The 10 Best Grain-Free Cat Foods

Updated April 18, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Grain-Free Cat Foods
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If your furry friend has a sensitive stomach, skin conditions or allergies, you may want to try one of these grain-free cat foods that could help solve the problem. Even for cats with a cast-iron stomach, the options on this list can help improve their overall health. They come in an abundance of different flavors and formulations, so there is one for every cat, from kittens to seniors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best grain-free cat food on Amazon.

10. Wellness Core Indoor Classic Pate

Wellness Core Indoor Classic Pate is a wet canned option that offers protein focused nutrition and also guarantees maximum levels of both calcium and phosphorus. Some love it and some hate it, but it definitely has a strong smell that may take time to overcome.
  • made with kelp and flaxseed
  • can be stored for a long time
  • may cause soft stools
Brand Wellness Natural Pet Fo
Model 7895
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

9. Whole Earth Farms Naturally Complete

Whole Earth Farms Naturally Complete is a terrific product at an affordable price. The pellets are perfectly sized, so it's easy for your pet to chew, and his bowel movements will become very regular without the stink that low quality brands produce.
  • can decrease shedding issues
  • simple to understand feeding chart
  • not completely filler-free
Brand Whole Earth Farms
Model 86056
Weight 10.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Solid Gold Holistic

No matter the breed or size of your feline, trust Solid Gold Holistic to keep him or her as healthy as can be. Its proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids will make a noticeable difference in their activity level and hair texture.
  • contains no meat by-products
  • emulates the diet nature intended
  • includes canola oil
Brand Solid Gold
Model 21012
Weight 12.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Purina Beyond Natural

Both cats and their owners agree that Purina Beyond Natural is a winner. It's not only a tasty, healthy alternative for pets with allergies, but comes in at a price that proves you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a quality meal.
  • includes dried sweet potatoes
  • added amino acid for good eyesight
  • transition may take a week or more
Brand Purina Beyond
Model 12247812
Weight 11.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Wellness Core Original

Wellness Core Original is ideal for adults cats over a year old who are not pregnant or nursing. It's a bit on the expensive side, but it's so rich in nutrients you won't think twice about spending the cash when you see the massive improvement in your pet's overall health.
  • doesn't contain artificial flavors
  • includes probiotics and antioxidants
  • four different varieties
Brand Wellness Core®
Model 8835
Weight 12.5 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Halo Spot's Stew

Halo Spot's Stew is a hearty chicken recipe that uses only the best ingredients, including whole eggs, fresh fruits and veggies and top choice meats. Plus, you can feel good that with every purchase a bowl of wholesome goodness is being donated to shelters in need.
  • guaranteed to improve a cat's health
  • provides a balanced nutrition
  • can moisten it for a softer texture
Brand Halo
Model 36002
Weight 11.9 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild is specially blended to produce a tantalizing roasted and smoked flavor that cats crave. It is formulated with natural antioxidants to support a healthy immune system throughout your cat's life, from kitten to adulthood.
  • easy to transition cats to it
  • contains folic acid for stamina
  • beneficial omega-3 fatty acids
Brand Taste of the Wild
Model 074198609673
Weight 15.3 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness

Blue Buffalo Wilderness offers a high protein diet along with their exclusive blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that even the pickiest feline will gobble up. Plus, you can rest assured that it does not contain soy, gluten, corn, or poultry by-products.
  • suitable for cats of all ages
  • made with premium fruits and veggies
  • available in six bag sizes
Brand BLUE Wilderness
Model 840243104918
Weight 12.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Nutro Specialized Care

Nutro Specialized Care contains real salmon, duck or chicken as its main ingredient for a tasty meal that will make your cat keep coming back for more. This recipe includes only non-grain carbohydrates and is packed with essential vitamins to promote healthy skin and fur.
  • provides all-day energy
  • no additives or preservatives
  • sourced from american crops
Brand Nutro
Model 10164328
Weight 6.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Nature's Variety Instinct

Nature's Variety Instinct will give your cat the premium nutrition he or she deserves to live a long, healthy life. It is perfectly blended with high-quality meat, fruit and vegetables and bound together with gluten-free tapioca to form each bite-sized kibble.
  • doesn't contain fillers
  • great for a cat's metabolism
  • helps to maintain healthy gums
Brand Nature's Variety
Model 769949658566
Weight 11 pounds
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.

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Last updated on April 18, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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