11 Best Cheap Cat Food for 2021

Posted in: Cat Food - Last Updated: February 6, 2021 - Author: Andy Jones
Posted in Cat Food 
Last Updated: February 6, 2021  
Author:  Andy Jones
best cheap cat food

If you’re anything like me, most of the time your cat eats better than you do. From salmon and wholegrain rice to organic chicken and peas, there are meals in the cat food market that seem to belong on a fancy restaurant menu. But if there's a squeeze on your finances what are your options for keeping your kitty fed in the style they deserve? That's where our roundup of the best cheap cat food comes in.

We're looking at budget cat food, but cat food that is still high in quality and good for your kitty.

As dedicated cat parents, we’re often keen to spend whatever we can to give our kitties the healthiest meals possible. After all, we want our furry friends to be happy and playful for years to come. 

Unfortunately, sometimes giving your moggy the perfect meal is expensive.

So, how do you find the right balance between choosing the best cheap cat food option and something that’s going to give your feline pal the proper nutrition?

Iams Proactive Health

Our choice is the Iams Proactive Health, the Overall Best Cheap Cat Food Option you can buy for your cat!

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Healthy Dry Cat Food with Chicken, 22 lb. Bag

What Should I Look For In a Best Cheap Cat Food?

The good news for today’s cat owners is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to give your kitty a great meal. There are many best cheap cat food options out there. 

However, you will need to make sure that you understand your cat’s nutritional needs before you start shopping. We recommend starting with a vet conversation if you can. Vets can recommend types of cat food that are better for your kitty based on their age, breed, and any existing health conditions. 

It’s also worth ensuring that any cat food you purchase contains all the right things. Remember, a cat needs a good balance of animal protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients in their diet. Essential vitamins and minerals like omega 3 and 6 support healthy fur and skin. Carbohydrates and the right kinds of fiber help to provide energy and maintain gut health. 

A best cheap cat food must include:

  • Animal protein as the main ingredient: Ingredients that contain a lot of moisture, such as poultry and budget
  • Minimal grains: Grains tend to act as a filler in cat food, rather than offering any genuine nutrition.
  • No by-products: By-products can cause issues with your cat’s digestion, and they may lead to further stomach problems.
  • Suitable nutrients (taurine, vitamin B, etc.): The exact nutrients your cat needs will vary depending on their background.
  • Ingredients for your cat’s specific life stage: Your cat’s age will also have an impact on the kind of food they need. Talk to your vet if you’re not sure.

Keep in mind that just because your cat food has the word “natural” on the label doesn’t mean that it’s as healthy as you think.

What Should I Be Spending on a Best Quality Affordable Cat Food?

When you’re trying to find the best cheap cat food out there, you might wonder how much you should spend. You don’t want to necessarily buy the cheapest cat food on the market, but you need to stick to your budget too. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. Some people will refuse to spend anything less than $50 per month on cat food and litter. Other pet owners stick to around $30-35 per month. It depends on the kind of ingredients that your kitty needs and how much money you have to work with. 

One vital point to keep in mind is that you’re looking for the best cheap cat food that’s high in value, not just cheap. In other words, you want to make sure you’re getting plenty of great ingredients and nutrition for a relatively low price.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while buying the cheapest cat food in bulk to save extra money is tempting, it’s not always the right idea. Dry food frequently loses its nutritional integrity over time, and wet food can quickly go off if you’re not careful. Stocking up on food also isn’t a good idea if you’re not sure whether your kitty will like the new food.

However, once you've tested out a budget cat food on your kitties and know that they're on board (!) then feel free to stock up in bulk. We love to use Chewy for a whole host of reasons ranging from value to their autoship feature.


What Kinds of Cheapest Cat Foods are Available?

According to the PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers Association), there are two kinds of cat food that you can buy for your moggy. The first best cheap cat food option is complete cat food. This contains everything your cat needs for a healthy diet. The alternative is complementary or supplementary food. Complementary food includes treats, but it can also apply to foods that add extra nutrients to your cat’s meals. 

Complementary foods aren’t always necessary for every cat diet, but they can be a helpful addition to your kitty’s routine in the right circumstances. 

Both complementary and complete cat foods also come in different forms. 

There’s wet cat food, which contains more of the moisture that your kitty needs. Wet food is often a great way to ensure that your moggy stays hydrated, plus a lot of cats enjoy the juicy flavors. You can also find complimentary wet foods like soups and milk that provide extra nutrients. 

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Dry cat food can contain just as many great ingredients as wet food – but it’s dehydrated. You can serve some dry cat food mixed with water or keep it completely dry. Biscuits and kibble are great for cleaning your cat’s teeth and giving them some crunch in their diet. 

However, remember that if you’re feeding your moggy dry food, you’ll need to ensure they’re getting plenty of water elsewhere.

Our 11 Best Cheap Cat Food Picks

Often, the best way to purchase the best and cheapest cat food is online. 

There are plenty of marketplaces that sell products in bulk, which can save you a lot of cash. Plus, shopping online gives you the freedom to compare your options from different sellers and get a better deal. Here are just some of the best cheap cat foods we’ve seen on the web.

1. Iams Proactive Health - Best Overall Cheap Cat Food Option

If you’re looking for a complete dry best cat food that’s cheap, convenient, and available in a range of sizes, Iams has you covered with this Proactive Health formula. The number one ingredient in this food is chicken, which means that your fluffy friend gets plenty of protein to keep their muscles strong. You also benefit from zero fillers so that you can reduce the risk of obesity. 

The tailored fiber blend in this cat food is ideal for supporting digestive health. Plus, the essential nutrients include potassium and calcium for a healthy heart.

Just be warned that the parcel won’t always arrive in excellent condition! Plus, there are only two flavors to choose from.

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Healthy Dry Cat Food with Chicken, 22 lb. Bag


  • Protein is the main ingredient
  • Dry pellets (easy to store)
  • Range of size options to choose from
  • Great for healthy heart protection


  • Only two flavors available
  • Might not arrive in excellent condition

2. 9Lives Dry Cat Food - Best Dry Cheap Cat Food Option

A dry best cat food is often the most convenient choice for pet owners. You don’t have to worry about it going off too quickly, and there’s less mess. This 9Lives food is one of the leading options for kibble fans because it’s packed full of 100% balanced nutrition for all life stages

There’s extra taurine to support vision and heart health for your kitty. On top of that, you also get omega 3 for and a healthy skin/coat and high-quality protein too.

One downside is that there seems to be a lot more grain in this product than in some of the other market leaders.

9Lives Daily Essentials Dry Cat Food, 12 Pound Bag


  • Lots of protein and omega 3 acids
  • Taurine for heart and vision health
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Supports all life stages


  • More grain than necessary
  • May cause some weight gain

3. Purina Friskies Wet Cat Food Variety Pack - Best Cheap Wet Cat Food Option

If your whiskered pal prefers wet food to dry, then Purina Friskies could be the right best cheap cat food option for you. This food comes with plenty of delicious ingredients to enjoy, including real meat, seafood, and poultry. There’s also gravy for extra moisture. 

Shredded chunks of meat offer a better texture for cats who prefer to spend less time chewing. Plus, the food is 100% complete. Of course, because you're buying a set you get better value with this Purina Friskies Variety Pack.

On the downside, this wet food often comes with dents and problems with the tins when delivered from an online retailer. Additionally, the consistency of the food can vary.

Purina Friskies Wet Cat Food Variety Pack, Surfin' & Turfin' Prime Filets Favorites - (40) 5.5 oz. Cans


  • 100% balanced and complete nutrition
  • Lots of extra moisture for hydration
  • Great for a variety of flavors


  • Not the most reliable shipping and delivery
  • Consistency of the food varies drastically

4. Purina Friskies Canned Wet Cat Food - Best Cheap Canned Cat Food Option

If you're buying singly or as a first test to see if your cat will like it, then your wet best cheap cat food option is to try the same food from Purina as they have in the variety pack above - the Friskies canned wet food collection.

As with that variety pack, you get a bunch of different flavor options to experiment with here. That means you have a higher chance of finding something your kitty wants to eat. This best cheap cat food also contains real poultry and seafood, so there’s plenty of protein-packed in

Added taurine is another major bonus for this food, which will help to support a healthy heart and better vision. However, once again, many of the boxes here do end up getting delivered with dents. Some foods also include more moisture than others.

Purina Friskies Canned Cat Food Pate Variety Pack, Seafood & Chicken Pate Favorites, 5.5 Oz (Pack of 40)


  • Lots of flavor options
  • Pate texture is ideal for older cats
  • Taurine for healthy heart and vision
  • Balanced and complete nutrition


  • Not the best for delivery
  • Inconsistent texture

5. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food - Best Grain Free Cheap Cat Food Option

If you’re looking for the best cheap cat food, but you don’t want to compromise on grain, then this Taste of the Wild product might be best for you. This delightful dry cat food comes in a variety of flavors, with an optimal amino acid profile

High-quality protein supports lean and strong muscles. At the same time, high-performance antioxidants and fatty acids are ideal for protecting your kitty’s skin and coat.

You even get highly digestible probiotics for gut health. Just keep in mind that the smell is quite strong with this best dry cheap cat food option.

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe Rocky Mountain Premium Dry Cat Food


  • No grain
  • Excellent amino acid profile
  • Antioxidants and nutrients
  • Highly digestible with included probiotics


  • Smell is extraordinarily strong

6. Purina Friskies Canned Pate Food - Best Cheap Pate Cat Food Option

Pate is a special kind of wet cat food that can be particularly appealing to cats that don’t like chunks of food. If you have a cat with teeth problems, or an older cat, then pate will be easier to digest.

This value pack of Purina canned pate comes with a texture that kitties love. Plus, the manufacturer promises a 100% complete meal for your moggy. 

Although this food says it contains essential vitamins and minerals, there aren’t a lot of details on the packaging, which might be a little worrying for some. Additionally,  this best cheap cat food pate is known for having a few additives which might not be ideal for cat health.

Purina Friskies Pate Wet Cat Food, Liver & Chicken Dinner - (24) 5.5 oz. Cans


  • Appealing pate texture
  • Lots of flavors to choose from
  • Ideal for balanced nutrition


  • Includes additives

7. Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels for Cats - Best Freeze-Dried Cheap Cat Food Option

Here’s another excellent option if you’re looking for the best cheap cat food that doesn’t compromise on quality. Stella and Chewy’s freeze-dried food might be dry, but it also includes all of the incredible ingredients your cat needs, including 98% organic chicken, along with bone and organ meat. 

All the ingredients in this best cheap cat food option come from responsible sources, and there’s minimal processing in every batch.

On top of that, this complete and balanced meal comes with all the extra support you need to strengthen your cat’s digestion system and appetite. Although it’s totally grain-free, this product has a few downsides too, including being harder to break down for cats without the best teeth.

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Chick, Chick, Chicken Dinner Morsels Cat Food, 18 oz. Bag


  • Grain-free and natural
  • Freeze-dried raw food for extra nutrients
  • Everything your cat needs in one meal
  • Good for storage


  • Chunkier pellets are tough for cats with teeth problems

8. Purina Friskies Dry Cat Food Swirlers

Purina’s Friskies Swirlers are an interesting approach to dry cat food. They come with the gravy you would usually expect from a wet cat food dried and baked into the biscuits.

Although there are only two flavours available for this food, they are two of the most popular options for cats. Chicken and salmon flavors mean this food should appeal to most kitties. 

This particular best cheap cat food option can be a little hit and miss at times. Some cats find it too chunky and don’t like the texture. We’d recommend starting with a small bag.

Purina Friskies Dry Cat Food, Gravy Swirlers - 22 lb. Bag


  • Easier to store thanks to dry pellets
  • Complete all-in-one nutrition
  • Gravy baked in
  • Ideal for all life stages


  • Not the best for cats who don’t like large chunks
  • Only two flavors

9. Meow Mix Original Dry Cat Food

Probably one of the most popular options on our list of the best cheap cat foods, Meow Mix Original dry cat food is a 100% balanced meal for your kitty.

There’s tons of high-quality protein included in the biscuits to support healthier muscles. Additionally, you get a handy dose of extra vitamins and minerals to support eye and heart health too

There aren’t many flavor choices available here, which can be a problem for some cat owners. Another significant issue is that some pet parents say this best cheap cat food option gives their kitty terrible wind. So be prepared!

Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food, 22 Pounds


  • Excellent for bulk buying
  • 100% complete and balanced food
  • Essential vitamins and minerals included
  • Made in the USA


  • Not many options
  • Can cause wind

10. Purina Friskies Tender & Crunchy Combo Adult Dry

This product might be one of the best cheap cat foods for you if your kitty likes to experiment with different textures. There are chunks of tender and crunchy morsels in this food, which is great for getting your cat’s interest at mealtimes. The tender middles are also ideal for cats who have problems with their teeth. 

Unfortunately, the “beef and chicken flavors” don’t come from a high concentration of actual meat protein, which means that you’re not getting the best nutritional profile for your cat.

Purina Friskies Dry Cat Food, Tender & Crunchy Combo - 6.3 lb. Bag


  • Affordable and available in large bags
  • Tender middle which is great for older cats
  • Combination of textures


  • Not the best for protein and nutrition

11. Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food

Finally, if you’re looking for a cheaper product to feed your cat, but you don’t want the cheapest cat food option, Purina has you covered. The Beyond Grain dry cat food comes with real meat or ocean fish as the main ingredient. What’s more, there’s absolutely no grain in the ingredients at all.

An extra dose of probiotics helps to keep your cat’s digestive system healthy. Plus, there’s plenty of different flavors to choose from too. Unfortunately, some customers have noticed that this food can make their cat’s waste a little darker and smellier.

Purina Beyond Grain Free - Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe - 11 lb (16408)


  • No grain whatsoever
  • Excellent range of flavors
  • Good for protein and nutrition
  • Ideal for dry food lovers


  • Can cause smellier waste

Finishing Thoughts On Best Cheap Cat Foods

Buying the best cheap cat food for your furry friend can be a challenging process. You need to make sure that you’re sticking to your budget and living within your means. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, that could mean buying a food that doesn’t offer the right nutrition. 

Finding the right best cheap cat food means balancing price with value. We recommend Iams proactive Health as the best overall option, as it provides the best balance of nutrients and vitamins for the lowest cost. The dry cat food also means that it’s much easier to store and buy in bulk if you need to. 

Good luck finding the best cheap cat food that works best for your kitty.

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