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15 Best Cat Foods With Grains in 2022

Deborah R Fletcher
  Nov 29, 2022 3:13 PM

The carb debate is widespread, with specialists arguing for and against carbohydrates in cat chow. The truth is that we still have a lot to understand about cat digestion and nutritional needs.

As you walk down the cat food aisle at your local pet store, you might wonder, "Can cats eat grains?"

In this article, we'll go beyond the subject of whether cats can eat grains to evaluate whether they should.

Based on our research, BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has compiled a list of the best cat foods with grains.

To provide you our finest recommendations, we studied the companies and analyzed specific recipes.


Reviews

Natural Balance Ultra-Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula Canned Food is the overall winner
 


This Natural Balance recipe is highly digestible and nutrient-dense as a single-protein canned food recipe free of fillers and other additives.

Fresh chicken and chicken liver are the primary protein sources, with brown rice providing carbohydrate support.

This recipe provides more than 40% crude protein on a dry matter basis, so while it contains roughly 25% carbohydrate, it covers your cat's protein needs more than adequately.

The food is high in moisture to keep your cat hydrated and is free of low-value grains like corn, wheat, and soy. It also has no artificial additions like as colors, flavors, or preservatives.

The fact that it is thickened with guar gum and carrageenan is the main disadvantage of this composition.

While carrageenan has been identified as a probable carcinogen, guar gum has been known to cause stomach troubles in sensitive cats.

Pros

  • It has a single high-quality animal protein source.
  • Menhaden oil is high in animal-based omega-3s.
  • Brown rice is high in fiber and important minerals.
  • Moisture-rich to help your cat stay hydrated.

Cons

  • Guar gum and carrageenan were used to thicken the sauce.

 

Castor Pollux Organix Organic Turkey, Brown Rice, and Chicken Recipe Canned Cat Food is a top choice
 


Your cat deserves the best cat food you can purchase on a regular basis, and if you have the funds, this Organix formula from Castor & Pollux might just fill the bill.

This formula's primary protein source is organic turkey, which is supplemented with organic chicken, organic chicken liver, and organic dry egg product.

Organic brown rice contains a trace of plant protein, as well as fiber and vital vitamins and minerals.

This recipe's key ingredients are all organic and obtained from sustainable farms in the United States. This food has no artificial additives or low-value grains or legumes.

As our top recommendation, this cuisine is a tad pricy - more than $0.50 per ounce. Guar gum is also used as a thickening.

It is, nevertheless, high in moisture and good fats, while being low in protein and carbohydrates.

Pros

  • Contains four organic animal protein sources.
  • Organic brown rice is a high-fiber, high-energy food.
  • Moisture-rich to help your cat stay hydrated
  • Free of inferior grains and artificial additives

Cons

  • Expensive, at more than $0.50 per ounce
  • Guar gum is present.

 

Farmina Natural & Delicious Chicken & Ancestral Low-Grain Formula Dry Cat Food is the best dry cat food
 


While whole grains are a healthy component to a balanced cat food diet, we choose products that don't overdo it.

This Farmina dry food is a low-grain mix that includes whole ancestral grains like spelt and oats, as well as a variety of animal protein sources.

This recipe's foundation is boneless chicken and dried chicken, which is supplemented with protein from eggs and herring, as well as vital fatty acids from chicken fat and herring oil.

Seven of the first 10 elements in this formula are derived from animals. Two of the remaining three are nutrient-dense whole grains, and one is a fiber supplement.

While this dish does not contain beans or lentils, it does contain some pea fiber and alfalfa, which is a legume. Suncured alfalfa is a high-protein, phytonutrient-rich ingredient.

This recipe does not meet your cat's water demands because it is a dry meal, therefore you will need to boost his moisture intake elsewhere. It's a low-protein, low-fat meal with a high carbohydrate content and no artificial ingredients.

Pros

  • Seven of the top ten ingredients are derived from animals.
  • It contains two healthy whole grains.
  • It is mostly based on animal fat derived from herring oil and chicken fat.
  • Diabetic cats may benefit from a low-glycemic formula.

Cons

  • Some legumes are included.
  • No kibble delivers the moisture that your cat requires.

 

Blue Buffalo Tastefuls Chicken Entrée Kitten Pate Wet Cat Food is the best kitten food
 


Kittens grow quickly and require a high-protein, high-calorie diet to fuel their growth. This grain-free canned kitten food from Blue Buffalo is a good choice.

The primary ingredient is fresh chicken, which is complemented with protein from chicken liver, dried eggs, and brown rice.

This dish is free of low-value cereals and animal by-products and relies mostly on animal-based fat from fish oil, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

It is critical to assist your kitten in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This canned food contains around 34% crude fat on a dry matter basis and approximately 50% crude protein.

It's also low in carbs, so the majority of your developing kitten's nourishment will come from animal sources.

Although this recipe is nutrient-dense and reasonably priced, it does contain multiple gum thickeners and carrageenan.

It's also worth mentioning that the principal added fat is ambiguously labeled fish oil, though there's no reason to believe the fish oil is of bad quality.

Pros

  • Protein-rich and calorie-dense formula for developing kittens
  • Moisture-rich to help your kitty stay hydrated.
  • Brown rice and sweet potatoes are high in nutrients.
  • Primarily depends on animal fat

Cons

  • Several gum thickeners are present.
  • Contains carrageenan

 

Healthy ProActive Health by Iams Adult Dry Cat Food
 


Iams ProActive Health Healthy Adult dry cat food is a solid blend that offers adequate quality at a fair price without going above and beyond.

It contains 32% minimum protein from sources like chicken and chicken by-product meal, which are stated as the first two ingredients.

There aren't many additional animal-based components to choose from. However, lower-quality components such as maize gluten meal, corn grits, brewers dry yeast, and others are included.

The protein in this cat chow comes largely from a single source, and with 15% fat, it's a little fattier than we'd like. The texture of the kibble, on the other hand, is designed to clean your cat's teeth while they eat.

Nonetheless, despite being far from our least preferred market alternative, it will not make IAMS our top pick.

Pros

  • For a healthy coat, omega fatty acids are present.
  • The main component is chicken.
  • The crunchy texture cleans cats' teeth as they eat.

Cons

  • Contains a number of corn-based components.
  • The vast bulk of the protein is derived from the same source.
  • There are little animal-based goods used.

 

Science Diet by Hill's Ideal Weight Dry Cat Food
 

  • Type Dry
  • Kibble Food Texture
  • 36.0% protein content
  • 300 kilocalories per cup

The nutrients in Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Dry Cat Food come from a variety of sources. This adds phenols or other beneficial chemical components from both animal and plant sources to the mix.

While chicken is the main protein source, the diet also includes other foods to ensure nutritional balance. The nutritional profile strikes a balance between health and weight maintenance.

Because the meal contains more calories, it is suitable for giving to feral cats. The low cost is also beneficial. It comes in three sizes to accommodate your wild cat problem. We loved that it was made in the United States.

Pros

  • USA-made
  • Nutrient-dense
  • A sufficient calorie content

Cons

  • Fat content is low.

 

Dry Cat Food Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Rice
 

  • Type Dry
  • Kibble Food Texture
  • 36.0% protein content
  • 494 kilocalories per cup

Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Purina Pro Plan Dry Cat Food is a new version of an old favorite.

This one changes the ingredients to produce a tastier version while retaining the higher protein and taurine levels. It is highly digested because to the presence of prebiotic fiber.

With its omega-6 fatty acids derived from cold water salmon, the product also promotes skin health. The diet is available in three sizes.

The food is nutrient-dense, making it a fantastic value when following the diet plan. There are also a lot of calories. It's a good idea for feral cats who will benefit from the added energy.

Pros

  • Additional canned food
  • Taurine content is high.
  • Very easily digested

Cons

  • A lot of calories

 

Science Diet by Hill's Dry Chicken Cat Food
 

  • Protein 31%
  • Fat 13%
  • Fiber 6%

This formula is designed for indoor-only cats. Recipe for Hill's Science Diet Chicken Dry Cat Food is high in fiber and other elements that Bengals require.

The nutrition is similar to what they would obtain in the wild if they didn't have to forage for their own food.

This protein-rich diet with high fiber content will keep your Bengal healthy and may even help them lose weight. That's crucial when you have hyperactive cats!

For added vitamins and minerals, the recipe also includes broccoli, carrots, apples, and cranberries. Fish oil is added to improve the health and gloss of the coat.

We like that it contains antioxidants, which help maintain a healthy immune system.

Because this meal contains whole grains, it is not ideal for cats who are allergic to grains. The major disadvantage of this diet is the kibble size.

It's larger than typical and appears to be preferred by larger cats. This meal is difficult to chew for some cats with small mouths.

Pros

  • Completely nutritious
  • Can assist cats in maintaining a healthy weight
  • Grain content

Cons

  • Kibble size is large.

 

Nutrish Chicken & Rice Dry Cat Food by Rachael Ray
 

  • Protein 34%
  • Fat 14%
  • Fiber 4%

The first ingredient in this Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food recipe is chicken.

It's mixed with brown rice and vegetables, which most Bengals can eat without difficulty, but should be avoided if your cat is sensitive to grains.

Peas, carrots, and beet pulp provide vitamins and fiber to keep your Bengal's digestion on track. This formula has no by-products, soy, or wheat, allowing customers additional healthy options.

Omega-6 fatty acids keep your cat's coat healthy, and taurine is included to maintain your cat's eyes healthy.

There have been complaints of gastrointestinal upset in cats who have eaten this diet, so you should find out if your cat can tolerate grains.

Pros

  • Rachael Ray's meals served as inspiration
  • Cats enjoy the flavor.

Cons

  • Grain-sensitive cats should avoid this product.

 

Science Diet by Hill's Canned Kitten Food with Roasted Chicken and Rice
 

  • Protein: 6.5%
  • Fat: 2%
  • Calories: 71/can

Hill's Science Diet Roasted Chicken & Rice Canned Kitten Food is a balanced formula that is suitable not only for kittens but also for pregnant and nursing cats.

When feeding pregnant cats, make sure that this food is always available for them to consume whenever they want. The first ingredient is chicken broth, which keeps this recipe delicious and moist.

Your cat is getting all of the nourishment they need to produce healthy kittens because there are no artificial preservatives or tastes.

The important nutrients in this meal promote urinary tract, eyesight, heart, and coat health in kittens before birth and for the first year of life if they continue to eat it after weaning.

Because the food is chunky rather than pâté, some kittens may find the bits too large to ingest.

Pros

  • Nothing fabricated
  • Nutritional balance for kittens and pregnant cats

Cons

  • Small kitties may find chunks too large.

Compare Products

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Can Cats Consume Grains?

A good human diet includes lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, however similar nutritional guidelines do not apply to cats. Cats, after all, are obligate carnivores, whereas humans are omnivores.

It's all about animal products when it comes to the optimal feline diet.

Because felines aren't built to handle plant meals as efficiently as animal products, your cat's diet should be centered on animal-based proteins and lipids with limited carbohydrate.

Is this to say that even nutrient-dense diets like whole grains are detrimental to cats? No, not always. In fact, several veterinary nutritionists believe carbs play a significant part in the diet of domestic cats.

It is well accepted that cats have no biological need for carbs in their diet; all of their energy needs can be supplied by digesting protein.

Having said that, research reveals that cats, like other animals, can digest carbohydrates in order to acquire and utilize energy in the form of glucose.

In addition to providing energy, carbohydrate metabolism generates the building blocks for other necessary nutrients such as vitamin C and non-essential amino acids.

The concept that cats should only be fed meat originates mostly from three ways in which the feline digestive system handles carbohydrates:

  • Cats' intestines contain less carbohydrate-digesting enzymes than omnivores such as dogs (and humans).
  • Cats lack glucokinase, a liver enzyme that transforms glucose from carbohydrates into useful energy.
  • Cats' saliva does not include amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that starts the breakdown of carbohydrates.

While a cat's digestive system may not resemble that of a dog or function in the same manner that a human's does, decades of research suggests that healthy carbs such as grains are a completely appropriate supplement to a balanced feline diet.


What Does a Grain-Inclusive Diet Look Like?

Because cats are obligate carnivores, a meat-based diet is always more species-appropriate (and hence desirable) to your cat.

Given the data detailed above, it's worth evaluating the possible benefits of feeding digestible whole grains to your cat.

Balance is essential when it comes to carbs in a domestic feline diet.

While cats are capable of digesting carbohydrates in a way comparable to other animals, they appear to be less sensitive to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) with regular carbohydrate consumption.

While humans and, to a lesser extent, dogs are predisposed to diabetes from a high carbohydrate diet, cats may not be.

Cats, in fact, can adjust to variable levels of protein and carbohydrate in their meals as long as their minimal protein requirements are satisfied, according to research published in the early 2000s.

This research disproves the theory that if cats are fed a carbohydrate-rich diet, they will begin to break down their own muscle for protein.

In other words, as long as your cat's diet comprises at least 26% protein on a dry matter basis (30% for kittens and pregnant/lactating females), introducing healthy carbs like grains has no nutritional drawback.

"Healthy carbs" are the crucial words here. While all grains include carbs, not all carbohydrate-containing foods are grains.

Whole grains are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and vital fatty acids, such as brown rice, whole oats, and barley. They also have some plant protein and are more digestible than processed grains.

Processed grains such as maize, wheat, and soy are often used as fillers in cat food and, aside from being more difficult to digest, provide relatively little nutritional benefit for cats.

When it comes to other carbs in a feline diet, fresh fruits and vegetables can be healthful, but recipes that include a lot of legumes like beans, lentils, and peas should be avoided. We're largely discussing grain-free diets.


Is There A Link Between Grains And Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Following a string of pet food recalls connected to contaminated grains obtained from China, the grain-free pet food fad truly took off in the early 2000s.

Many health-conscious pet owners welcomed the use of legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils in place of grains like as corn, wheat, and rice.

Grain-free diets began to take over pet store shelves, and with them, the belief that grains are intrinsically hazardous for pets spread.

Pet owners all across the world began moving their pets to grain-free meals, and a new trend began to emerge over the next decade.

Between 2014 and 2019, the FDA received over 500 reports of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a kind of cardiac illness, in pets on a grain-free diet.

The FDA declared in 2018 that it had initiated an investigation into these complaints. Though research is ongoing, there is some evidence that particular diets may raise the risk of heart disease in dogs and, to a lesser extent, cats.

Diets implicated in this link are labeled as 'BEG,' which stands for boutique, exotic, or grain-free - particularly those with legumes, pulses, or potatoes as the major element.


FAQs

Should I be concerned that my cat is allergic to grains?

The rise of grain-free diets has increased pet owners' anxiety about the possible risks of grains for cats, including grain allergies.

Food allergies are uncommon in cats, and when they do arise, they are mostly triggered by popular proteins such as chicken, beef, and eggs rather than carbohydrates such as grains.


Which is healthier: a grain-free or grain-inclusive diet?

This question does not have a clear answer. You have a lot of leeway to work with as long as your cat's minimum protein requirements are met.

However, keep in mind that legumes, which are typically found in grain-free cat meals, have been related to heart disease, though more research is needed in this area.

A grain-inclusive diet rich in low-value grains like corn and wheat, on the other hand, may be equally harmful.


What should the carbohydrate content of commercial cat food be?

Carbohydrate content in commercial cat diets ranges from 20 to 40%.

While we normally choose meat-based cat meals with no more than 10% carbs, some study suggests that cats may prefer higher-carb feeds over high-protein foods.

This conclusion, together with the findings of competing studies, suggests that it may ultimately come down to palatability - your cat's preferences for flavor, protein type, and nutritional makeup.


Conclusion

It is your obligation as a cat owner to make an informed decision about the optimal diet for your cat.

We favor meat-based, low-carb formulas that are balanced with animal fats, but given the studies stated above, there's no need to rule out healthy grain-inclusive cat feeds from your choice of options.

We present Natural Balance Ultra-Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula Canned Food, Nutrish Chicken & Rice Dry Cat Food by Rachael Ray and Iams ProActive Health Healthy Adult dry cat food as the three most renowned and trustworthy products for your selection after conducting research and testing on the aforementioned items.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that our list of the best cat foods with grains was useful in assisting you with your quest!


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