10 Best Budget Cat Foods – Low Cost But Quality

Nutrition Reviews November 26, 2021

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10 Best Budget Cat Foods – Low Cost But Quality

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Best Budget Cat Foods

Are you searching for an inexpensive cat food that is good for your cat but even better for your budget? Of course buying the highest quality cat food you can consistently afford is ideal, because a cheap bag of cat food is not always the best choice in the long run.

Over time, low quality cat food can lead to issues like vitamin and mineral deficiencies or weight gain, especially in older cats.

If you are on a tight budget but want to give your kitty a nutritious food, then finding the best budget cat foods that are high protein, low carb is key.

To help you out, we compiled this list of the best budget cat foods you can buy on a budget without always sacrificing quality.

Why Should You Trust This Review?

  • I am a certified pet nutritionist
  • I’ve been a cat mom for 30 plus years
  • I have volunteered at cat shelters for over 15 years
  • I did 48 hours of research on these cat food brands

Quick Look: The Best Budget Cat Food Reviewed And Compared

IMAGEPRODUCT 
American Journey Cat Food Review

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

  • Turkey is 1st ingredient
  • Grain Free
  • Resealable bag
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Iams ProActive Health Healthy Adult Original with Chicken Dry Cat Food

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • No fillers
  • Includes potassium and calcium
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Smalls

  • Does not contain fillers
  • High quality protein used
  • Contains no fillers, corn, soy, grain, wheat, rice, or potatoes
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Meow Mix Cat Food Review

Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food

  • Essential vitamins and minerals included
  • Very low cost option
  • Made in the USA
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Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food

Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food

  • Contains animal-sourced fat
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Veterinarian recommended formula
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Fancy Feast Cat Food Review

Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals White Meat Chicken Recipe Pate Canned Cat Food

  • Contains animal-sourced fat
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Veterinarian recommended formula
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Purina Cat Chow Naturals Grain Free Cat Food

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Grain Free Cat Food

  • Grain free formula
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Supports every life stage
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Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Indoor Grain-Free Turkey & Chickpea Formula Dry Cat Food

  • Grain free formula
  • Turkey is the first ingredient
  • Limited ingredient diet with a single animal protein source
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American Journey Landmark Chicken Recipe in Broth Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • Doesn’t contain any animal by-products
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Grain free
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Merrick Purrfect Bistro Kitten Dinner Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • Doesn’t contain any animal by-products
  • Contains high amounts of protein
  • Grain free formula
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The 10 Best Rated Budget Cat Foods Reviewed

 

#1 American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$1.8/ Ib
  • Food Type: Dry
  • Made in: USA
  • Protein: 40%
  • Fat: 15%

The Good

  • Real turkey is the very first ingredient
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Below average carbohydrates

The Bad

  • Only available at Chewy
  • Contains meal products

American Journey Turkey and Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is grain-free kibble that features real, deboned turkey as the first ingredient, wholesome fruits and vegetables, and deboned chicken. It’s madde in the USA with ingredients from around the world, and contains no poultry by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy or artificial preservatives.

This recipe delivers 40% protein, plus powerful nutrients and essential amino acids. American Journey cat food also offers antioxidants to support a healthy immune system, taurine for healthy eyes and heart, and omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. 

#2 Iams ProActive Health Healthy Adult Original with Chicken Dry Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$1.5/ Ib
  • Food Type: Dry
  • Made in: USA
  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 15%

The Good

  • Real chicken is the very first ingredient
  • Contains no fillers
  •  Has omega-6 & omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat

The Bad

  • Contains grains
  • Contains by products

IAMS cat food is veterinarian recommended. It is formulated with essential nutrients including calcium & potassium to help keep your kitties heart strong. This cat food is made to keep your adult cat healthy by providing needed energy.

The first ingredient is chicken which helps maintain healthy muscles and provides the essential amino acids to maintain a healthy coat. The high fiber blend, beet pulp, a mix of protein and carbs contribute to healthy energy levels for your cat while the prebiotics support healthy digestion.

#3 Smalls Cat Food Human Grade Fresh: Bird

Product Info:

  • Price Range: ~$2.00 – $3.50/ per meal
  • Food Type: Fresh
  • Made In: USA
  • Protein: 21.2% Min
  • Fat: 8.05% Min

The Good

  • 100% money back if your cat does not like the food
  • Customized meal plan based on budget, cat’s age, health status, and current diet
  • Free from preservatives, fillers, grains, and artificial flavors

The Bad

  • Cost is higher than wet and canned foods
  • Food must be kept cold until served which makes travel difficult

Smalls food for cats is a subscription service, prepared with 100% human grade ingredients. You can create a customized meal plan for your cats based on their age, health goal, and current food and have freshly prepared food delivered to your door.

Smalls buys all of their ingredients the same day they cook it and then freeze it right away. They also cook on a weekly basis so the food coming to you is never old. All of Smalls ingredients are sourced from 100% USDA certified human grade suppliers.

Smalls currently offers 3 fresh recipe flavors in pate or minced, and can mix and match the foods depending on your cats preference. Their food is free from preservatives, fillers, grains, and artificial flavors.

#4 Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price Range: $.81/lb
  • Food Type: Dry
  • Made In: USA
  • Protein: 31% Min
  • Fat: 11% Min

The Good

  • Made in the USA
  • Complete and balanced nutritious diet for adult cats
  • Made with essential vitamins and minerals

The Bad

  • First ingredient is corn
  • Contains by products
  • Contains meal

Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food is specially formulated for adult cats to help them stay healthy and happy. This recipe is made with wholesome ingredients and flavors of chicken, turkey, salmon and ocean fish. This tasty food is complete and balanced for adult cats with all the vitamins and minerals they need

Meow Mix Original Choice provides all the essential nutrients they need, including high-quality protein and essential fatty acids to help support strong muscles and nice coat.  for optimal health.

#5 Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$0.61/ lb
  • Food Type: Dry
  • Made In: USA
  • Protein: 34% Min
  • Fat: 13% Min

The Good

  • Crunchy bites to keep teeth clean
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • No fillers

The Bad

  • Contains meal
  • Contains by products
  • Not grain free

Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food offers crunchy bites and meaty tender morsels, with real chicken as the first ingredient for lean protein to support healthy muscles and energy. This vet-recommended formula for adult cats is made with no fillers and has essential vitamins, minerals and taurine for overall health and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and soft coat.

Purina kibble has a crunchy texture that helps scrub tartar with every bite to keep teeth clean and healthy. This cat food is manufactured in facilities in the USA.

#6 Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals White Meat Chicken Recipe Pate Canned Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$0.3/ Oz
  • Food Type: Wet
  • Made In: USA
  • Protein: 9% Min
  • Fat: 5% Min

The Good

  • Low price
  • Quality protein is the first ingredient
  • Many flavor choices

The Bad

  • Some cats do not like the Pate’ texture
  • Sensitive stomachs may not handle well

Purina Fancy Feast grilled Seafood cat food features tender cuts of seafood that are slow-cooked to perfection in a savory gravy. The added vitamins and minerals offer complete and balanced nutrition for healthy growth.

The cans have an easy flip top opening and come in a variety pack. There is a selection of flavors : Grilled Tuna Feast in Gravy, Grilled Salmon Feast in Gravy and Grilled Seafood Feast in Gravy.

#7 Purina Cat Chow Naturals Grain Free Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$1.5/ Ib
  • Food Type: Dry
  • Made in: USA
  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 11%

The Good

  • Real chicken is the very first ingredient
  • Grain free
  • Contains no artificial colors, flavors and preservatives

The Bad

  • Contains meal
  • High in carbohydrates

Cat Chow’s Naturals Grain-Free with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food starts with real chicken as the #1 ingredient. This kibble also contains 25 essential vitamins and minerals to help support your cats overall health.

Like the name says, this food is grain free. It’s also 100% free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives!

#8 Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Indoor Grain-Free Turkey & Chickpea Formula Dry Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$2.5/lb
  • Food Type: Dry
  • Made in: USA
  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 8%

The Good

  • Loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Offers hairball control
  • No artificial flavors or colors

The Bad

  • Kibble size is small
  • Contains chickpeas

Indoor Ultra is made especially for the cats who stay inside. This recipe contains just a few ingredients that will keep  your cat thriving, including prebiotics to support healthy digestion which in turn makes litter box duty just a little more pleasant. The lean formula will help your cat maintain a healthy weight, with real turkey as the first ingredient.

This formula is loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help support healthy skin & shiny coats. It also offers hairball control and contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

#9 American Journey Landmark Chicken Recipe in Broth Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$0.2/ Oz
  • Food Type: Wet
  • Made In: USA
  • Protein: 12% Min
  • Fat: 2% Min

The Good

  • Real chicken is the 1st ingredient
  • No synthetic flavor enhancers, antibiotics, MSG or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
  • Grain free recipe

The Bad

  • Some cats do not like the shredded chicken texture
  • A lot of broth in can

Landmark by American Journey Chicken Recipe is crafted with 95% chicken and chicken broth, plus 5% vitamins, minerals and other nutrients like taurine to round out a complete, balanced meal. Real chicken is the first ingredient, delicately shredded and cooked in a flavorful broth making it a gourmet approach to a prey-based diet.

This recipe contains no grains, wheat, corn, soy, carrageenan, synthetic flavor enhancers, or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. This is a complete and balanced meal with added vitamins, minerals and taurine, an amino acid that’s essential to your cats heart and vision health.

#10 Merrick Purrfect Bistro Kitten Dinner Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Price: ~$.26/ounce
  • Food Type: Wet
  • Made in: USA
  • Protein: 9%
  • Fat: 4%

The Good

  • Grain-free cat food
  • Made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Contains added vitamins, minerals and taurine for kittens

The Bad

  • The consistency is a runny pate’
  • Price fluctuates

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Kitten Dinner Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is specially made for growing kittens. This grain-free, pate offers quality protein your kitten needs, with deboned chicken as the very first ingredient. Taurine, vitamins and minerals are added for essential nutrition and it’s is made without corn, wheat or soy and is completely free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Merrick cat food recipes are crafted in Merrick’s Hereford, TX kitchen and cooked in the USA, in facilities that uphold strict FDA guidelines.


Reading The Label

As a cat owner, it is important to learn what to look for on cat food labels. By law, ingredients must be listed in decreasing order according to weight. Labels may also say the cat food is for certain life stages, growth or for indoor or outdoor cats.

In general, cats need a variety of nutrients to survive, including protein, water, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Before buying a cat food always check the ingredients on the label.

One of the first 5 ingredients should always be a protein of some sort and not a by product (by products include items like: beaks, tainted meat, feathers, hooves, etc. ).

No more than 10% of the calories listed should come from carbohydrates (soy, peas, grains, potatoes, etc). Grain free is always ideal.

Affordable wet food is usually better for your cats than dry foods. Dry foods tend to be heavily processed and have high carbohydrate content with very little water content. We will discuss this in another article.

Here is a list of ingredients your cat’s food should contain:

  • Natural, whole-food ingredients
  • High-quality animal proteins (at least 30%)
  • Healthy, animal-based fats (about 15% to 20%)
  • Digestible carbohydrates and fiber
  • Essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids
  • No by-products, fillers, or artificial additives

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all cat food and because some cats are more finicky than others, you may need to try several foods before your cat decides what he prefers.

Choose a high protein, low carb cat food that meets the basic nutritional needs of your cat, whether your cat is indoor, outdoor, overweight, kitten, adult or has medical issues. No matter what your cats preference, there is a quality budget brand that will meet the nutritional needs of your furry friend and not drain your bank account.

Amy is the founder of Cat Mania and a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist. She is the proud owner of two cats and a dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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