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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
You don’t have to break the bank to feed your cat well. As a loving cat parent, you can meet your cat’s basic nutritional needs by shopping around to find the healthiest cat foods in a budget price range.
That’s where we come in. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of foods that combine quality with affordability—plus a few things you’ll want to consider when looking for the healthiest cat food options.
Need help knowing where to start? Skip ahead to “What To Look For in Healthy Cat Food.”
Healthiest Canned Cat Food Options on a Budget
Weruva offers their wet cat food in a wide range of proteins and flavors, and chicken is one of the most popular. High-quality animal protein is the main ingredient, followed by a balanced blend of vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy taurine. Choose from 3-, 5.5-, and 10-ounce cans.
Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken Formula is a good choice for:
- Moderate protein content (10%); it’s made with white breast meat chicken
- Cats with allergies, as it is free of gluten, grain, GMOs, MSGs, and Carrageenan
- A balanced diet, as it contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Hydration, as it contains up to 85% water
This protein-rich pâté from Wellness has chicken as the first ingredient in a nutrient-dense, grain-free recipe that includes antioxidants, taurine, vitamins, and minerals. It comes in 3-, 5.5-, and 12.5-ounce cans.
Wellness Complete Health Canned Cat Food is a good choice for:
- High-quality protein: 10.5%
- Essential fatty acids
- Healthy hydration and urinary tracts, as it contains up to 78% water
- To promote energy, skin health, digestion, and immunity
If your cat prefers wet food, this grain-free chicken recipe is packed with protein to support strong muscles with plenty of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids for overall health. Choose between 3-ounce or 5.5-ounce cans.
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Canned Chicken is a good choice for:
- Moderate protein (10%); chicken is the first ingredient
- A balanced diet, as it contains vitamins, minerals, and taurine
- Immune health, as it contains antioxidants
- A healthy coat, as it contains omega-3 fatty acids
- Up to 78% water for hydration
This grain-free wet food leads with salmon and trout and includes fruits and vegetables. It’s made in the U.S. and is available in 3- or 5.5-ounce cans.
Taste of the Wild Canyon River is a good choice for:
- Moderate protein content (8%)
- Promoting healthy digestion, as it contains probiotics
- Cats who need a grain-free diet
- Hydration, as it contains 82% water
- A balanced diet with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants
Healthiest Dry Cat Foods on a Budget
Chicken is the first ingredient in Rachael Ray Nutrish cat kibble, making it an affordable but quality dry food. U.S. farm-raised chicken is combined with wholesome brown rice, vegetables, essential vitamins, minerals, and taurine. Find it in 3-, 6-, or 14-pound bags.
Rachael Ray Nutrish is a good choice for:
- 34% protein, from farm-raised chicken
- A balanced meal, as it contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
- Healthy digestion, as it contains beet pulp with prebiotics
Chewy’s in-house brand, American Journey, is one of the healthiest cat food options for shoppers on a budget. It delivers wholesome natural nutrition with meat as the first ingredient, and fresh fruits and vegetables provide digestible sources of key nutrients.
American Journey Dry Cat Food is a good choice for:
- 40% protein
- A balanced diet: amino acids, antioxidants and fatty acids support eye health, immune systems, and a healthy skin and coat
- Cats with allergies, as this product contains no soy, grain, corn, or wheat
American Journey Dry Cat Food (Salmon)
Cats really go for the American Journey dry foods. This one offers a tasty, grain-free salmon recipe.
This highly regarded grain-free dry food is made in the U.S. with salmon. It’s a complete meal that’s nutritionally balanced, a good choice for:
- A high-protein meal (40%)
- A balanced diet that contains no corn, soy, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Essential amino acids for heart health, immune system health
Whole Earth Farms Dry Cat Food (Salmon)
One of the most nutritious dry cat foods on the market, this grain-free option is also easy on the wallet. And cats like it!
Made with premium animal proteins, this kibble features roasted venison and smoked salmon in a recipe designed to provide balanced nutrition in the way nature intended. One of the healthiest options on our list, this cat food comes in 5-pound or 14-pound bags.
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Dry Cat Food is a good choice for:
- High protein content (42%)
- Nutrient-rich kibble
- Digestive health, as it contains probiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants
- A sustainably sourced food
Healthiest Cat Foods for Indoor Cats
This Purina Beyond recipe has fresh salmon as the main ingredient and chicken meal as a supplemental source of concentrated protein. Designed for indoor cats, this dry food also contains grain-free carbohydrates and beneficial supplements. It’s available in 3-, 5-, or 11-pound bags.
Purina Beyond Dry Cat Food (Salmon) is a good choice for:
- Hairball control, as it contains natural fiber
- 33% protein (the number one ingredient is salmon)
- Digestive health, as it contains natural probiotics
With chicken as its first listed ingredient, this dry food is both healthy and tasty—plus it benefits your cat’s teeth by removing built-up plaque.
Iams ProActive Health Indoor Dry Cat Food is a good option for:
- 32% protein
- Healthy digestion, as it contains natural fiber and prebiotics
- Healthy coat and skin, as it contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
- Promoting heart health with calcium and potassium
- Balanced nutrition
What To Look For in Healthy Cat Food
To understand your specific cat’s nutritional needs, your vet is a great place to start. They can recommend the types of food that are best for your cat based on breed, age, and any health conditions.
There are, however, some basic nutritional requirements that almost all cats have in common, like a balance of animal protein and healthy fats in their diet, as well as essential nutrients. The quality and volume of ingredients largely determine the price of cat food, but a higher price doesn’t always guarantee higher quality.
When you go to the store (or shop online) to choose the best food for your cat, take a good look at the ingredients listed on the package. As a rule in dry foods, you’ll be looking for:
- High-quality animal proteins (at least 30%)
- Healthy, animal-based fats (about 15%–20%)
- Digestible carbohydrates and fiber
- Essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids
Wet foods have a high percentage of water—a good idea for cats who need help keeping their liquid intake up—and should have between 8% and 10% animal proteins. They don’t truly contain less protein than dry food; the addition of liquid just means you have to do some math to compare the two.
To figure out how the protein content of a wet cat food stacks up to a dry, find the percentage of “dry matter” in the canned food, then divide the protein percentage by that number. Multiply the result by 100, and you’ll get a number that you can compare to the protein percentage on the back of a bag of dry food.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the term “natural” on a label isn’t well-defined by regulators. “Byproducts” can mean perfectly healthy leftovers from human-grade food production or organ meats. If you want to stick with cat food produced in the U.S., look for the words “made in the USA” on the can. If the food contains any ingredients sourced in other countries (such as New Zealand lamb), they will be listed on the packaging.
The percentage of animal protein in the food, along with the overall quality of the food, are factors that drive up the price you pay. We looked for foods that are good quality but also affordably priced.
Note: Buying in bulk is tempting, but be careful. Dry food starts to lose its nutritional integrity as soon as you open the bag. If you want to stock up, skip investing in a giant bag of dry food and go for two smaller bags instead. Unopened, wet cat food is shelf-stable for up to two years. But once you’ve broken the seal, it lasts only about five days in the refrigerator.
How We Chose These Healthiest Cat Foods
The foods featured here were selected based on a combination of our own hands-on testing, a comprehensive look at customer reviews across a wide variety of retail platforms, and interviews with veterinary experts, including Rover’s Dog People Panel. We prioritized foods that support a balanced diet and offer a high protein meal. We also looked for economic choices. As always, we are guided by the experience of living and playing alongside our own much-loved and strongly opinionated pets, who are never stingy with their feedback.
Money-Saving Tips for Feeding Your Cat
Looking for more ways to stretch your cat food dollars? Many online retailers such as Chewy, Petco, and Amazon offer discounts for subscription purchasing. Even better, you never have to worry about getting to the store—the food is delivered directly to your door on a regular schedule.
Manufacturers also often post coupons on their websites, and some offer rebates and rewards. Coupons and rebates are another great way to ensure that your cat gets the nutrition they need at a price you can afford.