Best Grain Free Cat Food: 2021 Reviews and Complete Buyer’s Guide
Are you a holistic pet owner on the lookout for the best grain free cat food in the market? Confused after going through all the cat food choices and reading all the labels? Don’t hit the panic button just yet.
We know that finding the best cat food for your four-legged buddy is already an overwhelming task (especially if you failed to read our article on the 12 best cat foods).
Searching for the best grain free cat food, however, can actually be a stress-free and enjoyable experience.
Thanks to our reviews of the best grain free cat foods, finding the right cat food (may it be wet or dry) for your finicky, grain-intolerant cat is now possible.
If, however, you’re still left clueless after reading the top-rated products on our list, going through our unbiased buyer’s guide might just be what you need to have a better understanding of grain free cat food, its pros and cons, and much more.
- Best Grain Free Cat Foods
- Reviews of the Best Grain Free Cat Foods
- Grain Free Cat Food 101
- What to Look for in Grain Free Cat Foods?
- Should cats eat grain free?
- Is grain free dry food good for cats?
- Does grain free food cause heart problems in cats?
- Why is grain free cat food bad?
Best Grain Free Cat Foods
Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food
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BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Dry Cat Food
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ACANA Regionals Cat Food
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Purina Beyond Grain Free Wet Cat Food
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Instinct Original Grain Free Wet Cat Food
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Nulo Grain Free Wet Cat Food
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Reviews of the Best Grain Free Cat Foods
- Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food
- BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Dry Cat Food
- ACANA Regionals Cat Food
- Purina Beyond Grain Free Wet Cat Food
- Instinct Original Grain Free Wet Cat Food
- Nulo Grain Free Wet Cat Food
Grain-free diet plans are a hit among humans. Its rise in popularity soon prompted pet food manufacturers to apply the same concept in cat food.
While the battle on whether this is indeed a healthy food option for our feline friends remains unsettled, we still made it a point to scour every nook and cranny of the web, and thoroughly go through thousands of user reviews to get the best of the best. We made sure, as well, to include a variety of options considering the hard-to-please nature of your fussy cats.
After reading the list of the best grain free wet and dry cat foods below (which all meet the nutritional level requirements of AAFCO), you will soon realize that each one has its set of benefits and pitfalls. This is where your vet’s advice will come in handy.
Talking to your veterinarian should always be on top of your to-do list. While our detailed buyer’s guide may somehow clear your mind and give answers to most of the questions you have been itching to ask, nothing beats the knowledge that comes from the experts themselves.
Top 3 Best Grain Free Dry Cat Food
1. Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food
First on the list of our best grain free dry cat foods is Purina’s Beyond Grain Free. Whether your furry cat is a chicken or fish lover, Purina made sure to give in to your cats’ desires.
Purina’s Beyond Grain Free Adult Dry Food is available in a variety of flavors which includes Arctic Char and Lentil, Ocean White Fish and Egg, Tuna and Lentil, and last White Chicken and Egg.
Aside from being crafted minus the grains, this pet food brand ensures that your cats enjoy a tasty high protein meal without a trace of poultry by-product, as well as artificial colors, preservatives, and additives.
- Most cats (including the finicky eaters) go gaga over this kibble’s taste.
- It is high-quality pet food that is good value for the money.
- Cat’s coats are visibly shinier.
- Effectively takes care of stinky poos.
- Switching from regular cat good into this one is a no-brainer for most.
- It keeps cats happy and energetic.
- Take a good look at the ingredients since a few may cause diarrhea, vomiting, or allergies.
2. BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Dry Cat Food
If you are searching for the best grain free cat food for your adult cat that offers high levels of protein (around 40%) plus a unique antioxidant and nutrient package, then BLUE Buffalo’s Wilderness Cat Food with LifeSource Bits might just be the dry food for your cat.
Inspired by the lynx, a medium-sized wild cat, this dry grain-free cat food is made with delicious, deboned chicken, not to mention, wholesome, healthy ingredients like cranberries, sweet potatoes, and blueberries.
Aside from Chicken flavor, BLUE Buffalo also offers this in Salmon flavor. Not just that. This protein rich pet food is also available in Kitten and Indoor Cat formulas, all of which are highly rated.
- This grain free cat food’s taste is definitely cat approved.
- The ingredients in this protein filled food are of high quality.
- Shinier and softer coats plus less shedding can also be expected.
- Cats are significantly more active with this dry food.
- It helps with vomiting and allergies.
- May cause weight gain in some cats.
- A few consider this pet food a bit pricey.
3. ACANA Regionals Cat Food
The last on our list of the best grain free cat food in dry variation is ACANA’s Regionals dry food. While other grain free cat foods will still contain ingredients like potatoes and tapioca, this one does not.
Count on this product to satisfy your meat-loving cat with a meal that contains 75% meat (which can be a combination of chicken, quail, fish, lamb, beef, or pork) with half of it either fresh or raw.
Considering this amount of meat, this biologically-appropriate cat food ensures to contain high levels of protein. It is also formulated with 25% vegetables giving your feline friends a complete and balanced diet.
- Cat’s fur evidently becomes shinier, softer, and smoother.
- It is formulated with high-quality ingredients.
- Most cats adore its taste.
- It comes in a variety of flavors.
- Packed with protein, it gives cats the energy they need.
- It helps control cat weight.
- This caused indigestion for a few cats. So, it is better to check the ingredients.
- It is a bit expensive.
Top 3 Best Wet Grain Free Cat Food
1. Purina Beyond Wet Cat Food
What can we say? Purina has done it again.
Like its dry food counterpart, this wet cat food variation continues to impress both cat owners and their feline friends. Formulated with natural ingredients, this thoughtfully-crafted wet grain free diet plan offers high moisture content, not to mention, essential vitamins and minerals that an adult cat need in their daily feline lives.
- A good number of cats like this wet cat food’s taste.
- A couple of cats with reported digestion problems and food sensitivities ate this without any issues.
- Cats can choose from a variety of flavors. Many especially liked the Chicken in Gravy Recipe as well as the Salmon flavor.
- When it comes to quality, many gave a thumbs up.
- Its scent is liked by both felines and humans.
- A few cats disliked its texture
2. Instinct Original Wet Cat Food
Made with 95% meat and 0% grains, Instinct’s Original Grain Free Wet Cat Food ensures to satisfy your cats’ cravings with its meaty goodness.
Given that its content consists of mostly real meat, you can be assured that this diet plan contains high levels of animal protein, which your cats need to develop strong, lean muscles. Other than meat, it also offers high amounts of moisture as well as vitamins and minerals.
- Improvement of cats’ overall health is evident. This includes overweight cats and cats with diabetes, bowel issues, and food allergies.
- Cats’ fur is noticeably shinier and softer.
- Keeps cats hydrated.
- It comes in several flavors.
- This pet food is a little expensive.
- When it comes to flavor, some cats took some time to get used to it.
3. Nulo Wet Cat Food
Why buy cat food for your kitten and a different type for your adult cat when Nulo has a product that offers one that is appropriate for both. Not just that! It contains zero grains and zero meat by-products and artificial preservatives.
This low carb, high protein wet cat food is also available in a variety of flavors including, but not limited to, beef and lamb, chicken and herring, duck and tuna, and trout and salmon. With its savory taste, this might just be the best pet food for your finicky cats.
- Cats cannot resist its flavor.
- Some cats with food allergies or sensitive stomachs ate this without issues. It also helped a cat with diabetes improve his health.
- Quality-wise, this grain-free cat food gets high marks.
- Cats fur coats become shinier.
- Compared to regular brands, this one is a bit more expensive.
- A few cats need some time to get used to its mushy texture.
Grain Free Cat Food 101
The hype for grain-free diet plans for humans continues.
Initially adopted by those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease – a disease characterized by difficulty in digesting food due to hypersensitivity to gluten- this diet plan, later on, became widespread and is now used as a means to improve ones health.
As for our pet food manufacturers, they cannot help but join the bandwagon.
If you are looking for grain-free cat foods, you are most probably someone who has tried this type of diet yourself. You might also be someone who firmly believes that your cat needs a high protein, low carb diet given that they are biological meat-eaters. Or maybe, you are just one of the pet owners who just thinks this is a good choice for your hypersensitive cat.
Regardless of your reasons, one thing is for sure. We know for a fact that you, as a loving pet parent, value your cat’s health above all. However, as a pet parent who has great concern over his or feline’s well being, it is best that you understand what grain free cat food is all about.
What is Grain-Free Cat Food?
Grain free cat food, as the name suggests, is a special type of cat food that is devoid of grains.
Grains, which include wheat, corn, and oats, are a staple in most traditional diets (both in the human and cat food realm). While this serves as an excellent source of energy, it contains gluten that can cause intolerances or allergies. It also contains carbohydrates that, when taken in high levels, can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Benefits of Grain Free Cat Food
Grain-free cat foods may not be a type of diet plan that will work for all kinds of cats. Nonetheless, a good number of pet parents and their four-legged pals would attest to its benefits.
Remember, however, that choosing what to feed your furry pals is crucial since it involves their health. Before deciding on what food or type of diet to give your cat, talking to your veterinarian is always recommended
1. High-Quality Ingredients
Regular cat food would often contain wheat, corn, and grain. Often used as fillers, these ingredients are relatively cheap and just increase the foods’ carbohydrate content.
Grain-free foods for felines (whether a wet or dry cat food), on the other hand, often incorporate wholesome ingredients into the mix like real meat and vegetables.
Vitamins and minerals are also added, with some brands adding Omega-3 fatty acids or Omega-6 fatty acids, to make sure that your cat’s diet is complete and balanced. Also, many are made without additives or artificial preservatives.
2. Made to Resemble the Natural Cat’s Diet
A cat’s diet, biologically, is made up of 55% protein. Generally, you will find that most grain-free cat foods try to offer that much protein content. Generous amounts of animal protein like chicken, beef, and fish are usually seen in both wet and dry cat food that are free of grains.
3. It is Good For Cats with Grain or Gluten Allergies
While the number of cats with this condition is significantly few, we cannot ignore the fact that this is the actual reason why this type of diet came about. Just keep in mind that grains and gluten are two different things.
Grain-Free vs Gluten-Free Cat Food
Gluten is a type of protein that can be found in specific kinds of grains like rye, wheat, and barley. Take note that not all grains contain gluten. To cut the story short, a grain-free diet will always be gluten-free while cat food with zero gluten may not be free of grains.
What to Look for in Grain Free Cat Foods?
When looking for a grain free cat food for your pet, aside from making sure that it is devoid of grains, it is also best to keep an eye on these features.
Provides Complete and Balanced Nutrition
If you want your cat to enjoy a nutritious and balanced diet, then make sure that the cat food you are planning to buy meets the requirements of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
It helps to know as well that your cat should be enjoying at least 35 to 40% protein. If yous cat has dry, dull, itchy, and brittle skin and haircoat, cat food that contains sufficient amounts of fatty acids can help prevent this condition (often experienced by cats with allergies).
Appropriate for your Cat’s Life Stage
When it comes to protein, kittens evidently require 1.5 more protein than puppies do. Adults cats need two or three times more protein compared to adult dogs.
If we compare kittens to adult cats, kittens, in order to grow and develop normally, will need food that has greater nutritional value.
Make Sure to Get Quality Grain Free Cat Food with these Tips
Since the options for grain free cat food are plenty, and many (if not all) brands would advertise themselves as trustworthy, taking these steps would guarantee that you are actually getting what your cat really needs. So, read on.
1. Talk to Your Veterinarian
We know that we have mentioned this several times. It might sound redundant, but if you truly and sincerely value your cat’s health, then you would understand.
Out of your busy schedule, take the time to set an appointment with your vet and discuss your feline’s condition. It is best, as well, to listen to their recommendations.
2. Read the Labels and Check the Ingredients
A brand would often promote what is good about their products. But, have you ever seen a brand pointing out their flaws as well?
We all know the answer to that. So, aside from ensuring that the cat food that you are planning to buy is AAFCO- approved and offers complete and balanced nutrition as well as wholesome ingredients, read its labels and keep an eye on its ingredients. While it is grain free, some might in fact contain added ingredients that might be harmful to your cat.
3. Do Your Own Research
Ever encountered words or phrases on the labels that you do not really understand?
Once you scan the labels and ingredients, you will soon realize that there are lots that you do not completely comprehend. So, take your time to check online, or better yet, ask your vet.
Common Misconceptions on Grain-Free Cat Food Debunked
While this type of diet is popular nowadays, cats adopting it remains controversial. Many also choose this for the wrong reasons. So, allow us to enlighten you in one way or another by discussing the common misconceptions on grain-free cat food.
1. Grain-Free Cat Foods are Carb Free
Known as obligate carnivores, a cat’s diet, given their predatory nature, has to be somewhat similar to what their ancestors eat or a wild cat’s diet – that is a diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates. This is necessary in order for them to achieve optimal gut health.
This holds true. And you can expect holistic veterinarians, not to mention the increasing number of cat owners, to nod in approval.
Enter grain-free cat food. A good number of pet parents buy this mainly because they believe that this contains zero carbohydrates. Little do they know, that while this is grain-free, many of this type of pet food contains either the same level or even higher levels of carbohydrates than those made with grains.
Check the ingredients. Aside from containing high levels of protein and some amount of fatty acids, grain-free cat foods are often formulated with potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca, peas, and lentils – all of which contain carbohydrates.
2. Grain Free Diets Help Control Cat Weight
One of our solutions to weight loss is by entering into grain-free diet plans. Since it works for humans, we believe that the same type of diet will work with cats. While this principle might hold some truth, it’s somewhat different when it comes to cat food.
Grain-free cat foods may be devoid of grains, always high in protein, and may at times contain essential fatty acids, but it will often contain carbohydrates. Thus, we cannot help but reiterate the importance of checking the ingredients.
Also, weight gain in cats can be caused by a number of factors, You might be feeding your cats grain-free foods, but then decide to feed it freely – or give it whenever they please – then, you will, more often than not, end up with an overweight cat.
3. Grain Free Cat Foods Help Alleviate Food Allergies
By now, some of you might be shaking your heads in disapproval. But hear us out.
It is true that a few cats suffer from allergies caused by grains. However, this is rare. Articles like the one released by VCA Hospitals and PetMD confirm that when it comes to our feline friends, their itchy skin issues and gastrointestinal upsets are often related to allergic reactions to common proteins like poultry, beef, and fish.
We know we have mentioned this before, but, here is where your veterinarian’s advice will play a critical role. Your vet is your best bet when it comes to finding out what is causing your cat’s allergies. They are also capable of recommending the best diet to address it.
Fact – grain-free cat foods can indeed be beneficial as long as it is given to the cat for the right reasons. Like all other diet plans available in the market, it is not something that will work for each and every cat. Remember, that each cat is unique.
Like humans, their tastes, preferences, and personalities differ. The effect of one type of high protein, low carb grain free cat food on one cat may be positive. This, however, does not guarantee that it will work for all or for your cat specifically.
Whether your cat needs it or not would depend on your vet. Add to the equation being meticulous when it comes to checking what your cat is eating, your commitment and love, and you will end up with a happy, energetic and healthy cat.
Should cats eat grain free?
Most cats do not actually require a grain free or a gluten free diet. However, it is important not to assume that a grain free diet is a low carbohydrate diet. In fact, some grain free pet foods contain carbohydrate levels similar to or even higher than diets containing grains.
Is grain free dry food good for cats?
All dry cat diets contain carbohydrates of some kind. These ingredients are no more natural or healthy for your cat than grains. Some pet food companies and other sources have suggested that grain-free diets are good options for cats with allergies.
Does grain free food cause heart problems in cats?
Grain-free diets have become very popular over the last 10 years. While grain can aggravate some allergies and intestinal diseases, the problem is that all foods are not created equally. Low levels of taurine often lead to cardiomyopathy - a fatal heart condition in dogs and cats.
Why is grain free cat food bad?
Because grain free foods can be higher in protein, they can also be higher in fat. Be sure that you are feeding your cat the appropriate portion size so that they do not put on weight. Grain free foods that contain more protein will likely be more expensive.