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Best cat food 2021: The best wet and dry food for your cat, kitten or senior feline friend

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Keep your cat happy and healthy our pick of the best cat food you can buy for your favourite feline

As anyone who lives with a cat already knows, they won't eat just anything. The best cat food has to meet all manner of requirements for these quality-conscious creatures: great flavour, decent variety, delicious texture, high meat content. In fact, high meat content is not just desirable to cats, but physically essential. Unlike humans, cats cannot be vegetarian. Deprive them of meat or fish and they'll get ill very quickly.

But judging the best cat food is not just a matter of measuring meat content and seeing how fast your cat eats the stuff. Different cats like different foods and some food will lose its appeal faster than others. So for this round-up of the best wet and dry cat food, we looked at dozens of reviews posted by real buyers, and sought the advice of vets, as well as going by our own cat's mealtime feedback.

Skip ahead to discover our pick of the best cat food for adult, kitten and senior cats. First, here's a quick guide to choosing the best grub for your beloved kitty.


Best cat food: At a glance

  • Best wet cat food: Purina One Adult Cat Food Mini Fillets in Gravy | Buy now
  • Best dry cat food: IAMS for Vitality Dental | Buy now
  • Best for senior cats: Harringtons Complete | Buy now
  • Best for fussy eaters: Gourmet Mon Petit Duo | Buy now
  • Best for weight control: Royal Canin Sterilised | Buy now
  • Best for sensitive tummies: Scrumbles Kittens & Queens | Buy now
  • Best for cats who love fish: Gourmet Perle Ocean Collection | Buy now
  • Best for kittens: Lily's Kitchen Curious Kitten | Buy now
  • Best for no mess: Encore Cat Pot Chicken with Tuna | Buy now

How to buy the best cat food for your feline friend

What makes a really good cat food?

First, let's ask the most important judge...

Your cat loves it. If your cat has a preference for a particular brand and variety of complete cat food ('complete' is really important, we'll come to that next), then that really is the top factor. Food can be nutritionally all-singing/all-dancing but if your cat doesn't like it, it'll go to waste.

It's labelled as 'complete'. Commercial cat food (and dog food) labelled 'complete' provides all the necessary nutrients in the right balance, under PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) guidelines. So even if you think your cat would benefit from more variety of food types and flavours, be assured they're getting all the nutrients they need if they prefer to stick to a particular complete food.

Cat food that isn't complete is usually labelled 'complementary'. In other words, treats. No cat can live on Dreamies alone, as much they might wish to.

Wet or dry? Complete cat food can be either wet or dry - your cat doesn't have to have both, although a balance is ideal for their health. Dry food tends to be better for long-term dental health, although it may be hard to chew by cats with problem teeth. Wet food tends to contain more protein and provide more hydration, which is vital for kidney and urinary tract health, especially in older cats.

Complete cat food must contain meat. I'm vegetarian but I'd never limit meat in my cat's diet. Unlike humans, cats need certain amino acids, such as taurine, that can only be found in meat and fish. Some good-quality meat cat foods also contain veg such as carrots, and some cats enjoy this (my cat won't touch it!), so I've included a meat-and-veg cat food product among the recommendations.

Value for money is important too, of course. Many of our recommended cat foods are available via Amazon, but sometimes at inflated prices. Supermarkets and online pet suppliers are often your best bet.

But how much meat, exactly?

Even for the most careful of cat food buyers, it can be tricky to compare the actual meat content of different cat foods. Oftentimes – that is to say, almost always – the cat foods that do display a 'meat content' on the packet don’t get into the specifics of meat percentages or ingredient origins.

Alarming-sounding ingredients such as 'animal derivatives' and 'meat meal' often refer to byproducts of the meat industry. This stuff is meat, and perfectly safe (all pet food sold in the UK has to be safe for human consumption) – it's just not meat that humans traditionally eat. It's high in the meat proteins and essential amino acids (such as taurine) that cats can't live without, and it may be just as tasty for your cat as rump steak is for you.

To take a deeper dive into the contents of your cat's food, search the UK site Pet Food Expert. It includes details about the ethics of brands, as well as figures on meat content and allergens, and covers up to 30 pet food makers.

What about kittens, senior cats and sick cats?

Complete cat food isn't quite 'one size fits all'...

Kittens need even higher levels of protein in their diet than adult cats, to aid their rapid growth. Many reputable companies make food especially for juniors.

Senior cats, aged around seven and above, need food that's easier to chew and digest. If you notice your cat chewing on one side of their mouth or growling when eating, get their teeth checked out by the vet. Food for older cats also tends to have less fat, salt and phosphorus. Purina has an excellent guide to feeding senior cats.

Cats with diabetes and other conditions will need extra care when it comes to choosing the best cat food, whatever their age. Ask your vet for recommendations, and find out more from the PDSA's website.

READ NEXT: Best pet insurance

The best cat food you can buy in 2021

1. Purina One Adult Cat Food Mini Fillets in Gravy: The best wet cat food for adult cats

Price: £16 for 40 pouches | Buy now from Zooplus

Purina is now the world's second-largest pet food company (second to Whiskas-maker Mars), responsible for Felix, Gourmet, Go-Cat and Friskies, as well as its own One and Gourmet brands. This bumper pack of One wet pouches wins on several factors: high nutritional quality, cats love it, and it's good value for money at 41p per 85g pouch.

This mixed box includes meat and fish pouches, all served as easy-to-chew mini fillets with a little veg content in a rich sauce that won't stink out the kitchen (it actually smells rather tasty). The fillets and sauce are equally appealing to cats, so you won't be left with a plate of dry flavourless chunks after kitty has licked off the gravy or jelly, as often happens with Whiskas or Felix. My cat even polished off his plate of Ocean Fish & Green Beans, despite being a picky eater who doesn't normally like veg in his food.

Key specs – Type: Wet fillets with sauce; Pouch size: 85g; Flavours available: Lamb/carrots, chicken/carrots, ocean fish/green beans, beef/carrots

Buy now from Zooplus


2. IAMS for Vitality Dental Dry Cat Food: The best dry cat food for adult cats

Price: £8 for 2kg | Buy now from Pets at Home

Iams is now owned by Mars (yep, chocolate Mars), along with Whiskas, Sheba, Royal Canin, Kit-e-Kat and Dreamies. Choccie link aside, Iams maintains a long-standing reputation for dry food of the highest nutritional quality.

There's no great range of choice in flavours (fish or chicken, basically). However, in my experience, cats tend to demand much less flavour variety with their dry food, so it's worth finding a product that meets your high nutritional standards and makes your cat look forward to mealtimes.

Iams is nutritionally complete, wheat-free, and contains 89% animal protein (higher than most other cat foods, including some wet varieties). It's specially designed to support a strong immune and digestive system, and helps to reduce tartar built-up. May be too tough on senior teeth and gums, though.

Key specs – Type: Dry kibbles; Bag sizes available: 800g, 2kg, 10kg; Flavours available: Chicken, Ocean Fish

Buy now from Pets at Home


3. Harringtons Complete Senior Chicken Dry Cat Food: The best dry cat food for senior cats and sensitive tummies

Price: £6 for 2kg | Buy now from Pets at Home

Harringtons’ wet and dry food is particularly suitable for older cats. Its wet food is much more finely chopped than the likes of Gourmet, and these small chicken kibbles are easier to chew and digest than many more mainstream dry food varieties. Harringtons’ great-smelling kibbles receive glowing reviews from owners of senior kitties whose sensitive tums won't tolerate richer dry food, and even those whose teeth have seen better days. Their nutritional content is top notch too, with particularly high levels of antioxidants to help vision and heart health.

Key specs – Type: Dry kibbles; Bag sizes available: 425g, 800g, 2kg; Flavours available: Chicken, Salmon

Buy now from Pets at Home


4. Gourmet Mon Petit Cat Food Pouches Duo Meat: The best wet cat food for fussy eaters

Price: £2 for 6 pouches | Buy now from Amazon

My cat loves a change. Anything he's not tasted already that week will be a hit. So these Duo pouches from Gourmet (a Purina brand) provide the variety he craves, and have been among his favourite foods for years. I like them, too, because there are no leftovers and the quality of meat and gravy is visibly high. The fillets are even less chunky than in Purina One, and there are no vegetables in any Mon Petit varieties. Ideal for a fussy eater or a cat who prefers small meals throughout the day.

Key specs – Type: Wet fillets with gravy; Pouch size: 50g; Flavours available: Mixed, Fish, Meat, Poultry and Duo boxes available from Amazon

5. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Sterilised Adult Wet Cat Food Jelly: The best wet cat food for weight control

Price: £13 for 12 pouches | Buy now from Pets at Home

Royal Canin, now owned by Mars but founded by a French vet in 1968, was the first pet food brand to create foods tailored for different breeds and different sizes of dogs and cats. This meaty wet food for neutered cats (which is to say, most healthy pet cats) is complete, but its energy and fat content is carefully balanced to help relatively inactive cats avoid gaining too much weight. It's also designed to support your cat's urinary health, and will appeal to cats who don't like very rich food.

There's no variety of flavours to choose from. Instead, Royal Canin differentiates its food according to the type of cat it's aimed at, claiming that cats are more interested in nutritional quality than flavour varieties. My kitty isn't convinced, but many cats love Royal Canin, and it comes highly recommended by vets.

Key specs – Type: Wet fillets with jelly; Pouch size: 85g; Flavours available: 1

Buy now from Pets at Home


6. Scrumbles Kittens & Queens Chicken: The best dry food for kittens and cats with sensitive tummies

Price: £18 for 2.5kg | Buy now from Amazon

This high protein, gluten-free cat food is 77% chicken and packed with vitamins and minerals, made to a gut-friendly recipe with added probiotics for gentle digestion. So while it's labelled for kittens and queens (breeding females), who need high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals, it's actually a great choice for any cat with a sensitive tum, provided they get plenty of water.

Scrumbles is made using 'human grade meat', sourced responsibly in the UK and Ireland and packed in recyclable packaging, so it'll appeal to eco-aware cat owners, too. It is pricey, though, at £18 (RRP, not just Amazon) for 2.5kg.

Key specs – Type: Dry kibbles; Bag sizes available: 750g, 2.5kg; Flavours available: Chicken, Salmon

7. Gourmet Perle Ocean Collection: The best wet cat food for adult cats who love fish

Price: £20 for 60 pouches | Buy now from Zooplus

If I were going purely by my own fussy cat's favourite food, Gourmet Perle Ocean Collection would win hands down. These fishy fillets in sauce, with real shrimps that you can actually see, are the one choice he gets really excited about. Not all cats will have the taste for shellfish, of course, but this does seem to be one of Gourmet's most popular varieties, with buyers saying it's particularly popular among older cats who turn their noses up at richer, meatier foods.

Key specs – Type: Wet pouch with gravy; Pouch size: 85g; Flavours available: Full range of meat and fish combinations, including Duo mixes

Buy now from Zooplus


8. Lily's Kitchen Curious Kitten Chicken & White Fish: Best cat food for kittens

Price: £11 for 800g | Buy now from Ocado

This supremely meat-packed (75%) dry food is specially formulated by UK company Lily's Kitchen for weaned kittens, aged from 6 weeks to 12 months. Unlike most adult cat food, the meat in this recipe is high-grade meat (including 50% fresh chicken and 15% chicken liver), rather than animal derivatives and meat meal. That makes for an expensive product but, since your tiny fluff ball only needs to graze on small amounts throughout the day, this bag goes a surprisingly long way. This food is all about quality not quantity.

The kibbles are high in readily-available protein, calcium and other nutrients, which your growing kitten needs and the recipe also contains taurine (an amino acid, essential for kitty's eyesight) plus added vitamins and chelated minerals to help maximise nutrient absorption. Most importantly, cats of all ages love it – but at this price, you will want to promote your feline to more affordable adult food as they grow a bit older.

Key specs – Type: Dry kibbles; Bag sizes available: 1.6kg and 2.1kg bags available from other retailers; Flavours available: 1

Buy now from Ocado


9. Encore Cat Pot Chicken with Tuna: Best cat food for a clean kitchen

Price: £13 for 10 pots | Buy now from Amazon

Many choices in this article are inevitably influenced by the tastes of my own cat. And when it comes to wet food, he thinks the wetter the better. So he's not a big fan of Encore, which is the cat food equivalent of those 'no drain' tins of tuna. Its soft shredded chicken is packed in a little broth, rather than the usual gravy or jelly, and when you tip it out onto your cat's plate it really does appear to be pure shredded chicken. It's not (there's plenty of meat derivatives and other protein/fat content in here) but to many cats, this stuff is the absolute dream.

You can buy Encore in tins and pouches, but we've opted to recommend these new Encore Cat Pots because cats can eat straight from them, with no need to dirty another bowl. The big downside of that, of course, is plastic waste. Even if your council accepts plastic for recycling, you'd have to rinse it first, which is no less work than using a standard bowl. And at more than a pound per pot, these are rather pricey. Still, it’s one of the top-rated cat foods on Amazon and Ocado, so cats are clearly fond of it. Alternatively, you’ll find pouches and tins in Amazon's Encore Store.

Key specs – Type: Wet shredded meat; Pot size: 60g; Flavours available: Tuna with Crab (Sardine with Mackerel, Chicken Breast with Duck available from other retailers)

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