The Best Grain-Free Cat Foods of 2021
- Our Top List
- 1. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Premium Dry Food
- 2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Cat Food
- 3. Purina Pro Plan Natural Adult Canned Wet Food
- 4. Purina Beyond Natural Adult Dry Food
- 5. Wellness Core Natural Dry Indoor Food
- 6. Natural Balance Dry Food
- Final Verdict & Review
- Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Food
- Buying Guide
Pets have become increasingly more valued members of families around the world. Owners have begun to search for ways to ensure their pets will live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Nutrition is often where this journey begins.
You have probably heard that cats are obligate carnivores. Does this mean your favorite feline needs to go grain free?
Grain free cat foods are more popular than ever, which raises the question: Are grain free diets better for cats or just a trend? The answer may surprise you. Let’s discuss the top six most popular grain free cat foods and what you need to know to select the best food for your cat.
Our Top List
Price / Value
Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Premium Dry Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan Natural Adult Canned Cat Food
Purina Beyond Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Cat Food
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Indoor Cat Food
Natural Balance Grain Free Dry Cat Food
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Recipe features a combination of quality proteins, such as roasted venison and smoked salmon, to make your carnivorous cat savor each meal. This food also features antioxidants for immune health and omega fatty acids for skin and coat health.
- Taste of the Wild is made in America by a family owned company.
- The food contains 41% protein, which is sourced from a combination of: chicken meal, roasted venison, smoked salmon, ocean fish, and vegetable proteins.
- Taste of the Wild utilizes scientifically advanced food safety procedures when manufacturing the food for your cat’s safety.
- The food is made highly digestible by feline specific probiotics.
- This recipe was created to support the needs of all life stages of cats.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness was created by pet parents who lost a pet to cancer. Their loss inspired them to craft better pet food to keep more pets healthy. Blue was formulated by holistic veterinarians and nutritionists to give cats the ultimate nutrition for their overall health.
- Deboned Chicken is the first ingredient.
- Blue never contains poultry meal by-products, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
- Life Source bits contain minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are manufactured to maintain their maximum potency.
- It is available as a kitten food formula as well as adult and senior formulas to support your cat through each stage of life.
- Blue contains healthy carbohydrates such as peas and sweet potatoes.
- Wilderness contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to support skin and coat health.
- Coordinating wilderness formula canned food and grain-free treats are also available by Blue.
Purina Pro Plan food is a budget friendly alternative to most grain-free options, allowing cat owners to keep their cat’s nutrition a priority. This food is wet and available in eleven flavors, in the traditional pate or loaf form, or the gravy and meat form, to suit your finicky feline’s preferences. Approximately twenty five essential vitamins and minerals are present to keep your cat healthy.
- No artificial flavors or colors are included.
- Cats may choose from the following flavors in gravy meat form: beef and liver; chicken and salmon; chicken and turkey; ocean white fish and trout; salmon and catfish.
- Cats may choose from an assortment of flavors in classic pate form: beef and giblets; chicken and turkey; chicken and liver; trout and salmon; ocean white fish and salmon.
The Purina Beyond food is formulated by cat nutritionists to provide complete nutrition for cats. Purina carefully selected the ingredients that make this food, and they guarantee that the ingredients are traceable to their trusted sources.
- Purina Beyond Grain Free is crafted in America in Purina’s facilities.
- The recipes are grain and gluten free.
- No artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-product meal are present in the ingredients.
- Beyond Grain Free is made with real and responsibly sourced protein.
- The Beyond Grain Free recipe is available in several flavors: chicken and egg; Icelandic ocean char; pacific tuna; ocean white fish and egg; salmon, egg, and sweet potato.
- The salmon, egg, and sweet potato recipe is crafted for cats who need to maintain a healthy weight and who struggle with hair balls.
Wellness Core Grain Free Chicken and Turkey cat food supports cats’ overall health by catering to their obligate carnivore needs, contributing towards maintaining a healthy weight, and towards their joint health.
- Wellness Core is made in America.
- This recipe is 100% fish free.
- The Wellness Core recipe was designed to help less active indoor cats maintain healthy weight; sources of natural fiber help curb in between meal cravings and L-Carnitine is added to help utilize fat efficiently. Check this for more indoor cat formulas.
- The first five ingredients are as follows: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Potatoes.
- Wellness Core is formulated for cats over one year old who are not pregnant or nursing.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin are added to support joint health.
- After the dry food is cooked, it is coated with probiotics to help support a healthy digestive tract.
The Natural Balance Grain Free recipe was carefully crafted for cats with food sensitivities, and it has inspired owners of cats without food sensitivities to be more mindful of the ingredients in their cat’s food. Limited ingredients do not sacrifice nutrition; Natural Balance provides your cat with complete nutrition while supporting healthy digestion, and healthy skin and coat.
- This food is made with a single animal protein source and no fillers.
- Natural Balance utilizes complex carbohydrates to replace grains.
- This recipe contains no wheat, soy, potatoes or corn.
- Every batch of Natural Balance is subject to nine safety tests by scientists to ensure safety before it is released to customers. Natural Balances shares these results on their website.
- The first five ingredients are: Green Peas, Salmon Meal, Salmon, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols).
Final Verdict & Review
Based upon the cat foods we discussed and the nutritional needs of cats, Taste of the Wild Grain Free Rocky Mountain Recipe is the best choice.
Here is why Taste of the Wild won:
- Taste of the Wild is made in America, in facilities where quality control is prioritized.
- Taste of the Wild is crafted with unique protein sources of roasted venison and smoked salmon. Salmon offers skin and coat benefits, and venison offers a unique flavor.
- The recipe offers cats a rich and meaty taste, which even finicky felines find tantalizing.
- Rich in nutrients and formulated to be highly digestible, Taste of the Wild provides your cat with completely balanced nutrition to support their overall health.
If you are considering feeding your cat grain free food, there are some things that you should know to make an informed decision. Some cats have special needs, however. Be sure to consult our overview of diabetic foods and hypoallergenic formulas if your cat has a condition.
Does My Cat Need Grain-Free Food?
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they must have meat in their diet. This means that cats simply cannot eat vegetarian diets; they were not designed to.
While cats may eat foods other than meat, they are not a necessary part of their diet, and most cats would not choose to eat them consistently on their own. Cats require specific nutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, which are only found in meat. Their bodies cannot utilize these nutrients from plants the way that other creatures are able to; their bodies are designed to rely upon meat as their primary source of fuel.
Traditional cat foods often utilize grains as filler ingredients to minimize the cost associated with making the food. While this makes the food budget friendly, it is not obligate carnivore friendly. This is troubling because cats specifically need Taurine, which is not found in plants, but in animal muscle, heart, and liver.
When the labels of traditional cat foods are compared to grain-free options, the nutritional needs of cats appear to be better met by the grain-free foods available rather than traditional foods with grains.
While you may think you could just start setting aside some meat from each of your meals for your cat rather than buying cat food, much to your cat’s dismay, that is not the right solution. It is necessary to feed your cat a well balanced grain-free food, not simply meat. Cats require vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may only be found in cat food.
If you want to feed your cat a homemade diet, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian about how to ensure your cat receives the nutrients he needs, such as by taking a supplement.
What Are The Qualities Of Good Foods?
As you browse grain free foods, look for the following qualities:
- There should be real meat, not meat by-products, in the first five ingredients.
- The recipe should be nutritionally balanced.
- The food should be certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
- The food should be made in America.
- The ingredients should be sourced responsibly, and ideally sourced in America.
- There should be good sources of fiber and added probiotics to support healthy digestion.
Benefits and Disadvantages Of A No-Grain Diet
There is no perfect, one size fits all, solution to cat nutrition. Consider the following benefits and disadvantages when reevaluating your cat’s menu:
The Carbs vs Calories Conundrum. While grain-free diets are lower in carbohydrates, they tend to be higher in fat and calories. Many cats have low activity levels, making these extra calories a potential issue. Combat weight gain by placing small amounts of food in dishes around the house so that your cat has to “hunt” for his meals.
Fighting Food Allergies. Some cats may have sensitivities to ingredients commonly found in traditional pet foods. Grain free diets often utilize less common sources of protein, which these food sensitive cats may be able to better tolerate. VCA hospitals states that most cats food sensitivities are linked to common protein sources, like poultry or beef, rather than grains.
Digestion. Many grain-free and organic diets are low in fiber, which may irritate a cat’s digestive tract. However, most of the manufacturers add probiotics to assist cats with digestion.
We’re still learning. Science has taught us that cats are obligate carnivores, but we are still learning what diet is best for our feline friends. Grain free diets may be connected to heart disease, and all grains have not been proven to be completely bad for cats.
Keeping Your Cat Healthy
Nutrients are just one piece of the puzzle of your cat’s overall health. In addition to a healthy diet, cats also need:
- Access to fresh water daily.
- Regular veterinary care.
- Consistent grooming.
- Mental enrichment with toys and play time with you and/or other cats.
- Emotional enrichment accomplished by being snuggled and petted.
- Physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
While selecting a food for your cat may seem like something most cat owners could manage from home, always consult with a veterinarian. By consulting a veterinarian, you are ensuring that your cat is eating a veterinarian approved diet that is most healthy for her specific needs, maximizing her life span and her quality of life.
We are the Pet Cat Friends, a dedicated group of pet loving bloggers and product testers for all your meowy needs. We research, test, and review cat related products with the help of our collective 21 cats. Feel free to leave us feedback and treats!