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3 July 2020

Best and worst cat food brands

From Felix to Whiskas - we reveal which cat food brands offer the best value for money and the favourites that get cats purring.
By Rachel Christie

Have you ever found yourself stuck at the pet food aisle, confused by the sheer volume and variety of cat food products? Us too.

So we've quizzed 2,457 Which? members about their cat food for the very first time to discover which brands they rate and which brands fail to impress their feline friends.

Customers told us what they thought of every aspect of their cat's food, from value for money to whether their pet finishes their meal all in one go and how shiny their fur looks. 

See the star ratings and agreement scores in our cat food brands rated by customers table below.

Which cat food brand is best?

The British Veterinary Association's advice is that any commercially manufactured pet food in the UK that meets PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) guidelines would have complete nutritional requirements for pets. 

So as long as you're buying a complete commercial pet food, your cat is getting what they need and you don't need to supplement with anything else.

Our survey results below highlight Which? members' favourite pet food brands (ranked by customer score). We also asked them to score for value for money and whether they slightly agreed or strongly agreed with these statements:

  1. they noticed a difference in their cat's coat
  2. their pet eats the food all in one go 
  3. their cat shows excitement as the food is being prepared
  4. the bowl is always licked empty.

Cat food brands rated by customers

As well as ratings for individual aspects, we've given each brand an overall customer score, based on customers' overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending it.  

If you'd like to see how your cat food scored or are interested in which brand does best, have a look through the table below.

Cat food brands customer satisfaction survey ratings
Brand Customer score Value for money Noticed difference in coat Eats it all in one go Shows excitement before I give it to them Bowl is always empty
Aldi own brand
Felix
Go Cat
Gourmet
Hill's (Science Plan)
Iams
James Wellbeloved
Lidl own brand
Purina One
Royal Canin
Sainsbury's own brand
Sheba
Tesco own brand
Whiskas

Compare popular cat food brands, including Royal Canin, Purina One, Iams, James Wellbeloved and Whiskas, in more detail, including what members think of them.

Which popular cat food is the cheapest?

Varying package sizes and different portion size recommendations makes it tricky working out how much your cat food is actually costing you each month.

We've compared the monthly cost of the three most popular brands of cat food, as well as the best and worst scoring brands from our survey. 

As well as a more detailed look at the five brands mentioned above and their individual scores, we've compared the monthly cost of each brand, based on an average 4kg cat on a simple dry food diet.

Cat food monthly costs compared

Log in now to unlock the compared monthly costs between Royal Canin, Purina One, Iams, James Wellbeloved and Whiskas cat food.

How do I know if my cat food is healthy?

According to Andrew Miller, a pet nutritionist at Premier Nutrition, 'as long as a commercial food (whether it is dry, wet, frozen, raw, boutique, grain-free, etc) is nutritionally complete then it is designed to provide everything a pet needs to remain healthy. Some pets have specific nutritional needs based on clinically identified issues and they should be fed diets appropriate to their needs under veterinary supervision.'

Nicola Paley from the PFMA adds; 'all ‘complete’ pet foods must by law contain all the nutrients in the right proportions that a pet needs for healthy bodily function.' 

Whether you choose grain-free cat food, raw cat food, hypoallergenic cat food or just a simple kibble, commercial grade cat food that meets PFMA guidelines is nutritionally sound. You can check on the PFMA website to find out whether your pet food brand's manufacturer is a member.

Beyond that, it's about what your individual pet likes the taste of and how much you're willing to spend. 

What's key is the amount you feed your furry companion, as pet obesity is rapidly on the rise.

Is my cat overweight?

Pet obesity is the top welfare concern for vets. According to Cats.org.uk, overweight cats are usually defined as being more than 15% over their ideal weight.

Cats put on weight by eating more food than they need, but it just takes time and a bit of effort to get them back into shape.

Daniella Dos Santos from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) told us that 'obesity is a serious health and welfare issue for pets and we know that more and more veterinary practices are seeing overweight animals coming through their doors with weight-related problems like musculoskeletal conditions, breathing issues and diabetes.'

She adds that 'it’s vital that owners understand how to recognise a healthy body shape, which can be a more useful way of telling if your pet is overweight rather than relying on weight alone. We’d advise owners to seek advice from their vet on proper nutrition, exercise and how to recognise a healthy body condition.'

Checking your cat's weight

Very thin

  • Very little muscle
  • Standing out ribs, backbone and hipbones
  • No body fat

Underweight

  • A little fat over hipbones
  • Can see ribs and backbone
  • Marked Obvious tucked-in waist

Ideal

  • Smooth, tucked-in waist
  • Can feel ribs, backbone and hips but not prominent
  • Abdominal fat pad just visible

Overweight

  • No waist
  • Ribs, backbone and hipbones difficult to feel
  • Enlarged abdominal fat pad

Obese

  • Round body
  • Cannot feel ribs, backbone or hipbones
  • Fat pad hanging under cat

Is my cat obese? Spot the signs

Cats.org.uk suggests looking out for:

  • Fatty deposits on their limbs and face
  • Thicker fat pads over their ribs and spine
  • Hard to feel your cat's ribs due to fat covering them
  • Your cat's belly is rounded and may even have a 'pad' of fat that sags down
  • No obvious waist
  • Backbone may be covered with large fatty deposits and cannot be felt or seen.

If you think your four-legged friend might be overweight, book in a visit with your local vet for advice and an action plan.

How much should I feed my cat?

Ensure you're feeding your feline the correct amount by measuring out each meal on a set of weighing scales. A few extra bits of kibble or jelly might not seem like a lot, but it can massively contribute to weight gain. 

'Our survey showed that 17% of cat owners always measure their cat food.'

Most commercial cat food comes with feeding guidelines on the packaging based on your cat's weight and activity levels. If you're ever unsure, ask your vet.

Your vet will be able to advise you on how often you should be feeding your cat, depending on its individual needs.

How to choose the right cat food

Here's what animal charity PDSA suggests you look for and what to avoid when choosing the right cat food.

Look for:

  • A complete and commercial cat food, that's part of the PFMA
  • Meat; cats can't be vegetarian as they need Taurine that's found in animal protein
  • Life-stage feeding; buy something age appropriate for your cat, such as kitten, senior, etc.

Avoid:

  • Too many snacks
  • Milk; cows' milk contains sugar that cats find hard to digest, which can cause tummy upsets
  • Food scraps; can cause fussy cats at mealtimes and can unbalance their diet

My cat's not eating

If your cat seems off their food, it's not necessarily them being fussy. 

Perhaps another animal or a new baby has been introduced to the family? Or you've recently bought a bowl or changed their feeding area? If a cat’s surroundings change suddenly, this can cause behaviour like going off their food. Give your cat a quiet, comfortable place to eat, away from noise and distraction if possible.

Even if your cat seems off their food, keep giving them food and fresh water, and keep an eye on their behaviour and it should go back to normal in a couple of days. If your cat seems healthy, happy and lively, has a good coat and clear eyes, there is generally little cause for concern.

If your cat is off their food for an extended period of time, make a trip to your vet.

Key things to remember when feeding your cat

  1. Cats can't be vegetarian, they need the essential amino acid Taurine that's mainly found in animal-based protein like meat and fish.
  2. The ingredients on the packaging are listed in order of quantity, so if meat is at the top of the list, it means the product contains more meat than any other ingredient. 
  3. If the front of the packaging names one type of meat or any other food, such as rice or vegetables, the ingredients list has to state how much of it is actually in the food.
  4. Don't overfeed your pet; measure the food to ensure you're giving the correct amount and limit treats.

Find out how much to feed your cat and other popular vet-answered questions by heading to our how to choose the best dog and cat food guide.

Which? cat food survey

Which? customer scores are based on how satisfied customers are with the brand overall, and whether or not they’d recommend it if asked. 

To find out which are the best and worst cat food brands, in August 2019 we surveyed 4,684 Which? members who'd bought pet food recently and asked about their experiences with their chosen brand.

If you're considering buying new cat food, head to our guide on choosing a pet food for the latest advice. For more details on the most bought-from brands from above, visit our reviews of Royal Canin, Purina One, Iams, James Wellbeloved and Whiskas cat food.