Best Grain Free Wet Cat Food

Best Grain Free Wet Cat Food

If you are looking for the best grain free wet cat food, then you are on the right track for finding the best cat food for your cat.

You may know a little or a lot about how grains are not ideal for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores; therefore grains make little sense in cat food.


Cats are Carnivores

Cats are just not equipped to digest grains easily. Some grains are easier to digest than others, such as corn, but that doesn’t mean these healthier grains should be in cat foods.

But they are. In fact, they are very popular in commercial cat foods.

This is because the unfortunate reality is grains are cheaper for cat food manufacturers to purchase over meat, therefore it is cheaper to sell, there will be more sales from the average cat owner, and profits will be great. Why would a company change that if it works?

Carbohydrate Content is Too High

Another issue with grains in cat foods is the carbohydrate content. Cats should ideally be eating about 5% carbohydrates in a formula. A lot of commercial cat foods easily pass this percentage. In fact, carbohydrate percentages can easily be 40-70% depending on the quality of the food.

Grain free dry cat food will still have carbohydrate levels that are higher than what a cat needs. This is because dry food has much lower moisture content. That could be a reason why you are looking for the best grain free wet cat food.

Grain Free = Low Carb?

Another thing to note is carbohydrate substitutions. Often times in grain free cat food, ingredients such as potatoes, peas, cellulose, and sweet potatoes are present. This allows the food to still have the bulking agents and carbohydrate sources, but these brands can label their cat food as grain free. Please keep in mind these carbohydrate substitutions.

Some examples:

Here are some examples of the best grain free cat food you can get on the market. Just click on the link to get a more in depth review.

Merrick Before Grain Beef MerrickBGQuailChicken

Merrick Before Grain Chicken

Merrick Before Grain Quail

Merrick Before Grain Salmon

Merrick Before Grain Tuna

Merrick Before Grain Turkey

The Merrick Before Grain line is good for providing a low carbohydrate diet. The issue with this line is that there are a few more questionable ingredients than you would like to see. Both guar gum and carrageenan are present. When it comes to commercial cat foods, these thickening agents are hard to avoid. The protein and fat levels are unbalanced a bit. More protein would be more beneficial but this food does provide a great grain free, low carbohydrate option.

Nature’s Logic wet foodnatureslogicchicken

The Chicken, Duck & Salmon, and Rabbit formulas are all low in carbohydrates. This cat food actually has quite a few fruits and vegetables so it seems like it would be loaded with carbs. This is because Nature’s Logic believes that all the essential vitamins and minerals needed shouldn’t come from supplements, they should come from natural ingredients like fruits and vegetables. These are all dehydrated so the carb content lowers. The only ingredient that is controversial is montmorillonite clay. This is because there’s not a lot of information about it. So people are split on whether this ingredient is helpful or harmful. Regardless, this is a great grain free, low carb cat food that is free from the thickening agents so often seen in cat food.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Duck FormulaNVILIDuck

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Lamb Formula

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey Formula

Nature’s Variety Instinct is a respectable commercial cat food line. The Limited Ingredient line takes the quality a bit further. This line really cuts down on the filler and unnecessary ingredients. The peas are a good example of carbohydrate substitutes being present even though the food is label grain free. Also, montmorillonite clay may be a bad ingredient depending on how you view that ingredient. Some people think it’s great and a better alternative to other ant-caking agents, others think it’s problematic due to the dioxins. Regardless, this line is a grain free, low carb line.

Tiki Cat Koolina Luautikicatkoolinaluau

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau

These Tiki Cat formulas are chicken based. As you can see from the link, the ingredients are not packed with fruits or vegetables. Chicken is the most prominent ingredient, which makes this a very good grain free, low carb cat food. In addition, the fat levels are not as high as some of the other foods on this list. This is about as solid as a commercial cat food you are going to find, all the way around. A big drawback is that this food is expensive.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Beef, Venison & Lamb Formula wellnesscorechickturk

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken Turkey & Chicken Liver Formula

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Turkey & Duck Formula

These Wellness CORE formulas have a low carbohydrate level. Some of the other CORE formulas have a little higher carb count, bumping it off the best grain free wet cat food list.Unfortunately, these all contain both guar gum and carrageenan. The Kitten formula does contain some fish too. For the ingredients Wellness CORE provides, the price may be a little on the high side. Regardless, in terms of commercial cat foods, Wellness CORE provides acceptable carbohydrate levels.


Weruva Green Eggs and Chicken

Weruva Nine Liver

Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken

These Weruva formulas are all good quality. They do all contain potato starch and xanthan gum which isn’t the greatest. Despite this, these are all grain free, low carb options. This is because aside from the potato starch, the food isn’t loaded with carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and the like. This keeps carb counts lower. They are also free from highly controversial ingredients.

Runners up

These cat foods aren’t great enough to be considered for the best grain free cat food but they should be pointed out. This way you have more options.

Best Feline Friend wet foodsBFFTunaBeMine

All the Best Feline Friends formulas listed on that page are actually low in carbohydrates.
You can see that the ingredients don’t have carbohydrate substitutes loaded in it. There are other ingredients that are questionable, but if you are looking for purely a low carbohydrate cat food, Best Feline Friend is worth a look. Just please note that these are all seafood based diets. Seafood based diets should not be fed consistently on a long term deal.

EVO – All the wet foodevo95chickenturkey

The EVO wet cat foods are all great for providing a low carbohydrate food. If you look at most of the wet foods from the link, there aren’t a lot of filler ingredients. There are ingredients that are not ideal, such as guar gum and carrageenan. Those other ingredients pointed out are up to you to decide if they are acceptable or not in cat foods. The EVO formulas are quite high in fat as well though so keep a mind on that. The protein levels take a back seat, and this is why it is a runner up. The protein levels just aren’t high enough.

Tiki Cat fish based wet foodstikicatahituna

The Tiki Cat foods that are fish based, so the ones not listed above under best grain free wet cat food, are still low in carbohydrates. These foods also really minimize the unnecessary ingredients. Certain formulas contain thickening agents, so be aware of that. Aside from the thickening agents, these Tiki Cat formulas are runners up because they are seafood based. The main meat protein source comes from seafood. It’s not good to feed seafood based diets.

Weruva Marbella Paella weruvamara

Weruva Meow Luau

Weruva Outback Grill

Weruva Polynesian BBQ

Like the Tiki Cat formulas posted above, these Weruva formulas are seafood based. This put these formulas in the runners up category. This isn’t the only reason though. Three of the four here do contain carrageenan. They also contain an ingredient called menadione sodium bisulfite complex. This is a controversial, synthetic form of Vitamin K. So these Weruva formulas are grain free, low carb options. They just aren’t the greatest options.

If you see a common theme with these foods, it’s that they don’t have grains and they don’t have a lot of carbohydrate substitutes. If you are looking at a brand that is not listed here, just look at the ingredients list. Does the list contain grains? Does the list contain a lot of fruits and vegetables? If no, the carb content should be lower. Then you can take it a step further and see the other ingredients. Does it contain carrageenan? Guar gum? Montmorillonite clay?

It won’t tell you everything, but it is a good start in helping you find the best grain free wet cat food for your cat.

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Add a Comment
  1. Hey Jaime, I just came across your site today as I try and learn more about making the best cat food choices. This morning I fed my cat the Wellness Core Turkey and Duck recipe. I had purchased it specifically because it was one tat lacked carrageenan. Above, carrageenan was one of your concerns with this product. I have the can beside me as I am typing and it is no longer on the ingredient list. It now lists “guar gum, ground flaxseed” with no carrageenan between. I can only speculate that the company is listening and has changed their recipe. Anyhow, I wanted to update you and see what you now think of the wellness core formulations. Thanks for your analysis

  2. BTW, explains that contrary to popular belief, fat is actually good for cats. Its a FANTASTIC website by an expert veterinarian on wet cat food..(thousands of hours spent on that)..and diabetes & kidney disese. I recommend the site to anyone who loves their cat. You have to download a pdf to see her listing of catfood, etc..if I remember correctly. Thank you!

  3. What about all the different brands of Blue Buffalo and Nutro? Thank you for your work!

    1. Hello, thanks for your comments.

      If by different brands of Blue Buffalo, you mean the Freedom, Wilderness, Healthy Gourmet, Basics lines, they are all under ‘Blue Buffalo.’ As far as I can tell, the only line not listed is the Veterinary Line.

      Nutro has another brand named Max Cat. You can find the Nutro food under ‘Nutro’ and Max Cat under ‘Max Cat’

      Thanks again 🙂

  4. I don’t see Holistic Select, Only Natural Pet or Feline Natural canned food on your list. Is is possible they will be there in the future. Thanks for all your hard work with this site.

    1. You are welcome, thank you for your kind comment 🙂

      I have just added Holistic Select and Feline Natural.

      Holistic Select

      Feline Natural

      Only Natural Pet will be coming shortly.

      Thank you for your suggestions!

      1. Thanks so much. I love your site!

  5. There is a new trend of human grade pet food hitting the shelves.
    HAve you had a chance to look at them and review them?
    The specific one I’m looking for is honest brand.
    But I would love to be educated on these more, in general.

  6. Thank you for posting these reviews. I make my own raw food sometimes, but I like to vary their diet, and I’m just appalled at the ingredients of some cat foods. Now, I always go back to my first cat who died at 21 years of age, after eating Friskies and other grocery store brands for about the first 18 years of her life, LOL. But regardless, I know better now and want to find good options.

  7. Hello there,

    I noticed that you ranked the Tiki Cat fish-based brands as 5 paws (in the ranking section) despite what you mention about fish being recommended for occasional feeding only. Also, sunflower oil in amounts high enough to hit the top 5 ingredients may be a reason to reconsider such a high ranking. Additionally, chicken breast, though nutritious, is not complete. I realize they supplement with vitamins, etc., but using whole chicken would be more nutritious and less costly. Seems to me like the Tiki brand is geared to the human palate more than to a cat’s nutritional needs. Still good, just not as good as others that you mention, like Nature’s Variety and EVO (which has a 95% meat canned line – surely if there’s that much meat, it must be high protein, unless it’s mostly broth).
    Also, clay and agar-agar seem relatively safe. Cats eat dirt while grooming, so consuming a bit of clay seems relatively benign. Agar is a sea vegetable, so it’s not likely deserving of the 1/2 paw status you give it, unless it’s an altered version of the sea vegetable, but I don’t think so. Carrageenan, on the other hand, is a synthetic derivative of carrageen, also a sea vegetable. So maybe it’s the adulteration factor that makes carrageenan a possible irritant, while carrageen in its natural state is fine.

    I’m also wondering if you could add Castor & Pollux and California Natural to your rankings list. Castor and Pollux contains peas, but it’s mostly meat-based and uses organic ingredients and bpa-free cans, which are definite pluses. I’m not certain about California Natural but have heard it’s decent.

    Thanks for reading.

    1. Thanks for your comment. You have posted some very quality points.

      The reason why the Tiki Cat fish based foods are rated 5 paws is because a consumer would know that the food is fish based before purchasing it. The high ranking is more so for the ingredients used, not how often it should be fed. It is a good canned food to feed every now and then, based on the fact that it is fish based.
      If the cat food is labelled as ‘Chicken’ and the first couple of ingredients are fish based, or the majority of the formula is fish based, then the ranking would be lower because that is deceiving the consumer into thinking they are purchasing a cat food that is chicken based, even though it is not. I hope that clears it up a little bit. I can understand however if you feel the ranking should be lower.
      In addition, the Gourmet Carnivore line lists the oil as being in the formula at 4%. So while it is high up the ingredients list absolutely, it is because the first 3 ingredients dominant the formula.

      Agar is actually not to have half paw print like it shows. It is one of the least controversial of gelling agents. Thanks for noticing my blunder.

      I can certainly add Castor & Pollux and California Natural to the list. I will post a follow up with the links when it is ready to go.

      Thanks again for your quality comment 🙂

    2. To follow up on my previous reply, Castor and Pollux reviews can be found here:

      California Natural cat food has been completely discontinued.

    3. I also felt the same as Kat. Why are you giving 5 paws when there are certain ingredients that should not be in the food? I would only give 5 paws if something was absolutely perfect, and from what I keep finding.. the only thing that is, is homemade raw. (if done correctly)

      1. I am actually working on a page that explains the ratings. I completely agree with you when you say that the only flawless cat food is homemade raw when prepared by someone with extensive knowledge.

        The ratings are comparative to each other, and deal with commercial cat food, which we all know is flawed. It’s essentially the best of the best in terms of commercial cat food, cans/kibble you buy in stores, available to the masses. The site focuses more on that aspect of cat food, food commercially available. This site’s niche is not homemade cat food, or raw cat food. I may branch out eventually, but for now the focus is on cat food people can buy in stores, ie. cans/kibble.

        When comparing even the best commercial canned food to homemade raw, there is no comparison. There’s no argument there what is better for cats.

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