Chicken is a staple in the diet of many cats and a mainstay in the pet food industry. It’s inexpensive compared to other proteins in cat food, easy to come by, and cats tend to like it.
Not only is chicken a popular choice, but it’s also a nutritious option for cats as part of a well-balanced and species-appropriate diet. But is it the right protein for your cat? And which brand is the best?
Our product recommendations are based on industry knowledge, rigorous research, analysis of hundreds of verified customer reviews, and hands-on testing. So let’s talk about the very best chicken cat food.
At A Glance: Best Cat Foods With Chicken To Buy
Want a quick look at the best cat foods reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
- Contains fresh chicken, ground bone, and chicken organs
- Made with cage-free, antibiotic-free chicken
- Supplemented with probiotics to boost digestion
- Four of the first five ingredients are animal-based
- Contains fresh chicken and organ meat
- Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
- Contains 80% dry matter protein from a single source
- Rich in moisture with an appealing shredded texture
- Negligible carbohydrate content
- Fresh cat food recipe rich in moisture
- Made with fresh chicken thigh and chicken organs
- Cod liver oil provides a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids
- First six ingredients are all animal-based
- Menhaden fish oil is a rich source of DHA and EPA
- High protein content supports kitten growth and development
- Only four main ingredients other than supplements
- Finely shredded, easy for older cats to eat
- No fillers or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Contains over 65% protein on a dry matter basis
- The first five ingredients are animal-based
- Two nutrient-rich sources of animal fat
- Made only with chicken breast and water
- Finely shredded, making it easy to eat and mix
- Source of protein and moisture for your cat
Why Trust Cats.com
Because chicken is one of the most common proteins in cat food, it’s been a component in many of the hundreds of recipes I’ve personally evaluated and tested with my cats over the past four years. For this round-up, I specifically chose products where chicken is the main ingredient. I prioritized meat-centric recipes from brands with a strong reputation for quality, safety, and customer satisfaction.
I also tested these products with my own cats in order to perform an in-depth, qualitative analysis. In testing, I made observations about the products’ appearance, texture, aroma, and packaging. Two of my cats provided their opinions on taste and general appeal.
Should You Feed Your Cat Chicken?
In America alone, over 8 billion chickens are consumed each year—and that doesn’t even count the number used in pet food.
Chicken is by far one of the most common proteins in cat food, and for good reason. A 3-ounce serving of chicken breast contains just 128 calories with 26 grams of protein. It’s free from sugars and starches and is very low in fat—less than 1 gram per 3 ounces. Chicken breast is rich in selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, and niacin.
While chicken breast is very lean, other cuts of chicken may be higher in fat and calories.
Per 100 grams (about 3.6 ounces), chicken thigh contains about 177 calories with 8 grams of fat and 24 grams of protein. Most cat foods use chicken breast, though some don’t specify what cut of the chicken they use.
When shopping for cat food, it’s important to keep your cat’s nutritional needs in mind. A well-balanced and species-appropriate diet is the best way to protect your cat’s health. Remember that cats are obligate carnivores, so protein is the most important element in a cat-friendly diet.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a minimum of 26% crude protein (on a dry matter basis) for adult cats and 30% for kittens. Boneless, skinless chicken breast contains about 80% protein, so you can see why it’s such a valuable ingredient in cat food.
You should look for a recipe with a short ingredient list, ideally with chicken as the first ingredient. It’s best to feed your cat a mixture of fresh muscle meat, organs, and bone—this most closely mimics the natural diet of wild cats.
Make sure the formula doesn’t contain any vaguely named by-products and avoid high concentrations of carbohydrate ingredients.
Unless your cat is allergic to certain proteins, there’s no harm in feeding him a multi-protein formula. Single-protein recipes tend to be more expensive, though foods made only with chicken are going to be on the lower end of the pricing spectrum in comparison to things like beef and duck.
The Best Chicken Cat Foods: Our Top Picks
Chicken is a nutritious and species-appropriate choice for most cats, but if yours develops symptoms of food allergies, it’s time to try something else. Check out our top picks for these alternative proteins here: