Your cat gets 99% of the nutrition she needs from meat, organ meat, and bones. Cats are soft, adorable, and cuddly, but they are also natural hunters and obligate carnivores. If you ever had a cat who went outside you know they love to stalk the mice, rabbits, birds, or lizards outside. Your cat’s instincts tell her to hunt because her natural diet is very high in protein.
The problem with many commercial cat food is that grain is cheaper than meat. Companies can mimic the smell, taste, and flavor of animal protein. However, over time a diet high in grains and other foods not included in your cat’s natural diet can take a toll on her health.
Eating foods high in grains or other carbohydrate fillers can cause issues with your cat’s digestion, fur, or skin. You may see allergies, lethargy, or skin issues. At the same time, many brands market themselves as grain-free but then replace the inexpensive grains with other cheap fillers like potatoes that aren’t good for your pet, either.
Since there are thousands of cat foods on the market of vastly different quality, we sorted through all of them for you to bring you some of the absolute best. Our updated 2022 reviews include some truly remarkable, high-quality, grain-free cat foods.
A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Grain-Free Cat Food
- Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free
- Open Farm Dry Cat Food
- Made from 80% ethically sourced whitefish and herring
- High-protein formula
- No grain, GMO, artificial flavors, or preservatives
- Made in the USA
- Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Grill Variety
- Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken in Gravy
- Earthborn Holistic Primitive Feline Grain-Free Natural Dry Cat & Kitten Food
- Freely Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- Solid Gold Five Oceans Sardines & Tuna Recipe in Gravy
1. Overall Best: Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free Natural
In our review, the overall best grain-free cat food is Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free Natural Canned Cat Food for being packed full of nutrients and having zero grains.
The first three ingredients are fish broth, skipjack tuna, and mackerel for a tasty, fishy, protein-rich meal for your cats. Fish is a natural source of omega-3 and omega-6 to keep your cat’s skin and fur soft and healthy. Skipjack has a stronger flavor and aroma than white tuna.
Earthborn Holistic is suitable for kitties with sensitive digestive systems and is free of anything artificial. The Monterey Medley includes taurine for a strong heart and good vision. Keep your pet hydrated with its broth-rich formula. Perfect for any cat who loves fish.
2. Best Dry Food Option: Open Farm Catch-of-The-Season Whitefish
This high-quality food is not just good for your cats, it is also good for the world. The high-protein formula is made from 80% ethically sourced whitefish and herring. There is no poultry, just seasonal seafood.
In addition to plenty of protein, this grain-free dry food contains pumpkin for good digestion. It has coconut oil to fight allergies and support healthy fur and skin. Plus, it includes other highly nutritious fruits and veggies like dandelion greens.
Open Farm is grain-free, non-GMO, and free of artificial flavors or preservatives. Sourced and made in the USA with 100% traceable ingredients, this fish formula delivers a balanced blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
My cat was raised on wet food and wouldn’t bother with most dry food, but I like to have something I can leave out if I’m not going to be home right on time for meals. I tried at least ten different brands before I found this flavor. It is the only dry food he will eat.
3. Best Value: Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Grill Variety Pack
If your cat is a picky eater you can entice them with the variety of these seafood-packed flavors. Choose between tuna, sardines, mackerel, and crab mixes. Each easy-open can is free of grains, wheat, corn, soy, GMO, carrageenan, or anything artificial.
Broth-rich shredded tuna, crab, and, mackerel and deboned sardines also provide hydration and a variety of textures. Each formula contains taurine and other added vitamins and minerals.
4. Best Shredded Chicken Recipe: Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken in Gravy
Not all cats love fish, so for your poultry-loving pet, we recommend Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken. In a moisture-rich and savory gravy, pure, shredded chicken makes this grain-free wet food a treat for even your most finicky cat.
My cat is hard to please, and I was grateful more than once that Chewy has a no-questions-asked return policy because I would select the best quality food, and he would turn up his nose. However, he dives into the Paw Lickin’ Chicken.
In addition to being grain and carrageenan-free, this cat food is made in a human food facility with no GMOs or antibiotics. They add omegas, vitamins, minerals, and taurine, so you know your cat is getting the nutritional support they need.
5. Best Dry Food With Poultry: Earthborn Holistic Primitive Feline Grain-Free
Earthborn Holistic creates wholesome, nutritious pet foods and this dry food stands with the best of them. Starting with turkey meal and chicken meal, this food is protein-rich and fortified with nutrient-rich fruits like blueberries, veggies like spinach, and antioxidants.
With no grains or gluten, this dry food is suitable for some cats with sensitivities or food allergies. Made in the USA, Earthborn Holistic’s dry food is also fortified with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to nourish your pet’s skin and fur.
- Wholesome and nutritious
- Contain turkey and chicken meal
- No grains or gluten
6. Best Dry Food With Rabbit: Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Some cats don’t do well on the typical proteins you find in pet food like poultry, fish, and meat. Freely Rabbit dry food gives you a single-protein food made with rabbit and rabbit meal.
Some foods will say they are made with rabbit or an uncommon protein but then hide chicken somewhere in the ingredients. Not Freely! You can feel safe feeding this food to your poultry-intolerant cat.
The very simple, wholesome formula is fortified with omega fatty acids, taurine, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals. There are no extra fillers.
7. Best Seafood in Gravy: Solid Gold Five Oceans Sardines & Tuna Recipe in Gravy
If you haven’t discovered Solid Gold cat food yet, it is one of the longest-standing grain-free, nutrient-dense formulas on the market. The founder saw the need for pet food with high-quality ingredients before most people understood how important it is.
With shredded tuna and sardines in a tasty broth, this formula gives your cat the vitamins, minerals, and taurine she needs for a balanced diet. Made without any fish meal, Solid Gold is free of gluten, grains, added sugars, fillers, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- Contains shredded tuna and sardines
- No gluten or grains
- Added vitamins, minerals, and taurine
- Suitable for all life-stages
8. Best Wet Food With Zero Carbohydrates: Ziwi Peak Rabbit & Lamb
Although it is not the most affordable option on the market, Ziwi Peak delivers quality that is hard to beat. Its moisture-rich, chunky pate comprises 92% meat, organs, bone, and New Zealand green mussels (an antioxidant superfood and natural source of taurine).
An ethically-conscious company, Ziwi Peak uses free-range meats and wild-caught fish that are ethically and sustainably sourced. None of their proteins are raised with added hormones, antibiotics, or growth stimulants.
For the weight-conscious or very sensitive cat, this recipe is not only grain-free, it is also free from potato, soy, corn, green peas, or other fillers.
added hormones, antibiotics
Choosing the Best: What to Look For
When choosing the best grain-free cat food, there are three factors you will want to consider. They are: is protein the first ingredient, what is the quality of the protein, and what fillers are added?
The First Ingredient: Protein
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies have lost the ability to get many nutrients from plants. They would get some fruits and vegetables in the wild, but mainly what was already partially digested in their prey’s stomach. You want your grain-free cat food to list meat as at least the top ingredient and preferably the top two or more.
What Is the Quality of the Protein?
Fish, chicken, or meat meals can be a healthy part of your cat’s diet. They are well-suited to organ meat. However, whole protein and organs are better. It’s also important to know the source of the proteins in your cat’s food. Some poultry coming from outside the USA has caused a toxic reaction in pets.
What Fillers Are Added?
Even the high-quality grain-free cat foods sometimes add fillers like potatoes and green peas. If your cat is not especially sensitive, these foods are acceptable and may even add some nutrition. However, fruits and vegetables are better additions than grains and starches. You also want to avoid pet foods made with added sugar as your cat would never get refined, concentrated sugar in the wild.
The Different Types of Grain-Free Cat Food: Pros and Cons Compared
As more cat owners realize that by spending a little more each month on food, they can reduce the health challenges their cats may experience in old age and throughout their lives, more people are looking for quality cat food with good ingredients. As a result, the available choices on the market keep multiplying. The basic types of grain-free cat food include wet food, dry food, freeze-dried, or air-dried.
Here are some pros and cons of each type.
|Easy to serve and store||Sometimes is highly processed|
|Helps keep your cat hydrated because of the high moisture content of the food|
|Especially good for older cats, cats with teeth issues, or if you need to mix medicine in their food|
|Can buy in bulk and store for an extended period||Can be highly processed|
|Tends to be less expensive||Low moisture|
|Can help remove plaque|
|Can be left out so your cat can eat whenever she is hungry|
|Excellent, dense nutrition||If not manufactured with care, there are potential pathogens in raw food|
|Simple and fast way to feed your cat a raw diet||Easy to overfeed since it is a highly concentrated food|
|Your cat’s natural diet is raw||Gets expensive|
|Concentrated and pure nutrition||Low moisture|
|Easy to scoop and serve – no rehydrating like with freeze-dried varieties||Can be hard to chew if it gets stale|
|Air drying preserves raw ingredients and removes pathogens|
Verified Review: User Experience
Reviewers of the Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free Natural Canned Cat Food say their cats love the food and that it is worth the price. From reformed ferals to lifelong members of the family, cats come running when their owners open the Monterey Medley. One owner whose cat threw up almost every day said this food solved the problem. Owners also appreciate how this food is holistic.
Pet owners who buy Open Farm Catch-of-The-Season Whitefish Grain-Free Dry Cat Food report that it helped solve pet allergies, stop dandruff, and put weight back on after a difficult health problem. They are impressed with the quality of the food and say it is worth the price. One user appreciates the very low phosphorous levels. Another user reports his cat’s coat is shinier and thicker than ever after eating this food. It also was good for a cat with IBD. A few cats don’t like the food, but that is to be expected.
Users of the Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Grill Variety Pack say their cats love the flavors, and one reports it was good for his diabetic cat. One person actually tried the food (not recommended) and said it tasted like human food! Reviewers appreciate the whole chunks of fish and the lack of a strong fishy smell. A few report that while they love Tiki Cat, there seem to be some counterfeit versions on the market, and buyers should be careful.
Owners who buy Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food say it is good for pets with sensitive tummies, that their cats love this brand, and even say it is the ‘best cat food ever.’ Users report there is plenty of actual meat in the can, and it smells okay, which is nice if you’re going to be in the room as your cat eats. Sick and finicky cats like it, though a small percentage of owners report their cats didn’t.
People who purchased the Earthborn Holistic Primitive Feline Grain-Free Natural Dry Cat Food like the small nuggets of dry food. They report it is suitable for older cats. One says her cat’s stress levels are down, and energy has gone up. Users appreciate its quality and holistic formula, and most report their pets eat it up.
At least four reviewers of the Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food say it saved the day for their older cats with IBS. This dry food is also small in size, so it is easy for even older cats to eat and enjoy. One user whose cat had diarrhea for six months saw the problem clear up after only three days on this food (what a relief). It also benefitted cats with severe allergies. Although a very small number of reviewers reported that their cats didn’t like it, it seems like a great choice for your most sensitive pets.
Owners with multiple cats report all of them devour the Solid Gold Five Oceans Sardines & Tuna Recipe in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food. Some say it looks like people food. Even finicky cats dive in with enthusiasm, although a few cats won’t eat it.
Purchasers of Ziwi Peak Rabbit & Lamb Recipe Canned Cat Food are impressed with the ingredients and quality. Many cats love it, and owners report it helps with digestion, tightens up loose stools, stops their cat from throwing up, and reduces allergies in their pets. However, it is a little bit hit or miss because despite (or because of) its high nutrient and healthy formula, about 25% of cats won’t eat it.