Best budget cat food that is healthy and affordable

If you think you can not afford to feed your cat a healthy diet because “good cat food is expensive” and you are on a low budget, I am here to tell you that you can!

In this Article
You will find 20 detailed reviews about the best affordable wet and dry cat foods on the market, that can still provide a healthy living for your cat. 

Table of content [click to expand]

How did I choose my top picks?

quality and price balance cat food

I made sure the cat food options I reviewed can offer adequate cat nutrition. I looked at the first 5 ingredients on the label and the percentages of the guaranteed analyses, considering if the formula is grain-free and if it uses an animal fat source instead of manmade oils. Also, I checked if they contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals according to AAFCO’s guidelines. And, of course, all these cat food options are affordable even when you are on a budget!

Best overall budget cat food

Good quality for price, grain-free formulas, species-appropriate

WholeHearted® Chicken & Beef Recipe Paté in Gravy for cats

High in animal-protein content with real chicken and beef as main protein ingredients, Grain-free, low-carb recipe, with No artificial ingredients

Kitzy Turkey & Pea Recipe, Grain Free Dry Cat Food

This food offers relatively species-appropriate nutrition being moderate in animal-protein with real Turkey #1 Ingredient, low in fat and a reasonable carb content, it is ...

Runner-up

Second best choices

Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

This is a good species-appropriate paté canned cat food you can get on a budget. Grain-free recipes, artificial additives free, with high animal-based protein, low carbs, and an ...

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

This food is a high-protein grain-free cat kibble with a total of 40% crude protein and deboned turkey as the first ingredient, but the recipe features a considerable amount of ...

Best for multiple cats

American Journey Paté Poultry Variety Pack Grain-Free

This grain-free formula is generally made from high-quality chicken and turkey meats, broth and liver, thickened and stabilized with guar gum, cassia gum, and xanthan gum and ...

Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina Beyond is a limited-ingredient cat food recipe with real chicken and chicken meal as the primary protein sources, and pea proteina s a secondary source. The food has ...

But first, before we jump into more details, I need to clear up some important things!

!!!
Misconceptions are circulating the web that animal by-products in cat food lead to health problems, but the actual risk factors to a cat’s health are the lack of moisture and high carbohydrate content in their diet. 
There is no evidence that meat by-products harm your cat’s health!

Even though some people say by-products can contain any part of an animal like feathers (that we humans consider disgusting), here is the news flash: if your carnivore cat would hunt and eat a mouse or a bird in the wild, all kinds of parts from that prey would end up in your cat’s stomach anyway! And cats get their nutrition from all the parts of an animal, including ‘disgusting’ organs.

Meat by-products mean cleaned organs that are nutrient-rich for your cat’s diet, which includes the liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen, blood, stomach, and intestines. By-products are not allowed to contain any feathers, beaks, hair, hooves, or teeth according to the FDA.  

The meat meal found in pet food also contains parts of an animal not consumed by humans, which get rendered (cooked at high temperatures) to eliminate bacteria and then dehydrated into a dry powdery substance that is added mostly to kibble.

Find more about ‘What is in pet food’ from AAFCO and our Cat Food – The Complete Guide to Cat Nutrition article.

With that said, here are the best affordable cat food products we’ve picked and reviewed, meeting your cat’s nutritional needs at a low price for you. 

The 10 Best budget wet cat foods 

Canned foods always have the advantage of quality and price because they are usually low in carbohydrates, rich in moisture, and preserve more natural nutrients than extruded kibble helping your cat have a more species-appropriate diet.

Plus, the following wet cat foods are the healthiest options under 30 cents per ounce, making them the cheapest you can find on the market.

back to menu ↑

Top 10 Best Budget Wet Cat Food at a glance [click to expand]

WholeHearted® Chicken & Beef Recipe Paté in Gravy for cats

High in animal-protein content with real chicken and beef as main protein ingredients, Grain-free, low-carb recipe, with No artificial ingredients

Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

This is a good species-appropriate paté canned cat food you can get on a budget. Grain-free recipes, artificial additives free, with high animal-based protein, low carbs, and an …

American Journey Paté Poultry Variety Pack Grain-Free

This grain-free formula is generally made from high-quality chicken and turkey meats, broth and liver, thickened and stabilized with guar gum, cassia gum, and xanthan gum and …

Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food

Even though it is NOT grain-free, this wet cat food is high in animal protein content with moderate fat and low in carbs content, and does not contain any artificial dyes, …

Tiny Tiger Chunks in Gravy Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

This is probably one of the best grain-free, gravy-based wet cat food you can find on a budget, that also uses an animal-based source of fat, and fish and fish oil as extra …

Freshpet® Select Chicken & Beef Recipe, Grain Free Gourmet Paté for cats

This nutrient dense wet cat food has about 40% animal protein in the dry matter, and uses fresh animal muscle and organ meats that haven’t been pre-processed, to offer you cat the …

Triumph Free Spirit Grain-Free Turkey & Giblets Dinner

The formula is based on turkey as a main protein with plenty other animal ingredients like chicken, poultry giblets, and dried egg product and doesn’t contain any vegetables or …

Purina Fancy Feast® Poultry & Beef Classic Paté Collection Variety Pack

Overall, these recipes lose a bit of integrity from the vaguely-named and artificial ingredients, but still offer a species-appropriate macronutrient distribution that meets a …

Dave’s Naturally Healthy™ Food Beef & Chicken Dinner

This paté is primarily made out of beef and chicken meats and livers, it is grain-free, and made without any artificial additives, dyes, or preservatives, it does not contain any …

Purina ONE® Beef Recipe Premium Paté

This food offers proper carnivore nutrition with protein from meats and organs, is grain-free and thickened without carrageenan, doesn’t contain any harmful artificial additives …
back to menu ↑

1. WholeHearted® Chicken & Beef Recipe Paté in Gravy for cats

Price range: 14.28$, case of 12, 5.5 oz, – 0.21$ per ounce
WholeHearted Chicken and Beef Recipe Pate in Gravy for cats

By far I think this is the best wet cat food you can get on a budget! The Petco brand WholeHearted® brings to the table good species-appropriate recipes, with low carb content, offering grain-free formulas with clearly named ingredients, and containing no artificial additives, dyes, or preservatives. 

This smooth and creamy paté recipe combines chicken and beef as the main sources of protein, with the first four ingredients being of animal origin followed by tapioca starch as an ingredient to thicken and bind the food. The recipe uses sunflower oil as the main fat source and fish oil for a boost of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, although it would have been better if the fish oil was the primary source of fat and not the sunflower oil.

Nevertheless, for the low price, this is as good as proper nutritious wet cat food can get.

The recipe doesn’t contain any gums or carrageenan as thickeners or binders, no unspecified ‘added colors’ or meat by-products, and has all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids to be complete and balanced for cats of all life stages according to AAFCO’s established nutrient profiles.

The only downfall of this formula is that it contains sunflower oil and tapioca starch, which are not harmful to cats but unnecessary for carnivore nutrition.

Nutritional Information:
Ingredients: chicken broth, chicken, beef, dried egg product, tapioca starch, sunflower oil, salt, natural flavor, taurine, fish oil, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, dried celery, zinc oxide, reduced iron, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, copper amino acid complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, biotin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, potassium iodide, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity).

Caloric Content: 400 kcal/12.5oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 10%
•Crude fat: min 3%
•Crude fiber: max 1%
•Moisture: max 80 %
•Ash: max 4% 
•Carbs: approx. 2% 

WholeHearted® Chicken & Beef Recipe Paté in Gravy for cats

High in animal-protein content with real chicken and beef as main protein ingredients, Grain-free, low-carb recipe, with No artificial ingredients

Overall, this is the best wet cat food you can get at a low affordable price, and it comes not only in a paté formula, but also in similar ingredient formulas with different textures like shredded meats in gravy formulas, and morsels in gravy formulas with various animal proteins like chicken, beef, tuna, salmon and ocean fish for the same price! So if you have a gravy lover kitty you can check out their other wet cat food products too.

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Real chicken and beef as the main protein ingredients
  • 4 out of the First 5 ingredients have an animal origin
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Suitable for cats of all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and taurine 
  • Low carb content
  • Without carrageenan or thickening gums
  • Species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low cost (approx. 0.21$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Contains sunflower oil
  • Uses tapioca starch to thicken the food
back to menu ↑

2. Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

Price range: 16.86$, case of 24, 3oz,0.23$ per ounce
Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack wet cat food

This is a close runner-up for a good species-appropriate paté canned cat food you can get on a budget.

The Tiny Tiger beef and poultry variety pack contains paté-type recipes with three different proteins beef, chicken, and turkey.

Its downfalls are that it uses not clearly named meat by-product, which makes us think it could contain some low-quality animal ingredients; guar gum as a thickener; and unspecified “added color“, but everything else in this food is as good as it can get for carnivore-worthy nutrition. 

What we know for sure about the meat by-products in this paté cat food is that the source of the meat by-product (and the broth) in the beef recipe is pork, and the meat byproducts used in the chicken and turkey recipes are derived from the main protein source of the named formula, which is chicken or turkey. And until proven otherwise we need to believe that meat by-products are not bad for our cats, although the recipe would have more nutritional integrity if the animal parts used in the meat by-products were clearly stated. 

All the recipes in this beef and poultry variety pack contain potato starch and guar gum used as binding agents to thicken and stabilize the food. Although guar gum is a plant-based gum ingredient frowned upon in the cat community, it is relatively safe for cats to ingest and it may only irritate SOME stomach-sensitive cats.  

Each recipe states an “added color” in its formula, which refers to added minerals like iron oxides, titanium dioxide, or sodium nitrate, found in very small amounts, to enhance the color of the food. They are quite safe for cats to consume but totally unnecessary, but they are surely not artificial FD&C dyes that have been banned by the FDA.

tiny tiger pate cat food

Also, the cans containing the food are made from aluminum, they are recyclable and BPA-free.   

The fish found in the beef and in the chicken recipes, in case your cat has an allergy to fish, is ocean whitefish, which might include cod, haddock, sole, and flounders, but the exact species of the fish is not specified.

In case you were wondering about the metabolic energy (ME) profile and the typical nutrient analyses (TNA) of these recipes, in the beef formula there is approx. 48% of calories come from protein, 44% of calories are metabolized from fat, and 9% from carbs. The chicken recipe has approx 40% of calories from protein, 51% calories coming from fat, and also 9% from carbohydrates. The turkey and giblets formula has approx. 44% of calories are metabolized from protein, 51% from fat, and only 6% from carbs. 

Tiny Tiger is a cat food brand that is currently sold by Chewy but can be also found on Amazon.

Nutritional Information:
Tiny Tiger Pate Beef Recipe:
Ingredients: beef, meat broth, liver, fish, meat by-products, natural flavor, tricalcium phosphate, guar gum, potassium chloride, choline chloride, vitamins (thiamine mononitrate, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), taurine, salt, magnesium sulfate, added color, sodium nitrite (to promote color retention).

Caloric Content: 93 kcal/3oz can

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 11%
•Crude Fat (min): 4%
•Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
•Moisture (max): 78%
•Ash (max): 3.5%
•Carbs (max): approx. 2%

Tiny Tiger Pate Chicken Recipe:
Ingredients: chicken, chicken broth, liver, meat by-products, fish, natural flavor, guar gum, potassium chloride, added color, choline chloride, vitamins (thiamine mononitrate, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), taurine, salt, magnesium sulfate, sodium nitrite (to promote color retention).

Caloric Content: 95 kcal/3oz can

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 10%
•Crude Fat (min): 5%
•Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
•Moisture (max): 78%
•Ash (max): 3.2%
•Carbs (max): approx. 2.3%

Tiny Tiger Pate Turkey and Giblets Recipe:
Ingredients: turkey, liver, meat by-products, turkey broth, poultry giblets, natural flavor, guar gum, potassium chloride, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), taurine, salt, tricalcium phosphate, menhaden fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols) magnesium sulfate.

Caloric Content: 94 kcal/3oz can

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 11%
•Crude Fat (min): 5%
•Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
•Moisture (max): 78%
•Ash (max): 3%
•Carbs (max): approx. 1.5%

Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

This is a good species-appropriate paté canned cat food you can get on a budget. Grain-free recipes, artificial additives free, with high animal-based protein, low carbs, and an ...

These grain-free recipes are overall high in animal-based protein, low in carbs, they contain an optimal amount of animal-derived source of fat, to which are added the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to be complete and balanced and appropriate for all life stages according to AAFCO’s established nutrient profiles.  

Of all the three options in this Variety pack, if you are looking to get an individual recipe, the Turkey and giblets it’s a winner, with the lowest amount of carbs contained and menhaden fish oil that provides a healthy source of omega 3 fatty acids. 

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Real beef, chicken, or turkey as the first ingredient
  • 5 out of the First 5 ingredients have an animal origin
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for cats of all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and taurine 
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low carb content
  • BPA-free, recyclable aluminum cans
  • Without carrageenan
  • Low cost (approx. 0.23$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Contains not specified “added color” -not banned artificial dyes, less likely harmful, but unnecessary
  • Contains not clearly named meat by-products
  • Contains guar gum as a thickening agent
  • Uses unspecified source of liver and fish
back to menu ↑

3. American Journey Paté Poultry Variety Pack Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Price range: 35.58$, case of 12, 12.5 oz, 0.24$ per ounce
American Journey Paté Poultry Variety Pack Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

This is the cheapest option of wet food from the American Journey brand and these recipes are generally made from high-quality animal proteins like chicken and turkey meats and liver. The formula is thickened and stabilized with guar gum, cassia gum, and xanthan gum and blended into a smooth paté. All gums are being frequently used in wet cat food recipes, especially the cheaper kind, and are safe for cats to ingest, but quite unnecessary for feline nutrition. 

The recipe contains fish oil, menhaden fish oil to be exact, which is a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids that help your cat have a healthy skin and coat, but, down the ingredient list we can as well find sunflower oil, which is a plant-sourced oil, and as all manmade oils it’s not proper for carnivores. Sunflower oils are high in omega-6 fatty and have a pro-inflammatory effect on some cats.

Inulin (chicory root) is added to the formula as a prebiotic to help your cat absorb better the necessary nutrients from the food. The food does not include any artificial ingredients like colors, flavors, or preservatives, it includes all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to be complete and balanced for cats of all life stages according to AAfco guidelines and the cans it is stored in are BPA non-intent (BPA-free).

There are a few plant ingredients in these recipes like flaxseeds (used as an extra source of omega-3 fatty acids to balance the omega-6 and omega-3 levels) cranberries, and blueberries, which contribute to the total carb content of the food making it just a little bit higher than necessary for carnivores, but overall this is one of the best canned cat food you can find on a budget. 

American Journey Pate Variety Pack Cat Food

The metabolizable energy (ME) profile of the chicken formula (meaning how many calories come from protein, fat, and from carbs) is 36% from protein, 62% from fat, and 0.4% from carbohydrates. For the turkey recipe, the metabolizable percentage of calories from protein is 31%, 68% from fat, and only 0.2% from carbs. 

The size of the cans is beneficial for a household with multiple cats, but if you have just one cat, once you open a can it needs to be refrigerated and consumed within a maximum of 3 days. 

American Journey is found only on Chewy and PetSmart. 

Nutritional Information
The chicken recipe:
Ingredients:
chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, natural flavor, flaxseed, guar gum, taurine, potassium chloride, cassia gum, xanthan gum, cranberries, blueberries, salt, choline chloride, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), inulin, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, sunflower oil, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract.

Caloric Content: 400 kcal/12.5oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 10%
•Crude fat: min 6%
•Crude fiber: max 1%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: 1.2% (as fed)
•Carbs: approx. 3.86% (dry matter)


The turkey recipe:
Ingredients: turkey, turkey broth, turkey liver, natural flavor, flaxseed, guar gum, taurine, potassium chloride, salt, cassia gum, xanthan gum, cranberries, blueberries, choline chloride, inulin, magnesium sulfate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), thiamine mononitrate, sunflower oil, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract.

Caloric Content: 407 kcal/12.5oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 10%
•Crude fat: min 6%
•Crude fiber: max 1%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: 1.2% (as fed)
•Carbs: approx 2.27% (dry matter)

American Journey Paté Poultry Variety Pack Grain-Free

This grain-free formula is generally made from high-quality chicken and turkey meats, broth and liver, thickened and stabilized with guar gum, cassia gum, and xanthan gum and ...

Overall American Journey is one of the best budget wet cat food, offering good quality for the price and it’s nutritionally similar to cat food bands like Nulo or Wellness Complete Health, but a little cheaper. These recipes are high in protein, moderate in fat, and relatively low in carbohydrates. 

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Contains cleary-named meats and organs
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No carrageenan
  • Complete and balanced for all life stages by AAFCO
  • An animal-based primary source of fat
  • Grain-free
  • BPA-free cans
  • Relatively low carb content 
  • Species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Added prebiotics (inulin) for easy digestion
  • Low cost (approx. 0.24$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Uses sunflower oil
  • Uses guar gum, cassia gum, and xanthan gum, unnecessary gums as thickeners and stabilizers
  • Contains vegetable-based ingredients: flaxseed, blueberries, cranberries, rosemary extract
back to menu ↑

4. Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food

Price range: 32.40$, 24pcs, 5.5oz,approx. 0.24$ per ounce
Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food

Authority is a PetSmart brand that offers cat food slightly better in ingredient quality than brands like Friskies, but cheaper. 

This chicken pate recipe is generally made from chicken proteins, like chicken meat and chicken liver to which is added ocean fish and dried egg product. The fish is not clearly named so it could be any species of whitefish. 

Even though it doesn’t contain any meat by-products, and the recipe is high in animal proteins, it uses an unnecessary small amount of brewer’s rice, which does not provide any nutrition to a carnivore cat. Brewer’s rice is leftover broken pieces of white rice after making beer. A very common ingredient in cheap pet foods. 

Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food

The recipe contains menhaden fish oil, which is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and guar gum as a thickener and stabilizer instead of carrageenan. 

To the formula are added the necessary synthetic supplements according to AAFCO’s food nutrient profiles for adult maintenance to be complete and balanced for adult cats between 1 and 7 years old, to which is added a small amount of brewer’s dried yeast as a good source of B vitamins and to enhance the food’s flavor. 

Nutritional Information:
Ingredients: chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, ocean fish, brewers rice, dried egg product, guar gum, salt, potassium chloride, menhaden fish oil, taurine, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), brewers dried yeast, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, potassium iodide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite)

Caloric Content: 183 kcal/ 5.5 oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 10%
•Crude fat: min 6.5%
•Crude fiber: max 0.8%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 2.5%
•Carbs: approx. 2.2%

Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food

Even though it is NOT grain-free, this wet cat food is high in animal protein content with moderate fat and low in carbs content, and does not contain any artificial dyes, ...

Overall, even though it is not grain-free, this wet cat food is high in protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content and does not contain any artificial dyes, additives, or preservatives.

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • 4 out of the 5 First ingredients are animal proteins (excluding the chicken broth)
  • No carrageenan
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for adult cats according to AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low cost (approx. 0.24$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Contains grains (rice)
  • Contains not clearly named fish species
  • Uses unnecessary guar gum as a thickener
  • Not suitable for kittens or senior cats
  • Found only at PetSmart and is always low on stock according to customers’ reviews
back to menu ↑

5. Tiny Tiger Chunks in Gravy Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

Price range: 17.49$, case of 24, 3oz, – 0.24$ per ounce
Tiny Tiger Chunks in Gravy Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

If your cat is a gravy lover, this variety pack comes at a good deal for quality and price considering its low-cost wet cat food. 

As the recipes found in the paté recipes from Tiny Tiger, this gravy formula has almost the same ingredients, but with little more moisture, broth being the first ingredient. 

All these recipes contain potato starch as a gravy thickener which adds to the carb content and guar gum as a binder and stabilizer. To the unspecified meat by-products as a protein source, the gravy formula also has added unnamed liver, poultry, or ocean fish as protein sources, which could mean low-quality sourced meats, but we established that meat by-products do not harm your cat and are prohibited from containing parts of animals like feathers, beaks, hair, etc. If you have a cat prone to allergies, we recommend a more premium tailored cat food, based on your cat’s needs, with clearly named ingredients.

The ‘added color’ stated in the ingredients it’s not an artificial dye, but rather some “natural” mineral used in small amounts to give extra color to the food. These are completely unnecessary in a cat’s diet, but they are considered legal. 

tiny tiger chunks in gravy wet cat food

Not all the approved color additives seem so good, for example, the iron oxide is found in rusting metal (so basically rust) and used in cheap pet food to give it a more durable, red, meaty color, and titanium dioxide which makes food more white has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Sodium nitrate is another color enhancer and/or flavor enhancer for meat that is also questionable. Other color additives are more “safe” like canthaxanthin which is found in certain fish and algae and gives a more pink/orange color to foods, or cochineal found in insects which gives a red-purple color to the food. As the exact source of the added color in the Tiny Tiger cat food is not mentioned by name, Chewy at least lets us know it is NOT one of the banned FD&C dyes by the FDA. 

These recipes are suitable for cats of all life stages and AAFCO approved. 

Nutritional Information:
Tiny Tiger Chunks in gravy Beef recipe
Ingredients: beef broth, beef, liver, poultry, meat by-products, ocean fish, dried egg product, potato starch, natural flavor, tricalcium phosphate, salt, guar gum, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), dl-methionine, taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), magnesium sulfate, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols).

Caloric Content: 77 kcal/3oz can

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 11%
•Crude Fat (min): 2%
•Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
•Moisture (max): 80%
•Ash (max): 2.5%
•Carbs (max): approx. 3%

Tiny Tiger Chunks in gravy Chicken recipe
Ingredients: chicken broth, chicken, liver, turkey, meat by-products, dried egg product, potato starch, natural flavor, guar gum, salt, sodium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), dl-methionine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), taurine, magnesium sulfate, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols).

Caloric Content: 80 kcal/3oz can

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 11%
•Crude Fat (min): 2%
•Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
•Moisture (max): 80%
•Ash (max): 2.7%
•Carbs (max): approx: 2.8%

Tiny Tiger Chunks in gravy Turkey and giblets recipe
Ingredients: turkey broth, turkey, liver, chicken, meat by-products, dried egg product, potato starch, natural flavors, guar gum, salt, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), dl-methionine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), taurine, magnesium sulfate, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols).

Caloric Content: 81 kcal/3oz can

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 11%
•Crude Fat (min): 2%
•Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
•Moisture (max): 80%
•Ash (max): 2.7%
•Carbs (max): approx. 2.8%

Tiny Tiger Chunks in Gravy Beef & Poultry Recipes Variety Pack

This is probably one of the best grain-free, gravy-based wet cat food you can find on a budget, that also uses an animal-based source of fat, and fish and fish oil as extra ...

Overall, this is the best grain-free, gravy-based wet cat food you can find on a budget, that also uses an animal-based source of fat, and fish oil as an extra source of omega-3 fatty acids. The recipes are high in protein, low in fat, and low in carb content and are made without potentially carcinogenic ingredients like carrageenan.

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • 5 out of the First 5 ingredients are animal-based (after the beef broth)
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Suitable for all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low carb content for a gravy recipe
  • BPA-free, recyclable aluminum cans
  • Without carrageenan
  • Species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low cost (approx. 0.24$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Contains unspecified and unnecessary“added color” – not artificial dyes 
  • Contains not specified meat by-products, liver, or ocean fish
  • Uses guar gum as a thickener
  • Uses potato starch as a thickener
back to menu ↑

6. Freshpet® Select Chicken & Beef Recipe, Grain Free Gourmet Paté for cats

Price range: 3.48$ – 4.19$, 1lb roll (16oz), – between 0.21$ and 0.24$ per ounce
 Freshpet Select Chicken & Beef Recipe,  Pate for cats

Even though Freshpet® is cheaper than above mentioned wet cat food options, this product ends up in sixth place solely because of its choice of ingredients.

Freshpet® Select contains about 40% animal protein in the dry matter and uses fresh animal muscle and organ meats that have never been pre-processed, which makes it more nutrient-dense and easier for cats to digest.

This slice and serve roll of paté-style cat food contains about 7.5 oz of chicken and chicken liver, 3 oz of beef and eggs, and 4.5 oz of chicken broth, to which are added the essential vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced meal for cats of all life stages, following the AAFCO guidelines. The formula also has a small amount of pea protein in its ingredients which is a common secondary source of protein used in cat food.

The recipe uses tapioca starch as a binder and thickener to help combine the fresh ingredients. Tapioca is a gluten-free starch made from the root of the cassava plant. The food is also thickened with carrageenan which could potentially cause inflammatory issues in some cats. Even food-grade carrageenan can become degraded when in contact with stomach acid, so carrageenan-containing products should not contain more than the safe level of 5% degraded carrageenan which is carcinogenic. 

The paté is gently steamed at low temperatures without any preservatives, fillers, or artificial colors and needs to be stored in the fridge, with a consumption period of 7 days once opened. And it has the same moisture content as fresh, human-grade meats.

Nutritional Information:
Ingredients: chicken, chicken broth, beef, chicken liver, natural flavors, eggs, tapioca starch, pea protein, carrageenan, pea fiber, salt, potassium chloride, Vitamins (choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, sodium selenite, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), Minerals (calcium carbonate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate), taurine, fish oil, celery powder.

Caloric Content: 272 kcal / ½ lb (8 oz), approx 34kcal per ounce

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 10%
•Crude Fat (min): 6 %
•Crude Fiber (max): 1%
•Moisture (max): 78%
•Crude Ash (max): 2.4%
•Carbs (max): approx. 1.6%

!!! The nutritional information of this cat food may occasionally change considering the ingredients are fresh meats, so we recommend that you always read the label for more accurate information.  

Freshpet® Select Chicken & Beef Recipe, Grain Free Gourmet Paté for cats

This nutrient dense wet cat food has about 40% animal protein in the dry matter, and uses fresh animal muscle and organ meats that haven't been pre-processed, to offer you cat the ...

Freshpet® Select Chicken & Beef Recipe can be found in the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom in a pet shop near you that offers fresh pet food, as well as online in some shops including Amazon. Check out here where to buy it in a shop or online, in your area. 

Overall, this is the best relatively species-appropriate, grain-free paté that comes very close to fresh cat food you can find on a budget. With a recipe high in animal protein, moderate fat content, and very low in carbohydrates, the ONLY major downside is that it contains carrageenan.

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Species-appropriate
  • Contains cleary-named meats and organs
  • 5 out of the First 5 ingredients are animal-based (excluding the natural flavor)
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for all life stages according to AAFCO standards
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and taurine 
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low carb content 
  • Species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low cost (approx. 0.21$ – 0.24$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Contains carrageenan
  • Uses tapioca starch as a thickener
  • Contains a small amount of concentrated vegetable protein
  • Prone to spoil more quickly than stated on the label, according to customer reviews
back to menu ↑

7. Triumph Free Spirit Grain-Free Turkey & Giblets Dinner Canned Cat Food

Price range: 33.33$, case of 24, 5.5oz, – approx. 0.25$ per ounce
Triumph Free Spirit Grain-Free Turkey & Giblets Dinner Canned Cat Food

Triumph Free Spirit recipes distinguish from their usual paté formulas for cats, as they do not contain rice flour as a thickener making them more species-appropriate for felines.

The formula is based on turkey as the main protein with plenty of other animal ingredients like chicken, poultry giblets, and dried egg product, and doesn’t contain any vegetables or grains and is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of adult cats according to AAFCO’s nutrient profiles for maintenance. 

The recipe uses guar gum and carrageenan as thickening agents and while both are nutritionally useless for cats, guar gum is safer as is derived from the guar beans rather than carrageenan which although derives from a species of edible red seaweed, is extracted using chemical solvents making it potentially carcinogenic and prone to cause inflammation in cats over time. 

Nutritional Information:
Ingredients: turkey broth, turkey, chicken, poultry giblets, dried egg product, guar gum, potassium chloride, salt, minerals (zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), choline chloride, carrageenan, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), taurine.

Caloric Content: 211 kcal / 5.5oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 9%
•Crude fat: min 6.5%
•Crude fiber: max 1%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 2.8%
•Carbs: approx 2.7%

Triumph Free Spirit Grain-Free Turkey & Giblets Dinner

The formula is based on turkey as a main protein with plenty other animal ingredients like chicken, poultry giblets, and dried egg product and doesn’t contain any vegetables or ...

Overall, this food is relatively low in carb content, moderate fat, and high in animal protein, with no added artificial ingredients.

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Species-appropriate
  • Contains cleary-named meats and organs
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial additives and dyes
  • Complete and balanced for adult cat maintenance by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and taurine 
  • Relatively low carb content
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low cost (approx. 0.25$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Uses potentially harmful carrageenan as a binder
  • Uses unnecessary guar gum as a thickener
  • Not suitable for kittens and senior cats
back to menu ↑

8. Purina Fancy Feast® Poultry & Beef Classic Paté Collection Variety Pack

Price range: 20.97$ – 24.00$, case of 30, 3oz, – approx. 0.23$ – 0.26$ per ounce
Purina Fancy Feast Poultry & Beef Classic Paté Collection Variety Pack

This paté variety pack contains three of Fancy Feast’s essential recipes featuring beef, chicken, and turkey as primary protein sources. Each recipe contains an animal-based broth according to the main protein, an unspecified type of liver meat, not clearly named type of fish which could include low-value fish parts, and also not clearly stated meat by-products which could include possible low-quality meats and tissues from pigs, cows, sheep or goats. Although these ingredients are not harmful to cats, for kitties with food allergies these formulas would not make it easy to pinpoint the cause of sensitivity, but nonetheless, these are very common ingredients in low-cost cat food. 

All these recipes contain vaguely named ‘artificial and natural flavors’ which it’s not appealing to many customers. Artificial flavor usually makes cats become addicted to the taste of the food and it will be harder to transition them to another brand if needed. 

Sodium nitrite is used in all formulas to promote color retention as the last ingredient, except for the chicken recipe which also contains “added color” as another vaguely-named ingredient to make the food more visually appealing for cats. 

Guar gum is used as a thickener and stabilizer as in many cheap wet cat foods, which is a relatively safe and natural biding agent made from guar beans. 

The chicken and the beef classic paté feast recipes contain all the necessary supplements (vitamins, minerals, and amino acids) to be complete and balanced for cats of all life stages according to AAFCO’s guidelines, and the turkeys and giblets feast recipe is formulated for adult cat maintenance only, so it’s not suitable for kittens or senior cats. 

Nutritional Information:
Classic Paté Tender Beef Feast:
Ingredients: beef, meat broth, liver, fish, meat by-products, artificial and natural flavors, guar gum, tricalcium phosphate, salt, minerals: potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide], taurine, vitamins: thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin E supplement, niacin (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, biotin (vitamin B7), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin D3 supplement, sodium nitrite (to promote color retention).


Caloric Content: 93 kcal / 3oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 11%
•Crude fat: min 4%
•Crude fiber: max 1.5%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 3.25%
•Carbs: approx 2.25%

Classic Paté Chicken Feast: 
Ingredients: chicken, poultry broth, liver, meat by-products, fish, artificial and natural flavors, tricalcium phosphate, guar gum, added color, salt, minerals: potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide], taurine, vitamins: thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin E supplement, niacin (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, biotin (vitamin B7), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin D3 supplement, sodium nitrite (to promote color retention). 


Caloric Content: 98 kcal / 3oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 10%
•Crude fat: min 5%
•Crude fiber: max 1.5%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 3.25%
•Carbs: approx 2.25%

Classic Paté Turkey & Giblets Feast
Ingredients: turkey, liver, meat by-products, turkey broth, poultry giblets, artificial and natural flavors, guar gum, tricalcium phosphate, minerals: potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide, salt, taurine, vitamins: thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin E supplement, niacin (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, biotin (vitamin B7), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin D3 supplement. 


Caloric Content: 94 kcal / 3oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 11%
•Crude fat: min 5%
•Crude fiber: max 1.5%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 3%
•Carbs: approx 1.5%

Purina Fancy Feast® Poultry & Beef Classic Paté Collection Variety Pack

Overall, these recipes lose a bit of integrity from the vaguely-named and artificial ingredients, but still offer a species-appropriate macronutrient distribution that meets a ...

Overall, these recipes lose a bit of integrity from the vaguely-named and artificial ingredients, but still offer a species-appropriate macronutrient distribution that meets a carnivore’s needs being high in animal protein, moderate in animal fat, and low in carb content. The formulas are grain-free, don’t use any potentially inflammatory and carcinogenic ingredients like carrageenan as binders, and are good for your budget too. 

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Relatively species-appropriate
  • Grain-free
  • No carrageenan
  • The beef and the chicken recipes are suitable for all life stages according to AAFCO
  • The turkey recipe is complete and balanced for adult cats only 
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and taurine
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low carb content 
  • 30 cans pack containing 10 cans of each flavor
  • Low cost (approx. 0.23$ – 0.26$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Contains artificial flavor
  • Contains not clearly named meat by-products, liver and fish
  • Uses unnecessary guar gum as a thickener
  • Contains not specified “added color” – in the chicken recipe
  • The turkey and giblets recipe is not suitable for kittens or senior cats
back to menu ↑

9. Dave’s Naturally Healthy™ Food Beef & Chicken Dinner Canned Cat Food

Price range: 34.99$, case of 24, 5.5oz,approx. 0.26$ per ounce
Dave's Naturally Healthy Food Beef & Chicken Dinner Canned Cat Food

This paté is primarily made out of beef and chicken meats and livers, to which is added egg product as an extra source of protein and water sufficient for processing.

The formula then uses guar gum as thickener and stabilizer which is an unnecessary ingredient for feline nutrition, but then again a very used binder in the low-cost wet pet food industry, and the more concerning ingredient is the carrageenan also used to bind the food which has pro-inflammatory properties and is potentially carcinogenic. 

Rather than that the recipe is as species-appropriate as it can get for a carnivore with low-budget pawrents. It is grain-free and made without any artificial additives, dyes, or preservatives, it does not contain any vegetable ingredients. It has added all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to be complete and balanced for cats of all life stages according to AAFCO. 

Nutritional Information:
Ingredients: water sufficient for processing, beef, chicken, beef liver, poultry liver, egg product, guar gum, potassium chloride, salt, carrageenan, vitamins (vitamin E, A, D3, B12 supplements, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), folic acid, biotin), choline chloride, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), taurine.

Caloric Content: 195 kcal / 5.5oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 9%
•Crude fat: min 6.5%
•Crude fiber: max 1%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 2.30% 
•Carbs: min 1.31%

Dave’s Naturally Healthy™ Food Beef & Chicken Dinner

This paté is primarily made out of beef and chicken meats and livers, it is grain-free, and made without any artificial additives, dyes, or preservatives, it does not contain any ...

Overall this food is high in protein with 46.15% in the dry matter, moderate fat with about 41.08%, and low in carbohydrates with only 1.50% in the dry matter. 

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Species-appropriate
  • Contains cleary-named meats and organs
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial additives and dyes
  • Complete and balanced for all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low carb content
  • Low cost (approx. 0.26$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Uses potentially harmful carrageenan as a binder
  • Uses unnecessary guar gum as a thickener
back to menu ↑

10. Purina ONE® Beef Recipe Premium Paté High Protein, Grain Free Wet Cat Food

Price range: 20.58$ to 24.00$, case of 24, 3oz, approx. 0.28$ – 0.33$ per ounce
Purina ONE Beef Recipe Premium Paté High Protein, Grain Free Wet Cat Food

This grain-free paté recipe is mainly made out of animal ingredients with real beef as the main protein source followed by fish, liver, and pork lungs all contributing to the total protein count of the formula, which on dry matter basis is about 40% animal protein.

This food uses guar gum as the only thickener and stabilizer, and it does not contain any plant-based starches, vegetable protein, or other thickening ingredients. 

The natural flavor of this food should normally come from the main protein of the formula, which in this case is beef, and could be hydrolyzed beef tissues, or a proprietary blend of beef tissues and fat treated with heat, enzymes, and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors that enhance the taste of the food and make it more enjoyable for your cat. 

The added color can include ingredients such as FDA-approved minerals, spices, or caramel that are used to add a more enticing color to your cat’s food.

Purina ONE paté for cats contains all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to be complete and balanced for cats of all life stages following AAFCO’s established nutrient profiles. 

There is no more than I can say about this food, it offers propper carnivore nutrition with protein from meats and organs, is grain-free and thickened without carrageenan, doesn’t contain any harmful artificial additives or preservatives, and provides enough hydration for your cat. It only appears at the end of our list because the price is higher compared to other brands, but the ingredients are top-notch for feline nutrition. 

Nutritional Information:
Ingredients: beef, fish, beef broth, liver, pork lungs, natural flavors, added color, minerals: potassium chloride, salt, magnesium sulfate, mono and dicalcium phosphate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide, guar gum, vitamins: vitamin E supplement, choline, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), vitamin A supplement, vitamin K, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin B7, folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin D3 supplement, taurine

Caloric Content: 93 kcal / 3oz can

Guaranteed Analyses:
•Crude protein: min 11%
•Crude fat: min 5%
•Crude fiber: max 1.5%
•Moisture: max 78%
•Ash: max 3.4%
•Carbs: approx 1.1%

Purina ONE® Beef Recipe Premium Paté

This food offers proper carnivore nutrition with protein from meats and organs, is grain-free and thickened without carrageenan, doesn’t contain any harmful artificial additives ...

Overall this is a great species-appropriate recipe, high in animal protein, moderate fat, and low in carbohydrates which doesn’t use any artificial dyes, additives, preservatives, or potentially harmful ingredients. 

Benefits:
  • High animal-protein content
  • Species-appropriate
  • Grain-free
  • No carrageenan
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of vitamins, minerals, and taurine 
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low carb content 
  • Affordable (approx. 0.28$ – 0.33$ per oz)
Things to consider:
  • Uses unnecessary guar gum as a thickener
  • Contains unspecified“added color”
  • Not clearly named liver source and fish species used 
back to menu ↑

The 10 Best budget dry cat foods 

When it comes to dry cat food it’s quite hard to find good choices that find the balance between quality and price, but I found affordable kibble options that still meet a cat’s dietary needs.

These foods are moderate in protein and fat with a relatively low carb content compared to other cat kibble foods on the market.

back to menu ↑

Top 10 Best Budget Dry Cat Food at a glance [click to expand]

Kitzy Turkey & Pea Recipe, Grain Free Dry Cat Food

This food offers relatively species-appropriate nutrition being moderate in animal-protein with real Turkey #1 Ingredient, low in fat and a reasonable carb content, it is …

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

This food is a high-protein grain-free cat kibble with a total of 40% crude protein and deboned turkey as the first ingredient, but the recipe features a considerable amount of …

WholeHearted Grain Free Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food

This is a basic grain-free budget recipe, with moderate protein content but containing more carbs than protein, with real chicken as first ingredient and all the added supplements …

Taste of the Wild® Rocky Mountain® Feline Recipe Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Even though it has a total of 42% crude protein content, it’s grain-free, and the recipe claims to be inspired by the nutrient levels found in natural whole prey, Rocky Mountain …

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Turkey & Duck Recipe Dry Cat Food

Overall, this is a starchy type of dry cat food, with moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high in carbohydrates. Grain-free formula with no artificial ingredients.

Earthborn Holistic® Primitive Feline Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Earthborn provides plenty of animal protein from concentrated and highly-digestible turkey and chicken meals, dried eggs, and pacific whiting meal but it also contains plenty of …

Wellness® Complete Health™ Grain-Free Indoor Healthy Weight Deboned Chicken and Turkey Meal Recipe

The recipe is grain-free, free from artificial additives, colorants, or preservatives with GMO-free ingredients sourced worldwide, and uses chicken fat instead of manmade …

Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina Beyond is a limited-ingredient cat food recipe with real chicken and chicken meal as the primary protein sources, and pea proteina s a secondary source. The food has …

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Crave is a high-protein kibble inspired by the diet of wild cats. The recipe is grain-free, doesn’t contain any animal by-product meals, and is relatively low in carbohydrates and …

I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Cat Food with Chicken & Duck

This cat food has a good base of animal protein and is low in fat content, but it contains way more carbs than we’d like and the price is a little higher compared to other similar …
back to menu ↑

1. Kitzy Turkey & Pea Recipe, Grain Free Dry Cat Food 

Price range: 27$ – 28$ per 12lb bag (5.481kg), – 2.25$ – 2.33$/lb, approx 0.14$/oz
Kitzy cat food

The Kitzy cat food brand is owned and distributed exclusively by Amazon and is made by a family-owned facility in Arkansas, USA. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but then I looked at the ingredients and I was pleasantly surprised!

Four out of the first five ingredients come from animal origin, with the first ingredient real American sourced turkey. The rest of the high-quality ingredients are sourced worldwide. Another plus is the animal-based source of fat and of course the fact that the recipe is grain-free and doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, colors, or flavors.  

With the first three ingredients being animal proteins followed by peas as the fourth ingredient, we can already agree that most of the recipe’s protein comes from animal content and not vegetables, although the protein content is moderate for cat food, it is higher than the minimum recommended by AAFCO (26%).

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients: turkey, turkey meal, chicken meal, peas, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), flaxseed, sweet potato, dried plain beet pulp, tapioca powder, natural flavors, salt, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex (source of vitamin K3), folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, calcium iodate), choline chloride, dl-methionine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C).

Caloric Content: 361 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein (min): 32%
•Crude Fat (min): 15%
•Crude Fiber (max): 4.5%
•Moisture (max): 10%

With an estimate of max 8% ash content, then this food would have approx. 30.5% carbohydrate content. Not very bad, but not very good either. 

Kitzy Turkey & Pea Recipe, Grain Free Dry Cat Food

This food offers relatively species-appropriate nutrition being moderate in animal-protein with real Turkey #1 Ingredient, low in fat and a reasonable carb content, it is ...
kitzy dry cat food review

Now let’s be honest, the ingredient list and the price is looking good for the Amazon Kitzy brand, but when you turn to the customer review section, the things are not looking so good anymore, at least for now.

Checking out the first 20 Most Recent reviews, (from March 2022) seven of them have 1 star…  People are complaining that their cats won’t touch the food, some claim not even the feral cats won’t eat it. Other customers reported diarrhea and smelly flatulence with their cats and two said their cats had allergic reactions from the Kitzy food.

Contrary to the low star reviews, the four and five-star reviews actually say cats loved the Kitzy dry food, even if the cat is a picky eater. Now we hope Amazon will investigate these claims because the brand offers an actual good content cat food for a very affordable price! And we also hope to see more flavors rater than the existing chicken & peas and whitefish & peas recipes. 

In the end, we need to consider these reviews are normal for any cat food product because cats are different and sensitive in their own way to foods, and what works for some will not work for others. On the plus side, if your cat won’t like the food for any reason, Amazon offers a refund within one year of purchase!

Overall this dry cat food has a moderate protein content with relative species-appropriate nutrition, low fat, and a considerable amount of carbs, but for a budget cat food is the best option so far. 

Benefits:
  • Moderate animal-protein content
  • Real Turkey #1 Ingredient
  • 4 out of the First 5 ingredients have an animal origin
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for cats of all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low cost (approx. 2.27$ per lb)
  • Full refund within 1 year of purchase
Things to consider:
  • Relatively high carb content
  • Not providing enough hydration
  • Contains tapioca powder
  • Risk of developing diabetes in cats long-term, as do other types of kibble which are higher in carb content
back to menu ↑

2. American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Price range: 32$ – 33$ per 12lb bag,2.66$ – 2.75$/lb, approx. 0.16$ -0.17$/oz

You may not have heard about this brand either because it’s manufactured for and exclusively sold by Chewy. 

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe is a high-protein grain-free cat kibble with a total of 40% crude protein, but the recipe features a considerable amount of vegetable ingredients such as tapioca starch and pea protein as binders, peas,  spinach, apples, blueberries, carrots, cranberries, and pumpkin, so the most common question would be how much of the protein comes from animal ingredients and how much from vegetables. Turns out that 67.2% of the total amount of protein comes from animal protein and 32.8% comes from the vegetable contents of the recipe.

The first ingredient in this recipe is deboned turkey followed by turkey meal and chicken meal. These meals are protein-rich ingredients in cat food and contain healthy amino acids that help maintain your cat’s muscle strength. They do not contain feathers, heads, feet, or entrails.

The recipe is formulated to meet the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile requirements for all life stages, which means they are suitable for kittens, adults, or senior cats. It contains no added sugars, artificial additives, preservatives, or colorants and uses chicken fat instead of vegetable oils. 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients: Deboned turkey, turkey meal, chicken meal, tapioca starch, dried egg product, pea protein, peas, deboned chicken, natural flavor, menhaden fish meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), flaxseed, pea fiber, choline chloride, potassium chloride, inulin, dl-methionine, taurine, salt, spinach, apples, blueberries, carrots, cranberries, pumpkin, mixed tocopherols (preservative), ferrous sulfate, zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, niacin supplement, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, l-carnitine, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, calcium iodate, vitamin D3 supplement, rosemary extract, yeast culture, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried bacillus subtilis fermentation extract.

Caloric Content: 395 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude protein: min 40%
•Crude fat: min 15.5%
•Crude fiber: max 4%
•Moisture: max 10%
•Ash: 7-9% dry matter
•Carbs: 22-26% dry matter

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

This food is a high-protein grain-free cat kibble with a total of 40% crude protein and deboned turkey as the first ingredient, but the recipe features a considerable amount of ...

Overall, this food has an affordable price for the quality it provides, where a 12lb bag contains about 48 standard 8 oz cups, and the daily feeding amount recommended is ⅔  cup for an average cat that weighs about 10lb (4.5 kg). One bag can last for more than one and a half months if you have just 1 cat. 

Benefits:
  • Moderate animal-protein content
  • Real Turkey #1 Ingredient
  • 4 out of the First 5 ingredients are animal proteins
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for cats of all stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Relatively low carb content compared to other brands
  • Supports digestive health
  • Mid cost (approx. 2.67$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • Has more carb content than cats need in their diet
  • Contains many plant ingredients
  • Not hydrating enough for your cat
  • Contains tapioca starch as one of the First 5 ingredients
  • Price could be lower
back to menu ↑

3. WholeHearted Grain Free Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food

Price range: 26$ – 28$ per 12lb bag (7.26kg), 2.16$ – 2.33$/lb, approx 14$ -15$/oz
Whole hearted dry cat food chicken

WholeHearted cat food is Petco’s grain-free line of dry cat food, which has the first two protein ingredients animal-based, the first being real chicken as in moisture-rich fresh chicken and the second protein-packed chicken meal, to which are added peas and chickpeas as secondary protein sources and pea flour which counts more as carb content.

Chicken fat and salmon oil serve as the primary fat souces of this recipe, followed by a list of vegetable seeds and fruits to serve as sources of fiber and carbs, to which are added vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support immune health and provide a complete and balanced diet for cat fo all life stages according to AAFCO. 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, peas, chickpeas, pea flour, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, flaxseed, sodium bisulfate, salmon oil, choline chloride, DL-methionine, taurine, dried chicory root, kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, dried kelp, coconut, spinach, carrots, papaya, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid.

Caloric Content: 395 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 32% 
•Crude Fat (min): 12%
•Crude Fiber (max): 4%
•Moisture (max): 10%
•Ash 7.2% as fed
•Carbs 35.7% as fed 

WholeHearted Grain Free Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food

This is a basic grain-free budget recipe, with moderate protein content but containing more carbs than protein, with real chicken as first ingredient and all the added supplements ...

I chose WholeHearted for the 3rd place, even if it’s lower in price than the runner-up chosen food because of its high amount of carbs contained.

Overall this food falls right into the budget cat food variety with ingredients similar to other basic grain-free brands, but it contains a higher carbohydrate content than we hoped for, even higher than the total protein content which is anyway a mix between animal and vegetable-sourced protein, but considering the first two ingredients are animal-based proteins, we still think it’s a good option for a low budget. 

Benefits:
  • Moderate protein content
  • Real Chicken #1 Ingredient
  • Supports digestive health
  • Contains antioxidants for immune health
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • AAFCO approved for all life stages
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Low cost (approx 2.33$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • A very high amount of carb content
  • Not offering enough hydration for your cat
  • Several concentrated plant protein sources
  • Numerous plant-based ingredients
  • Risk of developing diabetes long term
back to menu ↑

4. Taste of the Wild® Rocky Mountain® Feline Recipe with Roasted Venison & Smoked Salmon, high-protein, grain-free dry cat food

Price range: approx. 36$ – 37$ per 14lb bag (6.35kg), 2.57$ – 2.64$/lb, approx. 0.16$/oz
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain with Roasted Venison & Smoked Salmon review

Coming last in our Top 10 Best high-protein, grain-free dry cat foods, today Taste of the Wild® Rocky Mountain® ends up fourth on our budget dry cat food list, because of the ingredients, of course!

Even though it has a high total of 42% crude protein content, it’s grain-free, and the recipe claims to be inspired by the nutrient levels found in natural whole prey, Rocky Mountain still has too many vegetable ingredients, including 3 out of the First Five, with only one concentrated animal-based protein source, which makes us believe that most of its high amount protein is plant-based.

The first ingredient is a chicken meal which is a packed source of animal protein, followed by four plant-sourced proteins, and only after that comes the animal-based protein ingredients advertised on the label, the roasted venison, and smoked salmon! Because the recipe label states “with Roasted Venison & Smoked Salmon” according to the FDA, it means this recipe contains about 3% of the mentioned proteins. 

Just a little reminder, if you haven’t read our cat food article, in the section How to read the cat food label I am explaining what’s the meaning behind the names on cat food. Cat food that is labeled “Chicken cat food” will contain at least 95% of chicken by weight, a recipe that states “Chicken Dinner cat food” would consist of about 25% chicken, whilst a cat food that has “cat food with Chicken” as its name will have only 3% chicken by weight!

The recipe doesn’t contain any added sugars or artificial additives or colorants and is formulated with prebiotics and probiotics to help your cat’s digestion and improve its immune system and overall health. 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients:
Chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea protein, potato protein, roasted venison, smoked salmon, natural flavor, ocean fish meal, DL-Methionine, potassium chloride, taurine, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus Plantarum fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid. Contains a source of live (viable), naturally occurring microorganisms.

Caloric Content: 425 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 42%
•Crude Fat (min): 18%
•Crude Fiber (max): 3%
•Moisture (max): 10%
•Ash 8.9% (as fed)
•Carbs 26.5% (as fed)

Taste of the Wild® Rocky Mountain® Feline Recipe Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Even though it has a total of 42% crude protein content, it’s grain-free, and the recipe claims to be inspired by the nutrient levels found in natural whole prey, Rocky Mountain ...

Overall this food is still a good choice for kibble with a relatively low carb content compared to other recipes on the market, and it also comes at a fairly affordable price. 

Benefits:
  • High protein content
  • Supports digestive health
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • AAFCO approved for all life stages
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Relatively low carb content compared to other brands
  • Aids digestive health
  • Low cost (approx 2.64$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • More carbs than needed in a cat’s diet
  • Too many plant protein sources
  • 3 out of the First 5 ingredients are of vegetable origin
  • The kibble crumbles easily in the bag
  • Not hydrating enough for your cat
back to menu ↑

5. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Turkey & Duck Recipe Dry Cat Food

Price range: 27$ – 28$ per 10lb bag (7.26kg), 2.70$ – 2.80$/lb, approx. 0.16$ – 0.17$/oz
Whole Earth dry cat food review

The primary ingredient of this recipe is turkey meal, to which are added chicken meal, turkey, and duck as animal protein ingredients, and potatoes, pea protein, and dried alfalfa meal as secondary sources of protein that also rise up the carb content.

The primary source of fat is chicken fat, to which is added salmon oil as a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Like all other cat foods high in carb content, this type of dry cat food increases your cat’s risk of developing diabetes.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients:
Turkey meal, dried potatoes, peas, chicken meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, pea protein, turkey, duck, pea fiber, dried yeast culture, salt, organic dried alfalfa meal, choline chloride, minerals (iron amino acid complex, zinc amino acid complex, sodium selenite, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt proteinate, cobalt carbonate), taurine, salmon oil, mixed tocopherols (a preservative), yucca schidigera extract, vitamins (vitamin e supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride), dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product.

Caloric Content: 352 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 35%
•Crude Fat (min): 14%
•Crude Fiber (max): 4%
•Moisture (max): 11%
•Ash approx. 8.71%
•Carbs approx. 32% 

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Turkey & Duck Recipe Dry Cat Food

Overall, this is a starchy type of dry cat food, with moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high in carbohydrates. Grain-free formula with no artificial ingredients.

Overall, this is a starchy type of dry cat food, with moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high in carbohydrates.

Benefits:
  • Moderate protein content
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • AAFCO approved for all life stages
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Supports digestive health
  • Affordable (approx 2.80$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • A very high amount of carb content
  • Not offering enough hydration for your cat
  • Several concentrated plant protein sources
  • Numerous plant-based ingredients
  • Risk of developing diabetes long term
back to menu ↑

6. Earthborn Holistic® Primitive Feline Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Price range: 38$ – 39$ per 14lb bag (4.54kg), 2.71$ – 2.78$/lb, approx. 0.17$/oz
Earthborn holistic dry cat food primitive feline

Earthborn provides plenty of animal protein from concentrated and highly-digestible turkey and chicken meals, dried eggs, and pacific whiting meal but it also contains plenty of plant-based protein like peas, pea starch, pea protein, flaxseed, and pea fiber, but for the quality it provides it has a reasonable price for a budget option.

The recipe is gluten-free and doesn’t contain any artificial additives, the packaging is BPA-free and it has quite positive reviews from customers. 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients:
Turkey meal, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea starch, pea protein, flaxseed, natural flavors, pea fiber, dried eggs, pacific whiting meal, apples, blueberries, cranberries, carrots, spinach, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, taurine, l-lysine, dl-methionine, calcium sulfate, l-carnitine, beta carotene, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, vitamin B12 supplement, yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product.

Caloric Content: 395 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 40% (48.4 dry matter)
•Crude Fat (min): 18%
•Crude Fiber (max): 3%
•Moisture (max): 10%
•Ash 9.4% 
•Carbs 18.5% as fed (20.1% dry matter) 

Earthborn Holistic® Primitive Feline Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Earthborn provides plenty of animal protein from concentrated and highly-digestible turkey and chicken meals, dried eggs, and pacific whiting meal but it also contains plenty of ...

Overall the food has a good balance between quality ingredients and value for a cat food option that falls into the budget variety with ingredients similar to other grain-free brands.

Benefits:
  • High protein content
  • 3 out of the First 5 ingredients are animal proteins
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced by AAFCO for all life stages
  • Relatively low carb content compared to other brands
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Supports digestive health
  • Low cost (approx 2.78$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • More carb content than cats need in their diet
  • Not offering enough hydration for your cat
  • Several concentrated plant protein sources
back to menu ↑

7. Wellness® Complete Health™ Grain-Free Indoor Healthy Weight Deboned Chicken and Turkey Meal recipe

Price range: 32$ – 37$ per 11.5lb bag (5.2 kg), 2.78$ – 3.21$/lb, approx. 0.17$ – 0.20$/oz
wellness dry cat food indoor healthy weight chicken and turkey

Welness® is always considered an affordable brand, but one that also offers good quality ingredients in their cat food options. And this formula has the first three ingredients animal-based which means the majority of the protein percentage comes from meat, not vegetables, although peas are normally quite high in protein that’s why they are so often found in cat foods. 

The recipe is grain-free, free from artificial additives, colorants, or preservatives with GMO-free ingredients sourced worldwide, and uses chicken fat instead of manmade vegetable oils.

This Complete Health™ from Welness® is formulated specifically for adult indoor cats that tend to have a more sedentary life, containing weight control ingredients like fiber and L-Carnitine and added Glucosamine & Chondroitin to help already weight-challenged cats maintain healthy hips and joints from carrying all that extra fluffiness around. 

The label comes with a daily feeding recommendation for weight reduction or weight maintenance according to your cat’s weight, calculated in cups or grams, and also has information for a combined feeding of dry and wet food. Please use the feeding guidelines and do not use the free-choice feeding if your cat is struggling with maintaining weight and is prone to excessive weight gain.  

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, dried ground potatoes, ground flaxseed, potatoes, lentils, tomato pomace, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea fiber, cranberries, natural turkey flavor, choline chloride, potassium chloride, chicory root extract, taurine, calcium chloride, vitamin E supplement, l-carnitine, zinc proteinate, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, niacin, iron proteinate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin A supplement, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, dried kelp, yucca schidigera extract, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green tea extract, spearmint extract.

Caloric Content: 469 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 35%
•Crude Fat (min): 9.5%
•Crude Fiber (max): 5.5%
•Moisture (max): 10%
•Ash 8.18% (as fed)
•Carbs 27.52  (as fed)

Wellness® Complete Health™ Grain-Free Indoor Healthy Weight Deboned Chicken and Turkey Meal Recipe

The recipe is grain-free, free from artificial additives, colorants, or preservatives with GMO-free ingredients sourced worldwide, and uses chicken fat instead of manmade ...

Overall I think this is a good budget cat food, with an affordable price, and quality ingredients.

Benefits:
  • Moderate animal-protein content
  • Real Chicken #1 Ingredient
  • 3 out of the First 5 ingredients are animal proteins
  • Weight management formula
  • Relatively low carb content compared to other brands
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for adult maintenance by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Supports digestive health
  • Low cost (2.78$ – 3.92$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • Has more carb content than cats need in their diet
  • Contains many plant protein sources
  • Not hydrating enough for your cat
  • Not suitable for kittens, seniors, or cats that are active outside
back to menu ↑

8. Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry cat food

Price range: 45$ – 46$ per 16lb bag (7.26kg), 2.81$ – 2.87$/lb, approx. 0.17$ – 0.18$/oz
Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry cat food

Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken and Egg is a limited-ingredient cat food recipe with real chicken (raised without steroids) and chicken meal as the primary protein sources. Together with the dried egg product listed after the First 5 on the label, the animal-based protein ingredients in this cat food should consist of around 25% of the whole recipe. 

The third ingredient, pea protein, is a concentrated secondary source of protein – but a vegetable-based one, and the pea starch and cassava root flower that follow are rich sources of carbs.

Movin on from the First 5 ingredients, the recipe uses an animal source of fat followed by more sources of fiber and carbs such as dried yeast, canola meal, pea fiber, and dried carrots to which are added vitamins, minerals to fit the nutrient profiles established by AAFCO for adult cat maintenance. 

The food has natural probiotics to support digestive health, it’s grain-free and free of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients:
Chicken
, chicken meal, pea protein, pea starch, cassava root flour, dried egg product, beef fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried yeast, canola meal, pea fiber, natural flavor, dried carrots, phosphoric acid, salt, potassium chloride, sodium bisulfate, choline chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, calcium carbonate, taurine, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin E supplement, niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), vitamin D3 supplement, biotin (vitamin B7)], dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product.

Caloric Content: 394 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 35%
•Crude Fat (min): 14%
•Crude Fiber (max): 4%
•Moisture (max): 12%
•Ash approx. 7.3 %  ( 8% as fed).
•Carbs approx. 27.70% 

Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina Beyond is a limited-ingredient cat food recipe with real chicken and chicken meal as the primary protein sources, and pea proteina s a secondary source. The food has ...

Overall, Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken and Egg Recipe contains moderate protein from both animal and plant ingredients, is low in fat content, and quite high in carbs.

Benefits:
  • Moderate protein content
  • Real Chicken #1 Ingredient
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Supports digestive health
  • Complete and balanced by AAFCO for adult cats
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Affordable (approx 2.87$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • Higher amount of carbs than needed in a cat’s diet
  • Numerous plant-based ingredients
  • Not hydrating enough for your cat
  • Not suitable for kittens or senior cats
  • Concentrated plant protein sources
back to menu ↑

9. CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Price range: 30$ – 33$ per 10lb bag (4.54kg), 3.00$ – 3.33$/lb, approx. 0.18$ – 0.20$/oz
CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Crave is a high-protein kibble inspired by the diet of wild cats and is designed to provide all the nutrients a cat needs to maintain a healthy and lean body, with a strong immune system and lots of energy. 

The recipe is grain-free, doesn’t contain any animal by-product meals, and is relatively low in carbohydrates and low in fat content.

Real chicken is the first ingredient followed by a chicken meal which we established is a good source of concentrated animal protein, followed by pea protein and split peas which are also high-protein sources, but vegetable-based, which makes us think about how much of the protein is actually coming from animal-based ingredients and how much from vegetables. But unfortunately, this information is private, as the manufacturer’s formulas and processes are proprietary to their products, so they can choose not to provide meat vs. plant protein percentages.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, pea protein, split peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tapioca, fish meal, dried plain beet pulp, potato protein, dehydrated alfalfa meal, natural flavor, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dl-methionine, salt, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), taurine, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), iron amino acid chelate, yucca schidigera extract, vitamin B12 supplement, copper amino acid chelate, niacin supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, biotin, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, potassium iodide, folic acid, rosemary extract.

Caloric Content: 402 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 40%
•Crude Fat (min): 18%
•Crude Fiber (max): 4%
•Moisture (max): 10%
•Ash 8.62%.
•Carbs 19.38% ( as fed )

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Crave is a high-protein kibble inspired by the diet of wild cats. The recipe is grain-free, doesn’t contain any animal by-product meals, and is relatively low in carbohydrates and ...

Overall the food has good ingredients for cat food that falls into the budget varieties, but the price is a little higher compared to other brands.

Benefits:
  • High protein content
  • Real Chicken #1 Ingredient
  • Aids digestive health
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced by AAFCO for adult maintenance
  • Relatively low carb content for dry cat food
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Affordable (approx 3$ per lb)
  • Crunchy
Things to consider:
  • Higher amount of carbs than needed in a cat’s diet
  • Not hydrating enough for your cat
  • Not suitable for kittens or senior cats
  • Several concentrated plant protein sources
  • Contains tapioca
back to menu ↑

10. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Cat Food with Chicken & Duck 

Price range: 33$ – 37$ per 11lb bag (4.98kg), 3.00$ – 3.36$/lb, approx. 0.18$ – 0.21$/oz
I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Cat Food with Chicken & Duck 

Formulated to suit the nutrient profiles of cats of all life stages and approved by AAFCO, I and Love and You Naked Essentials Chicken & Duck Recipe has the first three ingredients animal-based: chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal, which means the majority of the protein content of this food is carnivore appropriate, but the recipe also contains several vegetable ingredients which are usually rich in protein: chickpeas, ground peas, pea starch, lentils. 

The recipe is grain-free, and artificial additives-free. It contains a special blend of prebiotics and probiotics that support a cat’s digestive health and uses an animal-based source of fat.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
Ingredients:
Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, chickpeas, ground peas, pea starch, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lentils, flaxseeds, dried beet pulp, duck, sweet potatoes, natural flavor, salt, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dried whole egg product, pea protein, niacin supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, biotin, thiamin mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfate (source of vitamin K), folic acid, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, dl-methionine, taurine, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, fish oil, dried chicory root, dried lactobacillus aciphophilus fermentation product, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product.

Caloric Content: 359 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis:
•Crude Protein (min): 34%
•Crude Fat (min): 14%
•Crude Fiber (max): 4%
•Moisture (max): 12%
Carbs 38% (as fed)

I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Cat Food with Chicken & Duck

This cat food has a good base of animal protein and is low in fat content, but it contains way more carbs than we’d like and the price is a little higher compared to other similar ...

Overall, this cat food has a good base of animal protein and is low in fat content, but it contains way more carbs than cats need in their diet and the price is a little higher compared to other similar ingredient foods on the market, but it definitely falls into the affordable range and customers seem to love it. 

Benefits:
  • Moderate protein content
  • Real Chicken #1 Ingredient
  • 3 out of the First 5 ingredients are animal-based proteins
  • Aids digestive health
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Complete and balanced for cats of all life stages by AAFCO
  • An optimal amount of taurine and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Animal-based source of fat
  • Affordable (approx 3.09$ per lb)
Things to consider:
  • An extremely high amount of carbs 
  • Not hydrating enough for your cat
  • Risk of developing diabetes in cats long term
how to choose a good cheap cat food
back to menu ↑

How to choose a good and cheap cat food

back to menu ↑

Break down the price

To have a good sense of lower prices start dividing the actual price of the cat food down to the cost per ounce (for wet cat food), or the cost per pound (dry cat food), so you can compare the price of different products when they have different size packaging. 

For example, if you have two brands with the same price but one offers a bigger sized bag, it means that the price is actually lower for the food that comes in a larger bag.

back to menu ↑

Look our for the carbs

Cats are adapted to be meat-eaters and it’s easy for them to break down nutrients found in animal meats and organs. They need real meat in order to survive and their system is not great at handling big loads of carbohydrates.

Cheap cat foods tend to be loaded with carbohydrates, so that is the biggest issue to look out for when purchasing cat food on a budget.

Don’t get fooled by the term grain-free believing it could be a good cat food without reading the ingredient list and checking for other carb-loaded vegetable ingredients like peas and starches. 

Don’t focus on one source of carbohydrate ingredients, but rather on the total amount of carbohydrates, and make sure that total is not higher than the total protein content. But, for budget cat food we will still have to put up with some carb ingredients to justify the low cost.

back to menu ↑

Chose the right proteins

If a dry cat food looks like it has a high protein content and is also cheap, you need to check the ingredient list carefully. It might be loaded with protein, but the wrong kind for your cat.

The best example here would be the Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Recipe, with 42% crude protein, a food that is rather loaded with vegetable-sourced protein ingredients and only one animal-based concentrated protein ingredient in the first five most important ingredients of a recipe. So we are left to wonder how much of this high amount of protein is actually animal-based and how much is vegetable-based. 

Choosing cat foods with more animal-based ingredients is always better, especially if these meats and organs are found within the first five ingredients, which should constitute about 75% of the food. 

Cat foods that contain meats, organs, fish, egg products, and meat meals listed among the first ingredients, rather than rice, peas, tapioca, or potato starches are better for cats, especially because animal protein is where your cat gets the necessary amino acids it needs to survive and thrive. 

back to menu ↑

Avoid unnecessary additives

While some added natural flavor or color is not bad for your cat and might offer some enticement towards certain food, additives no matter if natural or artificial don’t provide any nutritional benefit to your cat. It is best to especially avoid cat foods that contain artificial additives, colors, or preservatives, and, of course, thickeners like carrageenan. These kinds of ingredients can cause digestive problems and lead to long-term health issues in cats. Also, artificial taste enhancers in cat food can make your cat addicted to that certain brand of cat food.

back to menu ↑

Supplements are very important

During the cooking process of many cat foods, especially extruded kibble, important vitamins and minerals are lost. When purchasing any cat food, not just the cheaper kind, make sure the food is complete and balanced according to AAFCO’s standards. Keep in mind that by not doing so, vitamins, minerals, and taurine deficiencies can cause a lot of damage to a cat’s health.

back to menu ↑

Get the right taste

Generally, cats are likely to enjoy foods that contain a mixed combo of proteins like turkey and fish, or beef and chicken. But, as we all know, many cats are also picky eaters and love to eat just a certain type of protein, or a specific texture. While pate-type foods are appetizing for a cat, another might eat just gravy-based foods and a totally different protein. Make sure you try out a few options and observe your cat, so you can identify which one picked its interest. 

back to menu ↑
Join our community of furends!
DON'T FURGET TO SUBSCRIBE!

Get the latest news articles and 'tails' of the cat world straight to your in-box  🙀

Invalid email address
You can unsubscribe at any time, but we are pawsitive you will not want to!

Ways to save more money on cat food

back to menu ↑

Save with monthly subscriptions

Chewy offers an Autoship subscription which gives you a 35% discount on the first order and a recurring 5% discount on every order after that. 

Amazon gives you a Subscribe and Save option that can help you save up to 15% of your every order no matter if it’s cat food or personal stuff. 

 Plus, you can cancel these subscriptions at any time.

back to menu ↑

Get coupons

When looking to get coupons from specific cat food brands go on their websites and subscribe to their newsletter or mailing list, they usually send coupons in your mailbox when subscribing or when they have special deals. This option is not always effective, but worth a try.

back to menu ↑

Frequently asked questions

back to menu ↑

How to transition a cat to a new food

When changing a cat’s food remember to slowly transition your cat to the new food instead of just pouring it into its bowl. Some cats need some time to enjoy new food, especially if their old food was loaded with artificial flavors. 

To have a smooth transition, mix 75% of the old food with 25% of the new food for the first two days, a fifty-fifty ratio of the new and old food for the next two days, a mix of 25% of the old food with 75% of the new food for the fifth and sixth day, and ultimately a full bowl of the new food starting with the seventh day.

Always follow the feeding instructions found on the label of cat foods as all recipes and formulas have different feeding guidelines for different life stages and follow the packaging instructions for storing and discarding open foods. 

back to menu ↑

How to determine the amount of protein in cat food on a dry matter basis

To determine the amount of protein on a dry matter basis you need to subtract the moisture percentage from the total of 100% to get the dry matter percentage. Then divide the crude protein with the dry matter percentage and multiply it by 100.

For example the calculation for a food that has 10% crude protein and 75% moisture:

100% – 75% moisture = 25% dry matter; 10% protein / 25% = 0.4%; 0.4% x 100 = 40% protein content in the dry matter. 

The same formula works for calculating the dry matter percentages of fat and fiber. 

why do cats love cheap dry cat food
back to menu ↑

Why do cats love cheap dry cat food? 

Cats love cheap kibble because usually, it’s full of taste enhancers and additives that make them addicted to the taste and many cats munch the small nibbles without even chewing them. Also, dry cat food doesn’t spoil as fast, contrary to wet food types, and even if you leave dry cat food out overnight your cat will still eat it. 

back to menu ↑

Which cheap dry cat food is the healthiest?

In our opinion, the healthiest and also cheap dry cat food is any grain-free recipe from the brand American Journey. The protein options in their formulas are Turkey and Chicken, Salmon, Chicken, or Duck. American Journey offers a good species-appropriate macronutrient distribution even in dry kibble, with about 40% protein, 15% fat, and between 22 – 26% carbs in every recipe. It is grain-free with no artificial ingredients and it also supports digestion for better absorption of the necessary nutrients. The food is complete and balanced for all stages by AAFCO so it can be fed to kittens, adults, and senior cats. 

back to menu ↑

What is a cheap but good cat food?

A cheap, but good cat food is Kitzy, a brand exclusively made and distributed by Amazon. Kitzy offers decent ingredients for a low price, with good animal-based sources of protein within the first ingredients listed on the packaging. The recipe is grain-free and doesn’t contain any artificial additives, colors, or preservatives. It is complete and balanced for all life stages by AAFCO with an optimal amount of vitamins, nutrients, and taurine. The only downfall of this food is that it is a little higher in carb content than cats need in their diet and long term it could cause health issues like diabetes. But, that is the risk with all cheap dry cat foods on the market. 

back to menu ↑

Is wet or dry cat food more Affordable?

Dry cat food is always going to be cheaper than wet cat food because it’s usually loaded with carbohydrates and cheap ingredients. And even if you can definitely find decent dry food to feed your cat when you are on a budget, it’s best to also offer your cat some wet food, at least once per day, to compensate for the lack of moisture in dry food. Cats don’t usually drink enough water. 

Wet food typically is a bit more costly, but higher in quality, and nutritionally more appropriate for a carnivore diet, being always high in animal protein and lower in carb content than dry food, and it also offers your cat the extra needed moisture. 

best budget cat food
back to menu ↑

Here is the final round-up of the best cheap cat foods reviewed in this article:

back to menu ↑

Best cheap wet cat foods [click to expand]

Purina ONE® Beef Recipe Premium Paté

This food offers proper carnivore nutrition with protein from meats and organs, is grain-free and thickened without carrageenan, doesn’t contain any harmful artificial additives …
back to menu ↑

Best cheap dry cat foods [click to expand]

Kitzy Turkey & Pea Recipe, Grain Free Dry Cat Food

This food offers relatively species-appropriate nutrition being moderate in animal-protein with real Turkey #1 Ingredient, low in fat and a reasonable carb content, it is …

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

This food is a high-protein grain-free cat kibble with a total of 40% crude protein and deboned turkey as the first ingredient, but the recipe features a considerable amount of …

WholeHearted Grain Free Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food

This is a basic grain-free budget recipe, with moderate protein content but containing more carbs than protein, with real chicken as first ingredient and all the added supplements …

Taste of the Wild® Rocky Mountain® Feline Recipe Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Even though it has a total of 42% crude protein content, it’s grain-free, and the recipe claims to be inspired by the nutrient levels found in natural whole prey, Rocky Mountain …

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Turkey & Duck Recipe Dry Cat Food

Overall, this is a starchy type of dry cat food, with moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high in carbohydrates. Grain-free formula with no artificial ingredients.

Earthborn Holistic® Primitive Feline Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Earthborn provides plenty of animal protein from concentrated and highly-digestible turkey and chicken meals, dried eggs, and pacific whiting meal but it also contains plenty of …

Wellness® Complete Health™ Grain-Free Indoor Healthy Weight Deboned Chicken and Turkey Meal Recipe

The recipe is grain-free, free from artificial additives, colorants, or preservatives with GMO-free ingredients sourced worldwide, and uses chicken fat instead of manmade …

Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina Beyond is a limited-ingredient cat food recipe with real chicken and chicken meal as the primary protein sources, and pea proteina s a secondary source. The food has …

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Crave is a high-protein kibble inspired by the diet of wild cats. The recipe is grain-free, doesn’t contain any animal by-product meals, and is relatively low in carbohydrates and …

I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Cat Food with Chicken & Duck

This cat food has a good base of animal protein and is low in fat content, but it contains way more carbs than we’d like and the price is a little higher compared to other similar …
back to menu ↑

Wrap up

In the end, remember that a dry cat food diet alone, no matter if the food is premium or cheap, will never provide the moisture your cat needs and will increase your cat’s risk of developing urinary tract problems, which will lead to more costly vet bills in the future. 

Wet food on the other hand is a bit more expensive but better than kibble, providing moisture to your cat and keeping the carbohydrate intake at a low level even in the cheapest foods, whereas low carb dry food is hard to find and definitely more expensive. 

Let us know in the comments if you know of a better cheap cat food option we should review and add to our list, or if you found a good option for you among the products already recommended above.

Have a mewogical day, purrs from Dobby and Dot.

Join our community of furends!
DON'T FURGET TO SUBSCRIBE!

Get the latest news articles and 'tails' of the cat world straight to your in-box  🙀

Invalid email address
You can unsubscribe at any time, but we are pawsitive you will not want to!
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

thatsmeow.com
Logo
Enable registration in settings - general