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The 10 Best-Tasting Cat Foods for Picky Cats

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Kate Barrington / Cats.com

In many cases, cats refuse to eat because they don’t like the aroma, flavor, or texture of their food. But sometimes finicky eating habits are a sign of an underlying issue. Either way, if you find yourself shopping for new cat food, it helps to understand what factors affect your cat’s preferences.

In this guide, we’ll explore the factors that affect feline food preferences and common causes for refusing food. We’ve also included in-depth reviews of our top 10 picks for the best cat food for picky cats.

At a Glance: Best Cat Foods for Picky Cats

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2760
hours of
research
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230
brands
vetted
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10
features
reviewed
Star
10
top
picks
Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Flavor and texture appeal to many cats
  • Low in carbohydrates
GET 35% OFF ENTER "CATS35" TO GET 35% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER
Runner Up
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Tiki Cat Succulent Chicken Recipe in Chicken Consomme

  • Packed with animal protein
  • Rich in moisture with finely shredded chicken
  • Negligible carbohydrate content
Budget Pick
9.7
Picked by 31 people today!

Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Food

  • Relies primarily on animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Nutritionally appropriate for adults and kittens
  • High in moisture to support hydration
Premium Pick
9.6
Picked by 31 people today!

Caru Classics Turkey Stew Wet Cat Food

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • High-moisture recipe appeals to many cats
  • Low carbohydrate content
Best Dry Food
9.5
Picked by 21 people today!

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

  • Packed with animal proteins and fats
  • Much lower in carbs than most dry food
  • Consistently well-liked by cats and cat owners
Best Wet Food
9.4
Picked by 31 people today!

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Frick ‘A Zee Chicken Recipe Au Jus

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Many cats find the moist, shredded texture appealing
  • High in protein and very low in carbohydrate
Best Chicken-Free
9.3
Picked by 31 people today!

Open Farm Salmon & Cod Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Very low carbohydrate content
  • Completely free from chicken ingredients
Get 20% Off ENTER "CATS20" TO GET 20% OFF YOUR FIRST AUTO-SHIP ORDER
Best Novel Protein
9.2
Picked by 25 people today!

Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels

  • Made with a single source of novel protein
  • Supplemented with probiotics
  • Free from animal by-products and artificial additives
Best For Kittens
9.1
Picked by 21 people today!

Wellness CORE Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Kitten Food

  • Rich in animal protein from five sources
  • High moisture content to support hydration
  • DHA for brain and eye development
Best for Seniors
9.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites Dinner with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Wet Cat Food

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Easily digestible and hydrating
  • Low phosphorus may protect kidney health

Why Trust Cats.com

As the owner of three cats with unique preferences, I’ve tried countless cat food recipes over the years. My personal experience influenced my picks, but the recipes included in this guide have been tested with over half a dozen of our team’s cats. The products tested were purchased at full retail price and, in several cases, samples were sent to an ISO 17025-certified food testing laboratory for detailed chemical analysis.

During testing, I made general observations about how the food looked and smelled in addition to its texture, consistency, and packaging. My three cats offered their opinions on taste and general appeal. I also performed an in-depth evaluation of the product information and each brand, taking into account other customers’ experiences by reading hundreds of reviews.

What to Consider When Feeding a Picky Cat

It’s frustrating when your cat suddenly starts refusing a food they’ve previously enjoyed—especially if you’ve already bought a case of it. Before you panic, try warming up the food or mixing it with some kind of flavor additive like broth or shredded chicken. If that fails, you may be stuck shopping for a new cat food entirely.

Before you start shopping, consider why your cat is refusing their food. It’s worth consulting your veterinarian to rule out underlying medical issues, but sometimes your cat just loses the taste for something. Understanding how a cat forms their preferences for food may be helpful when it comes time to select a new diet. Here are four things you should know.

1. Food Preferences Form at a Very Young Age

Your cat’s preferences begin to form before they’re even born. What the mother ate during gestation and nursing and the type of food used during weaning can influence your cat’s food preferences. The types, flavors, and textures of food your kitten is exposed to when still young play a role as well.

2. Cats Typically Prefer Foods That Have a Strong, Appealing Aroma

Aroma is a major factor in a cat’s decision to eat or refuse food. Even if the food smells terrible to you, it’s likely to be much more appealing to your can than a less odorous food.

Wet food tends to have a stronger smell than dry cat food. Refrigerating wet food, however, can dull the smell. If your cat is refusing wet food on the second day, try letting it come to room temperature or warm it for a few seconds in the microwave.

3. Some Cats Have Specific Preferences for Texture or Shape

As humans, we often eat with our eyes—how food looks influences whether we want to eat it or not. Cats can form preferences for food shapes and textures too. In a small 2020 study, researchers determined that cats prefer flat disc, x-shaped, or star-shaped kibbles over triangles and cylinders. Of those options, the flat disc shape seemed to be most palatable to cats.

Wet cat food comes in a wide variety of textures including paté, minced, and shredded. Some patés are completely smooth while others contain pieces of meat or vegetables. The moisture content affects the texture as well. Minced and shredded foods are often made in gravy or broth which changes the texture.

4. Dental Disease and Medical Problems May Be a Factor

If your cat has bad teeth or other dental issues, it could make it difficult or uncomfortable for them to eat. Your cat might refuse the dry food they’ve always accepted but might be perfectly happy to eat softer wet food.

Certain health problems are influenced by diet as well. While your cat may not be aware that higher-moisture wet food is better than dry food for kidney disease, they may sense at some level that they don’t feel as well eating dry food. Allergies or food sensitivities may also turn a cat off to a certain food before physical symptoms become obvious.

The Best Cat Food for Picky Cats: Our Top 10 Picks

Our top pick for picky cats is Smalls Fresh Ground Bird. Made with a single source of animal protein, this fresh cat food formula is packed with hydrating moisture, species-appropriate animal protein, and healthy fats.

Keep in mind, however, that each cat has their own unique preferences. Our experts’ experience with these foods may not match your experience, so you’ll have to do some trial-and-error testing of your own to find out what your cat likes. To help you get started, we’ve broken down our recommendations by food type, price, and other key factors.

#1 Overall Best: Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food

Small Fresh Ground Bird

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 13% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 40
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.00 per day

Packed with protein from chicken muscle meat and chicken organs, this single-protein fresh food formula from Smalls has a fresh, rippable texture many cats find appealing. As a fresh food, it’s high in moisture to support your cat’s hydration and the total carbohydrate content is very low.

What makes Smalls a great choice for picky cats is that it’s a customizable subscription service. Their fresh foods are available in multiple flavors and textures so you can tailor your monthly deliveries to your cat’s unique preferences. You can choose from chicken, turkey, beef, or fish-based recipes in smooth or minced textures.

You’ll pay a premium for Smalls cat food, but cats seem to enjoy the meat-based recipes and you can always adjust your subscription if your cat’s tastes change. The food is shipped in 5-ounce packages so you can thaw a few meals’ worth at a time. Plus, every subscription comes with a free bag of Shameless Pets cat treats.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Water Sufficient for Processing, Dried Yeast, Tricalcium Phosphate, Kale, Magnesium Proteinate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Cod Liver Oil, Salt, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Sodium Selenite, Biotin.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Cod Liver Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 13%
Crude Fat: 8.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 73%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 48.15%
Fat: 31.48%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 14.81%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 34.54%
Fat: 54.84%
Carbs: 10.63%

What We Liked

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Flavor and texture appeal to many cats
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Rich in hydrating moisture

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only available as a subscription plan
  • No phone support (text and email only)

#2 Runner Up: Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken Recipe in Chicken Consomme

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 16% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 25
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.23

This Tiki Cat wet food is made with a short list of quality ingredients, namely chicken. The fresh chicken in this recipe provides most of the formula’s dry matter protein content of 80%. Unfortunately, the only source of added fat is plant-based.

As a high-protein wet food, this formula is very species-appropriate and many cat parents considered it as one of he best wet cat food for finicky cats. It’s also an excellent source of moisture which can help support your cat’s hydration. Because the food is little more than shredded chicken in broth, many cats who don’t like kibble or paté-style food enjoy it.

One thing worth noting about this food is that while the protein content is sky-high and there are virtually no carbs, the fat and calorie content is pretty low. This could be a good thing for cats who need to lose weight, but it might not be calorie-dense enough for cats prone to weight loss. The food also doesn’t contain any fiber which could contribute to digestive issues in cats prone to constipation.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sunflower Seed Oil

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 16%
Crude Fat: 2.6%
Moisture: 80%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 80%
Fat: 13%
Carbs: 7%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 67.47%
Fat: 26.63%
Carbs: 5.9%

What We Liked

  • Packed with animal protein
  • Rich in moisture with finely shredded chicken
  • Negligible carbohydrate content
  • Short list of simple ingredients, easily digestible

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very expensive
  • May be too low in fat and calories for cats who need to gain weight
  • Doesn’t contain any fiber

#3 Budget Pick: Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 11% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 35
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.03

This Nulo Freestyle canned cat food is rich in animal protein and hydrating moisture but significantly cheaper than Tiki Cat and other premium brands. Formulated for all life stages, it’s a good option for both adult cats and kittens.

Featuring muscle meat from chicken and turkey as well as turkey liver and tuna, this food contains 50% protein measured as dry matter. Menhaden fish oil provides animal-sourced omega-3s and contributes to the food’s dry matter fat content of nearly 30%. Though the dry matter carbohydrate content of the food is over 10%, it’s lower than many budget-friendly cat foods.

The food has a soft pate texture that many cats seem to find appealing. If you suspect that your cat has become fussy due to food allergies, however, be aware that this food might trigger fish allergies. It’s also thickened with guar gum, a source of fiber that has been known to trigger digestive upset and soft stools in some cats.

Ingredients

Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Turkey Broth, Tuna, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Agar Agar, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Sodium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Sulfate, 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.

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Tuna, Menhaden Fish Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Agar Agar

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 6.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.75%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 50%
Fat: 29.55%
Fiber: 3.41%
Carbs: 17.05%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 36.02%
Fat: 51.7%
Carbs: 12.28%

What We Liked

  • First five ingredients are all animal-based
  • Relies primarily on animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Nutritionally appropriate for adult cats and kittens
  • High in moisture to support your cat’s hydration

What We Didn’t Like

  • May trigger fish allergies
  • Guar gum may cause digestive upset or soft stools in some cats

#4 Premium Pick: Caru Classics Turkey Stew Wet Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 11% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 30
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.20

If your cat refuses dry food and pate canned foods, this stew-style wet food may pique their interest. It’s a protein- and moisture-rich recipe with a gravy-like consistency. Unlike many wet cat foods, it doesn’t contain carrageenan or gum thickeners.

This classic stew from Caru is made with turkey as a single source of animal protein. A short list of wholesome ingredients makes it highly digestible and it’s appropriate for cats with food allergies. Tapioca starch is used as a thickening agent, but it’s not usually an irritating ingredient for cats and the total carbohydrate content of the food remains very low.

Our test cats thoroughly enjoyed this recipe and the cardboard carton makes it easy to store leftovers. Though it’s nutritionally complete, it also works well as a wet food topper.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Tapioca Starch, Egg Whites, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Apples, Natural Flavor, Tricalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Dandelion Greens, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Iodine Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite).

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Egg Whites

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Tapioca Starch

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%
Ash: 3.6%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 50%
Fat: 11.11%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 13.33%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 55.36%
Fat: 29.88%
Carbs: 14.76%

What We Liked

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Rich in hydrating moisture with a gravy-like texture
  • Easily digestible with no irritating ingredients

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some cat owners find the food too soupy
  • Cardboard carton may be tricky to open

#5 Best Dry Food: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 59% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 114
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.69

Dry food tends to be high in carbs but this recipe is an exception to the rule. Not only does it have a dry matter protein content around 67%, but the carbohydrate content is under 10%.

If you’re looking for a healthy way to boost the protein content of your cat’s diet but wet food isn’t in your budget, this recipe from Dr. Elsey’s is a good option. The food comes in small, crunchy kibbles in 2-pound and 6.6-pound bags. Our test cats thoroughly enjoyed this food and about 70% of customers on Chewy give it a 5-star rating. Owners of diabetic cats particularly appreciate the food’s low carb content.

While chicken is the main source of protein in this food, it contains several other animal sources of protein including chicken, pork protein isolate, and gelatin. As such, it may not be appropriate for cats with food allergies. Chicken fat is the main source of added fat, though the food also contains salmon oil as an animal source of omega-3s.

Ingredients

Chicken, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharide, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Taurine, Salt, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Pork Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 59%
Crude Fat: 17%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 67.05%
Fat: 19.32%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 9.09%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 54.49%
Fat: 38.13%
Carbs: 7.39%

What We Liked

  • Packed with high-quality animal proteins and fats
  • Much lower in carbs than the average dry food
  • Consistently well-liked by cats and cat owners

What We Didn’t Like

  • No dry food provides the moisture cats need
  • May not be appropriate for cats with food allergies

#6 Best Wet Food: Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Chicken Frick ‘A Zee Chicken Recipe Au Jus Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 23
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.49

Made with fresh chicken as the first ingredient, this high-protein wet cat food features a shredded texture that some picky cats prefer over drier paté-style foods. Our test cats really enjoyed this cat food, especially the texture and high moisture content. The food looks exactly like shredded chicken (because it is) and its wet consistency means it would work well as a food topper or mixer.

Chicken is the only animal protein in this recipe and the food is moistened with chicken broth. While plant-based sunflower seed oil is the primary source of added fat, the food also contains fish oil as an animal source of essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3s.

Overall, this is a moisture-rich wet cat food with high protein content, low fat content, and very low carbohydrate content. It’s a fairly species-appropriate choice and the low fat content makes it a low-calorie food as well. This recipe may be a good option for picky cats who need to lose some weight but may not be calorie-dense enough for underweight cats.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Locust Bean Gum, Calcium Lactate, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Copper Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Fish Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sunflower Seed Oil, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 2.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 85%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 66.67%
Fat: 16.67%
Fiber: 3.33%
Carbs: 13.33%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 55.34%
Fat: 33.6%
Carbs: 11.07%

What We Liked

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Many cats find the moist, shredded texture appealing
  • High in protein and very low in carbohydrate
  • Free from carrageenan and artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like

  • Gums may trigger digestive upset in some cats
  • Fairly expensive

#7 Best Chicken-Free: Open Farm Salmon & Cod Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 45% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 130
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.30

Chicken is one of the most common proteins used in cat food. Many recipes—even if chicken isn’t in the recipe name—contain chicken as a supplemental protein. If your cat’s fussy eating is related to a food allergy, this chicken-free freeze-dried formula from Open Farm may be worth trying.

Featuring whole salmon and cod as the primary ingredients, this fish-based formula is rich in animal-sourced protein and fat. It’s very low in carbohydrates which may improve the appeal for your cat. Because it’s very low in moisture, however, it should be rehydrated prior to feeding.

Freeze-dried cat foods like this tend to be expensive, but keep in mind that this food is incredibly energy dense. At 130 calories per ounce, the average 10-pound cat needs less than 2 ounces per day. For picky eaters who could stand to gain some weight, this recipe might help.

Ingredients

Salmon with Ground Bone, Cod, Sweet Potato, Montmorillonite Clay, Fenugreek Seeds, Tricalcium Phosphate, Organic Dandelion Greens, Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Organic Cranberries, Taurine, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols (A Preservative), Potassium Chloride, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients We Liked: Salmon with Ground Bone, Cod

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 45%
Crude Fat: 25%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 47.37%
Fat: 26.32%
Fiber: 2.11%
Carbs: 24.21%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 34.96%
Fat: 47.17%
Carbs: 17.87%

What We Liked

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Very low carbohydrate content
  • Completely free from chicken ingredients

What We Didn’t Like

  • Low in moisture, should be rehydrated before feeding

#8 Best Novel Protein: Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 44% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 132
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $6.04

Food allergies often manifest with itchy skin, though some cats experience digestive upset as well. If your cat notices that a specific food makes them feel unwell, they may stop eating it. A novel protein diet not only mitigates the allergy risk but may appeal to your cat’s curiosity and entice them to eat.

This freeze-dried recipe from Stella & Chewy’s features rabbit as a single source of high-quality animal protein. It is a limited-ingredient diet, so there are fewer ingredients that might upset your cat’s stomach. With fresh rabbit meat, liver, and bone, it’s a more species-appropriate choice than the average dry food and the dry matter carbohydrate content is under 20%

Freeze-dried food is very low in moisture, however, so it should be rehydrated before feeding. It also tends to be very expensive, so it may be more affordable as a food topper to your cat’s regular food.

Ingredients

Rabbit With Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver, Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Dried Ediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Dandelion, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Rabbit With Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Olive Oil

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 44%
Crude Fat: 30%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 46.32%
Fat: 31.58%
Fiber: 5.26%
Carbs: 16.84%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 33.12%
Fat: 54.84%
Carbs: 12.04%

What We Liked

  • Made with a single source of novel protein
  • Supplemented with probiotics for digestive support
  • Free from animal by-products and artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very expensive
  • Relies primarily on plant-based fat

#9 Best For Kittens: Wellness CORE Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Kitten Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 36
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.86

Kittens require a high concentration of protein and calories to fuel their rapid growth. Essential fatty acids, particularly DHA, are also important for healthy brain and eye development. This Wellness CORE canned kitten food is a nutritious, meat-based recipe that checks all the boxes necessary to support cat health from kitten to adult.

Fresh turkey and chicken liver top the list of ingredients with supplemental protein from chicken, chicken meal, and herring. Menhaden fish oil is the primary source of added fat and a rich source of omega-3s including DHA and EPA. There are a few plant-derived ingredients, but the dry matter carbohydrate content is low – under 10%.

This wet food has a very soft texture, making it easy to spread or mix with water. Our test cats really seemed to enjoy the flavor and texture. Nearly 70% of customers on Chewy give this product a 5-star rating and a significant number of cat owners report that their cats like the food.

Ingredients

Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Herring, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Menhaden Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Herring, Menhaden Fish Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Guar Gum, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Alfalfa Meal

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 7.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 54.55%
Fat: 34.09%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 6.82%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 37.84%
Fat: 57.43%
Carbs: 4.73%

What We Liked

  • Top six ingredients are all animal-based
  • Rich in animal protein from five different sources
  • High moisture content to support hydration
  • Menhaden fish oil provides DHA for brain and eye development

What We Didn’t Like

  • Gum thickeners may cause digestive upset or soft stools in some cats
  • Fairly expensive

#10 Best For Seniors: Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites Dinner with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Wet Cat Food

Weruva TruLuxe Cat Food, Steak Frites

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 21
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $5.75

Protein remains a priority in an aging cat’s diet but many high-protein recipes also contain high levels of phosphorus—especially raw diets formulated with ground bone. While phosphorus is an essential nutrient, excesses can tax the kidneys in older cats. This Weruva Truluxe recipe contains lower-than-average phosphorus levels which may help support kidney function in senior cats.

Made with beef muscle meat as the main ingredient, this recipe provides over 70% protein measured as dry matter. The fat content is pretty low, just over 9% as dry matter, but the food is pretty low in carbs as well. Just know that the low fat content also reduces the calorie content, so some cats may need larger portions to meet their energy requirements.

Overall, this is a very high-protein, low-fat canned cat food with fairly low carbohydrate content. It’s a rich source of hydrating moisture and seems to be easily digestible and appealing for many cats.

Ingredients

Beef Broth, Beef, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Potato Starch, Carrot, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3 Supplement), Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Beef

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potato Starch, Sunflower Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 1.3%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 86%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 71.43%
Fat: 9.29%
Fiber: 3.57%
Carbs: 15.71%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 65.12%
Fat: 20.56%
Carbs: 14.33%

What We Liked

  • Rich source of animal-based protein
  • Hydrating and easily digestible
  • Lower than average phosphorus content

What We Didn’t Like

  • Relies on plant-sourced fat
  • Gums trigger loose stools in some cats

Outside of the preference for meat-based foods, feline dietary likes and dislikes aren’t universal. The frustrating thing for many cat owners is that a cat’s preferences can change on a dime. It may take time to find a recipe your cat consistently enjoys and, even then, they might change their mind months or even weeks later. It never hurts to keep a few backup cans of alternate flavors on hand, just in case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you feed a picky cat that won’t eat?

Some cats are simply finicky by nature and all you can do is try different types and flavors of food until you find something they’ll eat. Warming the food, mixing it with broth, or adding a food topper might help. Smell plays a significant role in food appeal, so if all else fails, try offering something smelly like water from a can of tuna or anchovies.

How long can a picky cat go without eating?

Just like humans, cats can survive longer without food than water. While a cat might survive as long as two weeks without food, lack of proper nutrition will negatively impact their health. Your cat is at risk of developing fatty liver disease after just a couple days of no eating. And if your cat typically eats a high-moisture diet, refusal to eat may also lead to dehydration. Contact your veterinarian if your cat refuses to eat for more than 48 hours.

Why does my cat act hungry but won’t eat?

If your cat appears hungry but suddenly starts refusing food, it’s best to seek veterinary help. Refusal of food can be a sign of nausea or other digestive issues like constipation, pancreatitis, or inflammatory bowel disease. If your vet gives your cat the all-clear, you may simply need to try offering different types of food to catch their interest.

Note: The values in our nutrient charts are automatically calculated based on the guaranteed analysis and may not represent typical nutrient values. This may lead to discrepancies between the charts and the values mentioned in the body of the review.
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About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is a writer with over twelve years of experience in the pet industry. She is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach and has completed coursework in therapeutic nutrition, raw feeding, and the formulation of homemade diets for pets at an accredited university. Kate enjoys cooking, reading, and doing DIY projects around the house. She has three cats, Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit.

6 thoughts on “The 10 Best-Tasting Cat Foods for Picky Cats”

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  1. Vicky Hernandez

    I was wondering why do you say “Ingredients we don’t like:None” for Dr. Elsey’s food… but it contains Sodium selenite… is that not a bad for cats? I’ve been told this ingredient best be avoided. Please correct me or I’m misinformed.

    Thank you greatly!
    Vicky

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Hi Vicky, that’s a good question. We haven’t seen enough evidence to confirm that it is, in fact, harmful, but I agree that it may be appropriate to add it to that list given the questions surrounding its safety.

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Hmmm…try using what your cat DOES like as a guide. Think about her favorite treats and look for a food that has some of the same qualities. When all else fails, try sprinkling some Temptations over the top of the unwanted food, and see if that helps.

    2. Janet

      I have the same problem with one of my cats but recently found a freeze dried product at the pet store than can be sprinkled on her food. It’s by Natures Variety & is called Instincts raw boost mixers for digestive health. She now eats all her wet food when I sprinkle this product on top. Fortiflora works well too but costs quite a bit more. Hope this works for your kitty too. 🐈‍⬛