If your cat recently switched from an outdoorsy lifestyle to one indoors, then you are likely wondering about the best cat foods for indoor cats.
Thankfully, many cat food brands offer an enticing variety of cat food formulas designed for your cat’s unique activity levels, age, breed, and health conditions. In this guide, we will explore some of the best food options that we have found on the market for cats who live most of their lives indoors.
At a Glance: The Best Cat Foods for Indoor Cats
- Made with 100% human-grade ingredients
- Packed with high-quality animal protein
- Rich in moisture to support hydration
- Simple, highly-digestible recipe
- Limited ingredient list
- Contains egg
- One of the most protein-packed kitten foods on the market
- Ultra-soft pâté texture is easy for kittens to eat
- Calorie-dense recipe to fuel growth and development
- Low in phosphorus, which may help to prevent and ease the symptoms of kidney disease
- Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
- Low carbohydrate content may reduce your cat’s chances of developing diabetes
Cat foods for indoor cats are of a special variety of food that promises to nutritionally target your cat’s specific needs. But do cats who live inside really need different food than those who live outdoors?
What Are the Dietary Needs of Indoor Cats?
Think about humans who spend most of their time outdoors versus those who are usually inside. Individuals who spend a lot of time outdoors typically get more exercise than the average desk jockey. Like human outdoor enthusiasts, outdoor cats tend to spend more time exercising by climbing trees, hunting, and exploring.
Decreased activity means decreased calorie needs. Your indoor cat may be inactive or tirelessly energetic, but in general, cats who live indoors don’t get as much exercise as those who live outside. This, in combination with an inappropriate diet, puts them at risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Because indoor cats have more free time to spend grooming themselves, they tend to suffer more from hairballs compared to cats who live outside.
Hairball issues are directly linked to poor digestive health – something that can be improved through a biologically-appropriate diet. Some of the best foods for indoor cats incorporate additional fiber to help hairballs pass through smoothly.
Why Trust Cats.com
We buy cat food products at full retail price, and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.
In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025-certified food testing and analysis lab. Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.
Top 7 Best Cat Foods For Indoor Cats
Now that we’ve established a criteria of what makes the list of the best cat foods for indoor cats, here’s a quick list of some of the best foods for your indoor cat.
Choosing a Great Food for Your Indoor Cat
Your indoor cat may not catch mice, but it is a dedicated carnivore nevertheless.
According to much evidence, cats’ dietary needs haven’t changed much since they first wandered into human settlements and started killing and eating rodents around 9,500 years ago.
Their propensity for eliminating grain-eating mice earned cats their place in human society back then – so why are so many people now feeding them mouse food?
The ideal diet for your cat is a balanced raw diet made from raw muscle meat, organs, and bones. If you don’t want to feed your cat this type of diet, there are plenty of good alternatives out there, and fortunately, identifying them is simple.
Look for ingredient lists that start with meat. Any food that uses corn or rice as the first ingredient is better off in the trash than your cat’s food bowl.
Also Read: The 7 Best Raw Cat Food
Avoid By-Products and Fillers
The inclusion of byproducts puts you at risk of feeding your cat low-value meat from low-quality animal parts, unidentified animals that could trigger allergic reactions, and low-quality cuts of meat that aren’t easily digestible or highly nutritious.
Always look for high-quality meat ingredients like “turkey,” “lamb,” “beef,” and “chicken liver.” Avoid labels including vague ingredients like “poultry,” “meat byproducts,” and “rendered meals.”
Ingredients like corn, soy, and wheat are fillers that don’t offer any nutritional value for your cat. They’re cheap binders and should always be avoided.
Look for Food That Won’t Contribute to Weight Gain
This is the number one thing that cat food manufacturers are targeting when they make cat foods for indoor cats: accommodating the reduced calorie needs of a less active cat.
What they so often get wrong is cutting higher calorie protein and replacing it with lower calorie-containing fillers, so as to appear to contain a lower total amount of calories.
Good cat foods for indoor cats keep them satisfied for extended periods of time. While they often have lower calorie counts, carb-rich foods won’t keep your cat full and can lead to blood sugar spikes and fat accumulation.
Instead of picking the first low-calorie food for indoor cats, the best approach is to seek out a high-quality protein (even if it seems to be higher in calorie content compared to other fillers), nutritionally-dense food, and serve it in controlled portions.
Is Dry or Wet Food Better?
Whether your cat lives indoors, outdoors, or somewhere in between, the answer is generally the same: choose wet food.
Cats have naturally low thirst drives and don’t typically drink enough water to compensate for the lack of moisture in dry food. Those who consume dry diets often become chronically dehydrated, leading to urinary tract disease and renal failure.
Only wet or raw food, with its approximate 70% water content, can deliver the moisture that your cat needs to stay healthy.
High-moisture foods are also more satiating and help your indoor cat to stay slim and feel less hungry.
With that being said, cats are highly individualistic. Some cats have no problem drinking enough water, and some prefer dry cat food. In these situations, keep a close eye on your cat’s water intake to make sure they are staying hydrated. You can also incorporate some wet food into their diet on occasion, assuming your cat is open to it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is indoor cat food really better for indoor cats?
Indoor cat food is designed for less active indoor cats and contains fewer calories. This means that your cat is less likely to become overweight or obese, which leads to a number of health problems.
Is dry food or wet food better for indoor cats?
Wet food is generally better for indoor cats. The moisture in the wet food helps keep cats hydrated, which in turn lowers the likelihood of them developing urinary tract disease and renal failure. Some cats may prefer dry food or do not need that extra hydration because they do drink enough, although cats, in general, have a low thirst drive. It can be challenging to track their water intake, and wet food helps to eliminate that guesswork.
Is it OK to give cats wet food everyday?
Yes! Wet cat food with quality ingredients is an excellent thing to feed your cat each day. It also has the benefit of keeping your cat hydrated and feeling satisfied after eating.