Indoor cats don’t have the same opportunities to exercise as outdoor cats. Ensure they stay healthy with the best food for indoor cats
Cats live indoors for various reasons, and as pet owners, we must work hard to give them a stimulating and enriching atmosphere in the home if they’re not going outside. However, many people don’t consider their cat’s diet, and that living indoors means their cat will use less energy because they don’t have such a large area to explore.
Indoor cats can, therefore, be at risk of weight gain and developing health problems. Without the correct diet, indoor cats can be at higher risk of obesity or health issues such as diabetes, so they must be offered food that helps keep them at a healthy weight. This guide will look at the best cat food for indoor cats, with suggestions to suit different preferences and budgets. We’ve also put together a handy buying guide to answer any questions you might have about indoor cats and feeding.
Best cat food for indoor cats: At a glance
- Best for sluggish digestive systems: Royal Canin Indoor Sterilised in Jelly | £13
- Best budget dry food: IAMS for Vitality Dry Adult and Senior Indoor Cat Food | £11
- Best for hairballs: Hill’s Science Plan Dry Adult Hairball and Indoor Cat Food | £17
How to choose the best cat food for your indoor cat
We’ll look at the best indoor cat foods in a bit, but how can you prevent your cat from becoming obese in the first place if they live indoors?
How to prevent obesity in indoor cats
Obesity typically refers to a cat’s weight being 20% above its optimal weight (optimal weight depends on a cat’s natural build and shape). Being obese can cause a multitude of health issues for cats, such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, respiratory illnesses, weakened immune response and liver disease, so it’s important to keep your cat at a healthy weight.
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Follow these steps to help prevent your cat from becoming obese:
- Talk to your vet: We recommend talking to your vet so they can give you a clear idea of how much food they would expect your cat to eat each day. As cat bodies vary enormously, much like humans, it’s crucial to know how much you should be feeding in the first place.
- Feed the right food: It’s essential to ensure that your indoor cat is being fed food with the right balance of nutrients that also caters to the fact they’re living indoors. Cats also need different food for different life stages (kitten, adult, senior, geriatric).
How much should you spend on indoor cat food?
Unfortunately, specialist cat food does tend to be pricier than regular supermarket brands. But you can often find offers at the larger pet retailers to keep costs down. We have options starting from £6, but premium brands will cost more.
How we test food for indoor cats
Our main reviewer volunteers for a cat rescue charity, meaning they always have a wide range of fussy felines available to test out food. We give each brand of food to a selection of cats of different ages and choose some cats that will eat almost anything along with others that are extremely fussy to get a good overall view of how the food tasted.
We also look at the nutritional content of each food, as well as how high the meat content is, to ensure each recommendation has plenty of what your cat needs to stay happy and healthy.
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The best indoor cat food you can buy in 2023
1. Royal Canin Indoor Sterilised in Jelly: Best for sluggish digestive systems
Price when reviewed: £13 (for 12 sachets) | Check price at VioVet
Royal Canin food is a vet favourite and popular with a lot of fussy felines, which makes it a winner in our eyes. It’s also specially formulated for indoor cats to help them keep an ideal weight and support a sluggish digestive system.
Indoor cats are more prone to sluggish digestion as they don’t move about as much as outdoor cats, so it’s important to feed them a diet that helps keep them and their digestive system active. The wet food also helps to support urinary tract health and contains all the nutrients your cat will need. High protein levels support muscles, whilst fat levels are balanced for an indoor cat’s requirements.
Indoor Sterilised is available in jelly and gravy textures, plus there’s also a version for cats aged seven years and over. As with many good quality products, it’s not the cheapest option, but you can supplement with dry food to keep costs down.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 12; Textures: Jelly, gravy; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+, Adult cats 7+ version also available
2. IAMS for Vitality Dry Adult and Senior Indoor Cat Food: Best budget dry food
Price when reviewed: £11 (2kg bag) | Check price at Pets at HomeIams have been making pet food since 1946, and each of their products has undergone a thorough nutritional analysis to ensure that all the ingredients are safe for pets. Although £11 may not sound budget, Iams is a complete food meaning your cat can eat this alone and still get everything they need in their diet. An average-sized cat of around 4kg should get just under a month’s worth of food from a 2kg bag.
The Iams food has a high protein content, which helps maintain strong muscles and contains 14% less fat than standard adult Iams food to prevent an indoor cat from gaining weight and developing health conditions. Biscuits are also great for a cat’s teeth, helping to keep them strong and prevent the build-up of tartar. The food is also suitable for adult and senior cats, meaning it can be given throughout a cat’s life.
Key details – Type: Dry; Pack size: 2kg; Textures: Kibble; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+
3. Hill’s Science Plan Dry Adult Hairball and Indoor Cat Food: Best for hairballs
Price when reviewed: £17 (1.5kg bag) | Check price at Pets at HomeHill’s create their foods through consultation with vets, scientists and nutritionists, which means that their cat food is packed full of all the nutrients cats need. It’s also appealing to a cat’s palette.
This all-in-one dry food is particularly good at helping to reduce hairballs in indoor cats. Indoor cats can be more prone to hairballs, so a product that helps break down fur is a great idea. We’ve noticed that indoor cats tend to moult more due to central heating, and more fur loss ups the risk of hairballs.
Hill’s dry food also has a reduced fat content to help with weight management alongside higher protein levels for lean muscles. This version is for adult cats aged between one and seven, but there’s also a ‘Mature’ version for cats aged seven years and over.
Key details – Type: Dry; Pack size: 1.5kg; Textures: Kibble; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+, Adult cats 7+ version also available
4. Pro Plan Housecat Wet Adult Cat Food: Best budget wet food
Price when reviewed: £8.79 (for 10 sachets) | Check price at Pets at HomePro Plan is a Purina product, and the company have been making cat food for over 90 years. Well respected by vets, their indoor wet food is a more unusual combination of salmon in gravy (we typically see salmon paired with jelly). With easy-to-digest chunks, this is a food that’s likely to appeal to a lot of cats.
Working out at around 84p per sachet, you’ll often find this product on offer, making it even cheaper. As with all recommended indoor cat foods, the chunks are high in protein and low in fat whilst also helping to minimise hairball formation. The food is also grain-free, which is good for delicate tummies, and the oil in the salmon helps keep your cat’s coat glossy. We recommend pairing this food with some dry to give your cat more of a variety of flavours.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 10; Textures: Gravy; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+
5. Purina ONE Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food: Best for reducing litter box odour
Price when reviewed: £22 (3kg bag) | Check price at Waitrose There’s no delicate way to put it – your cat’s litter box can be a smelly place! Every cat owner (indoor/outdoor included) should have litter trays but cleaning them out will never be the most pleasant job. Purine ONE’s indoor dry food contains chicory, a natural ingredient proven to help reduce litter box odour. It helps keep your cat’s digestive system healthy and promotes a balanced gut microflora.
The Purina ONE Indoor formula is specifically designed for indoor adult cats and has the correct protein / fat ratio to help maintain strong muscles and a healthy weight. Be aware that this food is quite grain-heavy, with wholegrain wheat, maize and wheat gluten – so if your cat struggles with grains, this probably isn’t the right food for you.
Key details – Type: Dry; Pack size: 3kg; Textures: Kibble; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+
6. Royal Canin Indoor 27 Cat: Best for sensitive stomachs
Price when reviewed: £22 (2kg bag) | Check price at Pets at Home Many cats have sensitive stomachs, which can make feeding them a little more challenging. Royal Canin’s foods are gentle on the stomach and easily digestible, which is particularly important for indoor cats, who generally move less than those that venture outside.
Royal Canin Indoor 27 has a moderate fat content to help your indoor cat maintain a healthy weight and higher protein levels to help support muscles. There are also ingredients such as psyllium, which helps regulate the digestive system and lets swallowed hairs pass more easily through your cat’s body.
Again, the Royal Canin food isn’t one of the cheaper options, although dry food does tend to go a lot further than wet food.
Key details – Type: Dry; Pack size: 2kg; Textures: Kibble; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+.
7. Meowing Heads Adult Variety Wet Food: Best for a treat
Price when reviewed: £15 (10 pack) | Check price at JollyesMeowing Heads cat food is a luxurious wet food with interesting flavours that will provide a tasty treat for your cat. The meat in these pouches smells appealing and we think our test felines really enjoyed the different flavours. There are no artificial preservatives, flavours or colouring in Meowing Heads and there’s a high protein content to help with supporting muscles. Essential nutrients also support your cat’s overall health.
Meowing Head pouches are 100g each, with most other brands coming in at 85g, so you may find your cat doesn’t eat an entire pouch at a time (although greedier cats will no doubt be delighted). It’s also worth noting that this is a richer food than many on the market, so you might want to save it for an occasional treat. However, if you have an indoor cat that struggles to maintain a healthy weight, Meowing Heads wet food is an ideal choice to help them stay healthy. It’s also grain-free for cats with sensitivities.
Key details – Type: Wet; No. in pack: 10x100g; Textures: Jelly; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+
8. Tippaws Chicken with Tuna and Salmon Dry Food: Best nutritional content
Price when reviewed: £18 (1.5kg) | Check price at TippawsTippaws cat food is a complete dry food for neutered adult cats that has high nutritional value and quality ingredients. It’s made with 70% chicken, tuna and salmon and has added taurine, cranberry and yucca extract and amino acids to support weight management.
Weight can be a real issue with indoor cats, so a balanced diet is essential to help keep cats happy and healthy. The quality ingredients in Tippaws’ food are easily digestible and, more importantly, taste great. This was a popular food among our feline testers, with nearly all of them cleaning their bowls.
Tippaws dry food also has a high protein percentage of 70%, which helps to support muscles and keep your cats active. Biscuits also help keep a cat’s teeth healthy and free of tartar and you can use Tippaws food throughout your cat’s life. What’s more, Tippaws also donate 50p from each 5kg bag purchased to a cat rescue charity, giving you even more of an incentive to try them.
Key details – Type: Dry; Pack size: 1.5kg (5kg also available); Textures: Kibble; Suitable for: Adult cats 1+