Mon. May 20th, 2024

When shopping for the best wet cat food for your cat, it’s important to consider not only factors like the ingredients in the food, but also whether that food is a good fit for your cat’s needs. With options available for different life stages, like kittens and senior cats, as well as grain-free foods and recipes designed specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs, you’ll have plenty of foods to choose from. Here are my top picks for the best wet cat foods, based on veterinary advice.

What to look for when choosing the best wet cat foods

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best wet cat foods. I asked veterinarians what you should look for when comparing foods and deciding on the one that’s right for your cat.

Complete and balanced diet

According to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, feeding your cat a meat-only diet can cause deficiencies in vitamins, fatty acids and minerals. Feeding a complete and balanced canned food can help you ensure your cat is getting a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates, which can help meet your cat’s nutritional needs and even prevent obesity.

Some foods are currently being marketed as food toppers or complements, and these are meant to be fed in addition to a complete and balanced diet. When choosing a wet food that will be your cat’s primary diet, look for the “complete and balanced diet” distinction.

Named meat sources and amounts

Dr. Bethany Hsia, an active mobile veterinarian and co-founder of CodaPet, explains that it’s important to look for animal-based protein sources listed as the first few ingredients, which indicates that the food contains a high percentage of those proteins. “Look for specific named meat sources like chicken, turkey, beef, or fish,” she says. “Avoid generic terms like meat by-products or animal digest, as these can be lower-quality protein sources.”

Carbohydrate content

Dr. Alex Crow, a veterinary surgeon and owner of PetHealthGuru, explains that cats have a limited need for carbohydrates in their diet. “Opt for cat food with low carbohydrate content, ideally less than 10%,” he advises.

Whole ingredients

Dr. Hsia encourages cat owners to check for whole food ingredients, like fruits and vegetables. “These can provide essential vitamins and minerals to support overall health,” she explains.

Limited ingredients

“Generally, a shorter ingredient list is indicative of higher-quality cat food,” says Dr. Crow. “Stay away from products with lengthy ingredient lists or ingredients that are difficult to pronounce.”

Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid that’s essential to your cat’s health, according to Lake Michigan Animal Hospital. Taurine supports metabolic processes and impacts the storage of nutrients. A taurine deficiency can lead to health issues like developmental problems, digestion issues and diarrhea, hair loss, diabetes, tooth decay, and even blindness. Look for food that includes taurine to help prevent a deficiency and support your cat’s overall health.

Brand reputation

It’s also important to consider a brand’s reputation when choosing a food. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, a cat food product must meet certain standards to carry the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) logos. The presence of these logos on cat food certifies that the food is safe for your cat, is free of harmful substances, was produced in sanitary conditions, and is accurately labeled.

Texture

Dr. Crow explains that you may need to try out different foods to determine which wet food texture your cat most enjoys. “Cats can be picky about textures, so it might be necessary to experiment to find the one that your cat prefers,” he says. Wet cat food textures include smooth pate, chunky pieces and meat shreds, plus there are a variety of gravies and broths.

Life stage

In addition to choosing a quality cat food, you’ll need to make sure that the food is appropriate for your cat’s life stage. As cats develop, their nutritional needs change. “Kittens have different nutritional needs compared to adult cats,” explains Dr. Hsia. “[If you have a kitten,] it is important to select a food that is specifically formulated for kittens.” A wet food for kittens needs to have adequate levels of essential nutrients, including high-quality protein to support the kitten’s growth and development.

In contrast, senior cats experience a slower metabolism and digestion. “Wet foods formulated for senior cats often contain lower levels of phosphorus to support kidney health, have added joint support ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, and have softer textures that can be easier for senior cats to eat,” says Dr. Hsia.

Our top picks for the best wet cat foods

Best wet cat food for indoor cats: Wellness Complete Health Cat Food Chicken & Herring Dinner

Best wet cat food for indoor cats

Wellness Complete Health Cat Food Chicken & Herring Dinner

Wellness Complete Health Cat Food features multiple protein sources, including chicken, whitefish, and herring. The recipe is grain-free, ideal for some cats with food sensitivities, and also supports skin, coat, digestive, and immune system health. This line is available in additional recipes, so you can add variety to mealtime or try different flavors to find your cat’s favorite.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, and whitefish
  • Guaranteed analysis: 10% crude protein (min.), 5% crude fat (min.), 1% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains taurine, which supports heart health
  • Includes whole foods like cranberries, sweet potatoes, blueberries, carrots, and squash

What we don’t like:

  • High cost per can
  • Contains a meat by-product

The bottom line:

Wellness Complete Health Cat Food includes multiple protein sources like chicken and herring, plus whole foods like blueberries and cranberries for complete nutrition.

Get it here: Wellness Complete Health Cat Food Chicken & Herring Dinner


Best wet cat foods for senior cats: Tiki Cat Senior Mousse with Chicken & Pumpkin in Broth

Best wet cat foods for senior cats

Tiki Cat Senior Mousse with Chicken & Pumpkin in Broth

Tiki Cat Senior Mousse features a smooth texture and a broth, so it’s easier to eat for senior cats who might have dental issues. Protein comes from real chicken, while pumpkin provides fiber to support a senior cat’s slower digestion. This grain-free food contains no animal by-products or artificial colors or flavors, and it’s available in multiple flavors.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Senior (11+ years)
  • Main ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, and pumpkin
  • Guaranteed analysis: 10% crude protein (min.), 2% crude fat (min.), 1% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Smooth texture is easy for senior cats to eat
  • High moisture content for supplemental water
  • Gentle fiber from pumpkin
  • Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

What we don’t like:

  • Low fat content
  • Not manufactured in the United States

The bottom line:

With its smooth mousse texture and protein from real meat, the Tiki Cat Senior Mousse is designed to appeal to senior cats who might have dental issues or reduced appetites.

Get it here: Tiki Cat Senior Mousse with Chicken & Pumpkin in Broth


Best wet cat foods for kittens: Purina ONE Grain Free Healthy Chicken & Salmon Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food

Best wet cat foods for kittens

Purina ONE Grain Free Natural Pate Healthy Kitten Chicken & Salmon Recipe Wet Kitten Food

The Purina ONE Grain Free Wet Kitten Food features high protein from real meat to support your kitten’s development. The recipe is high in moisture to support your kitten’s hydration, and the soft pate is easy for young kittens to eat. The food is made with quality ingredients like chicken and salmon, plus it’s free of fillers and artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Good to know: If you have a canine companion in the house as well, Purina made our lists for the best dog food brands, best senior dog foods, best dry dog foods, and best dog food for weight loss.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Kitten
  • Main ingredients: Chicken, liver, and chicken broth
  • Guaranteed analysis: 11% crude protein (min.), 6.5% crude fat (min.), 1.5% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • High protein content from real meat
  • Contains salmon, a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • No corn, wheat or soy

What we don’t like:

  • Only available in one flavor
  • Contains meat by-products

The bottom line:

The Purina ONE Grain Free Wet Kitten Food features a high protein content from real meat, and it’s free of fillers and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Get it here: Purina ONE Grain Free Healthy Chicken & Salmon Recipe Pate Wet Kitten Food


Best wet cat foods for sensitive stomachs: Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Vegetable Entree Canned Cat Food

Best wet cat foods for sensitive stomachs

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Vegetable Entree Canned Cat Food

The Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin recipe features protein from quality meat sources like chicken and turkey. This recipe is grain-free, ideal for some cats with food sensitivities, and it’s designed to be easy to digest. Whole food ingredients like cranberries, fish oil, and spinach provide extra nutrients and fiber, supporting not only digestive health, but skin health, too.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, and turkey
  • Guaranteed analysis: 6.3% crude protein (min.), 4% crude fat (min.), 1.5% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Protein comes from real meats like chicken and turkey
  • Includes whole foods like carrots and spinach

What we don’t like:

  • Cat parents of picky eaters take note: Some pet owners reported their cats wouldn’t eat it

The bottom line:

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin features whole ingredients, including chicken and turkey, that are selected to be easy for your cat to digest while also supporting your cat’s skin health.

Get it here: Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Vegetable Entree Canned Cat Food


Best wet cat foods for weight loss: Blue Buffalo True Solutions Healthy Weight Natural Weight Control Chicken Adult Wet Cat Food

Best wet cat foods for weight loss

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Healthy Weight Natural Weight Control Chicken Adult Wet Cat Food, 3-oz can, case of 24

The Blue Buffalo True Solutions Healthy Weight Control is designed to help cats achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Protein comes from quality meat sources like chicken and whitefish, and each can contains just 86 calories. Whole fruits and veggies, including potatoes, carrots, cranberries, and green beans also support weight management.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver
  • Guaranteed analysis: 8.5% crude protein (min.), 4% crude fat (min), 3% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • High fiber content to help cats feel full
  • Contains L-carnitine, which can aid in weight loss
  • No corn, wheat or soy

What we don’t like:

  • Only one flavor available

The bottom line:

With just 86 calories per can and a high fiber content to help your cat feel full, the Blue Buffalo True Solutions Healthy Weight Natural Weight Control formula may help your cat achieve and maintain an optimal weight.

Get it here: Blue Buffalo True Solutions Healthy Weight Natural Weight Control Chicken Adult Wet Cat Food


Best wet cat food for weight gain: Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

Best wet cat food for weight gain

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

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

The Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate features a high fat content and protein from real meats like chicken and turkey to support your cat’s weight gain. It features 131 calories per can and is available in six flavors to help keep meals appealing to your cat. While this food is full of quality ingredients, it’s also notably free of ingredients that you want to avoid, like corn, wheat, soy, and artificial colors and preservatives.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver
  • Guaranteed analysis: 10% crude protein (min.), 7.5% crude fat (min.), 3% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Available in six flavors
  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains whole fruits and vegetables like peas, carrots, cranberries, and blueberries
  • Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • No corn, wheat or soy

What we don’t like:

  • High cost per can
  • The Real Chicken flavor and the Real Duck flavors aren’t made in the United States

The bottom line:

With its high protein and fat content and availability in five flavors, the Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate is designed to be highly appealing to cats and may support weight gain.

Get it here: Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food


Best grain-free wet cat food: Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Chicken Recipe Pate Wet Cat Food

Best grain-free wet cat food

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Chicken Recipe Pate Wet Cat Food

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient in the Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Chicken Recipe Pate for a high-quality protein source. The recipe features essential vitamins, minerals and taurine for balanced nutrition, but it’s free of grains. It also contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, so you’ll be feeding your cat nutritious ingredients without any add-ins.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken liver, and chicken broth
  • Guaranteed analysis: 10% crude protein (min.), 5% crude fat (min.), 1% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Made in the USA
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

What we don’t like:

  • Some cat owners report their cats won’t eat the new formula
  • Contains a meat by-product

The bottom line:

The Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Chicken Recipe features deboned chicken as the first ingredient and contains no grains for quality nutrition.

Get it here: Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Chicken Recipe Pate Wet Cat Food


Best natural wet cat food: Raised Right Original Turkey Adult Cat Recipe

Best natural wet cat food

Raised Right Original Turkey Adult Cat Recipe

Raised Right Original Turkey Adult Cat Recipe

Raised Right Original Turkey Adult Cat Recipe is a low carb diet that was formulated with the help of a veterinarian. This recipe features plenty of human-grade whole foods like blueberries, carrots, dried organic kelp and flaxseed oil. It’s lightly cooked and delivered frozen, so you can stock up on multiple packs. When you’re ready to use it, defrost the package, scoop out your cat’s portion and then refrigerate the remaining food for up to six days.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Turkey thigh, turkey heart, turkey liver
  • Guaranteed analysis: 21% crude protein (min.), 8% crude fat (min.), 2% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • The first 3 ingredients are meat
  • Contains organic ingredients like spearmint and dried kelp
  • Includes taurine
  • Free of grain, like rice, corn and wheat
  • Free of preservatives
  • Available in four flavors
  • Meets AAFCO requirements for adult maintenance
  • Lab safety tested to ensure it’s free of food pathogens like Salmonella

What we don’t like:

  • Sold in a larger package to be divided into smaller meals
  • Must be defrosted

The bottom line:

The Raised Right Original Turkey Adult Cat Recipe is crafted with human-grade whole foods and is free of grains, potato, rice, oats, squash, yam or added preservatives, so it’s a simple and natural addition to your cat’s diet.

Get it here: Raised Right Original Turkey Adult Cat Recipe


Best budget wet cat food: Fancy Feast Petites Grilled Chicken & Rice Entree Gourmet Pate Wet Cat Food

Best budget wet cat food

Purina Fancy Feast Petites Gourmet Pate Wet Cat Food Grilled Chicken & Rice 2.8 oz Tub

While many top-quality wet cat foods are expensive, the Fancy Feast Petites recipes deliver quality nutrition at a more affordable price point. The Grilled Chicken & Rice recipe features chicken broth and chicken as the first two ingredients, and the snap-apart tray design makes for smaller serving sizes, so you don’t have to worry about refrigerating leftovers. This food contains no artificial preservatives or colors, and it’s available in nine flavors so you can add variety to your cat’s meals.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, and wheat gluten
  • Guaranteed analysis: 10% crude protein (min.), 2% crude fat (min.), 1.5% crude fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Small serving sizes to avoid waste
  • Chicken broth and chicken are the first two ingredients
  • Available in many flavors

What we don’t like:

  • Contains meat by-products
  • Contains wheat gluten

The bottom line:

The Fancy Feast Petites recipes feature real meat without artificial preservatives or flavors, offering quality nutrition at an affordable price point.

Get it here: Fancy Feast Petites Grilled Chicken & Rice Entree Gourmet Pate Wet Cat Food


Best wet cat food for hairball control: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entree Canned Wet Cat Food

Best wet cat food for hairball control

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entree Canned Wet Cat Food, 2.9 oz., Case of 24

The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entree features plenty of fiber to help reduce hairballs. The recipe also features vitamin E and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support your cat’s skin and coat health. Real meat, including chicken and turkey, provides quality protein.

Specifications:

  • Life stage: Adult
  • Main ingredients: Water, chicken, and turkey giblets
  • Guaranteed analysis: 7% protein (min.), 4% fat (min.), 2% fiber (max.)

What we like:

  • Chicken is high on the ingredients list
  • Supports skin and coat health
  • Contains taurine to support overall health

What we don’t like:

  • Contains meat by-products
  • Contains corn and wheat products

The bottom line:

The Savory Chicken Entree includes fiber to help reduce hairballs, while vitamin E and omega fatty acids support your cat’s skin and coat health.

Get it here: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entree Canned Wet Cat Food


Wet cat food benefits

According to Bond Vet, wet food offers many benefits. It has a higher moisture content than dry food, which can help to keep your cat hydrated. Wet food may appeal more to picky eaters, too, so it may be a good choice for many cats. Cats with certain conditions like kidney disease and chronic constipation may also benefit from the moisture content of wet food. If you have questions about whether wet food is right for your kitty, be sure to speak with your veterinarian.

Is wet or dry food better for cats?

Bond Vet notes that there are pros and cons to both wet and dry food for cats. Feeding either wet or dry food, or feeding a combination of both can be a healthy and appropriate choice for your cat. When deciding which type of food is best, your cat’s age may affect your decision. Young kittens may need wet food to stay comfortable while they’re teething, and some senior cats can find wet food more appealing, which can help them to maintain a healthy weight.

How we selected the best wet cat food

In choosing the best wet cat foods, we carefully looked at the ingredients. We focused on foods with whole, quality ingredients, including protein sources, fruits, and vegetables. We chose foods with high protein content and low carbohydrates, and we also made sure to avoid foods with poor-quality ingredients like artificial fillers, preservatives or colors.

We chose brands with strong reputations for quality, and we also looked for foods that are available in multiple recipes and textures, so you can add variety into your cat’s diet or simply try out different flavors to find out what your cat likes the most.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What ingredients should I avoid in wet cat food?

Dr. Hsai explains that it’s important to avoid generic meat sources like meat by-products or animal digest, since they can be lower quality than specific meat sources like chicken or turkey. “Avoid foods that contain excessive amounts of fillers like corn, wheat, or soy. In addition, avoid artificial additives such as colors, flavors, and preservatives,” she says.

How can I introduce a new food to my cat?

Transitioning your cat to a new food can cause some stomach upset, so it’s important to gradually make that change. CityVet recommends transitioning your cat to a new food over the course of a week. For some pets, however, a transition of two to three weeks may be needed. On days one and two, mix 25% of the new food with 75% of your cat’s old food. On days three and four, mix 50% of the new food with 50% of the old food. By days five and six, you can mix 75% of the new food with 25% of the old food. On day seven, you can fully transition your cat to eating 100% new food.

Can I mix dry and wet cat foods?

Yes, you can absolutely mix both types of foods. Bond Vet recommends that if you mix the foods, you should make sure to proportionally reduce the amount of each that you feed. For example, if you want to feed wet and dry cat foods in a 50:50 mixture, then you should only feed half as much wet and half as much dry food that is recommended for your cat’s size, age and activity level.

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