The 11 Best Cheap Cat Foods

Cats May 12, 2022
Written by | Updated May 13, 2022
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The 11 Best Cheap Cat Foods

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Best-Cheap-Cat-Food

It’s hard to find cat food you trust at a price you like. We’re here to make the search simple.

Before writing this guide to the best cheap cat food, we spent hours studying dozens of the biggest pet food brands on the market and analyzing the pet food industry overall. We consulted blogs, forums, and reviews to find out which brands are most popular among health-conscious budget shoppers.

Based on this research, we’ve rounded up the 11 best cheap cat foods you can buy.

At the top of our list is Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Paté. This canned cat food earns its place with its ultra-low price point and an ingredient list built around your cat’s carnivorous needs. But it may not be the right choice for every cat.

In this guide, you’ll find an assortment of cheap cat foods for cats of different life stages, flavor preferences, and key dietary needs. Check them out below!

At A Glance: Best Cheap Cat Food To Buy

We highly recommend looking at the comparison table below where we’ve highlighted the features of each product. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Compare Best Cheap Cat Foods

Overall Best
Authority Chicken Entree Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

1. Authority Chicken Entree Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

Upgrade Pick
Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

2. Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Best Freeze Dried
Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird

3. Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird

Best For Weight Loss
WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

4. WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

Best Dry
EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food

5. EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food

Best Raw
Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

6. Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach
Simply Nourish Essentials Chicken Recipe Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

7. Simply Nourish Essentials Chicken Recipe Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

Best For Diabetic Cats
Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

8. Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

Best For Seniors
Health Extension Grain-Free Chicken & Pumpkin Recipe Canned Cat Food

9. Health Extension Grain-Free Chicken & Pumpkin Recipe Canned Cat Food

Protein
10% Min
Protein
10.5% Min
Protein
45% Min
Protein
10% Min
Protein
30% Min
Protein
45% Min
Protein
9.5% Min
Protein
17.5% Min
Protein
10% Min
Fat
6.5% Min
Fat
7% Min
Fat
20% Min
Fat
2.0% Min
Fat
20% Min
Fat
25% Min
Fat
6.5% Min
Fat
2.0% Min
Fat
2.0% Min
Fiber
0.8% Max
Fiber
1% Max
Fiber
3% Max
Fiber
1.0% Max
Fiber
3.0% Max
Fiber
5.0% Max
Fiber
1.0% Max
Fiber
1.5% Max
Fiber
1.0% Max
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
All Life Stages
Life Stage
All Life Stages
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Type
Wet
Type
Wet Food
Type
Freeze-Dried
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Dry
Type
Freeze-Dried/Raw
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Wet/Canned
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
Thailand

How Do You Choose The Best Cheap Cat Food?

The best cheap cat food is just as nutritionally robust, species-appropriate, and delicious as any high-priced food. That being said, you might have to make some sacrifices in terms of ingredient quality and sourcing practices. But when it comes down to the meat of things, there’s no reason why a cheap cat food brand can’t have as much substance as an expensive one.

Remember—there’s no evidence that cheaper ingredients negatively affect cat health.

The best affordable cat foods often contain cost-effective ingredients like plant and animal by-products or vaguely-named items like “fish” or “poultry” instead of “salmon” or “chicken”. These ingredients are usually feed-grade and aren’t handled according to the safety requirements to which human foods must adhere.

Because they’re less strictly regulated and there’s more leeway on sub-par materials, some suspect that these ingredients are unsafe for cats. In reality, there’s very little indication that feed-grade ingredients are dangerous. If you can avoid them, fantastic. But if your budget doesn’t allow for premium ingredients, you shouldn’t sweat the issue of feed versus food.

At the end of the day, nutrients are more important than ingredients.

Budget-focused cat owners should look for cat foods that contain plenty of protein along with a mix of muscle meat and organs, animal-sourced fats, and as little plant matter as possible. Why? Because cats are carnivores. Meanwhile, avoid the artificial colors, flavors, and potentially harmful preservatives common among budget-tier diets like Meow Mix and Purina Cat Chow.

Although wet food is more expensive than dry food, the benefits of hydration are worth it.

Cheap dry foods are often plant-based and loaded with carbohydrates. Furthermore, they’re moisture-depleted, failing to provide one of the most important nutrients on Earth: water.

Cats have a naturally low thirst drives and don’t drink much, so a moisture-rich diet is essential. Feeding your cat a moisture-depleted diet may lead to chronic dehydration and, potentially, urinary tract issues like crystals and cystitis.

On top of the pain and stress it causes, urinary tract disease is expensive to treat.

Treatment often costs thousands of dollars. Combine that with the fact that high-carbohydrate diets contribute to diabetes, another of the most expensive illnesses your cat could have, and dry food no longer looks like such a good deal.

Our Top Picks For The Best Cheap Cat Food

Overall Best
1.

Authority Chicken Entree Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 6.5% Min
  • Fiber: 0.8% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 6.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.8%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 29.55%
Fiber: 3.64%
Carbs: 10%
Pros
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Primarily made from nourishing animal ingredients
  • Free of potentially-harmful additives
  • One of the most affordable foods you can buy
  • Contains menhaden fish oil as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
Cons
  • Contains vaguely-labeled ocean fish
This food is a lot like Friskies—a meat-based, bargain-priced food featuring a mix of poultry and fish with a dash of rice. But unlike Friskies, it doesn’t contain any animal or poultry by-products. It also doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

It’s also different in what it does contain, like clearly-named muscle meat and liver and menhaden fish oil as a nourishing source of omega-3 fatty acids. Those things are rare among the cheapest cat foods.

Overall, this food is a low-carbohydrate, protein-rich product that breaks a lot of cheap cat food stereotypes.

It’s relatively calorie-dense, meaning that you can feed less at every meal. If you have a ten-pound cat, this food will cost you about $0.96 per day.
Upgrade Pick
2.

Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10.5% Min
  • Fat: 7% Min
  • Fiber: 1% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet Food
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10.5%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 47.73%
Fat: 31.82%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 15.91%
Pros
  • Contains a mix of muscle meat and organs
  • Primarily made from nourishing animal ingredients
  • Relatively low carbohydrate content
Cons
  • Contains a few unnecessary plant ingredients
  • Slightly more expensive than other budget-tier foods
This paté food from Wellness’ Complete Health line has a few things going for it. For one, it’s primarily made from chicken and chicken liver, a nice change from the animal and poultry by-products you’ll find in a lot of other relatively economical foods.

Unfortunately, the recipe contains a few things that we’d rather not see in cat food, like carrots and flaxseed. These appear to take up minimal space on the ingredient list and the food’s carbohydrate content remains low.

At about twenty-five cents per ounce, this food might add up to over $2 per day for an average cat. It’s not the cheapest food on the market, but given its popularity, reputation, and wealth of positive customer reviews, it may be a good option.
Best Freeze Dried
3.

Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird

Product Info

  • Protein: 45% Min
  • Fat: 20% Min
  • Fiber: 3% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 45%
Crude Fat: 20%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 8%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 48.91%
Fat: 21.74%
Fiber: 3.26%
Carbs: 26.09%
Pros
  • Sent right to your door in regular deliveries
  • Made with premium natural ingredients
  • Real duck as the first ingredient
Cons
  • Only available by subscription
This Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird formula from Smalls is packed with premium animal protein and a limited number of other healthy ingredients. This recipe features real duck as the primary ingredient, complete with ground bone which provides essential nutrients. You’ll also find several duck organs included which are highly nutritious.

Though this formula may not be the cheapest on the list, it is cost effective in several ways. Because it is freeze-dried, it is easy to store with a long shelf-life. Plus, Smalls delivers it right to your door in customizable deliveries. It’s also one of the more affordable freeze-dried options out there.

When it comes to cat food, you want to get the most from your money without spending a fortune. Smalls offers premium quality with customizable convenience at an affordable price.
Best For Weight Loss
4.

WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

Product Info

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 2.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: All Life Stages
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 84%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 62.5%
Fat: 12.5%
Fiber: 6.25%
Carbs: 18.75%
Pros
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains chicken as the primary ingredient—no animal by-products or vaguely-named ingredients
  • Free of potentially-harmful additives
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil
Cons
  • Contains tapioca starch
Helping your cat lose weight involves a combination of diet and exercise. Low-carb cat foods with high levels and protein but controlled fat and calories are great for weight loss.

If you like the idea—but not the price—of juicy, shredded, low-carbohydrate foods from brands like Tiki Cat and Weruva, this WholeHearted product might be a good option. This wet cat food is composed of shredded chicken muscle meat set in broth. The food contains a mix of sunflower seed oil and tuna oil, ensuring that your cat gets a good dose of nourishing omega-3 fatty acids.

For a budget-level food, this product’s lack of by-products, artificial colors, and artificial flavors are all exceptional. Plus, with plenty of moisture and not too much fat, the food is satisfying and could help your adult cat stay slim.
Best Dry Food
5.

EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 30% Min
  • Fat: 20% Min
  • Fiber: 3.0% Max
  • Life Stage: All Life Stages
  • Type: Dry
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 30%
Crude Fat: 20%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 33.33%
Fat: 22.22%
Fiber: 3.33%
Carbs: 41.11%
Pros
  • Contains chicken and chicken meal instead of poultry or animal by-products
  • Guaranteed levels of probiotics
  • Free of artificial colors or preservatives
  • Extremely economical
Cons
  • Like most dry foods, this Kirkland Signature food is high in carbohydrates
  • Low moisture content could contribute to chronic dehydration and potential urinary issues
This food from Kirkland Signature is an outstanding option for budget kibble buyers. It’s brimming with animal-sourced protein from chicken and chicken meal. No by-products or vaguely-named meats here!

This formula has added probiotics to support your cat’s digestive health and it doesn’t contain any of those preservatives, colors, and flavors you’ll find in similarly-priced dry foods.

You can buy Kirkland Signature dry food on Amazon, but you’ll find the best deals in the Costco pet food aisle. If there’s a Costco nearby and you have a membership, head to the warehouse to save. Even if you don’t have a membership, you may be able to get a free trial and stock up on this formula.
Bew Raw Food
6.

Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 45% Min
  • Fat: 25% Min
  • Fiber: 5.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried/Raw
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 45%
Crude Fat: 25%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 47.37%
Fat: 26.32%
Fiber: 5.26%
Carbs: 21.05%
Pros
  • Primarily made from minimally-processed raw meat
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Contains probiotics for digestive health and overall wellbeing
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial additives that may harm your cat over time
  • Can be as moisture-rich as you want it to be
  • Low in carbohydrates
Cons
  • It takes a few minutes to rehydrate the morsels
When it comes to nutritional quality, it’s hard to do better than raw cat food. Most commercial foods – especially cheap ones – are processed at high heat which destroys the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients. Raw food, even in freeze-dried form, retains more of the essential nutrients your cat needs.

Raw cat food doesn’t have to be expensive. This freeze-dried food from Stella & Chewy’s costs about $1.08 per day for a 10-lb cat, putting it among the cheapest raw foods on the market. The morsels contain minimally processed chicken, bone, liver, and gizzard as primary ingredients. The food is fortified with a variety of probiotic species to help support digestive health and overall wellbeing.

If you want to give your cat the rich, minimally altered nutrition of raw meat, organs, and bones, buying Stella & Chewy’s food is one of the most affordable ways to do it.
Best For Sensitive Stomach
7.

Simply Nourish Essentials Chicken Recipe Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 9.5% Min
  • Fat: 6.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9.5%
Crude Fat: 6.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%
Ash: 2.7%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 52.78%
Fat: 36.11%
Fiber: 5.56%
Pros
  • Has a straightforward ingredient list featuring chicken muscle meat and liver
  • Doesn’t contain common irritants
  • Free of vaguely-named ingredients and by-products
Cons
  • Not a good option for cats with chicken sensitivities
  • Relatively expensive compared to the other foods on this list
If your cat has a sensitive stomach, single-protein foods featuring easy-to-digest ingredients may help. This food fits that description, featuring chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver as its primary ingredients.

This formula from Simply Nourish is free of carrageenan, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and potentially-harmful preservatives—all ingredients that could cause or worsen inflammation. With real chicken at the top of the list, followed by other high-quality ingredients, it’s a good source of balanced nutrition for your feline friend.

Between its slim ingredient list and soft, easy-to-eat consistency, this food is a good choice for sensitive cats of all kinds.
Best For Diabetic Cats
8.

Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 17.5% Min
  • Fat: 2.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.5% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 17.5%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 76%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 72.92%
Fat: 8.33%
Fiber: 6.25%
Pros
  • Primarily made from animal protein sources
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or inflammatory preservatives
Cons
  • Contains vaguely-named ocean fish, which is likely not the highest-quality fish
  • Relies on vegetable oil instead of nourishing animal fat
In addition to insulin injections and blood glucose monitoring, a low-carbohydrate diet is the most powerful way to treat diabetes.

Instead of buying expensive food marketed for diabetic cats, it’s more cost-effective to opt for low-carbohydrate food. Foods with less than 10% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis help to control blood sugar and may help your cat to go into diabetic remission, freeing you of the need to inject insulin at all.

This food from Fancy Feast has what diabetic cats need. It’s extraordinarily low in carbohydrates and, unlike some other budget foods, it doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or potentially harmful preservatives.

It’s also low in calories, which may help diabetic cats to lose weight.
Best For Seniors
9.

Health Extension Grain-Free Chicken & Pumpkin Recipe Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 2.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: Thailand

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 84%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 62.5%
Fat: 12.5%
Fiber: 6.25%
Pros
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Doesn’t use any vaguely-named ingredients
  • Free of common irritants
  • One of the most high-calorie foods you can buy
Cons
  • Contains pea protein and other non-essential plant ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain fish oil or other species-appropriate sources of omega-3 fatty acids
This food has a couple of qualities that set it apart as a good option for senior cats, especially those who have lost muscle mass with age. With 38 calories per ounce, the food is unusually calorie-dense, meaning that your cat gets more energy and nutrition in each bite.

The food features chicken as its primary protein source, along with pumpkin—which may help to prevent constipation common among senior cats—and a small amount of pea protein.

Though it costs a bit more per ounce, this food’s unusual calorie density means that you can get away with just about five to six ounces per day for a 10-lb cat, adding up to just around $2 per day. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but it’s decent for a food of this caliber.
Best For Kittens
10.

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Healthy Kitten Recipe Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 9.0% Min
  • Fat: 4.0% Min
  • Fiber: 3.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Canned/Paté
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 4%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 40.91%
Fat: 18.18%
Fiber: 13.64%
Carbs: 13.64%
Pros
  • Single source of high-quality animal protein
  • Free from fillers, by-products, and artificial additives
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids for healthy development
Cons
  • Made with a few plant ingredients
  • Contains some plant protein
Kittens need calorie-dense, protein-rich food with a unique balance of calcium and phosphorus to support early bone development. This canned kitten food from Whole Earth Farms provides for your kitten’s nutritional needs in a species-appropriate and affordable way.

It’s made with fresh chicken as the first ingredient, followed by chicken liver with salmon oil as the main source of added fat. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, this formula helps support healthy eye and brain development in kittens as well as skin and coat health.

This recipe does contain a few plant ingredients, but the total carbohydrate content is still under 5%. Plus, it’s rich in moisture to support your kitten’s hydration and is a single source of animal protein. Pricewise, it costs under $0.30 per ounce.
Best Low Phosphorus
11.

Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 1.3% Min
  • Fiber: 0.5% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: Thailand

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 1.3%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 86%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 71.43%
Fat: 9.29%
Fiber: 3.57%
Carbs: 15.71%
Pros
  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Lower than average phosphorus levels
  • Rich in moisture and low in carbohydrates
Cons
  • Not specifically formulated for cats with kidney disease
  • Doesn’t contain added sources of omega-3s
Low-phosphorus foods can help to manage symptoms of kidney disease in cats. Whether prescription or not, these foods can be hard to find at a budget-friendly price point, adding more expenses to an already stressful situation.

While this canned food from Weruva isn’t a prescription product and is not formally recommended for cats with kidney disease, it has lower than average phosphorus levels which may help address some of the issues CKD patients face.

This high-quality cat food is primarily made from a blend of beef broth, fresh beef, and pumpkin. It is thickened with potato starch and xanthan gum and contains a few additional plant ingredients like sweet potato, carrot, and sunflower seed oil.

It may not be perfect, but it’s priced under $0.50 per ounce. The low phosphorus levels, high protein content, and rich moisture content make it a decent choice for cats with kidney disease.

Smart Cat Food Budgeting Involves More Than Buying the Best Cheap Cat Food on The Market.

Don’t be afraid to vary your cat’s diet and try what’s on sale.

Mixing up your cat’s diet allows you to feed a combination of cheap, mid-priced, and expensive foods. A diverse diet also helps to reduce the impact of potential manufacturer slip-ups—a nutritional imbalance or bad batch won’t hit as hard if your cat only relies on a given food for a few meals a week.

So, when you see a good product on sale—whether that’s a Black Friday blowout or dented cans at the grocery—grab it. Take advantage of every opportunity you can get to save.

If you’ve got a lot of time, consider making your own cat food.

If you’re low on money but have plenty of time, homemade food may be the smartest option. It takes time to get things right, but the result is a nutritionally excellent food for less than many budget-tier canned foods. Learn more in this guide to homemade and best raw cat food diets.

Expand your cat food budget by saving elsewhere.

You might have more money to spend on cat food than you think. By reducing the amount of money you spend on other cat care essentials like cat litter, treats, and other supplies, you could radically expand your cat food budget.

Saving money on cat litter is one of the best places to start. By switching to an outstanding economy litter, you could free up an extra hundred or so dollars a year.

Read our guide to the best cheap cat litter on the market.

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2 Comments
  1. Marlene

    Stella & Chewy freeze dried cat food costs WAY more than $.80 a day. (closer to 3x that much) Maybe just a bad math day :)

    • We're All About Pets Editorial

      Hi Marlene, Thank you for commenting, seems like we have an error here, according to PetFoodSherpa.com the avg. cost for Stella & Chewy freeze dried food is $1.13 so we're going to fix this on the review You can read more here: https://petfoodsherpa.com/cat-food-reviews/stella-chewys

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