Dry cat food offers a shelf-stable alternative to fresh food – it also tends to be a more economical option. Feeding is simple, you just scoop out the appropriate amount and dump it into your cat’s bowl. It’s easy to add flavor and moisture as well by soaking it in water or bone broth.
While dry cat food tends to have higher concentrations of carbohydrate than wet food, there are certainly brands that focus on animal sources of protein and fat.
A species-appropriate recipe will contain an animal-based protein as the main ingredient with as few plant ingredients as possible.
The Best Dry Cat Food Formulas in 2022
Now that you’ve been introduced to the basics about dry cat food, take a look at some of the options we recommend below.
Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Recipe Cat Food
Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food
Wysong Optimal Vitality Dry Cat Food
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Go! Solutions CARNIVORE Grain Free Chicken
Solid Gold Indigo Moon with Chicken & Eggs Grain-Free High Protein Dry Cat Food
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula Dry Cat Food
Why Should You Trust Us
As dog parents ourselves, we understand how hard it is to choose the right dry cat food with so many recipes available on the market in 2022. So how do you navigate past marketing claims to get real facts?
That’s where we come in. With over 534 recipe reviews, Pet Food Sherpa is the largest database for dog food recipe reviews overseen by a vet nutrition specialist.
Our team has analyzed over 534 dry cat foods and selected the 10 best recipes, we then used our pet food algorithm to determine the scores for each recipe.
You should keep in mind that no single dry cat food is right for all cats. Instead, use our list as a research tool to help you make a better-informed decision on your cat’s diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much dry food to feed a cat?
How much you feed your cat depends on a variety of factors including age, size, activity level, and body condition. Kittens require more protein and calories than adult cats, as do cats who regularly get a lot of exercise. If your cat is already overweight, he may need less food than a cat of healthy weight, while cats that are pregnant or lactating may need more calories than the average cat.
Because cats are smaller than dogs – and because calorie content varies greatly between recipes - it often makes sense to think about your cat’s daily requirements in terms of calories rather than the number of cups. Keep in mind as well that your cat’s caloric requirements may differ depending on their alteration status (whether they’ve been spayed or neutered).
Here’s a quick chart to give you an idea how many calories your cat needs:
|Weight||Healthy Weight – Spayed/Neutered||Healthy Weight - Intact||Prone to Weight Gain||In Need of Weight Loss|
|5 lbs.||157 kcal/day||183 kcal/day||131 kcal/day||105 kcal/day|
|7.5 lbs.||210 kcal/day||245 kcal/day||175 kcal/day||140 kcal/day|
|10 lbs.||260 kcal/day||303 kcal/day||216 kcal/day||173 kcal/day|
|12.5 lbs.||298 kcal/day||362 kcal/day||258 kcal/day||207 kcal/day|
|15 lbs.||354 kcal/day||413 kcal/day||295 kcal/day||236 kcal/day|
|17.5 lbs.||396 kcal/day||462 kcal/day||330 kcal/day||264 kcal/day|
|20 lbs.||440 kcal/day||513 kcal/day||367 kcal/day||293 kcal/day|
Keep in mind that your cat’s caloric requirements can range by as much as 50% from these recommendations. If you’re not sure how much you should be feeding your cat, you can always ask your veterinarian. It’s also important to check the calorie content of your cat’s food so you can better determine whether the feeding recommendations on the label are appropriate.
2. How much wet and dry food to feed a cat?
Many cat owners choose to feed their cats a mixture of wet and dry food. Dry food is generally more affordable than wet food and it comes with the convenience of being shelf stable. Wet food, on the other hand, tends to be higher in protein and moisture with lower carbohydrate content.
Feeding your cat a blend of wet and dry food can help provide nutritional balance as well as dietary variation. Cats can get bored eating the same thing every day, so a diet of the same dry food day after day may cause your cat to eventually turn up his nose. Swapping out a few meals a week with wet food or adding some wet food to his dry food diet can make life more interesting.
If you’re going to feed your cat a mixture of wet and dry food, it’s a good idea to be intentional about the amounts. The simplest option is to do a 50/50 split. In this case, you can refer to the feeding recommendations for each product and just cut them both in half. If you prefer to use wet food more supplementally, go with a 25/75 split of wet to dry food.
3. Is dry food bad for cats?
When choosing a diet for your cat, it’s important to consider your cat’s nutritional requirements above all else. If the product you choose isn’t properly formulated to provide balanced nutrition for cats, the type of food won’t make a meaningful difference.
If you’re trying to decide between wet food and dry food for cats, there are some key points to consider. Dry food is generally a convenient and affordable option for pet owners, but it may not be the most species-appropriate choice for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores which means their natural evolutionary diet is meat-based. In fact, cats have very little ability to digest or derive nutrition from plant matter.
This is important to remember because dry food tends to be much higher in carbohydrates than wet food. Dry cat food is usually made through the process of extrusion which requires the use of starches and other binders to create the right consistency. Wet food, on the other hand, comes in a wide variety of textures and it doesn’t need to be solid enough to be shaped into hard kibbles.
Aside from the higher carbohydrate content, another potential problem with dry cat food is the low moisture content. Cats are already less likely to drink water on their own than dogs, so it’s a good idea to make up for that by including high moisture foods in your cat’s diet. Wet food typically contains at least 75% moisture while dry foods usually sit around 10%.
If it’s the best option for your budget and lifestyle, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a high-quality dry food for your cat. If wet food is an option, however – even if it’s only a supplemental part of your cat’s diet – it’s a great idea to include it.
4. How long does dry cat food last?
Dry cat food is preferred among many cat owners because it is easier to store than raw, fresh, or frozen food. While this type of food certainly has a longer shelf-life than many other options, it doesn’t last forever. Unopened packages of dry cat food generally last for 12 to 18 months.
When you purchase a bag of dry cat food, it’s a good idea to check the label. The label will generally tell you not only when the product was packaged but a date it should be used by. To ensure that your cat food stays fresh as long as possible, be sure to store it in a cool, dark, dry place like your kitchen pantry. The garage can be a good option as well, as long as it doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
Though dry cat food can last over a year when unopened, it starts to decline in quality and nutritional value as soon as you open it. Dry cat food generally contains preservatives to help keep it fresh, but exposure to air will start oxidizing the fats and breaking down other nutrients.
After you’ve opened a bag of dry cat food, it’s best to use it within 4 to 6 weeks. This may mean that you’ll need to buy smaller bags unless you have multiple cats and tend to go through cat food pretty quickly. Once you’ve portioned out dry cat food into your cat’s bowl, you can leave it out for up to 48 hours. After that, it’s best to discard it and replace it with fresh food.
5. Can you mix wet and dry cat food?
Whether you have a picky eater or you’re trying to moderate your pet food costs, you might think about mixing wet and dry cat food. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and, in fact, it can be a very good idea. Cats are notoriously picky eaters, so introducing some variety into a staple diet of dry food can be more interesting to your cat and can add a boost of nutrition as well.
If you’re going to provide your cat with a mixture of wet and dry food, think about how you’re going to do it. Will you go with a 50/50 blend or use the wet food more supplementally with a 25/75 split?
In terms of how to actually feed your cat a combination of wet and dry food, there are several options. One option is to feed your cat dry food at one meal and wet food at another. Another option is to serve the wet food on top of the dry food, or even side-by-side. If you’re trying to make dry food more palatable for your cat, you can even stir the two up together.
If you’re trying to soften dry food or make it more interesting for your cat by mixing in some wet food, look for a wet cat food that has some liquid in it. Recipes cooked in broth or gravy are a great option, as are wet cat food toppers and pouches.