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Best Holistic Cat Food: Our Top 5 Picks

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Medically reviewed by  JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
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Best Holistic Cat Food

Kirsten McCarthy / Cats.com

The best natural and holistic cat foods are those that most closely resemble a predator’s diet of meat, blood, bones, and organs.

All the foods on our list of the top 5 best natural and holistic foods are high in animal protein, low in carbohydrates, and made without artificial ingredients.

Natural. Holistic. Human Grade. Organic. Real.

Words like ‘natural,’ ‘holistic,’ and ‘premium’ lack regulatory definitions and primarily exist to make the food look like a virtuous choice. If marketers knew shoppers would buy it, these foods would be labeled “really good” or “the best cat food ever.”

Thirty years ago, the most desirable pet foods were scientifically formulated and expertly balanced for optimal nutrition. The best cat food was the one you imagined being formulated in a sterile lab and made by a scientist in a white lab coat. Cat food shelves buzzed with words and phrases like “complete,” “optimal performance,” and “veterinarian recommended.”

But now we’re going back to nature and it’s all about ancestrally-inspired food. Behind the recycled packaging and pictures of exotic-looking cats, most natural and holistic foods are no better than the rest.

At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Holistic Cat Food To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products 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.

OVERALL BEST
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Smalls Fresh Ground Bird

  • High in animal-based protein
  • Hydrating
  • Low in carbohydrates
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RUNNER UP
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Hound & Gatos 98% Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • No plant protein
  • Single-source animal protein
  • Extremely low in carbohydrates
BEST FREEZE-DRIED RAW FOOD
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Diet for Cats

  • Meat-heavy for optimal nutrition
  • Freeze-dried food is a convenient formulation of raw food
  • Extremely low in carbohydrates
BEST PROTEIN-RICH CAT FOOD
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • A species-appropriate, meat-based recipe
  • Rich in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
BEST CAT FOOD WITH PROBIOTICS
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food

  • Rich in animal protein
  • You can choose the moisture content
  • Supplemented with probiotics to promote healthy digestion

What Is Natural And Holistic Cat Food?

There’s little regulation backing up the use of the word ‘natural’ on a cat food label. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, the word indicates that the ingredients haven’t been chemically altered. That means that almost all foods qualify for the ‘natural’ distinction.

The word is primarily used to give you the impression that a given food is morally superior to other products. It says nothing about the quality, nutritive value, or species-appropriateness of the ingredients behind the label. A natural cat food product can be a stellar, ultra-digestible formula, or it could be junk food.

What Does Holistic Really Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘holistic’ as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.”

The fundamental premise behind true holistic foods, aside from the fact that they exploit a marketing buzzword, is the idea that food is most nourishing in its natural state. Humans are smart, but they’re not smart enough to fully understand the intricacies of whole-food nutrition.

Instead of parsing nutrition into synthetically-replicable levels of minerals and macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins), holistic foods assume that every part of a whole food is essential—including those components humans aren’t yet aware of.

Cats naturally get all their nutrition from whole, fresh, and uncooked animals. Meat loses some of these nutritive qualities when it’s cooked, and most meat is much more expensive than fruits and vegetables.

For this reason, holistic cat foods often contain excessive amounts of whole-plant ingredients.

Instead of taking the traditional scientific approach and providing key nutrients through synthetic supplements, a holistic food may incorporate whole foods as sources of these nutrients. For example, while typical cat foods might provide precise levels of synthetic beta carotene, the holistic cat food manufacturer may choose sweet potatoes and carrots as whole-food nutrient vehicles. Note that cats require preformed vitamin A from animal sources. They cannot form it from plant-sourced beta carotene.

Cats survive and thrive on nothing but their prey—raw meat, bones, and organs.

Unlike dogs, cats retain the same carnivorous dietary needs that earned them a place in human society thousands of years ago.

If you take another definition of holistic—“characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease”—a holistic cat food should nourish your cat emotionally as well as physically.

Qualities of the Best Natural and Holistic Cat Food

Our domesticated cats’ ancestors thrived on fresh, raw meat. However, until pet stores and groceries start selling live mice, birds, and squirrels in the cat food department, it’s impossible to buy an authentically ancestral cat diet.

Everything on the market is in some way a facsimile of those needs, ranging from almost-perfect prey model raw foods to plant-based kibble, which relies heavily on synthetic supplements to achieve complete and balanced status.

Here are a few indicators of a high-quality natural and holistic cat food.

It’s Rich In Animal Protein.

Cats thrive on nourishing, high-quality protein from animal sources. Look for foods that emphasize animal ingredients and avoid those containing protein-rich plant ingredients like pea protein and corn gluten meal. These create the illusion of adequate protein content, but they’re less digestible for cats than muscle meat and organs.

It’s Low In Carbohydrates.

As obligate carnivores, cats have virtually zero requirement for carbohydrates. Excessive carbohydrate content contributes to diabetes and weight gain.

It’s Hydrating.

Having evolved as desert animals, cats have adapted to obtain most of their hydration from their food, not from a water bowl. Dry cat food is, by design, very low in moisture and can lead to chronic dehydration. It is ideal to choose a wet, hydrating food with at least 75% water content.

It’s Free From Potentially Harmful Additives.

The manufacturers of holistic foods are intentional about ensuring that their foods are free from artificial ingredients, including those listed below:

  • Ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT. These preservatives have been linked to organ disease, cancer, and skin problems. Instead, look for mixed tocopherols, which are natural forms of vitamin E that are sourced from foods like nuts and seeds.  Mixed tocopherols are an effective natural preservative found in most cat food products today.
  • Artificial colors. There are indications that some artificial colors may cause health issues in humans and animals.
  • Carrageenan. This seaweed-derived ingredient is a thickener and binding agent used in many canned cat foods. It may increase inflammation and is a suspected carcinogen. Look for foods that contain agar-agar or guar gum in lieu of carrageenan. Better yet, opt for a food made without any thickeners.

There has not yet been extensive scientific research on the health effects of these questionable ingredients in pet food. Consider speaking to your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist if you are wary about cat foods containing these ingredients.

Finally, a quick note about raw foods. Although raw food diets have become very popular in the pet food world, raw meats carry the risk of foodborne disease because they may contain disease-causing bacteria like E. coli. Speak with your veterinarian if you want to feed to your cat a holistic, raw food diet.

Our Top Picks for the Best Natural and Holistic Cat Foods

Now that you have a better understanding of how we came to our top picks, you’re probably eager to see them! Here are our top 5 picks for the best natural and holistic cat foods:

Here are our top picks for the best natural and holistic cat foods you should consider:

#1 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

Smalls offers both fresh and freeze-dried cat foods made with human-grade ingredients. Their fresh foods are formulated around a single source of animal protein, inclusive of muscle meat and organ meats. This recipe features chicken with chicken liver and chicken hearts.

This cat food contains over 55% crude protein measured as dry matter and around 30% fat. It does contain several whole foods like green beans, peas, and kale but the dry matter carbohydrate content is still under 10%. The food is also rich in moisture.

Smalls cat food is only available for purchase through a recurring subscription. You can customize your deliveries to include a single recipe or you can mix and match, choosing from four animal proteins and multiple different textures.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water (Sufficient for Processing), Chicken Hearts, Kale, Tricalcium Phosphate, Canola Oil, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Niacinamide, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

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

Dry Matter Basis

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

Caloric Weight Basis

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

Pros

  • High in animal-based protein
  • Hydrating
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Free from artificial additives

Cons

  • Fairly expensive
  • Only available by subscription

#2 Hound & Gatos 98% Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

Hound & Gatos 98% Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10.5% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 39
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.45 per day

All Hound & Gatos foods align with what the company describes as a paleolithic diet. This means that the foods are 100% meat protein with absolutely no grains, fruits, vegetables, or other ingredients that aren’t essential to the feline diet. This also means that the foods are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

This recipe is salmon-based with a single source of protein, translating to superior bioavailability and digestion. ‘Bioavailability’ describes how well a food’s nutrients can be absorbed by the body during digestion. The only other ingredients are supplements and binders. Instead of using carrageenan, Hound & Gatos foods are thickened with agar-agar.

Ingredients

Salmon, Fish Broth, Calcium Carbonate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Agar-Agar, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10.5%
Crude Fat: 10.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 47.73%
Fat: 47.73%
Fiber: 4.55%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 29.17%
Fat: 70.83%

Pros

  • No plant protein
  • Single-source animal protein
  • Extremely low in carbohydrates
  • Hydrating

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some cats dislike the food’s texture

#3 Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Diet for Cats Review

organic cat food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 45% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 134
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.49 per day

To try to approximate the natural carnivorous feline diet, this freeze-dried raw food is 98% turkey muscle meat, organs, and bones. The remaining 2% of the recipe is dedicated to vitamins and minerals, along with other nutrient-rich natural additives like kelp, dulse powder, psyllium husk powder, and fish oil.

Thanks to the emphasis on animal-sourced protein, this food is highly digestible and nourishing. It’s extremely low in carbohydrates and is made without any artificial ingredients.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Neck, Turkey Hearts, Turkey Liver, Egg, Gelatin, Water, Dulse Powder, Dried Kelp, Ground Flaxseed, Organic Psyllium Husk Powder, Salmon Oil, Inulin, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin B Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (as preservative). Vitamin D3 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 14%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 72%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 17.86%
Fiber: 14.29%
Carbs: 17.86%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 44.95%
Fat: 38.99%
Carbs: 16.06%

Pros

  • Meat-heavy for optimal nutrition
  • Freeze-dried food is a convenient formulation of raw food
  • Extremely low in carbohydrates
  • Produced by a company with a reputation for safety

Cons

  • Contains some plant ingredients
  • You’ll need to rehydrate the food before serving

#4 Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 16% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 24
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $5.29 per day

This straightforward recipe contains nothing but chicken, chicken broth, sunflower seed oil, and a supplement blend that makes it nutritionally complete and balanced. The absence of high-protein plant ingredients tells us that this is an efficient, species-appropriate food that is rich in the kind of protein cats need.

Ideally, cats should get their fat from animal sources, so the inclusion of sunflower seed oil isn’t optimal. Chicken fat, beef fat, or fish oil are better choices.

The food is free from artificial ingredients like carrageenan and contains no artificial colors or preservatives.

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.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 16%
Crude Fat: 2.6%
Moisture: 80%
Ash: 1.6%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 80%
Fat: 13%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 71.7%
Fat: 28.3%

Pros

  • A species-appropriate, meat-based recipe
  • Rich in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Made without artificial ingredients
  • Hydrating

Cons

  • Contains sunflower seed oil instead of animal fats
  • Expensive

#5 Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food Review

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 44% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 131
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $6.01 per day

Cats thrive on a prey-model diet, and this freeze-dried food presents a safe, convenient way to offer your cat the nutritional integrity of raw meat. Freeze-drying food removes the food’s moisture without compromising nutritional value.

The raw morsels are made primarily with rabbit meat, a species-appropriate source of protein and nutrients. Virtually all the recipe’s protein content is animal-sourced.

Because they’re freeze-dried, the morsels are hard and dry when they come out of the bag. By pouring them into a bowl and mixing them with warm water, you’ll transform the chunks into a hydrating meal.

The food contains several plant-derived ingredients, like pumpkin seeds, olive oil, dandelion, and dried kelp.

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, etc…

Guaranteed Analysis

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

Dry Matter Basis

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

Caloric Weight Basis

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

Pros

  • Rich in animal protein
  • You can choose the moisture content
  • Supplemented with probiotics to promote healthy digestion
  • Free from artificial colors and preservatives

Cons

  • Contains some plant ingredients
  • Expensive

Why Trust Cats.com

Over the past few years we’ve personally purchased and tested hundreds of the world’s most popular cat foods, including the products in this review. The entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct influence from the brands mentioned here. In testing the products with our cats, we make observations about the food’s appearance, texture, consistency, and smell in addition to getting our cats’ opinions on the food.

In order to choose the best holistic cat Food products for this list, we took time to evaluate the company behind the food. We looked for manufacturers with a history of safety and consistency. We also considered customer experience, reading hundreds of customer reviews, checking for complaints on Consumer Affairs, and sometimes calling the company to get a feel for its culture and trustworthiness.

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 Mallory Crusta

Mallory is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on Cats.com is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.