Best Grain Free Cat Food – Is Grain Free Cat Food Better?

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Looking for the best grain free cat food? Let us help you by giving you the winner right here: Purina Beyond Grain Free Cat Food

We take care of our pets now more than ever. The rise of pet insurance, specialty foods, clothing, and hotels all for pets is a testament to our dedication and love we have for our animals. This dedication can also translate to increased attention to what we are feeding our cats every day.

Grain free cat food is one of the growing trends in this burgeoning pet care industry that directly affects cats’ diets and overall health. This might even be the first time you have heard of such a new development in the way that we feed our cats – if that is the case, then this breakdown will help you understand the movement, why it has come about, and why it is worth taking note.

Switching to grain free might seem like crazy talk. You might even be wondering what exactly grain free means.

Why Grain Free Cat Food?

Two of the main reasons that owners might choose to make the switch to grain free cat food are to accommodate cats with food allergies or to try and better match a cat’s diet to what it would be like in the wild. Animal scientists consider cats to be strict carnivores, unlike dogs and humans that are omnivores, meaning that they need meat to survive. The grain-free diet generally focuses on a higher protein and more natural nutrient breakdown for cats, even though it is usually safe for most cats to consume grains.

Choosing the correct type of food for your cat can be hard, especially when looking for special types like grain free. For the consumer that’s very health conscious for their furry friends, the options for the best grain free cat food can seem overwhelming.

This review should provide some insight into the top grain free options for your cat, including a range of options for wet and dry to best accommodate your beloved feline. The grain free cat food benefits are thought to be numerous, as explained through the reviews of the best products on the market and the description below.

The Scoop on Grain Free Cat Food

For a lot of cat lovers, grain free food is a new trend, or a niche type of food that is mainly only used for cats that have allergies or frequently throw up their food. You might think to yourself: Is grain free cat food better for my four-legged friend? Is grain free cat food better for cats in general? It can be a difficult topic to understand, and the emergence of so many new grain free products on the market can make it difficult to tell which grain free cat foods are safe and healthy for your cat to eat.

Grain free is a new player in the “natural” cat food movement, and it is important to know the difference between the different terms that people use when promoting their products. “Natural” simply means that the product contains natural preservatives and stops there. Terms like “grain free” ensure that the product is free of grains and excessive carbohydrates that cats cannot easily digest and are normally used as a cheap filler for regular, store-bought pet food.

Grain free does not mean gluten-free, though, so if your cat has a gluten intolerance, then it is important that you carefully check the labels on all products and not accept the words grain free at face value. Occasionally these products will still contain gluten that can be harmful to your pet, especially if gluten has not been a part of their diet for quite some time. Grains are some of the most common food allergies found in cats, so if you think that your feline is displaying symptoms such as itchiness and changes in stool, it could be worth investigating food allergies related to gluten and other grains.

Cat Food as it Stands Now

The question might have popped into your brain – if cats would not normally eat carbohydrates in the wild, then why do normal pet store companies include and market grains in their products? 

As it turns out, wheat and other grains are much cheaper than proteins like fish or chicken. This means that cat food in grocery stores will often contain the grains to cut back on the costs that consumers pay to feed their animals, and these prices are often still quite expensive.

While your cat will do fine if they eat grains, they will not flourish in the same way that they would if they were following their natural diet. This is due to simple biology, as cats’ digestive systems favor high protein and have not been evolutionarily programmed to be able to process grains in the same way that humans can. You want to see your cat happily pouncing, not sadly napping on the couch.

Pet food producers have caught on to this fact and have thus started creating more natural products for pet parents that can afford to buy more expensive products in return for making their cats healthier and more comfortable. Pet parents will often do whatever it takes to give their cat the best that they can manage, and this new section of the pet food industry reflects that desire.

Problems with Normal Cat Food

Owners have fed their cats grocery store food for years. Why should this change now? One major problem that cat food with grains faces it that the carbohydrates present in the products can often trigger weight problems in adult cats. Overweight and obese cats can go on to develop further health issues like diabetes or joint problems that can be very painful and costly down the road.

Many grain free cat foods are specifically tailored to a weight-loss diet, and they can get your cat on the right track back to a healthy weight. While the initial investment might be more, the costs will balance out in terms of veterinary visits and the discomfort that your cat could face if they are consuming food that is too high in carbohydrates.

Grain Free Cat Food as Part of a Natural Diet

To understand grain free, you need to know a little about cats as animals. Cats, as obligate carnivores, should have diets that are not concerned with grains as creatures that derive about half of their diet in the form of protein when in the wild. Cats are naturally programmed to eat small animals such as mice, rabbits, birds or fish and can have a hard time digesting natural ingredients like vegetables.

Cats naturally obtain carbohydrates through the prey that they catch, not through directly eating them. However, house cats cannot go hunting for foods on a regular basis, so supplying them with a diet that closely matches real game is ideal and matches a cat’s natural metabolism.

Just because a cat food is grain free, though, this does not mean that it is completely rid of all carbohydrates. Often, grain free cat foods will contain starchy or carb-heavy vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins or butternut squash in place of the grains, and these aren’t great for your cat’s diet all the time.

They are often hard to digest, resulting in your cat vomiting or having irregular digestive patterns. Beware of other carbohydrates like oats, rice, lentils and quinoa too, as these are common culprits in grain free cat foods that are “natural” but still ultimately unhealthy for your cat.

What Foods Should You Buy?

While there are some products in the grain free cat food market that are best to be avoided for health and quality reasons, we have rounded up five types of grain free cat food that are superior in one way or another. These varieties represent a mixture of wet and dry cat food and even give an option for kittens that are following a grain free diet.

Use these suggestions when contemplating your purchase for your pet’s food, balancing your needs and your pet’s needs while you decide. Cat foods without grains can be difficult to find if you are not keeping an eye out for them, so take special note of our roundup next time you are at a pet store and looking to amplify your cat’s diet.

Best Overall Grain Free Cat Food Reviews

A lot of people wonder whether grain free cat food better for cats’ diets, and if grain free is good for cats in general. Several grain free cat food brands market themselves successfully with locally sourced ingredients and wellness-themed packaging.

  • Purina Beyond Grain Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food
  • Purina Beyond Grain Free, Natural, Adult Canned Wet Cat Food
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food, Chicken
  • Taste of The Wild Grain Free Premium High Protein Dry Cat Food Rocky Mountain – Roasted Venison and Smoked Salmon
  • Purina ONE Natural Adult Canned Wet Cat Food

Purina Beyond Grain Free, Natural, Adult Canned Wet Cat Food

Best Variety

This Purina variety contains a higher moisture content than the dry mix and comes in small cans with a range of flavors. These grain free cat food options include GMO-free and high protein flavors that are environmentally conscious and health conscious for your cat.

As a pet parent, you might be thinking about not only your animal’s health but also the health of the environment around you and how the pet industry is involved with the outside world. Some companies participate in harmful practices, such as using fillers or animal by-products in their food and maintaining unsustainable agricultural practices for the sake of saving money.

Purina does not cut corners in the making of this product, as the focus on creating natural, non-GMO products with sustainably sourced ingredients is a clear highlight with the product.

In general, consumers love a few standout things about this grain free cat food. This includes the great range of flavors that the brand offers and the fair price point at which customers can buy the food, especially given that wet, canned cat food is generally more expensive than dry cat food.

The criticisms of the product come from the vitamin mix in the food that Purina has recently modified to contain menadione, a form of Vitamin K, over which there has been much debate on both sides of the aisle. Nevertheless, this canned food still presents a great grain free cat food option for consumers wishing to find a great wet food that suits their cat’s dietary needs.

Pros.

  • Protein options in the mix are carefully monitored and sourced
  • Helps eliminate food-related odors in some cats
  • Variety in the different flavors of product
  • Good availability in local shopping outlets

Cons.

  • Kibble can be quite large for cats with fewer teeth than average
  • Price is in the middle to high range for similar products
  • Dietary information is less comprehensive than other comparable brands

Best Grain Free Wet Cat Food

Different cats have different unique dietary needs, and some prefer wet cat food to dry cat food. When cats age, they can lose teeth, and this can make wet cat food a good alternative to dry kibble that requires chewing.

Purina Beyond Grain Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food

High Quality

Some cat food without grain is better than its competitors, though, and Purina Beyond Grain reigns supreme in a few ways. The trusted brand name helps with customer recognition and provides a quality assurance that can be hard to find with smaller, newer pet food brands.

This particular gluten free cat food is great for cats with allergies or sensitive digestive systems and owners who wish to change their cat’s diet to be more natural. The Purina Beyond Grain label provides chicken and fish options, often with eggs, to supplement your cat’s diet with a healthy dose of protein that their bodies need to function.

While this type of grain free cat food is celebrated for its high quality and well-sourced ingredients and the variety available, there have been a few concerns that the kibble is quite large compared to other dry cat food on the market. This means that older cats might not be able to enjoy this product as much, especially if their teeth have become weaker or fallen out due to old age.

The good news is that this food has been good for cats’ digestive health, and it is known to make gassy cats a little less stinky and more comfortable when digesting their food. If your cat doesn’t always smell like fresh flowers, then this food just might benefit you as well.

Pros.

  • Wide range of options makes it easy to avoid any allergies your cat might have
  • Product is generally cost-friendly when compared to similar products
  • Includes chicken, eggs, fish and other poultry like pheasants as protein sources

Cons.

  • Some options contain high vegetable content, which is not easily digestible for all cats
  • Contains menadione, a hotly contested form of Vitamin K whose benefits are unknown
  • Occasional issues with contaminated or spoiled product in some batches

Best Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Holistic health is important to both cats and owners, as it can often be difficult to maintain all aspects of a cat’s dietary needs perfectly each day. Some brands of grain free cat food include different proprietary formulations of vitamins in order to ensure that your cat has healthy skin, fur, and immune function, including the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Brand.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food, Chicken

Best Budget

This particular label of grain free cat food contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, as well as a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that regulate a cat’s bodily health.

This brand of cat food seems to be focused on the holistic health of the cat, which is interesting for a dry cat food brand. Most dry cat foods are more concerned with being cheaper and more shelf-stable than wet or canned cat food varieties, so the incorporation of important nutrients is a clear step in the direction of overall improvement of the wellness of your cats. This is also one of the cheapest grain free cat food products available on the market right now.

The Blue Buffalo Wilderness grain free dry food option seems to be praised for being budget conscious, especially when compared to wet grain free cat food options. The emphasis on chicken as a primary and natural protein source is also critical here, as is the focus on overall nutrient content.

However, this brand is not great for some diabetic cats or other cats with weak stomachs. In addition, the brand’s sources of protein are not as well documented as some of the alternative grain free cat foods on this list and on the market in general.

Pros.

  • Budget friendly compared to similar dry grain free cat foods
  • Features chicken as a primary ingredient to replicate a natural protein source
  • Focuses on helping an adult cat maintain strong muscles, fur, and skin

Cons.

  • Not suitable for all cats’ diets, especially diabetic cats or overweight and obese cats
  • Can be difficult on a cat’s digestive system and induce vomiting
  • Protein sources are not as well documented when compared to similar brands

Best Grain Free Kitten Food

Feeding your kitten a healthy diet from the get-go is a key step in providing a solid foundation for later development and finding a grain free and natural option is a great place to start. A high protein content and a complete breakdown of the amino acids, the critical protein building blocks that are necessary for your kitten’s survival, will clearly cater to the needs of your growing kitten.

Taste of The Wild Grain Free Premium High Protein Dry Cat Food Rocky Mountain - Roasted Venison and Smoked Salmon

High Protein

Taste of the Wild provides a good no grain cat food that is also appropriate for kittens, which can be hard to find. This variety features a roasted venison and smoked salmon that focuses on building lean and strong muscles for your cat. 

The company even offers an optional amino acid profile so that you can directly track the protein that your kitten is consuming. Overall, the mix seems to please picky kittens and goes down well compared to other grain free brands.

This grain free kitten food (that can serve as adult cat food as well) has benefits in its clear labeling, its commitment to using natural ingredients and avoiding fillers, and its family-owned roots. However, some customers have found issue with the changing nature of the cat food recipes and of the cat food prices across different stores.

Also, the ingredients like the protein sources are sustainable in their nature, but not local as are some of the competing products.

Pros.

  • Provides a fatty acid blend to strengthen your kitten’s skin and coat
  • Highly digestible with probiotics that promote gut health
  • Devoid of fillers and by-products that can be harmful to kittens
  • Family-owned operation provides for more of a meaningful brand connection
  • Can also be suitable for cats with a larger serving size

Cons.

  • The recipe changes from time to time, which can change your kitten’s diet
  • Mixed reviews on the presence of fruits and vegetables in the mix
  • Price can vary greatly depending on location and availability
  • Sustainably sourced, but not locally sourced like other products

Best Grain Free Canned Cat Food

Every cat has different dietary needs, whether that be related to their weight, preferences or allergies. Purina One grain free cat food provides specific products for cats that need those kinds of dietary modifications. Like other similar grain free cat foods, this variety is free of fillers and is high in protein compared to cat foods that contain grains.

Purina ONE Natural Adult Canned Wet Cat Food

Best for Dietary Restrictions

Purina provides another stellar product here, using their name recognition and industry renown to produce a natural product that seems to work well. This offshoot focuses more on older cats with weight problems, though, an increasingly important problem that many adult cats face. 

If your cat is overweight, then switching to a grain free diet can help in the weight loss process. In addition, the use of wet food as opposed to dry food adds a moisture component that introduces more water into your cat’s body in place of heavy carbohydrates or protein that can add bulk.

This Purina ONE Natural Adult Canned cat food shone in its specialization for overweight cats, price point, and its high nutrient count. However, the pricing for these cans of wet grain free cat food can vary greatly from flavor to flavor and from store to store, which can be frustrating if your cat has a preference. 

Also, the dietary information on this product, including the ingredient sourcing and the amino acid profile, is not as forthcoming here. However, Purina’s use of USA-located and company-owned facilities is promising and shows a testament to connecting with local communities and cat owners.

Pros.

  • Great for overweight cats or picky felines
  • Good quality to price ratio
  • Canned food has both a high nutrient count and enough moisture for older cats to chew
  • Products are made in the USA in company-owned facilities
  • Can be used for kittens if the serving size is modified

Cons.

  • Pricing can vary from flavor to flavor
  • Dietary information is not as available when compared to similar products
  • Subject to recipe changes from time to time that can alter the product
  • Can be hard to find due to the high demand for the product

Summary

As the natural pet product industry continues to grow, grain free cat food products will continue to grow in number and variety. If you are interested in switching to a more natural diet for your cat, these five options are certainly great starting points.

One major factor in choosing the best food for your pet also involves their own needs, so thinking about flavors, textures, sizes and allergies is critical in making the right decision in the end.

Before you make the switch to grain free cat food, it is important that you consult your vet about your feline friend’s needs. Sometimes, health issues can make a grain free diet unsustainable, and it is better to be safe and check than to cause your cat pain. You might need to alter the amount that your pet eats on a grain free diet as well, as it may be different from the amount of typical cat food that your pet normally eats.

Next Steps

As always, a slow transition into a new diet is helpful for cats and will prevent you from disrupting their entire digestive system. Starting small and gradually making the change will be much easier on your cat and its stomach.

It is also important that you know your cat is getting enough fiber from the grain free diet; you can do this by carefully looking at the grain free cat food product labels and searching for fiber sources like green peas. 

Providing enough water for your cat to drink is always a good idea, too, especially given that grain free cat foods can often be lacking in water content compared to other traditional cat foods.

There is a lot to consider when switching your cat’s diet but aligning your pet food purchases to more closely mirror what a cat’s body is hardwired to eat is a good start in improving gut health and switching to all-natural ingredients. 

The entrance of such tried and true brands as Purina into the grain free cat food space is a clear indication that there is a very pronounced interest in providing this type of nutrition for cats and kittens everywhere.

Ross Spark
Ross Spark
Hey Everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out our blog! We are very happy and excited to have started this journey of blogging about our two favorite fluffly cats Oscar and Joey! Please stay awhile, comment or share anything you like or let us know what you don't 🙂

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