Best Cheap Food For Cats

Your Cat’s Best Cheap Food Options Right Here, Boyo

Cheap cat food – while maintaining the best possible quality – is a tricky game (see how we wove in games into the picture??), and dependent in some part on your cat’s particular needs. Still, this is a solvable problem in our opinion, and one we’ve thought a lot about. For all you feline lovers out there, and we know there are many, here’re our Best Cheap Food for Cats Recommendations and the reasons behind them.

What’s Best: Dry or Wet Cat Food?

It’s pretty well-known that cats rely on their diet to provide a lot of their moisture. Dry cat food isn’t as sensitive to spoilage, and easier to serve and dispense, especially via automated feeders, but it’s not ideal for cats. Most importantly, dry food is substantially cheaper than wet.

In our calculations, we think a combination of dry and wet is the ideal value compromise, so we’re recommending both a dry and a wet food. What’s the best cheap food balance for cats? We’ll leave the mix up to you, depending on your budget.

Cheap Cat Food Precepts

  1. We’re (unsuccessfully) shooting for a greater than 50% protein, greater than 30% fat, and less than 10% carbohydrates caloric weight balance per … these are close.
  2. In surveying the many cat food review sites, we believe it’s important to weigh all of the following when looking for the best cat food: ingredient quality, ingredient types, balance of nutrients, and manufacturer quality.
  3. We’re disappointed that so few information sources, like review sites and Youtube, focus on either exorbitantly-priced gourmet foods or cheap foods. Many sites have articles on the best cheap cat food, but pack the list with foods that cost more than what we eat. So… I guess we’re cheaper than they are. I’m okay with that.
  4. As you probably know, the most prominent brands, like Friskies and Purina, have spotty histories and a tendency to pack pet food with cost-saving trash.
  5. We do think it’s more important to have a cat food with a good nutrient balance (a known good) than it is to choose a cat food 100% free of controversial ingredients that may or may not be harmful (a possible good). Some of these controversial ingredients are hype to drive you toward the most expensive products, like the rage about grain-free cat food. For some review sites, it seems they have the opposite priority, which leads to some high-carb, low-protein cat foods puzzlingly receiving the best marks.
  6. We want to avoid Amazon (Jeff Bezos is a modern slaver and his convenience-pimping retail operation is devastating to the ecology and to local economies) and PetSmart property Chewy (veterinarians hate them for their manipulative pet prescription practices).
  7. We agree that dry cat food is trash compared to wet cat food. Cats eat mice (70% water, fyi); they don’t eat jerky. And cats are often chronically dehydrated anyhow. However, we think dry food often can’t be avoided especially if the owner has a tight schedule or travels on occasion. It’s just so much easier to dispense. We do advise eschewing dry cat food entirely if you can.

The Best Dry Food for Cats

Our current (if ambivalent) pick for the best dry food is… Diamond Naturals Active Cat. gives them a lukewarm review but the caloric weight numbers are pretty decent (35% protein, 42% fat, 23% carbs), and it has a lot less carbs than most. The manufacturer itself says it’s 40% protein minimum, 20% fat minimum, and 17.8% carbs. No artificial additives, probiotics, and yes, ground white rice is the second biggest ingredient. Still, after scouring multiple sources, including many “best cheap food for cats” features, this is the best dry food that doesn’t cost more than our wet food pick, coming in at around $.12/oz.

We do find it strange that Diamond Naturals AND our best wet cat food pick (below) didn’t make’s best cheap cat food list, but Kirkland Maintenance dry food did. Kirkland’s top two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, but their third and fourth ingredients are whole grain brown rice and yes, ground white rice. How about caloric weight? Definitely inferior to Diamond Naturals at 26% protein, 42% fat, and 32% carbs.

The Best Wet Food for Cats

Our wet cat food pick must be a doozy, right? You got it: Triumph wet cat food in the 13.2 ounce can, which rings in at an astounding $.18/oz when you order it directly from Sunshine Mills (free shipping after a reasonable minimum). Triumph scores a resounding five stars at Cat Food Advisor.

Triumph is 46% protein, 36% fat, and 10% carbs, and comes in three to four different flavors. We do get it in the 13.2 ounce cans, which do spoil if you don’t have a lot of hungry mouths to feed. We recommend having a handy reusable container to freeze half of the contents of a can when you open it up. Serve the unfrozen half, and thaw the frozen half when you get near the bottom of the first half.

The big drawback: we just discovered that all of these products contain the ingredient carrageenan, a texture enhancer that is a probable carcinogen. So… also a soft recommendation.

Best Cheap Food for Cats: Wrapup

We’re honestly still looking for better cat foods that will knock our socks off. And we’d love to see a manufacturer with a spotless recall history step in with some budget-friendly cat foods. It seems all the best companies want to make the best possible cat food, cost be damned, and that leaves the big unethical manufacturers free reign to pump out budget crap for everyone else.

We do find it weird that manufacturers don’t post caloric weight numbers AND that the cat food review sites are sometimes wildly inconsistent on these numbers (especially Keep an eye on that.

We wish your cats all the best health…!


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