As those blessed to own a cat know, our little furballs are members of the family. They have their own personalities: they can be sassy and rambunctious or docile and reserved. They have their own quirks, their own likes, and their own dislikes. As a treasured family member, cats deserve good quality food. But, what kind of food is best for indoor cats?
With dozens of indoor cat food brands out there, it can be tricky to find the cat food that is right for your pet. Luckily, here’s where we come in. Our team took on the task of identifying the 5 top options for best cat food for indoor cats. Plus, we’ve included a guide that should answer any questions you might have about feeding your beloved kitty. By the end of this article, you will be an expert in all things food and nutrition for your indoor cat.
Top 5 Indoor Cat Food Options
- Iams ProActive: Editor’s Choice – Best Indoor Cat Food
- Cat Chow: Runner Up
- Fancy Feast: Honorable Mention
- Blue Buffalo: Meaty Choice
- Nutro: Informational
Why These 5 Indoor Cat Food Options?
There are almost endless brand and flavor combinations for indoor cat foods out there. In addition to traditional dry cat food and wet food, there are diet cat foods, preservative-free foods and even food specially made for elderly cats. How do you decide which is the right choice for your cat?
Our team happily took on the legwork, so you don’t have to. What criteria did we use to weed out brands in order to make a manageable list of quality cat foods? We considered the following factors.
- Price: Is the cat food affordable?
- Quality: Is it made with ingredients that we can identify and easily understand?
- Variety: Are there many flavor options?
- Availability: Is the brand widely available in grocery and convenience stores?
- Convenience: Is it easy to store and prepare for your cat?
From here, we dug into countless reviews. Did pet parents report any negative effects of the dry or wet cat food? Did pet parents report that their kitty scarfed down every bit of the food? Did cats have a noticeably shinier coat after eating the food for a few weeks? We dug deep to get all the details, and this digging left us with about 15 great cat food options for indoor cats.
To get to the top 5 options for best cat food for indoor cats, we asked ourselves ‘why’? Why should a cat parent choose this brand over other brands? What makes a brand unique? At the end of this process, we came up with the 5 best cat foods available for indoor cats.
Top 5 Cat Food Choices for Indoor Cats – Reviews
1. Iams ProActive Health – Editor’s Choice
- Chicken is first listed ingredient
- Has fat burning L-carnitine
- Unique natural fiber blend for hairball control
- Fish oil for essential fatty acids
Once sold exclusively through veterinarians and special pet food stores, Iams premium pet food is now available anywhere you find cat food, and for its well-deserved premium-quality reputation, their products are surprisingly affordable. Iams Proactive Health dry cat food is our top choice for best cat food for indoor cats. Specially made to help manage the weight and hairball issues that indoor cats often experience, both adult cats and their owners love this tasty nutritious chicken and turkey kibble.
Nutrition & Ingredients
Iams ProActive Health dry kibble has chicken listed first on the ingredients list and protein makes up 30% of the formula. At about 300 kcals per cup, Iams includes L-carnitine, a naturally produced type of amino acid, to help the cat’s body burn fat and maintain weight, and fish oil for the omega fatty acids needed to maintain a healthy coat. The blend of beet pulp along with other natural fibers works to suppress hairballs and promote good digestion, all without using any artificial preservatives.
What Are Buyers Saying?
With close to 1,100 5-star ratings out of about 1,330 ratings on Chewy, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of cat parents are very pleased with Iams ProActive special formula dry food for indoor cats. One dad of six cats credits this dry cat food for ridding them of constant hairball issues – including his Maine Coon, and another mom of 2 cats is elated that she no longer comes home to a mess of throw-up and hairballs on the carpet. As for weight control, Johnnie Boy, a 5-yr-old long-haired Ragdoll, had his weight loss verified by his vet and his gorgeous coat has never looked better.
The Bottom Line
With its effective formula that helps control the hairball and weight issues so prevalent in adult indoor cats, it’s no surprise why we agree with thousands of happy cat parents in choosing Iams ProActive Health special formula dry food for indoor cats as our top choice. Cats love the crunchy delectable chicken and turkey flavor, and cat owners love that their adult cats are energetic, healthy, fit & trim and sporting gleaming soft coats again!
Learn more about Iams ProActive Health dry food for indoor cats
2. Cat Chow Indoor Healthy Dry Food – Runner Up
- Farm-raised chicken
- No artificial flavors
- Vitamins E & D3 for immune support
- Kibble has food coloring
Leave it to Purina to come up with a dry kibble for adult indoor cats that provides them with the flavor they want and the nutrition they need, all while supporting healthy digestion and controlling weight. For over 50 years, cat parents have trusted the Cat Chow brand and with this specially formulated kibble, there is yet another reason to rely on Cat Chow.
Nutrition & Ingredients
Chicken, chicken by-products and other meat add up to 30% protein – a solid amount of protein to provide the energy that cats need. This dry Cat Chow formula contains 25 vitamins and minerals as well as the amino acids, including taurine, that adult cats need to thrive and it’s made in the USA. For hairball prevention, Purina has developed a proprietary combination of natural fibers that promote a healthy digestive system. There are 358 kcals in a cup of this dry cat food and 1/2 to 3/4 cup is the recommended serving size for adult cats weighing 5 to 9 lbs.
What Are Buyers Saying?
Cat owners have awarded this special formula Cat Chow dry food for indoor cats with impressive 5-star ratings – over 960 of 1175+ on Chewy. Clearly this indoor cat food is a favorite. One parent of 12 cats is pleased with the reduced amount of stomach upsets his fur babies experience (not to mention less cleanup!) and many owners are super pleased at how much their cats love this good-for-them crunchy kibble. Testaments to its ability to control hairballs and help with weight issues are plentiful. We also found quite a few comments praising the value of this Cat Chow and a few remarking on the perfect size of the kibble (3/8”).
The Bottom Line
The well-balanced nutritious formula and proven hairball and weight control benefits makes Cat Chow indoor dry cat food for hairball & healthy weight a no-brainer runner up on our best cat food for indoor cats list. With Purina’s trusted name and thousands of happy cat parents (and cats!) backing it, you can’t go wrong with this Cat Chow.
Learn more about Cat Chow Indoor Hairball & Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food
3. Fancy Feast Delights – Honorable Mention
- Generous, high-quality moisture content
- Liver is good source of protein and vitamin A
- Enticing flavors with real cheese
- Flip-top can for convenience
- Uses food dyes
With its iconic fluffy white cat on the packaging, Fancy Feast has earned a reputation as a producer of luxurious wet cat foods that offer yummy flavors that your cat will enjoy. Fancy Feast Delights with Cheddar Grilled Variety Pack is a premium wet cat food option formulated to provide a balanced, nutritious and delicious diet tuned to the needs of indoor cats.
Nutrition & Ingredients
Poultry broth or fish broth is the first listed ingredient, and granted it’s not exactly protein, but this is wet food and the fact that its 80% moisture content is broth rather than water is a big plus. Guaranteed Analysis on the label shows 10% protein but in wet food with its high moisture content, that 10% protein level is a bit misleading. Translated to a more informative dry matter basis, that 10% is actually about 50% protein which is a very substantial protein amount for wet food. Each can is about 70 kcals.
Chicken, turkey or whitefish (the 3 varieties in the pack) are the 2nd listed ingredient and liver is listed 3rd. In addition to being a quality source of protein, liver is an excellent source of vitamin A which is essential for a cat’s night vision and healthy skin. Although there are artificial flavors and colors in the recipe, Fancy Feast Delights is still a top choice for 100% nutritiously complete and temptingly delicious wet cat foods.
What Are Buyers Saying?
Biscuit, Zoomy, Jazzy, precious boy Booger and just about every other cat mentioned in the Chewy reviews, absolutely love the Fancy Feast Delights wet food variety pack – and so do their owners with 86% of the ratings on Chewy being 5-stars! The morsels of meat and cheese seem to be just the right size and cats love the variety. One buyer loves this food so much that she wishes the cans were bigger!
The Bottom Line
Pamper your cat with the gourmet Fancy Feast Delights with Cheddar variety pack of delectable wet cat foods. Made in the USA with ingredients also sourced from the US, your cat will love the variety of flavors and the real ingredients in Fancy Feast, and you will appreciate the excellent nourishment it provides your cat.
Learn more about Fancy Feast Delights with Cheddar wet cat food
4. Blue Buffalo – Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food – Meaty Choice
- Real deboned chicken is first ingredient
- No by-products or preservatives
- Real veggies and fruits – including cranberries
- No corn or soy
- More expensive than other options
Blue Buffalo is a brand that is dedicated to quality in every sense of the word. Known for their top quality natural ingredients, Blue Buffalo started out as a small niche pet food company in 2002 and has since rocketed up the ladder to the top of the natural pet food industry. Blue’s specially formulated Indoor Health dry cat food ticks all our boxes and is our staff choice for best cat food for indoor cats.
Nutrition & Ingredients
It’s always good to see real meat as the top ingredient and this dry cat food doesn’t disappoint; deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient providing the bulk of the kibble’s 32% protein. This special formula is tailored to suit the needs of an indoor cat with L-carnitine to help manage weight as well as notable vitamin-filled natural antioxidants and fiber sources like cranberries, blueberries, spinach and kelp. Of course Blue’s dry food for indoor cats also includes their trademarked Lifesource Bits that promote a healthy immune system, amongst other healthful benefits. All-natural and providing about 400 kcals per cup, cat parents can rely on Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Adult Dry Cat Food to provide adult indoor cats with a nutritious well-balanced diet.
What Are Buyers Saying?
96% of buyers on Chewy recommend this product and 82% give it 5 stars. And if cats themselves could rate it, there would be even more stars! One satisfied kitty even wrote “my compliments to the chef”! Of course, cat parents love that their fur babies eat it up, but they’re even happier about Blue’s healthy formula and that it works as advertised. Comments on how this dry cat food for indoor adult cats has resolved digestive and weight issues as well as improved overall health are plentiful. This one sums up the general feeling nicely: “We switched from [x-brand] and the improvement has been major! [Our 3 cats have] lost weight, hair and skin is healthier, they’re more active, and our long-hair baby has had less hairball problems.”
The Bottom Line
With Blue Buffalo, you give your cat scrumptious food made from natural, easy-to-identify ingredients – a powerful combination that’s hard to beat. Blue Buffalo may be a pricier indoor cat food option, but the quality is worth every penny.
Learn more about Blue Buffalo Indoor Health adult dry cat food
5. Nutro – Wholesome Indoor Dry Cat Food – Informational
- Chicken is first ingredient
- Free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
- No corn, wheat or soy protein
- Pricier option
One of the oldest names in the natural pet food industry, Nutro’s success is built on adhering to their trademarked “Feed Clean” principle of providing trustworthy, simple and purposeful food that pet owners can rely on. Yes, Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a bit pricier than other dry cat foods, but with its top quality natural ingredients and special recipe tailored to support healthy weight and good digestion for adult inside cats, we had to include it on our best cat food for indoor cats list.
Nutrition & Ingredients
True to their word, you’ll find no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors in this Nutro dry cat food. 33% of the formula is made up of protein and chicken is #1 on the ingredients list. The slimming 378 kcals/cup (ideal for an indoor cat) is chock full of the vitamins and minerals that cats need. Nutro Wholesome Essentials also has omega-6 fatty acids to make your cat’s coat shine, taurine to support their celebrated keen eyesight and plenty of natural fiber (including beet pulp and oat fiber) for a well-functioning digestive system.
What Are Buyers Saying?
75% of Chewy buyers give this Nutro dry cat food 5-stars, so we’re not the only ones recommending it! Kristine loves it because it “keeps my huge boys weight in control!” and another cat mom says “This stuff is like cat-crack”! Loads of cat parents say it has helped immensely with digestive issues and skin problems. One short comment captures what most are saying: “Bottom Line: Earns *****FIVE STARS***** for digestion friendly ingredient mix [and] chewability”.
The Bottom Line
Nutro stands out amongst cat food brands as one that clearly cares about quality. We love their “Feed Clean” mantra and the quality, real ingredients used in their products. We’re confident recommending Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor dry cat food to parents of kitties that live inside.
Learn more about Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor dry cat food
How to Choose the Best Cat Food for My Indoor Cat?
Indoor cats have different nutrition needs than cats that spend most of their time outside. Outdoor cats expend a great deal of energy hunting and prowling about their territory, while indoor cats, except for the occasional midnight zoomy episodes, spend their time napping. What is important to look for when choosing food for indoor cats? We have the answers here.
Look for Food with Protein Listed First
Did you know that cats are obligate carnivores? They need to eat meat or fish to get the nutrients essential to their functioning. With this in mind, it is best to choose a cat food that has a protein listed at the top of the ingredients. Animal by-products can come from both meat and fish, and both have benefits for your cat. It is not recommended to put a cat on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Cats need a diet high in protein and low in carbs, and a carnivorous diet provides them with this.
Go for Commercially Made Food
You might think that grilling up a fresh salmon steak for little Felix is the best way to get them the nutrients that they need, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, the commercial cat food industry is highly regulated, and all cat food must meet a cat’s minimum nutrition requirements. Opting for commercially made food will ensure that your pet is getting all the nutrients they need.
Read the Label
Similar to human food, cat food is required to list ingredients and nutritional information. And, like human food, you can tell a lot about cat food brands based on the ingredients. You’ll want to ignore any flashy labels and go straight to the back of the package to get the scoop on the ingredients. Are the first few ingredients words you can’t even pronounce? Or are the first few ingredients animal proteins and vegetables? If protein is at the top of the list and you can recognize most of the ingredients, then that cat food is probably a good option.
Wet or Dry Food?
- Wet food
Canned wet food is a good option for all indoor cats, especially for kittens or elderly cats that do not have all their teeth. It is soft, moist, and easy to chew. Wet food is made up of 70% to 80% water, so it is also very hydrating. This makes it a good choice for cats with a strong aversion to drinking water. Additionally, it is easy to stock-up on wet food; closed wet food will stay fresh on your shelf longer than dry food.
- Dry food
Dry food is a great option for a cat that is a picky eater. Dry kibble is coated in animal fat and is therefore more appetizing to felines. Unlike wet food, dry food does not have to be refrigerated after opening and can be left out all day or even overnight. However, for some cats, dry crunchy kibble may be hard to chew and even more difficult to digest.
- Why not both?
Well, why not? If it is in your budget to purchase two types of food for your cat, then mixing wet and dry food may be a good option. You can get the best of both worlds: flavor of the dry kibble, with the water content and palatability of wet food.
Additionally, if your cat likes to graze you can leave dry food out all day and put down new wet food only at mealtimes. Using both types of food is beneficial because most wet foods need to be refrigerated and cannot be left out for too long, but dry food is much more convenient.
- If you have to pick just one…
If you are on a budget or don’t want to deal with the fuss of two different foods, then you should pick wet food over dry food. The reasoning behind this has to do with the nutritional breakdown of dry versus wet food.
Wet food is high in protein, low in carbs, and somewhere in the middle with fat depending on the brand. Dry kibble is high in carbs and fat, and somewhere in the mid to low end of protein, depending on the brand. This matters because it is recommended that at least 50% of a cat’s diet be composed of protein, and this number is even higher for active outdoor cats.
On the flip side, less than 10% of a cat’s diet should be carbs. A cat on a dry-food-only diet is at a higher risk of developing obesity and protein deficiencies due to the lack of protein and elevated carbs.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Cat?
This is a difficult question to answer because the amount of food a cat needs to function varies significantly from cat to cat. However, there are some basic guidelines you should follow.
- Twice a Day
It’s important to feed your cat twice a day, and it is important to feed them at the same time each day. Cats like a schedule and really dislike being off schedule. If you want to keep Felix happy then you will be sure to stick to the schedule. Additionally, feeding your cat twice a day is good for their digestive health. Like humans, cats do better when they get more than one meal per day. Even if your cat likes to graze, it is important to refresh their bowl twice a day to stick with a schedule.
- Portion Control
One of the top health issues cats face is obesity, particularly indoor cats with their lower activity level. So it is important to implement portion control. For example, some cats will always eat all the food that is available to them, it is part of their nature after all! To avoid this, you want to make sure that you institute strict portion control for your cat.
But how much is too much, and how little is too little? This depends on many factors such as your cat’s age, their current weight, how active they are, and if they are pregnant or nursing. Let’s use an average non-pregnant cat as an example:
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Activity Level: Average
- Calories Needed: 200-300
If an average can of food is about 3 ounces, and there are approximately 150 calories per can, then the average cat would need 1 and 1/3 cans of food per day.
Similarly, if you want to add in dry food, then you can assume that one cup of dry food is equivalent to 300 calories. So, an option would be to feed your cat 1/4 cup of kibble and one 3 ounce can of wet food.
Transitioning Your Cat to a New Cat Foods
There are many reasons you may need to transition your cat to a new food; perhaps they have developed an allergy, or they may be entering a new phase in their life where a different food will promote optimal health. Cats are notoriously finicky about their food, though, and switching to a new brand or type can be a challenge – at the least. Keep these points in mind to successfully introduce a new dry or wet cat food.
- Start slow
It is important not to make any big changes – don’t go from one brand to a completely new one all in one meal! Instead, start slow. Begin by mixing 10% of the new food with 90% of the old food for one day. The next day, mix 25% of the new food with 75% of the old food, and repeat this for two days. On the third day, bump up to 50% of the new food with 50% of the old food, and repeat this for two days. Continue this pattern over the course of a week to properly acclimate your cat to their new food.
- Monitor the litter box
The best way to know if a new food is agreeing with an indoor cat is to keep a close eye on their litter box. If the stool is too loose, then you may want to pause and not increase the new food for a few days. If they are going to the bathroom more often than usual, you also may not want to increase the proportion of new food that you are feeding them. Oppositely, if they are not going to the bathroom at all, this could be a sign that the new food is not the right choice for them, and you may want to consider another new brand or going back to their former brand.
Overall, though, digestive changes with new food are to be expected, so don’t be too alarmed if you see short-term changes. Additionally, it is best to consult your vet before making any big changes to your cat’s diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is my cat not eating their wet food?
Cats are very picky creatures; the smallest thing can cause them not to eat. They are very particular, and they have specific likes and dislikes. As a result, your cat may have some personal preferences that are not being met, which is causing them to protest eating. If this is happening to you, don’t feel like a bad pet parent! Some reasons your cat may have stopped eating:
- You moved the litter box too close to their eating area – would you want to eat where you go?
- Your cat doesn’t like a certain flavor of food
- Your cat is bored of the same flavor of food
- Your cat is mad at you – maybe you left them alone for too long or scolded them
If your cat continues to do nothing but just pick at their food for close to a week, then this may be a sign of an underlying illness and you will want to talk with your vet.
2. Is changing flavors of the same brand everyday recommended?
No, it is not recommended that you change flavors every day. If you must choose between changing flavors every day and giving your cat the same food every single day, then you should opt to give them the same food every day. The same can be said about switching brands: it is better to stick with the same brand than to switch brands every day. Why? Because too much change can be rough on a cat’s stomach and can lead to unpleasant digestive issues.
3. Is it safe to give my indoor cat treats?
Treats are great in moderation, even for indoor cats that don’t get the activity that outdoor cats get. Plus, cats love to be pampered and appreciated and giving your cat treats is a great way to show them that they are an important part of the family.
Moderation is key, however. Weight gain is always an issue with an indoor cat and you don’t want to overdo it and risk giving your cat a stomachache, which can lead to them throwing up or having other digestive issues. It is recommended that you give your cat no more than 10% of their daily calories in treats. For example, if each treat is 5 calories and your cat is on a 300-calorie diet, then you don’t want to exceed more than 6 treats per day. Luckily, caloric information is required to be listed on the back of cat treat packages, so you can easily crunch the numbers to ensure your furball isn’t being overfed.
Any cat owner will tell you that the quality of the food you feed your cat matters, but we know that choosing the right food can be difficult. That’s why we invested the time and resources to research and compile a list of the best cat food for indoor cats. We searched for well-priced, good quality, and convenient options to recommend to cat lovers like you.
We hope this information has been helpful and we are confident that any of the five brands highlighted above are great options for indoor cats.