The best food for cats is rich in species-appropriate, high-quality protein. In other words, meat.
Cats are obligate carnivores, so they require a meat-rich diet free from excessive carbohydrates. There are plenty of proteins to choose from, but chicken is one of the most commonly used proteins in pet food. It’s readily available and, for pet food brands, affordable.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with chicken in cat food, it’s one of the most common food allergens seen in cats. If your cat is allergic or sensitive to this ingredient, it’s a good idea to choose a chicken-free cat food.
We’ve assembled a list of our top picks for the best cat food free from chicken. Check them out below!
At A Glance: Best Chicken-Free Cat Food To Buy
Want a quick look at the 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.
- Freeze-dried to preserve nutrition and flavor
- Made with raw meat, bone, and organs
- Limited number of plant-based ingredients
- Made with two high-quality sources of novel animal protein
- Contains muscle meat and nutrient-rich organs
- Packed with moisture to support your cat’s hydration
- Two sources of high-quality animal protein
- Formulated for the nutritional needs of growing kittens
- Rich in moisture for hydration and digestion
- Contains three sources of high-quality animal protein
- Very limited carbohydrate content
- Soft texture and rich in moisture for senior cats
Natural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Diets Tuna & Pumpkin Formula Flaked Grain-Free Recipe Wet Cat Food
- Made with a single source of animal protein
- Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
- Short list of easily digestible main ingredients
Now that you’ve been introduced to our top picks, let’s delve into the subject of chicken-free cat food and why it might be a good option for your cat.
Does Your Cat Have a Chicken Allergy?
When you think of allergies, symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing may come to mind. Food allergies in particular may trigger digestive symptoms as well, at least in humans.
Food allergies in cats are a little different.
The most common symptoms of food allergies in cats are skin-related, things like chronic skin problems and recurring ear infections. Some cats do develop digestive symptoms as well such as frequent bowel movements, vomiting and diarrhea.
The best way to confirm a food allergy is to perform a food trial. You’ll need to feed your cat a recipe free from the potential allergen until symptoms disappear, generally 6 to 8 weeks. From there, you can reintroduce the allergen. If your cat’s symptoms return within a week, it’s a safe bet that the allergen is really the problem.
In cats, food allergies are most commonly triggered by proteins like chicken, beef, and fish as well as dairy products.
If your cat is allergic to chicken, you’ll need to remove all forms of chicken protein from your cat’s diet. This includes fresh chicken and chicken meal as well as chicken by-product meal. It’s also wise to avoid foods that contain vaguely named poultry meal because you can’t be sure whether it contains chicken.
Shopping Tips For Cat Food Free From Chicken
Once you’ve confirmed that your cat has a chicken allergy, you’ll need to find a new cat food that doesn’t contain chicken. It should be made with high-quality ingredients and it doesn’t hurt to choose one made with a short ingredient list to minimize the risk for additional allergies.
A good chicken-free cat food lists a high-quality source of animal protein as the first ingredient.
Other options to try include beef, turkey, and fish. If your cat has additional allergies, novel proteins like lamb, venison, and duck are worth considering. Make sure to read the ingredient list to make sure it isn’t hiding any chicken products.
A healthy chicken-free cat food is nutritionally balanced.
Again, cats require an animal-based diet with as few plant ingredients as possible. Make sure to choose a recipe that is nutritionally balanced according to AAFCO nutrient profiles for either adult cats or kittens, depending on your cat’s life stage.
A quality cat food doesn’t contain fillers, vaguely-named by-products, or artificial additives.
Low-value grains like corn, wheat, and soy have no place in a cat’s diet. Even whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal are best avoided because cats have a limited ability to digest plant foods.
Animal by-products aren’t necessarily bad for your cat. The main issue is that it can be difficult to judge the quality and, unless the type of animal is specified, the protein source. Artificial additives like colors, flavors, and preservatives don’t have any nutritional benefit for your cat and some have been linked to negative health effects.
Now that you have a better understanding of chicken allergies in cats and why you might consider a chicken-free cat food, let’s take a look at our top picks.