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11 Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

grey cat eating meat

11 Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

grey cat eating meat

Cats are carnivores and need protein in their diet to be healthy and active. Chicken is an abundant ingredient in all types of cat foods, but turkey is also a popular option. While these proteins are healthy for the average cat, sometimes they don’t agree with your furry friend.

Poultry is the main ingredient in many cat foods, but it can lead to allergies1. Sometimes, your cat may not like the taste of poultry and will refuse to eat it.

Whatever the reason for eliminating the ingredient from your cat’s diet, our reviews are here to help. Alternate sources of protein can provide the same essential nutrients that cats need every day. We gathered the best poultry-free cat foods, both dry and wet, so you can browse the components of each and decide which is the right choice for your feline.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow (Cat Food Subscription) Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow (Cat Food Subscription)
  • Made using human-grade ingredients
  • Delivered directly to your door when you need it
  • Sampler pack is available to ensure your cat likes the food
  • Second place
    Fancy Feast Pate Cat Food Fancy Feast Pate Cat Food
  • Good value for the cost
  • Grain-free
  • Easily digestible
  • Third place
    Nature’s Logic Rabbit Wet Cat Food Nature’s Logic Rabbit Wet Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Protein-rich rabbit is the first ingredient
  • Full of real fruits and vegetables
  • Purina Pro Plan Whitefish Wet Cat Food Purina Pro Plan Whitefish Wet Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Ocean whitefish is the first protein
  • Purina One Beef Pate Canned Cat Food Purina One Beef Pate Canned Cat Food
  • Affordable
  • Beef is the first ingredient
  • Good for all life stages
  • The 11 Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods

    1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow (Cat Food Subscription) — Best Overall

    smalls freeze-dried raw and human-grade fresh cat food with tabby cat

    Protein: 15%
    Calories: 1551 kcal/kg
    First protein source: Beef

    Smalls was established in 2017 and delivers high-quality, human-grade fresh food to cat owners. Do be aware that some recipes may contain poultry, so you will need to carefully check the ingredients of each to be certain.

    Smalls food is available via subscription and is delivered directly to your door. Meal plans and deliveries can be customized, and the company offers a small sampler, allowing you to make sure your cat enjoys it before you make a long-term commitment.

    As well as being completely poultry-free, Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow Cat Food is made of 85% meat and animal content, including lean beef, beef liver, and beef heart with vegetables. There is also fruit and added vitamins and minerals to ensure a nutritionally balanced diet for your cat.

    The food is available in a smooth or ground texture according to your cat’s preferences, and because it is packed with natural, human-grade ingredients, it is palatable and appealing for our feline friends.

    The poultry-free food from Smalls is high quality and is made using clean ingredients to give you reassurance of its quality. The cow recipe is completely poultry-free, and the sampler is an excellent option to ensure your cat enjoys the food. However, the quality of the ingredients makes Smalls more expensive. 

    Ultimately, we gave Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow Cat Food the title of best overall poultry-free cat food.

    Pros
    • Made using human-grade ingredients
    • Recipe is poultry-free
    • Sampler pack is available to ensure your cat likes the food
    • Delivered directly to your door when you need it
    • Clean ingredients list
    Cons
    • More costly than canned food

    2. Fancy Feast Fish & Shrimp Pate Canned Cat Food — Best Value

    Protein: 12%
    Calories: 82 kcal/can
    First protein source: Cod

    Our choice for the best poultry-free cat food for the money is Fancy Feast Cod, Sole, & Shrimp Pate Canned Cat Food. It will appeal to cats that are seafood lovers, and they won’t even miss the poultry. Cod is the first ingredient on the list. You won’t find any grains in this recipe either.

    Fish broth is added to increase the moisture content per can, which is helpful if your cat doesn’t drink as much water as they should. This recipe is easily digestible and suitable for cats with allergies and sensitivities. However, there are reports of bad batches of these cans at times. The pâté can have a different look and odor than usual.

    Pros
    • Good value for the cost
    • Grain-free
    • Easily digestible
    Cons
    • Bad batches

    3. Nature’s Logic Rabbit Feast Canned Cat Food

    Protein: 12%
    Calories: 212 kcal/can
    First protein source: Rabbit

    Our third poultry-free choice for cat food is Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast. The first ingredient is rabbit, which is combined with pork liver and dried egg for a protein-rich meal that closely resembles a cat’s wild diet. Fruits and vegetables comprise the rest of this recipe to provide vitamins and minerals. Nature’s Logic is grain-free and low in carbohydrates, so it’s easy on your cat’s sensitive stomach.

    There are no potatoes, corn, wheat, peas, or rice, so it’s not rough on a cat’s digestive tract. The taurine in this food, which is essential in a cat’s diet, is naturally occurring. Your cat will consume the amino acid through muscle meat instead of a synthetic additive.

    A few customers mentioned that when they opened the cans, there was less food in some batches of cans than in others.

    Pros
    • Protein-rich rabbit is the first ingredient
    • Grain-free
    • Full of real fruits and vegetables
    Cons
    • Cans may not always be completely filled
    • A pricey option

    4. Purina Pro Plan Whitefish & Salmon Kitten Canned Cat Food — Best for Kittens

    Protein: 12%
    Calories: 106 kcal/can
    First protein source: Ocean whitefish

    Purina Pro Plan Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Kitten Canned Cat Food makes our list as the best poultry-free food for kittens. Ocean whitefish, salmon, and liver are the first protein ingredients in this food. It’s easy on kittens’ sensitive stomachs while giving them the energy and health benefits that high-quality protein provides. The grain-free recipe will ensure that your kitten digests this food without issues.

    No artificial colors or preservatives are included, so kittens get the nutrition they need in a well-balanced meal. The soft formula is made for their small mouths and teeth. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is loaded into this food for vision, brain, and immune health.

    Omega-6 and vitamin A support healthy skin and coats, and the calcium will keep your kitten’s bones and teeth strong.

    Pros
    • Ocean whitefish is the first protein
    • Grain-free
    Cons
    • Includes meat by-products

    5. Purina One Beef Recipe Pate Canned Cat Food

    Protein: 11%
    Calories: 91 kcal/can
    First protein source: Beef

    Real beef is the first ingredient in Purina One Beef Recipe Pate Canned Cat Food. It provides balanced nutrition without poultry products, making it an excellent choice for poultry-free cat food. Fish is added to the beef in the recipe to pack the protein content per can. Purina One is suitable for cats of all life stages.

    The pâté recipe is also grain-free and loaded with antioxidants for a healthy immune system. It’s a healthy option for cats allergic to poultry and grains. Omega-6 fatty acids are included for skin and coat health.

    This Purina One recipe is reported to have a fishy odor, so cats that have an aversion to seafood may not be enticed to eat it.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Beef is the first ingredient
    • Good for all life stages
    Cons
    • Recipe includes fish
    • May have a fishy smell

    6. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Real Rabbit Dry Cat Food

    Protein: 35%
    Calories: 457 kcal/cup
    First protein source: Rabbit meal

    The simple ingredient list for Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Real Rabbit Dry Cat Food means you can trust that you’re giving your cat healthy, poultry-free nutrition. This recipe includes only one animal protein, which is gentle on sensitive stomachs.

    Farm-raised rabbit, without any hormones or antibiotics, provides your kitty with all the amino acids they need. This formula is free of grain, eggs, potatoes, corn, and artificial colors.

    The pure ingredients include omegas and antioxidants for coat and immune health. This food is manufactured in the U.S.A. using ingredients found worldwide. Cats with allergies, aside from poultry, will benefit from the limited ingredients of the recipe.

    Pros
    • Rabbit is the protein source
    • Nothing artificial is added
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like the taste
    • Can cause foul-smelling bowel movements

    7. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe Cat Food

    Protein: 45%
    Calories: 267 kcal/scoop
    First protein source: Venison

    The Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe Cat Food is full of 96% organs, meat, and bone, along with New Zealand green mussels. This food is ready to serve right out of the bag. Free from any added fillers or carbohydrates, it can be fed as a meal on its own or as a meal topper to entice eating.

    The preserving process is all-natural, using twin-stage air drying, so there is no need for any artificial preservatives or sugars. It has the benefits of a raw diet without the hassle or mess. Air-dried food is also more convenient and lasts longer.

    This protein-packed food includes green tripe and organic kelp, making it a superfood for cats. Poultry-sensitive cats can enjoy it as a snack, special treat, or addition to their meals.

    Pros
    • Venison is the first ingredient
    • Offers the nutrition of raw food
    Cons
    • Some cats may not prefer the jerky-like texture

    8. Wellness CORE Tuna & Wild Salon Entrée Canned Cat Food

    Protein: 10%
    Calories: 70 kcal/can
    First protein source: Tuna

    Packed in broth for added hydration, each can of Wellness CORE Signature Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entrée Cat Food includes tuna, mackerel, and salmon for protein and omega fatty acids.

    These acids and sunflower oil promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. The moisture in the food supports urinary health. Real flakes of tuna are hand-packed in every can for a poultry-free, well-balanced meal.

    Cats who are notoriously picky eaters have been reported to eat Wellness CORE with enthusiasm. However, some cats didn’t like the texture, especially if they were used to eating shredded food.

    Pros
    • Tuna is the first ingredient
    • Full of broth for hydration
    • Grain-free
    Cons
    • More expensive than some other brands
    • Some picky cats didn’t care for it

    9. Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Protein: 32%
    Calories: 350 kcal/cup
    First protein source: Trout

    The first ingredients in Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food are trout, ocean fish meal, and sweet potatoes. Combined with pea protein, this gives your cat a balance of healthy protein and carbs for the energy that they need.

    Since it’s grain-free and highly digestible, Wild Canyon River is an option for cats with digestive sensitivities. Real fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and vitamins. The chelated minerals are easily absorbed, and their full health benefits are reached.

    No grains are in Wild Canyon River’s recipe, but you’ll find probiotics and prebiotics for healthy digestion. No artificial colors or flavors are included in this formula. Cats with poultry allergies have been reported to recover well while eating this food.

    Some cats enjoy the taste, while others walk away from it. Your cat’s personal preference will determine whether it’s a hit.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • Easy to digest
    • No fillers
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like the taste
    • Pricey

    10. BFF Pate Lovers Tuna & Lamb Wet Cat Food

    Protein: 11%
    Calories: 78 kcal/can
    First protein source: Tuna

    The BFF Pate Lovers Tuna & Lamb Wet Cat Food combines a mix of proteins, none of which are poultry. Tuna, tuna broth, lamb, and sardines are pureed together to form a tasty pâté. No grains, gluten, or artificial flavors are added.

    The BFF recipe is also full of moisture to help your kitty stay hydrated. Cats have been reported to enjoy the taste and eat it as soon as it’s served. The wholesome ingredients in the formula provide essential vitamins and minerals to support your cat’s health, with a lowered risk of triggering allergic reactions or sensitivities.

    The flavor combination of the tuna and lamb may be what entices otherwise finicky cats to eat this until it’s gone.

    Pros
    • Tuna and lamb protein sources
    • Moisture-heavy recipe
    Cons
    • Some cats do not enjoy this flavor

    11. American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Protein: 40%
    Calories: 410 kcal/cup
    First protein source: Deboned salmon

    The American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food has deboned salmon as the first ingredient. With over 40% protein in the formula, it has everything it needs to keep cats energetic and healthy. Fruits and vegetables add antioxidants for immune system support, and omega fatty acids keep your cat’s coat shiny. No poultry by-products, corn, wheat, or soy, are used in the recipe.

    No artificial colors or flavors are added, making American Journey easy on your cat’s system. There are reports of some of the food being crushed into dust in the bags. However, cats seem to enjoy the flavor. It can be used as a topper for wet food to entice cats to eat more.

    Pros
    • Salmon is the first ingredient
    • Grain-free
    Cons
    • Dry kibble crushed into dust in the bag

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    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Poultry-Free Cat Food

    Looking at cat food labels can be exhausting. How do you know which is the best? How do you even know what you’re reading? If your cat has an aversion to poultry, you want to ensure no poultry is included in the recipe. It’s frustrating to pick up a salmon-flavored brand and see chicken as the third ingredient.

    Poultry, usually chicken, is used in many recipes to pack and fill the food. The fronts of the labels can be misleading because they don’t mention chicken. You will only see it in the ingredients, which is why it’s necessary to carefully scan the ingredient list and see what you’re purchasing.

    As a cat food ingredient, chicken includes the flesh, skin, and sometimes the bone. It excludes the feathers, feet, heads, and entrails.

    cats eating_Taras Vyshnya_Shutterstock
    Image Credit: Taras Vyshnya, Shutterstock

    Chicken Meal

    This refers to the flesh, muscle, and skin of a chicken exposed to high heat levels. Once the water and fat are rendered out of it, the remaining protein is ground into a meal.

    Chicken By-Products

    These are other parts of a chicken, such as heads, feet, necks, and intestines. They’re commonly called fillers and are used in pet food because there’s no other place to use them. They’re typically not used for human consumption, and they provide a way to pack the food cheaply while still providing protein.

    Chicken By-Product Meal

    This is produced when the by-products have their fat and water content removed.

    Broth

    Chicken broth is sometimes used as moisture in canned cat foods but isn’t mentioned on the front label.  Chicken can sometimes be found in recipes that claim to be chicken-free. Trace amounts can appear because the food was made in the same environment that produces pet food with poultry.

    Choosing cat food from a manufacturer you trust and that is known for quality control is the best way to avoid this. This may take trial and error; however, you can choose different brands until you find one your cat will eat.

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    FAQ: Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods

    How Will I Know If My Cat Has Poultry Allergies?

    There are a few things that you’ll notice if your cat cannot correctly digest poultry. Usually, the first and biggest sign will be itching. If a cat is allergic to their food, it typically presents as skin lesions that lead to near-constant scratching.

    Other signs include rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you think your cat has a food allergy, a vet can diagnose it through a food trial and provide medication to relieve your cat’s signs. Starting the cat on a new food without poultry will be the quickest way to tell whether it’s the culprit.

    If your cat has eaten chicken and other poultry for years and had no issues, it doesn’t mean this problem can’t arise in the future. The symptoms can appear when your cat develops the allergy, even if they’ve never had it before. Just like people, cats can become allergic to things over time.

    They Just Don’t Like It

    Some cats prefer the taste of meals without poultry. Every cat has their preferences. Even if your cat isn’t allergic to chicken, they may enjoy poultry-free food instead. If your cat is being picky about their food and refusing to eat, waiting them out is dangerous.

    They won’t just eat it when they get hungry. If your cat hasn’t eaten for over 24 hours, it’s time to offer them something else. Medical issues can start after that amount of time, such as diabetes and fatty liver disease. Cats also need protein daily because they are carnivores and require animal protein to survive.

    If your cat doesn’t like their food, it’s time to change it, not force them to eat it. It may take time, but you can find a food that they will enjoy and is healthy for them.

    If your cat isn’t eating anything at all, they will need an examination by a veterinarian to rule out any health problems causing the lack of appetite.

    What Other Proteins Can I Look For?

    Chicken is the cheapest and most common protein ingredient for most pet foods, and many cats like the taste of it. There are other options for poultry-free foods that are still high in protein.

    These sources come from:
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Venison
    • Bison
    • Salmon
    • Tuna
    • Lamb
    • Rabbit
    • Turkey (can be used if your cat only has a sensitivity to chicken and not all poultry)
    maine coon cat eating
    Image Credit: Lita Keire, Shutterstock

    Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods

    This includes chicken parts, like flesh and giblets, that have been broken down and essentially made hypoallergenic. It gives your cat all the amino acids and protein they need without triggering an allergic reaction. It’s easy to digest, but some cats don’t like the taste of it.

    Choosing a High-Quality Food

    Deciding on food is hard enough, so here are a few tips to remember when comparing labels. The fewer ingredients, the better it is. A small number of ingredients means there’s less to disrupt your cat’s digestive system or trigger allergies.

    The protein content should be higher than the fat content. Cats need fat in their diet, but the amount of protein should be the highest on the label. Cats can consume grains. However, some cats have trouble digesting them, and others may be allergic to them.

    However, grains aren’t bad for your cat unless you prefer that they don’t eat them. If you notice your cat having trouble digesting grains properly, grain-free food is your best option. Grains to look for on the label include corn, wheat, oats, rice, and barley.

    If you’re unsure of what to feed your cat, asking your vet is the best way to figure out a diet plan that will be healthy, well-balanced, and keep your cat full.

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    What About a Raw Diet?

    Some cats do well on raw diets, and you know exactly what you’re giving your cat when you prepare their food. But raw diets can take a great deal of work. You have to freeze the food and make sure it’s thawed in enough time for your cat to have their meal. If you forget, it can mean varied mealtimes and cranky cats.

    Freeze-dried raw diets might be a little easier because there’s no thawing involved and much less mess. The issue would be the food being too dry for your cat to eat, so rehydrating it is recommended. It takes more time than popping open a can of food but not as much as feeding your cat a frozen raw diet.

    But some cats refuse to eat either option. It can take some getting used to, so if you’d like your cat to try it, make the change slowly. Offer the raw food in small quantities in addition to their regular food. You’ll know if they like it then.

    Any food changes should be made slowly, no matter what. If switching from one dry food to another, mix small quantities of the new food with the old food to avoid gastric upset. Eventually, you can mix more and more new food until it’s all you’re feeding your cat.

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    Final Verdict

    Our choice for the best poultry-free cat food overall is Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow Cat Food for delivering human-grade fresh food to cat owners. For the best value, we like Fancy Feast Cod, Sole, & Shrimp Pate Canned Cat Food.

    It’s grain-free and easy to digest, with three protein sources for your seafood-loving cat. Our third choice is Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast, and we like that the protein source is rabbit. We hope our reviews have helped to give you an idea of what to look for when choosing the best poultry-free food for your cat.


    Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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