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The best wet cat food is like a freshly-killed mouse in a can. It’s soft, juicy, and delicious while providing all the protein, fat, and micronutrients your cat needs to stay fit and frisky.
When shopping for wet cat food, you’ll want to avoid excessive carbohydrates, cheap fillers, or additives that could harm your cat. It also pays to choose food from a reputable company. Read on to learn about the benefits of wet cat food and how to make a healthy choice for your cat. We’ve also included in-depth reviews of our 12 favorite recipes.
At a Glance: Top 12 Best Wet Cat Food to Buy
- Great for cats who prefer shreds and stew
- Wide variety of formulas and flavors
- Free from thickeners or starches
- Finely shredded texture in flavorful broth
- Rich in animal-sourced protein
- Low in carbohydrates
Top Picks Explained
We’re constantly updating our recommendations, so the products in this video no longer match our top picks, but the video still offers an in-depth look at some of the brands on this list.
Why Trust Cats.com
We’ve personally purchased and tested the wet cat food products on this list. Our recommendations are not made in exchange for free products.
When evaluating cat food, we analyze each product’s makeup including the guaranteed analysis and list of ingredients. We also research the brand and manufacturer to check for product recalls and read third-party reviews to get a sense of customer experience with the brand.
As part of our in-depth testing process, we feed the food to our cats to gauge their opinion on the product’s general appeal and palatability. We also make observations about the product’s packaging, appearance, consistency, smell, and texture.
In addition to performing our own detailed analysis of the cat food brands on this list, we submitted samples of several recipes for analysis by an ISO 17025-certified food testing and analysis laboratory. This analysis yields a report that details the recipe’s exact macronutrient and micronutrient content. It also indicates whether the food contains microbes, yeast, mold, or heavy metals.
Finally, we consulted seven veterinarians to get their professional opinion on what makes great cat food.
Our Veterinary Advisors
- Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ
- Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH
- Sarah Reidenbach, DVM
- Chyrle Bonk, DVM
- Jamie Whittenburg, DVM
- Albert Ahn, DVM
- Elizabeth Youens, DVM
The Best Wet Cat Food: Our Top 12 Picks
We consider a variety of factors when making our recommendations, including quality of ingredients, species-appropriateness, price, and popularity. At the top of our list is Smalls Cat Food for its moisture-rich and meat-centric recipes. This fresh food is formulated to satisfy your cat’s carnivorous cravings, but it’s not the perfect pick for every cat.
Each cat has unique needs and preferences, so while Smalls is our top pick, it may not be the ideal choice for your individual cat. To help you choose, we’ve broken down our recommendations by food type, price category, and other key considerations.
Is Wet Food Better for Cats Than Dry Food?
Veterinarian Dr. Lizzie Youens, BSc, VCSc, MRCVS states that “our domestic pet cats have not altered their physiology much from their wildcat ancestor. Cats are carnivores: they are nutritionally dependent on meat.”
Some types of food are more in line with your cat’s carnivorous needs than others. Across the price spectrum and all varieties, wet food is almost universally lower in plant ingredients, starches, and sugars than kibble.
The high carbohydrate content of dry cat food is hard to nutritionally justify. Some high-carb ingredients are necessary for the extrusion process to work but your cat’s ability to digest and utilize nutrients from plant ingredients is limited. Carnivorous animals like your cat are better physiologically adapted to processing animal products.
It’s also important to understand that cats don’t naturally drink a lot of water—they instinctively prefer to get moisture from their food. Though cats who eat dry food do drink more water than those on moist diets, they nevertheless get less hydration than a wet food-fed cat. Because they take in so much less water, these cats are prone to chronic dehydration and, consequently, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).
What to Look for When Buying Wet Cat Food
When making our selections for this roundup, we prioritized moisture-rich recipes with high concentrations of animal-sourced protein. We avoided brands that rely too heavily on plant ingredients and opted for natural options free from unsafe fillers, artificial preservatives, and synthetic colors and flavors.
Finally, we considered the brand’s reputation for safety, quality, and customer satisfaction. We consulted customer reviews and referred to unaffiliated review sites like Consumer Affairs. We also contacted the companies directly to gauge their customer service.
Choose Low-Carbohydrate Options
Dr. Youens reminds us that, as carnivores, cats “have quite unique needs from their diet, gaining most of their energy from protein rather than carbohydrate and using fats to process certain vitamins and essential nutrients.” An ideal diet for cats gets fewer than 10% of its calories from carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are included, whole grains and low-glycemic veggies are preferable to harder-to-digest ingredients like peas and legumes.
Prioritize Animal-Sourced Protein
Your cat’s body is designed to process whole prey, so animal-sourced ingredients are more biologically valuable than plants. Animal protein contains all the amino acids your cat needs, so it’s best to choose cat foods that list whole meat as the first ingredient. Plant proteins like corn gluten meal and pea protein aren’t carnivore-appropriate.
Dr. Albert Ahn, DVM recommends choosing whole proteins over meat by-products. While by-products are not necessarily problematic, there is some degree of uncertainty surrounding their quality. Dr. Ahn recommends cat foods “that are minimally-processed, using high quality, wholesome ingredients that can help provide excellent nutrition.”
Avoid Artificial Additives and Unsafe Ingredients
Synthetic flavors, colors, and preservatives can trigger inflammation or otherwise damage your cat’s health over time. It’s best to stick with wet cat foods that use natural alternatives. Canned foods tend to rely less heavily on preservatives than kibble but often make use of binders and thickeners. Though naturally derived, gum thickeners may contribute to loose stools while some ingredients, like carrageenan, have been called into question as a potential health risk.
Select Reputable Brands
Buy from companies with a reputation for quality control, safety, reliability, and good customer service. Avoid brands with an extensive history of recalls or poor customer service. There’s no need to dismiss a company based on a single minor recall, however, provided that they responded to it swiftly, honestly, and effectively.
Wet Cat Food: Price Comparison Table
|Brand Name||Recipe||Made In||Protein||Age Range||Cost Per Day|
|Smalls||Fresh Ground Bird||United States||15.5% min.||All Life Stages||$3.00 to $4.00|
|Nulo||Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe||United States||11% min.||All Life Stages||$2.00|
|Open Farm||Harvest Chicken Rustic Blend||United States||7% min.||All Life Stages||$3.60|
|RAWZ||96% Turkey & Turkey Liver Paté||Thailand||9% min.||All Life Stages||$2.90|
|Tiki Cat||Succulent Chicken Recipe In Chicken Consommé||Thailand||16% min.||Adult||$5.00|
|Ziwi Peak||Venison Recipe||New Zealand||10% min.||All Life Stages||$7.00|
|Caru||Classic Turkey Stew||United States||11% min.||All Life Stages||$3.20|
|Weruva||Truluxe Steak Frites Dinner||Thailand||10% min.||Adult||$5.75|
|Wellness CORE Signature Selects||Shredded Boneless Chicken & Chicken Liver Entree||North America||8% min.||Adult||$6.50|
|Weruva||Chicken Frick ‘A Zee||Thailand||10% min.||Adult||$3.00|
|Wellness CORE||Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Liver||North America||12% min.||All Life Stages||$4.00|
|Koha||Chicken Stew||Thailand||8% min.||Adult||$3.30|
Frequently Asked Questions
What wet food do vets recommend for cats?
Dr. Albert Ahn, DVM recommends that “pet owners look at the ingredient panel of the food they are purchasing for their kitten or adult cat. The more ingredients that are whole (e.g. chicken, beef, etc.), rather than heavily processed (e.g. chicken meal, fish meal, turkey meal, etc.), the better.”
What is the best wet cat food from the grocery store?
Product availability differs by location and store, so pet owners should evaluate individual products before making their selection. Choose a wet cat food that names a whole animal protein as the first ingredient. Foods with shorter ingredients lists tend to be more easily digestible, provided they do not contain artificial additives or a high concentration of plant ingredients.
What wet food is the healthiest for cats?
The healthiest option is one that honors your cat’s nutritional needs as an obligate carnivore. The food should contain a higher concentration of animal than plant ingredients, ideally with a carbohydrate content under 10% (measured as dry matter). It should be rich in moisture and free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
How many cans of wet cat food should a cat eat per day?
It depends on the recipe’s caloric density. A healthy 10-pound adult cat requires about 200 calories per day. To determine how many cans you’ll need to offer, divide 200 by the total number of calories per can. Alternatively, you can find the approximate per-ounce caloric density by dividing the calories per kilogram by 35.