The 8 Best Premium Dry Foods for Cats in 2019

Delicious and nutritious options for your feline friend

Young kitten eating from blue bowl
Benjamin Torode / Getty Images
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Natural Balance Dry Cat Food at Amazon

“Sure to satisfy your cat’s taste buds.”

Best for Weight Management: Blue Buffalo Dry Food at Amazon

“A high-protein choice with whole grains and veggies.”

Best Grain Free: Purina Beyond Natural at Amazon

“A grain-free food that isn’t crazy pricey.”

Best Budget: Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Cat Food at Amazon

“High-quality choice for cats with natural meal and no wheat.”

Best for Older Cats: Blue Buffalo High Protein at Amazon

“LifeSource Bits contain specific vitamins and minerals.”

Best Raw: Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw at Amazon

“All meals include high-protein kibble mixed with raw, freeze-dried meat.”

Best for Kittens: IAMS Proactive Health Kitten at Target

“This blend is designed specifically for cats under one year of age.”

Best Organic: Newman's Own Organics at Amazon

“It’s full of protein and is good for cats young and old alike.”

  • 01 of 08

    Best Overall: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food

    Excellent

    With a variety of flavors and protein sources, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food is sure to satisfy your cat’s taste buds. Each flavor has limited ingredients to ensure healthy digestion and limit upset stomachs. Plus, the first ingredients always include green peas and the main meat source—chicken, duck, salmon, or venison. All of the flavors are grain free, and provide a balanced, daily nutrition that includes omega-3 and six fatty acids for a shiny, healthy coat, with fiber and protein for easy digestion and sustained energy. Varieties include green pea and chicken, green pea and duck, green pea and salmon, green pea and venison, as well as a salmon and chickpea indoor formula, and a turkey and chickpea indoor formula. Bag sizes include 2, 4.5, 5, 8, and 10 pounds.

  • 02 of 08

    Best for Weight Management: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Cat Food

    Very Good

    Sometimes we overload our furry friends with treats. If that’s the case and your little guy or gal needs to slim down, feed them Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Cat food in the chicken and turkey flavors, or the Chicken Weight Control Formula, which is available in seven and 15-pound bags. Both have high-protein, deboned chicken (with no by-product) as well as a plethora of whole grains and veggies, like brown rice, spinach, pomegranate, and apples, to provide antioxidants and vitamins.

    Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best cat food for weight management

  • 03 of 08

    Best Grain Free: Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe

    Very Good

    For a grain-free food that isn’t crazy pricey, go with Purina’s Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg dry cat food. There is no ground corn, wheat, or soy added to this kibble, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. In fact, ocean whitefish is the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal and pea protein. Ocean whitefish provides amino acids, while chicken, pea protein and eggs provide lean protein. The entire meal also provides fiber and carbohydrates for energy, as well as a complete set of daily vitamins and minerals. Bag sizes include 3, 5, and 11 pounds.

  • 04 of 08

    Best Budget: Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food

    Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Natural Dry Cat food is a high-quality choice for adult cats that want a natural meal without wheat. Flavors include salmon and brown rice or chicken and brown rice. Both contain real meat as the first ingredient, and don’t contain ground corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-products, nor artificial flavors or preservatives. Your cats will get plenty of fiber and prebiotics that aid in digestion, including beet pulp and taurine, an amino acid that supports a healthy heart and healthy vision. Bag sizes include 3, 6, and 14 pounds.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Best for Older Cats: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food

    In each of the flavor varieties of the grain-free Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat food, your cat will get LifeSource Bits, special kibble pieces that contain specific vitamins and minerals to keep your adult cat healthy and active. Along with vitamins and minerals and high-quality pure protein, the kibble also contains sweet potatoes for complex carbs, cranberries, blueberries, and carrots that contain antioxidants to support the immune system, and other essentials that aid in healthy muscles, hair, heart, eyes, and digestion. Flavors include chicken, duck, and salmon. Bag sizes include 2, 2.5, 5, 6, 11, and 12 pound bags.

  • 06 of 08

    Best Raw: Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Natural Dry Cat Food

    If you are sticking with a raw diet for your feline friend, opt for Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Dry food. Varieties of this food come in chicken, duck, and rabbit. All meals include high-protein kibble mixed with raw, freeze-dried meat. Plus, your cat will receive prebiotics for healthy digestion, omega-3 and six fatty acids for a smooth coat, and antioxidants for a healthy immune system. No grain, potatoes, corn, wheat or soy, and no artificial colors or preservatives. Bag sizes include 2 pounds, 4.5 pounds, 5 pounds, 10 pounds, and 11.3 pounds.

    Take a peek at some of the other best frozen and freeze-dried raw cat foods you can buy.​

  • 07 of 08

    Best for Kittens: IAMS Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food - 7lbs

    iams-healthy-cat-food
    Courtesy of Target

    If you’ve got an itty bitty kitty, you want yours to get off on the right foot food wise. This blend by IAMS is designed specifically for cats under one year of age and has the same nutrition as their mother’s milk. The first ingredient is chicken and it’s made with omega 3 DHA, antioxidants, prebiotics and beet pulp — all the things your kitten needs to grow into a strong, happy and healthy cat.

    But it’s not just good for them, kittens love it too. Some customers say it’s the only dry cat food their kittens will eat. Some love it so much that several reviewers report their furry little friends tearing into the bag just to get some more. Bag size is seven pounds.

  • 08 of 08

    Best Organic: Newman's Own Organics Advanced Formula Chicken

    newmans-own-cat-food
    Courtesy of Walmart

    When you want only the purest nutrition for your cat, there’s this organic dry cat food from Newman’s Own. Yep, the same company that makes those delicious, healthy salad dressings, also makes cat food so good they claim humans will be jealous of it. We’re not sure we’d go that far, but it does sound like a treat for any cat.  

    Made with organic chicken, vegetables and grains, it’s full of protein and is good for cats young and old alike. You won’t find any artificial additives inside. Bag size is 4.75 pounds. Cat owners rave about this food, particularly for cats who have digestive issues or other health problems. It’s definitely pricier than other cat foods, but devoted customers say it’s worth it.

Products Tested by

How We Tested

We bought three top-rated premium dry cat foods and our reviewers tested them for several weeks. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using the dry cat food, from nutrition to flavor. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in Premium Dry Cat Food

Life stage Match your cat’s life stage to the dry food you choose to feed them. Kittens have unique nutritional needs as they grow and develop, so it makes sense to feed them accordingly. Through the active adult years, feed your cat a balanced diet that will supply plenty of nutrients and energy to keep them healthy and happy. Senior cats will have different diet criteria than either of these first two life stages, so pick a formula that has been developed for your kitty’s golden years.

Flavor This is a matter of taste, but the fact is that some felines are more finicky than others. Finding a dry cat food that your cat will eat and appreciate is sometimes a challenge, especially if you’re transitioning from wet cat food. While limited ingredient foods are good for digestion, they’re not always as appetizing to some cats. You may need to experiment with different protein sources and ingredients to find a dry cat food that your cat will gobble up.

Essential nutrients Your cat needs certain nutrients to thrive, including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. For instance, taurine is an essential amino acid that your cat needs to absorb through diet. Look for a dry cat food that meets the minimum daily requirements for essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. One thing to note is that your cat does not need carbohydrates in his or her diet.

Test Results: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food (Best Overall)

Excellent

What We Like

  • Well-balanced nutrition

  • Quality ingredients

  • No digestion issues

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food
Natural Balance Dry Cat Food
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient
Natural Balance
Natural Balance Cat Food

“I would definitely recommend this product due to the ingredient list alone,” one of our testers said. In addition to the quality ingredients, our reviewers liked that the food didn’t contain any artificial components. And the taste? “My normally picky cat actually loved it and ate it right away,” one person gushed. While the price is on the higher side, one of our reviewers said, for her, the well-balanced nutrition made it worth it for her adult cat.

Test Results: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Cat Food (Best for Weight Management)

Very Good

What We Like

  • Cats liked the flavor

  • High in nutrition

What We Don't Like

  • Bag isn’t resealable

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection
Blue Buffalo Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Dry Adult Cat Food

If you’re on the hunt for dry cat food that is designed to help with weight control, our reviewers found Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Cat Food to be a good feline-approved option in terms of taste. “My cat seemed to like this food about as much as any other she's had in the past,” declared one of our testers.” When it came to actual weight loss, though, results weren’t immediate: “I haven't specifically noticed weight loss in our cat as a direct response to testing this food, but it may take more time,” one of our reviewers noted. While our testers found the nutritional value of the product to be high, one suggested consulting with a vet to make sure the health benefits justified the higher price. One of our reviewers also wished for a resealable bag to help with storage.

Test Results: Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe (Best Grain Free)

Very Good

What We Like

  • Good nutritional value

  • Cat-approved taste

What We Don't Like

  • Strong smell

Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe
Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free
Purina Beyond Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe
Purina Beyond
Purina Beyond Natural Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe

“[My cat] seemed to like it quite a bit,” one of our testers observed about the Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe. However, one of our reviewers had a warning about the smell: “The food also has a strong smell that I found a little off-putting, but which my cat seemed to really like.” Overall, if you’re looking for a grain-free food for a picky cat, this was found to be a solid option, but if your cat is not a finicky eater, the price might not be worth it, one of our testers noted.