What Is The Best Canned Cat Food for Indoor Cats?

What Is The Best Canned Cat Food for Indoor Cats?

That depends. Is your cat obese? Are there health issues to consider? Are they indoor only? Are you on a budget?

As a cat owner, you want the best for your cat… the best health care, the best toys/environment, and the best cat food. Overall, for my cats, I went with the Natures Variety Original raw, grain free chicken pate. (and 2 others, see below)

It has raw quality ingredients, somewhat cost effective and great profile on caloric distribution for weight loss. (they are indoor only cats)

While there are so many different kinds of cat foods to choose from, there’s really no debate that canned (wet) cat food is best.

In my opinion, any quality type of wet food is better than dry food!

Hell, going raw and making your own is truly best. (thats another post)

Whether you’re interested in switching to canned cat food or already use it, there seems to be more and more information out there as to why even the best dry cat food may not be the best your cat could have.

Why Canned Food is Best for Indoor Cats

There are 3 main issues that commonly come with the use of dry cat food:

  • The water content is way lower (meaning dehydration is a common problem)
  • The carbohydrate load is too high (meaning there can be a lot of filler ingredients that aren’t really benefiting your cat)
  • The type of protein that is in dry cat food (it’s usually high plant-based instead of animal-based)

Water/moisture will be your biggest win when you start using wet, canned cat food. Dehydration is such a common problem with dry food and affects many cats – sometimes without their owner’s even knowing it.

You can check the symptoms of dehydration in cats listed below and stay informed on that because it is a very commonly overlooked issue with cats who are fed mostly dry food diets.

Wet, canned cat food is a great source of hydration with about 75 % water, which easily mimics the water content your cat would find in birds or rodents if they were outdoor cats.

Here’s what we know about what a cat’s natural prey (mice, lizards, rabbits, and birds) are made up of:

  1. Water (70-80%)
  2. Protein (7-12%)
  3. Fat (6-8%)
  4. Other such as carbs and filler (8-12%)

While these are estimates, we want to stay fairly close to them to be providing our indoor cats with the sustenance they would be getting otherwise.

For example, most dry foods only have about 10% water, while prey has about 65%.

Let’s also consider carbs.

Unlike humans, cats can only use a small amount of them, and the rest goes straight into body fat.

This can often contribute to diabetes (which has doubled in cats within the last 10 years) and an over 50% obesity rate. [1] [2] 

This is Tanta eating her Nature’s Variety Chicken, she loves it!

Dry food contains quite a lot of filler ingredients, which raises the carbohydrate levels (although some wet food can also contain filler ingredients, it’s usually not nearly as much.)

Unnaturally high carbohydrate/filler cat food can increase the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. [1] [2] [3]

While dry food can have other health benefits, most usually have about 6-10% of water in them – which is nowhere close to what they need.

And while it could be argued that a lot of pet owners have put water out for their cats and some cats do drink water, you could never really know how much water your cat is getting.

Canned cat food is great for a cat who isn’t great at drinking adequate amounts of water each day or for the pet owner who isn’t convinced their cat is getting enough water. [4]  [5]

Some common signs of dehydration in cats can include:

  • Laziness/lethargy
  • Sunken/weak eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • High heart rate
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Panting

My cat, for example, had shown some of these behaviors in the past and it was confirmed by a vet more than once that he was nearing dehydration.

The vet ended up inserting syringes into his body making these water sacs… it was real interesting. He was shivering but after a while he “came to”. Started acting normal.

My cat is super choosy about the water he drinks – he hates our tap water and prefers to drink rainwater from outside dishes we keep for her. This means, when he’s inside, he doesn’t drink much water.

Feeding your cat canned food could also have great health benefits as well…

Older animals who may have lost or have a decreased sense of smell may be more inclined to eat a cat food that has a rich scent and flavor like most wet, canned cat foods have. (Although the smell may be a downside for you – it’s a positive thing for your cat!)

It’s also a great alternative to a cat who is feeling ill or lacking appetite; with different flavor combinations and smells, you are sure to find a wet food product your cat will eat, ensuring they get the right proteins, vitamins and minerals that they need to maintain their health.

It’ also highly recommended for cats who are aging or have some health issues – another big reason we use wet cat food in our home is that one of our cats has damaged and missing teeth and dry food is harder on them.

Wet foods are the best option for cats with missing teeth, smaller mouths, poorly aligned jaws or other delicate health issues.

So, now that we have convinced you that canned food the ideal food to feed your feline friend, the next question is:

Which canned cat food is best for your feline friend?

Which canned food would leave them feeling happy and energetic, instead of looking at you with that classic un-impressed cat look:


How Do I Choose The Right Canned Cat Food For My Cat(s)?

To answer the question, let’s take a quick look at why many (maybe most) experts believe that canned (or ‘wet’) food is best for your pretty little monster(s).

It can’t be denied that cats are carnivorous predators – but more than that, the domesticated cat we all know and love today is descended from desert cats who evolved to need very little water.

You might think that dry food would be perfect for desert-descended animals, but it’s not that simple.

Desert cats get almost all of their water from their prey…and rarely drink water by itself.

That behavior continues with our cats today, causing dehydration to be a big risk (which can cause liver and bladder issues).

2 things that should NOT be in your cat’s food:

  1. Ash
  2. Grains (especially wheat).

Ash is exactly what it sounds like, is a nutritionally empty filler and can easily irritate your cat’s digestive system.

Many cats are also sensitive to grains, so it may be best just to steer clear of them too.

Ingredients like peas, fruit, and sweet potatoes are fine as long as they make up less than 3% by weight.

So, which of the canned cat foods does the best job of duplicating the prey of desert cats, while including health-promoting supplements and vitamins?

Several premier brands have focused on this market sector and competition is heating up.

Let’s take a look and see how they stack up to the ideal described above.

Canned Food vs Dry Food Diet – Myths and Facts

There are a lot of myths about both canned and dry food – I have heard things like “dry food helps your cat’s teeth“, “wet food makes your cat gain too much weight” and quite a few other totally normal but actually false statements.

MYTH – Dry cat food helps your cat’s teeth.
The thought process here is that the chewing involved in eating dry food would be able to clean off debris or any kind of build up on your cat’s teeth.

While this is a really logical way of thinking, it’s now being questioned by vets and cat owners alike.


While the dry food may provide a little cleaning for the very tip of the cat’s teeth, it won’t actually be helping at the gum-line where the root of most dental issues stems from.  – this is more of a superficial benefit than an actual dental health benefit.

FACT: Your cat’s dental issues boil down to genetics and chemistry – and if that’s a problem with your pet, brushing their teeth, will help!

Jean Hofve, DVM, a holistic feline veterinarian explains this best:

“In my experience as a feline veterinarian, I’ve probably examined at least 13,000 cats’ mouths. There was no real pattern to the dental and periodontal disease I saw. If anything, tartar and gum disease seemed to be more attributable to genetics or concurrent disease (such as Feline Leukemia or feline AIDS) than to any particular diet. I saw beautiful and horrible mouths in cats eating wet food, dry food, raw food, and every possible combination.”

MYTH: Canned or wet food will make my cat obese (or gain weight).
A water-rich, meat-based, low carbohydrate diet is what will give your cat the agility, energy, and weight they are meant to have.

And this kind of diet is usually (most commonly) found in canned, raw or home-cooked cat food.

MYTH: “People food” is bad for cats.
I have heard this one over and over again (mostly because I love feeding my cats some of the things we eat). Well-balanced diets that include meats and fresh ingredients that you find yourself are often your cat’s best option!

This way, you have complete control over what they are eating, rather than feeding them treat you find in a store, why not let them have a chunk of tuna before you make your sandwich.

As their owner, having control over recipes, supplementation, and processing is the best way to ensure they are getting things that are safe for them (even when they are “treats”.)

FACT: Mixing or switching your cat to a different, healthier food isn’t dangerous or bad – it can actually be a great change. 

Let’s say your cat was in the wild, born and lived all their lives in nature and hunting for their food. Whatever prey they may catch can vary greatly- from bugs to mice to birds, your cat’s system is designed to adapt.

It’s okay to change their food, it’s HOW you do this that will determine how your cat reacts. Slow introductions of a few new foods can result in better digestion and a stronger immune system. [7]

This video is an excellent source of information on some of the myths and facts about the food you feed your cat; 

What Do I Look For in My Canned Cat Food?

Labels can be confusing, we know!

What is best for your cat can depend on a lot of factors such as age, sensitivities, allergies, weight, breed…the list goes on.

But there are a few things we can tell you about what is definitely good, and definitely bad.

Here are the golden stars (things you should look for) and the red flags (things to avoid) when looking at your canned cat food labels.


???? High water content

???? The first 5+ ingredients to be REAL food items (chicken, turkey, broth, etc)

???? Flaxseed (a source of Omega 3)

???? Liver (but never as the first ingredient as it is very high in vitamin A and D, and too much of those are bad)

???? Fish Oil (a source of Omega 3/Fatty Acids)

???? If you see the words “natural” or “grain free” – these are great things

???? A cat food that suits your cat (there are specific foods for kittens vs older cats, cats with sensitive digestive systems, etc)


???? Meat by-products (no idea what animal the “meat” comes from and it is considered a lesser form of the protein that cats could be getting from real animal products)

???? Corn Meal, Maize or other filler ingredients

???? Over 10% of the calories coming from carbohydrate

???? Heavy gravy or sauce (usually have higher carbohydrate levels)

???? Soy (it can contain phytoestrogens and negatively influence thyroid gland)

This video below is a great resource with tons of information on how to create a balanced diet for your pet.

What Is the Best Canned Cat Food?

If you’re convinced to make the switch to canned wet cat food, or simply want more info about which foods are best for your feline friend, I have put together a little list of some of the top canned cat foods (ranked on cost, protein content, quality of ingredients and deliciousness).

Side note: I really, really hope you are jumping over that fence to switch your cat to wet food from dry!

BUT if you have a really stubborn one that refuses and is addicted to dry cat food, this article on “Transitioning Your Cat From Dry to Wet” is excellent and is how I got my addict to switch to the Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau. (super picky eater) It takes time but is achievable.

When I went looking for a more quality cat food for my 1 obese cat, I had no clue the rabbit hole I would go down when considering weight loss. But thats another story.

To make it simple:

I looked for a wet food for weight loss that had came close to a blend of:

  • over 40% of calories – higher in protien
  • under 50% of calories – not high fat
  • under 10% of calories – not high in carbs
  • high in water.

First up is the main food I feed 2 of my cats. Now, I rotate between the chicken flavor and rabbit because they do get bored and will wander.

#1. INSTINCT Original by Nature’s Variety Grain Free Recipe – Chicken

(*Click the link above to see images and reviews over at Amazon.)

* Top Cost Effective Canned Cat Food With A Decent Mix Of Protein, Fat and Carbs.

Caloric Distribution: (roughly 205 calories per 5.5 oz. can)

  • Protein 36%
  • Fat 57%
  • Carb 7%


  • Water 70-75% max
  • Protein 10% min
  • Fat 6.5% min

Key Benefits:

  • Contains cage-free chicken
  • Also contains peas and ground flaxseed.
  • Made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or preservatives
  • PATE texture
  • Raw sourced

This cat food is high animal protein, real meat, fruit, and vegetables, enriched with natural sources of omega fatty acids that help maintain the health of your cat’s skin and fur. If you’re interested, here is where you can find more nutritional information on The “Raw Brand” INSTINCT Original cat food.

#2. WELLNESS Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

(*Click the link above to see images and reviews over at Amazon.)


  • Crude Protein  3.0% min
  • Crude Fat 3.0% min
  • Crude Fiber 1.0% max
  • Moisture 82% min

Key Benefits: 

  • Contains only premium, natural ingredients.
  • No meat by-products, artificial flavor or preservatives
  • No grains

This is my big man, Bubs, eating his Wellness Wet Cat Food!

When a list of ingredients begins with REAL food, you know you’re in the right place. This chunky wet cat food is great for adult cats of all stages and is grain-free with no preservatives or animal by-products – look at all these natural, wholesome ingredients…

“Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Whites, Dries Ground Peas, Carrots…” The list goes on – and we’re loving it!

You can find a full list of ingredients, feeding instructions and more information on WELLNESS Natural Canned Cat Food.

#3. TIKI CAT Puka Puka Luau – Succulent Chicken Consomme

(*Click the link above to see images and reviews over at Amazon.)

Go here, or read on below, if you want to see the full ingredient list, as well as other information on the Tiki Cat Canned Food.

This is my youngest and pickiest girl, Coo Coos, eating her Tiki Cat Chicken!


  • Crude Protein 16% min
  • Crude Fat 2.6% min
  • Crude Fiber 0% max
  • Moisture 80% max
  • Ash 1.6% max
  • Taurine 0.2% max

Key Benefits: 

  • Hormone and antibiotic free
  • Sunflower oil to nourish skin and coat
  • Balanced diet for cats of all ages
  • No grains, gluten, starches or flours

With shredded chicken breast as the first ingredient listed on the can, you know your cat will be happy as soon as they know it’s meal time! Made with actual broth, this cat food provides plenty of moisture to keep your feline friend hydrated.

It’s also packed full of essential vitamins, omegas, and taurine – it’s the complete balanced diet you’re looking for!

Click the link if you would like to try the Tiki Puka cat food (it’s the one I use for one of my pickier cats)

#4. CRAVE High Protein Trays

(*Click the link above to see images and reviews over at Amazon.)
* Best Protein Content Cat Food


  • Water 70-75% max
  • Protein 12% min
  • Fat 6.5% min

Key Benefits:

  • Uses NO grains
  • Protein is at the upper limit of being healthy
  • PATE texture

Real, farm-raised chicken is the very first ingredient you will find on CRAVE High Protein trays. This product is free of by-products, soy, corn, artificial flavors and all preservatives. The PATE also contains added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to meet all of your cat’s nutrition needs.

Click here to see more nutritional information for CRAVE High Protein Trays over at Amazon.


#5. BLUE Freedom, Grain Free Canned Food for Indoor Cats

(*Click the link above to see images and reviews over at Amazon.)
* Ok High-End Canned Cat and Kitten Food – little high on fat %


  • Water 78% max
  • Protein 9.0% min
  • Fat 6.5% min
  • Crude Fiber 2.0% max

Key Benefits:

  • Made with real cranberries with can help clear/protect your cat’s urinary tract
  • No corn, wheat or soy
  • No animal by-products

It should really come as no surprise that BLUE Freedom, Grain Free canned food for indoor kittens is our choice for high-end kitten nutrition. In addition to their protein and fat content is in the ‘sweet spot’, BLUE also goes overboard providing the most extensive list of ingredients we’ve seen yet.

Just take a look at the first 15 ingredients to see what we mean:

Here, you can find the full list of ingredients, as well as more nutritional information on BLUE Freedom Canned Cat Food. 

I hope this information has helped you in your choice between wet, canned food and dry cat food.

We are always learning and it’s never too late to make a switch in your cat’s diet that could potentially have life-altering effects for them.

Having a healthy, vibrant and energetic pet is every cat-owners dream, and there are just so many canned, wet cat foods that can benefit your cat in all of these different ways.

Who knows, with the right kind of nutrition, your cat could potentially live to be 26 years old!


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Lucy Patrick

Hi Furiends! Welcome, and thank you for reading CatFoodStuff! To learn more about our story, come visit us on our about page. I am Lucy Patrick, I have been around with cats for around more than 12 years. I have done the catsitting for alot of clients in and around our area & have been pursuing the Veterinary Course from University. Catfoodstuff is my attempt to answer all the issues that comes around while raising cats at your places & I am highly delighted with the reviews I am getting. We would be happy to hear from you! We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that is what provides a means for CatFoodStuff to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. The price remains the same for you & we receive a small commission contributing to the website development. Certain content that appears on this site comes from amazon services llc. this content is provided 'as is' and is subject to change or removal at any time.