If you’re considering freeze-dried cat food as an option but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Compare the recommendations below to find the recipe that best fits your cat’s needs and preferences.
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Freeze-dried food offers a shelf-stable convenience to fresh raw food. It’s packed with the protein your carnivorous cat needs and generally contains lower concentrations of carbohydrate than traditional dry food.
Because this food is freeze-dried to remove moisture, it generally doesn’t require the addition of artificial preservatives and it can last as long as two years unopened.
Though freeze-dried food provides a convenient alternative to raw food without compromising on quality, it doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs for optimal hydration. We recommend rehydrating the product with water or nutrient-rich bone broth before feeding it to your cat.
Best Freeze-Dried Cat Food Formulas in 2023
Now that you’ve been introduced to the basics about freeze-dried cat food , take a look at some of the options we recommend.
Company HQMt. Maunganui, New Zealand Parent companyZiwi Ltd
Though technically not a freeze-dried formula, this air-dried recipe from Ziwi Peak offers species-appropriate nutrition and shelf-stable convenience. Chicken, chicken organs, and New Zealand green mussels make up the primary ingredients, making this recipe rich in animal protein and very low in carbohydrates. It is designed to be fed as-is and may not rehydrate as well as freeze-dried food.
Company HQPauanui Beach, New Zealand Parent companyThe New Zealand Natural Pet Food Co.
Made with wild venison, this freeze-dried cat food is a great option for cats with food allergies and sensitivities. Not only is venison a novel protein for most cats, but this recipe contains a limited list of digestible animal-based ingredients. While olive oil is the primary source of added fat, hoki oil provides an animal source of essential fatty acids and omega-3s.
Formulated with 99% chicken, lamb, and organs, this freeze-dried recipe provides complete and balanced nutrition for your cat. It is completely free from grains, additives, and other fillers. In fact, it only contains one added plant ingredient, flaxseed flakes. Overall, it is a protein-rich freeze-dried formula relatively low in carbohydrates.
Company HQBritish Columbia, Canada Parent companyCanadian Jerky Company Ltd.
Another air-dried formula, this salmon and turkey recipe from Zeal Canada offers the simplicity of dry cat food with the nutritional benefits of raw food. It features fresh salmon and turkey as the top two ingredients with turkey organs and krill meal for supplemental protein and essential nutrients. This recipe is designed to be fed as-is and has a jerky-like texture many cats find appealing.
Company HQBoulder, Colorado Parent companyBoulder Organics LLC
This freeze-dried formula is made with 97% pasture-fed beef, organs, and bone. It is grain-free and gluten-free in addition to being free from added hormones and antibiotics. Pumpkin and coconut oil are the only plant ingredients, making this a fairly species-appropriate choice that is low in carbohydrates.
Company HQAustin, Texas Parent companyNulo Pet Food
Featuring chicken and salmon as the primary ingredients, this freeze-dried formula is packed with species-appropriate animal protein. Chicken necks provide a nutritious source of ground bone with chicken liver and chicken hearts to follow. While the primary source of added fat is plant-based (ground flaxseed), this recipe also contains salmon oil as a rich source of animal-based omega-3s.
Company HQLincoln, Nebraska Parent companyM.I. Industries
This freeze-dried formula from Instinct claims to contain three times more real chicken and organs than kibble. Cage-free chicken (including ground chicken bone) is the first ingredient, followed by chicken liver and chicken heart. Salmon oil provides a rich, animal-based source of omega-3s with small amounts of ground flaxseed, fruits, and veggies to provide supplemental nutrition.
Company HQMilwaukee, Wisconsin Parent companyStella and Chewy’s LLC
Freeze-dried in small morsels, this cat food from Stella & Chewy’s can be fed as-is or rehydrated with warm water. It features cage-free chicken as the primary ingredient, including ground bone, chicken liver, and chicken gizzard. You’ll also find probiotics in this recipe to support your cat’s digestion.
Company HQFairfield, California Parent companyPrimal Pet Foods Inc.
One of Primal’s many freeze-dried recipes, this formula contains 90% chicken, salmon, organs, and bone. It’s rich in species-appropriate animal protein, but it still contains a variety of unnecessary plant ingredients. Even so, it is much lower in carbohydrates than the average dry cat food and it can be rehydrated to support your cat’s hydration.
Company HQGreen Bay, Wisconsin Parent companyCarnivore Meat Company
Simple to serve, these Vital Essentials freeze-dried pork dinner patties are packed with animal protein. In addition to fresh pork, this recipe features pork liver and pork spleen. Aside from herring oil as an animal-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, this recipe contains very few ingredients. Overall, it’s a species-appropriate choice that is rich in protein with no added carbohydrates.
Freeze-dried food retains the nutritional value of raw meat
Doesn’t contain fillers, by-products, or artificial additives
Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
What We Did Not Like
Low protein content
Low in moisture
Contains a small amount of plant-based proteins
Freeze dried cat food requires rehydration, which is time-consuming
For supplemental feeding only: this food is not nutritionally complete and balanced according to AAFCO guidelines
The brand has had multiple recalls over recent years
Some cats may be allergic to fish
Price Vs Overall Score Comparison
Why Should You Trust Us
As dog parents ourselves, we understand how hard it is to choose the right wet dog food with so many recipes available in 2023. So how do you navigate past marketing claims to get real facts?
That’s where we come in. With over 2716 recipe reviews, Pet Food Sherpa is the largest database for cat food recipe reviews overseen by a vet nutrition specialist.
Our team has analyzed over 200 Freeze-Dried 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 Freeze-Dried food is right for all cats. Instead, use our list as a research tool to help you make a better-informed decision on your dog’s diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is freeze-dried cat food?
Freeze-dried cat food is made through a process that involves freezing the food and removing moisture. The food is frozen at very low temperatures then put into a vacuum which removes the frozen ice crystals. The result is a low-moisture, shelf-stable cat food that is then sealed in air-tight packaging.
In most cases, freeze-dried cat food is made with raw ingredients. Because the ingredients aren’t cooked before being freeze-dried, the end product is still technically raw. That being said, you generally don’t need to refrigerate the product as long as you keep it in the original resealable packaging in a cool, dry location. It’s best to use freeze-dried cat food within 30 days of opening.
2. Is freeze-dried raw food good for cats?
Freeze-dried cat food is a very nutritious option for cats. In fact, it is nutritionally equivalent to raw food. The only difference is that the moisture has been removed to make the product shelf-stable. As is true with any cat food, however, the quality depends on the ingredients and formulation.
Most freeze-dried cat foods offer higher nutritional quality than the average kibble, but it’s still important to review the ingredients list and guaranteed analysis. A freeze-dried cat food made primarily with animal ingredients like meat, organs, and ground bone will be much better for your cat than a freeze-dried food heavy in plant ingredients.
It’s also worth noting that while freeze-dried cat food can be protein-rich and species-appropriate in terms of nutritional composition, it doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs for hydration. For this reason, it’s best to rehydrate freeze-dried cat food before feeding it to your cat.
3. How do I rehydrate freeze-dried cat food?
Freeze-dried cat food has been processed to remove all the moisture, so it contains about as much moisture as kibble – around 10%, sometimes less. Moisture is an essential part of a healthy diet for cats, so it’s recommended that you rehydrate freeze-dried cat food before feeding. Rehydrating the food also improves the texture which may make it more appealing to picky cats.
You can rehydrate freeze-dried cat food with water or broth. Most commercial freeze-dried cat foods will provide instructions for rehydrating the food, but you generally just add your cat’s portion to his bowl and add liquid. In most cases, an equal proportion of food to water works well.
It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes for freeze-dried cat food to rehydrate, though the timing may vary by recipe. Again, refer to the feeding instructions on the package. Once the food has been rehydrated it should be treated like wet cat food and not left out for more than 4 hours.
4. Is freeze-dried raw cat food safe?
Whether fresh or freeze-dried, there are inherent risks to feeding your cat a raw diet. Not only is there potential for foodborne pathogens affecting your cat, but you and others in your household could be exposed to them as well. Fortunately, basic safe food handling practices are generally enough to reduce the risk. Just be sure to wash your hands after handling raw food as well as any utensils you use.
The primary concern with freeze-dried raw cat food is bacterial contamination. E. coli, listeria, and salmonella are the most common culprits. The freeze-drying process helps decrease the number of pathogens in the raw ingredients, but some may survive freeze-drying. Commercial freeze-dried foods may have lower rates of contamination than unprocessed raw foods.
5. Can freeze-dried food cause problems for cats?
Freeze-dried cat food is generally a very nutritious choice for cats, especially when it is filled with animal-based ingredients like meat, organ, and raw bone. Aside from the potential for bacterial contamination, however, there are a few concerns. First and foremost, the lack of moisture.
The process of freeze drying removes the moisture from the raw ingredients in order to make the product shelf-stable. Cats require moisture in their diet for proper hydration and, because they don’t tend to drink a lot of water on their own, it’s important to include it in your cat’s diet. The best option is to rehydrate your cat’s freeze-dried food before feeding and provide plenty of fresh water.
Another concern with freeze-dried cat food is the potential for nutritional deficiencies. This is more common with homemade diets, however. As long as you’re feeding your cat a commercial freeze-dried food formulated by a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist, you shouldn’t have to worry.