10 Best Grocery Store Cat Foods in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks


Some cats have special dietary needs, and often to feed them, owners must source their food from vets, online, or from specialist pet stores. But many of us feline owners have perfectly ordinary and generally healthy cats, who simply need a balanced and nutritious diet.

You don’t have to go out of your way to shop for an excellent diet for your cat. There is a whole range of great products available as close as your local grocery store. Grocery store cat foods can be affordable, convenient, and nourishing. Here are our top 10 favorite choices, all supported by positive reviews from happy cat owners.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

The 10 Best Grocery Store Cat Foods – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

1. Iams ProActive Health Indoor – Best Overall

Iams-ProActive-Health-dry-cat-food_chewy

Calories 302/cup
Protein 30%
Fat 13.5%
Main ingredients Chicken, corn product, turkey

From the cat foods available at grocery stores we reviewed, Iams Proactive Health was our best overall. It comes with many positive reviews from cat owners who claim this cat food is the perfect balanced diet for their felines.

Specifically designed for indoor cats, this diet has added L-carnitine. This amino acid assists in metabolism and will help keep your cat within a healthy weight range, despite not getting outdoor exercise. The blend is in the correct range of fat and protein levels to support a cat’s system while not being too high in calories.

In addition, a blend of dried beet pulp is included to boost fiber, reducing hairballs, and aiding digestion. While this diet is marketed towards indoor cats, it is suitable for cats of all lifestyles and contains all the nutrients any pet cat needs to thrive.

As with any cat food, some owners state their cats did not like taste or texture. But overall, this product is very highly rated and easily found at most grocery stores! Overall, any regular healthy cat may be more than happy with this product as their main diet.

Pros

  • Supports digestion to reduce hairballs
  • Maintains a well-functioning metabolism
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Added fatty acids for coat health

Cons

  • Not suitable for some cats with allergies
  • Some cats may not like the taste
  • Artificial colorings

2. Purina Cat Chow Indoor – Best Value

Purina Cat Chow Indoor Cat Food

Calories 358/cup
Protein 30%
Fat 9.5%
Main ingredients Chicken by-products, corn products, beef fat

Value is an integral part of how we choose what products we buy, our cat food included! Finding the balance of a balanced and complete diet for an affordable price can be awkward. In our reviews, we chose Purina Cat Chow as the best grocery store cat for the money.

Many past customers have reviewed this product as a great choice for general cat maintenance and affordability. This product from Purina is a complete diet that will support your cat’s overall health. Aimed towards indoor cats, it also focuses on weight management and hairball control.

However, great value has some tradeoffs. While this product provides complete nutrition, it also contains many “filler” ingredients of corn and soy products that bump up the carbohydrate content. The protein content also primarily comes from by-products of chicken rather than the chicken itself. For a regular cat with no health issues or sensitivities, this usually isn’t an issue. Still, for delicate cats, this product may cause upsets.

Pros

  • Complete nutrition from all 25 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Fibre blend to control hairballs
  • No artificial flavors
  • Moderate calories for weight maintenance
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Artificial color additives
  • High carbohydrate content

3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin – Premium Choice

Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

Calories 524/cup
Protein 29%
Fat 17%
Main ingredients Chicken, egg, rice

The Hill’s brand has a vast range of different prescription cat foods to aid various health issues. But not all their products are prescription; they do have some regular maintenance diets available at many standard grocery stores.

We consider this product as premium because it is more costly than many other cat foods available in grocery stores. While it is suitable as a balanced maintenance diet, it also has the added benefits of supporting cats with sensitive skin and stomachs.

The ingredients in this food are higher quality than many grocery store cat foods, making the nutrients much more digestible. Added components such as prebiotics support digestion by maintaining good gut bacteria. This benefits all cats but can be specifically helpful for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Pros

  • Whole chicken as the main ingredient
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Prebiotics to aid digestion
  • Vitamins E and Omega-3s for skin and coat health

Cons

  • Expensive
  • High in calories

4. Purina Kitten Chow – Best for Kittens

Calories 414/cup
Protein 40%
Fat 15%
Main ingredients Chicken by-products, rice, beef fat

It is no surprise to any of us pet owners that kittens have different requirements than adult cats. Fortunately, finding a suitable diet for a growing kitten is easier than ever, with grocery stores stocking kitten food alongside adult diets. Our favorite pick for kittens from the grocery store is Purina Kitten Chow.

This product is perfectly formulated to provide all the nutrients for a kitten to grow and develop. High in protein, it contains all the energy requirements to support growth. Additions such as DHA offer vital vitamins to the developing brain.

The primary protein source is a by-product of chicken, so it is of lower quality than other products. It does have whole chicken listed as an ingredient further down the ingredient list. Reviewers say that this product is so tasty that all their other cats prefer it over their own diets! But it is not suitable for maintenance for adult cats, so make sure to feed it to your kitten separate from any other cats.

Pros

  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • High protein
  • DHA for development
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Artificial preservatives
  • Not suitable for adults or seniors

5. Fancy Feast Canned Grilled Seafood Feast Variety

Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Feast Variety Pack Canned Cat Food

Calories 70/can
Protein 11%
Fat 2%
Main ingredients Fish broth, various fish (tuna, salmon, ocean fish), chicken

It’s not just dry cat food you can find available at grocery stores. Most will stock a range of canned foods also. Fancy Feast is a trendy choice as wet food for cats. Its soft texture makes it incredibly palatable for cats that struggle with hard textures, such as seniors.

This particular product comes in a range of variety of different seafood flavorings. Despite being mainly seafood, it also features added chicken. While this can boost the protein, this product is not for you if you are looking for a chicken-free option.

The strong scent of Fancy Feast may be off-putting to you, but it seems to be a hit with cats. Many owners reviewing that its product’s taste is loved by their cats and makes a good choice for cats that often turn their nose up at other foods.

Pros

  • Soft texture for easy eating
  • Taste loved by cats
  • Naturally flavored

Cons

  • Added chicken
  • Strong smelling

6. Sheba Perfect Portions Grain-Free Gourmet Salmon

Sheba Perfect Portions Grain-Free Gourmet cat food

Calories 29/serving
Protein 7%
Fat 2.5%
Main ingredients Salmon, chicken

This cat food is made free of grains, corn, wheat, soy, and pea. These products are all common “fillers” of complete cat diets. Water is used in the place of these ordinary dry fillers to create this moist cat food.

Sheba Perfect Portions are named this way due to their packaging. Each individual package is an average portion of food, so each package is opened per feed. This is favored by many due to the lack of leftovers when feeding their cats. It also means there is no excess food to store in the refrigerator alongside your own food.

With a taste loved by many cats, this food is a popular cat food choice in the grocery store. The watery texture of the food does tend to be messy, though, with negative reviews stating that they can be hard to open and are easily spilled.

Pros

  • Grain-free
  • Added fish oil
  • Portioned packaging

7. Friskies Savory Shreds with Salmon in Sauce

Friskies Savory Shreds with Salmon in Sauce Canned Cat Food

Calories 138/cup
Protein 9%
Fat 2.5%
Main ingredients Poultry, salmon

This product is highly popular with cats. Owner reviews broadly state that their cats go crazy for the taste and texture of this food. Some negative comments include that it is messy to serve up, but that seems a common theme with most wet foods.

This product offers the benefits of wet food, including easy to eat, flavorsome, and high moisture content to assist in hydration. It serves its purpose as a total diet for a healthy cat, and cats seem to love it! For something you can purchase in your regular grocery shop, there is little negative to say about a product like this.

On review, we did find this flavor to be somewhat misleading in its packaging and marketing. At first glance, it’s assumed that the base of this food is salmon, but upon reading the ingredients, poultry is listed above salmon. The product states “with salmon,” so it is more serves as a flavoring than a source of protein.

Pros

  • Cats enjoy the taste
  • High moisture for hydration
  • Complete diet

Cons

  • Poultry as the main ingredient
  • Messy

8. Meow Mix Original Choice

Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food

Calories 308/cup
Protein 31%
Fat 11%
Main ingredients Corn products, chicken by-products, beef fat

This dry food contains various protein and flavor sources, including chicken, turkey, salmon, ocean fish, and beef fat. All these ingredients ensure that all the essential nutrients for carnivorous cats are met. However, food with many ingredients is unsuitable for cats with sensitive stomachs as it can pose a challenge for compromised digestive systems.

Overall, this product meets all the needs of an ordinary, healthy adult cat. Its calories are low, so weight management is simple. Its affordable price tag is due to lower quality ingredients and artificial additives for flavor, color, and preservation. Still, all ingredients are approved to be safe.

Pros

  • Complete nutrition
  • Low calories for weight management
  • Multiple flavors
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not suitable for sensitive stomachs
  • Contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

9. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original

Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food_Chewy

Calories 398/cup
Protein 34%
Fat 14%
Main ingredients Chicken, corn, salmon

Many cat foods available in grocery stores tend to be more affordable than premium foods because they use lower quality ingredients, such as by-products. This product stands out from many other common grocery store products as the primary ingredient and protein source is a whole chicken.

The quality protein sources mean that this product is high in protein in its nutrient breakdown. The relative fat levels are also in a healthy range. While this diet is slightly higher in calories than some of our other picks, it is still suitable for weight maintenance.

This product also takes a natural stance and does not contain artificial additives such as colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Pros

  • High protein
  • Real chicken as the first ingredient
  • No artificial additives

Cons

  • Not for cats with sensitivities

10. Blue Buffalo Indoor Health

Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice dry cat food

Calories 402/cup
Protein 32%
Fat 15%
Main ingredients Chicken, fish meal, rice

Blue Buffalo cat food is on the higher end of the price scale compared to some of our other favorite grocery store brands, but for a good reason. The protein sources in this food are from complete sources, not by-products. It also contains a handful of real fruits and vegetables, including carrot, alfalfa, blueberries, barley, parsley, and dried kelp. This diet approaches your cat’s nutrition with natural inspiration.

In addition, Blue Buffalo has their own patented blend of natural antioxidants called “LifeSource Bits.” These ingredients offer added nutrients to healthy digestion, a shiny coat, and great general health. Not just a marketing gimmick, this blend supports your cat’s immune system.

Cons

  • Added antioxidant blend
  • Includes real fruits and vegetables
  • No artificial additives

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Buyer’s Guide

Cats Nutritional Requirements

  • Protein – Cats are obligate carnivores, which is a “true” carnivore, meaning that they absolutely require animal proteins to gain the nutrients they need. Most species require nine essential amino acids from their diets, but cats need an extra two: taurine and arginine. Both these amino acids come only from animal tissue. For this reason, protein is vital in their diet. It’s recommended to feed your cat a diet that is 20-40% protein.
  • Fats – often, owners will look for lower fat content diets for their cats when managing weight. It’s often thought that the lower the fat, the healthier it is, but this is not so! Without the correct amounts of fat, cats tend to overeat to satisfy themselves. Fats are essential for supporting cell health (and, by association, most bodily functions) and promote good skin and coat health. In addition, fat also makes food much tastier! Fats can be found in animal products but also from the addition of omegas (seen in ingredients such as seafood products or flaxseed).
  • Water – it’s no secret that water is the basic building block of life! All animals need water in some form to support the health and function of all their bodily cells. For our pet cats, they can become dehydrated on dry diets if they do not drink enough. Due to their natural history of evolution, cats are naturally bad drinkers. They would gain a large portion of their moisture requirements directly from their prey and physically drink very little in the wild. Feeding “wet” foods or a combination of dry and wet can help maintain hydration.
a cat drinking water from a stainless steel cat bowl
Image Credit: Amazon

Do Cats Need Carbs?

The concise answer to this very common question is no. Cats are evolutionarily adapted to eating diets without carbohydrates. It’s suggested that they can’t properly digest carbohydrates due to lacking the enzyme glucokinase. But lacking this enzyme, they instead use a different enzyme called hexokinase, which allows them to digest and use the energy from carbohydrates.

There is no harm in your cat’s diet containing some carbohydrates; they can be used by their body to produce some extra energy. In fact, it tends to be challenging to find any dry cat foods that do not have any carbohydrate contents. Wet foods often have lower carb contents and, thus, higher moisture instead. “Filler” ingredients, such as grains and kinds of wheat, are often used to bind together essential components of dry food.

So, there’s no need to be afraid of carbs in a cat’s diet but do keep in mind that carbohydrate contents that are far too high can cause a build-up of more difficult-to-digest calories. High carb contents are not ideal for managing overweight cats. They are more likely to be stored as fat. Also, many filler carbohydrates in diets are common allergens for cats. If your cat seems to get an upset stomach from their diet, keep this in mind as they could be sensitive to some of these ingredients.

persian cat eating
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

What To Consider When Choosing Cat Food

So now we know just what our cats need in their diet to thrive, right? You’ll find when choosing a diet for your cat that many, if not all, of the popular options, meet these nutritional requirements. There is a wide range of different cat food in your local grocery store that would e suitable for your cat, so which one to get?

Some things to consider when choosing cat food include:

  • Pet enjoyment – this one is at the top of the list because, let’s face it, your cat calls the shots! Choosing a food your cat enjoys is paramount. We recommend buying new foods in small quantities. This way, if they reject the new food, you have minimal wastage. In this case, your local shelter would be happy to take donations of extra cat food! You could spend a long time picking the perfect food, and your fussy feline could turn its nose up to it.
  • Value – as cat owners, we can often feel guilted into buying top-of-the-range products thinking they will be the best choice for our cat. Many premium products are definitely more expensive due to using top-quality ingredients. But there are also more affordable products that would suit your cat’s needs just fine. When viewing cat foods at the grocery store, you may see a significant price gap between some products. Still, on closer inspection of the ingredient list, they contain much the same ingredients. Looking for value for money in cat food is a vital thing to consider for many households.
  • Variety – some cats can be extremely picky and eat only one flavor and one flavor only! It is okay if that’s all they eat as there’s very little you can do about it. But many vets recommend feeding a variety of food if you can. This allows them to be more flexible with food, so the process is simple if you need to change their diet for medical reasons. Looking for a type of cat food that offers multiple flavors from the same recipe may be something to consider.
  • Packaging – I’m not talking about how pretty the package looks here because, let’s be honest, do cats care? But while doing our research, we found many customers reviews containing critics on how the cat food was presenting. Some plastic containers leaked, some cans challenging to open, and some bags ripped easily. Look for robust and simple packaging, and easy for you to transport and use.
Cute kitten eating dry cat food
Image Credit: AlexanderDubrovsky, Shutterstock

Cat Food For Different Life Stages

Differing diets for different ages of cats (kitten, adult, senior) is not just some way for cat food companies to make more money! The various life stages of cats have different dietary requirements due to their differing body functions and conditions.

  • Kittens – kittens need nutrients to produce energy for growth and development. Protein, fats, and calcium are the three big keys to a healthy kitten. Many kitten formulas will also contain extra DHA, a fatty acid, to support development. It’s also suggested that feeding kittens various flavors and types of food early in life will prevent them from becoming selective eaters later in life.
  • Adults – cats are classified as adults from 1-8 years of age. At this stage, they simply need general maintenance (granted, they are in good health). This maintenance will differ based on their gender and whether or not they have been fixed. Male cats tend to grow larger and, thusly, need to be feed larger amounts. Especially if they are intact as their breeding functions will use more energy. Similarly, intact females will require extra feed during their estrus cycle and a special diet during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Seniors – senior cat food contains higher levels of protein to support energy levels. They also have extra prebiotics to support digestive health and fatty acids for skin and coat conditions. These functions can slow over time and need additional support in old age. Consider the texture of food for elderly cats. A cat’s dental condition can decay with age making biting and chewing harder food more difficult. Wet food may be preferred for this reason and also for the higher moisture content.
cat eating dry food
Image Credit: YoonJae Baik, Unsplash

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Conclusion

For the best overall grocery store cat food, we recommend Iams ProActive Health Indoor. This product supplies all an ordinary cat need to thrive, with added additions to support gut health and reduce hairballs. Similarly, Purina Cat Chow Indoor is our choice for the best value; with similar benefits, it covers all bases while being affordable for most owners.

Getting your cat’s food from the grocery store is convenient for many households. There are many options available that will support your cat of any age through their life to live their happiest and healthiest life!


Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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