7 Best Human Grade Cat Foods

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The best human-grade cat food is made with human-edible ingredients and processed, stored, and transported in keeping with the best manufacturing practices for human food.

It is also species-appropriate, made primarily with animal-based ingredients to support your cat’s carnivorous needs.

At A Glance: Best Human-Grade Cat Food To Buy

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Want a quick look at the best human grade 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.

Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food

  • Rich in species-appropriate nutrition
  • Very low in carbohydrates
  • Packed with animal protein
Runner Up
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Open Farm Homestead Turkey Rustic Blend Wet Food

  • Packed with high-quality animal protein
  • Rich in moisture to support hydration
  • Recloseable packaging is recyclable
Premium Pick
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

JustCats Fish & Chicken Fresh Cat Food

  • Multiple sources of animal protein
  • 100% human-edible ingredients
  • Fresh food delivered to your door
Best Value
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Nom Nom Chicken Cuisine Fresh Cat Food

  • Protein-rich fresh food recipe
  • Fresh chicken as main ingredient
  • Rich in moisture for hydration
Best Dry Food
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Dehydrated Cat Food

  • Completely human-grade
  • Rich in animal-based protein
  • Dehydrated to preserve nutrition
Best Wet Food
9.2
Picked by 18 people today!

Caru Classic Wild Salmon & Turkey Stew Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

  • Fully human-grade
  • Rich in species-appropriate nutrition
  • Low in carbohydrates
Best Cat Treats
9.0
Picked by 18 people today!

Whole Life Just One Ingredient Pure Salmon Fillet Freeze-Dried Cat Treats

  • Made with a single ingredient
  • Packed with protein and omega-3s
  • Completely human-grade

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the best human grade cat foods on the market today. While these are our top picks, you may find other options that work better for your cat and your budget. Follow our tips later in this article to shop for human grade cat food on your own.

#1 Overall Best: Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food

Smalls-Cat-Food-Review-Chicken

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Whether you feed your cat fresh, freeze-dried, or dry food, Smalls has it all. This cat food delivery service offers a variety of product types and textures made with high-quality animal-based proteins. Best of all, their recipes are made with human-grade ingredients.

That being said, Smalls isn’t fully human-grade. Here’s what they have to say:

“When we say that Smalls food is human-grade, we mean that our food is made with human-grade ingredients. The chicken in our food is the same chicken you’d buy at the grocery store for yourself– and the same goes for all our wet and freeze-dried recipes.”

So, while Smalls may be an affordable alternative to raw food, it isn’t completely human-grade just because it isn’t produced in human food facilities. We still love the quality of the formula, however, especially the high protein and low carbohydrate content. We like that this is a moisture-rich fresh food loaded with species-appropriate nutrition that gets delivered right to your door as well.

Ingredients:

Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water sufficient for processing, Chicken Heart, Kale, Vegetable Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Gluconate, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate, Niacin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Selenium, Dried Kelp, Biotin, Vitamin B12.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 21.2%
Crude Fat: 8.05%
Crude Fiber: 0.4%
Moisture: 66.1%
Ash: 2.25%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 62.54%
Fat: 23.75%
Fiber: 1.18%
Carbs: 5.9%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 49.59%
Fat: 45.73%
Carbs: 4.68%

What We Liked:

  • Rich in species-appropriate nutrition
  • Very low in carbohydrates
  • Packed with animal protein
  • Rich in moisture

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not fully human-grade
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Available by prescription only

#2 Runner Up: Open Farm Homestead Turkey Rustic Blend Wet Food

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From ingredient quality to ethical sourcing and environmentally friendly packaging, Open Farm takes an approach to cat food that we’re not seeing from a lot of other brands.

This particular formula features humanely raised, human-grade turkey as a single source of high-quality animal protein. Nutrient-dense bone broth provides moisture and helps to support overall wellbeing, while pumpkin and chicory root promote digestive health. This recipe also contains cranberries for urinary health support.

While it does contain some plant ingredients, the food remains low-carbohydrate and honors your cat’s needs as a carnivore.

In addition to being made with 100% human-grade ingredients, this stew is prepared in FDA-compliant human-grade facilities in the United States, making it a legally human-grade product from sourcing to production.

The food comes in a reclosable, recyclable package, helping to reduce its impact on the environment.

Between its human-grade status and the attention to ethical sourcing and packaging, this food from Open Farm definitely stands out from the pack. If your cat likes juicy stews and you’d like to make more environmentally-friendly choices, this is definitely a human-grade product to consider.

Ingredients:

Humanely Raised Turkey, Turkey Bone Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach, Red Lentils, Agar Agar, Non-GMO Cranberries, Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Chicory Root, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Turmeric.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 44.44%
Fat: 33.33%
Fiber: 11.11%
Carbs: 11.11%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 32.56%
Fat: 59.3%
Carbs: 8.14%

What We Liked:

  • A 100% human-grade product
  • Packed with high-quality animal protein
  • Rich in moisture to support hydration
  • Recloseable packaging is recyclable
  • Free from artificial flavors and preservatives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat pricey

#3 Premium Pick: JustCats Fish & Chicken Fresh Cat Food

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This low-carbohydrate, high-protein fresh food is a nutritious option for cats and a great choice if you’re looking to upgrade your feline friend from kibble or canned food. It features numerous sources of high-quality animal protein with plenty of healthy fat and moisture to support your cat’s hydration.

Brought to you by Just Food for Dogs, this JustCats formula is made with human-edible ingredients like Alaskan wild-caught cod and sardines wild-caught in Norway. While all ingredients are 100% human-edible, this is one of those formulas that isn’t completely human-grade simply because their manufacturing facilities aren’t licensed for human food production.

What we appreciate about this recipe is that the very first ingredient is packed with animal-based protein and healthy fats, but it isn’t the only source – you’ll find three more sources of animal protein on an ingredient list that is surprisingly short. This food comes frozen, so it must be thawed before feeding, but you can purchase it by subscription or as a one-time purchase.

Ingredients:

Alaskan Pacific Wild-Caught Cod, Whole Atlantic Sardines, Dried Yuca Root, Chicken Thighs, Chicken Hearts, Chicken Liver, Multi-Vitamin & Mineral Blend.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 4.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 77%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 52.17%
Fat: 19.57%
Fiber: 2.17%
Carbs: 26.09%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 41.48%
Fat: 37.78%
Carbs: 20.74%

What We Liked:

  • Multiple sources of high-quality animal protein
  • Made with 100% human-edible ingredients
  • Fresh food delivered to your door
  • Can be purchased one-time or by subscription

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly expensive
  • May not be ideal for cats with food allergies

#4 Best Value: Nom Nom Chicken Cuisine Fresh Cat Food

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If you want the best of the best for your cat, you might be considering a switch to fresh food. Fresh food can be pricey, but Nom Nom offers exceptional value by shipping the food directly to your door AND portioning out your cat’s meals according to his calorie requirements.

Nom Nom currently offers a single recipe of high-protein fresh cat food formulated for all life stages. This high-protein formula features fresh chicken and chicken liver as the main ingredients, supplemented with an assortment of fresh veggies like carrots and spinach. You’ll also find vitamin and mineral supplements included for balanced nutrition.

This fresh food formula was created by board certified veterinary nutritionists and made with human-edible ingredients. While it doesn’t appear Nom Nom manufactures their products in human food facilities, we confirmed with a customer service rep that, “All of [their] ingredients are USDA-approved for human consumption and sourced from local restaurant suppliers.”

Ingredients:

Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Water Sufficient for Processing, Carrots, Natural Flavor, Vinegar, Spinach, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Choline Bitartrate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Gluconate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Gluconate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Cholecalciferol (Source of Vitamin D3), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 18%
Crude Fat: 3%
Crude Fiber: 0.8%
Moisture: 73%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 66.67%
Fat: 11.11%
Fiber: 2.96%
Carbs: 19.26%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 59.04%
Fat: 23.9%
Carbs: 17.06%

What We Liked:

  • Protein-rich fresh food recipe
  • Fresh chicken and chicken liver main ingredients
  • Rich in moisture for hydration
  • Pre-portioned and sent to your door

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not fully human-grade
  • Subscription required for purchase

#5 Best Dry Food: The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Dehydrated Cat Food

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Another fully human-grade formula, this dehydrated cat food from The Honest Kitchen is a high-quality choice. Made with 100% human-edible ingredients and gently dehydrated to preserve nutritional value, this recipe is packed with animal-based protein and whole-food sources of essential nutrients.

This grain-free formula features chicken and eggs as the main ingredients and the recipe’s two protein sources. The rest of the list is made up of dried fruits and vegetables along with vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure balanced nutrition.

We love that this formula is completely human-grade, though we’d prefer to see a lower carbohydrate content. It’s also important to note that this is a dehydrated food, so it doesn’t provide the moisture your cat needs in its packaged form. The Honest Kitchen recommends rehydrating this food with warm water before serving and that’s how we’d serve it as well.

Ingredients:

Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Eggs, Dehydrated Potatoes, Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Pumpkin, Dehydrated Spinach, Dried Cranberries, Minerals [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), D- Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement].

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 39%
Crude Fat: 28%
Crude Fiber: 2.4%
Moisture: 5.2%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 41.14%
Fat: 29.54%
Fiber: 2.53%
Carbs: 26.79%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 29.46%
Fat: 51.36%
Carbs: 19.18%

What We Liked:

  • Completely human-grade
  • Rich in animal-based protein
  • Dehydrated to preserve nutritional value
  • Rich source of moisture once rehydrated

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Carbohydrate content is fairly high
  • Fairly expensive
  • Some cats dislike the texture

#6 Best Wet Food: Caru Classic Wild Salmon & Turkey Stew Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

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One of the few truly human-grade cat food brands available on Chewy, Caru offers a varied selection of wet food products as well as broths and other meal toppers. According to the brand’s website, all “stews and broths are made with 100% human grade ingredients, and they are processed and handled in accordance with FDA regulations for human food.”

Not only does Caru cat food come with the peace of mind of being human-grade, but it is packed with the protein and moisture your cat needs. Fresh salmon and turkey provide the primary sources of protein in this recipe, supplemented with egg whites.

This recipe does contain a few plant ingredients like tapioca starch for thickening as well as carrots, sweet potato, and apples to provide whole food sources of key nutrients, but it is still low in carbohydrates which makes it a species-appropriate choice for your cat.

Ingredients:

Salmon, Fish Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Turkey, Tapioca Starch, Egg Whites, Carrots, Sweet Potato, Apples, Natural Flavor, Tricalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Dandelion Greens, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Iodine Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite).

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 11.11%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 33.33%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 45.32%
Fat: 24.46%
Carbs: 30.22%

What We Liked:

  • Fully human-grade
  • Rich in species-appropriate nutrition
  • Packed with protein and moisture
  • Low in carbohydrates

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Consistency may be a little watery

#7 Best Cat Treats: Whole Life Just One Ingredient Pure Salmon Fillet Freeze-Dried Cat Treats

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If you want to boost the quality of your cat’s diet without committing to an all human-grade diet, switching to human-grade treats could be an affordable alternative. These single-ingredient treats from Whole Life are made with just one ingredient and comply with all human-grade requirements.

These Whole Life Just One Ingredient treats feature 100% pure wild Alaskan salmon as the single ingredient which makes them great for sensitive stomachs. They are freeze-dried in small batches to ensure quality and nutritional integrity, not to mention all of that natural salmon flavor.

Salmon provides an excellent source of species-appropriate nutrition for cats, especially animal-based protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These treats can be served straight out of the bag or crumbled over your cat’s food for use as a meal topper. You can even soak them in water to rehydrate them, giving them a soft texture your cat will love.

Ingredients:

100% Pure Wild Alaskan Salmon

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 89%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 4%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 92.71%
Fat: 2.08%
Fiber: 1.04%
Carbs: 4.17%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 90.95%
Fat: 4.96%
Carbs: 4.09%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single high-quality ingredient
  • Packed with protein and omega-3s
  • Completely human-grade
  • Can be served as a treat or meal topper

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Some cats may dislike the texture

The term “human grade” has a clear definition.

When you see the term “human grade” on a pet food label, there’s an implication of quality. For years, that implication was all consumers had to go on, but things changed in 2016 when the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) added the following definition to their handbook:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines products fit for human consumption to be officially “edible.” These foodstuffs have been processed, inspected and passed manufacturing regulations (i.e. process control regulations) that are designed to assure safety for consumption by humans.”

So, we now have a clear definition of what makes a product fit for human consumption, but how does that definition apply specifically to pet food?

Before we get into those details, there’s one point of clarification we want to make. It involves the difference between human-grade pet food and pet food made with human-grade ingredients.

First and foremost, keep in mind that all animal food products are subject to inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under 21 CFR 507. To substantiate human-grade claims, AAFCO has set forth a number of guidelines that incorporate relevant FDA requirements.

Here’s an overview of the requirements a product must meet to be considered human-grade:

  1. The term “human-grade” can only be used in reference to the product as a whole. This means every ingredient and the resulting product must be stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner consistent with current Good Manufacturing Practices (21 CFR part 117) and all applicable federal human food laws.
  2. Any manufacturing facility that processes or packages a human-grade pet food product must be registered both as an FDA food facility and an FDA feed facility.
  3. Manufacturing facilities must establish and maintain written procedures to ensure “human grade” storage, transport, and handling throughout the distribution process.
  4. Companies must be able to provide documentation upon request to show that:
  • All ingredients used in the product are fit for human consumption.
  • All ingredients and the resulting product are stored, handled, processed, and transported in compliance with 21 CFR part 117.
  • The final product is considered ready-to-eat.
  • The facility is licensed to produce human food by all required authorities.

Even though the term “human grade” has been more clearly defined, you can still find pet food products that are not labeled human grade but claim to be made with human grade ingredients.

In May 2021, AAFCO released detailed guidelines for human grade pet food claims which include recommendations for the use of human grade claims.

Here are some of those recommendations:

  • Pet food products carrying the “human grade” designation must be clearly labeled as animal food (such as “cat food” or “dog treats”).
  • Statements of grade or quality must not appear in the ingredient statement.
  • The most prominent use of the term “human grade” must be used in juxtaposition with the intended use and in the same style, color print, and type size as the term “human grade.”
  • The use of terms like “human grade ingredients” should only be made if the product as a whole meets the requirements for human grade pet food.
  • The label must be in compliance with all applicable labeling rules.

While AAFCO may be the advisory body that helps develop standards and definitions for the American pet food industry, the FDA is still responsible for creating and enforcing regulations.

The requirements to meet the FDA human grade label are strict, but many companies take advantage of the somewhat murky regulations regarding the use of the term “human grade” in reference to ingredients rather than the product as a whole. It’s your job as a pet owner to understand what the terms on pet food packages mean and to investigate unclear claims yourself.

What Makes Human-Grade Cat Food Different?

Human grade cat food is cat food made with human-edible ingredients to create a final product that is processed, stored, and transported in a way fit for human food. The key distinction between human grade cat food and other cat food lies in the term “human-edible.”

To put it simply, human-grade cat food does not contain “inedible” ingredients. But what qualifies as an inedible ingredient by human standards?

According to the FDA, “The pet food canning industry utilizes undecomposed animal and marine tissues from various sources. These include products of the rendering industry such as various meat, poultry, and bone meals; meat scraps and offal from packing house waste, freshly boned-out animals; and occasionally meat from animals that may have died otherwise than by slaughter.”

In other words, you won’t any of the lowest quality fillers and by-products commonly used in cheap pet foods in human-grade cat food.

Also Read: Human-Grade Cat Food: What It Is and How It’s Different

Keep in mind, however, that just because human-grade cat food is only made with human-edible ingredients, the human-grade designation doesn’t have anything to say about the nutritional makeup of the product. AAFCO guidelines still apply when it comes to nutritional minimums, but you could just as easily find a plant-based dry cat food that meets human-grade requirements as a meat-based raw, fresh, or canned human-grade cat food.

Human grade cat food isn’t necessarily the best you can buy.

Your cat’s health should be your top priority and the best way to protect your cat’s wellbeing is to feed him a nutritious, high-quality diet. Human-grade cat food might fit the bill, but it’s still your job to do the research and find a product worth its salt.

The human grade designation provides some degree of peace of mind in terms of ingredient quality and production standards, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, AAFCO says themselves that, “Whether a product is or is not advertised as human-grade has no impact on product safety.”

If you’ve spent any time researching cat food, you know as well as we do that some of the most expensive cat foods are the least species-appropriate (i.e. Purina). Similarly, even cat foods made with high-quality ingredients aren’t necessarily the best option for your cat.

Human grade cat food can be just as inappropriate for your cat as any other type of cat food. Take the time to research the brand and formula you’re considering whether it’s human grade or not.

Look for brands that use thoughtfully sourced ingredients in species-appropriate formulas. Make sure the company follows strict production standards and frequently tests for quality. Double-check the brand’s recall history and don’t believe everything you read on a pet food package.

For more cat food recommendations, check out our list of the best cat foods you can buy.

Additional Resources:

About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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