How We Rate Cat Food 

At, we believe the world should revolve around cats. That’s why we created a cats-only hub to share content that enhances and elevates the bond between cats and their caretakers.

The best way to show your cat you love them is to give them what they need to thrive. A healthy diet is key. But choosing a cat food product isn’t just about meeting your cat’s basic nutrient requirements—it should be safe, satisfying, and tailored to your cat’s unique preferences.

In addition to offering in-depth evaluations of individual cat food products, we give each brand we review an overall rating. This rating is influenced by the brand’s performance in five key categories.

Our Rating Philosophy

After consulting our panel of veterinary advisors, we’ve developed a 5-point rating system to assess cat food brands in five key categories. Products are given a 1 to 5 rating in each category for a possible total rating of 5 to 30. Each category is described in detail below.

Our rating system is based on our unique nutritional philosophy and is designed to help you find the perfect fit for your individual cat.

To get the most value out of our rating system, it’s important to understand our nutritional philosophy. You’ll find detailed information about it and about the individual categories we include in our ranking system below.

Here are some helping things to keep in mind about our ratings:

Ratings are based on both nutritional and practical factors.

Some of which are subjective and tricky to quantify. Consider our ratings a tool to complement your own research and personal experience when choosing a cat food product.

Ratings are subject to interpretation and may change over time.

We do our best to keep our reviews up-to-date but the cat food industry changes quickly!

Ratings are most useful when comparing cat food products within a similar category.

For example, a fresh cat food brand could have a similar overall rating to a dry food brand, but the individual category ratings will likely be very different.

Ratings are not intended to establish any given brand as the overall “best” on the market.

You still need to take your cat’s preferences—and personal factors like budget—into account when making your decision.

Our Team

All content is produced and overseen by a team of writers and editors who specialize in all things cats. We also work closely with a panel of more than 20 veterinary professionals and feline behavior experts to ensure our content is accurate, appropriate, and relevant.

How We Evaluate Products

Each writer and editor for follows strict guidelines for testing and evaluating products. All products we review are purchased at full retail price—we don’t accept free products in exchange for a review. Read our affiliate disclosure here.

When we set out to review a cat food brand, we start with a deep dive into the company, gathering details about ingredient sourcing, recipe formulation, production methods, recall history, and more. We also consult existing product reviews to gauge the brand’s overall customer satisfaction and to identify complaints or issues to focus our attention on when conducting our own testing.

All products we review are tested in-house by members of the team. Check out the Why Trust section of each individual review to learn more about the testing process for any given product or brand.

How Our Ratings Work

Our rating system is divided into five categories, each with a ranking from 1 to 5. While brands can earn any value between 1 and 5 in three of those five categories.

After rating a brand or product in each of these five categories, we calculate the total score out of 30 possible points. We also calculate the total rating as an average out of 5 possible points. For example, a total score of 25/30 would equate to an average score of 4.2/5.

Our Nutritional Philosophy

Though domestic cats may look very different from their wild counterparts, their bodies are still designed to rely on meat as the primary source of nutrition. Here at, we believe cats should be fed a diet that respects their status as carnivores.

The term we use to describe an ideal diet for cats is “species-appropriate,” or sometimes “biologically-appropriate.” To put it simply, such a diet is made primarily with animal ingredients, contains minimal amounts of carbohydrates, and offers plenty of hydrating moisture.

Not every cat food on the market lines up with that description, but that doesn’t always equate to a low overall rating.

We aim to provide a snapshot of each cat food brand, identifying key points of success while also highlighting the areas where there’s room for improvement—or simply details for readers like you to keep in mind when deciding whether a certain product is the right fit for your cat.

Let’s take a closer look at how the rating system works…

Species-Appropriateness (1-5)

Our top-rated brands deliver products that are formulated by veterinarians or feline nutritionists. These brands respect cats as carnivores and offer products that reflect their nutritional requirements as such. In order to receive a top rating in this category, the majority of a brand’s products meet these requirements.

Species-appropriate cat food products are built on a foundation of animal versus plant ingredients. An ideal example of this would be a product where less than 10% of the dry matter makeup comes from carbohydrates. Highly rated brands focus on meat-centric, energy-dense formulas—ideally moisture-rich recipes that support your cat’s hydration.

Ingredient Quality (1-5)

High ratings in this category are reserved for brands that primarily utilize ingredients that offer optimal digestibility and high nutritional value for cats. Animal protein should be the first listed ingredient with priority given to specified sources (i.e. chicken meal versus poultry meal).

Ratings in this category also take into account the brand’s transparency regarding ingredient sourcing. Low ratings are given to brands that remain vague about where ingredients come from or how they are processed. Brands that rely heavily on highly refined grains, plant proteins, and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives will not receive a top rating.

Customer Experience (1-5)

Even a cat food product that looks perfect on paper might be left uneaten in your cat’s bowl. Balanced against high ratings in the first two categories, a high Customer Experience rating suggests a brand or product has high favorability among cats and their people.

We determine ratings in this category based on a combination of customer reviews from non-brand-affiliated retailers and the brand’s history of customer complaints. In addition to reviews posted on Chewy and Amazon, we consult third-party review sites like Trustpilot and ConsumerAffairs. We also check for complaints on the brand’s Better Business Bureau profile.

Recall History (1-5)

The information on a cat food label tells you a lot about the objective species-appropriateness of any given cat food product, but it only goes so far. We reserve our highest ratings for brands that demonstrate trustworthiness and respect for their customers and the cats they care for.

Our highest-rated brands have a proven history of product quality and safety, as well as proactive responsiveness to customer complaints. A brand that has never been recalled will receive a 5 in this category. A 3 rating indicates that the company has been involved in a voluntary recall and a 1 indicates a history of FDA-mandated recalls.

Product Variety (1-5)

Every cat has their own preferences for food type, texture, and flavor. We give higher ratings to brands that offer cat owners a greater variety of products to choose from. More than just the number of products, however, we consider the types of food offered (ex: dry food, wet food, freeze-dried food, etc.) as well as flavor options (ex: poultry, meat, and seafood).

We prefer brands that offer a small selection of species-appropriate products over one that has a large selection of less appropriate choices. To prevent a subjective evaluation from skewing a brand’s overall score, we give brands a 1-5 rating for Product Variety.

These ratings are just one piece of the puzzle…

Our ratings are subjective, influenced by various factors as well as our experience in the industry. We also provide factual nutritional information for every product we review.

Nutrient Analysis

All individual product reviews include the manufacturer’s list of ingredients and guaranteed analysis, but we take it one step further by converting the “as-fed” values from the guaranteed analysis into dry matter and caloric weight values.
Here’s what that means and why it’s important:

Pet food manufacturers list the crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture content of their products as percentages in the guaranteed analysis. You can use these values to make a quick comparison between similar products—between different recipes in the same product line, for example.

However, this only works if the moisture content is similar. In other words, if you’ve got two wet cat foods with 78% moisture, a quick glance at the guaranteed analysis is enough to tell you which one is higher in protein, lower in fat, etc.

When you have products with differing moisture content, however, you can’t make a direct comparison. That’s where the dry matter and caloric weight values come into play.

What is Dry Matter Basis?

The nutrient values in a product’s guaranteed analysis are taken from the product in its “as fed” state—the state of the food as it is in the package. To compare nutrient values from different product types, you need to convert them into a similar state by removing the moisture, leaving you with the “dry matter” value for each nutrient.

The process isn’t as complicated as it sounds and online dry matter calculators do the math for you. But we’ve saved you the trouble by providing the dry matter basis for each product we review.

As a bonus, having a product’s dry matter nutrient values enables you to calculate the carbohydrate content simply by adding up the dry matter protein, fat, and fiber values and subtracting the sum from 100.

What is Caloric Weight Basis?

In addition to converting each product’s guaranteed analysis into dry matter values, we also provide the nutrient breakdown by caloric weight. Again, these values are represented as percentages of the product’s total nutrient makeup. It’s just another tool you can use to compare and contrast different products.

How We Collect Data

In addition to evaluating individual brands and reviewing their products, we’re constantly collecting data to improve our understanding of the cat food industry. Along with deep market research, we gather information directly from cat owners using surveys that are distributed to thousands of cat parents via our website and mailing list.

To date, we’ve analyzed nutritional information and pricing from thousands of cat food products to determine market averages for important metrics such as:

  • Dry matter protein and fat content
  • Carbohydrate content by caloric weight
  • Calorie content per ounce
  • Product price per ounce
  • Approximate daily feeding cost

We make it a priority to offer relevant, up-to-date information for our readers but the cat food market is always changing.

Pet food manufacturers change their products and formulations from time to time. We do our best to stay on top of these changes, keeping our rankings and in-depth reviews as up-to-date as possible. But we can’t do it alone.

We could use your help!

If you notice that the formulation of a product in one of our brand reviews seems to differ from the product currently being sold, leave us a comment so we can investigate and update the review, if needed.

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