Your cat’s biggest jobs might be holding down your furniture during the day and chasing her toys at night, but in the wild, cats are avid hunters. The most natural way to feed a cat is to give them raw food. Since you might not be up for hunting for mice and birds to present to your kitty (and we don’t recommend this even if you are up for it!), feeding your little hunter a raw diet is the next most-natural choice.
We have looked at dozens of raw cat foods in order to bring you a selection of some truly great products. We looked at the ingredients, the value, and how kitties seem to like the foods (as evidenced by the reviews written by their humans). If you’re not ready to make the leap to raw food but still want to provide your cat with a very healthy diet, you might be interested in our list of the best organic cat foods.
Our top pick goes to Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats. Cats are obligate carnivores and should be eating almost exclusively protein. This food obliges, as it is made almost wholly (98%) from chicken with taurine and probiotics added for good health. It’s available in six tempting flavors, so it’s perfect for any finicky kitty.
The 5 Top-Rated Raw Cat Foods
|Best Raw Cat Food Overall||Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats||4.1|
|Best Raw Cat Food Mixer||Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Best Raw Cat Food Mixer Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers||4.4|
|Best Budget Raw Cat Food||Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food||4.1|
|Best Grain-Free Raw Coated Cat Food||CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Ancestral Diet||4.3|
|Best Limited-Ingredient Raw Cat Food||Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural||4.6|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Raw Cat Food Overall: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats made our top spot. All of the ingredients (in this case, chicken, chicken, and more chicken, with a few extra nutrients added for good measure–and good health) are responsibly sourced; they don’t come from China and there’s nothing artificial added. The food is prepared in small batches in the company’s USA-based kitchens and it is processed minimally to keep it as close to raw as possible.
This food contains no fillers, grains, antibiotics, or hormones. It is 98 percent pure chicken, which is excellent for stimulating your cat’s appetite. Because it contains no grains, it is great for cats with allergies and it might improve your cat’s skin and coat. It is also formulated to promote healthy teeth and gums.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats Key Features:
- 18-oz bag
- 98% chicken
- Prepared in the USA
- Responsibly sourced
- No fillers, grains, antibiotics or hormones
Best Raw Cat Food Mixer: Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers
Among raw cat food mixers, our top spot goes to Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers. If you are still on the fence about whether to feed your cat a raw diet or you just want to try it out to see how it goes, this is a great mixer to sprinkle on top of your cat’s regular wet or dry food. It is made from cage-free chicken and contains no grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, or anything artificial.
You can put this on top of your cat’s food to pique her interest; it is especially good for cats who are picky or who are underweight due to a lack of a healthy appetite. This package contains 40 1-tablespoon servings, so it will last you a few weeks if you feed twice daily. From there, you can continue simply adding it to your cat’s food or you can decide to begin to make the switch to a completely raw diet.
Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Key Features:
- Topper for wet or dry food
- Made from cage-free chicken
- Includes GMO-free vegetables and fruit
- Grain and filler free
- 6-oz bag
- Supports proper digestion and a healthy coat
Best Budget Raw Cat Food: Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
Our favorite budget-friendly raw cat food is Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food. This is a high-protein, grain-free raw cat food that has been freeze-dried for convenience. It comes in two different formulations: chicken & duck and chicken & salmon. Both contain 98% protein for your cat’s health. Other ingredients include cranberries, dried kelp, and probiotics.
This food is nutritionally complete, so it can be used as a full meal. Other options include using it as a topper for dry or wet food or using it as a tempting treat for your cat. To use as a meal, you can mix it with some warm water to make it more appealing and easier to eat. You can feed this to pregnant or nursing cats, but you should check with your veterinarian first to find out how much to feed.
Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Key Features:
- Grain and gluten free
- 98% poultry (or poultry and fish)
- Contains probiotics
- Can be used as a topper, treat, or full meal
4Best Grain-Free Raw Coated Cat Food: CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Ancestral Diet
CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Ancestral Diet made our top pick for grain-free raw coated cat food. This is the fish formula and it is appropriate for kittens, adult cats, and senior cats. It contains salmon and there are no grains, gluten, corn, wheat, or soy ingredients. The raw coating on the food makes it particularly tasty, as the raw fish scent is on every piece.
The manufacturers recommend introducing this cat food gradually, beginning with making it just 25 percent of your cat’s diet at first, then increasing the proportion of this food to her current food over a couple of weeks’ time. That can help your kitty get used to the new food, particularly if you are not currently feeding a food that is grain-free or raw.
CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Ancestral Diet Key Features:
- High in protein
- 2.5 lb bag (also available as a 5-lb bag)
- Good for cats and kittens of all ages
- Raw coated and freeze dried
- Uses real salmon
- Grain, corn, soy, and wheat free
Best Limited-Ingredient Raw Cat Food: Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural
Freeze Dried Cat Food By Feline Natural is our favorite limited-ingredient, hypoallergenic raw cat food. This flavor is made from New Zealand cage-free chicken and lamb, and it contains no grains. It is low in carbs and high in protein, which is important for any cat. Best of all, it has limited ingredients to make it easy to feed your kitty who has allergies or sensitivities. It is also good for cats without any allergies, of course.
The minimally processed food doesn’t have any fillers included. It is 99% freeze-dried protein and also includes vitamins, minerals, and oils for good health. These will keep your cats’ teeth and gums healthy and can improve her coat and skin health. You can use this food as a meal or use it as a topper to sprinkle on top of your cat’s regular kibble or canned food to make it more nutritious and appealing.
Freeze Dried Cat Food by Feline Natural Key Features:
- 99% protein
- Also includes mussels, vitamins, minerals, and oils
- Made of cage-free chicken and lamb
- Limited ingredients
- Use as a meal or a topper
Who Should Buy Raw Cat Food
If you are considering switching your cat over to a more natural diet, using raw cat food is one way to do it. Many of the raw cat foods on the market are freeze-dried, which makes them very convenient to store, use, and travel with. You can also begin with a raw cat food topper or mixer; these can be sprinkled on top of or mixed into your cat’s regular food to increase the appeal. It’s also a good introduction to raw cat food. If your cat has allergies or sensitivities, a raw diet with grain-free food can help alleviate these difficulties. Talk to your veterinarian before making major changes to your cat’s diet, particularly if she has health issues or allergies.
Important Features to Consider
There are some features you should keep in mind when choosing a raw cat food. Here are some of the things you and your favorite feline should consider:
- Ingredients. Because cats are obligate carnivores, their diets should be mostly meat. Look for a raw food that contains mostly meat and limited (or no) grains or fillers.
- Lack of allergens. Every cat is an individual and yours is no exception. If your cat has any allergies or sensitivities, you will want to look for a food that does not contain the ingredients she is sensitive to. Some common culprits are grains, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, and potato.
- Formulation. Many raw foods are freeze-dried, but some are frozen or come in other types of formulations. Consider whether you have room to store perishable cat foods before purchasing something that needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Flavors. All cats have their preferences! If your cat enjoys turkey and fish but dislikes chicken, you know what to avoid. Purchasing small packages when you are in the experimentation phase will help you find out what your cat likes best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a raw diet good for cats?
A raw diet is the closest to what your cat would eat in the wild. With that being said, keep in mind that your cat is a domesticated animal. Completely raw food might be inappropriate for your cat if she has certain health issues. Also, if you have small children or an immune-compromised individual in your home, purely raw food might not be the right choice for your household. In that case, freeze-dried raw food or food with a freeze-dried raw coating might meet your cat’s needs without putting anyone at risk of cross-contamination with raw meat.
How do you feed a cat a raw diet?
You can go about it one of several ways. One is to use raw food (raw fish, raw chicken, etc.) and make homemade food for your cat. This is the closest to nature, but it also exposes you to the risks of cross-contamination. Also, since cats need some trace elements in their diets that are not in raw foods you purchase at the grocery store, it might not be the most nutritionally sound approach.
Another is to buy commercial raw food, which most often comes either frozen or freeze-dried. This is safer for the humans in your household and usually these foods will contain taurine and other minerals that your cat needs. Talk to your vet about the best approach for your kitty.
To keep any mess contained, a cat food mat can come in handy. Check out our list of the top 25 cat food mats to choose the right one for your kitty.
Is raw cat food expensive?
Raw cat food is usually more expensive than the typical kibble that you might purchase at a grocery store. It might be comparable in price to the food you are currently feeding your cat if you have been using a high-protein, high-quality food.
Do cats live longer on a raw diet?
This is a matter of contention even among veterinarians. Some cats do live longer on a raw diet, but of course many cats live for a long time on a non-raw diet. The best thing to do is talk to your vet about your cat’s specific needs. In some cases, a raw diet might put your cat at risk of illness, particularly if she has underlying health issues.