This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which dry cat food is best?

It’s natural to want your feline friend to have the best, but with so many dry cat foods on the market, it can be tough to sort quality options from those best avoided. 

There’s a lot to think about when selecting the right food for your cat, such as the protein content and quality of protein sources, whether your cat needs a grain-free option and whether the food is right for your cat’s age and activity level. Blue Buffalo Grain-Free High Protein Cat Food is an excellent grain-free choice with decent protein content.

What to know before you buy dry cat food

Protein content and quality

The protein content for dry cat food should be at least 30%, but higher is better since cats are obligate carnivores whose natural diet would consist almost exclusively of meat. The protein in cat food should come predominantly from meat and fish — meat meals are fine, but meat by-products aren’t ideal and neither are unnamed meat products (for instance, “meat meal” rather than “chicken meal.”)


Cat foods should have added vitamins and minerals to make sure they meet the nutritional needs of your feline friend. Although taurine is naturally found in meat, it’s a good sign if it’s also added to the food, just to boost levels. Avoid cat foods with excessive amounts of filler ingredients or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.


Although “grain-free” is a pet food buzzword these days, it can be beneficial for cats to eat grain-free food. It’s not that grains are bad for cats, it’s just that their diet should be based around meat, so grains simply aren’t necessary. That said, many grain-free foods simply use alternative starches, like sweet potato or soy, which aren’t any better for your cat than grains are. So, rather than simply opting for grain-free dry cat food, look for foods with as much meat and as few fillers as possible. 

What to look for in a quality dry cat food

Life stage

Do you want the best dry cat food for kittens, adult cats or senior cats? The age of your cat makes a difference to their nutritional needs, so choose a dry cat food that’s suitable for their current life stage. 

Activity level

The right food for your cat can depend on their activity levels. Generally, indoor cats are less active than outdoor cats, so the best dry cat food for indoor cats isn’t going to be the same as the best dry cat food for outdoor cats. Some companies make cat food specifically designed for indoor cats, which is usually lower in calories to help prevent weight gain. 

How much you can expect to spend on dry cat food

Dry cat food varies in price depending on the package size, so it’s easier to compare the cost pound for pound. It can cost anywhere from $0.50 per pound for cheap cat food to $5 per pound for high-end cat food. 

Dry cat food FAQ

Is dry food good for cats?

A. Some people believe that dry food isn’t good for cats and they need to have wet food, but this isn’t true. Dry cat food is carefully balanced to meet the nutritional needs of cats. Many cats love the taste of their dry food and thrive on it, but all cats are different.

Some owners find their cats can maintain a healthy weight more easily on wet food than dry food and others find their cats get sick of the same dry food and refuse to eat it. Take cues from your cat, but if they’re happy eating dry food and are staying healthy, it’s fine to feed dry cat food exclusively.

Can you mix wet and dry cat food?

A. Wet food is pricier and messier than dry food, but some cats find it more palatable and others rely on the moisture from wet food to keep them hydrated because they won’t drink from their bowl. As such, you might be wondering if you can mix wet food and dry food together and the answer is yes, absolutely.

You can mix them together in one bowl, feed them alongside each other or feed them separately at different times of the day. Just make sure to adjust the portion sizes accordingly and watch your cat’s weight. 

What’s the best dry cat food to buy?

Top dry cat food

Blue Buffalo Grain-Free High Protein Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Grain-Free High Protein Cat Food

What you need to know: This high-quality cat food is free from grains and suited to either indoor or outdoor cats. 

What you’ll love: It contains 40% crude protein, it’s available in both chicken and salmon formulas and has added taurine, antioxidants and probiotics.

What you should consider: This cat food is on the pricey side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top dry cat food for the money

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Indoor Cat Food

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Indoor Cat Food

What you need to know: Purina Cat Chow is an affordable cat food for indoor felines that the majority of cats seem to find palatable. 

What you’ll love: There are no artificial flavors or preservatives. This cat food has 34% crude protein and contains natural fibers for hairball control. 

What you should consider: Corn is the second ingredient and it has many fillers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, PetSmart and Chewy

Worth checking out

Hill's Science Diet Cat Food for Adult Indoor Cats

Hill’s Science Diet Cat Food for Adult Indoor Cats

What you need to know: This chicken recipe food is designed for indoor cats from 1 to 6 years old. 

What you’ll love: It has added antioxidants and amino acids and it’s designed for young, active adult indoor cats. The fiber content boosts digestive health. 

What you should consider: It contains unnecessary fillers like cellulose and wheat. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, PetSmart and Chewy


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.