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The 15 Best Beef Cat Foods of 2023

Barry K Buttler
  Jan 28, 2023 2:09 PM

Cats eat meat, plain and easy. Is all meat, however, equally healthy (and suitable) for cats?

Every year, humans consume more than 130 billion pounds of beef, with the United States accounting for around 21% of that total.

Americans consume a lot of red meat, and you'd be hard pressed to find a cat who doesn't.

In this BestForPets (bestforpets.org) analysis of the best beef cat foods, we'll look at the nutritional content of beef to see if it's a healthy choice for cats.


Reviews

Overall winner: Feline Natural
 


Beef appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It is a freeze-dried multi-protein cat food product produced with beef organs and hoki.

The main source of additional fat is sunflower oil. The food has 4,762 kcal/kg, which equates to around 205 kcal/cup.

While raw cat food is usually our first choice for high-quality cat food, freeze-dried cat food comes in a close second.

This Feline Natural Beef & Hoki dish uses superior raw ingredients that have been delicately freeze-dried to reduce moisture.

This technique increases the shelf life of the product without harming the nutritional content of the basic materials.

The first dish uses beef heart, which is complemented by hoki (a white fish found in New Zealand and off the coast of Australia), fresh beef, and a variety of other beef organs.

On a dry matter basis, these components deliver more than 51% crude protein. While this recipe contains many healthful animal-based foods, the main source of additional fat comes from plants.

Sunflower seed oil comes in eighth place, followed by flaxseed flakes. The formula's overall carb content, however, remains relatively low at less than 15%.

It's also worth mentioning that this formula includes New Zealand Green Mussels.

Mussels are a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, which assist promote hip and joint health in addition to providing a small protein boost.

Pros

  • The first six ingredients are all derived from animals.
  • Contains more than 50% crude protein.
  • To maintain nutritional integrity, the product is gently freeze-dried.
  • Without any byproducts or artificial additions.

Cons

  • To support hydration, it must be rehydrated before feeding.
  • Expensive, at almost $3.00 per ounce

 

Meow Mates is our top pick
 


Beef appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It is a freeze-dried single-protein cat food product created with beef and beef organs.

The main source of additional fat is fish oil. The food has 4,949 kcal/kg, which equates to around 175 kcal/cup.

This freeze-dried recipe, made from grass-fed beef from New Zealand, is our top recommendation.

You'll pay about $2.65 per ounce for it, but because the moisture has been removed, your cat doesn't require large amounts at a time.

However, because it is a dried meal, you will need to rehydrate it or augment your cat's moisture intake in other ways. The initial ingredient in this dish is fresh meat, which is reinforced with five beef organs.

Because this is a single-source protein dish, it is ideal for cats who are allergic to different proteins. Given the short list of simple ingredients, it's also quite digestible.

The primary source of additional fat is fish oil, but flaxseed flakes give some in addition to dietary fiber.

Overall, the carbohydrate content is relatively low (almost 10%), and the food provides a species-appropriate quantity of nutritious protein and fat.

Pros

  • A single source of animal protein that is species appropriate
  • The first seven ingredients are all derived from animals.
  • Free of byproducts, fillers, and artificial additions.
  • To maintain nutritional integrity, they are freeze-dried.

Cons

  • Expensive, approximately $2.65 per ounce
  • Unless rehydrated, it lacks the moisture your cat requires.

 

Weruva is our budget pick
 


Chicken appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It is a multi-protein wet cat food formula that includes chicken, beef, and beef organs.

The main source of additional fat is sunflower seed oil. The snack has 59 calories every 3.2-ounce can and 111 calories per 6-ounce can.

While we all want the best for our cats, premium cat food isn't always within our financial means.

If you're looking for a low-cost option that yet provides excellent nutrition and animal protein, this chicken and beef meal from Weruva might be a good choice.

This recipe begins with hydrating chicken broth and continues with three different animal-based protein sources from chicken and beef.

On a dry matter basis, the total protein level is over 61%, with a moderate fat content of roughly 19% to balance it out. Unfortunately, plant-based foods are the primary source of additional fat. It also has a few starchy thickeners in it.

This recipe, in addition to being a high-protein wet food, is cooked in a flavorful sauce that even finicky eaters seem to appreciate.

Remember that this isn't a single protein recipe. If your cat is allergic to chicken, this is not a good option.

Pros

  • Four of the first five key elements are derived from animals.
  • On a dry matter basis, it contains more than 60% crude protein.
  • Picky eaters may be enticed by flavorful gravy.

Cons

  • There isn't a single protein recipe.
  • A few starchy thickeners are present.

 

Ziwi Peak is the best dry cat food
 


Beef appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It is a beef, beef organs, and beef bone dry cat food formula. The food has 5,500 kcal/kg, or 312 kcal each scoop.

While dry cat food may not supply the moisture your cat requires, some cat owners prefer it because it is more convenient and often less expensive than fresh or canned alternatives.

Our top option in this category is this Ziwi Peak beef recipe air-dried cat chow.

This air-dried cat food may not be the most "cheap" option on the list, but it is lower in carbohydrates than the usual dry meal and provides a concentrated supply of animal protein.

In addition to fresh beef, the list includes five cattle organs and a beef bone. This dish also includes green mussels from New Zealand that are high in glucosamine and chondroitin.

Ziwi Peak always employs grass-fed or free-range meats and responsibly sourced wild-caught fish. This formula is nutrient-dense and grain-free, giving your cat a concentrated dose of energy and protein.

We recommend supplementing it with a high-quality wet meal or wet food topper because it is a dry food.

Pros

  • Protein and nutrients are concentrated in this product.
  • Contains a single source of high-quality protein derived from meat, organs, and bone.
  • Carbohydrate content is lower than the usual dry food.
  • Made with ingredients sourced responsibly, such as grass-fed beef

Cons

  • No dry food delivers the moisture that your cat requires.
  • Pricey, at roughly $1.60 per ounce

 

Wellness CORE is the best canned cat food
 


Beef appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It is a chicken and beef-based multi-protein wet cat food formula. The meal has a calorie content of 1,327 kcal/kg, or around 207 kcal per 5.5-ounce can.

Canned cat food is high in protein and low in carbs, making it an excellent source of moisture for cats of all life stages.

With its smooth texture and delicious flavor, this pate wet food from Wellness CORE is an excellent choice for kitten food, adult cat food, and senior cat diets.

This canned food is made up of 95% beef and chicken ingredients, the majority of which are fresh muscle meat. On a dry matter basis, it is around 50% protein and less than 10% carbohydrate.

This dish is readily digestible due to its basic component list. This, together with the high moisture content, may assist to alleviate stomach issues and may even minimize hairball development.

There are some starchy thickeners in it, but no large sources of additional plant ingredients. While consumers are delighted with the recipe's quality and ingredients, some cats simply do not seem to enjoy it.

It's also worth noting that it contains both chicken and beef. If your cat is allergic to chicken, this may not be the restricted ingredient diet for him.

Pros

A very short list of main elements

On a dry matter basis, it contains more than 50% protein.

Free of byproducts of meat and fillers

Cons

  • There isn't a single protein recipe.
  • A few starchy thickeners are present.

 

Feline Natural is the best option for sensitive stomachs
 


Beef appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It is a canned cat food formula with a single protein that is made from beef and beef organs.

The main source of additional fat is fish oil. The product has a calorie content of 1,123 kcal/kg, or around 191 kcal per 6-ounce can.

The best wet cat food for sensitive stomachs is designed with a small number of high-quality, uncomplicated ingredients. This Feline Natural dish uses fresh beef and beef organs as a single source of species-appropriate animal protein.

Fish oil is the primary source of added fat in this mix, with flaxseed flakes and sunflower oil serving as supplements. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may aid your cat's heart health in addition to boosting skin and coat health.

This formula has a carbohydrate content of roughly 15% on a dry matter basis, but it lacks the starchy beans, legumes, and thickeners found in many wet foods that can be difficult to digest.

It's worth noting that the protein and fat content are both the same, making this meal a rather concentrated source of calories.

If your cat is overweight, follow the feeding recommendations and keep an eye on your cat's weight to ensure you're not overfeeding.

Pros

  • Protein from muscle flesh and organs as a single source
  • Moisture-rich to help your cat stay hydrated
  • For increased digestion, a short list of animal-based components is provided.

Cons

  • Fat and calorie content are moderately high.

 

Vital Essentials are the best food toppings
 


Beef appears to be the main source of protein in this meal. It's a freeze-dried cat food additive made with beef and beef organs.

The main source of additional fat is herring oil. The food has a calorie content of 4,500 kcal/kg, or around 64 kcal/tbsp.

Whether you feed your cat premium-quality fresh food or a low-cost brand of dry food, it never hurts to supplement his nutrition from time to time.

A protein-rich food topper benefits your cat's health while also adding flavor to his meal.

This freeze-dried food additive from Vital Essentials is mostly made up of five animal-based ingredients, with a few supplements tossed in for good measure.

It is intended to be used as a topper, but it is nutritionally balanced enough to be consumed as a whole meal if desired. The main ingredient is fresh beef, followed by three cow organs and omega-3-rich herring oil.

As a freeze-dried meal, it lacks the moisture your cat need, but if you use it as a topper for another moisture-rich food, you won't have to worry about it.

Pros

  • All five key elements are derived from animals.
  • It can be used as a food topper or as a complete meal.
  • A single source of high-quality animal protein
  • Crumbled texture that is convenient to sprinkle on food

Cons

  • Very costly, approximately $2.50 per ounce

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1
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Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API


Is Beef Healthy For Cats?

The meat of cattle is referred to as beef (Bos taurus). It is available in a variety of cuts and can be served in an infinite number of ways, from steaks and stews to roasts and burgers.

Beef is classified as red meat, whereas turkey and chicken are classified as poultry (or white meat). This word usually refers to meat from animals that contains more iron than poultry or fish.

It's all about the myoglobin content of the meat. Cattle have a lot more muscle than poultry and fish, which means they need more oxygen.

Myoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells, keeps oxygen in the cells. Darker flesh results from higher myoglobin levels.

Beef's nutritional composition varies depending on the cut because some portions of the cow are fatter than others.

Ground beef with 10% fat has around 217 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz). A meal of this size contains approximately 26 grams of protein and nearly 12 grams of fat.

Beef is a complete protein source, which means it contains all of the important amino acids your cat requires. It also has high levels of iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and B vitamins.

Your cat, as an obligate carnivore, demands a high protein diet. Beef provides a nutritious animal-based basis for your cat's diet, but there are a few things to consider before selecting a beef-based food for your cat.


Beef is one of the most common food allergens in cats

A food allergy is a reaction to a specific food or food ingredient. An allergy, unlike a sensitivity or intolerance, requires an immunological reaction.

When your cat consumes an allergenic food, his immune system recognizes it as an invader and responds by creating Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.

Food allergies can produce a wide range of symptoms in cats, the majority of which are skin or digestion-related.

Prolonged contact to a food allergy might cause your cat's skin to become extremely irritated. He may get sores, scabs, and even patches of hair loss if he scratches excessively.

Some cats vomit, have diarrhea, and lose their appetite. Cats' coat condition may also deteriorate, and they may develop chronic ear infections.

Chicken, meat, fish, and dairy are the most prevalent food allergies in cats. While beef is one of the most common food allergens for cats, this does not mean that allergies to beef are common.

Food allergies are only the third most common type of allergy reported in cats, according to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.

They develop as a result of flea allergies and inhalant allergies. Remember that your cat cannot develop an allergy to a meal he has never tasted, so if you've never fed him beef before, there's no reason to think he'll be allergic.


Beef has a higher fat and calorie content than other animal proteins

While protein is the most crucial factor to consider in a feline diet, don't overlook fat and calories.

Because fat has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates, it is the most important source of energy in your cat's diet.

Adult cats and kittens, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), require at least 9% crude fat in their diet on a dry matter basis. However, not all fat is made equal.

Red meat, such as beef, contains far more fat than chicken and fish. Given its protein-to-fat ratio, beef may not be the greatest choice if you are concerned about your cat's caloric consumption.

Even if calories aren't an issue, you should consider the type of fat found in beef. A 100-gram portion of beef (15% fat) includes around 15 grams of fat, nearly 6 grams of which are saturated fats.

In comparison, a 100-gram serving of salmon or a similar-sized serving of chicken breast contains only 1 gram of saturated fat. Coldwater fish, such as salmon, contain more omega-3 fatty acids than beef.

Saturated fats have traditionally been associated with cardiovascular problems in humans, but this may not be the case in cats.

Cats' bodies are equipped to metabolize proteins and fats effectively since they have genetically evolved as carnivores.

While your diet's saturated fat intake may cause your good-to-bad cholesterol ratio to fluctuate, carnivores are more likely to have greater good than bad cholesterol regardless.

According to Dr. John Bauer, DVM, PhD:

"While the concept of good and bad fats is acceptable for human health, dogs and cats can ingest both types of fats in their diets without increasing their risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks, or strokes, which humans succumb to."

The short answer is that they have more good cholesterol (HDL) than bad cholesterol (LDL) to begin with, regardless of the sort of fat they consume.

Second, unlike humans, dogs and cats are often resistant to the development of hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis, even when fed levels of dietary fat that would normally transform human blood into sludge."

So, while it's vital to maintain a good fat balance in your cat's diet, there doesn't appear to be any reason to be concerned about beef's higher saturated fat level compared to other proteins.

 

In cat food, beef is more expensive than chicken

While it is advisable to shop for cat food solely on price, affordability is still a valid factor.

Chicken is by far the most cost-effective protein in cat food. Cat food manufacturers may purchase it in bulk, making it more cost effective for both them and you.

Even cat meals with another protein listed in the name frequently include chicken to increase protein content without severely hurting the brand's bottom line.

Beef cat feeds are typically more expensive than chicken recipes, however this is not always the case. It is mostly determined by the amount of beef in the cuisine, its quality, and its origin.

A recipe with a single protein, such as beef, will almost likely be more expensive than one with beef as one of multiple proteins.

Beef from USDA-inspected human food establishments will cost more than beef from less reputable suppliers. Grass-fed meat will be more expensive than conventionally reared cattle.

As a responsible cat owner, it is your responsibility to know exactly what you are feeding your cat and to make an informed decision about the product.


Conclusion

With so many best beef cat foods to select from, it's difficult to know where to begin.

Many cat owners like to start with a variety of cat foods to see what sorts and textures their cat prefers, as well as any flavor preferences.

If you know your cat enjoys beef, any of the dishes listed above from BestForPets (bestforpets.org) could be a suitable choice.

When looking for beef cat food, it's crucial to know if you want a single-protein recipe or not. A multi-protein formula may not be the best option if your cat is allergic to different proteins.

Single-protein formulas are normally more expensive, but they are produced with higher-quality ingredients and can be more digestible for cats who have digestive issues.

If your cat isn't a fan of beef, try poultry, fish, or an unusual protein like lamb.


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