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10 Best Healthy Canned, Soft, & Wet Cat Food 2021: Unbiased Review

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Contents

Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

The best canned, soft, and wet cat food is like a freshly-killed mouse in a can. It’s juicy and delicious while providing all the protein, fat, and micronutrients your cat needs to stay fit and frisky.

It doesn’t contain excessive carbohydrates, cheap fillers, or additives that might harm your cat. And of course, it comes from a company with a reputation for safety and customer satisfaction.

At a Glance: Top 10 Best Healthy Canned, Soft, & Wet Cat Food To Buy

Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Runner Up

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9.8

Picked by 1 people today!

Ziwi Peak Wet Cat Food

  • Made with 100% single-sourced New Zealand muscle meat and organs
  • Natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • A good source of omega-3 fatty acids

Best Ethically Sourced

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9.8

Picked by 53 people today!

Open Farm Cat Food

  • Packed with premium animal protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • No artificial additives or preservatives

Premium Choice

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9.7

Picked by 2 people today!

Nom Nom Cat Food Meal Delivery

  • Features highly-digestible animal protein
  • Conveniently shipped to your door
  • Portioned out for your cat’s calorie needs

Best Limited Ingredient Wet Food

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9.3

Picked by 3 people today!

Cat Person Wet Cat Food

  • Rich in highly-bioavailable animal protein
  • Primarily made from duck, a novel protein for many cats
  • Low carbohydrate content

Best for Weight Loss

aac-table__image

9.0

Picked by 2 people today!

Tiki Cat Wet Cat Food

  • Great for cats who prefer shreds and stew
  • Wide variety of formulas and flavors
  • Free from thickeners or starches

Best for Sensitive Stomach

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8.9

Picked by 4 people today!

Hound & Gatos Cat Food

  • Uses a paleolithic dietary model that honors your cat’s carnivorous needs
  • Simple ingredient lists are great for cats with IBD and food sensitivities
  • Available in a variety of animal proteins and flavors

Why You Should Trust Us?

Over the last year, we’ve reviewed more than 80 cat food brands, including almost all of the top names in the industry. To stay on top of the latest cat food science and trends, we read scientific reports, attended industry events, spoke with cat food experts and insiders, and tested foods in the real world.

Based on this knowledge, we’ve selected the following ten brands and products as the best in the business. Each earns its place with a combination of impressive ingredient quality, nutrient profile, and company reputation.

Top Picks Explained



At the top of the list is Smalls Cat Food. This food’s top-notch ingredient list includes a whole prey-inspired variety of muscle meat, organs, and blood. It comes from a brand with a strong reputation for stringent safety standards and superior quality.

Keep reading to learn more about Smalls Cat Food and 11 more of the best wet cat foods money can buy.

#1 Our Top Pick: Smalls Cat Food Smalls-Cat-Food-Review-Chicken

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Smalls
  • Made In: NYC, United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 21% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.00 to $3.50

Smalls is a fresh cat food delivery service that uses human-grade ingredients, including premium proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish. Choose from minced-style recipes or classic pâté to provide your cat with protein-rich, low-carb cat food that is formulated for cats in all life stages. Though Smalls doesn’t portion out your cat’s meals for you, they do provide detailed feeding recommendations according to your cat’s calorie requirements. Each package of food contains about 16 ounces of food, with markings on the package at 50-calorie increments.

Smalls cat food is delivered frozen, so you’ll need to thaw the package overnight in the fridge first before feeding. Your subscription will be based on your cat’s calorie needs, and you can adjust it as needed by contacting the customer care team.

In addition to their fresh food, Smalls also offers a selection of freeze-dried cat foods, treats, and meal toppers. They also recently started selling millet and silica cat litter.

Note: In June of 2021, Smalls issued a recall of several fresh food varieties following numerous reports of food that appeared to be spoiled. Smalls claims that there were no reports of illness associated with this recall, but the most recent customer comments and reviews suggest an uptick in cases of illness potentially associated with this food. We are waiting to get more concrete information on what happened, how it affected cats, and what Smalls is doing to resolve the problem.

This is the latest in a string of issues affecting Smalls customers, including inconsistent deliveries and limited access to customer care.

Learn more about this recall in the company’s announcement and in our Smalls brand review.

Top Recipe: Smalls Fresh Kills Fresh Minced Chicken

Featuring chicken thigh, breast, and liver as the top three ingredients, this fresh food is packed with premium animal protein. Green beans, peas, and kale are the only carbohydrate ingredients, and they are naturally grain-free and rich in nutrients.

In addition to being high in protein and low in carbohydrates, this formula is rich in moisture, which helps hydration and promotes lean body mass. Overall, this minced chicken recipe is a high-quality source of balanced nutrition for cats in all life stages.

Ingredients:

Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water sufficient for processing, Chicken Heart, Kale, Vegetable Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Gluconate, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate, Niacin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Selenium, Dried Kelp, Biotin, Vitamin B12.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 21.6%

Crude Fat: 8.2%

Crude Fiber: 0.4%

Moisture: 67.4%

Ash: 2.3%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 67%

Fat: 25.4%

Fiber: 1.3%

Carbs: 6.3%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 49.6%

Fat: 45.7%

Carbs: 4.7%

What We Liked:

  • Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
  • Real, high-quality animal protein
  • High in protein and very low in carbs
  • Moisture-rich

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not individually portioned for your cat
  • Limited protein options (chicken, turkey, beef)

#2 Runner Up: Ziwi Peak Wet Cat Food

Ziwi-Peak-Canned-Venison-Cat

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Ziwi Peak
  • Made In: New Zealand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $8.28/day

Ziwi Peak is a New Zealand-based pet food company that offers a variety of wet and air-dried foods for dogs and cats. Their recipes are packed with premium animal proteins that are ethically sourced from New Zealand and its surrounding waters.

Also, all of their recipes are free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives. Ziwi Peak follows the PeakPrey nutritional philosophy. which guarantees high inclusions of meat, organs, and seafood with added superfoods for a nutritional boost.

When it comes to their wet cat food recipes, Ziwi Peak offers a variety of single-sourced protein formulas. These recipes are made with at least 90% fresh meat, organs, and bones to provide species-appropriate nutrition for cats. Choose from a wide range of protein options, including beef, lamb, rabbit, chicken, venison, and mackerel.

Top Recipe: Ziwi Peak New Zealand Venison Recipe Cat Food

This wet cat food recipe is packed with premium animal protein and plenty of moisture. It is made with 92% fresh meat, organs, and bone from single-sourced New Zealand venison. It also includes New Zealand green mussel as a supplemental source of joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin, enriched with essential nutrients for balanced nutrition.

Free from artificial additives, hormones, antibiotics, and fillers, this natural cat food formula is an excellent source of species-appropriate nutrition for cats in all life stages.

Ingredients:

Venison, Water Sufficient for Processing, Venison Tripe, Venison Liver, Chickpeas, Venison Lung, Venison Heart, Venison Kidney, New Zealand Green Mussel, Venison Bone, DL-Methionine, Dried Kelp, Minerals (Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex), Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid).

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10.3%

Crude Fat: 4.1%

Crude Fiber: 2.1%

Moisture: 80.4%

Ash: 3.1%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 52.6%

Fat: 21.1%

Fiber: 10.5%

Carbs: 15.8%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 44%

Fat: 42.8%

Carbs: 13.2%

What We Liked:

  • Made with 92% single-sourced New Zealand muscle meat and organs
  • Natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • A good source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • No harmful ingredients, fillers, or additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive compared to other wet cat foods
  • Some cats dislike the flavor of the food
  • Contains chickpeas – carbs aren’t necessary for cats

#3 Best Ethically Sourced: Open Farm Cat Food

Open farm cat food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Open Farm
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 37% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.69/day

If you have a picky consumer, Open Farm’s Harvest Chicken Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food might be a good choice for you.

This food receives excellent customer reviews, with most reporting that their cats loved its taste.And unlike many other wet cat food products that rate well in feline taste tests, this food from Open Farm is made from responsibly-sourced, seemingly high-quality ingredients.

Open Farm’s sourcing policy emphasizes humanely-raised poultry, meat, and fish. Fish-based recipes, like the one featured here, are made from sustainably-harvested wild-caught fish.

With Humanely Raised Chicken, Chicken Bone Broth, and Pumpkin as the first three ingredients, this food appears to make species-appropriate protein sources the backbone of its recipe.

Like other grain-free wet foods, it also contains legumes and other plant ingredients, but it’s a carnivore-friendly choice compared to the competition.

Overall, if you’re looking for a food that excites your cat and also like the idea of supporting initiatives to make cat food more environmentally-friendly, this recipe from Open Farm could be a good choice.

Top Recipe: Harvest Chicken Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food

In addition to being packed with protein, this fresh food formula is very low in carbohydrates. The estimated carb content is under 6% with pumpkin being the only added source of carbs.

Like all of Just Food for Dog’s fresh food recipes, this Open Farm formula is completely free from gluten, grains, and preservatives as well as artificial additives. Simply put, it’s a protein-centric, low-carb, nutritionally balanced recipe for cats in all life stages.

Ingredients:

Humanely Raised Chicken, Chicken Bone Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach, Red Lentils, Agar Agar, Non-GMO Cranberries, Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Chicory Root, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc, Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Kelp, Potassium, Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Turmeric,

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 7.2%

Crude Fat: 6.2%

Crude Fiber: 2.1%

Moisture: 84.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 38.9%

Fat: 33.3%

Fiber: 11.1%

Carbs: 16.7%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 28.5%

Fat: 59.3%

Carbs: 12.2%

What We Liked:

  • According to Open Farm, this food is made from responsibly-humanely raised chicken
  • Animal protein sources are the food’s primary ingredients
  • Free of potentially-harmful artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Cats tend to love the taste of this food

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Price is above market average

#4 Premium Choice: Nom Nom Cat Food Meal Delivery

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Nom Nom
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 18% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2-$6/day

Nom Nom is a cat food meal delivery service that makes and sells fresh, human-grade food. Every week, the Nom Nom team uses restaurant-grade ingredients to craft home-cooked meals for cats. Each meal is portioned out according to your cat’s weight, age, and weight goals, then packed into a refrigerated box and shipped to your doorstep.

Nom Nom foods arrive fresh, not frozen. They’re ready to serve right away. You can choose between weekly, biweekly, or monthly delivery, so you’ll know exactly when the food will show up and never have to run out.

If you like the idea of making homemade cat food but don’t feel ready for the time and effort involved, Nom Nom is a convenient alternative.

Nom Nom’s cat food line was introduced in the spring of 2018 and is currently limited to chicken and fish recipes. It’s never been recalled.

Top Recipe: Nom Nom Chicken Chow Meow

Nom Nom’s chicken recipe is made primarily from chicken thighs, breast, and liver, which are species-appropriate sources of protein and other nutrients.

In addition to meat, the recipe contains small amounts of fruit and vegetables, but they don’t appear to make the food particularly starchy. In all, only about 10% of the food’s calories come from carbohydrates.

Ingredients:

Chicken Thighs, Chicken Breasts, Chicken Liver, Asparagus, Carrots, Spinach, Cantaloupe, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Citric Acid (Natural Preservative), Taurine, Choline Bitartrate, Zinc Gluconate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Gluconate, Manganese Gluconate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Cholecalciferol (Source Of Vitamin D3), Sodium Iodide.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 18.8%

Crude Fat: 4.2%

Crude Fiber: 0.8%

Moisture: 76.2%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 66.7%

Fat: 14.8%

Fiber: 3%

Carbs: 15.6%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 56.4%

Fat: 30.4%

Carbs: 13.2%

What We Liked:

  • Features highly-digestible animal protein
  • Conveniently shipped to your door
  • One of the few human-grade foods on the market
  • Portioned out for your cat’s calorie needs

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive
  • Contains plant ingredients

#5 Best Budget: Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Paté

Authority Chicken Entree Adult Pate Canned Cat Food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Authority
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.96/day

What if you’re looking for great canned food, but you don’t have a huge budget? Fortunately, there’s this recipe from Authority.

It’s a meat-based, bargain-priced food featuring a mix of poultry and fish with a little bit of rice. But unlike many other budget-friendly recipes, it doesn’t contain any animal or poultry by-products. It’s also free of artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

This food nourishes your carnivore as well as many premium canned foods, with clearly-named muscle meat and liver as its main ingredients, menhaden fish oil as a nourishing source of omega-3 fatty acids, and high protein content.

Overall, it’s 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.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Ocean Fish, Brewers Rice, Dried Egg Product, Guar Gum, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Brewers Dried Yeast, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite).

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10.2%

Crude Fat: 6.6%

Crude Fiber: 0.8%

Moisture: 79.8%

Ash: 2.6%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 51.3%

Fat: 33.3%

Fiber: 4.1%

Carbs: 11.3%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 35.7%

Fat: 56.4%

Carbs: 7.9%

What We Liked:

  • 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

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains vaguely-labeled ocean fish

#6 Best Limited Ingredient Wet Food: Cat Person Wet Cat Food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Cat Person
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.68/day

Founded in early 2020, Cat Person is a new addition to the cat food marketplace. This direct-to-consumer brand prepares wet and dry cat food and ships it directly to your home according to a regular delivery schedule. In addition to custom meal plans and repeat deliveries, you’re able to order Cat Person à la carte—pick and choose the products you want.

Their wet recipes are available in two textures—pâté and shreds in broth—and each of those textures comes in 8 flavors.

For cats who need a limited ingredient diet, Cat Person has several stripped-down options, containing little more than a single protein source and tapioca as a thickener.

Top recipe: Cat Person Duck Recipe Shreds in Broth

This recipe is an unusually simple food, containing duck and duck broth as its primary ingredients, tapioca as a thickener, and an array of added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make each meal nutritionally complete.

With none of the carrageenan, guar gum, cassia gum, or other thickeners commonly seen in wet foods, this food is unusually well-suited to sensitive bellies. It’s rich in protein, with moderate levels of fat and very low carbohydrate content.

Like other Cat Person foods, this recipe is nutritionally complete and balanced according to the AAFCO’s guidelines for all cat life stages.

Ingredients

Duck, Duck Broth, Tapioca, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Celery Powder, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin E Supplement, Reduced Iron, Salt, Niacin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source Of Vitamin K Activity).

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 9.7%

Crude Fat: 3.9%

Crude Fiber: 1%

Moisture: 81.6%

Ash: 3.9%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 66.7%

Fat: 26.7%

Fiber: 6.7%

Caloric Weight Basis

What We Liked:

  • Rich in highly-bioavailable animal protein
  • Primarily made from duck, a novel protein for many cats
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Free of the most common potentially harmful ingredients
  • Their limited-ingredient diet is appropriate for cats with food sensitivities or food allergies

What We Didn’t Like:

#7 Best for Gravy Lovers: Weruva Classic Grain-Free Cat Food Cans

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Cuties Variety Pack Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Weruva
  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.10/day

Weruva offers simple recipes with just a few minimally-processed ingredients. When you open up a can or pouch of Weruva, you see real meat—shredded chicken, chunks of fish, and other good-enough-to-eat ingredients. Cats who like table scraps and gravy will love the texture of Weruva cat food.

Weruva cat food is extremely water-dense, so it has fewer calories per can or pouch than other foods. This both makes it excellent for cats who need to lose weight and more expensive than the average food.

Concerningly, one Weruva brand has been involved in a serious recall. In 2017, cans of B.F.F. (Best Feline Friend) cat food were deficient in thiamine, killing dozens of Australian cats. Thiamine is an essential amino acid for cats. The incident was limited to products sold in Australia and made by a single manufacturing partner.

Top Recipe: Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Chicken Frick ‘A Zee

This chicken-based recipe consists of shredded chicken in a broth thickened with locust bean gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum. These gums aren’t a necessary part of the feline diet, but there’s little indication that they’re harmful.

Ingredients:

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate, Locust Bean Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Fish Oil, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10.3%

Crude Fat: 1.6%

Crude Fiber: 0.5%

Moisture: 85.5%

Ash: 2.1%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 66.7%

Fat: 10.7%

Fiber: 3.3%

Carbs: 19.3%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 59.6%

Fat: 23.2%

Carbs: 17.3%

What We Liked:

  • Ultra-simple recipes
  • Very high protein content
  • Natural real meat appearance

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Very watery—you don’t get many calories per can
  • B.F.F., a Weruva brand, was involved in a serious recall in 2017
  • Expensive

#8 Best for Weight Loss: Tiki Cat Wet Cat Food

Tiki Cat Canned Cat Food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Tiki Cat
  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 16% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.86/day

Although pâté-style foods are typically more species-appropriate and have lower carbohydrate content than stew-style products, a few companies create stews without starches and thickeners. Tiki Cat is one of those companies.

Their large canned food selection focuses on products made from meat, oil, and vitamins and minerals. The foods are made without any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Their foods are manufactured in Thailand, a country known for good food production and safety standards.

Tiki Cat has never been recalled.

Top Recipe: Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme

This recipe is strikingly simple—it’s a can of fortified shredded chicken in broth and oil. The recipe consists of chicken, broth, oil, and supplements.

Like all Tiki Cat foods, it’s low in fat and calories, making it a good option for cats who need to lose weight.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin K3 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 16%

Crude Fat: 2.6%

Moisture: 79.8%

Ash: 1.6%

Dry Matter Basis

Caloric Weight Basis

What We Liked:

  • Great for cats who prefer shreds and stew over pâté-style foods
  • Wide variety of formulas and flavors
  • Free from thickeners or starches

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains sunflower oil, which isn’t species-appropriate
  • Relatively expensive food (about $3 per day)

#9 Best for Picky Cats: Instinct by Nature’s Variety Cat Food

Instinct by Nature's Variety Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Instinct by Nature’s Variety
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.28/day

Though Nature’s Variety Instinct foods are marketed as natural and species-appropriate, they’re some of the fluffier ones you’ll see on this list.

Instinct canned foods are heavy on meat ingredients like chicken, turkey, and chicken liver, but also contain gimmicky plant ingredients like ground flaxseed, peas, and carrots.

Nature’s Variety pet food was recalled in 2015, 2013, and 2010. Salmonella contamination was involved in the 2015 and 2010 recalls, while the 2013 recall happened after people found clear plastic in the food.

Top Recipe: Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe

This popular pate recipe consists of 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver. The remaining 5% is dedicated to fruits, veggies, montmorillonite clay, vitamins, and amino acids.

Though it contains a variety of plant ingredients, the food remains low in carbohydrates and is a relatively species-appropriate option.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Egg Product, Peas, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10.2%

Crude Fat: 7.6%

Crude Fiber: 3%

Moisture: 79.2%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 45.5%

Fat: 34.1%

Fiber: 13.6%

Carbs: 6.8%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 33.7%

Fat: 61.3%

Carbs: 5.1%

What We Liked:

  • One of the most well-loved brands on the market
  • Meat-based, protein-rich foods
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Relatively low cost compared to the other brands on this list

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Recipes contain unnecessary amounts of plant ingredients
  • Instinct by Nature’s Variety has been recalled

#10 Best for Sensitive Stomach: Hound & Gatos Cat Food

Hound & Gatos Chicken & Chicken Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

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Overview:

  • Brand Name: Hound & Gatos
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.18/day

Hound & Gatos describes their foods as a “carnivore’s diet in a can.” Hound & Gatos foods contain nothing but meat, water, and thickening agents, along with the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make each meal nutritionally complete.

They’re free of soy, grains, by-products, artificial preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.

With virtually zero carbohydrate content and radically simple ingredient lists, Hound & Gatos foods are a favorite among cats with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and diabetes.

Hound & Gatos cat food has never been recalled.

Top Recipe: Hound & Gatos Chicken & Chicken Liver Formula

This leading Hound & Gatos recipe is made primarily from chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver. Like several other Hound & Gatos recipes, it contains just one animal protein, so it’s a good choice for cats with allergies and food sensitivities.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Salmon Oil, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%

Crude Fat: 9%

Crude Fiber: 1%

Moisture: 77.6%

Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 50%

Fat: 45%

Fiber: 5%

Caloric Weight Basis

What We Liked:

  • Uses a paleolithic dietary model that honors your cat’s carnivorous needs
  • Simple ingredient lists are great for cats with IBD and food sensitivities
  • Available in a variety of animal proteins and flavors
  • Radically low carbohydrate content

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Customer reviews aren’t as consistently positive as they should be—many cats dislike the flavor and texture of Hound & Gatos cat food
  • Expensive

Why Choose Wet Cat Food Instead Of Dry Cat Food?

Wet Cat Food Is Usually Low In Carbohydrates

There’s absolutely no nutritionally-based rationale behind the high carbohydrate content of dry cat food. These high-carb ingredients exist to bind the kibble, allowing the extrusion process to work. They don’t do anything good for your cat’s health and, indeed, they could make your cat’s health worse by contributing to obesity and diabetes.

Also Read: Best Cat Food For Diabetic Cats

Whether it’s grain-free or contains grains, dry cat food is typically high in carbohydrates. Across the price spectrum and all varieties, wet food is almost universally lower in unnecessary plant ingredients, starches, and sugars.

Wet Food Provides The Hydration Your Cat Needs

It’s important to understand that cats don’t naturally drink a lot of water. They instinctively prefer to get water from their food. Though cats who eat dry food do drink more water than those on moist diets, they nevertheless get less hydration than a wet food-fed cat.

Also Read: The 5 Best Cat Water Fountains […and we tested them all …]

Because they take in so much less water, these cats are prone to chronic dehydration and, consequently, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). FLUTD is a blanket term referring to the full spectrum of feline lower urinary tract disease. These conditions include urinary tract infections, urethral blockage, cystitis, and urinary crystals.

Also Read: 5 Best Cat Foods For Urinary Tract Health

If your cat is a kibble addict, you might try to remedy the water deprivation problem by adding warm water to your cat’s bowl of kibble. Unfortunately, moistened kibble is prone to aflatoxin mold growth, so when you put water in it, you’re creating a little terrarium of toxic fungus.

Alternatively, you could mix in a little bit of wet cat food with the dry food and see how your cat likes it. You could also try a water fountain for cats, which provides a running stream of fresh water for your cat.

What Should You Look For When Shopping For Wet Or Canned Cat Food?

A Great Company Reputation

Buy from companies with a reputation for quality control, safety, reliability, and good customer service.

A Company’s Recall History Can Tell You A Lot

Use your own judgment to evaluate the circumstances of, and response to, any given recall. A company with a history of constant recalls, deception, and secrecy is not one that you can trust. There’s no need to dismiss a company based on a single minor recall, provided that they responded to it swiftly, honestly, and effectively.

Good Customer Service Is Key

If your cat gets sick after eating their food or if you have questions about something on the label, you’re going to want to talk to someone at the company. Before committing to a cat food company, determine if they’ll be a friendly, accessible ally in your cat’s health.

Reputable Manufacturing

While this information is sometimes proprietary, it’s good to find out where your cat’s food is manufactured. Many companies, if not most, partner with manufacturers rather than making the cat food in their own facility. Knowing where your cat’s food is made will help you to assess its quality.

Low Carbohydrates

While wet food is more meat-dense than dry kibble, carbohydrate-laden canned food does exist, particularly among premium brands. Wholesome fruits and veggies play into a people-minded idea of feline health.

In reality, cats don’t require high-carbohydrate ingredients like sweet potato, spinach, carrots, and other ingredients sometimes included in canned food. Avoid these ingredients whenever possible.

What About Grain-Free Food?

Since corn, soy, and wheat fell out of fashion a few years ago, both dry and wet foods have adopted the grain-free label. Prior to 2019, grain-free food was popularly viewed as a healthier alternative to traditional foods. That changed in 2019. That’s when the FDA announced an investigation into grain-free food’s potential link to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Since hearing this news, some vets are telling their clients to avoid grain-free food altogether.

But there’s good news for those who feed their cats wet food—there’s a big difference between grain-free kibble and grain-free wet food.

We don’t yet know what causes the correlation between grain-free food and DCM, but diet could still play a role. The FDA’s investigation is ongoing.

Highly-Digestible Protein

Cat food labels list crude protein and fat only. They don’t differentiate from digestible and indigestible proteins.

When you read the label, 20% protein from leather and 20% protein from turkey look like the same thing. While it’s almost impossible to know exactly how digestible any given food is, the ingredient list does give you a few hints.

Animal By-Products Often Fall into the Category of Low-value Protein.

The problem with by-products is not the fact that they look gross. In fact, the bloodiest, messiest foods are some of the best nourishment for cats. A mouse brain isn’t appetizing, but it’s one of the best things your cat could eat.

The real issue is that meat by-products are completely opaque ingredients. They’re mystery meat, and for your cat, that means unknown biological value.

Meat by-products are a nondescript slurry of meat and include animal parts spanning the bioavailability spectrum. Byproducts could be nourishing or you could get a can of meat byproducts consisting of non-nutritive feet and other minimally-digestible tissues.

To avoid this nutritional ambiguity, choose foods with clearly-identified meats on the ingredient list. Look for words like “chicken”, “beef”, “deboned turkey”, and “quail liver”.

Plant Protein May Also Be Less Biologically Available.

While we don’t know exactly which protein sources are the most bioavailable, we do know that animal products are more nutritionally efficient for your carnivore.

While your cat might get all the amino acids he needs from a single mouse, you’d have to mix an array of plant proteins and synthetics to achieve the same amino acid profile.

When looking for the best cat food on the market, we avoided those that contain plant protein sources like wheat gluten, corn gluten meal, pea protein, and soy.

Safe Binders

Though not nutritionally necessary or species-appropriate, gums appear in almost every wet cat food, including some of the best. If you can’t avoid gums, you should know which ones are safe and which ones might harm your cat. Note that all gums are sources of soluble fiber, which increases transit time and can inhibit protein and fat metabolism.

Avoid carrageenan. Approach xanthan gum and guar gum with caution.

The most notorious cat food binder is carrageenan. While the carrageenan used in cat food is food-grade and theoretically won’t cause inflammation or cancer, there’s substantial evidence suggesting that food-grade carrageenan isn’t as safe as it should be.

Xanthan gum is generally considered safe but might not be right for every cat. It’s the product of simple sugar fermentation and may carry traces of the fermentation medium. Cats who are allergic to the soy, wheat, dairy, or corn used to make xanthan gum may have an allergic reaction. Some non-allergic cats experience diarrhea or GI discomfort after eating xanthan gum due to its high fiber content.

Agar-agar, cassia gum, and locust bean gum are acceptable in small quantities.

In response to the widespread rejection of carrageenan, many cat food manufacturers have adopted agar as a thickener of choice. Agar, also known as agar-agar, is carrageenan’s friendlier cousin. Both are derived from red algae, but agar-agar has no apparent link to inflammation.

Guar gum is one of the most common thickeners in wet cat food. It appears to be safe, but it has laxative properties. This is helpful for constipated cats but may give others GI discomfort or diarrhea.

Cassia gum is made from the endosperm of the seeds of Senna obtusifolia (commonly known as sicklepod) and Senna tora (commonly known as sickle senna). This gum is relatively uncommon in cat food and has no known negative health effects.

Locust bean gum is generally considered safe for cats and has no known negative health effects. It’s extracted from the seeds of the carob tree and has no history of causing health problems in cats or people.

Best Healthy Canned, Soft, & Wet Cat Food Summed Up:

Brand Name Made In Protein Age Range Cost Per Day
Smalls United States 21% min All Life Stages $2.00 to $3.50
Ziwi Peak New Zealand 10% min All Life Stages $8.28/day
Just Food for Cats United States 12% min All Life Stages $3.50 to $4.50
Nom Nom United States 18% min All Life Stages $2-$6/day
Authority United States 10% min Adult $0.96/day
Cat Person United States 10% min Adult $0.68/day
Weruva Thailand 10% min Adult $3.10/day
Tiki Cat Thailand 16% min Adult $4.86/day
Instinct United States 10% min Adult $2.28/day
Hound & Gatos United States 11% min Adult $2.18/day

Want To Learn More About Choosing Healthy Food For Your Cat? Click Here To Check Out Our Complete Guide To The Best Cat Food On The Market

About the author


Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What wet food is best for my cats?

While all cats are obligate carnivores and share a requirement for flesh-based nutrition, your cat’s ideal diet is determined by highly-individual factors. Consider your cat’s flavor preferences and health needs, then build on those requirements to find the highest-quality wet cat food you can afford.

What is the best inexpensive wet cat food?

WholeHearted, Authority, and Simply Nourish are a few of the best inexpensive wet cat food brands on the market. You’ll also find a few good recipes from Fancy Feast’s Classics and Flaked lines.

What is the best wet cat food for indoor cats?

The best wet cat food for indoor cats is a satisfying, species-appropriate diet that helps to keep your cat strong and lean. Avoid foods that contain too much starch, fiber, or calories.

Is dry or wet cat food best for cats?

Because it’s hydrating, usually low in carbohydrates, and tends to be meatier than kibble, wet food is almost always best for cats. A dry diet is convenient, but it could increase your cat’s chances of developing urinary tract disease and diabetes.

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