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11 Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

grey cat eating meat
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 29, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

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. 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. In some cases, your cat may just not like the taste of poultry and will refuse to eat it.

Whatever the reason for eliminating this 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.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2023

Best Overall
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
  • Best Value
    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

    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 a good option to ensure your cat enjoys the food. However, the quality of the ingredients does mean that Smalls food is on the expensive side. 

    All in all, we give Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow Cat Food the title of overall best poultry-free cat food.

    • Made using human-grade ingredients
    • Recipe is completely 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
    • More costly than canned food

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

    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. This will appeal to cats that are seafood lovers — 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 always drink as much water as they should. This food 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.

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

    3. Nature’s Logic Rabbit Feast Canned Cat Food

    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 make up the rest of this recipe to provide vitamins and minerals. The food 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 in this product, 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 this amino acid through muscle meat instead of a synthetic additive.

    The cans have been reported to not be completely filled. Upon opening, there is less food in some batches of cans than in others.

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

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

    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 still 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 that 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. Calcium will keep your kitten’s bones and teeth strong.

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

    5. Purina One Beef Recipe Pate Canned Cat Food

    Calories:91 kcal/can
    First protein source:Beef

    Real beef is the first ingredient in Purina One Beef Recipe Pate Canned Cat Food. This food provides balanced nutrition without any poultry products, making it a great choice for poultry-free cat food. Fish is added to the beef in the recipe to pack the protein content per can. This food 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 that are allergic to both poultry and grains. Omega-6 fatty acids are included for skin and coat health.

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

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

    6. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Real Rabbit Dry Cat Food

    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, offers your kitty all the amino acids that they need. This formula is free of grain, eggs, potato, 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 this diet.

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

    7. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe Cat Food

    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 offers 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 this as a snack, special treat, or addition to their meals.

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

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

    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, along with 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 this food with enthusiasm. But some cats didn’t like the texture of this food, especially if they were used to eating shredded food.

    • Tuna is the first ingredient
    • Full of broth for hydration
    • Grain-free
    • 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

    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. Grain-free and highly digestible, this recipe is an option for cats with digestive sensitivities. Real fruits and vegetables offer antioxidants and vitamins. The chelated minerals are easily absorbed and their full health benefits are reached. No grains are in this food. Instead, 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 just walk away from it. Your cat’s personal preference will determine whether it’s a hit.

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

    10. BFF Pate Lovers Tuna & Lamb Wet Cat Food

    Calories:78 kcal/can
    First protein source:Tuna

    The BFF Pate Lovers Tuna & Lamb Wet Cat Food combines a mix of proteins, with none of them being poultry. Tuna, tuna broth, lamb, and sardines are pureed together to form a tasty pâté. No grains, gluten, or artificial flavors are added. This recipe is also full of moisture to help your kitty stay hydrated. Cats have been reported to enjoy the taste and eat this as soon as it’s served. The wholesome ingredients in this 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.

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

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

    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’s got everything that it needs to keep cats energetic and healthy. Fruits and vegetables add antioxidants for immune system support. 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 this food easy on your cat’s system. There are reports of some of the food being crushed into dust in the bag, though, making buyers feel like money was wasted. Overall, cats seem to enjoy this flavor. It’s been used as a topper for wet food to entice cats to eat more.

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


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

    cats eating_Taras Vyshnya_Shutterstock
    Image Credit: Taras Vyshnya, Shutterstock

    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 make sure no traces of poultry are in the recipe. It’s frustrating to pick up a salmon-flavored bag of food 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 really purchasing.

    What Does “Chicken” Mean?

    Chicken as a cat food ingredient means the flesh and skin combination that can sometimes include bone. It excludes the feathers, feet, heads, and entrails.

    Chicken Meal

    This refers to the flesh, muscle, and skin of a chicken being exposed to high levels of heat. 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 rendered out of them.


    Chicken broth is sometimes used as moisture in canned cat foods, but it isn’t mentioned on the front label. This is another thing to check for in the ingredients list.

    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 a cat food from a manufacturer that you trust and that is known for quality control is the best way to avoid this. This may take trial and error, however, choosing different foods until you find one that your cat will eat and that doesn’t cause them any harm.


    FAQ: Best Poultry-Free Cat Foods

    How Will I Know If My Cat Has Poultry Allergies?

    Cat peeking outside
    Image Credit: vicran, Pixabay

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

    Other symptoms include rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you think that your cat has a food allergy, a vet will be able to diagnose this through a food trial and then provide medication to relieve your cat’s symptoms. 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 just prefer the taste of foods without poultry. Every cat has their own 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 isn’t eating for over 24 hours, it’s time to offer them something else instead. Medical issues can start after that amount of time, such as diabetes and fatty liver disease. Cats also need protein daily because they are obligate 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 that is also 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 an 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 out there, though, 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 that they need, but 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 keep in mind when comparing labels.

    The fewer ingredients, the better it is. A low 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 content on the label.

    Cats can consume grains. But some cats have trouble digesting them, and others may be allergic to them. That said, grains as a whole aren’t bad for your cat to have 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.

    NomNom Grey Cat Bowl white cat eating

    Feeding your cat a high-quality diet is important for keeping them healthy and happy. But it goes beyond the food you choose; the dishes they use also matter. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite for its unique, five-star design that protects from whisker fatigue and promotes good posture which also aids in better digestion. As an added bonus, it’s beautifully crafted and offers a modern take on the traditional cat bowl that fits seamlessly with all home stylings. Learn more about the NomNom by clicking here.

    At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!



    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 this, 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 in 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.

    Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!


    Final Verdict

    Our choice for the best poultry-free cat food overall is Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow Cat Food for their delivery of 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 different protein sources for your seafood-loving cat. Our third choice is Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast. We like that the protein source is rabbit.

    We hope that 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

    About the Author

    Christian Adams
    Christian Adams
    Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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