The Best Grain-Free Cat Foods

Grain-free pet food has been becoming more and more popular over the last few years, particularly among pet parents who want to ensure that their animals have the best, most nutritious diet possible. Cats don’t need carbohydrates like those in grains, and some cats have allergies or difficulty digesting grains at all. Even for cats who don’t have a problem digesting grains, excess carbohydrates can still lead to digestive problems and excess weight gain.

Cats do, however, need a diet that consists of at least 35-45% protein and about 15-20% fat, so many owners are opting for grain-free foods instead of tradition cat foods with the expectation that grain-free foods will have more of what cats need and less of what they don’t. We reviewed dozens of grain-free cat foods to identify the best of the best. We considered nutritional make-up, dietary needs, health concerns, and Amazon reviews to find you the best grain-free cat foods on the market.

Top Pick
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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Food

This food is packed with everything your cat needs to maintain their overall health.

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$37.99 USD

Our top pick and the clear winner is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Cat Food. It’s packed with protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, plus omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, to ensure your cat’s complete health, and it contains no poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.

The 5 Top-Rated Grain-Free Cat Foods

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallBlue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Food4.6
Runner UpPurina Friskies Lil' Soups4.6
Best Budget BuyPurina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food4.5
Best Dry Grain-Free Cat FoodWild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food4.6
Best Wet Grain-Free Cat FoodPurina Beyond Wild Wet Cat Food4.6

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Cat Food is formulated with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for your adult cat’s particular health needs based on the recommendations of holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists. It also contains both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which help keep your cat’s skin and coat healthy.

This particular variety is salmon flavored and actually includes salmon as the first ingredient, providing your cat with protein and those healthy omega fatty acids we just talked about. This food is also available in chicken flavor, which includes deboned chicken as the first ingredient. Chicken and fish meal and egg compliment the primary ingredients in both flavors by adding even more protein and fatty acids.

All cat foods and especially dry cat foods contain some carbohydrates to create the actual physical structure of the food, but Blue Buffalo Wilderness’s carbs come from sweet potatoes and peas, which are much easier for cats to digest. All in all, Blue Buffalo Wilderness is comprised of 40% protein, a minimum of 18% fat, a minimum of 4% fiber, and no more than 9% moisture.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Cat Food Key Features:

  • Contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits
  • No by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or preservatives
  • 11-pound bag
  • Also available in a 5-pound bag
  • Also available in versions for other life stages and special dietary needs

Our Runner Up Pick: Purina Friskies Lil’ Soups

Runner Up
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Purina Friskies Lil

This grain-free cat food compliment provides an extra boost of nutrition to your cat’s diet.

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$7.99 USD

Purina Friskies Lil’ Soups are a cat food complement, which means that they’re designed to be given to your cat as a supplement to other cat food and are not intended to be your cat’s only source of nutrition.

Lil’ Soups are high in protein (7 to 9% depending on the flavor) but very low in carbohydrates (just 1%), so they’re a great way to tip the proportions in your cat’s diet more towards protein. They’re also very high in moisture (92%), which makes them great for keeping your cat hydrated. Since many cats don’t drink enough water, Lil’ Soups are a great way to sneak moisture into their diet. Lil’ Soups are not a significant source of fat, but most cat foods contain a healthy level of fat anyway.

Lil’ Soups are available in four flavors: Chicken and Butternut Squash in a Velvety Broth, Shrimp in a Velvety Chicken Broth, Sockeye Salmon in a Velvety Chicken Broth, and Tuna in a Velvety Chicken Broth.

Purina Friskies Lil’ Soups Key Features:

  • Savory broth adds flavor and moisture
  • Cup-style packaging for convenient serving
  • Enhances the nutrition of other cat foods
  • Several flavor options
  • Contains eight 1.2 ounce cups

Best Budget Pick: Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Best for Budget
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Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food

This food is packed with everything your cat needs to maintain their overall health.

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$31.99 USD

Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food is a great choice for those of us who want to balance giving our cats the best food we can with being kind to our wallets as well. It’s available in five different recipes: Ocean Whitefish and Egg, Arctic Char and Lentil, Tuna and Lentil, White Meat Chicken and Egg, and Indoor Salmon, Egg, and Sweet Potato.

Each contains the real meat from the recipe title as the first ingredient, and all contain at least 33% protein and no more than 6.5% carbohydrates. They also contain no more than 12% moisture and a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your cat’s health, like taurine, linoleic acid, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin E.

Purine Beyond is formulated by in-house expert cat nutritionists and is produced exclusively within Purina owned facilities to ensure that the food meets Purina’s safety and quality standards along every step of the way.

Purina Beyond Grain Free Dry Cat Food Key Features:

  • No corn, wheat, or soy
  • 11-pound bag
  • Also available in 3, 5, and 16-pound bags
  • Five different recipe options

Best Dry Grain-Free Cat Food: Wild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Best Dry Grain-Free Cat Food
Buy Now
Wild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food

This food is packed with everything your cat needs to maintain their overall health.

buy now
$38.99 USD

If you’re looking for dry grain-free cat food, Wild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food is an excellent choice. Wild Frontier cat food is inspired by felines’ natural diet in the wild, so real meat is the number one ingredient. Thanks to that meat, Wild Frontier contains 40% protein and only about 4% carbohydrates. The carbs it does include are natural fiber to promote healthy digestion and prevent hairballs. 10% moisture content and about 18% fat content round out your cat’s major dietary needs.

Wild Frontier Grain Free dry cat food is free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, but is packed with nutrients like vitamin E, taurine, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and antioxidants. These nutrients aid in your cat’s overall health by encouraging a healthy metabolism, boosting your cat’s immune system, and aiding in skin and coat health.

Wild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food Key Features: 

  • Contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • 11-pound bag
  • Also available in 2 and 5-pound bags
  • Available in adult, indoor, kitten, and senior formulas

Best Wet Grain-Free Cat Food: Purina Beyond Wild Wet Cat Food

Best Wet Grain-Free Cat Food
Buy Now
Purina Beyond Wild Wet Cat Food

This food is packed with everything your cat needs to maintain their overall health.

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$19.08 USD

Purina Beyond Wild Wet Cat Food is the wet food version of our best budget grain-free cat food, so you can rest assured that it’s both high-quality and affordable. It’s available in two recipes: Turkey, Liver, and Quail Recipe and Salmon, Liver, and Arctic Char Recipe.

Turkey, quail, salmon, and arctic char are included in large quantities (turkey and salmon are the first ingredients for each recipe respectively) because they’re lean, but also high protein. Liver provides both recipes with an extra boost of protein, plus many other essential nutrients for your cat. In addition to at least 10% protein, at least 5% fat, and no more than 1% carbs, Purina Beyond Wild Wet Cat Food also provides your cat with calcium, potassium, zinc, taurine, folic acid, and vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-12, D-3, E, and K.

What it doesn’t include are corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-product meal, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Purina Beyond Wild Wet Cat Food Key Features:

  • High protein, nutrient dense liver
  • Contains twelve 3-ounce cans
  • No more than 78% moisture
  • Recognizable ingredients

Who Should Buy Grain-Free Cat Food

Some cats are allergic to certain grains or otherwise have issues digesting them. Food allergies in cats are rare and grain allergies are even rarer, but they are also serious, so if your vet determines that your cat does have a grain allergy it’s essential to eliminate grains from their diet. Symptoms of food allergies in cats, including grain allergies, include weight loss, chronic diarrhea, asthma, vomiting, and dry, itchy skin.

If your cat doesn’t have a special dietary restriction, it probably doesn’t need a strictly grain-free diet. What’s more important is to make sure that it has a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

In general, grain-free cat foods tend to be lower in carbohydrates than those containing grain. However, there are certainly high-carb grain-free foods and low-carb grain-free foods, so you want to make sure you read the nutritional label and don’t just assume that “grain-free” means healthy.

Top Pick
Buy Now
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Food

This food is packed with everything your cat needs to maintain their overall health.

buy now
$37.99 USD

Important Features to Consider

Grain-free cat food should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting grain-free food for your cat:

  • Macronutrient levels. “Macronutrients” refer to protein, carbs, and fat. A cat’s diet should be high in protein, with protein making up at least 35-45% of their caloric intake, with as few carbs as possible. About 15-20% of your cat’s caloric intake should come from fat. However, the guaranteed analysis on the cat food package – a cat food version of the nutrition facts on your food’s label – won’t strictly align with these numbers, since foods also contain moisture, ash, and other things that are essential for your cat’s health but don’t contribute calories. Instead, shoot for foods with a protein content that’s 2-2.5 times higher than the fat content and with minimal carbs. (Hint: carbs are called “fiber” in the guaranteed analysis).
  • Moisture content. On top of the water that cats drink, they also rely on the moisture in their food to keep them healthy and well hydrated, so pet owners need to make sure that their cat’s food contains enough of the wet stuff. Dry food alone typically doesn’t contain enough moisture, but that doesn’t mean that your only option is to buy expensive wet food. To give your cat the hydration they need, you can alternate between meals of wet food and meals of dry food, or mix the two together for each meal. You can also introduce a moist cat food complement to your cat’s diet to provide them with extra moisture, protein, and nutrients.
  • Special health concerns. Your cat’s health can impact the kind of food that you should feed her. For example, cats with allergies, sensitive digestive systems, or feline diabetes may need foods specially formulated for these types of dietary restrictions, but food can also affect your cat’s health beyond what they are and aren’t able to digest. Senior cats and kittens have different nutritional needs from adult cats and from one another, as do indoor and outdoor cats. Other health problems, like hairballs, urinary issues, or dry skin, can also be managed, at least in part, but special cat food formulas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is grain-free cat food?

Grain-free cat food is simply what it sounds like: cat food that doesn’t contain grains. There are lots of different types of grains, but the most common, especially in pet food, include wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley, flaxseed, and rye.

Will grain-free food help my cat lose weight?

Just switching your cat to any old grain-free cat food won’t necessarily help them lose weight, but switching to a low-carb, high-protein diet should, and these types of diets are easier to find among grain-free cat foods. Just be sure to check the nutritional information on the food’s label.

You should also remember that in excess, even healthy foods can contribute to weight problems, so make sure you’re giving your cat the recommended serving size at the recommended frequency.

Why is grain-free good for cats?

Not all grain-free foods are good for cats. However, grain-free diets tend to be lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein than diets that contain grains. This is closer to what a cat would eat in the wild and their natural nutritional needs.

Does grain-free cat food cause constipation?

As long as your cat stays well-hydrated, grain-free cat food should not cause constipation. Grain-free foods still contain some fiber, as well as fats that will help your cat continue to pass stool. However, if your cat goes more than 24 to 48 hours without defecating, consult a vet. It could be the change in diet, but you’ll also need to be sure to rule out other possible causes.

Other Grain-Free Cat Foods We Reviewed

Top Pick
Buy Now
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Dry Food

This food is packed with everything your cat needs to maintain their overall health.

buy now
$37.99 USD

We looked at 20 other grain-free cat foods. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best grain-free cat foods list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your cat. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Dry Grain-Free Cat Foods

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food-min

This cat food provides complete nutrition with gentle, easy-to-digest ingredients for cats with dietary sensitivities.

Key Features:

  • No poultry by-product meal, chicken, or beef
  • No eggs, soy, or dairy
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives

Cost: $35

Blue Buffalo Freedom

Blue Buffalo Freedom-min

Blue Buffalo’s Freedom line is grain-free, gluten-free, and artificial preservative-free.

Key Features:

  • Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits
  • Supports digestive and immune health
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight

Cost: $34

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food-min

CRAVE is inspired by cats’ natural ancestral diet and made with plenty of high-quality animal protein.

Key Features:

  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Balanced nutrients for healthy digestion, immunity, and muscle development

Cost: $31

Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Cat Food

 

Hill's Ideal Balance Grain Free Cat Food

This grain-free dry cat food provides complete nutrition for your cat’s overall health.

Key Features:

  • Supports bladder and digestive health
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Promotes healthy weight

Cost: $35

Muse by Purina Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Muse by Purina Grain Free Dry Cat Food-min

Purina boasts that this cat food provides complete nutrition, yet also has a taste that even picky cats will love.

Key Features:

  • No poultry by-product meal
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Recognizable ingredients like chicken, egg, pumpkin, peas, and spinach

Cost: $28

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food-min

This cat food is made of only a few simple, easy-to-digest ingredients for cats with dietary restrictions.

Key Features:

  • Supports digestion, muscle development, and skin and coat health
  • Complete nutrition for adult cats
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cost: $30

Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe

Nature's Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe-min

This cat food is freeze-dried to maintain taste and nutrition without any artificial preservatives.

Key Features:

  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Made from natural ingredients and nutrient fortified

Cost: $70

Nutro Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food

Nutro Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food-min

Nutro Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food is made from non-GMO ingredients.

Key Features:

  • Supports healthy immunity, digestion, and skin and coat
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Real poultry (duck or chicken, depending on the flavor) is the first ingredient

Cost: $35

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Grain-Free

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Grain-Free-min

Purina Cat Chow Naturals provides complete nutrition and natural ingredients.

Key Features:

  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Omega 6 fatty acid
  • Made with real chicken

Cost: $19

Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Cat Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Cat Food-min

Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK provides complete nutrition for your cat from one of everyone’s favorite chefs for people.

Key Features:

  • Contains U.S. farm-raised chicken, plus salmon and trout
  • No fillers, poultry by-product meal, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Fortified with added vitamins and minerals

Cost: $34

Wet Grain-Free Cat Foods

AvoDerm Natural

AvoDerm Natural-min

AvoDerm is made of real, natural ingredients like meat, sunflower oil, and avocado to provide your cat with complete nutrition.

Key Features:

  • Suitable for all life stages
  • No by-product meals
  • No artificial additives

Cost: $24

IAMS Perfect Portions

IAMS Perfect Portions-min

This wet cat food is perfectly divided to help you give your cat the right serving size for their weight.

Key Features:

  • No artificial preservatives
  • Provides complete nutrition
  • Supports a healthy immune system

Cost: $24

Purina Beyond Adult Wet Food

Purina Beyond Adult Wet Food-min

Purina Beyond Adult Wet Food is made with real meat and vegetables, but with no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.

Key Features:

  • No soy or poultry by-product meal
  • Mineral and nutrient fortified
  • Conforms to USDA, FDA, and AAFCO standards

Cost: $12

Purina Fancy Feast Appetizers Wet Cat Food Complement

Purina Fancy Feast Appetizers Wet Cat Food Complement-min

This wet food complement provides an extra boost of protein, nutrients, and moisture to your cat’s diet.

Key Features:

  • No by-products or fillers
  • Variety of flavor options
  • Made with high-quality meat protein and other recognizable ingredients

Cost: $11

Purina Fancy Feast Classic Pate Collections

Purina Fancy Feast Classic Pate Collections-min

This food comes in a variety pack with three different formulas to give your cat’s diet some variety as well as complete nutrition.

Key Features:

  • Contains real chicken
  • Vitamins and minerals to support your cat’s holistic health
  • Suitable across life stages

Cost: $15

Purina Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals

Purina Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals-min

This wet cat food is full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, but contains no fillers or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Key Features:

  • Made with real meat
  • No poultry by-products
  • Texture and scent are intended to be particularly appetizing to cats

Cost: $10

Purina Fancy Feast Purely Natural Entrees

Purina Fancy Feast Purely Natural Entrees-min

Fancy Feast Purely Natural Entrees are made from natural ingredients and fortified with vitamins and minerals for extra nutrition.

Key Features:

  • No by-products or fillers
  • Provides complete, balanced nutrition for adult cats
  • Made with real meat

Cost: $15

Purina Pro Plan Adult Wet Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan Adult Wet Cat Food

This canned wet food provides taurine plus 25 essential vitamins and minerals in each serving to support and maintain your cat’s overall health.

Key Features:

  • Made from real meat and vegetables
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Supports skin and coat health.

Cost: $23

Sheba Perfect Portions

Sheba Perfect Portions-min

This variety pack includes three different recipes, each of which will appeal to your cat and provide the complete, balanced diet that they need.

Key Features:

  • No artificial preservatives or flavors
  • Easy to proportion so you have no messy leftovers
  • Suitable for both adult cats and kittens

Cost: $13

Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food

Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food-min

These cans are hand-packed with cat food that provides your cat with a complete and balanced diet to support a healthy weight and their overall health.

Key Features:

  • Made with real meat
  • Pumpkin provides easily digestible fiber
  • Tuna provides protein and healthy oils.

Cost: $13

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