Here are our best recommendations as of September 2014 (updated 02/2016).
Costco’s Kirkland Adult Maintenance Cat Food
This is what we primarily feed at Happy Cats Haven.
ADVANTAGES: It’s a limited ingredient dry food, with whole chicken and rice (researched to be a well assimilated food source for cats). It has no cat-inappropriate ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, nor does it have any known toxins. It’s very cost-effective.
DISADVANTAGES: You must be a Costco member in order to purchase it. It only has 30% protein, so the protein level should be supplemented. It is made by Diamond, a big conglomorate, so the source of the ingredients can be questionable, like in 2012 when there was a recall because of potential salmonella poisoning. They have also recently added probiotics to their formula, which some cats can have problems with.
Petsmart Authority Adult Sensitive Solutions Cat Food
This is Petsmart’s house brand, a basic, limited ingredient food.
ADVANTAGES: It has 32% protein from whole turkey and turkey meal, no known toxins. Most cats find it palatable and it’s readily available.
DISADVANTAGES: It has oat groats for its main fiber source, which may push the food through too quickly. It also has fructooligosaccharide (FOS), which is highly fermentable and may cause intestinal distress.
California Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Cat Food
This is made by Natura that makes Evo and Innova pet foods.
ADVANTAGES: It has 42% protein from chicken meal and is palatable to most cats.
DISADVANTAGES: It contains peas, not proven to be safe for felines, as well as sunflower oil instead of species-appropriate fish oil. It also contains flax as a fiber which is unresearched in cat food, the toxin rosemary and unnamed “Natural Flavors.”
Nutro Max Adult Roasted Chicken Cat Food
This is a mid-grade food that’s readily available.
ADVANTAGES: It has 32% protein and includes chicken meal. It’s palatable to most cats.
DISADVANTAGES: It has corn gluten, an inappropriate source of protein. It also has wheat and cranberries.
Good Natured Adult & Kitten Food
This is Petsmart’s foray into the “natural” market, so easily found there. They donate food for every bag purchased. ADVANTAGES: It has 30% protein and includes whole chicken plus chicken meal. It’s palatable to most cats and our kittens do well on the kitten food.
DISADVANTAGES: It has barley and peas, not proven safe for cats. It also has carrots, tomato, apple, rosemary and green tea extracts, as well as menadione sodium bisulphate, the toxic Vitamin K.
Organix Adult Cat Food
This food has higher grade organic ingredients.
ADVANTAGES: It has 31% protein from organic free-range chicken for those who prefer to support more sustainable food production. It is also very palatable to most cats and can be found in health food stores.
DISADVANTAGES: It contains peas, barley and flax which are not proven to be safe for felines. It also contains the toxin rosemary.
Precise Foundation Cat Food
This is a smaller company that publicizes higher quality control.
ADVANTAGES: This food has 30% protein from chicken meal, along with chelated minerals, fish oil and a specialty form of Vitamin C. It is available at Mike’s Natural Pet in Colorado Springs.
DISADVANTAGES: It also contains oat groats, not proven safe for cats, and yucca, a known toxin for cats.
Ziwipeak Air-dried Cat Food
This company says their food is closest to a “wild-prey, natural diet.”
ADVANTAGES: The food is a very simple formula food with 34% protein and high in fat, which would be great for kittens. It is available at Pet Health Store.
DISADVANTAGES: It only comes in lamb and venison flavors, which may not be appropriate prey for a small animal like a cat. It can only be found at specialty food stores or online and is very expensive.
Nature’s Recipe Active Adult Salmon & Brown Rice
This another mid-grade food that’s readily available, great for fish lovers.
ADVANTAGES: It has 32% protein from salmon, salmon meal and chicken meal.
DISADVANTAGES: It has barley and peas, both unproven to be good fiber sources. It also has menadione sodium bisulphate, the toxic Vitamin K, as well as the toxins yucca and rosemary.
Purina One Chicken & Rice Formula Cat Food
This is Purina’s mid-grade food, made by Nestle, the same company that owns Hills Science Diet. They also have a Salmon & Tuna Flavor for cats who prefer fish.
ADVANTAGES: It has 34% protein and contains whole chicken, is cost-effective and easily available. Some cats prefer this over other brands.
DISADVANTAGES: Some of the protein comes from corn gluten, which is not a feline appropriate source. It also contains wheat, corn, soy (none species-appropriate) and menadione sodium bisulphate, a toxic type of Vitamin K.
Hills Science Diet Adult Indoor Cat Food
This is Science Diet’s basic dry cat food, readily available.
ADVANTAGES: It has 34% protein and whole chicken. Most cats find it palatable and it’s easily available.
DISADVANTAGES: It contains both corn and wheat gluten to boost the protein, neither of which are feline appropriate forms. Its fibers are wheat, corn, cellulose, peas and oats, which are either allergens, hard on the digestion or unresearched. It also has apples, broccoli, carrots, cranberries and peas, which are either unresearched or known toxins.
Royal Canin Indoor Adult 27
A competitor to Science Diet, this is another brand you’re likely to find at your veterinarian.
ADVANTAGES: Made from chicken meal and usually palatable.
DISADVANTAGES: This is fairly low in protein at 27%. It includes not only species-inappropriate corn and wheat gluten but peas, rice hulls, soy oil and FOS. It also has the toxin rosemary.
Iams Healthy Naturals Adult with Chicken Cat Food
Iams and Eukanuba are owned by Proctor and Gamble. This is the Iams line that has some whole chicken in it, not just by-products.
ADVANTAGES: It has 33% protein and is readily available.
DISADVANTAGES: It also has chicken by-products (which can legally include expired human food as well as processing waste), corn, barley, FOS, apples, carrots, spinach, peas, tomatoes, as well as the toxic Vitamin K and rosemary.
Eukanuba Adult Dry Cat Food Chicken Formula
This is another mid-grade food that’s readily available, very similar to its sister brand, Iams.
ADVANTAGES: It has 34% protein with whole chicken as the first ingredient.
DISADVANTAGES: It also has chicken by-products (which can legally include expired human food as well as processing waste), corn, unnamed “animal fat”, FOS, the toxic Vitamin K and rosemary.