Best Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Best Grain Free Dry Cat Food

If you feed your cat dry food and are now looking for the best grain free dry cat food, you are definitely on the right path.

Dry food is notorious for causing all sorts of issues in cats. It is a very common problem.

This is because dry food is produced differently than canned food.grains

Grains are usually used in dry food. This makes the carbohydrate levels high.

Also, the moisture content in dry food is nearly non-existent. This means cats have to drink a lot more water just to maintain that dry-to-wet ratio seen in wet food.

The problem is cats rarely do drink enough water. This especially can cause urinary crystals as the urine is becoming too concentrated.

Constantly feeding dry food basically means over-feeding carbohydrates consistently. This can lead to obesity and diabetes.

Grain Free Dry Food = Low Carb?

Because grain in a cat’s diet is not good and more people are becoming aware of that, pet food companies are creating more foods that are labeled grain free.

This is great to see, but it doesn’t mean the problem is solved.

A reason why grain in cat food is not good is because it increases the carbohydrate levels. Cats can handle some carbohydrates, in fact they NEED some. When I say some, I mean about 1-10%. Cats CAN digest carbohydrates; they just don’t do it well.

Commercial dry cat foods can easily be in the 40% rating. As mentioned, cats are over-eating carbs and this causes a variety of problems.


One of the main reasons why dry food is so popular is the convenience. Dry food can be left out all day long; you’ll never have to worry about your cat starving.

People who wish to feed their cat dry food for this reason can’t really be blamed. We all live busy lives so when we can make something easier, we will.

This is why trying to find a healthier dry food is so important.

My first choice here would be to eliminate dry food completely, but I’m not in the business of telling people what to do. I only offer suggestions.

Some Examples:

So here are some suggestions for the best grain free dry cat food. These suggestions are also lower in carbohydrates, but still not low enough. Dry food will always have too many carbohydrates, even the healthiest ones.canidaepureessentials

Canidae – Pure Elements

With this dry food, there isn’t a lot of filler ingredients. Potatoes and peas are present. With grain free dry cat food, it is very hard to find dry foods without these ingredients. But they are kept to a minimum.There’s chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and lamb meal which provide protein.
Fish meal is also present, which isn’t great. It is a little lower on the ingredients list than the other protein sources.
Overall, this dry food still has carbohydrate sources.The food is not loaded with it. This makes it a low carb, grain free cat food, compared to most dry cat foods.

EVO Turkey evocatkitten& Chicken Formula Cat & Kitten Food

As you can see, there’s quite a few carbohydrate sources. It is grain free, but this is a good example of grain free not being totally free from carbohydrates.
There’s also fish based ingredients to watch out for. The food is named Turkey & Chicken but that doesn’t mean fish can’t be present.
Overall, this cat food does have it’s share of carbohydrates. Comparing it to other commercial dry cat foods, this one is lower in carbohydrates and is grain free.


Nature’s Variety Instinct Chicken Meal FormulaNVinstinctchickendry

One could argue that there’s too many unnecessary ingredients in this formula to be considered on this list. There’s definitely a case to be had. Even though, a lot of these ingredients are lower on the list.
An ingredient present that is not seen often in dry foods is montmorillonite clay. There’s mixed feelings about this ingredient. On one side, natural food-grade forms of this ingredient are a better alternative in cat foods.
On the other side this ingredient doesn’t necessarily have to be tested, so non food grade forms of this ingredient may find it’s way in cat food. Despite this ingredient, this is a grain free, lower carb choice.

Orijen Corijencatkittydryat & Kitten

Orijen dry cat food is highly thought of and considered one of the best dry cat foods available on the market. Looking at the ingredients, you’d probably wonder why. The food is actually packed with a bunch of fruits and vegetables.The positive aspect is that these ingredients are low on the list. Bulking agents like peas and potatoes are not present.
The biggest negative about Orijen is the fact that there’s a lot of fish. Whole herring, boneless walleye, whole salmon, herring meal, and salmon meal are in this food. This raises concern as fish based meals are not to be fed on a consistent basis. This means that making this food your choice to always feed your cat may not be the best idea.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Originalrp_wellnesscoredry-e1420299075861.jpg

This is yet another typical grain free cat food that has the carbohydrate substitutes. Peas are present, but they are after a lot of protein sources which is good to see.
This formula doesn’t have unnecessary ingredients loaded in it, another positive for this food. This makes the carbohydrate content lower than most commercial dry cat foods.
One thing to watch out for is the whitefish meal and herring meal. Fish based ingredients are not good to eat on a consistent long-term basis. Overall though, this is a solid food, as far as dry foods go.


As you can see, there’s not many on this list. Even then, these cat foods are still high in carbohydrates than what a cat needs. Overall, if you are looking for grain free cat food then these are some of the best grain free dry cat foods on the market.

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  1. For dry grain free cat food I use the Crave Salmon. It has a 40% protein content with the first ingredient being salmon. I would love for you to do a review on the Crave products. Our cat loves it and goes looking for us if he runs out. His fur is soft and he appears to be regulating on his weight.

  2. I may have overlooked some things on the site. But is it not up to what the cat or cats will eat. Some of the most high end top ranked feed my not do a thing for your cat but a snub nose.
    And then cant get enough of 9lives.

    Sometimes if you have more than few cats those prem high end brands are just excessive cost wise.

  3. My Male cat has been Diabetic for 2 yrs now. He is on the Purina DM dry from the Vets. i don’t like the ingredients in it but He loves it. He hasn’t lost weight and I still have to give him insulin twice a day. aLthough he beat his Neoropathy he got last year and he is doing great. I would like to try to find something healthier. He will only nibble at wet food and only in the AM. I saw many reviews about the Purina Beyond grain free chicken. I have tried the EVO and he didn’t like it. Some people are claiming their diabetic cats do great on the Beyond brand. Of course they never show the carbs and I never can seem to do the formula to figure them out accuratly..any thoughts??

    1. Hello,

      First off I am happy to hear that your cat is doing well. Sometimes we look at the ingredients list and think ‘this is not a great food to feed my cat’ but our cat loves it! The first thing I would have suggested is to get your cat off the dry food completely. Dry food is not good for diabetic cats. But if he likes dry food and doesn’t like wet food, and you want him off the dry food, perhaps incorporating some wet into the dry food (mixing it) will help.

      As far as the Beyond brand goes, I would call it Purina’s higher quality brand. Some of Purina’s lines are highly questionable however the Beyond brand limits a lot of questionable ingredients.

      I could give you calculations based on the guaranteed analysis however there is a wonderful pdf created by that provides more accurate information regarding popular commercial wet cat food. Purina Beyond is found under ‘Beyond.’

      It can freely be found here:

      Hope this helps and good luck to you and your kitty 🙂

  4. my cat is board line diabetic is refusing to eat her wet food
    we use Blue
    she does not like any seafood
    any recommendation on dry food low carbs no by products
    grain free if possible

    1. Hello,

      That is too bad, stubborn kitty :p

      Hopefully she gets back onto the wet food as wet food is certainly much better than dry for a cat that is borderline diabetic.

      Three that I would recommend that have very little carbs for a dry food are:

      Evo’s Turkey & Chicken (it does contain seafood but not the main source of meat)
      Wysong’s Epigen 90
      Young Again’s Zero Premium High Protein

      Hope that helps!

  5. i’m confused about guaranteed analysis. i heard high protein like 40% can damage kidney, but many quality cat foods brands i’ve read seem to have high protein. how much protein from guaranteed analysis should i choose?

    1. Hello,

      If a healthy cat eats too much protein, the extra protein gets excreted in the urine. Or else it gets converted into calories. This means there is no excess buildup of protein in the body. Too much protein will not necessarily create a kidney problem.

      If your cat already has a kidney problem, genetic or otherwise, then the first thing to do is avoid dry foods period. Even the best dry foods, with high protein levels, will do damage. Dry foods have too many carbohydrates, which in turn affect the blood sugar levels, and that’s where the kidneys become damaged.

      Restricting the protein levels in wet food for cats with kidney problems shouldn’t be the biggest concern. Restricting phosphorus is more important IMO.

      To answer your question, around 40% protein on a dry matter basis is an appropriate number. Just make sure the protein is coming from a meat source, not a plant-based source. That is very important.

      Canned foods will never have ‘40%’ on the guaranteed analysis however.

      On the guaranteed analysis of wet food, the protein % is low, usually between 9-12%. That doesn’t mean the food is made up of 9-12% protein. The % has to be converted into a moisture free state to get a more accurate % of protein.

      If you have trouble converting the protein % in wet cat food into a more accurate number, try this post:

      Hopefully I helped out a bit 🙂

      1. I should also add, since we are on the ‘Best Grain Free Dry Cat Food’ page, if you are worried about your cat having kidney issues, avoid dry foods, even the ones listed here.

  6. Do you have any rating for Royal Canin foods?

    1. Hello,

      Royal Canin can be found here:

      with the exception of the vet formulas. They are currently not reviewed at this time, but that may change in the future.

      Thanks 🙂

  7. Any dry food with peas and potatoes, rice, etc. causes the cat to eat more and more often; because, there’s not enough protein—even with the protein in this product. That means you’re buying cat food more often.

  8. go! Fit + Free is quite low in carbohydrates. It is a grain free dry cat food. I think it’s only around 15% carbs.

    1. Wonder why that food is not reviewed here?Came highly recommended from my vet and my cat loves the taste.

      1. The Go! Fit + Free dry food is actually on this site, it can be found here:

        Go! Fit + Free Grain Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck

        The Go! dry food is really quite comparable with the ones listed on this post.

        1. You do not endorse petcurean. Very strange. Its a fine food.your choices are quite difficult to understand. Many fine foods wet and dry puzzle me.

          1. Hello, thanks for your comments.

            I don’t flat out endorse any particular brand. I make the reviews unbiased as possible.

            A lot Petcurean’s formulas contain whole grains, and the formulas that do not are filled with vegetables/legumes. They are great foods. 2.5/5 is exactly average, Petcurean rates no lower than 3 so they are above average foods. I try to save the 4-5 star cat foods for foods that limit the amount of filler (vegetables/legumes) and have no grains/whole grains present. There are exceptions, but that is why Petcurean doesn’t rate as highly as you would like.

            Absolutely disagree with any or all of the ratings. These are not a science.

            In terms of this page, Petcurean’s Gather Chicken Recipe for Adult Cats is deserving to be on here. Especially after Orijen changed their formula.

            Thank you for your question regarding the Petcurean ratings.

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