What is the Best Raw Cat Food?

Is a Raw Diet Good for Cats?

Yes, raw cat food is good, but only when prepared and used responsibly.

Feeding raw meat diet is a big undertaking for pet parents. However, it can also be beneficial. Here are the benefits of raw cat food:

  • Dietary Needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they use protein from meat for energy rather than carbohydrates. Raw meat diets provide this, however, it is not a complete diet if the diet only includes meat. Cats need vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that may not be provided in a poorly planned raw food diet so it is recommended to use a commercial raw diet rather than homemade.
  • Balanced Nutrition. Raw diets are not just made of meat. There are other ingredients that go into it to ensure the cat is receiving the necessary nutrients. For instance, ground bone is often used to provide calcium and phosphorus, and amino acid and vitamin supplements are added to make the nutrient profile as well-rounded as possible.
  • No Additives. Feeding raw food to your cat will minimize the preservatives, fillers, and grains your cat will be consuming. Raw meals are high-protein, generally grain-free, and gluten-free, so your cat will be receiving all of the nutrition it requires with little risk of indigestion caused by ingredients commonly found in dry cat food and wet cat food.

With the benefits covered, we should also note that raw cat food comes with certain considerations and potential risks. For example, cats are susceptible to E. Coli and Salmonella – bacteria commonly found in raw pet food.

Cat parents should consult a vet to make sure the risk is worthwhile, and the appropriate steps have been taken.

The Best Raw Cat Food Formulas Reviewed

From grain-free freeze-dried to limited-ingredient human-grade – raw cat food comes in different forms and flavors. To help owners decide on the best feline natural diet, we have reviewed some of the best raw food options on the market.

Smalls Cat Food

Summary: By freeze-drying raw food the food will retain the majority of its nutritional benefits – a method Smalls recognizes and uses. They offer three varieties of freeze-dried niblets, each fortified with healthy oils for heart and eye function as well as coat and skin health.

Best for: Adult cats at all life stages

Price: $29.28/lb

  • High-quality, human-grade ingredients
  • Chicken, turkey, and duck recipes
  • No artificial flavors and colors
  • Optimal moisture content
  • Conveniently delivered to your doorstep
  • The main source of added fat is plant-based

Ingredient Analysis: The main ingredient in any of the freeze-dried cat food from Smalls is ground bird. Whether it’s chicken, turkey, or duck they each use the whole animal. They use the liver, heart, and gizzard to provide micronutrients muscle meat does not and finish with herring oil followed by natural preservatives for freshness.

Review: Overall, this was reviewed well, although customer reviews weren’t easy to find. The only numerous complaint was the price. Consumers generally liked the natural ingredients, the balanced nutrition, and the fact their cats enjoyed the food.

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Cat Food

Summary: This meal enhancement kibble is made with a cage-free chicken recipe and quality ingredients with your cat’s health in mind. The morsels can be used as treats and is a good food option for a cat who may be lacking key components in its diet. It also improves the taste of regular food.

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $32.08/lb

  • All-natural and grain-free formula
  • Cage-free chicken is the main ingredient
  • Freeze-dried for optimal nutritional retention
  • Soft and easy-to-chew kibble
  • Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
  • The “meal enhancement” label is very small

Ingredient Analysis: The addition of ground chicken bone is a great way to add vitamins and minerals for strong teeth and bones. Pumpkin seeds and salmon oil offer fiber and healthy fats to encourage proper digestion and brain and eye function. Apples, broccoli, and blueberries serve as sources of vitamins and minerals. Overall, this is a great choice.

Review: Nearly three-quarters of the over 2,000 reviews on Amazon give this food five stars with claims that it is “worth more than gold” and the inclusion of this kibble has helped with urinary infections and IBS. Some buyers, however, reported the appearance of acne on their cat’s chin after brief usage or their cat would not eat the food.

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Mini Nibs Cat Food

Summary: This food is never cooked in order to preserve the nutrient balance of the natural ingredients. The ingredients are whole and come from nearly every part of the animal before amino acid complexes are added to round out the nutrient profile. They are fit for small cats but can also be used as cat treats and toppers.

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $32.00/lb

  • Grain-free cat food option
  • Can be used as freeze-dried cat treats
  • Free from additives and grains
  • No legumes (peas, lentils, etc.)
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • Some flavors are often out of stock

Ingredient Analysis: We like the use of the entire animal when making this product. Everything from the heart, liver, and gizzard is put into this formula and then enriched with some necessary supplements like vitamin E, zinc, and manganese amino acid complexes.

Review: Reviews for this product are mostly positive with many consumers making claims that their senior cats, and even ferrets, are eating more now thanks to using this on top of their meals. Customers who rated this food 1 and 2 stars were suspicious of inaccurate ingredient labels. They voiced concern about phosphorus being in the food but not on the label, causing problems with their cats who have kidney problems.

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels

Summary: These freeze-dried morsels are made with things cats would normally eat in the wild. Chicken meat and organs are the main protein sources and are rounded off with ground bone, taurine, and probiotics to provide balanced nutrition for your cat. Just add water to the food and serve.

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $36.44/lb

  • Single-source animal proteins
  • No grains and gluten
  • Easy-open and resealable package
  • Supplemented with probiotics
  • Made in the USA in a variety of flavors
  • More expensive than similar products

Ingredient Analysis: These frozen raw bites are made of cage-free chicken, organs, and ground bone, all of which are great to meet your cat’s needs. Pumpkin seed is added for fiber content and zinc proteinate and vitamin A and vitamin E supplements, which is a good sign of well-balanced cat food.

Review: Over 70% of the nearly 6,000 reviews on Amazon are 5 stars. Some of them express happiness with the ingredients and were excited to see their pet happy for mealtime. Others, however, were less pleased and complained about the food having too many calories and the price being too high.

Rawz Meal Free Dry Cat Food

Summary: Containing no meal or rendered ingredients, this raw cat food is made with cooked ingredients with reduced carbohydrates in order for it to be safe and healthy for your cat to eat. This is made with whole prey components, fruits, and vegetables to be nutritionally balanced and as natural as possible.

Best for: Medium breed cats

Price: $8.22/lb

  • With chicken and turkey
  • Cheaper than most of its competitors
  • Potato and grain-free formula
  • No rendered animal fat added
  • Donates fund to an animal charity
  • Lower protein content than other products

Ingredient Analysis: Dehydrated chicken, deboned chicken, and chicken and turkey organs make up the bulk of the ingredients in this food, which is indicative of high-quality cat food. This food has a good balance of micronutrients and moisture but is a little low in fiber compared to other foods in this range.

Review: Four and five-star reviews praise this raw cat food for being good for cats with sensitive stomachs and who are picky eaters. Less satisfied customers complained the price was too high or their cat refused to eat it all together.

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Cat Food

Summary: This food is made with whole animal ingredients from responsibly sourced lamb, organs, bones, and green mussels that are safely air-dried to retain their nutrient profile. It delivers high-protein cat food in a low-carb formula that is great for cats with sensitive digestive systems. The low carbohydrate content helps with weight control.

Best for: Cats of all life stages and cats with sensitive stomachs

Price: $11.91/lb

  • 100% sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients
  • Wide variety of flavors to choose from
  • Superfood blend (tripe, green mussels, and kelp)
  • Made without added carbohydrates
  • Suitable for all breeds and life stages
  • It may need to be rehydrated in some cases

Ingredient Analysis: We like that there are no added fillers, growth hormones, grains, or rendered meals in this cat food. The protein sources are great and are supplied by grass-fed and cage-free animals and supplemented with green mussels for a rich vitamin and mineral profile.

Review: Nearly 70% of the 1.500+ reviews on Amazon are five stars and were happy to see health improvements in their cat. They claimed it helped clear up skin infections and digestive system problems but about 9% of other consumers said this raw cat food had given their cat bladder stones.

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers

Summary: This freeze-dried raw cat food topper features free-range chicken as the main source of protein and the first ingredient. The manufacturing process is excellent as it gently removes water, locks in nutrients, and intensifies the formula’s flavor. The topper is enriched with superfoods and it can be used to improve the cat food palatability and nutrient profile.

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $17.99/6oz

  • With chicken and chicken livers
  • Made with superfoods
  • Freeze-dried for high nutrient content
  • Extremely palatable
  • Relatively affordable price tag
  •  Often out of stock due to high demand

Ingredient Analysis: The main ingredients in the food are real chicken and chicken liver. The diet is enriched with superfoods – health-boosting fruits and veggies such as pumpkin, broccoli, apples, and blueberries. To retain most of the nutrients, the ingredients are freeze-dried. Also, the formula is free from potentially harmful ingredients.

Review: With 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, this delicious and raw cat food topper is a highly rated product. Cat owners say the topper is worth more than gold and are happy with the fact that even picky eaters enjoy its taste. They are also happy with the price which as they explain is not as high as expected for such a quality product. There are only a handful of users complaining about some formula changes.

What Should I Look for in Raw Cat Food?

When looking for the best raw cat food, consider the following factors:

  • Raw Ingredients. While this may seem obvious, check the ingredients list for things like deboned chicken, whole fish, berries, and pumpkin. Ground bone can be found in raw food as well as some supplements like taurine and vitamins.
  • No Fillers and Allergens. Avoid things like added corn, wheat, soy, GMOs, and rendered or by-products.
  • Production Process. If food is cooked, it is not going to retain all of its nutrients and once it is cooked, it is no longer raw. Some raw cat foods get around this by “gently cooking” for pet safety but generally, you will want freeze-dried, raw processed, or frozen cat food.
Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
  • Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw retains the nutritional benefits of a raw, high-protein diet.
  • Now available in 3 proteins (Bird, Other Bird, Water Bird).
  • Raw recipes that are freeze-dried for maximum crunch and convenience.
  • Get 5% off use code VETS5

How do I Introduce a Raw Diet to My Cat?

Generally, the easiest ad safest way of introducing your cat to any new food is to include three-quarters of their old food and one-quarter of their new food for the first three days.

For every three days following this add in one more quarter of the new food. So days 1 to 3 will contain one-quarter of new food to three-quarters of the old food.

Days 4 to 6 will be a half and half mix of new food to old and days 7 to 9 will be three-quarters of new food and one-quarter of the old food.

By day 12 you should have been able to successfully transition fully into the new food.

How do You Calculate Raw Food for a Cat?

There are raw food feeding guidelines that will vary depending on cat breed, age, and activity level. As a rule of thumb, 2-2.5% of an adult cat’s body weight in food should be served when feeding them a raw food diet.