The 10 Best Grain Free Cat Foods

Cats May 12, 2022
Written by | Updated May 14, 2022
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The 10 Best Grain Free Cat Foods

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If you want what’s best for your cat, choose a nutritious diet made with high-quality ingredients. The more natural the ingredients, the higher the quality and better ingredients means better cat food. If you’re looking for a truly top-tier option, consider Grain Free cat food.

Compare Best Grain Free Cat Food

Best Dry Cat Food
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food

1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food

Best Wet Cat Food
Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Duck Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

2. Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Duck Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

Best For Allergies
CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Indoor Tuna Formula Dry Cat Food

3. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Indoor Tuna Formula Dry Cat Food

Best For All Life Stages
Tiki Cat Hana Grill Ahi Tuna with Crab in Tuna Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

4. Tiki Cat Hana Grill Ahi Tuna with Crab in Tuna Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Best Grain Free Wet Cat Food
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Pate Canned Cat Food

5. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Pate Canned Cat Food

Best For Senior Cats
Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe

6. Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe

Best For Picky Cats
Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe

7. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe

Budget Pick
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

8. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Value Pick
Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entree

9. Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entree

Best Organic
Hill's Ideal Balance Adult Grain Free Natural Chicken & Potato Recipe

10. Hill's Ideal Balance Adult Grain Free Natural Chicken & Potato Recipe

Protein
45% Min
Protein
9% Min
Protein
36% Min
Protein
18.4% Min
Protein
10% Min
Protein
32% Min
Protein
41% Min
Protein
42% Min
Protein
10% Min
Protein
28% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
7% Min
Fat
12% Min
Fat
2.3% Min
Fat
5% Min
Fat
13% Min
Fat
21% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
3.5% Min
Fat
19% Min
Fiber
3% Max
Fiber
3% Max
Fiber
5% Max
Fiber
0% Max
Fiber
1% Max
Fiber
5% Max
Fiber
3% Max
Fiber
3.0% Max
Fiber
1% Max
Fiber
3.5% Max
Moisture
10% Max
Moisture
78% Max
Moisture
9% Max
Moisture
77% Max
Moisture
78% Max
Moisture
10% Max
Moisture
9% Max
Moisture
10% Max
Moisture
85% Max
Moisture
Caloric Content
497 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
1,250 kcal/kg
Caloric Content
435 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
160 kcal/6 oz can
Caloric Content
177 kcal/5.5 oz can
Caloric Content
397 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
505 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
390 kcal/cup
Caloric Content
884 kcal/kg
Caloric Content
511 kcal/cup

How To Choose The Best Grain-free Cat Foods?

The best grain-free cat food will feature plenty of animal protein with healthy fats for energy and coat support. Because these cats are prone to kidney issues, proper hydration is essential, which makes fresh food and canned food a good option.

Here are some other things to look for in a grain-Free cat food:

  • Wholesome, all-natural ingredients. Real, whole-food ingredients are the most digestible and nutritious for your cat.
  • Plenty of animal protein. Protein supports your cat’s lean muscle mass and keeps it healthy. Aim for at least 26% but ideally upwards of 30% protein, primarily from animal sources, with limited carbohydrate content.
  • Rich in essential fatty acids. Fat provides a concentrated source of energy for your cat and should come from animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil as much as possible. Just keep in mind that the higher the fat content, the higher the calorie content.
  • Highly digestible. High-quality ingredients are the most digestible for your cat, so look for a recipe that is made with wholesome, natural ingredients with no fillers, by-products, or artificial additives. It also doesn’t hurt if the recipe includes prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Rich in moisture. Choosing canned food for your Himalayan can boost its moisture intake. Another option is to moisten your cat’s kibble with water or broth, or you can add a moist or semi-moist food topper.

Our Top Picks For The Best Grain Free Cat Food

Best Dry Cat Food
1.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Formula Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 45% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 3% Max
  • Moisture: 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 497 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 45%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 20%
Fiber: 3.33%
Carbs: 26.67%
Pros
  • High Protein content
  • Balanced nutrition
  • Added minerals for easy digestion
Cons
  • Some complaints about the new improved formula
The company is known to manufacture high-quality pet food that provides a balanced nutrition to nourish your cat’s body.

As one of the best dry cat food on the market today, this product is grain-free, has no artificial colors or preservatives and does not contain even a single trace of soy or corn.

Besides that, this product features ingredients such as deboned turkey that are rich in protein.

The food also contains other essentials like digestible carbohydrates and healthy supplements that enhance the overall health of your feline.
Best Wet Cat Food
2.

Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Duck Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 9% Min
  • Fat: 7% Min
  • Fiber: 3% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 1,250 kcal/kg

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 40.91%
Fat: 31.82%
Fiber: 13.64%
Carbs: 13.64%
Pros
  • Fatty acids to promote a healthy coat
  • Free from fillers other additives
  • Affordable
Cons
  • A bit expensive
Listed as one of the best wet food brands on the market, Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free cat food features real chicken as the first ingredient used to provide the high amount of protein amount.

This protein-rich formula is free from artificial additives such as preservatives, flavors, and colors. Above all, a great feature of this product is that it contains omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids to reduce shedding of the coat of your cat.
Best For Allergies
3.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Indoor Tuna Formula Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 36% Min
  • Fat: 12% Min
  • Fiber: 5% Max
  • Moisture: 9% Max
  • Caloric Content: 435 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 36%
Crude Fat: 12%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 9%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 39.56%
Fat: 13.19%
Fiber: 5.49%
Carbs: 41.76%
Pros
  • Added Vitamins, minerals and probiotics
  • Chelated minerals for easy digestion
  • Real Tuna as first ingredient
Cons
  • It has caused diarrhea and stomach upset
This cat food is a perfect choice for cats that suffer from chicken and meat based allergies for the reason that tuna is the first ingredient in this grain-free cat food.

The tuna fish is a great source of protein and provides a high concentration of protein. Besides that, it also contains chickpeas and sweet potatoes to boost your cat’s energy levels and to provide dietary fibers for gentle digestion.

This formula contains 36 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat and 5 percent crude fiber that ensures your feline always stays healthy and cheerful.
Best For All Life Stages
4.

Tiki Cat Hana Grill Ahi Tuna with Crab in Tuna Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 18.4% Min
  • Fat: 2.3% Min
  • Fiber: 0% Max
  • Moisture: 77% Max
  • Caloric Content: 160 kcal/6 oz can

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 18.4%
Crude Fat: 2.3%
Moisture: 77%
Ash: 1.6%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 80%
Fat: 10%
Carbs: 3.04%
Pros
  • Made with 100% all-natural, high-quality ingredients
  • Contains 18.4% protein and 2.3% fat
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
Cons
  • Some kittens may be sensitive to sea food ingredients
We really like Tiki Cat foods. Their canned foods are high in protein and extremely low in carbohydrates.

They are complete and balanced for all life stages. And they are hand-packed. For example, Hana Grill Ahi Tuna with Crab In Tuna Consommé has 18 percent protein, three percent fat, and two percent carbohydrates.

The first three ingredients are tuna, tuna broth, and crab. This food has 75 kcal per 2.8 ounce can. It’s typical of Tiki Cat foods.

They have lots of other fish-based canned foods as well as a line of similar chicken-based foods.

They also have some good variety packs. Their After Dark line includes organ meats. We think Tiki Cat’s higher protein and low carb canned foods would be a good choice for diabetic cats.
Best Grain Free Wet Cat Food
5.

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Pate Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 5% Min
  • Fiber: 1% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 177 kcal/5.5 oz can

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 22.73%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 15.91%
Pros
  • Provides a high concentration of protein
  • It provides a balanced nutrition for your pet
  • Has no artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives
Cons
  • There are some owners who stated that their cats did not like the taste
This product is one of the favorite foods of most felines. That is probably because this food features real deboned chicken to provide high-quality protein.

Besides that, the food has formulated carbohydrates and fats in the right proportion to complete the nutritional requirements of your cats.

Above all, it is hundred percent grain-free and does not contain artificial additives, which a big plus in this line of products.
Best For Senior Cats
6.

Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe

Product Info

  • Protein: 32% Min
  • Fat: 13% Min
  • Fiber: 5% Max
  • Moisture: 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 397 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 32%
Crude Fat: 13%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 10%
Ash: 7.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 35.56%
Fat: 14.44%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 36.11%
Pros
  • The essentials help to create a healthy skin
  • Grain-free
  • It contains no growth hormone or antibiotics
Cons
  • The new improved formula is not satisfying
This cat product is well known to follow a holistic approach to pet nutrition. The formula of Halo is proven for superior digestibility which is works well for senior cats.

Besides that, it includes vitamin E and important fatty acids to promote the healthy and shiny coat of your feline. Additionally, this healthy recipe has reduced fat and calories, which is highly recommended for senior cats to maintain ideal weight.
Best For Picky Cats
7.

Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe

Product Info

  • Protein: 41% Min
  • Fat: 21% Min
  • Fiber: 3% Max
  • Moisture: 9% Max
  • Caloric Content: 505 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 41%
Crude Fat: 21%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 9%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.05%
Fat: 23.08%
Fiber: 3.3%
Carbs: 28.57%
Pros
  • It contains natural antioxidants and omega fats to keep your cat’s coat healthy
  • Provides a natural diet
  • Made in USA
Cons
  • Unfavorable reviews about this new improved formula
This cat food is concentrated in protein sources that help your felines build strong and lean muscles. Also 19 percent of this formula has added vegetables, fruits and other wholesome ingredients for the overall health of your cat.

The brand assures you that the food does not contain allergens or artificial additives.
Budget Pick
8.

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 42% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 3.0% Max
  • Moisture: 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 390 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 42%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 46.67%
Fat: 20%
Fiber: 3.33%
Carbs: 30%
Pros
  • Does not contain allergens or artificial additives
  • It offers a unique taste for your cats
  • The cat food is highly digestible
Cons
  • It has caused stomach upset and diarrhea for some cats
This cat food is a best-selling product on Amazon that is formulated to provide a great taste for your felines while also providing the other essentials needed by your cats.

This recipe includes real roasted venison and smoked salmon to offer a taste like none other.

Also this formula is enriched with antioxidants to help promote a healthy and shiny skin for your feline friend.
Value Pick
9.

Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entree

Product Info

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 3.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1% Max
  • Moisture: 85% Max
  • Caloric Content: 884 kcal/kg

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 3.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 85%
Ash: 2%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 66.67%
Fat: 23.33%
Fiber: 6.67%
Pros
  • It provides a delicious taste that your cat loves
  • Hundred percent grain-free
Cons
  • The new formula is unappealing to the consumers
This is truly a natural product with no meat by-products. That’s the reason why this product stands out from the rest.

Its protein source comes from real chicken dips in a delicious sweet sauce. Most importantly, it contains no artificial additives such as coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.
Best Organic
10.

Hill's Ideal Balance Adult Grain Free Natural Chicken & Potato Recipe

Product Info

  • Protein: 28% Min
  • Fat: 19% Min
  • Fiber: 3.5% Max
  • Caloric Content: 511 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 28%
Crude Fat: 19%
Crude Fiber: 3.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 28%
Fat: 19%
Fiber: 3.5%
Carbs: 49.5%
Pros
  • Made in USA
  • It contains no artificial additives that harm your cat’s health
  • Natural gluten-free ingredients for a healthy digestion
Cons
  • It is slightly expensive
This cat food from Hill’s comes with an extremely affordable price tag yet it contains all the essential nutrients that your feline needs. Hills’ prepares a delicious and balanced blend of natural ingredients. Chicken, which is the first ingredient in this grain-free recipe helps your cats build strong and lean muscles.

Additionally, the formula is also enriched with vitamins and minerals that enhance your cat’s defense system.

Understanding the Dietary Requirements of Cats

Your cat is an obligate carnivore which means that its body was evolved to digest and absorb nutrition from animal products more efficiently than plant products.

What does this mean for you? It simply means that meat should be the foundation of your cat’s diet – this includes animal-based proteins and animal-based fats for energy.

High-quality animal protein should be the first ingredient in your cat’s food. Cats require a minimum of 26% protein and 9% fat in their diets, but more is usually better.

Protein helps support strong muscles and lean mass while fats provide a concentrated source of energy as well as support for healthy skin and coat. Look for a blend of omega fatty acids and fats from high-quality, animal-based sources.

On top of protein and fat, your cat can benefit from fiber and essential nutrients. The carbohydrate content of your cat’s diet should be kept low to ensure digestibility, but things like whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables can provide natural sources for key nutrients as well as dietary fiber.

Finally, look for vitamin and mineral supplements in your cat’s food to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

Now that you have a better understanding of your cat’s nutritional requirements, you’re ready to start shopping around! Keep reading to learn what you should look for when shopping for organic cat food.

What Are Common Grains Used In The Pet Industry?

For those that may be a little more unfamiliar with what grains actually are, here’s some clarity.

Grains can be explained to be seeds from specific grasses that humans have begun to consume ever since they got civilized.

Not to mention that these grains usually contain a large number of carbohydrates, which is a good source of energy.

However, depending on how much is consumed, it can be good or bad for a specific animal.

The reason for this is that products with too many carbohydrates contain little to no protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

To give you a better idea about grains, below-listed are some common examples that we may have seen or heard of. You may also discover them in your cat food:

  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Couscous
  • Corn
  • Bulgur
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley

The Pros & Cons of Grain-Free Food

There has been a lot of argument over the years on whether or not grain-free food or food that contains grains are worth eating.

On one side some people state that it is not natural to be eating grain-packed products, while others note that grain-free is no better for the pet.

The Benefits

Some of the noted positives of feeding your pet with grain-free food include:

  • Increase in activity levels – Since some grain-free foods include high-protein, some cat owners found their pets to turn more active.
  • Improvement in pet’s health – Some owners have stated that they’ve noticed their pet getting stronger and healthier with the absence of unnecessary grains.
  • Easier to digest – Corn and other grains are said to be a wee bit difficult for cats or dogs to digest, so any product that is grain-free will be easier to digest.
  • Processed grains are not healthy – This argument is why many tend to stick to grain-free food, rather than running the risk of feeding them with something that is not even considered healthy.

But Grain-Free Cat Food is Not Perfect

First of all, there is no perfect cat food. As shown below is a list of some of the noted negatives of feeding your pet grain-free food.

  • Can cause weight gain – It may be a lot easier for your cat to gain weight through eating grain-free food since it is packed with other high-protein ingredients. Unless you feed this to active pets, this could be even more of an issue.
  • Contains too many carbohydrates – A lot of the non-meat products listed on the package tend to contain more carbohydrates, which is non-nutritious.
  • Expensive – Grain-free food tends to be more expensive than the typical grain-packed pet foods.

What About Food Allergies And Sensitivities?

In addition to thinking about the quality of your cat’s food and mixing dry and wet food you should also think about the potential for food allergies and sensitivities. 

Cats have the potential to develop allergies at any point in their lives and common allergens include beef, chicken, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, and artificial additives.

If your cat has itchy skin, recurrent ear infections, or a dry and brittle coat, it could be suffering from a food allergy. Switch to a hypoallergenic cat food made without the ingredients your cat is allergic to or try a limited ingredient diet to reduce the risk for triggering food allergies.

What Studies Have Shown?

The idea that grains are the main cause for allergic food reactions may not be entirely true.

As noted by the Veterinary Dermatology, it was discovered that corn, a grain that is found in many cat foods was in fact far from being the cause of many food allergies.

A study showed how only 4 out of 56 cats tested suffered from allergy-related issues due to corn. It was noted that the majority of the allergic reactions came from beef, dairy or fish.

In another study by Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, they discovered information that was quite interesting. While researching on the nutrient information in 77 dry cat diets, 42 diets contained grain and 35 diets were grain-free.

  • Some diets claiming to be grain-free as a matter of fact had some grain inside it.
  • The average grain-free diet had lower amounts of carbohydrates than grain-containing diets. However, there were also grain-free diets with similar or higher amounts of carbohydrates than those with grains.
  • Poultry, egg, and fish continued to be the most commonly sourced animal sources of protein.
  • In grain-free diets, exotic meats such as bison or rabbit were found.
  • Also, the calories were almost similar in both the diets.

Final Remarks

The best place to start in choosing grain-free cat food is a high-quality formula made with premium animal proteins as the main ingredients.

From there, you can choose a specific type of protein according to your cat’s preferences or choose a multiple-protein recipe. Just make sure it contains adequate levels of protein and fat with minimal carbohydrate content.

Your cat deserves the best, and that means a healthy, high-quality cat food. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our top picks reviewed above!

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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