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Canned cat food is an essential part of your cat’s diet. While cats do enjoy a varied selection of food and should be fed both dry and wet foods, canned cat food has the advantage of a high water content, which helps to keep your kitty hydrated. (Most cats don’t drink much water, so it’s important for them to “eat” their fluids.)
The amount you feed them and the type of canned cat food depend on several factors, including their age, overall health needs, and size. You should also keep an eye on the ingredients when shopping for cat food, since some cats have sensitivities to certain ingredients or preferences when it comes to protein sources.
Read on for the best canned cat foods.
Best Overall: Wellness Complete Health Turkey & Salmon Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Food Type: Wet | Amount: 3 ounces | Main Ingredient: Turkey | Life Stage: Adult
When selecting a canned food for your feline friend, look for one that has been certified “Complete and Balanced” by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This means the food contains a high-quality mix of ingredients to meet your feline's basic nutritional needs, explains Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH, including meat, taurine (a building block for protein synthesis and a vital amino acid for cats), and water.
The first five ingredients (turkey, chicken liver, whitefish, chicken broth, salmon) are whole ingredients. In addition to taurine, it also contains a blend of antioxidant-rich cranberries, vitamins, balanced minerals, and omega fatty acids.
Best for Weight Gain: Tiki Pets Tiki Cat Luau Wet Food Salmon
Food Type: Wet | Amount: 6 ounces | Main Ingredient: Salmon | Life Stage: All
Without any fillers, carbs, or guar gum, Tiki Pets is loaded with good-for-feline proteins that will help your cat keep weight on the right way. The salmon variety offers 3.5 percent crude fat, slightly higher than other flavors, yet still in the healthy range. If you think your cat is underweight, one of the easiest fixes may be to increase its portion sizes and this 8 ounce can readily allow you to do that. Of course, if your cat can’t keep weight on or is losing weight for no apparent reason, it’s important to speak to your vet to find out if there’s an underlying reason, reminds Dr. Barrack.
Best Kitten: Purina Fancy Feast Grain Free Pate Wet Kitten Food
Food Type: Wet | Amount: Not listed | Main Ingredient: Varies | Life Stage: Kitten
It's important to feed your kitten food that’s specifically labeled for kittens, as it will be formulated to help support their growth and healthy development with higher protein content and calories. It should also have increased vitamin and mineral supplementation (such as calcium and phosphorus), Dr. Barrack says.
This grain-free blend comes in smaller 3-ounce cans sized for kittens' appetites. If you do have any left over, cover and refrigerate; it will stay good for up to three days. The soft, paté style is easy for kittens to chew and digest. This box comes with four different flavors so you can experiment until you find their favorite.
Best for Seniors: Purina Pro Plan Senior Canned Wet Cat Food
Food Type: Wet | Amount: 3 ounces | Main Ingredient: Ocean whitefish | Life Stage: Adult
While the best food for your senior cat depends on your own cat’s unique health needs, in general, it is best to maintain a diet filled with proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and water throughout all stages of your cat's life, Dr. Barrack says. This grain-free blend made in the U.S. from Purina contains 10 percent minimum protein to help maintain your older cat’s lean muscle mass, antioxidants beta carotene, and vitamin E to support their immune system, and prebiotic fiber for easier digestion.
Note that you may want to cut back on portion sizes if you notice your cat is less active or gaining weight.
Best Natural: Weruva BFF OMG Rainbow A Gogo Variety Pack Wet Cat Food Pouches
Food Type: Wet | Amount: 3 ounces | Main Ingredient: Varies | Life Stage: All
Wervua cat foods are made in human-grade facilities, so you can relax knowing they’re made of the highest quality ingredients. Each of the six flavors in this grain-free variety pack is high-protein and low-carbohydrate with meat, fish, or broth as its main ingredient. The chunky gravy food comes in a plastic pouch that some find easier to open than a traditional can, though others wish the pouches were resealable. The food contains added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants along with taurine to boost your cat’s health and appearance. As a general rule, you should feed your cat 1 ounce of food for each pound of body weight daily, spread out over two meals.
Best Grain-Free: Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Food Type: Wet | Amount: 3 ounces | Main Ingredient: Varies | Life Stage: Not listed
You may have heard cats described as “obligate carnivores,” which means they require meat to survive and thrive and don’t generally tolerate high carbohydrate diets well, Dr. Barrack explains. The flavors in this variety pack contain 10 to 11 percent crude protein that should more than satisfy your cat’s natural animal instincts. That’s along with broth for adequate water content and added taurine, vitamins, and minerals. Some cats do get bored with their food, so a variety pack of flavors is a smart choice as it will help you mix up their meals.
With meat, fish, and broth as its first five ingredients Wellness Complete Health Turkey & Salmon Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food (view on Amazon) contains all the protein needed to satiate your obligate carnivore. The addition of taurine, antioxidants, vitamins, balanced minerals, and omega fatty acids round out the nutritional profile of this popular canned cat food.
What to Look for in Canned Cat Food
When buying canned cat food, consider how old your cat is. Different products are formulated especially for kittens, adult cats, or seniors. These various products will have different ingredients that cater to your cat’s specific nutritional needs at their current life stage.
Experts say you should look for a named source of protein, such as salmon or chicken, rather than a meat by-product. You’ll also want to see just how much filler, or carbohydrates, are in the formula, as cats are carnivores and would not eat large amount of carbohydrates in the wild.
Certain cats have specific nutritional needs, whether it’s ingredients that prevent hairballs or low-calorie foods to help them lose or maintain weight. Many canned cat foods are specially formulated to help achieve your pet’s health goals, but keep in mind that these types of formulas are often more expensive.