Note: Veterinary review of this article includes only the medical information in this article. The veterinarian reviewing this article does not personally endorse, recommend, or vouch for the efficacy or claims of any product mentioned in this article.
The best vet-recommended cat food is more than a prestigious label. It is species-appropriate, made by a trustworthy company, and, if it’s a prescription food, effective in its targeted therapy.
Because it has so many benefits for underweight or sickly cats, we’ve chosen Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d as the overall best vet-recommended food. In addition to Hill’s Prescription Diet, we’ve reviewed four other vet-recommended cat food brands and chosen top recipes from each.
Before we get into the reviews, let’s take a critical look at the world of vet-recommended food. We’ll explore which brands vets recommend, learn what makes vet-recommended food special, and talk to vets about which foods they recommend.
At A Glance: Best Vet Recommended Cat Foods To Buy
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.
- Contains over 40% protein as dry matter
- Seems to be liked by picky eaters
- Many cat owners report positive digestive results
- Protein appears to come primarily from animal sources
- Rich in animal-sourced omega-3 fatty acids
- Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Fresh chicken as the main source of protein
- Contains 55% crude protein measured as dry matter
- Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Why Should You Trust Us
Having reviewed over 224 of the world’s most popular cat food brands and hundreds of of formulas. We spent hours researching, contacting pet food companies, and analyzing labels. With the help of our cats, we also got hands-on experience with a few foods.
Between reviewing specific brands and researching feline nutrition, we’ve learned which brands and products are worth buying and putting in your cat’s bowl.
Based on that experience, we’ve chosen the 6 products described below as the best vet recommended cat foods you can buy in 2023.
When You Hear The Words “Vet-Recommended Cat Food”, Which Brands Do You Think Of?
You probably think of Hill’s Prescription Diet, Science Diet, Royal Canin, Iams or Eukanuba, and Purina Pro Plan.
What Do These Brands Have In Common And Why Do So Many Veterinarians Trust Them?
First, all of these brands are produced by companies with strong foundations. They’re large, well-established companies with plenty of money to spend on state-of-the-art manufacturing, research, and product development.
Secondly, These Companies Want To Be Recommended By Veterinarians.
Veterinary endorsement and approval are priceless if you want to become an authority brand. These brands have spent decades establishing themselves as icons of scientific animal nutrition. While their reputations owe something to merit, you can’t ignore the role of marketing.
Though we’re starting to put together a picture of what vet-recommended food is in general, veterinarians are as dynamic and varied as anyone else. They don’t all agree on nutrition. Some don’t even recommend foods with the words “vet-recommended” on the label.
To understand what veterinarians think about feline nutrition, I set out to talk to real vets about cat food, asking how they choose the best food, which brands they trust, and what they feed their own cats.
Here’s What A Few Veterinarians Have To Say About Cat Food
Sara Ochoa, DVM is a practicing veterinarian in East Texas and a veterinary consultant for DogLab.com. Sara says that when picking cat food, she looks for “an AAFCO statement saying that it is a full balanced diet,” adding that “there are certain low-end foods that do not meet these requirements.”
The brands she recommends are Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, and Eukanuba. If these brands are too expensive for her clients, she recommends “any of the Purina lines such as Purina One, or Purina Cat Chow. Also I recommend Iams cat food from the grocery store.” What does Sara feed her own cat? Hill’s Science Diet.
Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS is a vet living and working in the UK. When asked what she recommends to her clients, Joanna emphasizes the importance of weight control, noting that “It’s important to select the right food for your cat’s age and neuter status. I often find myself recommending a neutered/sterilised diet as these are slightly lower in calories and around 50% of cats are overweight. It’s hard to encourage a cat to exercise more, so it’s all about getting the food right.”
Megan Teiber, DVM is a practicing veterinarian in the greater Chicago area and veterinary consultant for cat furniture brand tuft + paw. She notes that veterinarians have differing opinions on feline nutrition and that veterinarian recommendations may change as research brings facts to light.
When recommending a diet to her clients, she looks for foods that follow AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) and WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) guidelines. Specifically, she emphasizes that “among other criteria, WSAVA only recommends manufacturers that employ full time veterinary nutritionists.” Companies that meet this criterion include Iams, Hill’s, Purina, and Royal Canin.
After ruling out foods that don’t meet AAFCO and WSAVA standards, Dr. Teiber advocates for a canned diet. “Canned food helps cats to stay better hydrated, feel more satiated, and can prevent and manage health conditions such as obesity, cystitis (bladder inflammation), and diabetes. I typically recommend a lower carbohydrate diet for most of my feline patients. Canned foods naturally have higher protein and lower carbohydrate content than most dry foods.”
Best Vet Recommended Cat Food: Our Top 6 Picks
In the following segment, we’ll review each of the top vet-recommended brands and their best recipes. While the brands were chosen strictly based on veterinarian recommendations, the top products were chosen based on the criteria outlined in our article on the overall best cat food.
Here’s a brief summary of the qualities we look for:
- Minimal carbohydrate content
- High-quality animal protein
- High in moisture
- Free of potentially harmful additives
We’ll also be looking at a few prescription cat foods. Any prescription foods must live up to their promises, having demonstrated benefits for cats suffering from the intended condition, be it obesity or kidney failure. Sometimes, this means that a prescription food is good for sick cats, but deviates from the nutritional standards we’d look for in other foods.
Whether it’s a prescription food or formulated for daily care, the best vet-recommended food goes beyond the label to deliver top-notch nutrition and benefits that justify its price tag.
Your veterinarian should be a feline nutrition ally—an expert who can help you to make smart decisions to ensure your cat’s long-term health.
Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian critical questions about her nutritional recommendations. Ask how she chooses a good food, which brands she trusts, and, if she has a cat, what she feeds him. You and your vet should work together to understand the why behind the recommendations.
By maintaining a critical mindset, asking the right questions, and recognizing your vet’s expertise and limitations, you can feel confident that both you and your vet are making the right choices for your cat’s health.