11 Best High Protein Cat Food Brands: 2022 Buyer’s Complete Guide

Best High Protein Cat Food

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means animal proteins must make the most of their diet for them to thrive and survive. And cat food brands know this by heart, which is also why there are tons of choices out there.

While it’s good to have a lot of options, we can’t deny that it can also make the task of choosing the best high protein cat food more difficult.

Hopefully, with the help of this guide, you can narrow down your options and have a better idea of what to look for in a high protein dry cat food or wet food for your feline companion.  

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What to Look for in a High Protein Cat Food?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and other sources recommend feeding adult cats with at least 26 percent of protein in their diet. This number varies slightly for kittens, as well as pregnant and lactating queens, who all need at least 30 percent of protein in their daily food intake.

These figures are the minimum amount and not the optimum figures that you can give to your cat, and they can also change depending on your cat’s condition.

As mentioned earlier, elderly cats, as well as cats with health issues may need a different percentage of protein to meet their nutritional requirements while also keeping their overall health and safety in mind.

Nonetheless, most cats would benefit from a high protein diet with low carbohydrates. The source of your cat’s protein is also essential considering that they can usually digest animal proteins more efficiently than plant-based proteins. This means, that their body can absorb the protein more when it is meat-based, and pass it less as food waste.

This also goes to show that giving your cat high quality protein can provide them with a more usable nutrient that won’t simply go to waste. And it could also lead to lesser time in the litter box both for you and your cat because your feline buddy is digesting the food more efficiently.

Moreover, when shopping for the best high protein cat food in the market, you should choose those that contain the essential nutrients that your cat needs.

As mentioned earlier, taurine is one of the essential amino acids that cats need to get from their food because their body can’t produce it by themselves. Taurine also has important benefits for cats, such as keeping their immune system strong.

You should also look for other important vitamins, minerals, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Fiber is also helpful for healthy digestion, as well as in promoting a healthy weight.

Apart from the essential nutrients, you should also consider your cat’s life stage when shopping for premium dry or wet cat food. And while it may be a small factor, you should also consider the flavor of the food, especially if you have a picky cat.

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Life Stages

Match your cat’s characteristics and life stage to the type of cat food that you give your feline companion. Kittens have particular requirements for food while growing and developing, so food should be supplied in this manner.

Through your adult cat’s active years, you should provide him with food that could give him the nutrients that he needs to sustain his energy and promote his overall health and well-being.

Senior cats can differ in the way food is consumed compared with kittens and adult cats. So, choose the diet formula that is specific to your cat's golden years.

Essential nutrients

Your cat must receive certain nutrients that are necessary for his health and survival, including fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

As mentioned earlier, taurine is an essential amino acid that your cat should take from his meals. Provide your cat with dry food that can meet your feline’s minimum daily requirements for different important nutrients.

Moreover, it should be noted that cats do not need carbohydrates. And there’s no data as to what’s the optimum amount of carbohydrates for them should be.

Flavor

This is a matter of a cat’s personal preference or inclination to certain flavors, but let’s face it, a food’s palatability is vital, especially for finicky cats. And finding the best high protein dry cat foods can be really difficult, especially if your cat is transitioning from wet foods.

Although limited ingredient foods are helpful with your cat’s digestion, some cats don’t just love them probably because they contain novel proteins or flavors that they are not used to, or that are not appealing to their taste. Hence, the key is still to test different ingredients and protein sources that your cat will love.

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Crave with Protein from Chicken
  • Cooked and processed in U.S.A.
  • Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Contains no chicken by-product meal, soy, corn or wheat
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Royal Canin Indoor Adult
  • Manages hairballs with a combination of fibers
  • Uses protein selected for its high digestibility
  • Kibble designed specifically for the needs of indoor cats
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Purina Pro Plan Adult Chicken & Rice Formula
  • Natural prebiotic fiber
  • Fortified with live probiotics
  • High protein formula with real chicken
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Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Real deboned chicken first
  • Features wholesome grains, garden veggies and fruit
  • pecially crafted to help adult cats achieve and maintain an ideal body weight
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Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe
  • Features freeze-dried raw protein pieces
  • Real, deboned chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Gluten-free chicken and turkey cat food kibble
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Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Reduces occurrence of hairballs
  • Help support a healthy immune system
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ORIJEN Original Cat Food
  • Packed with WholePrey nutrition
  • Freeze-dried coated for a burst of raw flavor
  • Crafted with 90% premium meat and fish ingredients
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Wellness CORE Indoor Formula
  • Grain free formula
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Real deboned chicken is the #1 ingredient
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Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Completely grain-free
  • Cage-free chicken is #1 ingredient
  • Made without corn, wheat or soy ingredients
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Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Turkey Formula
  • Lower glycemic formula
  • First ingredient is turkey
  • 100% grain, gluten and filler free
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Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Quail
  • High-moisture recipe
  • Gourmet, grain-free wet food
  • High-protein, low-carb recipe
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  1. Crave with Protein from Chicken
  2. Royal Canin Indoor Adult
  3. Purina Pro Plan Adult Chicken & Rice Formula
  4. Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
  5. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe
  6. Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe
  7. ORIJEN Original Cat Food
  8. Wellness CORE Indoor Formula
  9. Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
  10. Dr. Elsey's Cleanprotein Turkey Formula
  11. Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Quail

Best High Protein Cat Food Brands

1. Crave with Protein from Chicken

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Split Peas, Chicken Fat

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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This protein-rich food provides all the nutrients she needs to develop and maintain a lean, healthy body, strong immune systems and the energy to run and play.

Overall, the best high protein food for cats is this cat food from Crave. It's available in several varieties and features chicken as its first ingredient.

Other beneficial ingredients include a variety of legumes, potatoes, flax seeds, and several vitamins & minerals that can support a cat’s healthy immune system.

This recipe is inspired by a cat’s ancestral hunting diet, satisfying his innate desire for high-quality proteins and carbohydrates that support healthy muscle mass, energy, and immune health.

What’s more, it is also devoid of chicken by-product meal, soy, corn, or wheat. And it is cooked and processed in multiple facilities in the U.S. using only the finest ingredients globally.

2. Royal Canin Indoor Adult

First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Corn, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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Kibble designed specifically for the needs of indoor cats ages 1 to 7. Helps reduce stools odor and quantity with an appropriate fiber content, specific nutrients and L.I.P.

This recipe is created using fiber to aid in digestion and improve weight control, which is both important, especially to indoor cats.

As we know, cats that live exclusively indoors are more prone to having obesity sooner or later because of their sedentary lifestyle.

Additionally, indoor cats are also pampered with a comfortable temperature, which disrupts the seasonal growth of fur and increases shedding.

This recipe is crafted to provide all of these benefits while also ensuring that your cat is provided with complete and balanced nutrition, that is both tasty and pleasing to his senses.

Moreover, it is a bit of good advice to purchase this item through a reputable pet store, as counterfeit versions of this product are also out in the market.

When buying products from online shops you should always check with the manufacturer if these are the items they sell. Check if the products are packaged with high grade food.

3. Purina Pro Plan Adult Chicken & Rice Formula

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-product Meal, Wheat Flour

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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This dry cat food includes 36 percent protein to help meet a cat's unique nutritional needs, and every high-quality ingredient is carefully chosen for a specific purpose.

Purina Pro Plan Adult Complete Essentials is the best high-protein cat food for your feline companion's digestive health and immunity.

This recipe is made from high-quality protein, with real chicken meat as the first ingredient. And it is fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support your cat’s digestive and immune health.

Also, it features natural prebiotic fiber sourced from chicory root, that nourishes certain intestinal bacteria for digestive health. What’s more, this formula is packed with 36% protein to help meet your cat’s nutritional needs.

And it is enriched with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-6 fatty acids to support your cat’s healthy skin and coat, as well as his overall health and wellness.

4. Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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This delectable recipe is crafted with an optimal blend of calories and protein to help your feline achieve and maintain an ideal body weight

Does your cat need to lose some weight? Don’t worry, you don’t have to deprive him of his favorite goodies. Let him purr with delight with Blue Buffalo Weight Control Natural adult dry cat food. This tasty and nutritious recipe is packed with 30% protein, featuring deboned chicken as its first ingredient.

This palatable formula is crafted with a healthy blend of calories and protein to help your cat achieve and maintain his ideal body weight while pleasing his taste and satiety.

It also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help promote a healthy coat and skin. And it is packed with important vitamins and minerals to support your cat’s overall health every day.

What’s more, with each bite, your feline buddy benefits from BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits – a special blend of carefully selected antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals chosen by veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support your cat’s life stage requirements, immune health, and overall health and wellness.

Your cat’s sensitivities are also taken care of with this premium natural adult dry cat food for weight loss. To ensure that your cat won’t feel full by eating fillers, this formula is free from corn, wheat, or soy; and it is free from artificial flavors or preservatives.

5. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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This grain-free recipe starts with real, deboned chicken and features freeze-dried raw protein pieces in a pure state to provide nutritional boost with easy digestion and a fresh taste.

Satisfy your cat’s natural craving for protein-rich food with Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Dry Cat Food. This recipe features a balanced combination of protein-rich, grain-free, and gluten-free kibble with freeze-dried whole pieces of raw poultry.

This all-natural recipe delivers 42% protein and starts with real deboned chicken as its first ingredient along with chicken meal, potatoes, peas, salmon meal, healthy chicken fat, and a lot more tasty and high-quality ingredients.

The formula is also enriched with calcium, phosphorus, taurine, omega-3 (DHA) and omega-6 fatty acids that help support your cat’s skin, coat, and bone health. What’s more, it also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy hips and joints.

With this diet, your cat won’t only get the nutritional benefits of a higher protein diet that he would have discovered in the wild, but he would also get to enjoy a tasty meal that is free from corn, wheat, and gluten. This is an added benefit that makes perfect sense for cats with food allergies or sensitivities, particularly with grains.

And just like all Merrick cat food recipes, this raw infused dry cat food is also crafted in Hereford, Texas, and cooked in US facilities while upholding strict guidelines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).

6. Hill's Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe 

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Fat

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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Made with wholesome ingredients such as savory chicken, this nourishing recipe is balanced to meet your pet’s needs, and promote healthy, gentle digestion.

Hill’s Science Diet is a popular veterinarian-recommended cat food brand, and this particular recipe is specially formulated to provide indoor cats with the energy that they need to thrive each day.

It’s crafted with wholesome ingredients starting with real chicken meat and enriched with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your cat’s immune system.

This recipe is also packed with high-quality natural ingredients, and healthy natural fiber that is easy to digest and helps promote good digestion, and reduces the occurrence of hairballs.

What’s more, it is also loaded with nutrients that are beneficial for your feline’s heart health, and its high-protein content helps promote lean muscles while satisfying your cat’s proclivity for the meaty goodness of premium animal proteins.

Each bite of this great-tasting triangle kibble is loaded with the nutrients that your cat needs from a complete and balanced diet.

This formula is also crafted in the USA, and each ingredient meets the strict requirements for nutrient content and purity. And of course, this high-protein adult dry cat food is free from artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

7. ORIJEN Original Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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Crafted with 90% premium meat and fish ingredients to support healthy digestion, skin and coat health, and heart health. Made in the USA with the world’s finest ingredients.

Same scrumptious and nutritious kibble, but with a new name – Orijen Cat & Kitten is now Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. This recipe contains the right amount of nutritional nutrients to support your developing kitten.

As an obligate carnivore, your cat will thrive on this nutrient-dense diet that is packed with protein and healthy fats from a variety of premium animal ingredients.

This formula features chicken as its first ingredient, which is also its main source of protein. However, it’s not the only protein source – this is also followed by the rest of the first five fresh or raw ingredients: turkey, whole mackerel, turkey giblets, and flounder. This recipe also contains several protein-based ingredients which contribute to its overall crude protein of 40%.

This tasty recipe is packed with 20% fat, which is primarily from chicken fat, a healthy and nutritious ingredient for adult cats and kittens.

As for its dietary fiber and energy source, this formula relies on whole navy beans, green peas, red lentils, as well as other beans and legumes.

What’s more, this grain-free kibble is also packed with fibers from fruits and vegetables, as well as prebiotics from dried chicory root to promote healthy digestion.

The natural-occurring Taurine found in animal proteins such as fish, poultry, and eggs helps promote heart health. And the formula’s omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught pollock oil help support healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Additionally, each bite of this tasty kibble is loaded with important nutrients such as DHA, EPA, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and a lot more. And for added flavor, this recipe uses freeze-dried liver to coat the kibbles.

Overall, kittens and adult cats alike would purr with delight at the sight and smell of this delicious gluten-free, high-protein meal.

8. Wellness CORE Indoor Formula

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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With deboned chicken as the very first ingredient, this nutrient-dense, grain-free recipe contains all the protein needed to help your indoor cat maintain lean muscles and an ideal body condition.

Nourish your cat with a diet that gives him everything that he needs with Wellness CORE Grain-Free Natural Dry Food. And you can breathe well knowing that your feline companion can thrive from the core throughout his long, healthy, and happy feline life.

This grain-free and gluten-free premium dry cat food features deboned chicken as its first ingredient, and it is loaded with all the proteins that your cat needs for him to maintain ideal body weight, have lean muscles, and have active mobility.

This formula is enriched with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, natural fiber, L-carnitine, and probiotics to ensure that your cat’s gastrointestinal health, skin and coat, and immune system stay strong and healthy throughout his lifetime.

Additionally, this recipe is packed with added glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate to support your cat’s joint and mobility. And it is fortified with vitamins and minerals to promote overall health and wellness.

What’s more, the formula doesn’t contain corn, wheat, or soy, as well as meat by-products, fillers, and artificial preservatives or flavors.

So, you can be sure that each bite is filled with only the essential nutrients that your cat needs – no more, no less.

9. Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Pea Protein, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Peas

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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An organic superfood blend with flaxseed, cranberries and coconut oil adds healthy nutrition to help your feline feel her best.

For a delicious and nutrient-packed meal you will feel good about feeding your cat, only choose a certified USDA organic diet, such as this cat formula from Castor & Pollux.

This tasty grain-free and organic formula is definitely free from corn, wheat, grains, or soy. And it doesn’t contain artificial preservatives, chemical pesticides, or synthetic fillers, as well as antibiotics and growth hormones.

Aside from using only organic ingredients, this recipe is also cooked in USDA organically certified kitchen. And it features 32% crude protein, with organic free-range chicken as its first ingredient, followed by organic chicken meal, organic pea protein, organic sweet potatoes, organic peas, etc.

Additionally, this organic cat food contains a nutrient-packed superfood blend with flaxseeds, coconut oil, and cranberries to help your cat feel and stay at his prime all day, every day.

10. Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Turkey Formula

First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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Inspired by the protein levels found in natural prey, this pate optimizes your cat’s appetite and body mass through simple, high quality ingredients.

This list wouldn’t be complete without adding a wet food option to add variation to your cat’s high-protein diet. And when it comes to grain-free canned foods, our top pick would be Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food.

Made using turkey as its first ingredient, this pate satisfies a cat’s ancestral hunting diet with its high-protein content. And with animal-based protein as its primary ingredient, your cat can eat less and still feel full longer.

What’s more, this grain-free and gluten-free recipe is loaded with essential vitamins, and minerals, like taurine, and magnesium. It’s certainly a tasty wet food that cats with or without sensitivities and weight issues will love and look forward to every mealtime.

Also, this formula contains no-to-low oxalate to help prevent bladder stones and calcium oxalate crystals, which are common problems among felines regardless of their age. And this top-ranking food has a lower glycemic formula that delivers only 4% energy from carbohydrates.

Overall, this wet food provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult cats and kittens. And the formula optimizes your feline’s body mass and appetite to help sustain a healthy and active lifestyle, which is vital, especially for cats that live exclusively indoors.

11. Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Quail

First 5 ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Chicken Heart

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
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Full of vitamins and minerals for complete and balanced nutrition, and the high protein and low carb formula is great for his energy levels and immune system.

Obese cats are often fed with lower protein and high-fiber food that theoretically makes them feel fuller without having to introduce a lot of calories into their system.

However, the problem with this approach is that your overweight cat will lose weight by achieving a calorie deficit, but he will also lose his lean muscle mass.

And considering a cat’s playful nature, he needs lean muscles to keep himself physically fit and strong. Good thing that we have high-protein wet food such as Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Quail Egg that can provide your cat with a biologically-appropriate food to keep him happy and thriving each day.

This gourmet, grain-free recipe is also free from corn, wheat, soy, and growth hormones. It’s also rich in moisture, which is beneficial for all cats, especially for those who are not keen on drinking water.

It also comes in a tasty flavor that cats love, so, you don’t have to worry about your picky cat snubbing this savory pate at mealtime.

Also Read: Best Cat Food Brands for 2022

Why Is a High Protein Diet Good for Cats?

As mentioned earlier, by nature, being obligate carnivores, wild cats feed exclusively on meat. And this innate characteristic is already imbued in every cat's DNA.

So, while our indoor cats are already domesticated, they are still innately attracted to animal protein. And it's not just because of the meat's umami flavor, but more so because it's what their body is longing for; and it's what their body needs the most.

Protein is the primary energy source for cats, as well as other animals. This essential nutrient is important for their growth and development, and their immune system. Protein also plays a vital role in cellular repair and reproduction.

The amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, help in growing healthy skin, hair, nails, and practically in building our cat’s body as a whole.

The remaining amino acids — the ones that their bodies cannot make — are called ‘essential' amino acids. Cats need to get these essential amino acids, such as taurine or arginine, from their diet. Deficiency in these essential nutrients in your cat’s diet can lead to serious ailments.

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How Much Protein Do Cats Need?

Your cat’s daily diet should contain at least 2.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This number both appears in studies as to how much protein a cat needs to maintain lean muscle mass, and how much protein a cat would consume if given the choice. And knowing the feline behavior, they would eat just the right amount that their body needs – seldom more, and rarely less.

Protein is essential to feline life. Without it, cats can’t see, breathe, purr, survive. Hence, there’s no such thing as too much protein for healthy cats.

For your feline companions, a high protein diet is just a normal diet. And again, they need it so they can sustain their optimum level of functioning, and maintain a healthy and happy life.

In most cases, pet parents don’t have to worry about feeding their cats too much protein. If you give your cat more than enough protein than his body needs, he will most probably just excrete the excess through his urine. And as mentioned earlier, he may also use the excess protein as calories, or store them as fats.

The only time when a high protein diet becomes problematic is if your cat has late-stage renal disease, which usually happens with senior cats.

If your cat has an underlying medical condition, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian regarding the best food that could meet his dietary requirements without compromising your cat’s health and safety in the long run.  

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What Happens If a Cat Doesn’t Get Enough Protein?

If cats don't have enough protein in their diet, sooner or later, they will start to break down protein from their muscles.

Almost all proteins — including animal proteins as well as plants — have different amino acids. Some are easier for cats to break down, while some are more or less usable for their body. Scientists refer to how proteins break up based on their biological availability to be used by the body as “bioavailability.”

The egg is at the top of the list with a bioavailability of 100. Milk and fish meal contain lower levels of bioavailability value at 92. Beef is estimated at 78.

All of these foods can be rich in protein, but it doesn't mean that they can be the best protein source for your cat. You always need to consider other factors – such as your cat's sensitivities, as well as any underlying medical condition.

How Much Dry Cat Food Should You Feed Your Cat?

Most adult-aged cats are generally given about 1/4 to 2 cups of dry food two and a half times per day. Sometimes older, special needs cats will need more feeding.

If you are unsure how many dried meals and foods are best for cats, you have the opportunity to contact the manufacturer. Simply check the package to find instructions.

Considering the benefits of dry and wet foods for cats, we could say that the optimal solution will be feeding your furry buddy with a combination of dry and wet food.

And as always, don’t forget to leave a bowl or fountain of fresh water that your cat can easily access anytime.

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  • Updated December 16, 2021
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.