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Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food (2023): 16 Wet and Dry Single Source Foods

Posted in: Cat Food - Last Updated: July 30, 2023 - Author: Rebekah Carter
Posted in Cat Food 
Last Updated: March 16, 2022  
Author:  Rebekah Carter

As the name suggests, limited ingredient food for cats is food with a low number of ingredients, in order to offer good nutrition for cats with common cat food allergies or sensitivities.

By limiting the number of ingredients, these specially manufactured foods offer astute pet owners reassurance that their beloved mogs are getting all that they need without the fear of allergies arising. 

ginger cat eating from bowl

Owners can pick out cat foods with ingredients that agree with their cats and be assured that these grain-free alternatives to the average store brand will contain the protein, vitamins, and minerals that their pets need to thrive.

Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Real Meat

Our choice for the Best Overall Limited Ingredient food for Cats.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Wet Cat Food Pate - (24) 5 oz. Cans

Our Top Three Picks

1. Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Real Meat (Best Overall Pick)

This single protein source recipe comes in a variety of flavors and is designed for easy digestibility. With a high number of added vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and taurine, this food contains all essential nutrients for every stage of your cat’s life.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Wet Cat Food Pate - (24) 5 oz. Cans


  • This food is both grain-free and gluten-free to ensure easy digestion.
  • The food contains high levels of omega 3 and 6 to promote healthy, glossy coats.
  • These tins are high in moisture, which is essential for good hydration in kitties.


  • Relatively pricey.

2. Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein (Premium Pick)

This recipe is packed full of protein and incorporates antioxidants, taurine, and omega fatty acids to promote nutritional wellbeing. This food is enjoyed by fussy eaters and can be fed to cats at every stage of their lives.

Taste Of The Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food With Roasted Venison & Smoke-Flavored Salmon 5lb


  • Ingredients designed to boost immunity and support gut health.
  • 42% protein-based.
  • Designed to suit your cat at every stage of her life.


  • The packaging is a bit confusing.
  • High in plant protein.

3. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free, Natural Indoor (Best Value Pick)

Designed for indoor cats, these pellets are free of eggs, soy, corn, wheat, and dairy and don’t contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives. The recipe also includes unique ingredients like biotin, L-Lysine, and folic acid to ensure your kitty’s immune system and overall health is taken into account.

Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain Free, Natural Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food, Turkey & Potato 11-lb


  • Good value for money.
  • Good source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Offers a holistic package of vitamins and minerals.


  • Contains a fair bit of plant protein.

Some Addition Picks

4. Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Cat Food (Best dry food)

The first ingredient in this recipe is real, deboned chicken, which is an excellent source of protein for your fur babe. The recipe also includes a limited amount of vegetables, as well as amino acids, vitamin B12, biotin, and both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Chicken Dry Cat Food, 12 Lbs., Model:39034


  • Convenient resealable bag.
  • Fish-free option for cats that don’t enjoy or are allergic to fish flavors.
  • High in protein and fiber.


  • Contains multiple sources of plant protein.
  • Quite high in carbohydrates.
  • Relatively pricey.

5. Purina Beyond Grain Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food

The recipe features vitamins and minerals to boost your fur baby’s health. It also contains L-Lysine, which is a supplement known for its positive effects on managing symptoms in cats with Feline Herpes Virus.

Purina Beyond Grain Free, Natural Dry Cat Food, Simply Grain Free Wild Caught Whitefish & Cage Free Egg Recipe - 11 lb. Bag


  • This food already contains vitamins and minerals, which limits the additional expenses and fuss.
  • Available in several different-sized packets and offers good value for money.
  • The colorful, interesting packaging uses imagery well to explain its message.


  • Relatively large plant content.

6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food (Best Wet food)

This food is low on carbohydrates, completely grain-free, and contains biotin to help promote healthy skin and coats. The formulation also contains ingredients aimed at optimizing digestive functioning and overall health.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Chicken | High Protein Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food | 11-lb. Bag


  • Offers a good source of fiber.
  • Contains folic acid for metabolic assistance.
  • There are several interesting flavors to try.
  • Contains essential vitamins B and D


  • The packaging doesn’t quite reflect the price point.

7. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Healthy Indoor Senior Recipe (Best senior option)

Designed for indoor senior cats, this food is rich in omega fatty acids and contains several essential vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. Good sources of fiber also help to limit hairballs in older cats.

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Indoor Senior Dry Cat Food, 7 Lbs., Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Healthy Indoor Senior Dry Cat Food, 7 Lbs.


  • Ideal for cats aged seven and up.
  • Grain and gluten-free.
  • Neat, resealable package.


  • Contains quite a few plant proteins.

8. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth (Best Broth option)

This tasty food is high in moisture, which offers an added source of liquid for cats who don’t drink as much as they should, as well as added vitamins and minerals. There are a few proteins to choose from for kitties with meat allergies.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Tuna & Pumpkin in Broth Grain-Free Wet Adult Cat Food 2.75-oz. Cup (Pack of 24)


  • Convenient to feed.
  • Aids in hydration.
  • Contains essential added supplements.


  • Very pricey.
  • Large amount of packaging to dispose of.

9. Instinct Grain-Free Minced Recipe Natural Wet Cat Food Cups (Easiest to serve)

These convenient cups are a well-balanced mix of protein, whole foods, moisture, and added vitamins to boost your cat’s overall wellbeing. The tasty recipe offers a good, consistent source of nutrition for selective eaters.

Instinct Grain Free Minced Recipe with Real Rabbit Natural Wet Cat Food, 3.5 oz. Cups (Case of 12)


  • Grain, corn, soy, carrageenan, and gluten-free.
  • Easy to serve.
  • Loved by picky eaters.


  • Quite pricey.
  • Large amount of container disposal required.

10. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Weight Recipe (Best weight control option)

This food comprises real, deboned chicken and is specifically formulated to help keep your fur friend’s weight ideal. With essential additions, this food offers good overall nutrition for your fur child.

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Complete Grain Free Care Dry Cat Food Weight Control Recipe 7 Pound (Pack of 1)


  • Contains added vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and antioxidants
  • Contains several good sources of fibre.
  • Rich in omega fatty acids.


  • Fairly pricey.

11. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe Natural Cat Food

This smartly packaged food is available in a number of sizes and three different flavors (salmon, turkey, and rabbit). These kibbles are low in carbohydrates and difficult to process proteins, making them ideal for cats with sensitivities.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe with Real Salmon Natural Dry Cat Food by Nature's Variety, 4.5 lb. Bag


  • The kibbles are raw coated.
  • A good choice for fussy eaters.
  • The ingredients are easy to digest.
  • Contains added essential vitamins and minerals.


  • Some users have expressed concern about a change in formula.

12. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Cat Food, Grain Free

This food favours ingredients that are less commonly associated with allergies in cats and is specifically formulated for felines with food sensitivities. Available in a number of flavors, this range aims to offer options to suit all preferences.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Chicken | High Protein Adult Grain-Free Dry Cat Food | 11-lb. Bag


  • Comes in chicken, salmon and duck flavor.
  • Easy resealable bag.
  • A number of sizes to choose from.
  • Contains a good amount of fibre.


  • Some users report a suspected formula change that has had adverse effects on their cats.

13. Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food

This recipe is made up of 77% real animal ingredients and is suitable for cats of all ages. The kibbles are raw coated and contain several added vitamins and minerals to promote wellness. The recipe is also low in carbohydrates and focuses on its protein content.

Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe with Real Salmon Natural Dry Cat Food, 10 lb. Bag


  • The bags come in a variety of sizes and flavors.
  • High in protein.
  • Good for fussy eaters.


  • The packaging is busy.

14. "I and love and you" Nude Dry Cat Food - Grain Free Limited Ingredient Kibble

This unique recipe contains superfoods like flaxseeds, turmeric, and coconut oil to ensure good overall nutritional value. Rich in omega fatty acids, this food contains no fillers and is high in protein.

I and love and you Nude Dry Cat Food - Grain Free Limited Ingredient Kibble, Whitefish + Chicken, 5-Pound Bag


  • Smart packaging.
  • Affordable.
  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics to promote digestive health.


  • Contains a high amount of plant protein.

15. "I and love and you" Naked Essentials Canned Wet food - Grain Free

This wet food has a high protein value, a healthy amount of fats, and very few carbs. The food is rich in naturally sourced omega-3 fatty acids and contains a number of added vitamins and minerals. The tins assist in correct serving sizes and also help to hydrate kitties.

I AND LOVE AND YOU 'I and love and you' Naked Essentials Canned Wet Cat Food - Grain Free, Rabbit Recipe, 3-Ounce, Pack of 24 Cans


  • Smartly packaged.
  • High in moisture and protein.
  • Good value for money.


  • Contains plant proteins, but the amount is relatively low.
  • Contains quite a few gums.

16. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original

This food aims to offer your feline friend a diet full of natural ingredients and added essential supplements. The recipe features a high amount of protein, as well as leafy greens and whole grains for a good source of fiber.

Purina Cat Chow Naturals With Added Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients Dry Cat Food, Naturals Original - 13 lb. Bag


  • Suitable for cats of all ages.
  • Affordable.
  • High in protein.
  • Contains a number of added vitamins and minerals.


  • The packaging could be simplified.
  • Contains quite a few carbohydrate sources.
  • Not available in many sizes.
kitten eating best limited ingredient cat food

Why use limited ingredient food?

Limited ingredient food is designed for cats with allergies or sensitivities to certain foods or additives. By offering limited ingredient food, pet owners can cut out food sources that they know their cat is sensitive to, while still offering a tasty meal and good nutrition. 

Typical signs of an allergic reaction to a food include:

  • itching
  • loss of hair
  • lots of scratching,
  • miliary dermatitis (featuring skin lesions)

Your cat may also experience a food intolerance, which is a little different from an allergy in that the immune system isn’t involved in the often less severe reaction. In that case, also check out the best hypoallergenic cat foods.

Food Trials

If you suspect that your cat may have a food allergy or intolerance, you may want to conduct a food trial. Trying foods with limited ingredients will help you to identify the source of the upset through a process of elimination.

Some common cat allergies include:

  • Beef
  • Seafood
  • Lamb
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Wheat gluten

Limited ingredient pet food generally promotes proteins as a primary ingredient and many creators favor ethical sourcing of meat for their foods.

Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Real Meat

Our choice for the Best Overall Limited Ingredient food for Cats.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Wet Cat Food Pate - (24) 5 oz. Cans

black cat eating cat food

What to Look for When Choosing?

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that your feline friend must have a source of meat in her diet in order to be healthy and thrive. Cats with allergies and sensitivities still need a source of protein in their diets but choosing food with just one source may help to identify the source of their discomfort and limit food reactions going forward.

Limited ingredient cat food is a good option, even for those whose cats don't battle with allergies. Many cat foods available in stores are full of grains that are difficult for cats to digest.

When selecting a food for your beloved kitty, be sure to take note of the protein type and protein content. The protein type will depend on your cat’s preferences but be sure to pick out food with as high a protein content as possible. The protein should always be listed as the first ingredient in the recipe. 

Another thing to look out for is the type of carbohydrate used in the food and the amount it contains. Inexpensive carbohydrates like corn and wheat are often used as fillers to bulk up the food, and as cats are not naturally equipped to process these sources, they are often the cause of sensitivities and allergies. 

One factor that doesn’t matter much to cats, but certainly does matter to their humans is cost. When choosing a food, be sure to select one that will be an affordable cat food for your family as a long-term commitment. As it uses expensive meats and quality ingredients, limited ingredient pet food is generally more pricey than the average kibble you’d find in stores. Your kitty companion will; however, thank you for giving them the nutrition they need and there are plenty of options on the market available at different price points.

Most of the brands we have featured have both wet and dry food options and can be fed together for added benefits. While dry food is often more affordable and helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums, wet food offers your kitty the hydration they need and is also good for overall urinary health. Regardless of which food you choose to feed, be sure to always offer your cat access to plenty of fresh, clean water.

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Be sure to check the label for these aspects before selecting a food:

  • Protein
  • Carbs
  • Grain-free
  • Whole Foods
  • Essential nutrients
  • Expect to pay more for these good quality ingredients

While allergies are one of the main reasons for the increasing popularity of this type of food, there are a number of other benefits to feeding a limited ingredient diet. The clear list of ingredients allows pet owners to be confident in what exactly is going into their beloved companion’s body. This food is generally of good quality and full of added vitamins and minerals, making its clear message a trustworthy choice for discerning guardians of any cat.

Limited Ingredient Cat Food: The Verdict

Limited ingredient food certainly seems to be the solution that owners of pets with allergies have been searching for. As these foods contain high levels of high-quality protein and no grains, they are not only great for sensitivities, but for all felines. 

When it comes to selecting a limited ingredient food for your beloved cat companion, it doesn’t get better than Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Real Meat. This food is low in carbohydrates, grain-free, and full of added vitamins and minerals. It also adds a good source of moisture to your pet’s diet and comes in a variety of different proteins, making it our number one pick in this category.

Get 30% off and FREE shipping on cat supplies!

U.S.A only

To Find out why we recommend chewy.com, click here

About the author

Rebekah Carter is a dedicated animal lover. Her Savannah cat, Roscoe, has a lot of attitude, while her Maine Coon, Dukino, is full of love. When not writing, she’s looking after her cats and researching ways to help them live their best possible life. Her passion for animals and natural skill for writing led her to pursue pet blogging.