Last updated: September 3, 2021

Good nutrition is essential to keep your cat healthy. If the food is high quality, you'll not only have a healthy pet, but also a happy one. Owning an animal is a big responsibility and it is up to you to decide what is best for their nutrition. It is very important that you choose the food that's best for your cat or kitten to ensure that they stay healthy and live a long and happy life.

The following guide will explain to you the variety of flavours, textures, quality and nutrients that are available in the cat food market. We will also help you to understand many of the eating habits that your four-legged friend may have that will allow you to better understand your pet and buy the food that best suits their needs.

Key Facts

  • What your cat eats will influence their weight, their health and also their happiness. Eating is one of the most basic needs of any living being, including cats, so it is very important to choose quality food.
  • Cats should not eat human food because it contains different nutrients than what a cat needs. Humans and cats are different, so is the diet and food requirements.
  • Cat are lovers of routines, so when you find a meal that they like, you should stick with it because they may find it difficult to change to something else. With this in mind, it is important that you make a good choice from the outset, so that your cat does not become accustomed to an unhealthy product.

Our selection: The best cat food

In this section you will see a collection of the most popular cat food products among cat owners as well as a summary of each product. Cat food is one of the most basic needs of your pet, so before making the decision of what food to buy your furry friend, we want you to have multiple options available.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about cat food

Before opting for one brand or another, you should learn more about cat food and the eating habits of these animals. Remember that these pets love their routine, so if they like their food, they'll find it difficult to swap to a different product. With this in mind, give them the taste of quality and healthy food from the beginning to ensure they adopt a healthy eating habit.

Veterinarian showing pet food to client

The quality of cat food is defined mainly by the ingredients that make up the food. (Source: Goodluz: 28379624/

What are the differences between dry and wet cat food?

It is important to mention that it is very difficult to compare dry and wet cat food. Most veterinarians recommend a combination of dry and canned/wet food so that you can take advantage of the benefits of both. Wet food can even be used as a reward for your cat as they are often find it more enjoyable as opposed to the dry food.

A very important factor to keep in mind is that dry cat food usually contains only 5-10% water, so it offers little hydration for your pet. Meanwhile, wet cat food from a tin or pouch usually contains between 60-80% water.

Remember that cats tend to hydrate through their food rather than by drinking.

Why should I give my pet cat food and not human food?

The nutritional needs of a cat are not the same as those of humans. Cats have a different metabolism to a human and therefore, if you feed a cat what you eat, it can lead to your cat consuming a number nutrients and calories it shouldn't eat. Cat food is prepared with their specific needs in mind and should always contain a good source of protein and animal fat.

In addition, many of the foods people eat can actually be harmful to cats, such as onion, garlic, avocado, grapes or chocolate. If you decide to give your cat some human food, you must first check that the food does not contain any harmful products.

Should cat food always be supplemented with water?

Similar to a human, a cat's body mass is made up of 60% water. Therefore, it is very important that your pet always has fresh water available, especially while eating. Cats love it when their water source is replaced every day with completely fresh and clean water. It is important to note that the lack of hydration in cats has been linked many health related issues in felines.

With this in mind, you should always accompany your cat's food with a fresh bowl of water, especially if your cat eats mostly dry cat food. Wet food contains a lot of water in its composition, however a bowl of water is never unnecessary. You should also know that neutered cats should drink more water to avoid urinary stones. The easiest thing to do is always make sure you have a fresh bowl of water available for your cat at all times.

Young woman wearing warm sweater is resting with a cat on the armchair at home one autumn day

Cats don't like their dry food to get wet or their water to be dirty. (Source: Alena Ozerova: 46423368/

Is cat and dog food the same?

If you have both a cat and dog in your house, you may see them on occasions eating the food of the other. Sometimes they eat the others food out of a sign of power or simply because they have finished their own and want to eat more. It is best to prevent your cat from eating your dog's food as the two foods are created differently for a reason. The main differences between cat and dog food are:

  • Vitamin A: While it is an essential element in cat food, many dog foods do not include vitamin A.
  • Taurine: Many dog foods do not contain taurine, while if your cat's diet is low in this substance, they could develop heart disease.
  • Meat: Cats actually need a higher level of protein in their food than dogs.
  • Hydrates and cereals: These are not necessary for cats, however they are very important for dogs to maintain a healthy diet.

What food should a cat never eat?

Bread, cereals and similar hydrates can be difficult for your cat to digest and may cause discomfort, so it's best to avoid them. Fibre can be given in small quantities if your cat has digestive issues, but don't give them large quantities. Cats should not eat vegetarian food as cats are carnivorous animals and without meat they will not receive the required nutrients.

You also have to be careful with unnatural additives that can make cats addicted to a specific food that often does not provide sufficient nutrients. As mentioned earlier in the article, there are basic human foods that a cat cannot eat, such as chocolate, whole milk, onion and garlic.

ingredients for pet food natural on wooden background close up

In hot climates your cat will eat less, as they spend more time resting and do not need as much energy. (Source: Vadim Ginzburg: 67511882/

Is it recommended to change the cat food I give my pet?

Cats are animals that prefer minimal change in every aspect of their life such as where they sleep, where they play and the neighbourhood they live in. Domestic or indoor cats especially love their routines. Therefore, with regards to the food they eat, they are rarely open to changes in their diet and rapid changes to their food will not make them happy and sometimes they might prefer not to eat at all. If you want to change your cats diet, do so very slowly, over time.

While you're figuring out which brands your cat might like, it's a good idea to offer only quality food right from the start. If they like a product, it will be difficult to move away from this, so it's best they become accustomed to a healthy product from the start.

Is it advisable to buy cheap cat food?

Experts recommend looking at quality and the ingredients of the cat food rather than the price. In many cases, quality goes hand in hand with cost, but not always. Therefore, the most important thing is not to look at the price tag, but the label of the product. When it comes to owning a pet, you know that this is big responsibility and you have to be prepared to accept the costs that go with this.

In addition, animal nutritionalists often say that cats like food that is of a lower quality because it contains the most additives that make them addicted to that product. It is therefore advisable to take a good look at the nutritional content of each product before making a purchase.

It is very important that you take into account the age of your pet to choose the type of food that best suits them.

What cat food is recommended for a pregnant cat?

A pregnant cat will need more energy, as she has to eat and feed all her babies that are going to be born. It is advisable that an adult cat consumes a minimum of 25% protein in their diet, while pregnant cats or those with recently born kittens should have a diet that is at least 30% protein. Overall, a pregnant cat will have a bigger appetite.

It is also important to mention that cats have difficulty producing milk during the lactation period and need to increase their level of body fat during pregnancy. Specified animal vitamins and supplements are usually not necessary for a pregnant cat, unless you notice that your pregnant cat is very low on weight.

What cat food should neutered animals avoid?

Neutered cats have a longer life expectancy, as they tend to be calmer and avoid risky behaviours through all hours of the night. Neutered cats have a greater tendency to gain weight because they have a bigger appetite but perform less exercise throughout the day.

That's why most cat food brands offer specific products for cats that are neutered with foods that have fewer calories. If your neutered pet is more than seven years old, it will need an antioxidant booster supplement that many feline food products offer.

high-angle view of two cats eating form the same bowl of dried cat food

Beware of additives that can make cats addicted to food that is not rich in nutrients. (Source: Axel Bueckert: 33599709/

How much protein should cat food have on average?

The level of protein in your cats diet depends mostly on the age of your pet. When your kitten is under one year old, the amount of animal protein in her food should be at least 30% of the total nutrients, just like for cats that are pregnant or lactating. From one year to seven years, the protein content should be around 25% of the food.

It is important not to give more protein than is specified, especially for castrated cats or cats that live solely indoors, as they can gain weight if they consume more than the recommended amount of protein. However it is equally important to mention that cats need animal protein in their diet, so they can not be vegetarian. The key is to find the right protein balance for your cat.

Why doesn't my cat want their food and how do I change this?

There are many possible causes why your cat may not like the food you have chosen for them. The food may be placed in a location of the house where there are strong odours or your cat may be suffering from a disease that you are unaware of. Below you will see different causes and solutions for your cat's eating problems:

  • They don't like the taste. One of the first causes you should rule out is that your cat doesn't like the taste of the food you're giving him. This problem has an easy solution: try different brands and flavours until you find the one that appeals to them. To do this, you can buy the small servings and packages that offer small amounts of food.
  • It's so hot. In summer or in warm climates, cats eat less. It's no reason to worry because they also spend more time resting and use less energy. Make sure you always have clean water available and cool places for them to rest from the high temperatures.
  • Location of food. Cats are very clean and neat animals. If their food is located in a place with strong smells or an area that is dirty, they may not eat. For example, a litter box should be kept far away from the food bowl.
  • Depression. If there has been a sudden change or traumatic experience in your environment, your cat may be depressed. Moving house, a new baby in the family or a new pet can lead to depression in cats. If this happens, cats often do not want to eat but instead they sleep more than usual. If you notice this behaviour, spend time with with your cat and give them some affection to show them that they are important in your life.
  • Illness. If your pet vomits, has diarrhoea or you think that he may have a fever, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible. It could be a simple food poisoning or it could be something more serious.
  • Hairballs in the intestine. Cats are self-cleaning animals that use their tongue to clean themselves, however this can lead to them to ingesting a lot of hair. Often they don't eat because they feel full from the hair they have ingested. To counteract this issue, keep your cats hair well brushed so that they do not ingest more or choose a cat food that contains malt to reduce hairballs. If neither of these tactics work, take your cat to the vet.

What does cat food with malt do to help reduce hairballs?

A cat's tongue is capable of licking their entire coat to help them stay clean. The problem is that often their hairs are swallowed and remain in their intestine, called hairballs. To minimise this, you should keep your cat well groomed so that they swallow less fur. They other alternative is to give your cat food that contains malt.

Cats generally do not have any issues eating cat food containing malt, as it's usually available in the form of a sweet treat with an appetising taste. Malt is a natural product but is not a complete food, only a complement to an existing healthy diet. Malt will help to eliminate the hair in their intestines through their faeces, as it works as a laxative.

"Cats need a well-balanced, meat-based diet to stay fit and healthy - they cannot be vegetarian. Make sure your cat eats a balanced diet that is suitable for their age, health status and lifestyle".

Should I supplement cat food with knick-knacks or treats?

Little surprise treats at any time of the day make cats happy, but you have to be careful with these products. In general, treats should not represent more than 10% of your cat's diet. Always pay attention to the ingredients of the treats, to avoid high intakes of sugar or additives.

Treats are very useful for training your cat. If you want to change an annoying habit of your cat, you can reward them when they are well behaved to reinforce the good behaviour. At the same time, don't give them a treat when they does something they shouldn't do as this will give mixed signals. Treats also serve to strengthen the bond and trust your cat has with you.

How many times a day should I feed my cat?

A cat should eat two or three times a day, according to the recommendations of veterinarians and on your cat's character and habits. The cat's digestive system is programmed to perform small digestions several times a day rather than one big meal. It is very important is that you keep a record of the calories your cat is consuming.

Giving your cat food all depends on their self control and how they ration their food. Some cats can have all the food in the bowl in the morning and simply eat their food throughout the day, little by little. Meanwhile other cats will eat all the food the moment you give it to them. For this reason, you must take control by providing the food depending the type of cat you have.

Brown dry cat food in blue and white ceramic bowl with cat word on black floor close up high angle view personal

Cats tend to hydrate through their diet rather than by drinking water. (Source: Weera Prongsiri: 91015708/

How many calories should my cat's food contain?

There are several factors to look at to find out how many calories to give a cat; their age, weight, whether they are neutered or not, whether they are pregnant or the amount of physical activity they perform over the course of a day.

Generally speaking, it is estimated that your cat should eat approximately 60 calories for each kilogram they weigh per day. So if your cat weights 5kg, they should consume approximately 300 calories over the course of a day. Dry cat food usually contains about 300 calories per cup.

A can of wet cat food will usually contain approximately 250 calories. Careful food rationing will keep your cats free from overeating.

What if my cat's food doesn't contain taurine?

Taurine is very important in the diet of your cat. Without taurine, or with diets that are low in taurine, cats can have issues with basic bodily functions. For example, if your pet has a vision problem, a low consumption of taurine can lead to blindness or your cat can also develop heart issues if they do not eat enough taurine on a daily basis.

Taurine is only found in animal tissues, which means that cats must maintain a carnivorous diet and cannot follow a vegetarian diet. Taurine is an amino acid, as is arginine, and both nutrients are necessary for the health of your cat.

Shopping Criteria

When buying food for your cat, it is important to evaluate many aspects before making a purchase as food is the basis of your cat's health. In the following section we have included the most important factors you should consider before buying cat food. With this guide, you can be sure you're making the right decision. The shopping criteria is:

  • Texture
  • Ingredients
  • Flavours
  • Colour
  • Quality


The two most well known textures of cat food are dry food and wet food. Experts recommend alternating between both styles of food and not using wet food simply as a reward, as it is often used. The advantage of wet food is that it provides a high content of water and cats hydrate themselves well by eating wet food. Another positive of wet food is that it is very useful for older animals that often have less strength to chew.

The benefit of dry cat food is that it usually has more varieties and is useful for sterilised animals as it is low in calories and prevents the risk of fattening. Another benefit of dry cat food is that it helps to strengthen the cats teeth and can also be stored in any climate after the package is opened.

Dr Chris BrownBondi Vet
"There’s an amazing feeling of wellbeing bubbling around most people when they’re with a pet, and now tangible scientific evidence is coming through about the actual physical and emotional benefits".


In the following table you will see the main nutrients or components that are present in cat food. That way you'll easily understand which part of the label you're interested in and what to look for. Be careful, as smart advertising will try to trick you into buying an unhealthy product, however with this table we do our best to keep you well informed.

Nutrients What form does it come in Quantity that your cat needs Properties that contribute to your cat's health
Protein Meats, fish It depends a lot on the type of cat, but the adequate percentage can be considered between 25% and 40%. Proteins are fundamental when feeding of your cat, since they are a carnivorous animal.

Protein is essential for maintaining optimal muscle mass.

Fats Animal products Should be between 15 and 20% of the total food. Serves as insulator and protection for their internal organs.

The best are fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

They improve the taste of cat foods.

Provides vitamins A, D, E and B.

Minerals They are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and ash. The percentage of calcium must be more than 1%, phosphorus and magnesium must always be less than 0.3% and it is even better if magnesium is below 0.1%.. Ash levels must be below 10%. Necessary to keep your cat's bones healthy.
Amino acids They're found in animal protein. Should contain at least 25% taurine or arginine. Amino acids are essential for proper functioning of the eyes and heart.


Normally, the taste of the main ingredient prevails, which is usually either salmon or a specific meat such as chicken or turkey. However, in some cat foods, flavour elements are also added to the food to make it taste more appealing. As long as the food contains the necessary nutrients, the flavour will depend on what your pet likes.

It is very important to know that the sensitivity of cats to bitter flavours is 400 times greater than that of dogs, but, on the contrary, they lack taste buds to enjoy sweet flavours.


As cat food should only contain raw ingredientes that have been processed, cat food should not be coloured. If there is any color, such as reddish or green, it is because the food contains some kind of added food colouring. It is common to find artificial colours in low quality cat food.

As with any other product, cat food packages have eye-catching colours that try to capture our attention with their designs and advertisements. The important thing is the quality ingredients in the food and not the extra elements that add colour to your cat's meal.

Beautiful tabby cat sitting next to a food bowl, placed on the floor next to the living room window, and eating.

The cat's digestive system is programmed to perform small digestions several times a day. (Source: Vladimir Cosic: 75266579/


Most experts divide the quality of cat food into three different groups. Quality is defined mainly by the ingredients that make up the food. It is very important that you review the quantity of each nutrient in the food. The quality of cat food is divided as follows:

  • Low quality: It is made with by-products of animals unfit for human consumption, such as cartilage, feathers, beaks or crushed hooves. To bulk-up the food, manufactures usually add chemicals that may taste good but do not have nutricional benefits.
  • Medium quality: They usually alternate meat with by-products of animal origin. Therefore, the protein level does not come directly from meat or fish.
  • High quality: These contain the quantity of protein that is required, coming directly from meat and not animal by-products. They are low in carbohydrates and cereals, while they do not usually contain artificial flavours or preservatives.


When you're choosing the food you're going to buy your cat, it is very important that you look at the quality aspects of the food. We all know that if we decide to make a pet part of our lives, that we will have more expenses each month. The important thing is that you prioritise the health of your cat by giving it healthy food that will allow it to stay healthy and lead a good life.

When choosing a new cat food, take a good look at the food label and the ingredients it contains. Colours and flavourings are extras that will not help the well-being of your cat so it is best to avoid these. If your cat has an eating issue, try a different brand or if it is required, take your furry friend to the vet for a checkup.

(Source of featured image: Kirill Kedrinski: 27003809/