The best food for indoor cats is any food your cat will eat. As a cat owner, you’ve probably tried a dozen types of food. Now, you’re stuck with just a few your cat will deem edible. But is giving in to your cat’s stubbornness of not eating the best thing to do?
Cats are picky eaters, sure. Unfortunately, this pickiness prevents them from gaining nutrients from other essential food sources. And that’s a problem. Cats have basic nutritional needs. As the pet parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your cat’s needs are satisfied.
Let’s go into the details and find out what our cats need and what we can do to keep our cats happy and healthy.
Before moving forward have a quick look at the best cat food for indoor cats:
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Basic Nutritional Needs of Indoor Cats
Behind that cute face lies the instinct of a carnivore.
Cats are natural meat-eaters. They rely on animal products to gain a high amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Alongside, cats require a daily abundance of other nutrients, including minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids.
Since you have an indoor cat, it shouldn’t be that difficult to keep track of your kitty’s diet. However, you must educate yourself on what the best sources are. Along with that, you must also keep your kitty adequately hydrated.
Keep in mind, cats, in general, dislike water. And while most won’t keep themselves dehydrated, they won’t necessarily seek out water on their own. You will need to provide them with fresh water wherever they are, so they always have a water source around them.
If your cat is the picky sort, a water fountain makes a huge difference. But even with water fountains, you’ll want to make sure the water does not get stale, or the machine does not develop slime. Hydration is essential for your cat’s diet and health.
Lack of hydration will cause them to lose their appetite, making their dietary problems much worse.
Best Ingredients and Food Types for Indoor Cats
You’ll find the following common ingredients in all types of cat food:
- Fish meal
- Milk products
- Grains and grain by-products
- Poultry and poultry by-products
- Meat and meat by-products
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
However, commercial cat food will include various added ingredients for preservation and added flavor. Commercial cat food comes in three types:
In these, you’ll find a range of cat food that’ll differ by category types, such as digestibility, palatability, protein level, water content, and calorie density.
Within these three types, each will offer a range of flavors and textures. Whether your kitty likes it or not depends on its palette.
Dry cat food is not the same as dog biscuits. Unlike dog biscuits that you often feed your canine friend as treats, dry cat food is designed to provide your cat with some essential nutrition. This food is made using flavor enhancers to make the food more delicious.
However, cats often favor dry food as a one-off meal during the day instead of a regular 3-meal a day essential because of its dry texture. Dry food comes in larger packets which can be stored for a longer time.
However, it must be kept in an airtight container. Otherwise, the flavor enhancer coating can turn the food rancid.
Semi-moist food is a combination of dry and wet food. This food uses ingredients such as soybean meal, grain by-products, preservatives, cereals, and others to make the final products. Semi-moist products are about 35 percent moist, making them an attractive option for cats who like a bit of wet food with their dry food.
If your cat is a fast eater and likes to eat a lot, semi-moist food is a good option. But, keep in mind that semi-moist food does not last long.
Considering the inclusion of dry ingredients, semi-moist food has the tendency to dry out and become rancid if not consumed quickly enough.
Canned food is mainly moist food, with moisture making 75 percent of the food content.
Canned food comes in various flavors and is perhaps the most beneficial of all the above options. Aside from its ingredients list, this food also lasts long since canned food has the most extended shelf life. Canned food manufacturers also give more choices so that you will find gourmet canned cat foods with various meats such as liver and kidney and fruits and vegetables added to the list.
But be warned, not all canned food is the same, so be vigilant when buying food from any new company.
Homemade Cat Food
Homemade cat food is gentler on the stomach and more flavorful. But that’s only if you give your cat cooked homemade cat food instead of raw food.
While many outdoor and feral cats do at times eat raw meat, indoor cats cannot sustain the raw flavor and often dismiss it. Raw meat is also dangerous for cats since it exposes them to the risk of salmonella poisoning.
Homemade cat food only works best for your cat if you use the right ingredients and include things that give your kitty the nutrition they need.
In general, your feline should be able to eat just about any type of meat. However, it helps if you add the following ingredients to their diet:
- Rabbit (organs, skin, and bones)
- Salmon oil
- Vitamin E in capsule form
- Vitamin B-Complex
- Lite salt with iodine
Things to Consider While Buying Food for Indoor Cats
Remember the phrase, “you are what you eat,” when choosing cat food.
You’ll want to buy the best cat food there is that’s within your budget and great for your cat’s long-term health. For that, here are some details that’ll help you make the right choice:
1. Choose the Right Food for Their Age
Cat food is different according to how old your cat is.
For example, if you have a kitten, i.e., a feline under 12 months of age, you will need to get exclusive kitten food or kitten milk, so your cat gets its necessary nutrition. Your kitten will not be able to eat commercial cat food, raw meat, or cow milk without getting sick.
If you want to wean your cat off milk, you will ask a veterinarian for the proper recommendations.
As for adult cats, any cat food will do, but you will want to check the packaging label to ensure no unnecessary ingredients are added to the list. Cheaper products will have a lengthier ingredient list.
If you have a senior cat, you’ll want to be extra careful. Older cats experience their fair share of health issues, something that the wrong diet can worsen, and vice versa. Whether you’re buying dry or moist cat food or cooking food at home, you will want to ask your cat’s doctor before proceeding.
2. Be Informed on What Your Cat Can’t Eat
This goes for all cats of all ages.
It’s no problem if you buy tinned foods. But if you buy ingredients to cook cat food at home, you must understand what isn’t needed.
Cats can also eat different types of meat. For example, while cats can eat eggs, they can only eat boiled eggs, not raw. But it helps to have the meat cooked through and all the bones removed. Felines can also eat fish and pork but in small doses.
You can also feed your cat different fruits, such as apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and seedless watermelons. But any seeded fruits such as grapes or dry fruits such as raisins are toxic and dangerous for pets.
Cats must also stay away from dog food. While a sneaky nibble here and there won’t hurt them, having dog food long-term will cause nutrient deficiency because dog food has a different consistency than cat food.
3. Know the Difference between Food for Indoor Cats and Outdoor Cats
Flavor-wise, there is no difference between food for indoor and outdoor cats. But cat food for outdoor cats provides considerably more calories than indoor cat food. Keep in mind; outdoor cats burn more calories because they’re outside most of the day and can travel a few miles.
While your indoor cat does do its fair share of exercise at home, it doesn’t require the same calorie intake as your outdoor furbabies.
4. Know What to Avoid and What to Use
When buying tinned cat food, wet or dry, you’ll want to be on the lookout for several buzzwords in the ingredient list. These include the following:
- By-Products: Also referred to as bone and meat meal or animal digest, these by-products do not add any nutritional value to the meal and should be avoided.
- Chemical Preservatives: This includes preservatives such as propyl gallate, ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT.
- Cornmeal: This is mainly used as a filler and has no nutritional value.
- Carbohydrate Fillers: This includes grain, more commonly in dry food.
The terms mentioned above refer to unnecessary ingredients that do more harm than good. Instead of buying cat food that’s calorie-laden and filled with carbohydrates, look at the label for the following details:
- AAFCO Compliance: All cat foods should comply with the requirements specified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials
- Named Meats: The cat food should specify the used meat name in the label. Look for names such as “beef, chicken, lamb, or turkey.”
- Protein Sources: In addition to meats, any canned food should also name all protein sources in the first line of the ingredient list.
- Expiration Dates: All food should have a relevant expiration date to ensure quality and freshness.
5. Use a Variety of Cat Food
While your cat may have a particular preference, it helps to give them several food options throughout the day.
For example, if your cat loves wet food, try putting out some dry food for them to munch on throughout the day. Most cats like to graze during the day. Use dry food that uses the same meat that they love. Also, search for dry food that helps clean their teeth and supports their dental health.
As for treats, limit them to one time a day, preferably in the evening. Keeping your cat on such a schedule will help keep their diet under control.
6. Don’t Always Go for the Least Expensive Option
When it comes to cat food, you get what you pay for. If you pay a low price for a bucket load of cheap cat food, you’ll likely get low-quality food that won’t provide your cat with any natural nutrition.
Healthy cat food for indoor cats promotes dental health. But it also provides fiber in high quantity, is friendly to their gastrointestinal tract, and provides them with a lower but sustainable calorie intake.
Unless you know where the cheap cat food is made and what ingredients are used, be extra vigilant about your cat’s diet. Otherwise, your cat will bear the brunt of it.
7. Always Keep it Light
Are you tempted to cook a steak for your cat’s birthday so that it can dine like royalty? You might want to second-guess that idea.
Cats may be meat-eaters, but they do not have the heart or the digestive system to work heavy meat. Instead, if you’re cooking food for them at home, always use small amounts of cooked chicken, beef, turkey, or lean deli meats. These meats will benefit their vision, heart health, and their digestive and reproductive system.
Also, when cooking any meat, cut out the bones and fatty parts before serving. Fatty parts are useless to the meat, whereas bones can act as choking hazards, mainly if your cat eats each time ravenously.
8. Do Not Give Your Cat Treats as Food
Your cat loves its fair share of dreamies. So, why not give it a fistful of their favorite treats as a special lunch once in a while?
Cat treats can be great for cats, but these are not meant for everyday use. Treats such as dreamies and cat biscuits are high in calories. Like humans, if your cat overeats, it will end up with stomach issues such as diarrhea and vomiting. Cat treats do not contain the required minerals, vitamins, and nutrients for a balanced diet.
If need be, only provide your cat with a small number of treats once a day, so your cat doesn’t develop a taste for them.
The Best Cat Food Choices for Indoor Cats
1. Best General Cat Food for Indoor Cats—Smalls Human Grade Cat Food
If you haven’t heard of the brand Smalls before, it might be because it is underrated and unique.
Unlike many commercial cat food giants that create the same types of foods, Smalls puts the health of your cat first, experimenting with fresh ingredients that meet all targets required for cat nutrition.
Smalls’ human-grade fresh cat food is a new addition to their selection and is already flying off the virtual shelves. This food uses human-grade products that are USDA approved and harvested humanely.
This cat food comes in four categories: fish, bird (chicken), cow, and other birds (chicken liver and turkey). There is no mystery to the rest of their ingredient list. This brand does not use any fillers, preservatives, additive flavors, or artificial colors. Their food is lightly cooked and sold through a cat food subscription service.
- Four flavors to choose from
- Humanely harvested
- Human-grade, USDA approved
- No colors, preservatives, or artificial flavors
- Home delivery via a cat food subscription service
- It can only be stored in the freezer but can last 12 months if stored properly
- Only available through subscription
- Food cannot be refrigerated, though, once opened, it can be refrigerated for 5–7 days
2. Best Dry Food for Indoor Cats—American Journey Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
American Journey is a beloved brand among cats and cat owners.
What makes their dry food our best choice is the added moisture in their dry pellets. The grain-free dry cat food offers a bucket load of calories, including protein, fat, fiber, and 10 percent moisture.
Their grain-free recipe means that their food is void of grains, i.e., wheat, soy, or cor. Instead, what they get are healthy amino acids, antioxidants, fatty acids, and nutrients that keep your feline healthy and strong.
All products created by American Journey are made in US facilities. The products are also very affordable and cat-friendly, meaning that any cat can eat their food, whether a kitten or an elderly cat.
- Easily digestible
- Easy to eat
- High in protein
- Nutritious for cats of all ages
- Not beneficial for cats who require hydration
- Not all ingredients are obtained from within the United States
3. Best Wet Food for Indoor Cats—Tiki Cat Luau Wet Food
All the praise that Tiki Cat gets for its food is well-deserved.
Tiki Cat Luau wet food has a good grip on all cats who love wet food, so you’ll be doing your cat a favor by switching over to this brand.
The Tiki Cat Luau variety pack offers a range of options, including chicken, sea bass, salmon, and tilapia. All products sold by Tiki Cat are potato-free, grain-free, free of GMO, and provide 80 percent protein.
Their protein sources are all listed visibly on the label, so if you’re worried about any specific ingredient, simply glance through.
All wet food is made with broth for added nutrition and hydration. And thanks to their use of natural ingredients, there’s no fear of any by-products or fillers either.
The Tiki Cat Luau wet food is also recommended for senior felines who love the flavor but can’t have any grain ingredients in their food.
- High-quality ingredients made from fish and poultry
- Variety of flavors to choose from
- No use of fillers of by-products
- Grain-free, gluten-free, and free from GMO
- AAFCO certified
- Must be refrigerated after opening
- Made with chunks of protein, i.e., poultry or fish
- No pate recipes
4. Best Vet-Recommended Cat Food—Hills Prescription Diet
Unlike other cat foods, vet-prescribed cat foods offer a different quality of nutrition. These products are often high in moisture and use high-quality animal protein. They’re also free from any additives and contain minimal carbohydrates.
Hill’s Prescription Diet ranks at the top of the list because it can only be bought through a vet’s prescription and is the best choice of the lot. This product, in particular, works wonders for your cat’s health and special needs.
If your cat suffers from diabetes, IBD, hyperthyroidism, or a urinary tract infection, Hill’s Prescription Diet food is probably the best choice to save them from any pain or suffering.
Keep in mind; this specific food is not for all cats. It is only helpful for recovering from a serious illness, surgery, accident, or any metabolic changes. Each serving is packed with calories and contains enough protein and fat to bring your cat’s levels to be expected. But, it’s not valid for a healthy cat.
So, if you have a sick or senior cat who needs to gain weight, ask for Hill’s Prescription Diet food.
- Each can offers 180 calories
- It contains animal protein and fat
- Highly nutritious, ultra-digestible, and palatable
- Provides increased potassium levels
- Pate texture for sensitive teeth
- Not valid for healthy cats
- Has been recalled twice by the company
5. Best Cat Food for Overweight Cats—Blue Buffalo Weight Control Dry Food
Blue Buffalo is a favorite among cat owners who want especially healthy cat foods.
Their weight control dry cat food is another option that tops the list because of its healthy ingredients list.
Blue Buffalo is good, even for picky eaters. Made with a mix of calories and protein that keep your cat full without plying them with calories, the Blue Buffalo dry food uses deboned chicken, a blend of vitamins and antioxidants, and 30 percent protein to create a delicious meal.
So, if your cat likes to hate everything you put in front of it, you’ll surely break this hate streak with the weight control dry food.
Try not to give your cat too much at the beginning, though. You’ll want to create a smooth transition from their regular cat food to the weight control choice.
- Made with a blend of proteins, fats, and antioxidants
- Packed with healthy, natural ingredients
- Good for picky eaters
- Expensive than other formulas
6. Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs—Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Canned Cat Food
Royal Canin has made a reputation for itself as a reliable brand with delicious and nutritious food. And their Digest Sensitive Canned Cat Food further proves their brand’s greatness.
The Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Wet food comes in thin slices drenched in gravy, making it easy to chew and digest. Their cat food for sensitive stomachs also contains enough nutrients to give all cats over 12 months the energy and vitamins they need.
Their furrbaby food formula is designed to benefit the cat’s digestive tract without overwhelming it. So, while their food is an excellent blend of minerals, vitamins, highly digestible proteins, and more, it’s still low in calories.
If your cat eats far too quickly then experiences diarrhea or vomiting later, this food is an excellent option to train them to eat slowly.
- Reduces stool odor, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Improves hydration issues
- High in protein
- Made with gravy
- Suitable for all cats over one year old
- Can be mixed with dry food and as a separate meal
- Only four percent carb content
- Only one flavor option
- It Will need to be cut in chinks for cats with sensitive teeth or smaller cats
7. Best Cat Food for Kittens—Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Food
The brand Purina is highly-trusted, well-researched, and offers top-of-the-line cat food that ticks all the right boxes in terms of kitten health.
This healthy kitten food is $1 a pop and is available online and in pet stores just about everywhere. Although this kitten food is grain-free and meat-based, the formula doesn’t overwhelm your kitten’s digestive system.
So, you won’t have much problem finding a small can for emergencies. Instead, your kitten will probably end up cleaning the plate.
Even if your kitten is demanding, the pate will entice them enough to consume the can’s contents entirely.
- Recommended by vets
- Formulated by a team of veterinary nutritionists
- Not as affordable as other low-cost options
- Not big enough to feed larger kittens, so that several cans will be needed
Bonus: Dry Kitten Food—Purina Kitten Chow Dry Food
FAQs about Cat Food
Q.1: Can you feed your cat different cat foods every day?
Of course! There’s nothing wrong with giving your cat different food. But it’s highly unnecessary. If your cat likes some types of food, it’s best to stick to the tried-and-tested options.
You want them to have a balanced diet that doesn’t upset their stomach.
Q.2: When should I feed my kitten adult cat food?
Kittens become fully grown when they become one year old. However, larger breeds such as the Norwegian or the Maine Coon reach their full size and character by three years old.
If you want to switch your cat from kitten to adult cat food, you’ll want to start at the 12-month mark and move on from there, so your furbaby receives proper calories for healthy weight gain.
Q.3: Which food is better: dry or wet food?
Each food option has its pros and cons. While a dry food diet is cheaper and prevents dental tartar from building up, it’s doesn’t provide the necessary hydration your cat needs.
Wet food offers enough hydration and nutrients, but it lacks fiber. A combination of both wet and dry cat food is enough to keep your furbaby’s diet well-balanced.
Q.4: Won’t my cat get bored of eating the same food every day?
Yes, your cat will get bored with the same food. That’s why we recommend changing things up by introducing homemade cat food, broths, treats, and milk to their diet.
Q.5: Should I feed my cat hot or cold food?
Cats don’t like cold food from the fridge, but they can’t tolerate very hot food either. Room temperature is the best option or slightly warm, so it resembles the temperature of fresh prey.
Feeding your indoor cat is not that much of a problem if you have all the information at hand.
With the details mentioned above, you’ll not only be able to pick a cat food that your cat will like, but you’ll also do so knowing that your cat is receiving all the nutrients it needs to live a healthy, happy, and secure life indoors.