Last updated: August 7, 2021

Our method

27Products analysed

31Hours spent

22Evaluated articles

94User reviews

Welcome to our big dry cat food test 2021. Here we present all the dry cat foods that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best dry cat food for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy dry cat food.




Summary

  • For you as a cat owner, dry food has plenty of benefits to offer. You don't have to lug as much weight when you go shopping, you can store it easily and don't have to deal with leftovers in the fridge, for example. And you pollute your environment less with packaging waste and usually pay less money than with wet feeding.
  • As dry food only contains about 7 to 10% water, cats on a dry food diet need to drink extra water - about 200 ml depending on the size and activity of the cat and environmental conditions.
  • Wet food should be added fresh to the bowl at each meal and leftovers should be disposed of quickly. 10 to 15 small meals, as cats eat when hunting prey or eating dry food, are not possible with wet food.

The Best Dry Cat Food: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask before buying dry cat food

The first question you should ask when buying a cat food is whether you want to feed your cat wet or dry food. The main difference is the water content of the food. With dry food, for example, you would have to offer water next to the food. In any case, cats must be accustomed to water intake when they are young.

katzentrockenfutter

With dry food, pay particular attention to the ingredients and their exact composition. (Photo: super-mapio / pixabay.com)

Complete, single or supplementary food?

The second question would be whether you prefer a complete, single or supplementary food. A complete food should already contain all the nutrients your cat needs. In contrast, a single food consists of only one component at a time, such as meat.

Vitamins and minerals would be missing. Supplementary food is used, for example, to feed unsaturated fatty acids or similar. The choice is therefore already large before you have to decide on a manufacturer.

It is true that complete feeds are sufficient, but individual feeds or supplementary feeds, for example in the form of treats, should be fed. However, they should not exceed 20% of the daily ration. This variation in the diet serves the health of the cat and its digestive tract.

Variety keeps the digestive system active and fit, so that if something doesn't go down well, there is a healthy, biodiverse fauna in the cat's intestine. It also makes sense to offer individual foods, as most complete foods contain artificial supplements or vegetable energy sources, such as maize or cereals, which add to their nutritional value.

The digestibility of feed ingredients is always highest when they are as "fresh" as possible. A good example is the vitamins and minerals contained in meat, offal and bones.

How much should I feed my cat?

A third question is how much the little predators actually need to eat. It is important to differentiate according to the size of the cat. Generally speaking, a cat weighing 4 kg needs about 1200kJ, i.e. 300kcal, of energy in its daily intake. It also makes sense to think of a food bowl to offer the food.

Cats rarely eat all their food at once, but rather in 10-20 portions throughout the day.

Dry food or wet food?

From the point of view of ingredients, dry and wet food do not have much in common. Both are usually intended as complete foods. However, cats are originally desert animals, which is reflected in their still quite primitive metabolism despite their long domestication.

Cats take in most of their daily water through their prey. The normally laid prey has a water content of 70%. It is therefore not a natural behaviour of cats to drink a lot of water. A lack of water primarily leads to metabolic disorders, which then become noticeable in the kidneys and urinary tract, among other things. When giving dry food, a water bowl should always be provided as well.

When can cats eat dry food?

Cats should not be given dry food until they are about 6 months old. The Zirka is very important here. It should always be taken into account to what extent the cats are already used to solid food. If cats are introduced to dry food too early, dehydration can lead to organ damage etc.

After a certain time, kittens will decide for themselves to eat wet food first and dry food later. Depending on the type of cat, they may want wet food after 4 weeks or sometimes after 8 weeks. The changeover to wet food is just as variable.

If you are unsure, always contact your vet before you endanger the health of the still young animals with wrong suggestions from internet forums. A good method to introduce the animals to dry food is to feed them treats from time to time.

Why do cats need dry food?

Dry food for cats as a complete food should actually contain everything the cat needs. From the necessary fat for energy to the amino building blocks for protein. In addition, dry food is often good for the teeth.

What happens when cats only eat dry food?

In principle, dry food as a complete food should be sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of the roof tiger. However, sometimes constipations or similar occur. Therefore, one should always have some variation in the diet routine of the animals.

In addition to wet food as a treat, for example, a day with raw meat is also a good idea. Variety keeps the microbial composition of the animals' intestines variable and the cats are not as prone to constipation and the like.

Dry cat food - how much per day is good for your cat?

Determining an exact amount of food for cats per day is a difficult task. Too many variables, such as age, weight and exercise level, are important. As mentioned above, about 300kcal should be sufficient for a 4kg animal. Most dry foods have a recommended intake on the back.

This should be taken into account in any case. You should also pay close attention to your cat's eating habits and any weight gain or loss. Unfortunately, cats do not only eat as much as they need, but sometimes even a little more. If you notice that your cat is gaining weight, you can reduce the calorie intake, i.e. the portion size, a little.

It is advisable to slowly try out how much food the cat actually needs daily to avoid gaining weight. A strong change can lead to severe metabolic disorders in cats. Caution should be exercised here.

Trockenfutter in Schüssel

Dry food is a sensible supplement to wet food, but should not be fed exclusively. (Photo: Crepessuzette / pixabay.com)

Does dry cat food work against urinary stones?

Unfortunately, urinary stones occur quite regularly in cats. They are deposits of minerals and proteins in the urinary tract. This can happen if the animals drink too little or if the food is too rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. To prevent urinary stones and to treat them, there is special diet food for cats. Here, the mineral content is reduced.

It is better to feed too little diet food than too much, as too much food reduces urine production. However, urine is necessary to prevent urinary stones by flushing out nutrient residues. Diet foods are usually complete foods and should therefore fully meet the cats' nutritional needs. They are available from pet shops or directly from your vet.

Does dry cat food help against tartar?

Every time a cat eats a meal, food remains in the mouth. This is rarely a problem. Bad breath is probably one of the most common symptoms. Difficulties then arise with inflammation and tartar.

This is caused by a plaque on the teeth in which minerals can accumulate or bacteria can multiply. Removing tartar is usually only possible at the dentist under anaesthesia. To avoid this, there are special food preparations that are supposed to improve the cats' oral hygiene.

This is done with most dental foods by a harder outer layer of the food pieces as well as an adapted shape, which scrapes off plaque on the teeth so that deposits cannot occur. In addition to foods with a tooth-cleaning function, there are also pastes that can be added to the food, for example. They contain cleaning particles that also remove food residues and bacterial plaque.

Why do cats get diarrhoea from dry food?

Cats are originally carnivorous predators from desert regions. This means that they have a genetic disposition to eat meat and not consume much water. The modern food industry mainly produces products that are cheap for cat owners.

This means that many feeds are sold at rock bottom prices and are convenient for the owners to feed to the cats. In order to keep the prices of these complete feeds low, carbohydrates in the form of maize, wheat and other grains are mainly added.

However, the digestion of cats is not designed for these nutrients, as they are carnivores by nature. Unfortunately, cats are not very selective in eating food with up to 80% vegetable content. Sometimes sugar is simply added. Cats cannot metabolise this at all. De facto, a high proportion of carbohydrates and sugar in the cat's ration means that this proportion is excreted relatively undigested.

This leads to diarrhoea. With dry cat food, you should therefore always make sure that the proportion of plants is as low as possible. A dry cat food with a meat content of 2/3 or more is considered a premium food for cats. However, it is best to keep the proportion as low as possible. Therefore, before buying, take a look at the back of the dry food and make sure that it contains at least 66% meat.

Nahaufnahme Trockenfutter

Dry food is practical, environmentally friendly and cheap. (Photo: pzbasnik /pixabay.com)

Decision: What should you look for when buying dry food?

It is not so easy to decide on the right dry cat food, as the choice of dry food is now huge. Therefore, the purchase of a suitable dry food should be carefully considered.

Basically, you can distinguish between seven different types of dry food:

  • Dry cat food without grain and with grain
  • Cat food with fish
  • Cat food with meat

Dry cat food without grain and with grain

Ideally, the grain or plant content of dry cat food should be as low as possible. Cats cannot digest grain at all. A high grain content can lead to diarrhoea and other metabolic disorders.

So for the carnivorous predator cat, there should be as little grain as possible in the food. A healthy, species-appropriate diet also increases the health of cats in particular.

In addition, grain is a cheap filler, reduces the quality and lowers the price of the dry food. Some grain should not be a problem, but it should not make up the main part.

Cat food with fish

For cat food, as long as the quality meat content is high, the food is good for the cat. The meat should come from high quality animal parts and not, for example, from claws or other offal.

In principle, there is not much difference between fish or chicken, for example. As long as the meat used is of high quality, it is good for the cat. As soon as the meat used is of food quality, it is also recommended for cats. That is, as soon as you would also consume the meat as a human being.

If your cat prefers fish, you can also look for food with fish in it.

Cat food with meat content

The higher the meat content of dry cat food, the better. It is best not to use offal, but only high-quality animal parts. The higher the quality and meat content, the more digestible the food is for the cat and the less it has to struggle with food components it cannot digest.

A high meat content also has the effect that the dry food contains more water. In total, it is "moister", but of course still a far cry from wet food. So here, too, you need to provide a drinking bowl for your pet.

For good quality meat and a high proportion of it in the dry food, you also have to reckon with higher costs. Another advantage is that more meat usually means less grain. So if your cat doesn't tolerate this well at all, look out for these types.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate dry cat food based on these factors

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate dry cat food. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular dry food is suitable for you and your cat or not.

  • Ingredients Attractants and flavour enhancers
  • Quantity
  • Recommended age
  • Production and quality

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Ingredients Attractants and flavour enhancers

The ingredients of the dry food should all be easily identifiable substances and no E-numbers. There should be no fillers, binders, animal meal, feather meal, enzymes, flavourings or attractants in the food. In fact, most industrially produced dry dog food contains all sorts of the above substances. It is difficult to avoid them altogether.

Therefore, you should simply try to find as few unknown substances as possible on the back of the packaging of the dry food. The substances you feed your cat should be easy for you to understand. After all, all your cat needs is meat.

Just because it tastes good to cats doesn't mean that all the ingredients are beneficial to their health. Therefore, it is best to check the ingredients before buying.

Quantity

Unfortunately, cats, like humans, sometimes eat beyond their hunger. Therefore, it is important to look at the recommendations on the back of dry food according to body size. However, every cat also has a different level of urge to exercise.

So it's best to simply observe whether the amount of food you give your cat causes it to gain or lose weight. Changes in portion size should always be moderate and there should not be too many jumps in order not to put unnecessary strain on the cat's metabolism.

Katze putzt sich die Pfote

Since dry food contains little water compared to wet food, you should always provide fresh water in the places where your cat eats dry food. (Photo: TeamK / pixabay.com)

Recommended age

Cats will eat dry food from about 6 months of age. However, you should first get your cat used to the food slowly. It is important that the cats are already used to drinking water. They should also be willing to eat the dry food. Depending on the development of your cat, the changeover to dry food may take a little longer.

In some cases, cats will want dry food before they are six months old. You should follow your pet's preferences. However, they should get enough water every day.

Production and quality

As far as the quality of dry cat food is concerned, the higher the meat content, the higher the quality. Whether organic or not, cats are carnivores and need meat, not plants. The meat that is used can also be organically produced, for example, if you want to support organic farming. The meat should be of the highest quality.

Slaughter waste does not belong in animal feed. All animal parts that are edible for humans are also edible for cats. This could be taken as a guideline for the evaluation of slaughtered parts. Most premium dry foods you will find have a meat content of about 70%. This is quite a reasonable value.

But the higher the percentage, the better for your cat and its health. Feeding your cat high quality food will also reduce the risk of food allergies and the like.

Facts worth knowing about dry cat food

Storing dry cat food properly

It is of course very important that the food is stored in such a way that your cat is not attracted by the smell and eats the planned weekly ration. For dry food, therefore, you have well-sealed plastic tins from which the aroma cannot escape.

Ideally, you should put the plastic box in a dark, cool and dry place. This way it can absorb no or very little humidity and stays crisp, fresh and aromatic.

Like your food, dried food has a best-before date, which should not be exceeded if possible. As always, once the date has passed, the manufacturer cannot guarantee that the food will remain fresh and wholesome for your cat.

Transfer the expiry date from the original packaging to the plastic container. This will prevent you from accidentally exceeding the expiry date.

Is cow's milk harmful to cats?

Cow's milk is not at all healthy for most pets. Puppies are still able to digest milk. They need milk to grow stronger. That's why their bodies still produce the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose.

The puppies need this nutrient as an energy supplier so that they can grow up healthily. But when the cats become independent, their bodies produce less and less lactase. This is exactly when their body is not able to tolerate the milk.

Kleines Kätzchen trinkt Milch aus Schale

Puppies need milk to grow stronger. However, this milk has a different composition than cow's milk, which is why adult animals are better off drinking water. This is also the liquid they consume in nature. (Photo: ChristopherPluta / pixabay.com)

If you want to give your cat milk from time to time, you can carefully test whether the cat tolerates milk with lactose. It is best to let your cat try only 2-3 tablespoons at first and then observe closely whether the digestion is affected or not.

Another option is, of course, lactose-free milk. You don't need to worry about this because the milk does not contain lactose. In addition, lactose-free milk does not take any harmful nutrients into your cat's body.

But be careful! Cow's milk naturally also has fat and is therefore an extra nutrient, which could also be described as a calorie bomb. Then you should include the extra milk in the daily food ration. So your cat should not get milk as a main drink instead of water, but only sometimes as a treat.

How much water should my cat drink?

Without water, a cat could only survive a few days. So water is also a must for them! An adult cat needs about 45-50 ml of water per kilogram of body weight per day. The majority of your cat's fluid needs are covered by its food, as long as it is fed wet food, which consists of about 80% water.

But it still needs to drink extra to prevent the risk of kidney or urinary tract disease. This is especially true for cats that mostly eat dry food. It contains about 8-10% water.

Use this table to see which category your cat falls into and calculate its calorie and water requirements per day.

Activity Calorie requirements (in kcal per kg body weight) Water requirements (in ml per kg body weight)
high activity 80 kcal/kg 50 ml/kg
medium activity 70 kcal/kg 45 ml/kg
low activity 60 kcal/kg 40 ml/kg

There may be several reasons why your cat is not drinking enough water. Maybe the cat doesn't like the place of the water or maybe the water doesn't seem that tasty to him. Or it could be that she is sick. If you notice that your cat is drinking less water than usual, then you should definitely visit your vet. Of course, this also applies the other way round - i.e. if she drinks too much water all the time.

Are treats healthy? How many can I give?

Treats for cats are not only a great reward, they can also be given as a food supplement. It is even possible to use them specifically adapted to the cat's needs.

Treats can achieve various grooming effects or support the pet's metabolism. While your cat will enjoy tasty flavours such as cheese or chicken, treats as vitamin supplements will have a positive effect on its coat or dental care.

Just as with dry and wet food, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients in treats for your cat. Sugar and cereals are less suitable for cats. A high meat content in the composition is more important. There are now many products on the market that consist exclusively of meat or fish and can be given to the animal without hesitation.

No matter what kind of treat you choose, treats also have calories that need to be added to your cat's total food intake to avoid weight gain.

Image credit: freestocks.org / unsplash.com

Reviews