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10 Best Dry Foods for Cats, According to Vets

Feeding your precious feline the healthiest dry cat food can be a daunting prospect with so many options on the market. Here's how to narrow it down and choose the best option for your little lion.

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Cute cat eating on floor at homeAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

What you should consider before buying cat food

When Kim Williams-VanDuzer, DVM and owner of Prettyboy Veterinary Hospital in Freeland, Maryland chats with pet parents about the best dry food for cats, she works with them to make the healthiest choice for their specific needs, including any urinary issues, allergies, obesity, or age. It’s also important to be upfront with your vet about your pet food budget so you can work together to find the healthiest option for your budget. Finally, Dr. VanDuzer doesn’t recommend any pet food without the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label. “Pet food is not regulated by the FDA so this voluntary approval guarantees that if a problem is found with the food, a recall will be issued and announced to the public. The food company will then typically pay for a diagnostic needed for the pet’s care.” Plus: These are the cleaning tips EVERY pet owner should know.

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Best dry food for mama cat and kittens

Nourish mama and her kitten with Iams Proactive Health Kitten food. Even though the label says “kitten,” this food has the whole kit and kaboodle of healthy ingredients for a momma cat and her kittens. “Chicken is the primary ingredient in this protein-rich food which helps support pregnancy and kitten development. Omega-3 DHA and vitamin E support strong immune systems, skin, and bones, as well as brain development,” says Dr. VanDuzer.”This tasty, small bite food can be continued during nursing and until she has weaned her kittens and the kitten can also eat the food.”

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Best dry food for overweight cats

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey, a whopping 60 percent of American cats are overweight or obese. Too much of even the best dry foods for cats could be contributing to those overstuffed fluffy bellies; they may be loveable, but it’s just not healthy to be chunky. Excess weight can cause serious health issues like diabetes. Dr.VanDuzer recommends Royal Canin Feline Weight Care. “Most cats love to eat so the reduced fat and special blend of L-carnitine (an amino acid that has a positive metabolic effect) and fiber help to make your cat feel more full with a reduced volume of food.” And adding some fun physical activity could help her shed some weight—here’s how to train your cat to walk on a leash.

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Best dry food for cats to prevent hairballs

A cat hacking up fur balls is nasty and gross to clean up and it sure is no picnic for your cat either. Danielle Bernal, a veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food recommends the all-natural, vet-formulated recipe, Wellness Hairball Control Natural Dry Cat Food in Chicken & Rice. “It is scientifically proven to help manage hairballs by incorporating a special natural fiber blend that helps move swallowed hair and already-formed hairballs through a cat’s digestive system. The formula also incorporates high levels of animal-based protein and a balance of omega fatty acids to support a lustrous coat and healthy skin, which promotes less shedding and ingestion of hair during self-grooming.” Dr. Bernal says this food also promotes overall well-being. Ever wonder why your cat kneads? Find out here.

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Best dry food for indoor-only cats

If your cat isn’t allowed past the front door, Dr. VanDuzer often recommends Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight and Hairball Care Dry cat food. “Indoor only cats often have weight issues and this formula helps control weight. This formula also decreases vomiting due to hairballs with the addition of beet pulp, a natural laxative that doesn’t cause diarrhea.” Indoor only cats tend to develop hairballs more often than their outdoor counterparts. Longer hair that sheds in the spring, over-grooming, digestion dysfunction, or deficiencies in the diet are some causes. Find out the reasons behind all your cat’s silly behaviors.

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Best dry cat food for a lustrous coat

The best dry food for cats has more to offer than just nutrition; some help with a little kitty glamour, like a more lustrous coat. Did you know your cat’s coat is composed mainly of protein? “If a cat’s diet lacks adequate, high-quality animal protein, their coat may be more predisposed to falling out or being dry, weak, and brittle,” says Dr. Bernal. She suggests Wellness CORE RawRev. “The recipe contains one of the highest protein amounts sourced from animal-based ingredients and optimal amounts of omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. This combination ensures that a cat’s coat both looks and feels great.” The purring you hear while he’s grooming may not be contentment—here’s why cats really purr.

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Best dry foods for older cats

We generally think of dogs as being the meat-eaters, but actually, cats require more protein than dogs, Dr. VanDuzer says, though as they get older their protein requirements change. “As cats age, their kidney and liver can benefit from a lower protein,” says Dr. VanDuzer. She feeds her senior feline Purina Proplan Prime Plus and recommends it as one of the best dry cat foods for seniors. “It comes in both a chicken and salmon flavor and combines prebiotic fiber and multiple vitamins that support muscles, and the immune and digestive systems.” Plus: This is how to keep your cat from scratching the furniture.

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Best dry cat food for urinary tract health

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, overweight and middle-aged cats are more prone to have urinary tract disease. There are recipes for healthy cats that can help minimize the risk of developing urinary problems. Dr. Bernal’s best dry food for cats’ urinary health is Wellness CORE Adult grain-free recipe. “It supports a naturally acidic urinary pH with a higher proportion of animal-based proteins. The recipe includes cranberries as a key ingredient alongside lower amounts of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus to help prevent the development of mineral plugs or stones in the urinary tract. If your cat is using the litter box more than usual, consult with your vet, it could be a subtle sign she’s not feeling well.

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Best dry food for healthy indoor and outdoor cats

When your feline is generally healthy and divides her time between a sunny window sill and bird watching in the garden, Dr. VanDuzer recommends a few options to choose from. “I like Purina One Natural Dry Cat Food, Purina Pro Plan, Hill’s Science Diet or Royal Canin. But she rarely recommends grain-free options. “I have never recommended, unless documented allergies, grain-free food.” Cat parents also need to be cautious of these dangerous mistakes when it comes to caring for their feline.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest