Affordable high quality protein wet cat food?
May 11, 2015 12:19 PM   Subscribe

When our 9-ish-year-old cat started barfing regularly, out vet had us switch him from dry food to the Royal Canin Selected Protein PR canned food. It worked, although man, that stuff stinks. Now we're looking for something more or less equivalent that isn't $3 a can. (Vet: "Try a bunch, see what works.") Any suggestions for relatively affordable high quality protein canned cat food? Venison seems to be the favorite.
posted by gottabefunky to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I swear by Natural Balance cat food. I actually feed my cat the Original Ultra Chicken Meal & Salmon dry food, but their canned cat food gets rave reviews as well. Check out the venison & green pea formula here, for roughly $1 per 5.5 oz. can. The reviews look great.
posted by lock sock and barrel at 12:30 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am a huge fan of Halo brand. Here is a venison option, $23.88 for a dozen (or from the manufacturer). It's 10% crude protein.

There are other flavor options at lower price points.
posted by slipthought at 12:39 PM on May 11, 2015

We just went through this - my older cat started barfing - Vet prescribed Royal Canin. We went with PV but could've gone PR. The barfing slowed to nearly nonexistent and we were instructed to transition to a commercial Venison based food. She gave me several options and the preferred brand for Mr. Mouse is Nature's Variety Instinct - Venison Formula. I direct order it online and get a small discount by setting up an auto delivery. He's still on the dry PV though and I haven't found an equivalent Venison based dry so I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that.
posted by rdnnyc at 12:41 PM on May 11, 2015

I feed my cats Soulistic (which I think is a Petco house brand?) chicken. They really like it, and it smells just like chicken as opposed to foul cat food. Its 10% protein, and < $2 a 5.5 ounce can.

They also loved tiki cat but that is a little rich for my blood every day.
posted by anthropophagous at 12:43 PM on May 11, 2015

Honest Kitchen makes rehydratable powderd food that is mostly meat and healthy stuff. It doesn't stink nearly as bad as canned and it's $40 for a couple of month's worth.
posted by chaiminda at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2015

I feed my cats the dry version of this, but the wet is also great.

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline
posted by MsMolly at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2015

We use Natural Balance Platefulls single-meal pouches. It took us a while to find one that works, but kitty eats it. About 85 cents per 3 oz serving if you buy 24-packs.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:46 PM on May 11, 2015

We've just started feeding our kittens a bit of canned food, and started them with 4Health (since they've been on the 4Health kibble for a while). They seem to like it okay, and it's 9% protein (or ~41% on a dry matter basis). You can get it at Tractor Supply for less than a dollar a can.

I've heard that Trader Joe's wet food is good quality too.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2015

whatever food you choose, you should see if chewy carries it. we save so much money by getting our little shitpaw's food through the mail.
posted by nadawi at 12:57 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Our cats eat Natural Balance venison and green pea wet food. I don't find it smelly at all, and they loved it from first bite.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:13 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are a few brands that come in big 12.5 ounce soupcans. My dearly departed diabetic cat was on a low-carb high-protein all-wet diet and the price/oz for grain-free Wellness came out the same as Fancy Feast.

I know EVO comes in big cans and makes a venison formula. Wellness comes in many flavors. If you need something that more closely matches the makeup of the Royal Canin, this food chart might be useful.
posted by yeahlikethat at 2:05 PM on May 11, 2015

Trader Joe's (79 cents for a 5.5-ounce can) is a favorite at my house and among reviewers, including veterinarian and feline nutrition specialist Lisa Pierson. (It contains about 31% protein, or 45% on a dry matter basis, and small amounts of grain.)
posted by virago at 2:49 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a cat that was barfing, I just put out less food at a time. They also get to go out a lot now and eat all the grass they want, I don't let them spray my lawn, only fertilizer. Right now both cats want food, I will give them a little, one is fat and one is lean, so the fat cat overeats or eats competitively. I buy a variety of different dry foods, but make sure the protein content is high, 48%, cats are hunters, they don't eat grain. I only buy round pellets, not x-shaped or pointy ones.
posted by Oyéah at 3:18 PM on May 11, 2015

Nthing Natural Balance.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:41 PM on May 11, 2015

My food costs well under a dollar most days. It's wet (and often furry or feathered) but rarely canned.

This doesn't count overhead costs such as my own freezer drawer, and I value my personnel's wages at zero. Preparation time, sourcing efforts, learning curve? Cleaning quail blood off hardwood floors? Ha. Don't blame me, I didn't ask for that! I'd be perfectly happy counter-surfing; recent efforts yielded still-warm dry-aged prime rib. Or canned food, I love canned food! It's like In-N-Out.

But you asked about commercially prepared foods, so welcome to reading labels. Formulations change, so it's important to keep an eye on that. Carageenan is an ingredient you'll certainly want to avoid. Fish contains varying levels of thiaminase, and is otherwise not suited to feline consumption. Starches can also be problematic.

Would canned meats plus supplements be an option for you? For camping and travel back-up, I eat foods like this plus taurine and a vitamin/mineral supplement.

As far as cost is concerned, look at frozen offerings. Again, read labels and look into what happens to taurine and other supplemental ingredients in the freezing/thawing process. Wysong's rant against them makes me want to try some.
posted by captivepredator at 4:15 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like Merrick because the canned food doesn't reek, but the protein content is really good and the food is all made in the USA. It's generally something like $31 for a case over on (Seconding nadawi's recommendation--we get all the cat food through there on our autoship. Shipped right to your door plus you save quite a bit, it's literally the best price I can find for canned cat food right now.)
posted by sciatrix at 4:24 PM on May 11, 2015

I gotta say I don't love Natural Balance- their manufacturing tolerances seem pretty loose . But it's fairly inexpensive and my cats like it, so I have a lot of it on hand usually.
posted by wotsac at 5:03 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Full disclosure: This is my site and hence a very obvious self link. Mods, please, please delete if this is inappropriate.

I run, which indexes hundreds (actually ~1000) different commercially available cat foods by nutritional breakdown and ingredient lists. Cat foods are sortable by, amongst other things, protein amounts as published by the manufacturer and normalized against moisture contents. You can also search for catfood containing venison, or any other ingredient.

Protein amounts do not necessarily indicate quality or that one cat food is better than another, but there are some interesting surprises in there with some cheaper brands being higher in protein that I initially suspected. For example, looking only at protein counts (and ignoring some obvious "treats") some (not all) Fancy Feast varieties are near the top of the list. This is not an endorsement or recommendation, just what I've noticed after looking at a heck of a lot of different catfood nutrition labels.

Other brands that populate the top of this list also include (but are not limited to) varieties of Natural Balance, Purina One, and Wellness Select, which my cats love but I refuse to get them because it's one of those expensive varieties you're trying to avoid. My cats also love Fancy Feast though, so cost != taste, at least as far as my feline crew is concerned.
posted by cgg at 6:16 PM on May 11, 2015 [18 favorites]

Our vet gave us a calorie target and just the vaguest recommendation for "quality" food (basically she ruled out supermarket brands but said anything at a pet specialty store would be fine). We tried many brands, in many flavors. After we discovered that both cats would consistently, happily eat Wellness, we double checked with the vet and she approved. As such we're not worried about carrageenan despite having read warnings like the ones linked above (you should consult with your own vet and set your own comfort level accordingly).

One weird thing was that our cats both basically stopped eating chicken. Happened with two different brands. They'd eat a few cans and then refuse. We now have a feeding plan alternating four feedings of beef and chicken and one larger serving of tuna, and the cats do seem to dig it.

Nthing Chewy, which is great. We get the biggest cans of beef and chicken for a per-meal cost of 66¢, and while the tuna costs double that it's still cheaper than some of the really fancy brands.
posted by fedward at 7:10 PM on May 11, 2015

My cat has heart disease and needs low-sodium food. We get 4 cases of Wellness 5.5 oz cans when it's on sale at our local co-op, which is 2 times a year. We get a discount for buying in bulk too. Works out to 1.49 per can.

(The low-sodium flavors she likes are the chicken and the turkey kinds.)
posted by TheClonusHorror at 8:20 PM on May 11, 2015

Seconding cgg on the Fancy Feast. Best food at the price, and better than many more expensive brands especially if you are trying to exclude veg and carageenan and anything else that could be an irritant. It is what I fed my cancer cat when I had to switch him off of dry food because he was barfing so very much. And because he'll actually eat it. The Classics version is the pate style and highest in protein. Pumpkin prefers the Ocean Whitefish and Tuna (blue can) and the Chicken (pink can).
posted by monopas at 11:11 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our kitty likes Merrick wet food. We just switched her from NutriSource dry food, and have been very happy that a.) she hasn't been sick at all, and 2.) the food does not smell bad at all. It is about $1.60 per can.
posted by onecircleaday at 12:27 AM on May 17, 2015

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