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11 Best Foods For Feral Cats

Whether you're looking to feed a whole colony of feral cats or just a couple of stray cats in your backyard, choosing food can be difficult.

After all, the cat food you select for your pet may not be the same food you select for the neighborhood feral cats.

Feral cats require a slightly different diet than domesticated cats and frequently have different tastes.

Given that the majority of cat foods on the market are for domestic housecats, these factors can make it difficult to find a suitable food.

You must also consider the price of the food. You don't want to feed multiple feral cats with something expensive! 

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) created reviews of the best foods for feral cats on the market right now. You should be able to find food for your wild friends here.


Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Cat Food — Overall Winner

  • Chicken meal, ground white rice, chicken fat, natural flavor, and flaxseed are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 40%
  • Fat: 20%

Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula by Diamond Naturals Cat Food is a reasonably priced cat food that provides optimal nutrition for feral cats.

The first ingredient is chicken meal, followed by white rice. While rice isn’t the best option for most cats, the price is unbeatable, especially if you’re feeding strays.

Furthermore, this food contains ingredients that feral cats will not find elsewhere, such as probiotics. It is also suitable for cats of all ages, including pregnant and nursing females. You never know what kind of cats you’ll be feeding, so it’s always best to be prepared.

This food also contains a natural source of DHA and taurine, both of which are necessary for a cat’s overall health. Each serving also contains a variety of antioxidants to combat oxidative stress, thereby preventing a variety of health issues.

This food is made in the United States, but it contains ingredients from other countries. We love that this food is high in protein, which is exactly what most cats require to thrive.

With all these benefits, this recipe is easily the best overall cat food for feral cats available.


  • Antioxidants, DHA, and taurine were all included.
  • Made in the United States
  • Suitable for all stages of life
  • High protein content
  • The first ingredient is chicken meal.


  • So far, none.


Original Cat Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food — Best Value

  • Chicken, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, rice, and soybean meal are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 34%
  • Fat: 13%

Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food is the best cat food for feral cats for the money out of all the cat foods on the market.

It has chicken as the first ingredient, which is excellent given the low price. It does, however, contain some less-than-stellar ingredients.

Corn gluten and soybean meal, for example, are both prominent ingredients. These are high in protein, but they are plant-based, making them unsuitable for your wild friends.

These ingredients may not contain all of the amino acids required for feral cats to thrive. A meal made from chicken byproducts is also included.

This is the remainder of the chicken after it has been processed for human consumption. As a result, it lacks quality. Having said that, this food contains no artificial flavors or preservatives. It is also reasonably high in protein, which cats require in their diet.

Omega fatty acids are also included. Cats are unlikely to get these essential amino acids from anywhere other than high-quality cat food.


  • Omega fatty acids are present.
  • The first ingredient is chicken.
  • Affordable
  • High protein content


  • It contains a few low-quality ingredients.


Dry Cat Food Instinct Original Recipe With Real Chicken

  • Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, and peas are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 41%
  • Fat: 21%

Instinct Original Recipe With Real Chicken is an excellent cat food. It is, however, extremely expensive, especially when compared to many others. It also does not provide many additional benefits for the price.

This cat food’s main selling point is that it contains freeze-dried, raw chicken bits. While many cats enjoy these, there is no evidence that raw food is beneficial to cats.

Furthermore, if you’re feeding feral cats, they’re probably already getting plenty of raw food as part of their regular diet. This food also contains chicken and other animal products.

A fish meal high in DHA and omega fatty acids is included. Because most neighborhood feral cats do not catch fish, this ingredient can help fill in some nutritional gaps.

Furthermore, this food contains a lot of probiotics, which are important for a cat’s overall health. Omega fatty acids and antioxidants are also present.


  • Animal ingredients are abundant.
  • Antioxidants and omega fatty acids are included.
  • Probiotics were included.


  • Expensive
  • There isn’t much added value.


Nutrish Inner Health Turkey Dry Cat Food by Rachael Ray

  • Turkey, chicken meal, brewers rice, dried peas, and corn protein concentrate are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 34%
  • Fat: 12%

Rachael Ray Nutrish Inner Health Turkey Recipe Dry Cat Food appears to be high-quality cat food at first glance. However, its ingredient list is subpar, especially given the price.

For example, the first two ingredients are turkey and chicken meals. These are excellent protein sources for any cat. They are high in lean protein and amino acids.

However, brewer’s rice and dried peas take the next two positions. These aren’t the healthiest ingredients for feral cats. Nonetheless, they do provide some nutrition. They’re just not as good as some of the other options available.

There is also corn protein concentrate. This is concentrated protein derived from corn, which significantly increases the protein content.

However, because this protein is not derived from meat, it may not contain all of the amino acids that cats require to thrive. This recipe contains probiotics as well as antioxidants.


  • Antioxidants and probiotics are included.
  • The first ingredient is turkey.
  • High protein content


  • Low worth
  • Ingredients that are less-than-ideal


Dry Cat Food Purina One True Instinct Ocean Whitefish

  • Ocean whitefish, chicken meal, pea starch, cassava root flour, and soy protein isolate are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 35%
  • Fat: 14%

Purina is well-known for producing low-cost cat food. However, its ONE line is considered to be of higher quality. That does not necessarily imply that it is the best option on the market. Some ingredients are of high quality, while others are not.

Ocean whitefish is the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal. These are both high-quality ingredients. They supply the protein and nutrients that feral cats require to thrive.

These are, however, the only two high-quality ingredients in this dish. Pea starch and soy protein isolate are both prominent ingredients. These are not only unnecessary for cats, but they also produce higher-quality ingredients.

Having said that, this recipe serves as a complete meal. It’s high in protein, even if a lot of it comes from soy. Many high-quality vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and E, are included.

However, this can be said for the majority of cat foods on the market.


  • The first ingredient is ocean whitefish.
  • Inexpensive
  • Vitamins A and E have been added.


  • Contains low-quality ingredients
  • There are no probiotics.


Beyond Simply Wild Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food by Purina

  • Hake, chicken meal, cassava root flour, dried egg product, and pea starch are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 35%
  • Fat: 14%

While Purina Beyond Simply Wild Caught Whitefish & Egg Dry Cat Food is of higher quality than most other Purina options, it is not worth the extra money.

This recipe begins with hake and chicken meal, as the name implies. Both of these protein sources are excellent choices for most cats, including feral cats.

However, there are a lot of low-quality ingredients as well. This recipe appears to engage in the practice of “ingredient splitting.”

Both pea starch and pea protein are included in this recipe, and if those ingredients were combined as “peas,” they would rank fairly high on the ingredient list.

By dividing them, the company can make it appear as if there are fewer peas when this is not the case.


  • Hake as the first ingredient
  • Grain-free
  • There will be no corn, wheat, or soy.


  • There are a lot of peas in this dish.
  • The higher price is not justified.


Adult Chicken & Rice Dry Cat Food by Hill’s

  • Chicken, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, and chicken fat are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 29%
  • Fat: 17%

Hill’s Science Diet is frequently regarded as one of the higher-quality options available. However, this is not always the case. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food does not provide enough benefits to justify the higher price.

Given its high cost, you probably don’t want to feed it to a feral cat colony.

The first ingredient, chicken, is a good place to start. The other ingredients, on the other hand, are at best mediocre. Brewer’s rice, for example, is the second ingredient. Whole grain corn and corn gluten meal are also high on the list.

However, this formula is designed specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs and skin. Of course, you won’t know if these things are affecting feral cats. However, it is often preferable to be safe than sorry!

This food contains omega fatty acids and probiotics, as do most cat foods. These nutrients are critical because they are likely to be the only source of nutrition for feral cats.


  • The first ingredient is chicken.
  • Omega fatty acids and probiotics are included.


  • Expensive in comparison to the quality of the ingredients
  • Protein deficient


Proactive Health Digestion & Skin Dry Cat Food by IAMS

  • Turkey, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain corn, brewers rice, and chicken meal are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 33%
  • Fat: 14%

IAMS is a low-cost cat food that skimps on ingredients. This is also true for the IAMS Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion & Skin Dry Cat Food.

This recipe begins with turkey, which is a reasonably high-quality option. The other ingredients, on the other hand, are of poor quality. By-products, corn, and brewers’ rice, for example, are all prominently featured on the ingredient list.

This formula contains only a moderate amount of protein, and much of it is unlikely to be derived from animal sources.

However, this formula contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains a prebiotic blend as well as beet pulp to aid in a cat’s digestive health.


  • Omega fatty acids are present.
  • Inexpensive


  • Ingredients of poor quality
  • Protein deficient


Dry Cat Food 9 Lives Protein Plus

  • Whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, and animal fat are the first five ingredients.
  • Protein: 33%
  • Fat: 9%

When you’re trying to feed a swarm of feral cats, you’re probably most concerned with the cost. After all, feeding a swarm of cats can be prohibitively expensive.

Protein Plus 9 Lives Dry Cat Food is one of the most affordable cat foods on the market, so you may be tempted to feed it to your cats. However, it is inexpensive for a reason. The ingredients are of poor quality, which usually translates into poor nutrition.

Whole-grain corn, for example, is the first ingredient. The only source of meat in the first five ingredients is chicken by-product meal, which is a low-quality option in and of itself.

The protein content is moderate, while the fat content is extremely low. When trying to feed outside cats, both of these metrics must be quite high.

The only thing this food has going for it is its low price.


  • Inexpensive


  • The first ingredient is corn.
  • Fat content is low.
  • Ingredients of poor quality

Buyer's Guide: Finding the Best Feral Cat Foods

When it comes to feeding feral cats, there are two major issues to consider. In general, you want something nutritious but inexpensive. After all, feeding so many cats can become costly!

Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you. In this section, we explain exactly what to look for when selecting a cat food for feral cats.

Cost of Cat Food

Your cost-consciousness will vary. After all, if you’re feeding a colony, you don’t want to choose something that’s prohibitively expensive. If you have multiple cats, the cost of cat food can quickly add up.

Fortunately, there are numerous low-cost options on the market. However, nearly all foods are inexpensive for a reason. Most companies use low-quality ingredients to cut costs, which can make deciding which food to eat even more difficult.

You can probably afford more expensive food if you only feed one feral cat. If you’re feeding an entire colony, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on a single bag.

If you’re tired of your dog making a mess on your floor during mealtime, give the Hepper Nom Nom Bowl a try.

Trust us when we say you’ll love this bowl, which was created with both you and your dog in mind. The large catch tray is ideal for even the messiest eaters, and the stainless-steel bowls are completely dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze. Click here to give it a shot.

We’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest in order to benefit from this cool cat company’s outstanding designs!

Ingredients in Cat Food

Even if you’re trying to save money, you should look for foods that have meat as the first ingredient. It doesn’t matter what this meat ingredient is, but by-products should be avoided because they are of lower quality.

Choose a food that is mostly composed of animal products, such as meats and eggs. However, if you’re on a budget, this isn’t always possible. As a result, simply select a product that contains as much meat as you can afford.

Be wary of products that are costly and contain low-quality ingredients. More meat does not always come at a lower cost.

Macronutrients in Cat Food

Macronutrients are critical nutrients. Cats thrive on a diet rich in proteins and fats derived primarily from animal meats.

Some plants, however, are high in protein as well. However, plant-based protein is not always as high-quality as meat-based protein.

Meat protein is always complete, which means it contains all of the amino acids required by cats to thrive.

Because plant-based protein does not contain all of the amino acids that cats require, a cat may develop nutritional deficiencies if they do not consume enough meat.

When feeding feral cats, choose a food that contains as much protein as possible at a reasonable price.


Diamond Naturals Active Chicken Meal & Rice Formula is an excellent choice for most feral cats.

It is reasonably priced but contains high-quality ingredients. It also contains a variety of additional nutrients such as antioxidants, taurine, and DHA.

If you’re on a tight budget, Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food might be a good option.

It is reasonably priced and contains meat protein as the first ingredient. It also contains omega fatty acids, which help to improve the health of the coat and skin.

Consider Dry Cat Food Instinct Original Recipe With Real Chicken if you’re not on a tight budget.

It contains a lot of antioxidants, taurine, and omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains premium ingredients such as eggs and deboned turkey.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that our article and reviews of the best foods for feral cats will help you choose the best option for your wild friends. 

Author Image

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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