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14 Best Budget Foods For Cats

Feeding time for your cats may be tedious at times; they're among the pickiest eaters, so it's difficult to find a food that they'll readily eat, is good for them, and doesn't require you to take out a second mortgage.

Your cat's nutrition is especially crucial because they are naturally meat eaters and do not process grains well.

They derive the majority of their nutrition from meat, and many commercial cat meals contain complex carbs as filler, which should be avoided if possible.

Because BestForPets (bestforpets.org) knows how difficult and time-consuming it is to find a budget cat food that is balanced, economical (and of high quality) and that your cat will eat. 

We've compiled this list of reviews of the best budget foods for cats available.

Let's get started so your cat can, too!


Best Value Iams ProActive Health Dry Cat Food

Iams’ product line is designed first and foremost with your cat’s health and pleasure in mind. The first ingredient is actual protein, and the remainder of this formula is made up of natural foods.

This food also claims to help your cat lose weight and get rid of hairballs. The lower-fat content and satisfying carbohydrates will probably help your cat eat less calories, and there are high-fiber ingredients that may aid with hairballs — however we didn’t see any difference in hairball frequency.

Because the meal bits are small, your cat may not chew them thoroughly, which may be a concern for some cats. Because this food is created with real chicken, your cats will be less likely to reject it.

Because of the nutrition packed inside and the low price, this is the greatest budget cat food for the money, as a 16-pound bag costs roughly the same as a 12-pound bag of other healthy options.

Because this food contains carbs, which your cat may not metabolize as smoothly, it did not get our top spot, but it is still an outstanding choice.


  • Made with natural, entire components
  • Protein-rich diet
  • Could aid in weight loss
  • Very inexpensive


  • It contains carbohydrates that can be tough to digest.
  • Hairball problems may not be reduced as promised.
  • Small bits may be difficult to chew.


Premium Choice Purina Cat Chow Indoor Dry Cat Food

If you’re ready to part with a little extra money for a somewhat nicer supper for your cat, Purina Cat Chow might be the way to go.

This premium best budget cat food is designed specifically for indoor cats, so if you have a cat who suffers with weight or a low-energy kitten, this meal is a fantastic option for them.

It has a high carbohydrate content, but this will likely make your cat feel full, which will help manage hunger and weight gain. It’s prepared with real meat and protein sources, as well as meat flavors that your cat will love.

While it’s a good option, it’s not a home run. The meats are not the main ingredients, and it contains artificial coloring, which puts it out of our top two cheap cat food selections.

This meal is also more expensive than the other options on the list, but it provides your pet with all of the nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals they require to keep healthy.


  • Made from genuine flesh
  • Aids in weight maintenance
  • Cats will adore it.
  • Provides a well-balanced and healthful diet


  • Meat is not the major element.
  • Artificial coloring is present.
  • Expensive


Original Choice Dry Cat Food by Meow Mix

Each flavor of Meow Mix Original Choice food is produced with a different meat, and having a diversity of protein sources is the best thing for your cat’s nutrition.

This variety of meats may be why your cats will enjoy this food so much – it surely did for ours! It’s also high in vitamins and minerals, and it has all of the nutrients required for a healthy diet.

However, meat is not the primary ingredient, and the protein content is lower than that of the higher-rated items on this list. Carbohydrates account for about half of this formula and can be difficult for some cats to digest.

Furthermore, artificial coloring is included in the ingredient list, which is neither required nor particularly good for your cat.


  • Contains a variety of protein sources
  • Cats appreciate the aroma and flavor.
  • Vitamins and minerals are abundant.


  • Carbohydrate content is high.
  • It can be challenging to digest.
  • Artificial coloring is present.


Dry Cat Food Purina Kit & Kaboodle

This food’s Purina Kit & Kaboodle ingredient list includes different protein sources including as chicken, fish, and turkey – this combination is not only good for your cat’s health, but it also entices even picky eaters to try it.

This diet contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, however they’re combined with artificial coloring, which isn’t necessary in cat food.

The protein composition is lower than in many other alternatives, and the primary constituents are carbohydrate-based corn and soybean products.

The high fat content can help keep your cat’s joints and coat healthy, but it also results in a high-calorie meal that may cause weight gain in certain cats.

Although it is a little annoyance, it should be mentioned that this bag is not resealable, thus you will need to store it in a separate sealed container to keep it fresh.


  • Several protein sources
  • Vitamins and minerals are included.
  • Encourages a healthy coat and joints


  • Protein content is low.
  • Carbohydrate content is high.
  • A high fat content may result in weight gain.
  • Artificial coloring is present.
  • The bag cannot be resealed.


Dry Cat Food 9 Lives Daily Essentials

Another option on our list is the Daily Essentials 9 Lives, which contains protein from a variety of sources, including chicken, turkey, and fish.

Even if your cat is a picky eater, this will assist get them to eat. The meal is also high in vitamins and minerals, so it truly contains the “daily requirements” for your feline friend’s happiness and health.

The main ingredients are largely carbohydrate-heavy corn products, and artificial colors are incorporated, which are neither necessary nor very healthful.

This diet is one of the most affordable dry cat foods on the market, which may be due to its high carbohydrate content.

It should also be noted that the fat level is rather high, so if your cat struggles with weight management, this may not be the ideal option for you.


  • Contains a variety of protein sources
  • Vitamins and minerals are abundant.
  • Very inexpensive


  • Carbohydrate content is high.
  • Protein content is relatively low.
  • Artificial tastes are present.
  • Fat content is high.


Nutrish Dry Cat Food by Rachael Ray

The protein content of Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry food is somewhat higher than that of many other commercial options, and it contains true, full protein sources, which is crucial for your cat’s health.

Our cat chow contains a respectable amount of vitamins, but not as many as other foods on this list.

Because the fat content is so high (14%), this may not be a good choice for indoor cats or those who have reduced energy levels in general; it may also cause weight gain difficulties for your feline buddy, especially if they’re heavy eaters.

If your cats are very finicky, you might want to try a different meal. While our cats are normally finicky eaters, this food caused some kitty noses to turn up.


  • Protein-rich diet
  • Genuine, whole-protein sources
  • Promotes joint and coat health


  • Fat content is high.
  • A lot of calories
  • There are less vitamins and minerals than in other selections.
  • Cats find it unappealing.


Dry Cat Food Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach

Purina ONE meal is designed specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs, and it has more protein than many other commercial cat feeds, which can aid in digestion.

If your cat has digestive problems, this may be an excellent option for you. This food has a high fat level (13%), which means it’s heavy in calories, so it’s probably not a healthy food for your cat if they struggle with weight management.

There are vitamins and nutrients in the bag, but there are fewer than in other options, thus it does not provide a balanced diet.

This cat food is rather pricey, and while it has entire protein sources, it may not encourage your choosy cat to consume it; this was another food that our cats opted to leave in their bowls.


  • Whole protein sources are included.
  • Improves digestion


  • Fat content is high.
  • A lot of calories
  • Expensive
  • Cats do not find it particularly appealing.


Grain-Free Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Canned Cat Food

The Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Grain-Free wet food provides a selection of authentic protein sources that are certain to entice even the pickiest eaters.

Despite the fact that whole meats are the main ingredients, the protein content is quite low at only 10% given the moisture content, which is far too low for cats.

The food also contains large bits of fish that may be too large for your cat to safely consume, and ours had to leave several of these pieces behind.

As a result, enormous amounts of this food were discarded. So, while this food is reasonably priced, you’ll wind up paying more for the food your cat actually consumes.

We’re also concerned that these fish chunks may contain bones, which means that even if your cat eats them, they may not be safe.

We would not recommend this food for your cat for these reasons, as well as the very low protein level.


  • Contains a variety of complete protein sources
  • Inexpensive


  • Protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is low.
  • Large fish chunks are either hazardous or inedible.
  • Ultimately more expensive as a result of wasted components
  • Bones may be present.


Canned AvoDerm Natural Wild by Nature Grain-Free Cat Food

The AvoDerm Natural Wild wet, canned cat food is manufactured with actual, whole protein, however there is just one source (salmon), therefore your cat’s diet is not balanced.

Despite the fact that the major component is salmon and the protein % is higher than the previous product on this list, the price of this cat food is quite costly.

Because the food contains few vitamins and minerals, it does not provide a well-balanced diet for cats. It’s also worth noting that this food isn’t a pate, so many cats may pass it up, especially since the salmon flakes appear to be very dry.

Whether it was the texture or the taste, our cats didn’t find this meal appealing, and they preferred to go hungry than than test it. We wouldn’t recommend this canned food based on our cats’ reactions and, especially, the price.


  • Authentic, whole-protein source


  • There is only one protein source.
  • Expensive
  • Cats find it repulsive.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Not a well-balanced diet

Buyer's Guide: How to Select the Best Cheap Cat Foods

After reading our top ten list, you’ll surely agree that finding the best cheap cat food can be a difficult task.

This is primarily due to the fact that the available options will always necessitate a balancing act between looking for actual, entire, and diversified protein sources, which tend to be pricey, and an affordable cuisine that is priced appropriately.

We’ll go through the essential aspects of selecting a cat food in our buyer’s guide, which we hope will help you limit down your options the next time you walk down the pet aisle.

Carbohydrates vs. Protein

Cats are natural predators who require a high protein diet to keep healthy, and protein should be your feline friend’s primary source of calories.

While carbohydrates are substantially less expensive than meats, they are not easily metabolized by your cat, therefore they are often regarded as “filler foods” that provide little nourishment to your cat.

When looking for a low-cost cat food, your primary goal should be to pick one with a high protein level.

The Fat Content

Another factor to consider when it comes to macronutrients is fat content. Healthy fats are beneficial to cats’ joints and coats, but too much fat increases the calorie density of cat food, therefore a reasonable level of fat – around 10% – is optimum for most cats. Keep in mind that if your cat struggles with weight management, a lower fat percentage may be preferable.

Minerals and vitamins

While protein and fat sources are your primary concerns when shopping for a decent cat food, vitamins and minerals are also vital, so look for a meal that contains all of these essential micronutrients for your cat.

The effects of giving your cat a high-fat or low-protein diet may be visible right away, as they may cause weight gain or digestive disorders, but vitamin insufficiency is unlikely to show up right away.

Pay close attention to the ingredient list to ensure you’re purchasing a balanced cat food, or consult with your veterinarian to ensure the item you choose meets all of your pet’s needs.

Leaving Out Unnecessary Ingredients

Before purchasing cat food, always read the ingredient list because, while many commercial brands claim to be grain-free or do not contain corn products, they may contain preservatives or artificial colors that are frequently unidentifiable or difficult-to-pronounce.

A fast internet search will reveal whether these substances are preservatives or artificial colorings. These substances are superfluous in cat food and should be avoided in general.

They have no nutritional value and may cause digestive difficulties or long-term health issues in your pet.


One of the most crucial non-nutritional aspects to look for in a cat food is a product that your cat will eat!

High protein is fantastic, but if your cat would rather go hungry than eat the food you’re offering, it doesn’t matter how good it is.

Cats prefer diets with different protein sources because they smell like the things they like: chicken, turkey, beef, and fish.

However, any cat owner will tell you that cats are notoriously finicky and picky eaters, so what appeals to one may not appeal to all.

You may need to experiment with a few different foods for your cat in order to discover a nutritious and economical alternative that they don’t just leave in their bowl.

Choosing a protein-rich food with a variety of meats is an excellent place to start to stimulate your cat’s interest.

Whether you feed your cat dry or wet food, you need a bowl that will keep the mess contained—the Hepper Nom Nom Bowl will accomplish precisely that.

This has been created with your cat’s comfort in mind. The whisker-friendly bowls are low and broad to reduce whisker fatigue, and the wide catch tray keeps all food where it belongs—inside the bowl.

Excited Cats has long admired Hepper and decided to take a controlling ownership interest in order to benefit from this unique cat company’s amazing ideas!


Although this is rarely an issue, your cat may struggle with the portion amounts of some foods.

Most cats won’t have a problem eating small or larger pieces of food, but if you notice your cat isn’t chewing enough (or at all), you might try a different cat food with larger chunks that will require your feline buddy to chew.


Finally, with all of the above factors in mind, you should be able to locate a meal that checks all of your cat’s health and wellness boxes while not costing you an arm and a leg for a 5-pound bag.

There is very nutritional, healthy, and attractive cat food available for those on a budget, so don’t feel obligated to pay top money for excellent nourishment.

It is critical to pick a food that is both good for your cat and good for your money in order to make a sustainable and happy diet for your kitty.


Finding a cat food that is all-around helpful and healthful for your cat can be a difficult endeavor, especially when many high-nutrition and high-protein cat feeds are out of your pricing range.

Add to that a picky cat who would rather go hungry than eat some commercial cat foods, and you’ve got a major problem!

Know that there are solutions available to fit your budget as well as your cat’s appetite and well-being.

Original Choice Dry Cat Food by Meow Mix is BestForPets‘ (bestforpets.org) top selection for both of you because of its nutrients, cat-pleasing taste, and low price.

If you want a less expensive option that still provides a nutritious, balanced diet, Iams ProActive Health Dry Cat Food is the ideal choice.

Whatever option you choose, we’re confident that these evaluations of the best budget foods for cats will help you choose the best one for you and your little furball!

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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