How To Find The Best Dry Cat Food For Your BFF
These things are key when picking out the best dry cat food 😻
There are so many different options when it comes to dry cat food, so how do you know which one is right for your BFF?
According to Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian working with Excited Cats, the best cat dry cat food lists meat as the main ingredient and meets Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. There are also other things you’ll need to consider based on your cat’s age and any health conditions he may have.
We spoke with Dr. Bonk to learn all about how to pick the right cat food.
Here are some of our favorite picks:
- Best overall dry cat food: Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials
- Best dry cat food for kittens: Purina Kitten Chow
- Best dry cat food for seniors: Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Dry Cat Food
- Best dry cat food for hairball control: Royal Canin Hairball Care Dry Cat Food
- Best dry cat food for weight management: Hill's Prescription Diet r/d Weight Reduction Dry Cat Food
- Best dry cat food for sensitive stomachs: Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Cat Food
- Best grain-free dry cat food: Kitzy Dry Cat Food
Benefits of dry cat food
Dry cat food has a few benefits, so providing your cat with a kibble-based diet can be good for him.
Dry cat food is a convenient option since it’s easy to store and great for pet parents on a budget.
And because it doesn’t go bad when it’s left out for a few hours, it’s a good option for cats who don’t finish their meals right away.
“Cats that may benefit most from dry food are those that like to graze or pick at their food throughout the day since it can be safely left out, where wet food goes bad if it’s not refrigerated,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo.
Good for dental health
Since dry cat food is crunchy, biting into the pieces can help with your cat’s dental care between brushings and professional cleanings since the rough texture scrapes against his teeth while he’s eating.
“There is also an argument that eating dry kibble helps to mechanically clean a cat’s teeth as they chew,” Dr. Bonk said. “It may to some degree help remove/prevent plaque and tartar buildup, which can be a major plus for cats that won’t allow their teeth to be brushed.”
The downside to dry cat food
The main issue with dry cat food is that it doesn't have much moisture compared to wet cat food.
A lot of vets think that food with a lot of moisture can help your cat stay hydrated, which can prevent issues like urinary tract infections. That high moisture content is good for cats with other conditions, too.
“Wet food is higher in water content, a plus for cats with kidney disease or diabetes,” Dr. Bonk said.
How to find the best dry cat food
According to Dr. Bonk, there are a few things you should look out for when trying to find the best dry cat food.
It meets AAFCO standards
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that sets nutrition standards for pet food.
For your cat’s food to be considered complete and balanced, these standards need to be met. So when you’re looking for dry cat food, keep your eyes peeled for a disclaimer on the label that says the food meets AAFCO standards.
Meat is the main ingredient
If meat is the main ingredient — or even the top few ingredients — you’ll know that your cat is getting all the protein he needs from his dry food.
“Choose a dry cat food that contains whole meat as at least the first ingredient, preferably second as well,” Dr. Bonk said.
You should always pay attention to the ingredients list to make sure your cat’s getting all his nutrients, and steering clear of anything he’s sensitive to.
“Whole grains and vegetables should also be on there,” Dr. Bonk said. “Avoid any ingredients that your cat is allergic to.”
Think about your cat’s life stage and health conditions
There are many types of dry cat food that are formulated for more specific needs.
For example, kitten food and senior food will have a different amount of nutrients than dry cat food for adults. And if your cat’s dealing with certain health conditions — like if he has a sensitive stomach, struggles with hairballs or has put on a few extra pounds — you should opt for a food that’s specially designed to help him out.
There’s a variety of flavors
If your cat’s a picky eater, it’s also good to go with a dry food that has a variety of recipes to keep him interested.
“You may also want to choose a brand that offers different flavors and formulations if you have a picky eater in order to keep them interested without having to completely change up their diet,” Dr. Bonk said.
Best dry cat foods
We rounded up some of the best dry cat food, based on Dr. Bonk’s guidelines.
Purina Pro Plan is one of Dr. Bonk’s favorite brands of dry cat food. “It is affordable, easy to find and has various flavors and formulations to choose from,” Dr. Bonk said. The very first ingredient in this dry food is meat, followed immediately by rice.
Dry food for kittens is going to be formulated differently than adult or senior food since young and growing kittens have different nutritional needs. So it’s important that you pick out dry food that’s specifically made for kittens.
This dry food for kittens has docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that aids in brain and eye development.
And as cats age, their nutritional needs change. So selecting dry cat food specifically formulated for seniors is important for cats over the age of 7.
This dry food is loaded with nutrients and vitamins to make digestion easier on your older cat and support his aging immune system.
If your cat struggles with hairballs, there are dry food options designed specifically to keep them under control. This formula is packed with fiber, which will make it way easier for your cat to digest any hair he swallows rather than hack it back up.
For cats with stomachs that are on the sensitive side, a dry food that’s easy on their digestive system will be a huge help. This dry cat food contains fructooligosaccharides (aka FOS), which is a prebiotic fiber that’ll make this kibble super easy to digest.
Grain-free cat food can be a great option if your cat has hypersensitives or grain allergies. (While there’s a potential correlation between grain-free food and heart disease in dogs, grain-free food doesn’t seem to have that effect on cats.)
This dry cat food has a ton of protein, with meat products making up the first two ingredients. It’s also got tapioca powder and potatoes, so you know your cat’s still getting the carbs he needs, even from a grain-free option.
Just keep in mind that this is labeled for “all life stages,” so it’s not going to be the best option for your kitten or senior cat.
Now that you know how to find the best dry cat food, providing a healthy, complete and balanced diet for your BFF has never been more convenient.