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10 Best Raw Cat Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

tabby cat eating from metal bowl

10 Best Raw Cat Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

tabby cat eating from metal bowl The saying, “you are what you eat,” applies to cats too, and one diet that’s growing in popularity is raw food. Although more controversial than regular kibble or canned food, raw diets are designed to better mimic the way that cats ate before they were domesticated. These meals rely on raw meat ingredients, including organs and bones, to create a meal that suits your cat’s carnivorous palate.

As with all foods, raw diets have their pros and cons. Along with the best raw cat food reviews, there’s also a section on how to choose the best diet for your cat. Read on to check out our tips and recommendations!

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A Quick Look at Our Winners of 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food
  • High in protein
  • Four flavors to choose from
  • 20% off coupon for first-time users
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe Dry Cat Food Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe Dry Cat Food
  • Supports the immune system
  • Freeze-dried chicken pieces
  • Contains probiotics for gut health
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Chicken Recipe Cat Food Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Chicken Recipe Cat Food
  • No GMOs
  • Promotes joint health
  • No hormones or antibiotics
  • Instinct Raw Meals Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Kitten Food Instinct Raw Meals Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Kitten Food
  • High in protein
  • Supports muscle development
  • Can be used alone or as a topper
  • Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Raw Cat Food Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Raw Cat Food
  • Pumpkin to aid digestion
  • Uses 98% cage-free poultry
  • Ethically sourced ingredients
  • The 10 Best Raw Cat Foods

    1. Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food — Best Overall

    Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food

    First Five Ingredients: Chicken with ground bone, chicken liver, chicken neck, montmorillonite clay, organic dandelion greens
    Crude protein: 47%
    Crude Fat: 45%
    Calories: 5,203 kcal/kg

    Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food is the best overall raw cat food due to its high-quality ingredients. The chicken is all 100% American Welfare Certified, meaning the animals had continuous access to the pasture where they were raised and a diet of 100% forage. The animals were also not confined to feedlots or given hormones or antibiotics. The Harvest Chicken recipe is the most popular one, but there are three other choices as well: Wild-Caught Salmon & Cod, Chicken & Salmon, and Surf & Turf.

    First-time users can get a 20% discount. Ordering online is probably the easiest option because Open Farm is not sold in all pet stores. Their dry food is usually more easily found in-store.

    Pros
    • High in protein
    • 100% American Welfare Certified chicken
    • No artificial ingredients or additives
    • Four flavors to choose from
    • 20% off coupon for first-time users
    Cons
    • Freeze dried recipes hard to find in stores

    2. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Cat Food — Best Value

    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Pieces Dry Cat Food

    First Five Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, peas
    Crude protein: 41%
    Crude Fat: 22%
    Calories: 4,327 kcal/kg

    Although the Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Pieces Dry Cat Food isn’t necessarily cheap, it is available in much larger bags than most raw cat foods are. It’s suitable for multiple cats and contains both kibble and freeze-dried chicken pieces to provide a balanced, nutritional meal. With probiotics, antioxidants, and omega oils to support your cat’s digestive, immune, skin, and coat health, it’s the best raw cat food for the money.

    The downside with this option is that the formula isn’t completely raw. While it has freeze-dried chicken pieces in it to ensure that the recipe is a completely balanced meal, most of the formula is kibble.

    Pros
    • Contains probiotics for gut health
    • Supports the immune system
    • Omega oils support the skin and coat
    • Freeze-dried chicken pieces
    Cons
    • Not completely raw

    3. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Chicken Recipe Cat Food — Premium Choice

    Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Chicken Recipe Cat Food

    First Five Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, chicken bone, chicken necks, New Zealand green mussel
    Crude protein: 38%
    Crude Fat: 30%
    Calories: 5,000 kcal/kg

    Made with 100% ethically sourced ingredients, the Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Chicken Recipe Cat Food is one of the most expensive options on this list and is only available in small bags. The formula is air dried and can be used as a complete meal or as a food topper. It doesn’t contain hormones, antibiotics, or GMOs and relies on a single meat protein to provide the nutrients that your cat needs.

    Ziwi Peak includes New Zealand green mussels and chondroitin sulfate to promote joint health. Combined with the high protein, this supports your cat’s mobility, bone, and muscle wellness. Besides chicken, available recipes include beef, lamb, and mackerel if your cat prefers a different flavor.

    Pros
    • Promotes joint health
    • No hormones or antibiotics
    • No GMOs
    • 100% ethically sourced ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Only available in small bags

    4. Instinct Raw Meals Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Kitten Food

    Instinct Raw Meals Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Kitten Food

    First Five Ingredients: Chicken, beef liver, beef spleen, beef kidney, cod
    Crude protein: 39%
    Crude Fat: 28%
    Calories: 4,627 kcal/kg

    Kittens can also eat raw food if you choose the right food, and the Instinct Raw Meals Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Kitten Food is formulated for their nutritional needs in particular. The recipe is completely freeze dried, without any kibble mixed in, and can be used as a meal on its own or as a food topper.

    It’s high in protein to support muscle development and energy levels and has chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health. The formula also contains DHA to aid the development of your kitten’s brain and eyes.

    Only sold in small bags, the Instinct Raw Meals kitten food is expensive. The freeze-dried food also crumbles easily, making the food dusty and difficult to serve.

    Pros
    • Supports muscle development
    • Contains DHA for brain and eye health
    • Promotes joint health
    • Can be used alone or as a topper
    • High in protein
    Cons
    • Only available in small bags
    • Crumbles easily

    5. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    First Five Ingredients: Chicken (ground with bone), chicken liver, chicken gizzard, pumpkin seed, potassium chloride
    Crude protein: 45%
    Crude Fat: 25%
    Calories: 4,360 kcal/kg

    The Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food is made with 98% cage-free poultry and limited ingredients to avoid setting off food sensitivities. Formulated to support digestive and immune health, the recipe doesn’t contain fillers or artificial additives.

    Besides the single protein source, the Chick Chick Chicken dinner includes pumpkin for an easily digestible recipe. All the ingredients are ethically sourced and sustainable.

    Although this raw food can be served as is, it’s recommended that you rehydrate it with cool or warm water when serving it to your cat. The small bags are also expensive, and the food will last longer if used as a topper.

    Pros
    • Uses 98% cage-free poultry
    • Limited ingredients to avoid allergies
    • Pumpkin to aid digestion
    • Ethically sourced ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Might need to be rehydrated

    6. Nulo FreeStyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Nulo FreeStyle Turkey & Duck Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    First Five Ingredients: Turkey, turkey necks, turkey liver, duck, duck liver
    Crude protein: 42%
    Crude Fat: 37%
    Calories: 5,124 kcal/kg

    Designed to offer complete nutrition on its own or serve as a healthy meal topper, the Nulo FreeStyle Turkey & Duck Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food is a grain-free raw recipe. The high protein content supports your cat’s muscles and energy levels, while the 98% animal-based ingredients cater to their carnivorous dietary needs. Alongside the meat protein sources, the formula includes probiotics to support your cat’s digestive and immune health.

    Since the Nulo Freestyle cat food is only available in small bags, it’s easy to store and keep fresh for your cat. However, if you use it as a meal on its own or for multiple cats, it won’t last long. The freeze-dried pieces also crumble easily, making the product incredibly dusty when it’s not rehydrated.

    Pros
    • Probiotics support digestive health
    • Suitable for complete meals or as a topper
    • High in protein
    • 98% animal-based ingredients
    Cons
    • Only available in small bags
    • Crumbles easily

    7. Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Cat Treats

    Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Raw Chicken breast

    First Five Ingredients: Boneless, skinless chicken breast
    Crude protein: 70%
    Crude Fat: 2%
    Calories: 3,648 kcal/kg

    Although the Vital Essentials Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Cat Treats are formulated to be given to your cat as snacks rather than complete meals, these are among the simplest raw foods that you can add to your cat’s diet. Made with single-sourced, USDA chicken, the formula contains no other ingredients or hormones, antibiotics, or artificial additives. These snacks are small and designed to be used as treats for good behavior or small snacks between meals.

    Some cats have issues with the hardness of these freeze-dried treats and may benefit from having them rehydrated before eating. The treats have also been reported to have a strong, unpleasant odor that can be off-putting to some cats.

    Pros
    • No artificial additives
    • Perfect for training or snacks
    • Single-sourced USDA chicken
    Cons
    • Not a complete meal
    • Strong odor
    • Might need to be rehydrated

    8. The New Zealand Natural Pet Food Co. Meow Freeze-Dried Cat Treats

    The New Zealand Natural Pet Food Co. Meow Chicken​ & King Salmon Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Treats

    First Five Ingredients: Chicken with ground bone, chicken heart, lamb green tripe, king salmon with ground bone, chicken liver
    Crude protein: 43%
    Crude Fat: 41%
    Calories: 5,149 kcal/kg

    Made with ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients, the New Zealand Natural Pet Food Co. Meow Chicken​ & King Salmon Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Treats uses a raw formula to protect your cat’s health. The recipe is filled with 90% meat, organs, and bones from animal and fish sources.

    Nutritionally balanced, this food can be added to your cat’s existing diet or introduced on its own. There are also green-lipped mussels, and the high protein content promotes joint and muscle health.

    The fish content of this formula gives it a strong smell that many cat owners find unpleasant. This smell is the strongest when water is added to rehydrate the food. It has caused stomach upset in some cats, and fussier felines dislike all the available flavors and will refuse to eat them.

    Pros
    • 90% meat, organs, and bones
    • Ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients
    • Green-lipped mussels support joint health
    • Complete meal or topper
    Cons
    • Strong odor when rehydrated
    • Can cause stomach upset
    • Some cats dislike the flavor

    9. PureBites Duck Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Treats

    PureBites Duck Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Treats

    First Five Ingredients: 100% pure U.S.A.-sourced and made duck liver
    Crude protein: 67%
    Crude Fat: 9%
    Calories: 3,591 kcal/kg

    Unlike many cat foods that source the ingredients outside the U.S.A., PureBites Duck Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Treats has U.S.A.-raised animals as the protein source. The single ingredient makes it suitable for cats on restricted diets. PureBites is also manufactured in the U.S.A.

    You can’t feed your cat just on PureBites, though. The formula is intended for use as a treat or addition to complete meals and isn’t supposed to be a complete diet on its own. Several owners dislike how easy the treats are to crush, leaving nothing but powder, and it’s only available in small sizes. Some cats have also suffered from stomach upset when first introduced to the treats.

    Pros
    • Only one ingredient
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    • Suitable for cats on restricted diets
    Cons
    • Not a complete diet
    • Easy to crush
    • Can cause stomach upset
    • Only small bags available

    10. Stella & Chewy’s Raw Coated Dry Cat Food

    Stella & Chewy's Wild Caught Salmon Flavored Raw Coated Dry Cat Food

    First Five Ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, lentils, chickpeas, peas
    Crude protein: 35%
    Crude Fat: 14%
    Calories: 3,687 kcal/kg

    The Stella & Chewy’s Wild Caught Salmon Flavored Raw Coated Dry Cat Food isn’t a completely raw diet, but it does offer a chance to add raw food to your cat’s meals. Since it’s available in larger bags than most other raw cat food, it’s more suited for multi-cat households. The kibble is coated with raw, freeze-dried, animal protein and doesn’t require rehydrating.

    Made in the U.S.A., the formula contains probiotics to assist with digestion and omega oils to support skin and coat health. There are no artificial additives, and the animal protein is sourced from sustainable, wild-caught fish.

    Since the main ingredient for this raw-coated kibble is fish, it does have a strong odor that can be overwhelming to some owners and disliked by fussy cats.

    Pros
    • Coated in raw animal protein
    • No artificial additives
    • Probiotics aid digestion
    • Omega oils for skin and coat health
    Cons
    • Not completely raw
    • Some cats dislike the flavor
    • Contains a strong smell

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    Buyer’s Guide: Things to Know About Raw Cat Food

    Due to the convenience of kibble, raw cat food isn’t the most popular way to feed a cat, though it is becoming more common. Deciding to introduce raw food to your cat’s diet isn’t as easy as picking the first brand you see, however. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re searching for the best raw cat food.

    How to Choose the Right Raw Cat Food

    Many factors go into choosing the right raw cat food. You have to consider your cat’s tastes, the form the food takes, the ingredients, and even the safety measures taken during the manufacturing process.

    Fresh vs. Freeze-Dried

    Raw cat food is available in two forms, fresh or freeze-dried. Most commercially made formulas are freeze-dried. It’s similar to kibble and just as easy to serve.

    Fresh raw food can be made at home by following recipes recommended by veterinary nutritionists. It’s also available through subscription services like Smalls. Unlike freeze-dried food, though, you’ll need to refrigerate or freeze the fresh meals to ensure that they stay fresh. This is the more time-consuming option, especially if you make it yourself.

    black and white old cat eats from a plate
    Photo Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

    Ingredients

    Many kibbles and other commercially made cat foods contain artificial colors and preservatives to increase how long the food stays fresh and make it look more appetizing. The best raw food options will only contain fresh ingredients, which is why it’s important to keep the leftovers stored properly in the fridge or freezer. The fresh ingredients and the meat content are what make raw diets so much more expensive than other cat food.

    Protein Content

    One benefit of raw diets is the meat content. Cats can only receive all the protein that they need by eating meat because they are obligate carnivores. Raw cat foods cater to this need by focusing on meat products rather than plants in the formulas. Although you can find raw food brands that use fruits and vegetables, most of the formula should be animal protein.

    Also, when you choose a raw food brand, get one that tells you where the ingredients come from. The meat used in the formula should be ethically and sustainably sourced.

    siamese kitten eating from a stainless bowl
    Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

    Safety

    How the food is handled is the biggest risk when it comes to raw diets. Raw meat contains dangerous bacteria and pathogens that are typically destroyed during the cooking process.

    You and your cat are both at risk of illnesses caused by these pathogens, so you’ll need to take steps to properly handle the raw food. Most of all, you need to keep the raw food away from other food products and keep it refrigerated. You’ll also need to wash your hands after handling and disinfect any surfaces and bowls that the meat came into contact with.

    Treats vs. Complete Meals

    The most common raw foods are freeze-dried treats, complete meals, and a mix of raw and kibble. When you choose a food for your cat, pay close attention to how you give it to your cat.

    For example, treats might be good snacks every now and then and will likely only contain one ingredient, but they won’t hold the nutrition that your cat needs from a balanced diet. You can add treats to your cat’s existing meals as food toppers or to reward good behavior, but they can’t be standalone options.

    Mixtures of kibble and raw food are formulated to contain all the nutrition that your cat needs. The downside here is that the meals are a combination of processed and raw. If you want to get away from kibble altogether, these meals are a good first step, but know that they’re not a completely raw diet.

    high angle view of hungry black and white cat getting fed with treats by young female pet owner
    Photo Credit: Nils Jacobi_Shutterstock

    Pros and Cons of Raw Cat Food

    Raw food has its benefits, but if it’s not handled well, it can cause problems. Whether you choose commercially made kibble or prefer a raw diet, you need to make sure it’s safe for your cat. Raw food can treat and sometimes prevent common diseases like arthritis, diabetes, ear problems, UTIs, and many other issues. Cats with food sensitivities or restricted diets can also benefit.

    However, you have to know the risks too. Raw diets are often much more expensive and time-consuming than other commercially made meals. Buying the ingredients to make homemade cat food can help reduce the cost, but you have to pay close attention to the nutritional requirements of your cat. This is where a veterinary nutritionist can help. Also, be aware that it’ll take much longer to make the meals yourself and clean up afterward.

    Finally, you have to consider the risk of bacterial contamination. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their raw diets will focus on meat products due to this. If the food isn’t handled or developed properly, it can carry E. coli and Salmonella. Both of these can be passed from your cat to you and your family.

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    Conclusion

    Made fresh and delivered to your door, Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food is our recommendation for the best raw cat food. For multi-cat homes, try Instinct Raw Boost; it’s not completely raw but it is less expensive. You can also try the Ziwi Peak Air Dried Chicken Recipe if you prefer a completely raw meal plan.

    Finally, these reviews included the Instinct Raw Meals Kitten Food, which is formulated to keep your kitten healthy while eating a raw diet, and Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Dinner, which is a tasty treat with limited ingredients to avoid allergies.


    Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

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