12 Worst Cat Food Brands to Avoid

We all want the best for our cats. That’s why we need to explore not only the best cat food brands but also the worst ones. Hence, this post is dedicated, unfortunately, to those brands that did not live up to the expectations. This list clarifies why they shouldn’t find their way into your shopping cart.

Although it’s sad to find notable brands underperforming, it’s necessary to uncover this truth so we can do the best for these precious furred family members by steering clear of potential harm to their health.

So, buckle up, fellow cat lovers, as we embark on a journey exposing some of the worst cat food brands.

The worst cat food brands

worst cat food

I’ve intuitively selected 12 cat food brands that didn’t quite meet the mark. This list of “The Dirty Dozen” aims to guide you away from the potentially harmful choices for your treasured furry friend.

1. 9Lives

Unfortunately, under the limelight, the first is a widely recognized brand, 9Lives. While it is budget-friendly and easy to find, this brand often includes fillers like corn and wheat. These ingredients can contribute to allergies and offer no genuine nutritional value to our feline companions.

2. Whiskas

Slipping next into our to-be-avoided list is Whiskas. Despite their catchy marketing, the brand has been criticized for using lower-quality proteins and a large amount of grain and by-products.

3. Meow Mix

This one sure does hit a personal note for me because Bella, my very first kitty companion, initially enjoyed it a lot. But to my dismay, further investigation unraveled that Meow Mix largely uses artificial colors and flavorings, as well as inferior protein sources.

4. Friskies

My cat used to relish Friskies until we realized it is mainly full of cheap fillers. You might be paying less for this brand, but with the low nutritional value it offers, it’s barely worth the price.

5. Purina Cat Chow

Purina Cat Chow has quite a reputation, yet it falls short. This brand has been found to contain many artificial colors and flavors. The ingredient list indicates high grain content, which isn’t ideal for our carnivorous feline friends.

6. Kit & Kaboodle

It’s high time we question what we’ve been serving our kitties, just like I did when it comes to Kit & Kaboodle. With numerous low-quality ingredients, including ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal, this brand might not be a wise pick.

7. Tender Vittles

A popular budget choice, Tender Vittles is another brand that we should, unfortunately, avoid. The primary ingredients, including meat by-products and soy flour, do not provide the rich animal protein that cats need.

8. Hill’s Science Diet

For a brand that gets recommended by some veterinarians, it was heartbreaking to find Hill’s Science Diet on my list. It includes gluten meal and corn as primary ingredients, which is a red flag for any well-informed cat parent.

9. Deli Cat

At a glance, Deli Cat cat food might seem like a good deal. Do not be fooled, dear cat parents. Corn, soybean meal, and beef tallow (read excess fats) are the first few ingredients listed.

10. Goodlife Recipe

Goodlife Recipe catches your attention with claims of wholesome ingredients inspired by nature. However, despite these claims, including poultry by-product meal and ground corn decreases the product’s nutritional quality.

11. Royal Canin

Royal Canin is often a vet-recommended option. However, some of their formulations feature corn and wheat gluten as main staples. If you need an appropriate diet for cats with specific health concerns, it’s advisable to explore other brands.

12. Paws & Claws

Last on our list, but not the least concerning, is Paws & Claws. Chicken might be listed as the first ingredient, but that’s followed by ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, and whole wheat grain- fillers, which don’t bode good news for our kitty’s diet.

Why these brands are bad

Why these brands are bad


Fillers like corn, wheat, and soy are often used to bulk up cat food while reducing the cost of production. While cost might seem appealing, the downside is that these fillers offer zero nutritional value. Cats, being obligate carnivores, require a diet consisting of high-quality proteins. Consuming a diet high in grains can lead to unnecessary weight gain and digestive issues. In some cases, they may even lead to allergic reactions.

Though initially pleasing to my pocket, I learned that brands like 9Lives, Kit & Kaboodle, and Paws & Claws frequently use these fillers, which made me reconsider my shopping choices.


When we talk about animal proteins, it’s not all equal. The use of by-products, such as named and unnamed meat by-products, poultry by-products, and fish by-products, are frequent in many brands. By-products are the remaining parts of the animal after the prime cuts have been taken—feet, beaks, feathers, etc. While they aren’t necessarily evil, they certainly do not offer the high-quality protein our cats require for their well-being.

Brands such as Tender Vittles and Goodlife Recipe often use by-products, which is something I considered when deciding what food to give my kitties.

Artificial Ingredients

Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives may make the food more appealing visually and arguably ‘tastier’ for our cats, but as these are synthetic, they can often lead to adverse impacts on our cats’ health over time.

The most concerning fact for me as a loving cat parent was discovering these artificial components in the cat foods of widely marketed brands like Meow Mix, Friskies, and Purina Cat Chow.

How to choose a good cat food

How to choose a good cat food

Selecting the appropriate cat food is a crucial task for us, the doting cat parents. By understanding what our feline friends truly need, we can provide them better and contribute to their overall well-being. Here are some tips I’ve honed over the years that should help you make an informed choice:

Understanding Your Cat’s Dietary Needs

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet should primarily consist of meat. They require proteins, fats from meat or fish, amino acids like taurine, and certain other vitamins and minerals.

Read the Ingredients

Identifying the ingredients in cat food is the first step towards making a healthier choice. Quality commercial cat foods will list ingredients like whole meats or meat meals such as chicken, lamb, or fish. Top brands will have these high-quality protein sources as the first ingredient.

Avoid Unnecessary Fillers

As we’ve seen previously, fillers such as corn, wheat and soy offer no nutritional value and should be avoided. Look for brands that focus on providing nutrition from quality meat proteins instead of making their food bulkier and less costly using grains.

Be Aware of Byproducts and Meals

By-products, especially the unidentified kind, must be avoided as much as possible. Chicken meals or other identified meat meals aren’t inherently bad, but named whole meats are generally more advisable.

Be Mindful of Additives

Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives frequently find their way into many foods. Although they can make the food more appealing to us and our kitties, they can have detrimental health effects over the long run.

It’s interesting how my cat shopping list changed after considering these factors. For instance, when it was time to pick food for my fur-baby Fluffy, I knew I had to choose a brand that clearly listed whole, recognisable meat as the first ingredient and avoided those with anonymous meals or artificial additives.

Tailor to Your Cat’s Life Stage and Health

Finally, every cat’s individual needs should be considered. Kittens, adults, and seniors will each have their different nutritional requirements. Similarly, if your cat has a health condition, they may need specific dietary adjustments. Professional vet advice can be invaluable in these scenarios.

Final Thoughts

While brands such as 9Lives, Meow Mix, and Friskies were once staples in my household, understanding the importance of quality ingredients over flashy marketing and cost-effectiveness led me to reconsider. The prominence of unnecessary fillers, the usage of by-products, and the inclusion of artificial additives were all red flags I learned to identify and avoid.

At times, trying to find the right food for our cats that are both nutritionally sound and appetizing for them can seem overwhelming. But remember, as cat parents, our ultimate goal is to provide them with the most nutritious, healthy diet we can afford, one that doesn’t compromise their well-being for cost or convenience.

More On Cat Feeding: