of protein is a must. This also means that the meat should be one of the first ingredients listed.
If you're not sure what to buy, or if all that label-reading is making you go cross-eyed, then keep it simple and ask your vet for a recommendation. After all, the most important thing to remember is that, once you find the perfect, healthy food for your cat, he'll absolutely refuse to eat it.