Urinary Tract Disease

The Best Cat Food for Urinary Tract Health

The best cat food for urinary tract health is hydrating, promotes a healthy urinary pH, and has the right levels of key minerals to prevent urolithiasis.

While there are other risk factors—it appears that feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is more common among male cats than females, young or middle-aged adults than kittens and seniors, neutered cats than ones who haven’t been neutered—the influence of what your cat eats is the best-understood and easiest to control.

Let’s explore the way your cat’s diet affects urinary tract health, identifying which foods are the best for preventing and treating FLUTD.

There are four main types of FLUTD and all have a slightly different relationship with diet.

1. Idiopathic or Interstitial Cystitis

Veterinarians arrive at this diagnosis after ruling out bacterial infection or the presence of urinary crystals. Some compelling evidence exists to suggest that stress causes or contributes to this condition. Environmental enrichment and a consistent routine, therefore, can help to manage recurrent cystitis.

2. Urinary Tract Infection

You’ll hear a lot of people saying that their cat has a UTI, but true urinary tract infections are rare among young, otherwise healthy cats. Bacterial infections are more prevalent among cats over 10 years old and those with other conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and chronic kidney disease.

3. Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is a condition involving bladder or urinary tract uroliths or stones. Though it’s not known exactly how these stones form, we know that they’re composed of an organic matrix and a combination of minerals present in the urinary tract. The mineral composition of a given stone determines its type.
Among felines, the most common types of urinary stones are struvite (MgNH4PO4 • 6H20) and calcium oxalate stones (CaC2O4 • H20).

4. Urethral Blockage

While not a formal diagnosis, urethral blockage is a unique situation that occurs for various reasons. It could be caused by a urolith obstruction or a combination of minerals and mucus forming a urethral plug and sealing in the urine. As few as 12 hours of complete obstruction could be enough to cause the bladder to burst.

*If you notice that your cat can’t urinate at all, bring them to the vet immediately.

The 3 Qualities of the Best Cat Food for Urinary Tract Health

1. Most importantly, the best cat food for urinary tract health isn’t dry.

Having evolved as desert animals, cats have an interesting relationship with water. Their low thirst drives and concentrated urine allow them to tolerate life in a water-deprived world.

While a cat’s body is beautifully adapted for ripping esh and chomping bones, it’s not a great drinking machine. A cat might take 2,000 laps to drink a half a cup of water.

If he rarely feels thirsty and isn’t very good at drinking, how does a desert cat stay hydrated? He uses his predatory instincts and catches a mouse. A single mouse is 65-80% water, and a diet of juicy prey provides the moisture he needs to stay healthy in an arid environment.

Instinctually and physiologically, your cat is made to primarily obtain water from their food.

Dry-fed cats spend more time at the water bowl and water fountain, but a few drops at the water bowl can’t compensate for chronic moisture deprivation. All water sources considered, cats who eat a highmoisture diet consume two times as much water as those on a dry cat food diet.

Why is water important for urinary tract health?

Adequate fluid intake physically washes out the urinary tract, keeping the system clear and clean. It also moderates the specific gravity or concentration of your cat’s urine, making it more difficult for crystals to form stones.

Examples of high-moisture food:

If your cat is a kibble addict—and many cats are—the best thing you can do is gradually switch them onto a wet diet. Some like to dampen their cat’s dry food with warm water, but that’s a hazardous practice.

Dry food may be contaminated with fungus, mold, and mycotoxins, all of which thrive in damp environments. If you do moisten your cat’s dry food, don’t leave the soup out for more than 30 minutes.

Click here for Dr. Lisa Pierson’s comprehensive guide to transitioning your cat to wet food.

2. It promotes a healthy urinary pH.

If the urinary tract pH is too high or alkaline, your cat might develop struvite crystals. A high urinary pH is also a relatively friendly environment for bacteria, increasing the likelihood of bacterial infection.

If the urinary tract is too acidic, calcium oxalate crystals could form.

Widespread use of slightly acidic cat food to prevent struvite crystals has paralleled a rise in the development of calcium oxalate crystals, which form under low pH conditions.

Species-inappropriate foods containing grains, potatoes, and other starchy plant content skew the pH balance towards alkaline. Overuse of prescription foods or other acidifiers could throw the balance in the opposite direction.

Cats consuming a species-appropriate, minimally processed diet consisting of muscle meat, bones, and organs have a slightly acidic urinary pH of about 6.- 6.5.

3. It has the right mineral balance.

High quality Commercially-sold foods and correctly-formulated homemade foods have the appropriate mineral content for most cats, including many cats with urinary tract problems.

A food’s concentration of phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium is primarily a concern among cats with a known tendency towards urolithiasis.

If your cat suffers from urolithiasis, look for a food with less than 1.0% – 1.2% phosphorus on a dry matter basis. If a diet is low in phosphorus, it’s typically also low in calcium and magnesium. These minerals are usually bone-derived and therefore come together and It’s also a good idea to supplement probiotics  into your cat’s diet

Low Ash Content

Ash is the inorganic mineral content that remains after the organic portion of your cat’s food is burned o during cooking. Because ash is rich in trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, excessive amounts of this residue could contribute to urinary tract health issues. Look for foods with ash content lower than 2%.

No Fish

Because whole sh is usually ground with bones intact, it’s high in phosphorus and magnesium.

No Meat Meals

Low-quality meat meals are primarily composed of connective tissue and bones, which are high in calcium and phosphorus.

If your cat has recurrent bouts of urinary tract disease and non-prescription wet food doesn’t help, a prescription food could be your solution.

Prescription foods can reduce both struvite and calcium oxalate crystallization. Some only treat one or the other, with struvite crystals being the more common target. They may also have above-average sodium levels. This is intended to make your cat drink more, thereby diluting the urine.

If your veterinarian recommends a prescription food, opt for a high-moisture canned variety rather than a dry kibble.

Best Cat Foods for Urinary Tract Health Reviewed

NomNomNow Chicken Chow Meow Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Breast, Chicken Thigh, Chicken Liver, Asparagus, Carrot.

This NomNomNow cat food ticks several of our requirements for urinary tract health. It’s hydrating, meat-centric, and low in ash. The recipe features fresh chicken breast, thigh, and liver. Though it’s not a plant-free food, fruits and vegetables constitute a small percentage of each meal and carbohydrates represent about 10% of the food’s calorie content.

Remember that meat-based, low-carbohydrate foods have a species-appropriate pH value and, in comparison to alkaline plant-based foods, are less likely to promote urinary tract crystals. NomNomNow is different from the other brands on this list—it’s a cat food subscription service that sends customportioned shipments of food to your home according to a regular schedule.

Every NomNomNow customer has access to the company’s team of nutrition experts and can ask for personalized advice. Though NomNomNow doesn’t customize the formulations for specific needs, their expert sta can help you to choose the right food for your cat.


  • Moisture-rich
  • Human grade food
  • Low ash content
  • Made primarily from chicken
  • Gives you access to a team of nutrition experts


  • Cost is above market average
  • Only available with a subscription

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme GrainFree Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Taurine

Like other Tiki Cat recipes, this food consists of shredded chicken in broth and oil—a blend the company describes as a chicken consomme. It’s an extremely simple recipe with just chicken, chicken broth, sunflower seed oil, low magnesium and a supplement blend that makes it nutritionally complete. Those concerned with mineral management will appreciate that the ingredient list is free of sh and shellfish. The food’s phosphorus content is about 1.07% on a dry matter basis.

The food is 80% water, which is slightly more than the average canned or moist food. Some will appreciate the high moisture content, while others will resent paying for extra water that they could mix in at home.


  • High moisture and low ash content
  • Simple, species-appropriate recipe
  • Free from artificial ingredients
  • Cats love the shredded chicken texture


  • Relatively expensive

Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Pork ByProducts, Water, Pork Liver, Chicken, Brewers Rice

If your cat has continued urinary tract problems after trying a high-quality, high-moisture diet, a prescription food may be the solution.

Hill’s Prescription Diet’s c/d formula is “clinically tested nutrition to lower the recurrence of most common urinary signs by 89%”. It helps to dissolve struvite stones and, according to Hill’s, this is a low ash cat food that reduces the risk of both struvite and calcium oxalate stones by promoting healthy pH levels and controlling key mineral concentrations. Its phosphorus content is 0.79% on a dry matter basis.

The moisture content is between 70 and 80%, which is on par with other canned pate foods.

Like most prescription diets, this food is full of nutritionally questionable ingredients like brewers rice and soybean meal and has a carbohydrate content of around 28%.


  • Has a reputation for treating urinary tract disease
  • Balanced mineral content
  • High moisture content


  • High in carbohydrates
  • Only available with a veterinarian’s prescription

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Water Sufcient for Processing, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Pork ByProducts, Corn Flour

Like the Hill’s Prescription Diet formula, there’s no pretending that this is a nutritionally spectacular food. That said, there’s an abundance of evidence that this type of prescription diet can benet cats who are struggling with FLUTD.

This canned food from Royal Canin promotes a healthy urinary pH. It was formulated according to Relative Super Saturation methodology, which allows it to reduce the concentration of ions that contribute to both calcium oxalate and struvite crystal formation.

It’s made with chicken liver, chicken, pork by-products, chicken by-products, and a variety of plant ingredients, including corn our and modified corn starch. It has reduced levels of magnesium and 0.8% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.


  • Has a reputation for treating FLUTD
  • Cats seem to love the taste of this food
  • Designed to promote healthy urinary pH
  • Balanced mineral content


  • Large amounts of plant matter
  • Expensive

Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Duck (Ground With Bone), Turkey, Turkey Liver, Goose, Turkey Gizzard

With no plant protein and less than 1% carbohydrate content, this is a species-appropriate food that may be able to help facilitate healthy urine pH. It’s primarily made from freeze-dried duck, turkey, turkey liver, and goose meat. The nuggets come out of the bag at around 5% moisture. You’ll rehydrate them with warm water to achieve the consistency you and your cat prefer.

Although you might be nervous about ground bone near the beginning of the ingredient list, the food is 0.68% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.


  • Cats love the taste of this food
  • Can be as hydrating as you want it to be
  • Balanced mineral content
  • Almost no plant matter


  • Requires rehydration
  • Relatively expensive

Weruva Nine Liver with Chicken & Chicken Liver Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken (Boneless, Skinless Breast), Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potato Starch, Sunower Seed Oil

Its shredded chicken and broth make this recipe similar to our first pick, but this food from Weruva has an interesting twist—it contains bite-sized chunks of chicken liver. At 85% moisture, this low magnesium cat food is one of the most hydrating foods on the market. Again, this food isn’t cheap, so those principled against paying a premium for a food that’s mostly water might prefer a different product. The food is 1.2% ash maximum and 1.33% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.


  • Relatively low plant matter
  • A straightforward recipe
  • Low ash and relatively low phosphorus
  • Many reviewers had success with it for improving their cat’s urinary tract health


  • Higher phosphorus than some other foods
  • Contains potato starch

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit  Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Pet Insurance for Cats

Top Insurance Providers Reviewed

Pet insurance can provide peace of mind, but you need to weigh your options carefully. This guide is here to help you do that.

In this guide, we’ll review the top 8 pet insurance providers, taking a critical look at their costs, customer service, and breadth of coverage. Before we dive into the reviews, let’s talk about why you might get pet insurance, how to decide if it’s the right option for you, and strategies for choosing the right provider.

Michelle Schenker, COO and founder of Canine Journal, recalls the terrifying moment when a Copperhead snake bit her new pup.

An incident with a backyard snake forced Michelle to choose between losing Lily and paying for an antivenom treatment that cost $1,700. Michelle says that “For most, this financial decision, especially on a dog who was new to our family, would have seemed insane but lucky for us we had signed Lily up for pet insurance with Petplan the week we adopted her because we have seen minor benefits of hedging your risks with our other dogs….I am so thankful everyday we had the ability to make that choice so quickly to treat her because now we cannot imagine our family without her in it.”

In an article published on the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association site, Barry Kipperman, DVM, DACVIM describes economic euthanasia as a “disease in need of prevention”.

From dental cleaning to antivenom treatments to stem cell therapy, today’s veterinary treatments run the gamut from seemingly mundane to cutting-edge. And they’re never cheap. Treating a cat who swallowed a string could cost $2,910. A broken leg could cost $3,267 dollars. Urinary tract disease could cost $1,239. Devastating illnesses like cancer could bring home bills as high as $40,000.

In a world where veterinary medical treatments can rack up bills in the tens of thousands, economic euthanasia is a reality.

Choosing to save money – or dodge bankruptcy – rather than save your pet’s life is a decision that involves anguish, guilt, shame, and regret for both pet guardian and their veterinarian.

Choosing good pet insurance can give you peace of mind when catastrophe arrives. As Ms. Schenker said, it gives you the ability to make the life-saving choice without worrying that it will leave you penniless.

Is Pet Insurance the Right Option for You?

Dealing with a pet insurance provider can feel like walking through a minefield of exclusions. Remember that while they can aord to cover some – or most – of those costs that you can’t, an insurance provider is like a casino. The house always wins .Broadly dening and excluding pre-existing conditions helps to ensure that the insurance company stays ahead rather than going broke to the policyholders most likely to take out frequent large claims.

While no pet insurance provider will cover pre-existing conditions, providers’ definitions vary from provider to provider and on a case-by-case basis.

It’s not unlikely that you’ll make a claim on what you thought was a new condition, only for the insurance provider to tell you that it was linked to a condition treated years ago. Claims are frequently denied under the pretense of a pre-existing condition exclusion.

In some cases, creating a dedicated savings account is the practical choice.

A dedicated savings account is a practical choice when paying for wellness visits. Because regular checkups seldom cost over $250 each year, you’re better o putting money aside than paying for coverage you don’t need. When we start discussing huge bills, however, pet insurance gives you an advantage.

As soon as you start using pet insurance, you have access to 100% of the benefits offered by your pet insurance provider. This means that if your cat develops a urethral blockage one week after your coverage begins, the insurance company will cover their percentage of the bill.

It’s a poor choice for uninsured cats who suffer from preexisting conditions.

If your cat has already been through the medical wringer with surgeries, serious illnesses, and other health issues, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get much value out of pet insurance.

Jennifer Brown, pet owner and former pet insurance policyholder, liked the idea of insuring her dogs.

After adopting her first pup in 2006, Jennifer discussed her options with her veterinarian, who discouraged the choice to get pet insurance. According to the vet, the dog’s few existing issues would lead to a slew of denied claims and a policy that wasn’t worth the monthly premium.

When a new employee benets package brought pet insurance to the Brown household, the vet’s suggestion was proven right. Declined claims were a constant theme for both of Jennifer’s dogs.

“I just save money or use a credit card when necessary”, She concluded, because “Pet insurance is simply not worth it”.

Choose a plan that provides quality coverage at a price you can afford.

Select a plan that reimburses a percentage of the actual vet’s bill, not a standard charge.

Some insurance providers base their reimbursements on “usual and customary” charges. Insurance providers calculate these rates based on national surveys, internal data, and knowledge of your area.

These usual and customary charges are not appropriate for a real-world billing scenario. Choose a reimbursement plan based on the care your cat receives in reality.

Choose a policy with a reimbursement maximum that works for you.

Choosing a maximum is a matter of understanding what you’re willing to pay and what your cat needs. Like everything else in a flexible policy, it’s a good idea to toggle your maximum payout to determine how the changes will affect your premiums. A higher maximum will lead to higher premiums, but the impact might be less than you expect. Remember that lower annual maximums will lead to higher out-of-pocket expenses in a catastrophe, so shop around and find a balance that works for you in both the short-term and the long-term.

Don’t be afraid to toggle deductibles, maximums, and reimbursement percentages to get the premium that works for your budget. Another benet of flexible rates is that you can adjust them over time. As your cat ages and the premiums increase, you can offset those age adjustments by changing your deductible and reimbursement rate.

Don’t underestimate the importance of good customer service.

A sick cat is stressful enough and, supposedly, your insurance provider exists to give you peace of mind. Believe it or not, a phone call with your insurance provider shouldn’t leave you pathologically ripping up loose papers on your desk or muttering expletives to the tune of never-ending hold music.

Test a prospective provider’s customer service by giving them a test run – ask questions through the website’s chat feature, call their customer support line, and check for 24/7 support. Remember that most customers won’t hesitate to let the world know about their experience, so read customer reviews to learn how the company treats policyholders.

If you spot numerous reviews complaining about a disappointing customer support team, vague policy information, unreliable reimbursement, and soaring premiums, you can assume this pet insurance provider will cause more headaches than it solves.

Choose a provider that offers extensive coverage and check customer reviews to ensure that you’re getting the coverage you expect.

If your cat has pre-existing conditions, no insurance provider will cover them. Another fact of pet insurance is the reality that your provider’s definition of pre-existing conditions isn’t always spelled out in their policy and these definitions aren’t uniform across all providers. Some providers don’t cover hereditary conditions or have limitations on them.

Top 8 Pet Insurance Providers Reviewed

In order to evaluate each of these pet insurance providers, I’ve combed the providers’ sites, evaluated their policies, and read customer reviews on Yelp and Consumer Affairs, along with reviews on sites like Reviews.com, PetInsuranceU, Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, and Canine Journal.

To compare costs, I requested quotes from each company using the same fictional cat prole: a neutered 3year old domestic shorthair living in Beverly Hills, California. His name is Prince Myshkin and he’ll be helping you to compare the rates offered by the 8 insurance providers on this list.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance for Cats Review

How affordable is Healthy Paws pet insurance for cats? Healthy Paws oers exible plans with an annual deductible and unlimited payouts.

An annual deductible means that you’ll only have to pay a single deductible each year – there’s no need to pay multiple deductibles for separate conditions. Their reimbursement options are also flexible, ranging from 70-90% of the actual vet bill.

Healthy Paws offers a single policy with unlimited lifetime coverage. This means that the company will reimburse you for any claim amount for the rest of your cat’s life – no payout maximums whatsoever.

Unlike most pet insurance providers, which will only reimburse you after you’ve already paid your veterinarian, Healthy Paws offers direct payment. There’s no need for your veterinarian to opt into a network. Healthy Paws direct payment is available for any veterinarian in the United States.

Vital Cost Statistics

  • Choice of deductible of $100 to $500.
  • Choice of reimbursement percentage – 70%, 80%, and 90%
  • Unlimited lifetime payout

How extensive is Healthy Paws pet insurance coverage?

Healthy Paws’ single policy is a comprehensive plan covering all accidents and illnesses, regardless of hereditary conditions. The plan includes non-traditional fees, including those for hospital stays, diagnoses, alternative treatments and therapies, and surgery.

While Healthy Paws offers extensive coverage, it won’t pay for wellness checks or exam fees.

What do customers think of Healthy Paws pet insurance?

On Yelp, Healthy Paws has an unprecedented 4 out of 5 star rating based on 374 reviews. Most negative reviews bemoan annual increases in premiums, while some others say that claims processing was slow.

The Bottom Line: Is Healthy Paws pet insurance a good choice for cats?

Pet Insurance U names Healthy Paws the number one best pet insurance provider of the year, a distinction it’s held since 2013. Pet Insurance U explains that its unlimited lifetime benefits, high payouts, and the absence of claim limits set Healthy Paws apart from the pack.

We agree that it belongs at the top of the pet insurance list. Like any insurance company, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than most.


  • Offers discounts for select groups and club members
  • Aordable premiums
  • Comes with a direct payment option – no more waiting for reimbursement
  • Unlimited lifetime coverage is an unusual perk


  • Doesn’t cover cats age 14 and older

Click here to get a quote on Healthy Paws pet insurance for cats.

Embrace Pet Insurance for Cats Review

How affordable is Embrace pet insurance for cats?

Embrace pet insurance plans are highly adjustable, allowing you to carve out the premium and coverage combination that works for you. The company oers 70%, 80%, and 90% reimbursements based on your veterinary bills. Your choice of deductible ranges from $200 to $1,000 and you have an annual maximum of $5,000 to $30,000.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Flexible deductible between $200 and $1000.
  • Annual payout maximum up to $30,000 in most states.
  • Choose a reimbursement percentage of 70%, 80%, or 90%.

How extensive is Embrace pet insurance coverage?

This pet insurance provider oers exible plans covering “all of your pet’s unexpected accidents & illnesses”.

Cats up to age 14 are eligible for new accident and illness policies and will remain covered as they age, while new applicants over the age of 15 are restricted to accident-only coverage.

Although the primary plans cover strictly accidents and illness, Embrace offers an additional Wellness Rewards plan, which works as a flexible savings account covering you for up to $650 in routine care expenses. Note that prescription drug coverage is included in every accident and illness plan.

What do customers think of Embrace pet insurance?

On Yelp, 134 reviewers give Embrace a 3 out of 5 star rating. Considering the fact that insurance provider reviews have a negativity bias, this isn’t terrible – it’s also not great.

Negative reviews revolve around the provider’s apparent tendency to link unrelated conditions and call them pre-existing, using this as a way to deny claims. Other reviewers describe Embrace as a compassionate, affordable choice.

It’s important to note that Embrace allows you to request a free medical history review at signup. By requesting this review, you’ll learn which conditions will be deemed pre-existing and for how long. If you aren’t happy with the results of the review, you can take advantage of Embrace’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

The Bottom Line: Is Embrace pet insurance a good choice for cats?

Embrace offers some of the most extensive coverage on the market at a reasonable price. Although customer experiences aren’t universally perfect, Embrace has a generally good reputation for processing and accepting claims, providing good customer service, and leaving policyholders satisfied.


  • Covers hereditary conditions
  • Covers a wide range of conditions and treatments
  • Reimbursements are based on actual medical costs
  • Gives you a $50 “Healthy Pet Deductible” benet every year that you don’t make a claim


  • According to customer reviews, Embrace is inclined to deny claims on the pretense that unrelated conditions are linked and thus pre-existing

Click here to get a quote on Embrace pet insurance for cats.

Trupanion Cat Insurance Review

How affordable is Trupanion pet insurance for cats?

Trupanion reimburses up to 90% and comes with no payout limits. All claims are based on actual veterinary costs, not averages and customary charges.

Trupanion’s deductibles work on a per-condition basis, rather than annually. This deductible system is good for younger cats with a future of chronic illness, but could cost you if your cat suffers from a series of disparate conditions.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Offers annual coverage limits of $5,000, $10,000, and unlimited
  • Choose a deductible of between $50 and $1,000
  • Choose a reimbursement level of 70%, 80%, or 90%

How extensive is Trupanion pet insurance coverage?

Instead of oering three or more policies of diering levels, Trupanion oers a single exible comprehensive policy that covers surgery, diagnostics, medications, and other treatments for illnesses and accidents.

For customers looking to beef up their policy, Trupanion offers two optional additional coverage packages. One is a recovery and complementary care package, which covers various therapies not typically included within traditional policies, including rehabilitative care, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and homeopathy.

The second additional package is a pet owner assistance package, which covers expenses outside of the vet’s oce, including ads and rewards for lost pets, emergency boarding, liability coverage for property damage caused by your pet, and cremation and burial in the case of your pet’s accidental death.

Note that the company doesn’t offer wellness coverage. The Trupanion site doesn’t shy away from addressing this fact, explaining that “Trupanion was founded to help pets get the emergency care they need, not to help pet owners with routine payments.”

What do customers think about Trupanion Pet Insurance?

On Yelp, Trupanion has a 2.5 out of 5 star rating based on 441 reviews. Many customers say that the company wrongly denied their claims for various reasons. These reviews also indicate that Trupanion’s customer support skills are less than satisfactory, describing hours spent on the phone, either waiting on hold or struggling to get results out of uncooperative staff.

Despite these negative experiences, Trupanion doesn’t have a bad reputation with everyone. This popular insurance provider has a 9.6 out of 10-star rating on ConsumersAdvocate.org and an 8.9 out of 10-star rating on Trustpilot.

The Bottom Line: Is Trupanion Pet Insurance a good choice for cats?

In Reviews.com’s roundup of the best pet insurance providers, Trupanion placed as a runner-up, lagging behind Figo, which was named best pet insurance overall, and Healthy Paws, which the reviewer described as good for cats and small dogs.


  • Offers comprehensive coverage
  • A well-respected leader in the pet insurance space
  • Reimbursements are based on vet bills
  • High annual maximums


  • Can be more expensive than other providers

Click here to get a quote on Trupanion pet insurance for cats.

Figo Pet Insurance for Cats Review

This new entrant to the pet insurance industry is fully tech-integrated for the 21st century, but is it a strong choice for your cat?

How affordable is Figo pet insurance for cats?

Figo’s policies are some of the most exible ones you’ll find. You can choose reimbursement rates of 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, or 100%. Figo’s annual deductibles range from $50 to $500. Their three payout levels oer $10,000, $14,000, and unlimited reimbursement annually.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Offers annual coverage limits of $10,000, $14,000, and unlimited
  • Choose an annual deductible of between $50 and $500
  • Choose a reimbursement level of 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90%

How extensive is Figo pet insurance coverage?

Figo covers veterinary fees, emergency care, hereditary conditions, surgery, prescription medications, chronic conditions, specialty care, and other treatments common to most accident and illness coverage. Members of the Ultimate plan gain access to additional coverage, including a mortality benet and vacation cancellation.

Figo insurance doesn’t have any age cutoffs, allowing you to insure cats aged 23 years and over. Their premiums for older cats are considerably lower than those offered by other providers.

What do customers think of Figo Pet Insurance?

On Yelp, Figo Pet Insurance has a 3.5 out of 5 star rating based on 65 customer reviews. On Trustpilot, the company has a 9.1 out of 10 star rating. This Chicago-based company receives strong reviews overall, but it’s not all smiley customer service, short waiting periods, and responsive apps. Figo started in 2015 and things are changing rapidly. Most negative reviews talk about increased premiums and a changing structure that some customers view as a bait-and-switch scheme.

Lexi N. of Encinitas, California, said that: “ The platform is easy to use and the customer service is good, no doubt, but unfortunately I cannit continue to be part of a service that raises premiums 50% – 100% every year. ”

The Bottom Line: Is Figo pet insurance a good choice for cats?

In Reviews.com’s list of the best pet insurance providers, Figo was ranked as the number one best provider on the market. The reviewer pointed to the company’s range of unexpected perks and great customer service as outstanding factors.

Indeed, Figo does offer a few features that don’t come standard among pet insurance providers. For example, coverage comes with the Pet Cloud, a cloud-based medical history and planning application that allows you to manage your cat’s insurance claims and medical life from your smartphone.

In addition to medical management, the Pet Cloud is a full-spectrum pet management app with interesting features like pet geolocation and pet-specific landmark discovery.

Figo is currently one of the best providers out there, but it’s not perfect. When we’re looking at a company that issued its first policy three years ago and which has since sent premiums continuously higher, it’s hard to predict where the customer experience will go from here.


  • Offers a great customer support experience
  • The PetCloud makes it easy to organize your cat’s medical life
  • Short reimbursement wait time
  • Flexible policies make it possible to adapt the plan to suit your nancial preferences
  • Extensive coverage


  • A newcomer to the pet insurance business – it’s unclear how drastically the provider will change or how premiums will increase as they become established in the industry

Click here to get a quote on Figo pet insurance for cats.

Petplan Pet Insurance for Cats Review

Petplan has been in existence for over 40 years and is backed by Allianz, a leading property and casualty insurance company.

How affordable is Petplan pet insurance for cats?

Petplan oers customizable plans with exible annual limits varying from $2,500 to unlimited and exible deductibles that are either paid annually or on a per-condition basis. Your reimbursements range from 70% to 90% and are based on your veterinarian’s bills. If you choose the condition-based deductible model, be certain that you classify continuing treatments as such when you le a claim.

The Bottom Line: Is Petplan pet insurance a good choice for cats?

After over 40 years in the industry, Petplan has earned a strong reputation and is one of the leading insurance providers for pets. With adjustable premiums, diverse coverage, and 24/7 customer support, Petplan does everything a pet insurance provider needs to do.


  • Unlike many other providers, Petplan has no upper age limit for signing up
  • Offers discounts to veterinary professionals
  • All plans cover injuries and illnesses, including those due to hereditary conditions
  • Offers highly comprehensive coverage
  • Flexible pricing and payout


  • Costs tend to increase dramatically over time
  • Charges a $3 transaction fee – higher than average

Click here to get a quote on Petplan pet insurance for cats.

Pets Best Pet Insurance for Cats Review

Based in Boise, Idaho and founded by veterinarian Dr. Jack Stephens, this pet insurance company claims to be on a mission to “end economic euthanasia of pets”.

How affordable is Pets Best pet insurance for cats?

When you analyze Pets Best plans, one of the rst things that stands out is the fact that you can’t choose unlimited reimbursement. Their base plans oer the choice of a $5,000 and a $10,000 annual maximum.

Reimbursements and deductibles are exible – ranging from $0 to $1,000 on the deductible end and 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100% reimbursement rates.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Choice of annual coverage amount – $2500 to unlimited
  • Choice of annual deductible amount – $250 to $1,000
  • You can choose your reimbursement percentage – 70%, 80%, or 90%

How extensive is Petplan pet insurance coverage?

The company oers extensive coverage with few exclusions, oering reimbursements for illness and injury without exclusions for hereditary conditions. Petplan’s comprehensive coverage includes dental care, dermatology, neurology, alternative therapies, and rehabilitation.

Unlike most other pet insurance providers, Petplan has no upper age limit, making it worth considering if you’d like to insure an older cat. Petplan insurance is available under three standardized coverage plans. If you’d prefer a customized plan, you can adjust different aspects of the flexible policy to get the rates you want. Policyholders with annual reimbursement of $15,000 or more are eligible for additional benefits, including coverage for ads and rewards if your cat is lost, behavioral therapy, and kennel fees. This insurance provider doesn’t offer wellness coverage, which isn’t a bad thing – wellness coverage tends to bump up premiums without offering anything you couldn’t cover with an ordinary savings account.

What do customers think of Petplan pet insurance?

Petplan is a generally well-regarded pet insurance company, but it’s not universally loved. On Yelp, customer sentiments are divided, giving it a 3 out of 5 star rating based on 376 reviews. When the reviews are negative, they talk about premium hikes and broadly defined pre-existing conditions.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Offers annual coverage limits of $5000 and $10,000
  • Choose a deductible of between $0 and $1,000
  • Choose a reimbursement level of 70%, 80%, 90%, or $100

How extensive is Pets Best pet insurance coverage?

Pets Best oers exible pricing plans and a wide variety of coverage options. Unlike most pet insurance providers, who limit their coverage to cats under 14 years of age, Pets Best has no upper age limit.

The company offers three coverage levels, all of which cover a wide range of medical treatments and conditions. The two higher-tier plans include examinations, rehabilitation, prosthetics, chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, and other additional therapeutic treatments. All of their plans cover prescription medications.

Although their three primary plans don’t cover wellness visits, Pets Best offers a two-tier wellness package that you may add on to your primary policy.

What do customers think of Pets Best pet insurance?

Although Pets Best has moderate prices and broad coverage, customer reviews paint a picture of frustration and annoyance. 144 Yelp reviewers give it a 2 out of 5 star rating, while the BBB and Pet Insurance U both give it 3.7 out of 5 stars.

The Bottom Line: Is Pets Best pet insurance a good choice for cats?

Pets Best isn’t the worst pet insurance on the market, but it’s not the best, either. Its premiums are middleof-the road, the coverage is good, the policies are flexible, and payouts usually arrive before customers have a chance to worry about them. But the relatively low and inflexible annual maximums could make this a frustrating choice when those big bills arrive.


  • No upper age limit for signing up
  • Highly exible pricing
  • Multiple annual coverage options
  • 24/7 customer service line
  • Fast reimbursements


  • The company’s denition of pre-existing conditions tends to be unusually broad. Customers complain that they’ve been refused coverage for a condition that Pet’s Best unexpectedly deemed to be connected to a previous issue
  • Low annual maximums

Click here for a quote on Pets Best pet insurance for cats.

Nationwide Pet Insurance for Cats Review

This well-established company has been selling pet insurance under the VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) name since 1982. VPI sold its rst policy to a famous dog of the screen – a collie best known for portraying “Lassie”.

In 2015, Nationwide discarded the VPI name and rebranded as simply Nationwide Pet Insurance.

How affordable is Nationwide Pet Insurance?

While Nationwide’s comprehensive Whole Pet with Wellness plan is one of the most expensive on the market, the plan is the company’s most popular offering.

It covers almost everything you would need a pet insurance provider to cover. Unlike the lower-value plans, the comprehensive plan reimburses a percentage of real vet bills. Whole Pet with Wellness reimburses a generous 90% of your invoice, while all other Nationwide plans reimburse on a benet schedule and limit benefits per condition.

Nationwide’s fixed annual deductibles are both good and bad. A fixed low deductible is attractive for those dealing with multiple treatments throughout the year. But if you’re someone who would rather pay a high deductible when disaster strikes and a low premium every month, your hands are tied.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Unlimited annual maximums, but a benet schedule will limit your benets per condition
  • $100 or $250 annual deductible
  • 90% reimbursement percentage on the comprehensive plan, benet schedule on all others

How extensive is Nationwide Pet Insurance coverage?

Nationwide Pet Insurance oers three dierent plans: the comprehensive Whole Pet with Wellness, standard accident and illness with Major Medical, and a two-tiered wellness plan.

The Whole Pet with Wellness plan covers exams, lab tests, and x-rays, prescription medications, surgeries and hospitalization, chronic conditions, and wellness costs, along with other benefits.

The Major Medical plan offers almost the same accident and illness coverage offered by the Whole Pet with Wellness plan but lacks a few benefits.

For instance, not all hereditary conditions are covered. If your cat has a hereditary condition that is covered by Major Medical, you’ll not be able to make a claim until after the waiting period is over.

What do customers think of Nationwide Pet Insurance?

Being a big fish in the pet insurance ocean doesn’t make Nationwide Pet Insurance any better than younger companies. In fact, it receives some of the worst reviews in the industry.

Nationwide earns a 1.4 out of 5 star rating on Pet Insurance U. Pet Insurance U gives this provider an unimpressive 1.4 out of 5 star rating. Why? The review says that taking out a policy from Nationwide means buying into premium hikes, denied claims, low payouts, limitations and exclusions, and sub-par customer service.

The Bottom Line: Is Nationwide Pet Insurance a good choice for cats?

Frankly, no. In most cases, Nationwide Pet Insurance isn’t a good choice. It’s been a pet insurance leader for a long time, but this company’s inflexible policies and history of poor customer service make it the least desirable provider on this list.


  • The highest-level plan has exceptionally comprehensive coverage and unlimited benets per condition and service
  • No annual benet caps
  • Policyholders may take advantage of Nationwide’s Vet Helpline, which oers live veterinary advice online
  • A well-established and very stable company


  • Cats over the age of 10 are not eligible for a new policy
  • Less exible than some other options available
  • A higher-priced insurance

Click here to get a quote on Nationwide pet insurance for cats.

PetPremium Pet Insurance for Cats Review

PetPremium, a concept of ReviMedia, is a New York-based pet insurance provider founded in 2013. It was created by Frans van Hulle and Bas Oers and aims to bring together pet insurance and pet education, serving as a comprehensive resource for pet guardians.

That mission is apparent on the PetPremium website. At first glance, you might not realize that you’re looking at a pet insurance company’s site. Instead of talking about quotes and coverage, the home page’s navigation bar directs you to articles on dog and cat breeds, pet care, and resources for those looking for a new pet.

How affordable is PetPremium Pet Insurance?

Although their deductibles aren’t quite as flexible as those offered by some others, PetPremium offers the standard range of benet limits and reimbursement percentages.

Vital Cost Statistics:

  • Annual benets range from $2,500 to unlimited
  • Annual deductibles of $100, $250, or $500
  • Reimbursements of 70%, 80%, or 90%

How extensive is PetPremium insurance coverage?

PetPremium oers both accident-only coverage and a Total Care plan, which adds on illness coverage.

The accident-only coverage is effective for treating accidents and injuries, while the Total Coverage plan covers tests, surgeries, hospitalization, and other illness-related expenses. In addition to coverage for illnesses, the Total Care plan brings you coverage for behavioral therapy and treatment for hereditary conditions.

While PetPremium’s reimbursements were previously based on predetermined incident limits, they’re now calculated based on actual vet bills.

PetPremium also offers three tiers of wellness coverage as an add-on to your existing policy.

  • The Basic plan covers up to $250 of dental cleanings, checkups, routine vaccinations, and screenings.
  • For an additional $5 a month, you can level up to the Standard wellness package, which increases your coverage limit to $350 annually.
  • The Prime wellness package covers up to $500 every year and includes special vaccinations, ea and heartworm treatments, blood tests, and urinalysis.

What do customers think of PetPremium pet insurance?

Because there are so few reviews of the company online right now, it’s dicult to evaluate the PetPremium customer experience.

On Yelp, the provider has just 2 reviews. One, created by Dan G. of New York, says that “the service is great”, explaining that after comparing quotes, PetPremium’s policy was the best value for their dog, Buddy.

The one other review tells a radically different story. Jim M. of Little Silver, New Jersey, said that he received abysmal customer service after the company covered $2,000 less than the estimated payout for his Golden Retriever’s TPLO surgery.

You can contact the company by phone, through Twitter, or by filling out the contact form on their site. If you choose to call in for support, you’ll notice that the company has limited customer support hours. You can call their customer support line 8am-9pm EST from Monday-Friday and 9am-5pm EST on Saturdays.

Many other pet insurance providers recognize the demand for 24/7 service and are available to help you at all hours of the day.

The Bottom Line: Is PetPremium pet insurance a good choice for cats?

Pet Insurance U gives PetPremium 3.1 out of 5 paws. Consumers Advocate rates it a 5.5 out of 10.

Founded just ve years ago, PetPremium is a relatively new company and one of the less-known pet insurance providers in business today. With such a scarcity of customer reviews, it’s difficult to evaluate the claim approval process or the company’s customer service strength.

Here’s what we do know: PetPremium’s policies are exible, their coverage is comprehensive, and their premiums are low.


  • Allows you to choose any veterinarian in the United States or Canada
  • Dental care is oered on every plan
  • Affordable, adjustable premiums
  • Has an informative website
  • Reimbursements are based on actual charges


  • Limited customer support
  • Deductibles aren’t the most flexible

Click here to get a quote on PetPremium pet insurance for cats.

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Feline Obesity

And the Top 5 Best Weight Management Foods for Overweight Cats

Our Review Process Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. To stay objective and avoid biases, we don’t accept free products or write sponsored posts. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read More here.

The fact that your cat is overweight is evidence that they’re eating the wrong food.

Regardless of what life with 21st-century housecats might lead you to believe, cats aren’t supposed to be overweight. Naturally, cats are high-performance predators—lean, sculpted, and fast.

Quick Look: Best Rated Weight Management Cat food  for Weight Loss

We’ve taken cats out of their natural environment, protected them indoors, and fed the vast majority of them a diet of meat-avored cereal. Under these human-dictated conditions, cats become overweight, under-stimulated, over-sugared, and at risk for serious health conditions.

For better or worse, your cat relies on your dietary choices—that’s why it’s critical for you to know how to choose the best food for your overweight cat.

Here’s how to pick a great cat food for weight loss.

From their claws to their metabolism, your cat is designed to hunt and eat animals.

Because their prey is no more than 10% carbohydrates, cats have virtually zero carbohydrate requirements. This is in conflict with many conventional feline weight-loss diets. In order to keep calories low, they decrease protein and fat, while bumping up levels of carbohydrates and fiber.

These diets are wrong in multiple ways. By restricting protein intake, they may cause muscle loss. Secondly, because your cat is an obligate carnivore, they’re hardwired to feel satisfied by protein and fat— not carbohydrates. This means that while these diets are low-calorie, they’re not as satisfying as diets rich in the protein and fat your cat instinctively craves.

To maintain healthy muscle mass and keep your cat satisfied, honor your cat’s natural dietary needs.

Is dry or wet cat food better for weight loss?

In short, wet food is better. Here’s why.

Like breakfast cereal, kibble cannot exist without carbohydrate binders. Premium Wet food, however, is almost universally high in protein and made with minimal amounts of carbohydrates.

Furthermore, high-moisture cat food is bulkier and will help your cat to feel full longer.

The switch to wet food might be a challenge, especially if your cat has eaten kibble since they were a kitten, but in the long run, wet food will keep your cat full longer and help them to lose weight with less of a struggle.

How much food should you give your overweight cat to lose weight?

Your cat should lose weight at a slow, steady rate of about 1-2% of their current weight each week. According to this weight loss rate, if your cat currently weighs 25 lbs, they should lose between 4 and 8 ounces during their first week of dieting.

Free-feeding is out for overweight cats.

Allowing your cat to freely nibble from a full bowl of food might seem to honor their natural instincts, but few things could be less natural for a cat. Cats naturally eat multiple small meals throughout the day, fasting between each successful hunt.

In addition to discouraging your cat from gorging themselves, feeding multiple meals during the day will allow you to closely monitor your cat’s intake.

Three Ways to Calculate Your Overweight Cat’s Calorie Needs

1. The 80% Technique Assuming that your cat is currently maintaining an unhealthy weight, determine the number of calories they eat now and gradually cut back to 60-80% of that amount.

If you don’t know how much your cat presently eats, try one of the other two methods.

2. The Crystal Ball Method The following formula will give you an estimate of your cat’s maintenance intake at an ideal weight. The variable “W” represents your cat’s weight in pounds.

(13.6 x W) + 70 = Calories required to maintain your cat’s weight
If your cat’s ideal weight is 11 lbs, then their maintenance intake will be roughly 220 calories per day. When your cat is eating for a slimmer body, they’re living with a calorie deficit. This encourages gradual weight loss until your cat reaches their goal weight.

3. The Intuition Approach

If you’re not someone who likes numbers and rules and calculations, you’ll probably prefer a commonsense approach to weight loss. Just feed your cat less until they’ve reached a healthy weight.

Remember that a highly-satisfying, moisture-rich, high-protein food will help you out here.

Top 5 Best Cat Foods for Overweight Cats Reviewed

Best Diet Cat Food: NomNomNow Chicken Chow Meow Cat Food Review

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Approximately 34 calories per ounce—packets are pre-portioned according to your cat’s weight goals

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Breast, Thigh, and Liver, Asparagus, Carrot, Spinach, Cantaloupe

NomNomNow is the only cat food company that pre-portions each meal based on your cat’s weight goals and delivers it fresh to your door. and one of the best cat food for overweight indoor cats on the market today.

When you set up your account with NomNomNow, you’ll enter your cat’s current weight and weight goal, along with any other dietary needs. Based on this information, the NomNomNow team measures out portions that support your cat’s weight goals.

Each batch of cat food is made-to-order in the company’s own kitchen. Because it’s fresh, moisture-rich, and full of species-appropriate animal protein, this food is a satisfying and nourishing choice for overweight cats.


  • Each pouch contains one portion measured for your cat’s needs
  • High-moisture, satisfying food
  • Emphasizes species-appropriate animal protein
  • Human-grade food


  • Above-average price
  • Only available with a subscription

FirstMate Turkey Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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25.6 calories per ounce
First 5 Ingredients: Boneless Turkey, Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate

This is a limited-ingredient food designed for cats with food allergies and intolerances. Its ingredient list emphasizes species-appropriate protein from poultry making it one of the best-canned cat food for weight loss available.

Overall, 96% of the food’s protein content comes from animal sources, with the remaining 4% from plants. Although it’s a meat-heavy food, the recipe includes potato, which isn’t a desirable or necessary inclusion in wet cat food.

The food has approximately 78% water content, so it’s moisture-rich and satiating. According to some reviewers, it’s on the soft side, making it easy to eat if your cat has any dental problems.


  • One of the highest-calorie foods on the market
  • Made with 96% meat protein – ideal nutrition for your cat
  • Appetizing formula helps to entice cats to eat
  • Free from articial colors, avors, and chemical preservatives


  • Contains potato
  • Some reviews indicate that cats don’t enjoy the food’s flavor

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender Cat Food Review

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20.6 calories per ounce

First 5 Ingredients: Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken, Tuna, Duck, Tapioca Starch

Of all the products on this list, this formula from Weruva has the fewest calories per ounce. It is just 20.6 calories per ounce and 62 calories per pouch.

This simple recipe features shredded chicken and duck in gravy, making it a good choice for cats who prefer chunks and shreds of minimally-processed meat. It includes water as the first ingredient, meaning that the low-calorie density is largely thanks to the food’s unusually high water content.

Because it emphasizes animal protein, this food will help your cat to maintain lean muscle mass while gradually losing weight.


  • Primarily made from animal protein
  • Very low in calories
  • Hydrating food helps to keep your cat satised
  • Free from grains, carrageenan, antibiotics, hormones, and other hot-button ingredients


  • Expensive
  • Contains tapioca starch as a thickener

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Duck Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food Review

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26.6 calories per ounce
First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product

While it’s low in calories, this hydrating food is packed with protein and will help your cat to maintain lean muscle mass throughout their weight loss journey. It’s a pate-style food and, according to most customer reviews, highly palatable for cats. Unfortunately, the food also contains a small amount of dried alfalfa meal, which contributes to the amount of minimally digestible plant protein.


  • Primarily made from duck, which is a species-appropriate source of animal protein
  • Low in calories
  • Receives overwhelmingly positive reviews
  • More aordable than other foods of similar quality
  • Free from corn, soy, wheat, and other unwanted ingredients


  • Contains dried alfalfa meal, which adds plant protein

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Cat Food Review

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26.9 calories per ounce

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Chicken Meal

While it’s low in calories, this recipe emphasizes high-protein animal ingredients like chicken, chicken liver, chicken meal, and turkey. Unfortunately, the recipe also contains pea protein and dried ground peas, which aren’t ideal for an obligate carnivore like your cat. Each can is around 12% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis, making it slightly more carb-heavy than the ideal feline diet.


  • Formulated for indoor cats, meaning that it’s low in calories
  • Made primarily from highly digestible animal protein
  • Most cats enjoy the flavor


  • Contains a variety of plant ingredients, including pea protein, dried ground peas, cranberries, pea ber, and ground flaxseed

Fancy Feast Classic Tender Liver & Chicken Feast Canned Cat Food Review

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32 calories per ounce
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Liver, Meat ByProducts, Chicken, Fish

If you want to slim your cat down on a slim budget, this formula from Fancy Feast can help.

Canned food from the grocery store is usually just as good or better for weight loss than food from premium brands. If your overweight cat was previously eating dry food, the switch to any high-moisture, low-carb food will make a big difference.

You’ll notice that almost all of the meat ingredients in this food are vaguely-named, indicating that they’re by-products and less strictly regulated than food-grade meat for human consumption. While meat by-products aren’t always as highly-digestible as select slices of muscle meat and high-value organs, they’re species-appropriate and will help your cat to maintain muscle mass while losing fat.

This food gets virtually all of its protein from meat and doesn’t have any of the high-carbohydrate ingredients your overweight cat needs to avoid. Each can is just .8% carbohydrates – such a low percentage is ideal for weight loss.

This is species-appropriate nourishment in a satisfying format, and it’s aordable for almost every shopper.


  • Relatively low in calories
  • Aordable
  • Virtually free from plant ingredients
  • High-moisture food helps keep your cat satised


  • Contains articial avors
  • Made with meat by-products

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit  Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Making Cat Food

A Guide to Homemade and Raw Food Diets

Homemade cat food used to scare me.

I was afraid of nutrient imbalances, didn’t know what equipment I needed, and wasn’t ready to spend hours of every month preparing cat food.

The questions were endless

Are there nutritionally balanced recipes out there or is everyone following the one that “looks like” it makes sense? Is it okay to give your cat bacteria-infested raw food? Can people of modest financial resources afford to make homemade cat food?

To find the answers to these questions and more, I’ve consulted research papers from sources like the British Journal of Nutrition, the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, and BMC Veterinary Research. I’ve explored forum threads and personal accounts from cat food makers. I’ve spent hours talking to experts in feline nutrition.

This resource is the result of that research. It’s made for someone who’s considering making their own cat food but doesn’t want to kill their cat by feeding them an imbalanced diet. Maybe that’s you. If so, keep reading to get some answers and maybe a little bit of cat food-making confidence.

By the time you’re done reading this article, you will:

  • Know if homemade cat food is right for you.
  • Have a better understanding of the dierences between homemade and commercially-available cat food.
  • Be familiar with the dierent types of homemade cat food.
  • Be able to compile a shopping list for your rst batch of homemade cat food.
  • Have multiple tried-and-true recipes to bookmark or print for future reference.

Why make homemade cat food?

When you make your own cat food, you control what goes into your cat’s body. You become the cat food manufacturer, so you can do things your way.

Here are a few types of cats and people who can benefit from homemade cat food

Cats suffering from allergies.

Because making your own cat food lets you choose the proteins in your cat’s bowl, homemade cat food is perfect for allergic cats. In 2013, DNA testing found that most limited-ingredient or hypoallergenic diets contained proteins that weren’t mentioned on the label. Ironically, the study found that of all the unlabeled ingredients detected in pet foods, chicken was the most common. That’s right—one of the leading cat allergens.

Cats suffering from IBD, IBS, or a sensitive stomach.

Whether your cat has chronic inflammation or is experiencing acute GI distress, making food at home lets you tailor their diet to work harmoniously with their body.

Remember that while homemade cat food can be a good choice for cats with health problems, no recipe is the right t for every cat. Cats with CKD, for instance, require a unique balance of phosphorus, magnesium, and other dietary components. Not every recipe will satisfy these needs.

Anyone who’s frustrated by the pet food industry.

If you’re outdone by constant recalls and can’t find food that meets your standards, then homemade food might be your solution.

Homemade cat food isn’t perfect, and neither is commercial food.

Homemade cat food can be the greatest gift you’ll ever give your cat or it could be the most harmful thing you can do to them. Most people wouldn’t want to deal with that responsibility. Instead, most of us leave it up to experts to formulate and manufacture our cats’ food.

But the idea that commercial cat food is safer than homemade food is a misnomer. Makers of mass-produced commercial cat food slip up every day. Recalls can hit anyone and they happen all the time, but don’t think that they’re the complete story. If one cat gets sick after eating a bad can of food, who will know?

One day, a production worker drops her gum in the cat food. The next day, someone else doesn’t get the thiamine levels quite right. Human error occurs in food preparation operations on every level.

A few examples of why you shouldn’t put complete faith in the pet food industry:

Even the sloppiest home food maker wouldn’t ll their cat’s food with melamine-tainted “wheat gluten”.

It’s impossible to know how many cats and dogs died after eating pet food laced with toxic melamine in 2007. Those who remember this mass recall know the feeling of betrayal experienced by pet guardians across North America, Australia, and China. This food was supposed to be safe, fun, and healthy—no one suspected that it would cause acute renal failure.

Cat food manufacturers produced taurinedecient diets into the late 1980s.

When people warn that deficiencies are common among homemade foods, do they forget that taurine deficiencies weren’t recognized until the late 1970s, long after the pet food industry was well-established and churning out nutritionally inadequate kibble and canned food?

After recognizing taurine’s significance in 1976, the NRC’s guidelines were still loose and vague on taurine, allowing more cats to die from heart disease associated with taurine deficiency.

A 1987 article in the Los Angeles Times says that t h o u s a n d s of cat deaths were caused by taurine deficiency. The affected cats ate food from leading brands like Hill’s Science Diet, Purina Cat Chow, 9 Lives, and Fancy Feast.

All dry food is deficient in water, but who seems to care?

Your vet may discourage you from making homemade cat food due to its potential to encourage nutritional deficiencies, but how do they feel about the fact that dry cat food is outrageously deficient in water—the most important nutrient of all? Dry food is linked to chronic dehydration and an increased risk of feline lower urinary tract disease.

Average Moisture Content Vs. Type of Food

Commercial cat food contributes to the feline obesity epidemic.

According to Banfield’s State of Pet Health report, the number of overweight cats has increased by 169% in the last 10 years. An estimated one in three cats is obese. That’s not cute. It’s an epidemic.

Feline Obesity/Overweight Over Time

Data sources: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Surveys 2007-2017, Lund EM (2005): Prevalence and risk factors for obesity in adult cats from private us veterinary practices. International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 3, 88–96.

More cats live indoors than ever before, and they are for the first time in history virtually reliant on humans for food. They barely exercise and they’re loading up on carbohydrate-laden food and treats. When an obligate carnivore with zero physical requirements for sugars or starches eats dry food, their bodies will naturally convert the excess carbohydrate to fat.

Species-appropriate feeding could correct the growing feline diabetes problem.

Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, cat nutrition expert and author of Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life describes feline diabetes as “a human-caused disease that kills cats.” Dry cat food—and some carb-laden canned foods—flood your cat’s system with 500% – 1000% more calories from carbohydrate than they’d eat naturally. A carbohydrate-dense diet may increase your cat’s risk of diabetes and it increases their risk of continuing to suer from the condition.

The ubiquitous “complete and balanced” label means less than you might think it does.

In the United States, cat food is formulated according to the nutrient proles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These nutrient proles provide an invaluable guideline for cat food nutritional requirements, but do not guarantee that the labeled food is nutritionally flawless.

Foods are tested against nutrient proles or subjected to a 26-week feeding trial. This trial involves eight cats, two of which are permitted to drop out. If at the end of the trial, the cats haven’t lost more than 15% of their body weight and their bloodwork comes back normal, the food is deemed t for the marketplace.

Clearly, nutritional adequacy over the course of six months is hardly indicative of lifetime nourishment potential. Cats on criminally deficient diets can produce healthy blood work until the deficiency has reached a critical stage.

Considering that most pet food regulatory agencies and oversight groups do not account for nutrient bioavailability, nutrient values after cooking, and barely require legitimate feeding trials, there’s no authority ensuring that commercial cat food is appropriate for daily feeding for the life of your cat.

Again, homemade cat food isn’t perfect. But neither is anything on the cat food aisle.

I’ve attempted to undermine your faith in commercial cat food, not because commercial food is all bad— it can be very, very good—but to help you to see that no food is awless or completely safe.

Homemade cat food can be as time-consuming or as simple as you want it to be. You don’t need to have endless free time or be a nutrition expert to prepare food for your cat. You can make cooked food, raw food, or semi-cooked food.

Homemade Raw

This is the most popular type of homemade cat food. It requires minimal supplementation compared to cooked foods. That doesn’t mean that raw food alone is an adequate diet. You’ll still need to add supplements to ensure that the food is nutritionally complete.

While some express concerns about the potential bacteria content of raw meat, it’s important to remember that your cat’s stomach acid is about 10 times more concentrated than a human’s. Cats have been eating dead animals for thousands of years. Bacteria is more a concern for you than it is for them.

Homemade Semi-Cooked

Semi-cooked food undergoes a brief baking process, which kills surface bacteria and renders the food safer than a purely raw product. It does, however, introduce some nutritional variables. It’s difficult to know exactly how much nutrient value is destroyed during par-cooking.

Homemade Cooked

Homemade cooked food is great for people worried about pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and other organisms that could make them or their cats ill. However, it’s more difficult to get a complete and balanced homemade cooked diet than a raw one. Not all homemade cat food recipes are nutritionally complete, nor are they all balanced. When researchers from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine analyzed 200 different homemade dog food recipes in cookbooks and online guides, the team found that 95% lacked at least one key nutrient. Only four of the recipes analyzed were nutritionally complete and balanced.

To help you to separate bad recipes from good ones, here are a few nutritional rules.

Our cats are genetically almost identical to African wildcats. Unlike dogs, their dietary needs have not evolved from their ancient roots. Indeed, cats have only been eating commercial human-made food for the last century. Prior to that, they ate what they always have—lizards, rodents, birds, and bugs.

After putting together 27 studies on the diet of free-roaming cats, the authors of an article published in the British Journal of Nutrition reached some conclusions about nature’s dietary requirements.

They found that the macronutrient content of a feral cat’s diet, with essentially no access to human food or garbage, was 52% crude protein, 46% crude fat, and only 2% calories from N-free extract, a term that refers to everything that’s not fat, fiber, or protein.

Macronutrient Comparison Chart – Homemade vs. Commercial Cat Food

To help you understand how homemade cat food compares to commercial foods, here’s a comparison chart showing the differences between macronutrient values found in several foods.

What You’ll Need to Make Homemade Cat Food

Meat Grinder (optional, but recommended)

If you are cooking your cat’s food, it is okay to feed them pre-ground meat with supplements mixed in. If you’re feeding it raw, grind it yourself the day you prepare the food.

When most butchers grind meat, they know that the meat will be cooked before anyone eats it. This means that ground meat is held to a low sanitation standard compared to meat ground to eat raw.

Ideally, you’ll use a powerful meat grinder to grind your meat with the bones intact. If you don’t have a grinder strong enough to handle bones, you should either upgrade or use a grinder-free method.

Best Grinder for Homemade Cat Food: Weston Butcher Series #32 Electric Meat Grinder

This powerful grinder has enough muscle to handle bones and large quantities of meat. It costs over $500, so if you’re on a tight budget, you might choose the Sunmile SM-G50.

If you have a Vitamix or equally powerful blender or food processor, you may use it instead of a meat grinder. Other less powerful blenders won’t be able to handle the bones, so don’t risk it.

If you don’t have a Vitamix or a grinder, you can make your cat food without bones.

Instead of taking the ultra-natural approach and grinding the meat and bones together, you can use boneless meat and a bone substitute like bone meal powder or eggshell powder. One route is to use a food processor or blender to grind the boneless meat and organs. While it will take more time, you can also mince the meat with a knife. Here’s a guide to grinding meat by hand.

Whatever method you choose, I recommend leaving a few chunks of meat for your cat to chew and gnaw. This is good for their teeth and, I believe, emotionally nourishing for your cat.

Cutting Board

When dealing with large quantities of raw meat, a large cutting board really makes life more comfortable. Regardless of size, your cutting board should be dishwasher-safe so that you can easily give it a thorough cleaning.

Best Cutting Board for Homemade Cat Food: Dutis Kitchenware Large Plastic Cutting Board

After using a small cutting board and constantly worrying about meat sliding onto the counter, I finally invested in this large board. It’s transformed my attitude towards preparing homemade cat food.

Kitchen Scale (optional)

These allow you to measure out precise amounts of meat and organs, ensuring that the recipe is balanced. You’ll be weighing large amounts of meat, so be sure to get one that can handle at least 10 lbs. If you don’t have a kitchen scale and aren’t prepared to buy one now, you can ask your butcher to measure specific amounts of meat and organs.

Best Kitchen Scale for Homemade Cat Food: Greater Goods 11 lb Kitchen Scale

This economical kitchen scale has an 11 lb capacity, so you can weigh a lot of ingredients with it. Some prefer a scale with a built-in bowl, but I prefer the at top so that I can pair it with my bowls or storage containers.

Once you’ve gone through your checklist of preparation supplies, it’s time to get your hands on some ingredients.

A cat’s prey is approximately 83% meat, fat, skin, sinew, connective tissue, and heart, with 7% edible bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organs. You’ll need to include muscle meat, bones, organs, and supplements.

Which Type of Meat is Best?

To prevent your cat from developing food allergies, feed a rotational diet and don’t become reliant on any one animal protein source.


Chicken is an economical, easy-to-find meat. Chicken organs are easy to find in most grocery stores, so there’s no need to seek out a butcher shop or go out of your way to find liver and other organs.

Another nice thing about chicken and poultry, in general, is that it has a high meat-to-bone ratio. Bones are an essential part of a homemade diet, but it’s possible to give your cat too much, resulting in constipation or over-mineralization. The latter can lead to urinary crystals.

You can use either whole carcasses or parts of the birds. If you choose to buy cuts of poultry, feed about 75% dark meat and 25% white meat.  Dark meat has more appropriate fat levels, is more nutrient-dense, and contains more taurine, but white meat has methionine, which can help to prevent FLUTD.


Turkey thighs, breast meat, and organs are usually very appetizing to cats and can be a good alternative to chicken for poultry-loving felines. If you can’t find turkey hearts or livers, you can substitute chicken parts.


What’s great about rabbit is that it’s a natural part of the feline diet. Some domesticated cats kill and eat wild rabbits half their size.

Rabbit is lean and is skinned prior to processing, so you’ll want to add in additional animal fat from poultry or other animals. Remember, also, that rabbit has a higher bone-to-meat ratio than poultry, so you may want to remove some of the bones before preparing rabbit-based homemade cat food.

Other Options

You can feed your cat almost any type of meat that’s convenient for you. Whenever feeding wild game, it’s important to freeze the meat to kill parasites before preparing your cat’s food.

Meats to Avoid

Don’t feed your cat wild boar, pig, bear, or—if you can get it—walrus meat. These may transmit pseudorabies. Don’t feed your cat squirrel, either, due to the potential for leptospirosis transmission.

Though it’s scrumptious and makes a great snack, ocean sh is contaminated with heavy metals and toxins, making it an inappropriate choice for daily feeding. Cats who consume a raw diet comprised primarily of share at risk of thiamine deficiency.

Organs and Hearts


Liver is jam-packed with nutrients. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A and D, along with copper and zinc. Chicken liver is the most commonly available type, but you can get it from almost any other animal. It’s important to note that beef liver has more copper than liver from other animals. If feeding your cat a beef-based diet, be sure to source liver from another species.

Hearts are muscles, not organs. They are a key source of taurine.

Hearts are muscle meat, but in contrast to other types of muscle meat, heart is rich in taurine. Cats cannot synthesize this amino acid, but it’s essential for good health. Chicken hearts are the easiest types of heart to source, but they’re not as taurine-dense as a mouse heart. For this reason, you can’t rely on hearts alone as a source of taurine. It’s important to add a taurine supplement. Note that if you’re feeding your cat homemade cat food on an occasional basis as a supplement to a nutritionally complete product, you don’t need to worry about following a complete and balanced recipe. If, however, your cat will be eating raw food every day for a week or more, you must follow a good recipe. You can choose from recipes accompanied by a nutritional analysis, which is ideal, or follow one that’s tried-and-true. Some recipes are neither, and these are the ones you need to avoid.

Homemade Cat Food Around the Web – Recipe Directory

  • Balanced Raw Food Recipe with Nutritional Analysis – Raw Feeding for IBD Cats
  • Easy Raw Cat Food – Feline Nutrition Foundation
  • Semi-Cooked Homemade Cat Food – Lisa Pierson, DVM
  • Balanced Recipe for use with Raw or Cooked Proteins – Raw Feeding for IBD Cats
  • Homemade Raw Cat Food Recipe – Cat Nutrition

Homemade Raw Cat Food Recipe

This raw cat food recipe was adapted from one published by the Feline Nutrition Foundation, a nonprot organization lead by veterinarians and other people who are passionate about feline nutrition. The recipe makes enough to feed one cat for about two weeks.


  • 2 kg or 4.5 lbs bone-in chicken thighs, with 20-25% of the bone removed OR 4 lbs or 1.3 kg boneless dark poultry meat, ½ of the skin removed
  • 200 g or 7 oz raw chicken liver
  • 400 g or 14 oz raw chicken hearts
  • .24 liter or 8 oz water
  • 4 raw egg yolks
  • 2000 mg taurine
  • 4000 mg salmon oil
  • 200 mg vitamin B complex
  • 200 IU vitamin E
  • 8.4 g or 1 ½ tsp lite salt
  • IF USING BONELESS MEAT: 2 ¼ tsp eggshell powder



1. Set up your workspace.

Making cat food is so much easier when you’re prepared! I’ve found that covering the workstation with newspaper or another disposable covering is a great way to minimize cleanup time after you’re done making the food.

If you’re particularly worried about bacteria and infection, wear gloves. Remember to change the gloves throughout your process to avoid cross-contamination.

2. Weigh, count, and measure your ingredients.

3. Use a sharp knife to chop about a quarter of the muscle meat into chunks.

Chunks give your cat something to chew on, which helps to minimize tartar buildup and encourages good oral health. Start with small chunks or strips and work your way up to larger pieces for your cat to gnaw on.

4. Grind the rest of the muscle meat with the organs.

Again, you have a few options here. Unless you have a very high-powered blender, you’ll need to use a grinder to break down the bones.
You want the bone pieces to be fairly small. Any bones remaining in the grinder should be discarded.
Those preparing a boneless interpretation of the recipe can use a food processor or blender to break the meat down to a soft, mixable grind.

5. Whisk the vitamins, egg yolks, and water together in a medium-sized bowl.

If you’re using boneless meat, this is where you’d mix in the eggshell powder. If you’re grinding in the bones, just use taurine, sh oil, vitamin E, B-complex, and lite salt.

6. Mix everything together in the biggest mixing bowl you own.

This stage can get messy, so choose a huge bowl to minimize spillage. Use a large spoon to gently and thoroughly incorporate the vitamin slurry into the muscle meat and organs. It’s very important to mix well—you don’t want your cat to have one nutritionally decient meal and another that’s excessively supplemented. The idea is for everything to be fully incorporated for a balanced diet.

7. Transfer the food into your storage containers.

Pull out your storage containers, place them close to the bowl to avoid messiness, and start transferring the nished homemade food into your storage containers. A food scale is helpful here. Without a scale, you’d either have to get your measuring cup dirty or rely on guesswork to give your cat daily portions of raw food.

A food scale allows you to measure the homemade food in the container—no need to wash more dishes or wonder if you’re giving your cat the right amount of food.

8. Freeze what you can’t use within the next 48 hours and then clean up after yourself.

I usually use sanitizing wipes to clean up small messes while I’m working and then use soap and water to thoroughly clean the counter, sink, and any other soiled areas once I’m done. If I’m feeling particularly worried about sanitation, I’ll use a solution of water and bleach on top of everything else.

I realize that many readers won’t want to use these toxic cleaning products around their cats. If you’re worried about your cat ingesting these cleansers, a vinegar and water solution will also work.

Most adult cats need around 200 calories per day. This usually translates to 6 oz of homemade cat food, but of course, the amounts will vary based on your recipe. The above raw cat food recipe from the Feline Nutrition Foundation contains about 35 calories per ounce.

Feeding Kittens

Ask your veterinarian or a respected veterinary nutritionist to evaluate your homemade diet for kittenappropriateness. Remember that your kitten’s food requirements are calculated on their predicted adult weight, n o t their current weight. They’ll need to eat about 5% of their predicted adult weight each day.
If you think your kitten will grow up to weigh a healthy 10 lbs, they’ll need to eat about 8 oz daily. A large breed kitten like a young Savannah might need 13 oz or more.

The answer to this question is extremely variable. It depends on the price of meat where you live, which types of meat you use, and what recipe you rely on.
Here’s a price comparison chart to help you understand how homemade cat food compares to other types of food. All averages were calculated for a 10-lb cat and based on prices in October and November 2018.

Cat Food Daily Feeding Cost Comparison Chart

  • Commercial Raw Cat Food: $5.30
  • Freeze-Dried Cat Food:         $3.67
  • Premium Canned:            $2.85
  • Economy Wet:               $1.22
  • Homemade Cat Food:         $0.81
  • Premium/Grain-Free Dry:    $0.70
  • Economy Dry:               $0.33

Surprisingly, homemade cat food is one of the cheapest options in this chart. Granted, this is on the low end of the homemade food price spectrum. By including organic novel proteins, you could easily rachet the price up closer to the premium end.

There is more than one way to feed your cat a great diet.

It doesn’t have to be all raw, all cooked, or even all homemade. And it can change over time. Don’t feel any pressure to go “all in” right now. There’s no moral dichotomy between raw, cooked, and commercial food. It’s ne to feed your cat a mix of all of those. In fact, feeding your cat a varied diet is a great way to ensure that they remain healthy and adaptable throughout life.

For those afraid they won’t get things right, there are some great options that are less prone to imbalances and human error.

You might use a premix from companies like TCFeline, EZComplete, and Alnutrin. These supplement blends take some of the fear out of making your cat’s food. Because everything is premeasured for optimal nutrition, the results are always virtually the same, diminishing the potential for deficiencies over time.

Or you might skip the “box cake mix” approach and just opt for a stellar commercial food.

Consider NomNomNow. This company makes and sells human-grade, homemade-style foods. Just like food you might make at home, each pouch of their food is made-to-order in small batches from restaurant quality ingredients.

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit  Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Feline Kidney Disease

The best food for cats with kidney disease

This guide is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian can provide personalized suggestions relevant to your cat’s unique situation.

There’s no way a short ebook can tell you everything you need to know about kidney disease nutrition. Years of scientific research and experience have left CKD cat guardians, seasoned veterinarians, and scientists with more questions than answers.

In this guide, we’ll explore the dynamic and complex relationship between diet and feline kidney disease.

You’ll learn how the best cat food can help your cat feel better longer, identify the key qualities of a good food for CKD kitties, and get to know ve of the most popular renal diets on the market in 2019.

Once your cat has lost kidney function, they can’t get it back – but the right food makes the future brighter.

Feeding your cat the right food is the best way to slow the disease’s progression, minimize symptoms, and give your cat the best life possible.

The best foods for kidney disease improve your cat’s quality of life by keeping your cat hydrated, supporting lean body mass, and reducing toxins in the bloodstream.

Prescription Cat Food for Kidney Disease – Good or Bad?

Decades of research tell us that the best food for cats with CKD are those with the following qualities:

  • High calorie density
  • High quality protein
  • Low phosphorus levels
  • Increased B vitamins
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Even the best commercially-sold conventional diets don’t do all of these things at once. This leaves you with a couple of options.

You can hold your nose over the questionable protein levels, high carbohydrate content, and unwholesome additives in a therapeutic or prescription diet, or you can make your own CKD-appropriate food. By preparing your own food, you can correct the flaws of therapeutic foods while mimicking the things that they do right.

Above all, cats with chronic kidney disease need to eat.

From Dr. David J. Polzin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM’s “11 guidelines for conservatively treating chronic kidney disease”:

“In many or most dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease, death or euthanasia results directly or indirectly from starvation.”

If possible, make dietary changes while your cat is still interested in eating. Also, note that cats often develop an aversion to the food they ate during hospitalization.

Cats in the later stages of kidney failure may feel too sick to try something new. If your cat is refusing to eat, don’t worry about feeding a therapeutic diet. Any food they’re willing to eat is good food.

Choose high-quality protein.

When protein breaks down during digestion, it produces waste. When the kidneys are functioning normally, they lter out this waste and send it on its way into the litter box.

But as your cat loses kidney function, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove these waste products. Instead of passing through your cat’s body, they remain in the bloodstream. This is why BUN levels rise in cats with CKD.

In an attempt to reduce BUN levels, cats with CKD are often given protein-restricted foods.

But in recent years, this practice has become increasingly controversial.

Some experts worry that a protein-restricted diet will lead to severe protein deprivation, decreased muscle mass, and poor physical condition.

Instead of cutting back to 20% or less calories from protein, you may choose to feed moderate levels of highly digestible, low-waste protein from high-quality animal sources.

Choose foods that are low in phosphorus.

As kidney function declines, phosphorus is one of the things that doesn’t get filtered out. As phosphorus builds up in the bloodstream, your cat will start to feel ill and kidney function declines even more quickly.

The best way to counteract this effect is by reducing the amount of phosphorus in your cat’s diet. The ideal diet for a cat with CKD contains less than 0.5% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.

Reduce inflammation with omega-3 fatty acids.

Many cats with kidney disease develop nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys. Animal-sourced omega3 fatty acids can reduce that inflammation, helping your cat to feel better for longer.

Increase your cat’s intake of B vitamins.

Because cats with kidney disease urinate so much, they often lose crucial B vitamins in the litter box. Deficiency in B vitamins is associated with loss of appetite and overall poor health.

Supplement with a probiotic.

When bacteria and endotoxins enter the gut, probiotics can help to perform “enteric dialysis”, taking on some of the detoxifying function that the kidneys have lost. Azodyl is a synergized prebiotic and probiotic supplement designed specifically for cats with kidney disease.

Top 5 Best Foods for Cats with Kidney Disease

Note that all of the foods on this list are canned products. Because cats with kidney disease are prone to dehydration, choosing a high-moisture food is acutely important.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food Review

Buy on Chewy

First 5 Ingredients: Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken ByProducts, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Wheat Flour
This gravy-style food from Royal Canin is available by prescription only. It receives consistently positive reviews and doesn’t seem to share the palatability problem that most kidney formulas face.

The food is 30% protein and .44% phosphorus on a dry matter basis, helping to control toxic buildup in the bloodstream.


  • Maximized energy density to help keep cats strong and muscular
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inammation
  • Low phosphorus levels help your cat to feel better
  • Low protein helps to limit uremic toxins


  • Many cats prefer pate-style food

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food Review

Buy on Chewy

First 5 Ingredients: Water, Pork Liver, Chicken, Egg Product, Brewers Rice
This food is available by prescription only.

According to Hill’s, this pate style canned cat food is “clinically tested to improve and lengthen the quality of life”. It achieves this by ticking all the standard kidney disease diet boxes.

The phosphorus content of this food is restricted to .49% on a dry matter basis and the protein is 30% on a dry matter basis.


  • Controlled phosphorus levels
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inammatory effect
  • Calorie-dense to support muscle mass
  • Highly palatable


  • Contains sugar
  • Contains caramel color

Hi-Tor Neo Diet For Cats Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Sucient Water for Processing, Meat By-Products, Chicken, Animal Liver, Beef
You might appreciate the convenience and cost advantage of buying a specially formulated nonprescription food.

The phosphorus percentage is about .71% on a dry matter basis, so it’s slightly higher in phosphorus than other formulas. If your cat refuses to eat a lower-phosphorus recipe, you might try this one instead.

In addition to lower-than-average phosphorus, the food has restricted protein content at 36% on a dry matter basis.


  • Limited phosphorus
  • Some reviews indicate that it’s highly palatable
  • Calorie dense to support healthy muscle mass


  • Doesn’t contain an omega-3 supplement
  • Slightly higher in phosphorus than some other foods

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Water Sucient For Processing, Beef, Poultry By-Products, Rice, Meat By-Products
Available only with a veterinary prescription, this food from Purina does everything a standard renal diet does. According to customer reviews, this pate-style food is palatable for cats.

On a dry matter basis, the formula is approximately .49% phosphorus and 34% protein.


  • Low in phosphorus
  • Highly palatable
  • Calorie dense to support lean body mass


  • Contains carrageenan, which may create inammation
  •  No omega-3 supplementation

Blue Natural Veterinary Diet KM Kidney + Mobility Support Canned Cat Food

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Potatoes, Potato Starch
Although this food is called a “Veterinary Diet”, you can purchase it without a veterinarian’s prescription. In addition to standard renal diet features, this food is formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health support.

The pate-style food gets mixed taste test results – a notable percentage of reviewers say that their cats didn’t like the food.

Compared to other renal care products, this food has slightly more phosphorus and less protein on a dry matter basis. It’s .77% phosphorus on a dry matter basis and about 28% protein.


  • Restricted phosphorus content
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids
  • Supports joint health


  • Contains carrageenan, which may create inammation
  •   Higher in phosphorus than some other foods


Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support S Dry Cat Food Review

Buy on Chewy
First 5 Ingredients: Corn, Chicken Fat, Pork Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal

High-moisture food is ideal for all cats. It’s even more valuable for those with kidney disease. Cats in renal failure are prone to dehydration and feeding them a water-depleted diet does nothing to help. In fact, feeding your cat a dry diet may have you giving him subcutaneous fluid injections sooner than they’d otherwise be necessary.

Dr. Lisa Pierson puts it into perspective in this quote from an interview conducted by Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets:

“Ther e’s nothing that frustrates me more than to see cat owners lea v e their vet’ s office with a bag of fluids under one arm and a bag of dry food under the other arm. The y ’v e been t old t o f eed a water-depleted diet and then stick a needle in their cat’ s back t o put water int o him. That’ s pretty nonsensical.”

That said, our top priority is getting your cat to eat. If dry food is all your cat wants to eat, it’s better than nothing. For cats who insist on dry food, his prescription kibble from Royal Canin is be a good option to consider. It has low protein, restricted phosphorus, and supplemental EPA and DHA from fish oil.

its protein content sits somewhere between 24.5% and 28.8% on a dry matter basis with up to about 0.59% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.

On Chewy, the food has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating and 97% of reviewers say they would recommend the food to a friend.


  • Omega-3 fatty acids from sh oil help to reduce inammation
  • Controlled phosphorus helps your cat feel healthier
  • Customers report that the square kibble is easy for their senior cats to eat
  • Restricted protein helps to lower uremic toxins
  • Unlike some other prescription renal diets, the food is free of articial colors or added sweeteners


  • Lacks the moisture your cat needs
  • High carbohydrate content
  • Slightly more expensive than other dry prescription foods

Additional Resources

Helen of FelineCRF.org has created an extraordinary resource for anyone caring for a cat who has CKD. The site contains over a thousand pages of information on almost everything you need to know about feline kidney disease.

Click here to browse FelineCRF.org’s food databases of dry and canned products sold in the US and UK.

As your cat’s kidney disease progresses, it’s likely that you’ll have to pry out their appetite with a variety of foods. These databases may help you to evaluate your options based on CKD-relevant metrics.

Click here for a thought-provoking discussion on feeding and caring for cats with kidney disease.

In this 34-minute interview, well-known veterinarians Karen Becker and Lisa Pierson explore the causes and treatment of kidney disease in cats. Pierson’s common-sense approach is a calm in the storm of confusion that is chronic kidney disease.

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit  Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

How to Take Care of a Kitten

Nothing is more adorable than a fluffy little kitten. Kittens are cute, for sure, but they can also be quite a handful. If you’ve never raised a kitten before, you may be wondering where to start.

Being a pet parent means providing for your pet’s basic needs in addition to being a friend and companion. For kittens, this means providing a healthy and high-quality diet as well as routine veterinary care. You’ll also need to prepare your home for your new kitten and take the time to play with and bond with it.

If you’re considering bringing a new kitten into your home, do your research to learn how to raise a kitten. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about kitten nutrition, behavior, and health.

Understanding Your Kitten’s Nutritional Needs

If you want your kitten to grow up healthy and strong, you need to feed it a high-quality diet. But what exactly are your kitten’s nutritional needs?

  • Kittens should start eating solid food around 4 weeks and should be fully weaned o their mother’s milk and onto kitten food by 7 or 8 weeks of age.
  • Kittens should start eating solid food around 4 weeks and of age.
  • A kitten’s diet should be nutrient-dense and fairly high in calories – kittens need roughly 2 to 3 times as many nutrients and calories as adult cats.
  • Kittens are obligate carnivores which means that their bodies best absorb nutrients from animalbased foods – a kitten’s diet should be primarily meat-based.
  • A kitten needs plenty of healthy fats in its diet, ideally from animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil – fats provide a concentrated source of energy as well as support for skin and coat.
  • Kittens should be fed several times a day to provide the energy they need to grow and develop properly without becoming overweight.

Now that you know some of the basics of kitten nutrition, let’s dive a little deeper.

Dogs, on the other hand, are scavenging carnivores which means that most of their diet should be meat based, but they are capable of digesting plant foods when other food is scarce.   Cats, however, are used to derive nutrition from animal sources so, while some carbohydrates are okay, most of your kitten’s diet should come from meat.

In terms of your kitten’s specific nutritional requirements, it needs at least 30% of its nutrition to come from protein and at least 20% from fat. Again, these nutrients are best from animal sources because these are the most biologically valuable for your kitten.

So, what kind of protein and fat is best for kittens?

Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Protein provides the building blocks for healthy muscles and animal proteins are the best for kittens because they are complete proteins. A complete protein is simply a protein that contains all of the essential amino acids your kitten needs. Good examples of protein options for kittens include poultry like chicken or turkey, meats like beef or lamb, and sh like salmon. You may also see game meats and other unique proteins like duck, venison, rabbit, and more.

Fat provides your kitten with a concentrated source of energy – each gram of fat contains 9 calories versus 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates.

Animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil are best, though your kitten can also get fat from protein sources like meat and sh. Plant oils can provide omega-6 fatty acids to balance your kitten’s omega-3 intake, but remember that animal-based fats are more biologically valuable.

Most commercial kitten and cat foods contain carbohydrates. While there are some benefits to that, protein and fat should always be the focus. Carbohydrates can provide energy and ber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, just make sure there aren’t too many plant-based carbohydrates in your kitten’s diet. The most digestible carbohydrates for kittens are starchy vegetables and cooked grains.

In addition to proteins, fats and carbohydrates, your kitten also needs vitamins and minerals in its diet. Most commercial kitten foods contain synthetic supplements to ensure balanced nutrition.

Just know that certain forms of these supplements are more biologically valuable than others. Chelated minerals are the best because they’ve been bound to protein molecules, which improves their absorption.

The best place to start in picking a high-quality diet for your kitten is to choose a recipe formulated specifically for kittens.

These will contain premium animal protein, healthy animal fats, and minimal digestible carbohydrates with nutritional supplements for balance.

Tips for Kitten Behavior

Kittens are little balls of energy and curiosity. As cute as they are, they have a way of getting into trouble and sometimes they do things you don’t want them to do.

The best way to keep your kitten from destroying your house is to make sure it gets plenty of exercise and that means active play time!

Playing with your kitten helps it work o some of its excess energy and it’s a great opportunity for the two of you to bond.

Try to work several short play sessions into your daily routine, and before you know it, you and your kitten will be the best of friends.

Here are some simple ideas for playing with your kitten:

  • Buy a fishing-pole toy or make your own by tying a small toy to a piece of string and a stick – move the toy around and get your kitten to chase it.
  • Use a laser pointer to make your kitten run around the room – you can also buy an automatic laser pointer toy for times when you’re busy or not home.
  • Offer an assortment of small, plush toys that your kitten can wrestle with and toss them around for your kitten to chase.
  • Roll a small ball around for your kitten to chase – it may find the ball more appealing if it makes noise, so look for one with a bell inside.

Playing with your kitten is fun until you catch a sharp kitten tooth or a pointy claw. Even if your kitten doesn’t mean to hurt you, it can sometimes happen. So, what do you do?

In addition to playing with your kitten to work o energy, you should also take the time to teach it how to play nice. First and foremost, don’t let your kitten play with your hands or feet because that will just teach it that it’s okay to bite or scratch you. Second, make sure your kitten has plenty of toys to play with, so your fingers are less tempting. If your kitten is trying to bite or scratch your hand, press a plush toy against its belly and let it wrestle with that instead.

Another way to discourage bad behavior in kittens is to use a spray bottle.


The water won’t hurt your kitten, but it will startle it enough to stop the unwanted behavior and may discourage it from repeating it.

Health Tips for a New Kitten

While feeding your kitten a high-quality diet is the most important thing you can do to support its health, you should also find a good veterinarian and start making regular visits. It’s a good idea to take your kitten to the vet within a week or two of bringing it home so you can get started with vaccinations and other basic health protocols.

When you take your kitten to the vet for the first time, he will probably recommend deworming. This is because most kittens adopted from shelters are born to stray mothers, which means there is a high risk that they contract intestinal parasites from their mother or from the shelter. Fortunately, deworming is simple, and the treatment is very effective. In addition to deworming your kitten, you will also need to have it vaccinated.

Here is a quick overview of the first three vet visits for kittens:

  • First Visit (6 to 8 weeks) – Fecal exam for intestinal parasites, blood test for feline leukemia, vaccinations for rhinotracheitis, calcivirus, panleukopenia, and chlamydia.
  • Second Visit (12 weeks) – Examination for parasites, first vaccine for feline leukemia, second vaccinations for rhinotracheitis, calcivirus, and panleukopenia.
  • Third Visit (vet’s recommendation) – Second feline leukemia vaccine, first rabies vaccine.

After your kitten has gotten its vaccinations, you may not need to see the vet again until it reaches 6 months of age. This is when most veterinarians recommend having a kitten spayed (for females) or neutered (for males).

Most shelters will spay or neuter a kitten once it weighs two pounds or more, so don’t feel like you have to wait until your kitten is 6 months old. In fact, some female kittens go into heat early, so talk to your vet about the best time for this procedure.

Benets of spaying or neutering your kitten include:  

  • Spaying a female kitten before her first heat cycle greatly reduces the risk of cervical cancer and completely eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer.
  •   Neutering a male kitten helps reduce aggressive and territorial behavior in adulthood.
  • Unspayed females that go into heat may try to escape the house in search of a mate – spaying the kitten will help keep it safe.
  • Both male and female cats sometimes exhibit spraying behavior to mark their territory – spaying and neutering may reduce this behavior.
  • Having a female kitten spayed greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer which is fatal in about 90% of the cats who contract it.
  • Spaying female kittens and neutering male kittens reduces the risk of unwanted litters because females won’t go into heat and males won’t be able to impregnate a female.

Once your kitten completes its vaccinations and has been spayed or neutered, you’ll only need to see the vet once or twice a year for a regular checkup and for booster vaccinations.

Simple Tips and Tricks for Raising a Kitten

In addition to learning the basics about your kitten’s nutritional needs, behavior, and health, there are some other tips and tricks you might and helpful. Here are our top tips for raising a kitten:

  • Kitten-proof your home before you bring your kitten home. Hide potentially-harmful things like electrical cords, poisonous houseplants, medications, and small objects.
  • Create a safe space for your kitten when you first bring it home – you’ll want to keep it in a small room for a day or two, then slowly expand its range.
  • Avoid leaving your kitten alone for too long– not only will your kitten get lonely, but it’s also more likely to get into trouble if there’s no one around.
  •  Make sure you use a kitten-safe litter and litter box. Look for dust-free litter made with natural materials that won’t irritate your kitten’s sensitive paws.
  • Provide plenty of toys and scratching surfaces. Giving your kitten designated scratching posts and pads will discourage inappropriate scratching.
  • Start grooming your kitten early so it gets used to the treatment – spend a few minutes brushing your kitten a few times a week.

In addition to following these simple tips, you may want to consider training your kitten as well. Cats are intelligent animals and they can be trained to respond to simple commands and to perform tricks. If you start early and use food rewards, you may be surprised what you can teach your kitten to do.

Final Remarks

Raising a kitten is a wonderful and fun-filled experience, though it certainly comes with its challenges. The more you learn about raising a kitten before you bring one home, the better o both you and your kitten will be. So, take the time to read our advice and then put it to use. Good luck!

About the author:

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

How to Cope With Losing a Cat

It never gets easier. No matter how many cats I had to let go, no matter the circumstances. Loosing a family member always hurts. And they all, every single one has a special place in our home and hearts. Forever.

The most recent cat we had to let go was Flecki, our gorgeous grey and white tom who adored children and unfortunately was also very nosy.

He just loved walking into neighbours houses and jumping into cars. That’s how we lost him in February. We desperately searched for him everywhere but with no success. At one point he was thought to be seen roaming in town, but even with driving around and constantly calling his name we were not able to find him. And then the terrible news. A cat with his unusual amazing markings was found just around the corner of our house, hit by a car.

Flecki had almost made it home.

Even if our cats live into their late teens or even their twenties, it is never long enough.

And the price we have to pay sooner or later is the pain of loss which can be devastating. While others may not understand the depth of the pain, for many of us our pet is not “just a cat” but a part of our family. We form a strong bond with our cat and the feelings we experience when we loose them can be compared to loosing a child but is not recognized by society. It is important to acknowledge that loosing a cat is difficult and feelings of grief are a natural thing. There are a few tools which may help you along the way and accompany you in your grieving time, so you get through the process easier and are able to move on in time.

Don’t Ignore Your Pain

For real healing it is necessary to admit to the pain and face the emotions arising. If you bottle up your feelings and try to ignore the grieving pain, it will catch up with you later. An aching heart for your pet is not a weakness but a very natural reaction for a compassionate human. Don’t try to hide it, but maybe find an outlet, helping you cope. Writing about it, talking to people who can empathize with your situation are only a few ideas. You will know best which approach suits you most but it is a great way to express your feelings.

Don’t Be Afraid or Ashamed to Grieve

Our cats are not only pets but part of the family. They entertain us, they comfort us, they make us laugh, they keep us warm, they annoy us… yup family member. So don’t let anybody tell you that it is “ridiculous” or “silly” to be heartbroken. To feel pain is normal, so it is the best to stay away from people who can not understand where you are standing right now. They would not tell you to “just get over it” if it would concern a child or partner. Allow yourself to give into this emotion of sadness and loss. It is natural,don’t judge yourself.


Take Your Time

Grieving doesn’t happen over night, it can’t be hurried or forced. It is an individual process, it can take days, weeks or even longer, there is no grieving timetable. When we lost our Hexi, in October 2014, we shed tears for weeks. The active grieving process took months and we still miss her terribly.

She was the most loving and friendly cat, and the fact that she was taken from us and had to die a horrific death didn’t make it easier. Even today we still miss her badly. With our Flecki it took shorter, maybe as we lost quite a few cats over the years. But we still miss him very much. Especially my daughter, as they had a very special and close bond. So don’t rush yourself, let the natural process take as long as it needs so your heart can heal properly and you will be able to move on in time.

Rituals Can Help the Healing Process

Personally, I am a very sensitive person and my “family” is my everything. So whenever we lost one of our very dear cats, we always make sure to keep them alive in our memory. With Hexi for instance we put up a little ‘remembrance frame’ on the wall so she will never be forgotten. I even purchased a small silver pendant which I wore every day for a very long time. Even today in moments when I really miss her, I will wear it. Grieving is an individual experience and our replace is decorated with purrfect pictures of cats we have lost over the years.

Reach Out to Others Who Lost Their Pet

While grieving, I was lucky to be introduced by a good friend to a Facebook site which turned out to be a great support for me in that difficult time. The Ralph Site. This place is all about connecting people who have lost their pets. When I joined the page about Hexi I felt comforted in so many ways and most importantly taken seriously in my pain. Surrounding yourself with people who not only understand what you are going through but also offer you the compassion and empathy you need in that time, can do wonders for healing. The internet is full of wonderful sites like that. Why not give them a try?

Helping Kids to Grieve

With all our own pain it’s important not to forget that our kids are even more vulnerable and sensitive, especially when it concerns their “own” pet. Hexi was a real affectionate cat and was also very close to my daughter. It was very painful for my girl. At that time she had an amazing teacher and (thankfully) also a cat lover which is NOT usual where we live. So the teacher took care of my daughter, talked with her about it and allowed her to grieve that day. After school my daughter returned home with a lovely picture which is still on our kitchen wall.

When Flecksi died it was especially hard for her, him being HER cat. As before I told her that it is ok to be upset in school and to be sad about it and that no one has the right to tell her how to feel. Luckily, her best friend comforted her the day and once again she drew a picture for Flecksi and we took some time to cry and grieve together. There are many other ways of coping with loss but then the most important thing is to know that feeling sad, lonely and wanting to hide under a thick blanket for a while is a natural reaction to the loss of a beloved pet. Exhibiting these feelings do NOT make you weak, but a strong person, so don’t feel ashamed.

Take the time to mourn your beloved pet and grieve the loss of your cat. And after a while there is always ONE fantastic healing tool, which I always recommend.

Giving another homeless cat a loving home. 

It may take a while and only you will know when you feel emotionally open and ready for a new pet. With Hexi, it took quite a while to be able to adopt another cat but then Flecksi appeared at our doorstep and we felt we were ready to give another lonely cat a new home. Especially as my daughter was missing the company of a cat in her bed at night. I personally feel very strong about cats especially in Ireland, where these magnificent creatures are not respected and are mostly considered vermin. Spaying/neutering is unfortunately not something most people would consider, especially in the countryside where we live. So I try to make space as much as we can for other love-craving felines.

There is truth in the saying: The best remedy for a broken heart is a kitten/cat.

That grieving is a process to be taken seriously, as cat lovers are the most sensitive and compassionate people out there. There is no such thing as “just” a cat, or “just a pet”, they are part of our family and we do not love them less.

Christine Klein  
Purrfect Cat Tales

Choose the Right Cat Litter

You’re about to get the low-down on cat litter.

In this guide, we’ll identify the 6 critical qualities of the best cat litter and explore the different types on the market, pointing out which varieties work and which ones don’t. A list of detailed product recommendations will help you to select the right cat litter for your cat’s individual needs.

Once you’ve satisfied your cat’s needs, you can start considering your own. Humans deserve a comfortable home, too, and the ideal litter box benefits both you and your cat.

Prior to the invention of the kitty powder room, cats did their business outdoors, where soft earth is sometimes hard to find and predators may stage a bathroom break ambush. Thanks to the litter box, your cat can find relief in peace.

Instead of forcing our cats to use a human toilet, we give them a soft substrate that mimics the dirt and sand they’d use in the wild. Your cat’s natural instincts get the respect they deserve and the litter helps to control the smell and appearance of cat waste in the house. The cats win. The humans win. And any cat litter that contributes to this situation is a winning product.

The 6 Qualities of the Best Cat Litter

1. The best cat litter creates solid clumps that are easy to scoop.

Both cats and people prefer clumping litter. It’s easy to clean and promotes a dry, comfortable environment.

Not all clumping litter works equally well. Some products create soft blobs and others yield rm urine rocks. You don’t want to feel like you’re scraping chunks out of a bowl of cookie dough. The clumps should be cohesive, rm, and easy to remove.

If your litter creates loose, crumbly clumps and leaves chunks of waste behind every scooping, think about finding a better litter. Move on to another product that creates rm, beautiful clumps.

2. The best cat litter controls odors well.

The best cat litter helps to keep odors at bay – but don’t expect a box full of clay granules to take over your job. Many cats avoid the litter box because it’s not clean enough for their standards. And only you – and the other humans in the household – can control that.

3. The best cat litter is low-dust.

Most litter is advertised as low-dust or “99% dust-free”, but these are flimsy claims. Some so-called lowdust products create plumes of dust, so don’t trust the label. Read customer reviews instead.

4. The best cat litter is affordable.

Depending on what type of litter you choose, you could end up forking over $70 – $200 per year in cat litter expenditures. That may not sound like a money to you, but when you consider that a human’s annual toilet paper expenses are low as $15 and usually don’t exceed $50, cat litter starts to look a bit spendy.

Don’t think that you need to choose expensive litter box filler. The most affordable litter is often the best, and you might be better o using soil from your backyard than spending big bucks on premium litter. Many cat litter shoppers explain that they save money by buying cat litter in bulk or from store brands like Chewy’s Frisco and Petco’s So Phresh.

5. The best cat litter doesn’t track excessively.

Litter tracks. It gets trapped in your cat’s paws and fur and hitches a ride out of the litter box. Although many litter companies call their products “low-tracking”, the best way to control tracking is by investing in a good litter mat. Secondly, consider using dense litter with heavy granules.

6. The best cat litter is made without irritating fragrances.

Some people prefer litter made with added perfume, but these fragrances only encourage lazy litter box management and may irritate your sensitive cat. The best cat litter doesn’t lean on fragrances to disguise the smell of cat waste.

The 3 Fundamental Types of Cat Litter

Today’s cat litter shopper has the privilege and challenge of dealing with an astounding product variety. Let’s break the marketplace down into three fundamental types: clay, silica gel, and biodegradable cat litter products.

Clay Cat Litter

Clay cat litter is by far the most popular type on the market today. It’s the most widely-available and most cost-effective, and cats usually prefer it to any other type. Despite its popularity, clay litter has its flaws and its critics. Because it’s gathered through strip mining and is non-biodegradable, its environmental impact has been described as an “absolute catastrophe”.

Concerningly, clay contains crystalline silica particles, which are known carcinogens. Clay is the dustiest type of litter on the market. Considering that clay contains crystalline silica particles, it’s dangerous to inhale clay cat litter dust.

Non-Clumping Clay Litter

Non-clumping clay was the original commercial litter box filler and was first sold in 1947 as “Kitty Litter”.

It’s made from a variety of absorbent clays, including sepiolite, attapulgite, and montmorillonite. These clays are used in industrial applications to clean up spills and can even dehydrate flowers.

Clumping Clay Litter

Clumping clay litter is usually made from sodium bentonite clay.

This type of clay expands 12-15 times its original size when wet. This swelling ability causes it to clump in contact with urine, making it easy to scoop.

Our pick for the best clumping clay litter: Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

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This is a simple, straightforward, no-frills clumping clay litter that is consistently ranked among the best products on the market.

It clumps exceptionally well, helping to make box maintenance easy. The granules are on the large side, helping to keep them tidily inside of the box. Reviewers note that it’s less dusty than most other clay products.

Silica Gel Crystals

Crystal or silica gel litter is a relatively new addition to the cat litter shelf. It’s a low-maintenance litter made from the same gel crystals found in the desiccant packets that accompany some moisture-sensitive products.

Silica gel crystals are made synthetically from silicon dioxide, oxygen, and water. Each crystal has millions of tiny pores that capture moisture. Instead of clumping, this type of litter dehydrates solid waste and absorbs liquids.

If you remove solid waste and stir the litter daily, crystal cat litter can effectively serve you for up to a month before disposal. Because this type of litter has such great longevity, it’s more expensive than clay and some biodegradable products.

While the litter is safe and convenient, it’s not popular among cats. The crystals are often large and uncomfortable under their paws.

Our pick for the best silica gel crystal cat litter: So Phresh Scoopable Odor-Lock Clumping Micro Crystal Litter

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This product from Petco store brand So Phresh combines the convenience of silica gel litter with the perks of traditional clay. Instead of large, harsh crystals, the litter consists of paw-friendly micro crystals. Unlike most silica gel products, this litter clumps, allowing you to scoop out liquid waste. It’s lightweight, fragrance-free, and doesn’t produce much dust.

Natural and Biodegradable Cat Litter

The most head-spinning part of the cat litter marketplace may be the natural and organic department. The conscious litter shopper may choose from such earth-friendly options as corn, wheat, coconut, grass, cassava, pine, cedar, paper, and walnut litter.


This type of litter is made from the fibrous material of walnut shells. It has a dark color that makes tracking particularly noticeable on light-colored floors and may impede your ability to identify waste in the box. It’s available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties.


Grass litter is lightweight, but it has strong clumping and odor control abilities. Because it’s so light, grass litter tends to track and scatter.


Possibly the most popular type of biodegradable litter, corn litter is made from compressed corn and may incorporate other ingredients to enhance its clumping and deodorizing power. Corn litter is relatively dusty and tends to track. Concerningly, corn is a top target for aflatoxin mold contamination. For this reason, it’s doubly important to keep the litter box clean when using corn cat litter.


Paper litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties. Pellet-style paper litter is most common. It’s made from highly-absorbent recycled newspaper and other paper products. Because it’s gentle on paws and doesn’t create dust, this type of litter is often recommended to sensitive cats or those with healing stitches. This type of litter is among the worst where odor control is concerned.


Wood litter may be either clumping or non-clumping. It harnesses the absorbency and natural odor control ability of dehydrated wood fibers. Tracking, scattering, and dust vary depending on which type of wood litter you choose.


This type of litter utilizes the odor-controlling enzymes and clumping starches naturally found in wheat. Wheat creates soft clumps and may be dusty.

Our pick for the best natural/biodegradable cat litter: SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter

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This star clumper is 100% sorghum grass.

It has a soft, lightweight body that cats like to dig in. While the texture is paw-friendly and the weight is easy on your back, prepare for some tracking and scattering. This is one litter that demands a good litter mat.

Unlike some other biodegradable products that lack muscle, this product creates excellent clumps and most reviewers state that it does a good job of controlling odors. SmartCat’s biggest aw is its price. Most natural and biodegradable products are on the expensive side, and this litter is one of the priciest. If you’re looking for a lower-priced alternative, try grass litter from Frisco,  a brand exclusively available through Chewy.

What’s the best cat litter for odor control?

You’ve done everything right. You scoop the litter box every day. You empty it completely every couple of weeks. You provide multiple boxes throughout the house. But your efforts have done nothing to stop the stench.

In this case, it’s probably time to switch to a new litter.

Clumping clay, pine pellets, and silica gel products score particularly well in smell tests. Some products are infused with ingredients that either neutralize or disguise odors.

The neutralizing category usually involves activated charcoal or baking soda. The other category employs perfume to cover up natural odors. Some people like their cat litter to smell like air freshener, but from your cat’s perspective, these added fragrances are probably overwhelming and not at all pleasant.

Our pick for the best odor-neutralizing litter: Ever Clean Extra Strength Cat Litter, Unscented

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This clumping clay litter has a full kit of odor-neutralizing features. The odor control system includes three agents. The rst is activated charcoal to capture ammonia and feces odors, followed by an antimicrobial to stop bacteria growth, and plant extracts that, according to Ever Clean, eliminate any residual odors. It neutralizes odors without attempting to disguise them, so you don’t need to worry about any irritating fragrances.

What’s the best cat litter for kittens?

Just as it can clog the pipes in your house, clumping cat litter may block your kitten’s delicate plumbing. While all cats face a risk of intestinal blockage from litter consumption, kittens are a uniquely high-risk group. Kittens are curious, playful creatures with a tendency to consume bits of litter. A teaspoon of litter could expand to ⅓ cup in your kitten’s tiny body.

Our pick for the best litter for kittens: Purina Yesterday’s News Unscented Cat Litter

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This litter doesn’t clump, so you don’t have to worry about it forming an insoluble mass in your kitten’s intestinal tract. Additionally, paper litter is soft under your kitten’s baby-soft toes. It’s dust-free, made without any added fragrances, and completely biodegradable. On the negative side, this paper litter doesn’t provide the best odor control, so you’ll want to change it at least once every week.

What’s the best cat litter for declawed cats?

Cats are prone to litter box problems after declawing. In the days after the operation, using the litter box is painful on their tender toes. And further down the recovery road, declawed cats continue to struggle with the pain. Because using the litter box can be particularly painful, declawed cats may avoid the gravel and plastic and opt for something soft that doesn’t press at the site of mutilation. Litter box avoidance is a tremendous problem. Ironically, this operation intended to make cats more house-friendly may ultimately send them back to the shelter.

Our pick for the best cat litter for declawed cats: Purina Yesterday’s News Softer Texture Unscented Cat Litter

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Veterinarians often recommend paper litter for any cat recovering from an operation.

The tender touch of this extra-soft litter is gentle on declawed paws. Recycled paper is virtually dust-free and won’t contaminate the wounds.

Another good quality of Yesterday’s News is the fact that it is a non-clumping pellet litter. Cats who have recently been declawed should avoid clumping litter; clumping products could stick in their paws, leading to pain and possible infection.

What’s the best cat litter for multiple cats?

The best cat litter for multiple cats is identical to the best litter for single cats.

If a cat litter line includes a multi-cat formula and a standard formula, choose the multi-cat formula. Good multi-cat formulas create firmer clumps and control odors better than do their standard litter counterparts. Whether you have one cat or twelve, extra strength is always a good thing.

Additional feline household members demand changes in your cats’ bathroom arrangement. You’ll want to add new litter boxes and use strategic positioning to ensure that they don’t become central to territorial spats.

Our pick for the best cat litter for multiple cats: Arm & Hammer Multi-Cat Clump & Seal Clumping Litter

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Considered Arm & Hammer’s “platinum formula”, this litter is made with a patented formula designed to neutralize and seal odors on contact. Arm & Hammer guarantees that this litter will eliminate odors for seven days. Thanks to plant-derived clumping agents, the product creates rm, scoopable clumps.

It’s described as a 100% dust-free formula, and most customer reviews agree that it produces considerably less dust than the average clay litter.

What is the best flushable cat litter?

You flush your own waste down the toilet, so why not do the same with your cat’s? Instead of storing bags full of cat waste in your house, you can flush it all away. It’s a fresh concept.

The only problem with flushable litter is that it doesn’t always work.

In theory, flushable cat litter is any product that will pass through your plumbing without clogging it.

A truly safe-to-flush litter is compatible with your system. Older plumbing is more susceptible to clogs. Even flushable litter can be risky, so it’s always recommended that you flush gradually rather than dumping a boxful of litter into the toilet. Allow the clumps to dissolve before touching the flush lever.

Remember to check with local ordinances before ushing cat litter. Flushing litter is illegal in some areas, primarily due to the fact that soiled litter often carries Toxoplasma gondii parasites.

Cats shed the parasites in their feces, and while most cats are asymptomatic carriers, the parasite can be deadly to other animals. The parasite is resilient. Water treatment systems cannot destroy it before it travels into environments where it can harm sensitive populations.

Our pick for the best ushable cat litter: Gareld Cat Litter Tiny Grains

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This biodegradable litter consists of a combination of corn and cassava.
It performs well in almost all key areas, including clumping, odor control, and dust production. Additionally, it’s advertised as a flushable product. As always, you should be prudent and consider your unique plumbing situation before ushing.

What’s the best lightweight cat litter?

Schlepping a 40-lb bag of cat litter from the car to the house can strain your back and make you loath to buy litter again. Because we use litter by volume, back strain and litter quantity aren’t always directly proportional.

Clay litter is by far the heaviest type of litter. If you want lightweight clay, you’ll need to seek out a specially-formulated product. Most other litters, including silica gel and biodegradable products, are lightweight and easy to transport.

Our pick for the best lightweight cat litter: CatSpot Lightweight 100% Coconut Cat Litter

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This natural litter is made from coconut husks (also known as coconut coir), and it’s feather-light. Five pounds of this product are as absorbent and long-lasting as twenty pounds of clay litter.

In addition to helping you breathe easily while carrying litter up the stairs, CatSpot litter is virtually dustfree. It’s a non-clumping product, so you’ll need to scoop out feces and give the litter a stir each day to ensure even urine distribution and absorption.

Because the litter is so light, scattering and tracking can be problematic.

What’s the best non-tracking cat litter?

Tracking is inevitable, but you can minimize it by using the right products. Small, lightweight litter particles stick in your cat’s paws and are easily tossed out of the box. Opt for weightier granules that will stay in place.

Our pick for the best non-tracking cat litter: Purina Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System Pellets

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This litter system takes a unique approach to cat litter. It combines a litter tray, absorbent pads, and deodorizing clay pellets to make litter box maintenance extraordinarily simple.

The pellets are placed on a tray over an absorbent pad, allowing liquid waste to drop onto the pad. Solid waste remains in the odor-neutralizing pellets. The heavy clay pellets seldom cling to your cat’s fur or paws, so tracking is minimal.

What’s the best non-clumping cat litter?

Because it isn’t scooped daily, non-clumping litter has to perform excellently in all areas. Chifley, nonclumping litter has to be incredibly absorbent, ensuring that the litter box stays dry and comfortable. Secondly, it must possess stellar odor control abilities.

Our pick for the best non-clumping cat litter: Feline Pine Cat Litter

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Feline Pine is made from dehydrated pine pellets, which are naturally absorbent. In most cases, the pellets can withstand considerable use before they become saturated and smelly. That means that you can safely change out the litter box as infrequently as once every two weeks.

When these pellets are moistened, they disintegrate and revert to sawdust. You can filter the sawdust out while scooping or simply dump out the box when all of the litter has reverted to dust.

Pine provides phenomenal odor control and smells great by human standards.

Because it is a pellet litter, Feline Pine doesn’t appeal to every human or every cat. Pellets can be uncomfortable under your cat’s paws.

What’s the best dust-free cat litter?

If you’re serious about choosing a dust-free litter, forget about clay.

While some clay litter is better than others – Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat is consistently ranked as one of the least dusty clay products – people and cats with severe dust sensitivities will need to seek out a non-clay litter.

Silica gel litter produces minimal dust, so it’s sometimes a good choice for sensitive systems. In the natural and biodegradable space, you’ll need to refine your search to eliminate certain allergy triggers. If your cat has respiratory problems, you may choose to avoid corn, wheat, and pine litter. All of these can exacerbate allergy-related respiratory irritation.

Walnut, grass, and paper litter, however, produce incredibly small amounts of dust.

Our pick for the best dust-free cat litter: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Respiratory Relief Cat Litter

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Read Our Full Brand Review

This silica litter is hypoallergenic with no plant proteins, is essentially dust-free, and is infused with stress-relieving herbal essences.

Like most silica crystal litter products, this is not a clumping litter. Instead, you’ll scoop out any solid waste and stir in any urine. The silica gel litter can withstand up to a month of use before you’ll need to dump it out.

Underscore this point: the best cat litter is the litter your cat wants to use.

Cats like fine-grained litter and they usually dislike anything that’s lumpy under their delicate paws, making pellets and crystals less popular choices. Try to select products with a fine, comfortable texture resembling nature’s litter box. Remember that some cats don’t like change and are resistant to the idea of switching to a new litter product. Gradually switch to the new litter over the course of a week or more. Alternatively, use the new litter in one box and your cat’s old litter in another, allowing your cat to make the change independently.

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Hairball Remedies

Hairball Remedies (The best hairball remedies for cats)

Hairballs form when hair gets stuck or slowed on its way through the digestive tract, allowing it to form into a clump. Once it forms into a clod, hair is unable to continue its journey to the litter box and instead it heads in the opposite direction. Hairball treatments come in many dierent forms. You can buy hairball remedies in a tube, use butter from your kitchen, grow a pot of cat grass, or groom your cat to keep him from ingesting his hair at all.


Fiber supplementation helps to bind single strands of hair to food particles, which carry the hairs on their journey towards the colon. By encouraging the hair to move quickly through the body, ber-based hairball remedies reduce the hair’s chances of fusing into a ball and coming back up. Additionally, a small amount of dietary ber can help keep the digestive system functioning smoothly, correcting hairball problems at their roots.

Fiber-Based Hairball Remedies

  • Psyllium Husk Powder
  • Coconut Fiber
  • Chia Seeds
  • Guar Gum
  • Powdered Cellulose
  • Cat Grass


The second type of hairball remedies includes products that lubricate ingested hairs, preventing them from sticking together.

Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly)

Petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly, paran oil, and white petrolatum, is a highly-rened derivative of petroleum. After it’s been fully rened, petroleum jelly appears to be safe for cats and people. If you decide to give your cat petroleum jelly from your medicine cabinet, check the back of the package to ensure that you’re giving your cat 100% plain petroleum jelly with no scents or other additives.

Hairball Gels

Most products marketed as hairball remedies are petroleum jelly-based. Others use vegetable oils or beeswax instead of petrolatum. They contain added avors and sweeteners like malt syrup, fructose, and dextrose.

Butter and Oil

Butter and olive oil are frequently recommended for hairball control, but as digestible fats, they’re more likely to make your cat chubby than keep him from hacking up a furball. If you choose to give your cat any oil for hairballs, choose mineral oil. It’s essentially liquid petroleum jelly and appears to be an eective solution for hairballs.

Other Hairball Remedies

Egg yolks have interesting properties for hairball control. They contain choline and lecithin, which work together to, respectively, encourage GI contractions and emulsify the fat that binds hairballs together. You can provide the anti-hairball power of egg yolks by feeding your cat fresh egg yolks or by or giving him an egg yolk lecithin supplement.

Slippery elm bark helps to soothe and lubricate the digestive tract, reducing inammation and helping the hairball move in the right direction.

Dietary Changes

Though hairball-specic cat foods usually focus on ber alone, this isn’t always the right approach.

If your cat is already eating a diet with a little bit of ber, the best dietary change is finding a food that reduces inammation. Hairballs often indicate digestive problems and should be approached the same way you’d approach any other symptom of gut inammation, like diarrhea or vomiting.

Typically, this would mean giving your cat a high-protein food made primarily from meat and animal fat. You want as little plant matter as possible. A moisture-rich diet is ideal.

Read our article on the best cat food for hairball control.


Finally, you can control hairballs by brushing your cat a couple of times a week. If your cat has a long, thick coat, you might also give him a full-body clip in the warmer months. Capturing loose hair before your cat licks it up is the most reliable means of stopping hairballs.

Read our guide to the best cat grooming brushes.

The following hairball remedies are popular, top-rated products that have a reputation for safety and eectiveness. Most are lubricating products, but you’ll also nd a few that take a dierent approach to hairball control, addressing it as a component of digestive health.

Overall Best Hairball Remedy: Cat Lax Supplement

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Though Cat Lax doesn’t mention hairballs in its name, this product is just as popular as a hairball preventive as it is a laxative.

In fact, this gel is one of the most trusted hairball control products on the market. On Chewy, it has 210 customer reviews and 97% of reviewers say they’d recommend it. Customers say their cats like the way it tastes and that it helps to keep hairballs down. One reviewer says they’ve been successfully using it for decades.

The gel’s rst ingredient is cod liver oil, which is both a lubricant and a source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids have anti-inammatory properties and may improve skin and coat health, helping to control the hairball problem at its source.

It also contains white petrolatum, which coats the hairs and helps them to pass through the digestive system. Finally, the gel contains lecithin, a natural emulsier that helps to loosen hairballs in the body.

The gel is sweetened with caramel and malt syrup, neither of which are great for cats.


  • Addresses multiple aspects of the hairball problem
  • An aordable, easy-to-nd product
  • Trusted by cat guardians
  • Has a taste cats enjoy


  • Contains sweeteners

Best Hairball Remedy Runner Up: Tomlyn Laxatone Hairball Remedy Tuna Flavor Gel 

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This well-regarded brand has been in the hairball gel business for over 25 years.

The gel contains petrolatum as the rst ingredient. Petroleum jelly is mixed with a blend of mineral oil and soybean oil. All of these ingredients coat the hairs and help them to smoothly move through the digestive tract.

The gel is sweetened with corn syrup, malt syrup, and cane molasses. A blend of natural and articial avors give it a taste that, while palatable to some cats, seems to repel others.

Laxatone Hairball Remedy isn’t quite as well-received as Cat Lax, with about 86% of 276 reviewers saying they’d recommend it to a friend. Most unhappy customers say that their cat didn’t like the way the gel tasted.


  • A well-regarded product with a history of ecacy  
  • Contains a blend of lubricants  
  • Most cats like the gel’s avor  
  • Affordable


  • Contains three types of sugar
  • Contains articial flavors

Best Hairball Remedy without Petrolatum: Richard’s Organics Chicken Flavor Hairball Remedy 

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This hairball treatment is made without the petrolatum typically used in hairball gel.

Instead, it contains a combination of vegetable oil, cod liver oil, and lecithin. Like the ingredients in Cat Lax, these ingredients help to prevent hair from coalescing into a ball. The lecithin helps loosen clumps that have already formed. Cod liver oil is as a rich source of EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that can help to reduce inammation and may promote a healthier coat.

A blend of dextrose, fructose, and natural chicken avor give the food its avor. This much sugar isn’t ideal for cats, but for short-term use as a hairball remedy, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The gel has a chicken avor that most cats enjoy. You can administer it on your cat’s paw, on your nger, or by squirting a drop onto your cat’s food.


  • Controls hairballs while supporting digestive health
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Most cats like the way the gel tastes


  • Contains sweeteners

Best Hairball Prevention Supplement: Vet’s Best Hairball Relief Digestive Aid Review

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These tablets are designed to relieve hairballs and support overall digestive health. They’re primarily made from psyllium husk, a source of soluble ber. Marshmallow root can help lubricate the digestive tract while reducing inammation. Slippery elm bark has similar properties and is a popular remedy for hairballs on its own.

The tablets contain a blend of digestive enzymes and probiotics thought to improve digestive health, along with papaya extract, which may be able to reduce inammation and support digestive health.

The breakable tablets are avored with liver powder and natural avor and, according to customer reviews, cats like the taste. Some reviewers say that the tablets are too large and hard to break into bite-size pieces, making them dicult to administer.


  • Most reviews are positive
  • Made from a blend of well-regarded ingredients
  • Appears to be safe for cats
  • Cats like the way the tablets taste


  • May be difficult to administer

Best Hairball Control Treat: Get Naked Furball Relief Soft Treats for Cats Review

If you’d rather give your cat a treat than a gel or a tablet, these soft treats may be a good choice. They contain a mix of ingredients intended to support healthy digestion, including axseed as a source of ber and a mix of prebiotics and probiotics intended to keep the gut in top shape. Chicken is the rst ingredient and, with no potentially-harmful preservatives, dyes, or avors, these treats are among the few that appear to be completely safe for cats. The treats get mixed reviews, with almost a third of customers on Chewy saying their cats refused to eat them.


  • Contains ber to help move hair through the GI tract
  • Features prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health
  • Free of potentially-harmful ingredients


  • Some cats don’t like the way the treats taste


Ultimately, you don’t want to have your cat on lubricants and other hairball treatments for the rest of his life. You don’t want him to have hairballs.

The above hairball remedies can help, but they’re not a complete solution to the hairball problem.

If your cat coughs up hairballs more than once a week or even once a day, his frequent hacking is probably connected to digestive problems. In this case, he probably doesn’t need to be swept out with ber or lubricated with grease—he might need to go to the veterinarian. Extremely frequent hairballs may be a symptom of organ dysfunction, IBD, and other conditions.

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit  Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

If you determine that your cat’s hairballs are caused by a digestive issue, want to consider treating the hairballs the same way you’d treat any chronic digestive problem. Adjust your cat’s diet to reduce inammatory ingredients and consider incorporating probiotics, prebiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote digestive health.

Feline Nutrition the complete guide

Feline Nutrition – Getting Oriented

How can you be sure that you’re feeding your cat the right diet? It can be tricky to decide what’s best, as most brands use specic language to encourage consumers to purchase what they’re oering.

A quick trip through the cat food aisle at your local pet store reveals terminology such as “complete and balanced,” “meets cats’ nutritional requirements,” and more.

Even though most commercial diets contain the right macronutrients for an average cat, they’re not all created equal. For example, kittens require more nutrients than adult cats, and older cats tend to thrive on senior diets.

Some cats have health issues that call for special diets, and others have allergies. In this guide, we cover cat food nutrition, kitten nutrition, and much more, all to make it easier for you to choose the right food for your cat. With a proper diet, your cat will enjoy a longer, happier, and healthier life!

The Basics of Feline Nutrition

Cats are cute and cuddly, but they’re also obligate carnivores. This means that their bodies need meat.

According to the National Research Council’s science-based guide for pet owners, animal-based protein is much easier for cats to digest than plant-based protein, and it is more suitable for the feline digestive system. Furthermore, the guide notes that carbohydrates are an abundant source of energy (calories).

Because a high-carbohydrate diet can cause complications including obesity and diabetes, it’s important to pay attention to macronutrient percentages when deciding which brand to feed your feline friend.

In a Swedish study of cats visiting an academic medical center, a full 45 percent of the cats were overweight, and there was a direct link with diets consisting of dry food.

There is an ongoing debate between various entities in the pet food industry and veterinary researchers as to whether cats should eat any grains or starchy vegetables at all.

The general consensus among feline nutrition experts is this: Small amounts are OK since cats that kill and eat prey animals also consume those herbivores’ stomach contents, but that grains like corn certainly shouldn’t be at the top of the ingredients list.


At the same time, it’s worth noting that the National Research Council’s Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition states that there is no known dietary carbohydrate requirement for cats. Holistic veterinarians like Dr. Angie Krause often recommend keeping grains to a minimum or eliminating them altogether. This leads us to conclude that grains and starchy vegetables should be complementary and kept to a minimum if they’re fed at all.

In nature, cats eat birds, small animals, and the occasional insect. According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, the wild cat’s diet is approximately 55 percent protein, 45 percent fat, and just 1 to 2 percent carbohydrates.

This is perfect for our domesticated cats too, as their bodies are designed to metabolize protein and fat for energy. In contrast, commercial cat food is all over the carts, sometimes containing up to 50 percent carbohydrates. Just like we humans do, cats store extra carbs as fat.

Cats have some unique nutritional needs in other areas, too. They can’t synthesize vitamin A from betacarotene, so their food must contain preformed vitamin A. In the wild and in raw cat diets, this comes from the liver.

They also need high levels of taurine and arginine, which are two essential amino acids, so the focus needs to be on high-quality ingredients including meat and animal fat – not grains and vegetable oil. Based on guidelines from the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, here are a few more things to look for when choosing the healthiest cat food:

Unfortunately, some manufacturers rely on cheap fillers and artificial flavors, plus artificial preservatives like TBHQ, BHT, and BHA, and other additives that can harm your cat’s health over time.

Some retailers – notably PETCO – see this is a problem, and recently announced that they will stop carrying pet foods and treats that contain artificial ingredients.

When choosing the best food for your cat, the Feline Nutrition Foundation and other unbiased, nonindustry sources recommend that it’s best to choose options that mimic a cat’s natural diet.

Should your cat eat a raw diet?

There is a risk of bacterial contamination when making raw cat food at home and our extensive research of professional opinions shows that many veterinarians are on the fence about the drawbacks vs. benefits of raw diets for cats.

At the same time, it’s clear that raw food is closest to nature, and with careful attention to ingredients, raw food might be ideal. It’s easier now than ever to feed your cat a raw diet, as some companies specialize in producing balanced raw diets for cats as well as convenient freeze-dried options.

This alternative ensures proper nutrition based on cats’ biological needs, plus it’s more convenient than making homemade cat food.

We’ll dive deeper into all the best options shortly.

Cat Feeding Schedule

Many of us free feed our cats, simply topping up their bowls with their favorite kibble so that they’re able to snack at will, day in and day out. As convenient as free feeding might be for us, it’s not doing our cats any favors.

In the wild, cats tend to eat their main meals at dawn and dusk, times that coincide with peak hunting hours.

They’ll often eat small meals over the course of the day, between naps. If you were able to watch a wild cat’s eating schedule, you would notice that most cats prefer to eat something every five to six hours. That’s ideal, but it might not be a good t for your own schedule.

Ideally, your cat feeding schedule should include small meals throughout the day. Think mouse-sized portions or smaller.

If you can only feed your cat once in the morning and once again in the evening, you might want to invest in an automatic feeder with a timer. There are many models available, and these allow you to provide meals on schedule.

There are obvious challenges that come with sticking to specific feeding schedule, particularly when you have multiple cats and you’re trying to control portions or feed different diets.

Idea: hire a pet sitter to come in and feed your cats once or twice during the middle of the day.

If cats are prone to competing over food, feed them in separate rooms, or in carriers with the doors closed, placed far enough apart so neither cat feels threatened by the other.

Try smart feeders that only open for certain cats. These pair with your cat’s microchip or an RFID tag that you can put on your cat’s collar.

One of the most important ingredients in cat food is often missing: Water.

Cats eating a diet that consists mostly of dry food are chronically dehydrated and prone to urinary tract issues, kidney disease, and other complications.

For this reason, it’s best to feed at least some wet food, and to ensure that your cat always has access to fresh water. Invest in a fountain with moving water, or change your cat’s water at least twice a day to encourage them to drink more.

Cat Diet Depending on Breed and Age

Do different cat breeds need different types of food? The short answer to this question is no. All cats – from long-haired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons to short-haired cats like Siamese and Abyssinians need the same healthy diet.

Whether you have well-bred show cats or beloved shelter pets of indeterminate heritage, their nutritional needs are all the same! It’s worth noting that a special cat hairball control food might benet long-haired cats, but daily brushing might help even more since high-ber cat diets have been linked to an increased risk of bladder inflammation.

When it comes to age, a different set of rules apply. Kitten nutrition is different from adult cat nutrition, and older cats really do need to eat senior cat food.

Kitten foods are specially formulated to support healthy growth, with added vitamins and minerals, plus more calories.

With proper nutrition, kittens develop healthy immune systems. While there are some formulas designed to support good health at all ages, kittens should switch to adult food when they are one year old.

Adult cats – generally those between the ages of one and seven – and mature cats between age eight and ten – should eat a diet based on meat and fat, with relatively low carbohydrates.

Most cats over age 11 are considered seniors. While many cats will continue to thrive on a good-quality adult cat food, a lower-calorie senior cat food can help prevent rapid weight gain.

Again, we’d like to stress the importance of keeping carbohydrate intake low to prevent obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes as your cat ages and spends more time relaxing.

The Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University mentions that it’s not necessary to reduce protein content when feeding a senior cat; in fact, this might contribute to muscle loss.


Some diets are appropriate for cats of all ages. Not surprisingly, this includes raw diets and freeze-dried meat-based diets. A few companies go the extra mile by delivering freshly-made cat food and adjusting nutrients according to your cat’s life stage and nutritional needs. These meals do cost more, but they offer convenience for you and nutrients tailored to your feline friend’s specific requirements.

Cat Diet Depending on Health Issues

If your cat has kidney disease, diabetes, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), or another condition, your vet might recommend a prescription diet. If you have the choice between dry food and wet, try to remember our advice about water intake and give your cat as much wet food as possible. What if your cat isn’t thriving on the diet that your vet recommended? It’s possible that she might not be getting enough water, or that there may be another imbalance somewhere. See if your vet can recommend something else, or consider having a consultation with a veterinary nutritionist. Also consider whether your cat might have another underlying condition! Your veterinarian is your cat’s best friend here; bloodwork and other diagnostics can help sort things out when prescription food doesn’t seem to be working.

Dealing with Cat Food Allergies

Cat food allergy symptoms include sneezing, chewing on paws, scratching relentlessly, even to the point of bleeding, snoring, vomiting, diarrhea, and a dull, coarse coat. If you think that your cat has food allergies, get her to the vet right away. Medications can provide relief, and a food elimination diet can help identify which ingredients are to blame. Common cat food allergens include:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Seafood
  • Articial colors
  • Corn and corn products
  • Preservatives, i.e. BHA and BHT
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Eggs

Feeding Cats with Urinary Issues

According to research published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Koret School of Veterinary Medicine and other entities, dry food is a terrible choice for cats with FLUTD and other urinary issues, primarily because cats are designed to get most of their water from the food they eat.

Studies show that dry food can contribute to chronic dehydration, which results in increased urine concentration and a far greater likelihood that stones and crystals will form and lead to life-threatening blockages.

If your cat has FLUTD or another urinary tract issue, your vet will be able to recommend a specific diet – and it is likely to consist of wet food rather than dry.

If your cat is accustomed to dry food and turns her nose up at everything else, you might be able to entice him to try a special uretic canned food by sprinkling some of his kibbles on top. Most cats take some time to adjust to a new diet, but by gradually decreasing the amount of old food and increasing the amount of new food, you can usually ensure that the transition happens seamlessly.

Feeding Cats with Diabetes

According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, many diabetic cats are stabilized once they’re placed on low-carbohydrate diets, and often, the diabetes goes away entirely. In one study, 68 percent of diabetic cats placed on a low-carbohydrate diet were able to discontinue insulin.

If your cat is on insulin for diabetes, be sure to work with your vet as you transition toward a low carbohydrate diet. Depending on whether your cat has other conditions such as pancreatitis or liver disease, you may be able to choose a low-carbohydrate commercial food like the ones in our guide, or you might consider making your cat’s food from scratch.

Homemade Cat Food vs. Store-Bought

Homemade cat food is less convenient than store-bought, however, it places you in complete control of your cat’s diet. If your cat has an allergy, for example, you can easily keep even the smallest trace of that allergen out of your pet’s food by making it yourself.

You know that there are no weird, unsanitary, or potentially unsafe ingredients going into the mix, and with convenient pre-mixed nutrient blends, it is very easy to give your cat everything she needs including taurine, the right amount of preformed vitamin A, and more.

In case you’re worried about sanitation, remember that you’re in control of keeping your surfaces, tools, and containers clean. Additionally, cats have very strong stomach acid that kills bacteria, and as an extra layer of protection, they tend to turn their noses up at anything that isn’t perfectly fresh. Most won’t even consider eating food that’s starting to spoil.

Making homemade cat food calls for special tools. Since DIY cat food recipes call for bones with nutritious marrow inside, you need a good meat grinder to ensure that everything is well-incorporated. Bone meal is a close second, but its nutrient prole is a little different since it’s not fresh.

You’ll need sharp knives to cut some of the meat into larger chunks that satisfy your cat’s predatory nature, and you’ll need good cutting boards, along with containers that you can label. A food scale is essential unless you can get a butcher to weigh everything for you when you purchase it.

Some people freeze their fresh cat food in ice cube trays designated for cat food only and sanitized after every use, making portion control simple. After freezing individual cubes, all the cubes can be wrapped in butcher paper or wax paper and then tucked together into freezer bags.

Despite the need for special equipment and containers to store your cat’s food in the freezer plus the willingness to thaw food for your cat ahead of every meal, you’ll find that homemade cat food is a cost-effective alternative to store-bought brands.

It’s up to you to do a cost-benefit analysis! Depending on your schedule and the value of your own time, it might pay to simply pick a high-quality brand and be done with it.

Homemade Cat Food Recipes

You can find quite a few homemade cat food recipes online – just be sure to watch out for known allergens and avoid recipes that look like they contain lots of carbohydrates. Here is one to get you started. We adapted this homemade raw cat food recipe from one that was published by the non-profit Feline Nutrition Foundation. It makes enough food to feed one cat for about two weeks.


  • 4.5 pounds raw chicken thighs with skin; remove about 25% of the bones
  • 14 ounces raw chicken hearts
  • 7 ounces raw chicken liver
  • 4 raw egg yolks
  • 1 cup water
  • 200 IU vitamin E
  • 200mg vitamin B complex
  • 4000mg sh oil
  • 2000mg taurine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lite salt



1. Set up your work area with everything needed for your start-to-nish process.

2. Weigh ingredients (do this after you remove 25% of the bones)

3. Set a quarter of the meat aside. This will be cut into bite-size strips or chunks that will help clean your cat’s teeth.

4. Grind the rest of the meat, hearts, liver, and bones. Discard any obvious large bone chunks.

5. In a 2-gallon bowl (or larger), whisk the egg yolks, vitamins, and water together. Add the meat a little at a time, mixing with a large metal spoon to make sure that the vitamins and egg yolks are thoroughly incorporated.

6. Transfer your cat’s food into clean storage containers. Plan to give each cat about 6 ounces of food per day, and consider using ice cube trays to create individual servings (think mouse-sized portions). You can weigh the first few, and then if you’re feeling confident, eyeball the rest. Think about how many times a day you plan to feed your cat – if it’s four times, you’ll want 1.5ounce portions; if its three times, you’ll want 2-ounce portions, and if it’s two times, you’ll want 3-ounce portions.

7. Set enough portions aside for today and tomorrow. Freeze the rest.

8. Clean up with a bleach solution or another anti-bacterial solution that’s suitable for cleaning up after raw meat. Be sure to check your meat grinder for specific breakdown and cleaning instructions.

9. Watch your cat chow down! Most cats are very eager to try this recipe.

Cat Nutritional Supplements & Vitamins: The Low-Down

Many of us take vitamins and other supplements. Should we be giving them to our cats, too?

Unless you are making your own cat food and adding essential nutrients according to a recipe formulated by a feline nutrition expert, it’s probably not necessary. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, of the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Communications says that it’s best to take supplement manufacturers’ recommendations with a grain of salt.

In an interview, Cruz cautioned that “anyone, regardless of their expertise, can set up a web site and claim that their product can make your pet feel younger and have increased energy.”

Industry advocates say that their products can help cats live longer and stay healthier.

But Cruz, the Pet Food Institute, and other feline nutrition experts disagree, saying that a good-quality cat food is all that most cats need, unless your veterinarian recommends supplementing in the event of illness.

Dr. Cruz has additional recommendations regarding supplementation:

  • Pregnant and nursing cats sometimes develop nutritional deficiencies. Your vet can help you determine if a queen needs additional nutrients.
  • If your cat has small intestinal disease and isn’t able to absorb cobalamine and folate (two essential B vitamins), supplementation takes place via injection, since oral supplements can’t be absorbed.
  • Essential fatty acids can boost heart health, help keep your cat’s coat shiny, and provide benefits for your cat’s eyes, brain, liver, joints, and immune system. Many cat foods contain the right amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, but your vet might recommend supplementing.

At the same time, Dr. Cruz says that it’s very important for consumers to be aware that “natural does not always mean safe or effective.” Too much calcium or vitamin D can be toxic, and too much vitamin C can lead to overly acidic urine, crystal formation, and blocked urinary tract.

Since supplements have the potential to harm instead of help, it’s vital to talk with your vet if you’re thinking about supplementation. They can help you determine whether a supplement is helpful or harmful, or if it’s simply an expensive fad.

Key Statistics and Trends in the Cat Food Industry

Statistics from the Nielsen Company and other key research organizations including Watt Global Media reveal that the cat food industry is responding well to veterinarians’ and pet owners’ demands for better pet nutrition based on cats’ physiological requirements. Here are some key findings.

  • Cat owners want to make healthy choices rather than indulgent ones, and pet food manufacturers are responding in kind, adding functional ingredients such as turmeric, coconut oil, sh oil, and even CBD to food and treats.
  • According to PetMD, top pet food companies are no longer seeking to merely meet minimum nutritional requirements. Instead, they’re looking for ways to optimize health via high-quality nutrition.
  • Pet owners aren’t just concerned about consuming genetically modified ingredients themselves, they’re also concerned about keeping GMOs out of their pets’ diets. In one survey, 35% of pet owners told researchers that they ranked “non-GMO” as one of their top three concerns when deciding which pet food to purchase. Other terminology like “Organic” and “Scientifically formulated” were important too, but they took a back seat to “non-GMO.”
  • Ingredient quality is now the #1 concern among pet food industry professionals. Meeting pet food consumer demands is second on the list, and the price of ingredients, packaging, and other cots is the industry’s third-highest priority.
  • More consumers are buying their cat food online. In 2018, Amazon alone saw a 34 percent increase in pet food sales.
  • Market research shows that cat owners want a combination of healthful ingredients, convenience, and relative affordability, and many recognize that feeding a quality diet is likely to result in cost savings via reduced vet bills. Pet food companies are responding with innovative options such as freeze-dried raw diets, as well as foods that can be reconstituted to provide all the benefits of wet food without the higher shipping and packaging costs associated with traditional canned and pouch-packaged wet cat foods.
  • Grain-free doesn’t necessarily mean low carbohydrate. The fact that it can be a marketing term calls for careful analysis of foods you’re considering for your cat. A recent study by Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University showed that foods with alternative carbohydrate sources such as legumes, potato, or sweet potato were often lower in carbohydrates than their grain-containing contemporaries, but that some brands contained similar carbohydrate levels.

Product Comparison: The Most Popular Cat Foods 2019

With an eye toward optimal nutrition, here are the most popular cat foods for 2019. We’ve broken these recommendations down into three categories: Good, Better, and Best.

Good Cat Foods for 2019

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll find that these food options provide a good balance of nutrients. The companies that manufacture them are highly-rated in general, however the foods aren’t always grain-free or low in carbohydrates. If you choose one of these foods, you may want to spend extra time playing with your cat so that she doesn’t gain weight and increase her diabetes risk.

Purina One

Purina ONE is a complete line of dry and wet cat food. The company focuses on using real meat and fish and offers several different products including foods for cats with sensitive systems and cats with a tendency to develop hairballs. There are several wet and dry formulas from which to choose.

Fancy Feast

Fancy Feast is a Purina brand that focuses on individually portioned meals made with real ingredients including meat and sh. The Filets are very nice – tuna, salmon, chicken, and ocean sh, making for a very low-carbohydrate treat that can supplement other foods. Broths, appetizers, and natural wet cat foods without grain or fillers are excellent additions to the menu. Be careful because some of these foods contain milk or cheese, which aren’t well-tolerated by some cats

Better Cat Foods for 2019

These foods are designed for quality and great nutrition. Each company has an excellent reputation and some companies offer specially formulated diets for cats with allergies and sensitive stomachs.

Natural Balance

Natural Balance cat food has quite a few good things going for it: It’s made in the U.S., every batch is tested for safety at a certified reference laboratory, and there’s a satisfaction guarantee. While some recipes do include vegetable proteins, many use real meat as a first ingredient. This brand offers a range of limited ingredient diets for cats with allergies to certain ingredients, with both wet and dry formulas to choose from. Be sure to look at ingredients since some formulas have peas as a first ingredient instead of meat, and as the dry formulas tend to be relatively high in carbohydrates

Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild focuses on delivering the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Although some of the proteins in this food are vegetable-based, there’s plenty of quality animal protein in each recipe as well. The company’s product line includes a variety of wet foods as well as a few dry flavors.

Hill’s Science Diet

According to Hill’s, Science Diet cat foods oer biology-based nutrition along with high-quality ingredients. This company oers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, so if you or your cat find anything you don’t like about the food, you can return it for a full refund. If your cat has a medical condition, it’s likely that your vet might recommend one of the special diets from Hill’s. Both wet foods and dry foods are available.


When Rachael Ray introduced Nutrish pet food, people were thrilled. This food uses real ingredients, although many recipes do include grains and starchy vegetables. At the same time, the product line does include zero-grain recipes including wet foods and ultra high-moisture broths designed to use as treats or to complement other cat foods. You can find Nutrish online and in many stores, so it’s a convenient option whatever your shopping preference.

The Best Cat Foods for 2019

These foods are specically designed to keep protein and fat content high, and to minimize carbohydrates.

Wysong Uretic™ with Organic chicken

Wysong canned cat food is one of the best brands on the market, with 95% meat plus cranberry for a healthy urinary tract. While this food was designed specically for kitties with urinary issues, it is suitable for all cats. It does contain some carbohydrates from brown rice, but at less than 5%, it’s a great choice.

Wysong offers a full range of raw foods including freeze-dried options for convenience. The company also offers several dry cat food formulas with relatively low carbohydrate loads, including a special formula for kittens and another one for senior cats.


Primal is a whole-food diet for cats, with frozen raw formulas as well as freeze-dried options for greater convenience. There are several different varieties to choose from, which is nice if your cat has limitations such as a chicken allergy.

Nature’s Variety

If you’re not interested in feeding a raw or homemade diet, Nature’s Variety is a close second, with high protein options that are grain-free as well as free from high-carbohydrate starches. These blends are made in the USA, and come in both wet and dry flavors. You can also get freeze-dried “raw boost” mixers and kibble with pieces of freeze-dried meat mixed in.

Hare Today

Hare Today is a solution for people who want to feed their cats a raw homemade diet, but who don’t want to worry about grinding meat and getting organ ratios right. The company also offers balanced supplement packs (including taurine) for adding to homemade cat food. It’s also famous for its frozen, vacuum-sealed whole prey, which many cats like, but which can be very o-putting for squeamish pet owners. The mice, rats, chicks, and guinea pigs on offer are humanely euthanized with Co2. Freeze-dried options are also available as a convenient alternative to raw and whole prey choices.

Hound & Gatos Canned Foods

Hound & Gatos is a favorite not just because they oer so many dierent avors to keep your cat wellnourished and interested in his food, but because it is made with 100% animal protein. This is some of the best grain-free cat food on the market, and the company does an excellent job of ensuring that all essential nutrients are included.

Steve’s Real Food

Oering raw frozen and freeze-dried options, Steve’s Real Food blends real meat with biologically appropriate ingredients such as krill in its line of Quest cat foods. The rst ingredient is always free range and/or grass-fed meat or poultry, and there are no grains to be seen. This food is conveniently formed into bite-sized nuggets. It’s freeze-dried, so you don’t have to worry about thawing anything out.

Raw Paws Pet Food Freeze Dried Complete Chicken

If you love the convenience of dry food but you want to treat your pet to superior nutrition, Raw Paws might be ideal. This food is made from a blend of 45% muscle meat, 45% organs, and 10 percent bone, and it is packaged in a resealable bag. One pound of this freeze-dried food is the equivalent of three pounds of raw food.

Raw Paws also offers frozen complete blends that let you feed your cat a balanced raw diet without having to make it yourself. These blends are very easy to portion out, and they’re easy to store in the freezer, too.

Ziwi Peak Cat Food

Ziwi Peak wet cat food is made with meat, organs, and bones. It’s grain-free, very low in carbohydrates, and free from anything artificial.
The company also offers a unique air-dried cat food for convenience. It is 96 percent meat, organs, and bone, 7 percent tripe, and 3% green mussel, which provide natural glucosamine and chondroitin.

There are quite a few dierent avors to choose from, as well as dierent-sized cans and bags. Like other foods that made their way onto this list, it’s available at many pet stores as well as online.

Vet-Answered FAQs

Why can’t I feed my cat a vegetarian or vegan diet?

Cat’s have a very high requirement for protein in the diet. The building blocks of the body are what we call “amino acids”, and there are 23 of these to create the mammalian body.


Cats are able to produce 12 of these themselves, but 11 of these they are unable to make and have to be obtained from the diet, called “essential amino acids.” Cats also have a requirement for pre-formed vitamins (such as vitamin A and vitamin B3) and a vegetarian or vegan diet simply does not provide enough of these proteins and vitamins for cats to be healthy.

Deciencies in some of the essential amino acids can cause serious disease in the cat, for example a taurine deciency can cause serious heart disease. In short, cats must eat meat to survive; there is no way a cat can be healthy and vegan or vegetarian.

Can I feed my cat the same food I feed my dog?

In short; no. You cannot feed your cat the same diet as what your dog gets. Cat food is higher in preformed proteins and vitamins which are essential in the diet of cats, whereas dog food doesn’t need these same high levels of these proteins.

Over time, if your cat is eating dog food they will develop dietary deciencies which will cause serious health problems.

What are signs that my cat might be allergic to chicken?

There are a few dierent signs which can alert you to dietary allergies in the cat. The rst and most obvious symptoms of food allergic animals are loose faeces (sometimes diarrhoea) and/or intermittent vomiting. Some cats will also react by becoming itchy, which can be dicult to diagnose in the cat.

Cats who are itchy will commonly scratch there face, or be over grooming themselves, sometimes to the point of causing hair loss. If your cat is showing these symptoms, then the best way to determine if your cat is allergic to chicken is to undergo a dietary trial, where we remove meats like chicken from the diet and change to a novel protein diet for an extended period. If the clinical signs resolve, then its possible that your animal may be allergic to chicken.

Why doesn’t my cat want to eat?

There is a myriad of reasons that your cat may not want to eat. If you are concerned about your cat not eating for any reason, it is important to get your animal assessed by a veterinarian.

Gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, pancreatic, endocrine, cancerous and a slew of other infectious and problems can cause your cat to not want to eat. It’s easy to blame the fact that the cat is a picky eater, but if we still aren’t wanting to eat after 48 hours then getting checked out by a veterinarian is denitely advised.

What’s the link between high carbohydrate food and diabetes?

Because of the dietary ancestry of cats, high carbohydrate diets are not good in cats as they are not used to breaking down these sugars in their diets, and so are unable to use them as effectively. However, the link between high carbohydrate diets and causing diabetes mellitus in the feline patient is unclear, and the current conclusion is a high carbohydrate diet does not cause diabetes mellitus. However, a low carbohydrate diet is still recommended in cats, as they are not as well equipped to use them as a dietary source.

My vet is recommending a therapeutic diet. Does my cat really need a special food?

Dietary management of disease in patients is extremely useful and helpful to see them through to recovery. Therapeutic diets range from dental biscuits which help to reduce plaque build up on the teeth and ultimate reduce the overall incidence of dental disease, to kidney diets which reduce strain on the kidneys and help to reduce progression of disease.

Urinary, kidney, liver, dental, weight loss, gastrointestinal, reduced allergen diets, reduced iodine diets (for hyperthyroid cats) and cats with sensitive stomachs and hairball build up are all examples of therapeutic diets which can help reduce the burden or progression of disease.

If your veterinarian has recommended a therapeutic diet, if your cat is happy eating that food then it is recommended to use that diet to ensure your cat has the best quality of life possible.

My cat is overweight. What should I be feeding her, and how often?

Dieting in cats is hard work (unless of course you love the constant meowing of your furry friend). There are foods which help to make your cat feel more full and can help with weight loss, such as Royal Canin Satiety Food or Hill’s Science w/d food.

Otherwise, if you wish to keep your cat on the same diet but lose some weight, reducing the amount given by one third is a good way to start.

If you normally always allow your cat access to food, then unfortunately this may have to stop to allow for a more controlled amount to be given and help with weight loss. As for how often should you be feeding your cat; once or twice per day is often adequate.

Which is better for my cat; dry food or wet food?

I suggest feeding dry food as it also helps to clean the teeth and encourages chewing action. Dry food is very reasonable as a sole diet, and your cat should have access to water at all times.

Wet food is delicious and is excellent to mix in with the dry food, but unless your cat has a reason to be eating wet food all the time (as recommended by the veterinarian) then I recommend a dry food as the main portion of the diet.

Should I free feed my cat?

Free feeding cats is when you offer them access to food at all times. In some cats this works very well, and they are able to control how much they eat and not put on excessive weight.

However, some cats don’t have such great self-control and will eat too much and put on weight. In animals that put on weight, free feeding is not a good idea, and they should be restricted to only certain amounts of food per day. You have to work out if your cat has good self-control or if they eat a bit too much for you to be free feeding them.

Why is my cat chewing on grass/houseplants?

This isn’t easy to answer, and there are a multitude of reasons your cat may be chewing grass. One reason may be that it helps them vomit, as they are unable to digest the plant material as they lack the necessary enzymes to break the plants down in the digestive system.

This can help cats to purge the stomach of indigestible material such as bones and hair and is a natural thing for them to do in the wild. Another reason is that it may help to act as a natural laxative and push everything through the digestive system, making the passage of food through the colon slightly easier.

Sometimes cats also chew on the plants because of behavioural reasons, such as stress, anxiety or just out of curiosity. As long as the plant material your cat is chewing on isn’t toxic to them, then it is not concerning for them to chew on plant material.

Is it ok to feed my cat homemade cat food?

Homemade cat food is a tricky business. If you are certain that the diet is fully balanced and has all of the requirements for your cats daily energy, vitamin mineral and protein requirements then this is acceptable.

However, this is not simple and consultation with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist is usually recommended to ensure that this is the case. Otherwise, commercial cat foods have been formulated to ensure they are fully balanced and provide all of the nutrients your cat needs for health and wellbeing.

Is premium cat food really better than the stuff from the supermarket?

Premium cat food is generally considered of a better quality because it has less “filler” or “ash” component in the food, which often means more is absorbed and there is less to come out the other end!

Veterinarians generally recommend these premium brands because we know that that undergo stringent quality controls to ensure they are always fully balanced and of good quality.

However, registered, fully balanced cat foods are also available and are adequate to keep your cat healthy. Just don’t be surprised if the litter tray needs to be emptied slightly more often!

Is milk a good treat for cats?

Contrary to the fact that your cat probably loves milk as a treat, it is not a good treat for them. It often causes diarrhoea as cats lack the enzymes required to properly break down the sugars in milk. Diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and can leave your cat feeling generally quite ill, and so it is denitely not recommended to feed your cat cow’s milk as a treat.

Does my cat have to have a eat a grainfree diet?

No. The term “grain-free” is more of an advertising grab than anything else. It relies on the fact that we would think that feeding a grain-free diet would mean there are less carbohydrates in the diet, but in fact some of these diets contain more carbohydrates than regular grain-containing diets.

Your cat does not have to eat a grain free diet. As long as the diet they are being fed is fully balanced and follows veterinary advice (eg: if a prescription diet is required) then the diet should be fine!

My cat has hairballs but refuses to eat hairball gel. What are some alternatives?

Hairballs can be a difficult beast to tackle in cats! Some are very prone to getting them, and others can go a lifetime with no problems. Hairball gel is a very effective way of treating the problem, but if your cat doesn’t want to touch them, then there are a couple of alternatives.

The best way to prevent them would be to feed a diet specifically formulated to help the hair easily move through the digestive tract and not cause any problems; a specific hairball diet. Otherwise, ensuring that your cat is well groomed will help to reduce the burden of loose hair being ingested, but will not completely mitigate the problem.

If the hairballs are becoming a bigger and bigger problem and causing your cat serious issues, then its time to consult with your veterinarian about how to best manage the issue.

About the Veterinarian

Dr John Blaxill

His main interests in veterinary medicine are small animal internal medicine, neurology, diagnostic imaging and oncology. Dr John enjoys both canine and feline medicine, and in the future hopes to work towards specialist accreditation within the facets of small animal medicine.

In his spare time, Dr John enjoys spending time with his [slightly chunky] Border Collie “Beau”, hiking, spending time eating and drinking beer with friends.