Best Wet Cat Food 2019: Reviews and Cat Food Guide

The best wet cat food is made with your cat’s carnivorous needs in mind. It’s rich in fresh animal-sourced protein and free from plant-based fillers. It’s manufactured by people with a reputation for making safe, trustworthy products. And of course, it’s absolutely delicious.

In this buying guide, you’ll learn which ingredients to look for and which to avoid. You’ll find out why the “first ingredient rule” is wrong and how to evaluate cat food ingredient lists instead. We’ll talk about meat byproducts, recall history, sourcing, and other controversial topics. 

Once you’ve learned how to identify the best wet cat food, we’ll dive into a curated list of the top 10 best wet and canned foods on the market.

Wet vs. Dry Cat Food - Which Type is Better?

Let’s start with one of the most fundamental debates in the cat food world—is wet cat food or dry kibble better?

Wet cat food has lower plant content than dry food.

Most dry cat food manufacturers use high-carbohydrate ingredients like corn, wheat, potatoes, or tapioca. These starchy ingredients are binders and help the kibble to maintain its shape.

Wet food manufacturing works differently. You can make wet food with nothing but meat, water, and supplements. Therefore, wet foods are usually relatively simple and species-appropriate.

Wet cat food provides the hydration your cat requires.

Think of the last time you ate popcorn without anything to drink on the side. That’s a rough representation of how your cat feels on a dry diet. Most dry cat foods have less moisture than a bowl full of unbuttered popcorn and cats rarely drink enough to make up for it.

Having originally dwelt under arid desert conditions, it appears that cats evolved to thrive in a dry environment. This means that they have low thirst drives. Rather than drinking from a puddle, stream, or bowl, they prefer to get their hydration from juicy prey.

The fact that many cats now have water bowls and water fountains does nothing to change the feline desire to drink. When a cat is given a water-depleted diet, they may drink more than they would while eating high-moisture food, but they will not take in enough water to thrive.

The most apparent consequence of chronic dehydration is a tendency to develop feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD.

Is dry cat food better for your cat’s dental health?

While dry food may be marginally better than wet food for dental health, it’s certainly not a solution to periodontal disease. Any minimal abrasive effect is balanced by the increased carbohydrate content of dry cat food, which leaves a starchy film on your cat’s teeth and contributes to plaque buildup.

 If you feed your cat wet food, brush their teeth daily, and supplement their diet with raw meaty bones or specially-made dental treats. They’ll be much better off than a cat who eats a dry diet and receives no other dental care.

How to Find the Best Wet Cat Food

Read the ingredient list. Here’s how to do it the right way.

It’s important to read the ingredient list on cat food labels. Maybe you've heard that the first ingredient makes or breaks a food. While this is true in part, it’s an overly simplistic analysis method and is exploited by cat food manufacturers to create the illusion of a meat-rich food.

Cat food ingredient lists are written in order of weight. 

If a recipe includes one pound of chicken along with fifteen ounces of potato and fifteen ounces of potato protein concentrate, chicken will be the first item on the list, despite the fact that potato is the predominant ingredient. Further, the weights of the ingredients are calculated before the food is cooked. Once the water is cooked out, the chicken will weigh considerably less, but the ingredient list won’t tell you that.

Nevertheless, the cat food company can proclaim that their food has “real meat” as the first ingredient and many consumers will be excited to see wholesome chicken leading up the ingredient list.

Instead of relying on rules of thumb, think critically.

Look at every ingredient and ask yourself what purpose it serves and how it fits into a strictly carnivorous diet. If the ingredient list describes a food made primarily from clearly-named pieces of animals and has very little or no plant parts, then it’s probably a relatively good choice for your cat.

Seek out highly-digestible protein sources.

As obligate carnivores, cats require large amounts of protein, ideally from animal sources. Animal protein is easy for their bodies to metabolize and produces very little waste.

Different sources of protein have varied bioavailability levels. Protein from corn gluten meal, for example, is less bioavailable than protein from poultry by-product. 

When cat food manufacturers load up their foods with plant protein as a cost-effective alternative to meat, they boost protein percentages on the label, but fail to provide an efficiently nourishing food.

Are meat by-products a wholesome source of animal protein?

On a cat food label, animal by-products, meat by-products, poultry by-products, and by-product meals refer to meat ingredients that would otherwise be discarded after human meat processing.

According to the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) the following defines meat by-products:

“Meat by-products is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”

A pound of meat by-products could be primarily beef muscle meat and organs or it might be minimally-digestible pig intestines.

It’s impossible to know which animal parts are used and from which types of animals they were sourced. For example, meat by-products may involve non-slaughtered animals, sometimes those who were euthanized by drug injection.

Because they’re nutritionally ambiguous, meat by-products aren’t an ideal ingredient in cat food. They’re particularly problematic for cats with food allergies or sensitivities. 

To achieve the nutritional complexity of meat by-products without sacrificing ingredient integrity, superior cat food manufacturers use specifically-named, high-value animal parts, including muscle meat, organs, and bones.

Avoid ingredients that could harm your cat over time.

Some ingredients or additives are generally considered safe and are therefore included in cat food, but pose a health risk over time. 

​Carrageenan - This algae derivative makes wet cat food nice and thick, but it could worsen inflammation and may have carcinogenic properties.

Artificial Colors - Many artificial colors are associated with negative health effects. Even if there was no evidence that synthetic food dyes cause behavioral and physical problems, they’re not necessary. Artificially-colored cat food is an insult to your intelligence, so get offended and reject any food made with dyes. 

Certain Preservatives - The preservatives BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin may harm your cat over time. 

Too Much Fish - Fish is often contaminated with heavy metals and toxic waste. Additionally, fish-based canned foods may contribute to hyperthyroidism as your cat ages.

BPA - While not an ingredient in your cat’s food, this chemical is used to line cat food cans and is worth talking about here. It’s speculated that eating out of BPA-lined cans may increase your cat’s risk of developing hyperthyroidism in their senior years. You can usually avoid BPA by choosing small cat food cans or asking the manufacturer.

Look for a species-appropriate nutrient breakdown.

Generally, cats require a diet that’s rich in protein with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content. A mouse might be 70% moisture, 19% protein, 6.3% fat, and 1.7% carbohydrate. 

​This prey-model nutrient distribution will support good health and is a healthy guideline for wet cat foods. Note that because carbohydrate matter isn’t printed on cat food cans, you’ll need to estimate the carbohydrate percentage using this formula or a calculator like this one.

Top 10 Best Wet Cat Foods 2019 - Reviews

Now that you’ve learned what to look for in the best wet cat food, here’s our list of the best wet foods on the market. All of these foods are made primarily from high-quality animal protein and are low in carbohydrate-dense plant ingredients.

​Rank

​# 1

​#2

​#3

#4

#5

​​Product Name

Ziwi Peak Canned Cat Food

Hound & Gatos Cat Food

Tiki Cat Wet Cat Food

Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Kitten

Nutro Senior Soft Pate Chicken

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Organic

No

No

No

No

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

​Yes

No

No

No

​Nutritional ​Score

Price

$$$$$

$$$

$$$$

$$$

$$$$


​Rank

​# 6

​#7

​#8

#9

#10

​​Product Name

​Wild Calling ​Jumping Salmon Canned Cat Food

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Chicken Frick ‘A Zee

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Chicken & Turkey

Castor & Pollux Organix Turkey Cat Food

Purina Fancy Feast Classic Chicken Feast

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

​No

Yes

​No

Yes

Yes

Organic

No

No

No

​Yes

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price

$$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

$

​Rank

​# 1

​#2

​​Product Name

Ziwi Peak Canned Cat Food

Hound & Gatos Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Yes

Organic

No

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

​Yes

​Nutritional ​Score

Price

$$$$$

$$$

​Rank

​#3

#4

​​Product Name

Tiki Cat Wet Cat Food

Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Kitten

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Yes

Organic

No

No

Limited Ingredient

No

No

​Nutritional ​Score

Price

$$$$

$$$

​Rank

#5

​# 6

​​Product Name

Nutro Senior Soft Pate Chicken

Wild Calling Jumping Salmon Canned Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

​No

Organic

No

No

Limited Ingredient

No

Yes

​Nutritional ​Score

Price

$$$$

$$$$

​Rank

​#7

​#8

​​Product Name

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Chicken Frick ‘A Zee

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Chicken & Turkey

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

​No

Organic

No

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

No

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price

$$$

$$$

​Rank

#9

#10

​​Product Name

Castor & Pollux Organix Turkey Cat Food

Purina Fancy Feast Classic Chicken Feast

Grain Free

Yes

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Yes

Organic

​Yes

No

Limited Ingredient

No

No

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price

$$$

$

​Rank

​# 1

Ziwi Peak Canned Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

​Nutritional ​Score

Price: $$$$$

​Rank

​#2

Hound & Gatos Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

​Yes

​Nutritional ​Score

Price: $$$

​Rank

​#3

Tiki Cat Wet Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

No

​Nutritional ​Score

Price: $$$$

​Rank

#4

Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Kitten

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

No

​Nutritional ​Score

Price: $$$

​Rank

#5

Nut​​​​ro Senior Soft Pate Chicken

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

No

​Nutritional ​Score

Price: $$$$

​Rank

​# 6

​Wild Calling ​Jumping Salmon Canned Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

​No

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price: $$$$

​Rank

​#7

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Chicken Frick ‘A Zee

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

Yes

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price: $$$

​Rank

​#8

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Chicken & Turkey

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

​No

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

No

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price: $$$

​Rank

#9

Castor & Pollux Organix Turkey Cat Food

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

​Yes

Limited Ingredient

No

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price: $$$

​Rank

#10

Purina Fancy Feast Classic Chicken Feast

Grain Free

Yes

Appropriate for Weight Loss

Yes

Organic

No

Limited Ingredient

No

​Nutritional ​ Score

Price: $

1. Overall Best Wet Cat Food: ZiwiPeak Canned Cat Food

Score:

Ziwi Peak is a brand with an exceptional reputation in multiple significant areas.

Their foods feature high-quality ingredients representing a whole prey-inspired variety of animal parts. Ziwi Peak foods contain kidney, tripe, liver, lung, and bones.

These ingredients contribute to Ziwi Peak’s consistently species-appropriate macronutrient profiles with generous amounts of meat-sourced protein, low carbohydrate content, and moderate fat. Customer reviews indicate that their foods are delicious and cat-friendly.

Finally, Ziwi Peak has an excellent reputation for quality and safety. The foods are made in New Zealand with local ingredients and adhere to the country’s stringent safety regulations. Overall, Ziwi Peak appears to be one of the most trustworthy companies in the pet food industry today.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients of one of Ziwi Peak’s most popular recipes.

Ziwi Peak Lamb Cuisine Ingredients

Lamb, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver, Lamb Lung, Lamb Kidney, Chick Peas, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Heart, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Bone, Dried Kelp, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B1 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement).

Pros

  • ​Excellent safety reputation
  • ​Made with whole prey-inspired meat ingredient
  • ​Highly digestible

​Cons

  • ​One of the most expensive foods on the market
  • ​​Ziwi Peak canned foods contain chickpeas

2. Runner-Up: Hound & Gatos Cat Food

Score:

Hound & Gatos makes radically simple cat food. 

The brand follows a “paleolithic” dietary model based on the feline ancestral diet. All of their recipes are made with straightforward, carnivore-appropriate ingredients and are free from the unnecessary plant ingredients and additives used by many other brands.

Their products are made with meat, water, added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, along with agar-agar as a thickener.

Hound & Gatos cat food might earn the first place position were it not for an inconsistent palatability reputation. A considerable number of cats turn up their noses at Hound & Gatos wet cat food. Every cat has unique preferences, so no single food appeals to every individual. 

Let’s take a look at the ingredients of one of Hound & Gatos’ most popular recipes.

Hound & Gatos Turkey & Turkey Liver Cat Food Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Agar-agar, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Taurine, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Pros

  • Follows a species-appropriate “paleolithic” feeding model
  • ​Simple ingredients list
  • ​Available in a variety of protiens and flavors

​Cons

  • Customer reviews aren’t as consistently positive as they should be—many cats apparently dislike the flavor and texture of Hound & Gatos cat food
  • ​​​Expensive

​3. Best Stew-Style Wet Cat Food: Tiki Cat Wet Cat Food

Score:

Those of you with some culinary experience will understand that making gravy involves flour, cornstarch, or other high-carbohydrate thickeners. 

This is why pate foods are typically better than canned foods with shreds, morsels, or chunks in gravy. Because they’re typically lower in carbohydrates, most of the foods on this list are pates. 

If your cat prefers chunks, shreds, or strips of meat in gravy, he might like wet food from Tiki Cat. 

This company offers a wide variety of canned foods featuring shredded meat in broth. These broths are free from common thickeners like potato starch, tapioca starch, and other carbohydrate sources, making the foods appropriate for your carnivorous kitty. Even cats with diabetes can safely enjoy Tiki Cat shreds.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients of one of Tiki Cat’s most popular recipes.

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin K3 Supplement.

Pros

  • Great for cats who prefer shreds and stew over pate-style foods
  • ​S​pecies-appropriate ingredients
  • ​Wide variety of formulas and flavors
  • ​Free from thickeners or starches

​Cons

  • ​Uses sunflower oil

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Score:

To support kittenhood development, choose a high-calorie food rich in excellent protein and the vitamins and minerals kittens need.

Nature’s Variety Instinct offers a grain-free kitten food made with a hearty concentration of animal ingredients, minimal plant matter, and boosted levels of DHA for healthy brain and eye development. It has high calorie content to fuel your kitten’s activity and rapid growth.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Chicken Kitten Food Ingredients

Chicken, Beef Liver, Chicken Broth, Salmon (Source of DHA), Eggs, Montmorillonite Clay, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3, Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley.

Pros

  • Formulated for kittens
  • ​Made primarily from animal ingredients
  • ​Rich in high value protein

​Cons

  • ​Contains several plant ingredients

​5. Best Wet Cat Food for Seniors: Nutro Senior Soft Pate Wet Cat Food

Score:

Like kittens, senior cats require hearty amounts of high-quality protein to support lean muscle mass. Seniors tend to lose muscle mass as they age, and a diet rich in highly-digestible protein is the key to maintaining healthy body mass.

This recipe from Nutro features healthy amounts of animal protein, minimal plant ingredients, and has a soft texture perfect for senior cats with sensitive mouths. 

It’s supplemented with fish oil as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation common among aging cats.

Nutro Senior Soft Pate Chicken Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Pork Broth, Natural Flavors, Guar Gum, Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Sodium Phosphate, Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Salt, Taurine.

Pros

  • Highly palatable recipe for cats with poor appetites
  • ​Soft texture for poor dental health
  • ​Rich in high-quality ​animal protein
  • ​Contains fish oil to reduce inflammation

​Cons

  • ​Expensive

​6. Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food: Wild Calling Canned Cat Food

Score:

All Wild Calling foods are intended for rotational feeding and feature a single animal protein source. They’re great for cats with allergies.

Wild Calling’s ​Jumping Salmon recipe, for example, is 96% ​Salmon. The remaining percentage of the food is dedicated to supplements and thickeners.

Though they don’t use carrageenan, Wild Calling tends to go heavy on thickeners, including guar gum, cassia gum, and xanthan gum. While these ingredients don’t appear to have negative health effects, they do add to the food’s carbohydrate content and aren’t necessary.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients of one of Wild Calling’s most popular recipes.

Wild Calling ​Jumping Salmon Canned Cat Food Ingredients

​Salmon, Water Sufficient For Processing, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Sunflower Oil, Potassium Chloride, Cassia Gum, Xantham Gum, Salt, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Pros

  • Highly palatable recipe for cats with poor appetites
  • ​Soft texture for poor dental health
  • ​Rich in high-quality ​animal protein
  • ​Contains fish oil to reduce inflammation

​Cons

  • ​Expensive

​7. Best Wet Cat Food for Weight Loss: Weruva Classic Grain-Free Cat Food

Score:

Weruva foods are made from simple ingredients like shredded chicken and other meats in gravy. They’re quite moisture-rich, which makes them low-calorie and satiating. These are qualities that will help you out when your cat’s on a diet.

Weruva doesn’t give you many calories to the dollar, so it may not appeal to budget-conscious shoppers. If you don’t like the idea of paying top dollar for a food that’s 85% water, you may prefer to add your own water to a more calorie-dense food. 

Let’s take a look at the ingredients of one of Weruva’s most popular recipes.

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Paw Lickin’ Chicken Ingredients

Chicken (Boneless, Skinless Breast), Chicken Broth, Potato Starch, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate, Xanthan Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Pros

  • Meat-centric, species-appropriate foods
  • ​Low calorie content
  • ​High water content makes these foods satiating

​Cons

  • ​Expensive
  • ​Contains starchy thickeners
  • ​Contains sunflower oil - not an animal sourced fat

​8. Best Cat Food for Weight Gain: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Cat Food

Score: