Best Cat Food For Indoor Cats: 7 Top Picks

Are you wondering about the best cat food for indoor cats? There are a lot of choices out there, but what's best for your cat? I cover the Nutritional needs of indoor cats and share some top picks.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: February 20, 2024 | 15 min read

An indoor cat eating food on a table.

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Housecats live a good life, with plenty of cuddles, soft places to sleep, people who love them, and, ideally, a full belly. I’ve been a cat owner for over 30 years, and I still worry that I am not feeding my cats a healthy enough diet. I know first-hand how confusing and intimidating facing the ever-growing list of pet food choices can be. As new options hit the market and brands claim their food is the healthiest and tastiest, how do we know which one is best? I often see this question, particularly about the best cat food for indoor cats.

We must remember that while all felines are obligate carnivores and need a meat-based diet, what is best for your cat depends on their situation and needs. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking out food for indoor cats. Understanding what is behind the label and what makes a recipe best for an indoor kitty is a big step, and I’m here to help.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching, testing, and reviewing cat food brands. Brand history, recalls, ingredients, ingredient sourcing, nutritional value, guaranteed analysis, where food is made, and what a brand stands for are all factors I consider. So, please sit back and discover what I’ve learned about the best cat food for indoor cats and my top picks.

Best Overall


Best Dry

Open Farm

Best Wet

The Honest Kitchen

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Nutritional Needs Of Indoor Cats

Cats are carnivores, so animal protein is a pivotal part of their diet. In the wild, they hunt and eat prey to fulfill their dietary needs. While we feed our purr babies a few times a day, natural feline feeding behavior is to eat much more, sometimes up to 15 or so times a day. Outdoor cats have slightly different needs than indoor kitties, and you may see this reflected in higher protein and calorie levels in outdoor-specific formulas.

What Is the Healthiest Cat Food For Indoor Cats?

Healthy cat food is available in a few different forms. Each animal has unique circumstances, so what is best for one may not be best for another, especially for kitties with underlying health conditions.

Indoor kitties are prone to becoming overweight. According to the 2022 U.S. State of Pet Obesity Report by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 61% of pet cats were classified as overweight or obese. There are a few reasons for this. An unhealthy diet and a lack of natural activity contribute to kitties gaining too much weight.

Indoor kitties do not hunt daily for their food and get less exercise than outdoor cats. Because of their lower activity levels, they have a higher risk of obesity. Indoor kitties are also prone to hairballs, so their diet needs to include ingredients to keep them at a healthy weight and provide for proper development, immune health, digestive function, and skin and coat health. Below, I briefly break down the necessary elements to look for in indoor cat food.

Healthy Animal Protein

Felines require nutrients in their diet that are only found in animal protein. Meat, seafood, named meat by-products, and some novel proteins should be listed first on pet food labels. Animal proteins are incredibly important because they contain eleven essential amino acids that cats need in their diets. Felines can manufacture some of these themselves, but others must come from their nutrition. These must come from meat and other animal proteins.

The amino acid taurine is essential in the feline diet and promotes heart health, healthy vision, reproductive function, body health, and proper development. A taurine deficiency is a big problem, leading to severe health issues. Along with that, protein supports overall development and health.


Felines require healthy fats in their diet. Often, fats are labeled as bad, but they help felines by providing energy. Fats assist in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Healthy fats also support healthy skin and brain development. Fatty acids like DHA and EPA are beneficial in brain development and function.

Fat is also important to fight inflammation and contributes to hormone production. Healthy fats can come from fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, fish oils, chicken fat, flaxseed, canola oil, and other animal fats.


Carbohydrates are not an essential element of the feline diet, though they have some nutritional benefits. Carbs from healthy fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber, which can aid in digestion. Healthy carbs also offer energy, antioxidants, and vitamins. They’re often a part of commercial kitty food recipes but should only make up a minimal amount. A carb-heavy diet can promote weight gain, which is something to watch out for with indoor cats.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins are an essential element of a feline’s diet that helps promote normal body function and metabolism. They are pivotal in enzyme production and are found in several ingredients. While many of these can come from healthy protein sources and fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds, and oils, most come from meat. Minerals help support healthy bones and teeth and work to convert food into energy for your kitty.


We often overlook water when discussing the feline diet. Kitties need proper hydration for their bodies to function. If they become dehydrated, it is a profoundly serious issue. Wet foods often contain higher levels of moisture, but kitties fed a dry-only diet are at risk of not having enough water. Dry kibbles are extremely low in moisture, so make sure you put out plenty of fresh water, as well as mix bone broth or water into their kibble. Try an automatic water fountain to ensure your purr baby always has fresh, clean water available.

The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets guidelines for what should be in pet food. Looking for recipes that meet those guidelines means that a brand has the recommended levels of fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to provide domestic felines with a healthy diet for each life stage.

When picking out the best food for indoor cats, you should read the label and look for sources of named animal proteins. These should be listed first. Avoid foods that use unnamed meat meals or have prominent levels of plant protein, and include ingredients like wheat gluten, which is often used as a filler to create meaty-like chunks. Indoor kitties have an elevated risk of becoming overweight, so it is essential that they do not eat empty calories or a recipe that is full of hard-to-digest ingredients.

Best Indoor Cat Food Overall Pick

Smalls Ground Bird Review

  • Human grade and cooked in small batches
  • Includes organ meats and healthy vegetables
  • Low-carb recipe
  • Crude protein 15.5%
  • Crude fat 8.5%
  • Crude fiber 1.5%

Smalls is one of the best brands I’ve tried with my indoor kitties. There is a lot to like about this feline-first company. Smalls makes human-grade, fresh recipes cooked in small batches with ethically sourced ingredients. All recipes are made right here in the US, in USDA-certified, human-grade kitchens. Smalls’ recipes are high in animal protein, low in carbs, and avoid fillers and thickeners. Every recipe Smalls makes is suitable for all life stages.

Smalls is a delivery-only company. You cannot purchase this brand in stores. After a short questionnaire, you can set up a subscription specific to your pet’s needs. You can also try out a sample pack of ten food packs before committing to a regular delivery. While Smalls is an expensive option, it’s well worth the extra investment due to its high quality.

Smalls is developed with the assistance of pet nutrition expert Dr. Susan Lauten, Ph.D. All recipes are nutritionally complete and balanced and meet AAFCO guidelines.

I picked Smalls Ground Bird for this review due to its high crude protein content. The recipe includes fresh chicken and chicken livers. It has several superfood ingredients, including kale, dried kelp, cod liver oil, taurine, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

Smalls also makes freeze-dried human-grade kitty foods and treats. The freeze-dried kibble alternative uses dehydrated raw meat and ground bone. The recipes are very high in protein and have a deep, meaty flavor. The freeze-dried kibble is fantastic mixed in with other dried kibble, used as a topper, or simply as kitty treats.

My Personal Experience With Smalls

My two ten-year-old purr babies love Smalls. It is one of their favorite brands. The fresh recipes are unprocessed, and the ingredients are easily recognizable. After eating this tasty chow for just a few days, I noticed a remarkable improvement in my cats’ energy levels and their bowel movements. When they eat lower-quality recipes, I can smell their bowel movements very strongly later. With Smalls, there are no odor concerns. They are excited about mealtimes and don’t leave a scrap on the plate.

I must make sure to keep the freeze-dried stuff away from them, or they will tear the bag open trying to get it. Because my furballs love this grub so much, it is one of my top brands.

You can read my full review of Smalls to learn more.

Best Dry Indoor Cat Food

Dry kibble offers felines many benefits. Balanced dry kitty foods offer proper nutrition, and the crunchy kibble helps keep their teeth clean. The brands below are some of the best dry cat food for indoor cats.

Open Farm Open Prairie Grain-Free RawMix Review

  • Protein-packed kibble
  • Covered in bone broth and freeze-dried coating
  • Chunks of freeze-dried meat
  • Crude protein 38%
  • Crude fat 14%
  • Crude fiber 3%

Open Prairie RawMix from Open Farm is a tasty, wholesome kibble made from nutrient-dense meat, organ meat, bones, and other quality ingredients. Kibble is coated in bone broth and freeze-dried meat. The RawMix formula has freeze-dried raw meaty chunks to boost nutrition and flavor. This protein-focused kibble offers premium nutrition from high-quality, clean ingredients.

Open Farm’s recipes center around ancestral nutrition and are inspired by a natural feline diet. Kibble is nutrient-dense and coated in bone broth. The Raw Mix kibble is grain and by-product-free. The first five ingredients are chicken, turkey, menhaden fish meal, peas, and chickpeas. Along with that, the recipe contains ocean whitefish meal, herring meal, lentils, coconut oil, pumpkin, sunflower oil, cranberries, apples, chicken livers, and a few other ingredients and added vitamins and minerals.

One thing that differentiates Open Farm is that they are very transparent about their ingredient sourcing. You can see exactly where every ingredient came from on their website.

Open Farm makes several formulas for different life phases, including kittens. These are a top choice for both adult kitties and developing kittens. Open Farm also makes extremely high-quality wet cat food lines called Rustic Stews. These make an excellent compliment to their dry kibble.

My Personal Experience With Open Farm

I have two older cats. One has had issues with struvite crystals in his urine. While he has fully recovered, a top-notch diet is part of keeping him healthy. I tried out the Open Farm foods, including the RawMix kibble and other freeze-dried products. These have a great mouth feel and meaty taste, which both cats love. I like the higher quality ingredients and variety these add to my indoor cats’ diet.

Learn more about Open Farm’s feline options in my full review.

Best Dry Indoor Cat Food Runner-Up

Rawz Dehydrated Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Review

Rawz Dehydrated Chicken, Turkey & Chicken
  • Dehydrated kibble with minimal  processing
  • Limited ingredient recipes with no meals
  • Meat-based kibble
  • Crude protein 40%
  • Crude fat 12%
  • Crude fiber 4%

Rawz is an American pet nutrition brand that makes natural and meat-based foods. The dehydrated kibble is meal-free, minimally processed, and made with limited, high-quality ingredients. I looked at the Dehydrated Chicken, Turkey & Chicken Recipe Natural Meal Free Dry recipe.

The recipe starts with dehydrated chicken, dehydrated deboned chicken, chicken, turkey, chicken liver, turkey liver, and turkey heart. That is a lot of quality animal proteins, meaning this kibble is truly meat-based. The recipe also contains dried egg products, flaxseed, and various added vitamins and minerals. It does contain pea starch, tapioca starch, and dried peas.

I like the limited ingredients; dehydrated chicken is a high-quality concentrated protein source. I also appreciate the reduced carbohydrates and naturally occurring fat sources. Rawz kibble is gently cooked in smaller batches. This recipe is 100% nutritionally complete and balanced for all life stages and meets nutritional levels established by the AAFCO.

Rawz dehydrated kibble is also available in a salmon, chicken, and whitefish recipe. Though this kibble is a little pricier and has a limited selection, it is incredibly nutritious, well-made, and easy to digest, making it a top choice for indoor kitties. Rawz also makes top-quality wet foods with very high levels of protein that are with consideration.

Best Wet Indoor Cat Food

Wet food offers flavor, moisture, and texture to your kitty’s diet. Kitties love the taste and feel of real meat, and the moisture supports healthy urinary tract function. Canned chow is also lower in carbs.

The Honest Kitchen Beef & Chicken Cat Food Review

Honest Kitchen Grain Free Câté Cat Food
  • 100% natural recipes
  • Human-grade ingredients and kitchens
  • Whole muscle and organ  meats
  • Crude protein 10%
  • Crude fat 7.5%
  • Crude fiber 1%

The Honest Kitchen is a top pick of wet chow for indoor kitties. Recipes are made with 100% natural, human-grade ingredients and produced in a human food facility. Along with that, recipes are created with input from an animal nutritionist. Recipes include whole-muscle meats, organ meats, and savory broth.

I looked at the grain-free Beef & Chicken Câté recipe for indoor kitties. The first six ingredients are beef, chicken, beef broth, pumpkin, carrots, and blueberries. The recipe also contains cranberries, dandelion greens, salmon oil, and vitamin and mineral supplements. No corn, wheat, soy, pea protein, or other hard-to-digest plant-based ingredients are included.

The Honest Kitchen does not use any grains or fillers in its wet cat food. High-quality ingredients, ingredient sourcing, and human-grade facilities make this food a top pick. The Honest Kitchen is expensive but does not need a monthly commitment. This is a great option to mix in with your standard cat food periodically for a nutritional and flavor boost.

Best Wet Indoor Cat Food Runner-Up

Tiki Cat After Dark Beef & Chicken Review

Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Beef Wet Food.
  • Carnivore focused recipes
  • Uses nutrient-dense organ meats
  • Low carbohydrates
  • Crude protein 13.4%
  • Crude fat 2%
  • Crude fiber 0.7%

Tiki Cat is a carnivore-focused line of kitty food. They make wet and dry recipes, all formulated to meet the high protein needs of a feline diet. The Tiki After Dark line is a top pick for indoor kitties that utilize organ meats in their recipes. Recipes do not use animal by-products, grains, potatoes, artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors.

I reviewed the Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Beef recipe for this list. There’s a lot to like here. For starters, the recipe is full of high-quality animal protein sources. The first six ingredients are chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, chicken heart, and beef. The higher protein content supports active kitties and provides plenty of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids like taurine.

The recipe has very low carbs and no grains, starches, or fillers. All that meaty taste is accompanied by a savory broth that gives the recipe a good amount of moisture. Tiki Cat is great for all age groups and easy to digest, especially for those with sensitive stomachs or urinary issues. The limited ingredients are top quality, and the recipes are made in human-certified facilities.

You may want to consider dry food from Tiki Cat as well. Born Carnivore is a baked kibble line with some recipes explicitly formulated for indoor kitties and other health-specific formulas. The kibble is high quality and worth consideration for your kitty.

Our Personal Experience With Tiki Cat After Dark

I rotate between standard commercial pet foods and high-value, high-quality options like Tiki Cat. It’s a great way to save money but still offer your kitty regular healthy meals and the occasional superfood recipe. (If you can always afford Tiki Cat, I say go for it!)

I like the After Dark line because its recipes feature nutrient-packed ingredients that my cats don’t usually get, such as chicken heart, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, and quail eggs. My cats gobble up these recipes—they’re obsessed.

A note of caution: Make sure to cut up the quail egg. If your cat hoovers their food like mine, the half-egg pieces can be a choking risk.

Tara Maurer, cat owner and nutrition expert

Best Freeze-Dried Indoor Cat Food

Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Review

  • Small batches
  • Organ meats
  • Healthy fiber
  • Crude protein 44%
  • Crude fat 30%
  • Crude fiber 5%

Freeze-dried food offers the taste of raw meat in a longer-lasting format. Stella & Chewy’s makes several varieties of kitty food, including freeze-dried. Recipes crafted to follow an ancestral diet, with 90-98% meat, organs, and bone. The rabbit morsels are a very well-made product. They are crafted in small batches from natural, holistic recipes. The recipes are gluten, grain, and pea-free.

The Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Absolutely Rabbit morsels are an extremely popular pick for good reasons. They are made from the novel protein rabbit with ground bone, rabbit liver, olive oil, and pumpkin seed. The recipe also includes dandelion, dried kelp, and added vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids.

Added probiotics support healthy digestion. This freeze-dried recipe offers 100% complete and balanced nutrition. There is no need to rehydrate. You can scoop and serve, but you can add water if your furball likes it that way. It can be a stand-alone meal or used as a topper or mix-in.

I have tried out some of Stella & Chewy’s recipes. My furballs enjoy the meaty flavor, and I like the ingredient quality. The freeze-dried morsels work well as mix-ins with dry kibble and can double as fantastic kitty treats.

Best Cat Food For Indoor Cats Premium Pick

Raised Right Human Grade Cat Food Review

  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Includes organ meats
  • For adult cats
  • Crude protein 20%
  • Crude fat 9%
  • Crude fiber 2%

Fresh nutrition goes a long way to keeping indoor kitties happy. Luckily, there are some top-notch options worth considering. One that comes in at the top of the list is Raised Right. I’ll say right off that this is a pricey option, but it is well worth the cost. Raised Right makes fresh, human-grade cat food. They currently offer four recipe options. These include two original recipes, Beef and Chicken, and two pâté options, Chicken & Pumpkin and Turkey & Pumpkin.

Raised Right’s formulas are developed for adult cats. It is sold through a subscription, but one-time purchases are also an option. Raised Right’s recipes have limited ingredients and are formulated by a licensed veterinarian. Every ingredient used in Raised Right’s recipes meets the same standards as human foods used for human consumption.

I looked at the Turkey & Pumpkin pâté for this review. This recipe uses high-quality ingredients. Organ meats, healthy sources of fats, and plenty of vitamins and minerals make this a nutrient-dense and very palatable meal. The recipe uses turkey thigh, turkey heart, turkey liver, pumpkin, organic spearmint, cod liver oil, eggshell powder, flaxseed oil, organic dried kelp, taurine, and thiamine mononitrate.

The Turkey & Pumpkin pâté is a single protein recipe with extra healthy fats from cod liver oil. It is easy to digest, and pumpkin is an excellent source of dietary fiber. Raised Right is expensive but comes frozen, so you can store it for a long time. It can be mixed with your kitty’s regular kibble for a very healthy and tasty diet. Raised Right is a premium pick worth the extra dollars for sensitive stomachs, picky eaters, and senior cats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Two cats eating Cat Person and Smalls Cat Food
Are you still wondering what cat food is best for your indoor kitty?

I know you may have many questions about finding the healthiest foods for indoor cats. I answer some of the most often-asked ones below, but if I missed yours, let me know in the comments.

Is dry or wet food better for indoor cats?

Many vets advise feeding a mix of both to give cats the right amount of nutrients and moisture and provide flavor and texture variety. Dry and wet both offer benefits to cats but also have some things to watch out for. Dry kibble can be carb-heavy and lead to weight gain. Along with that, it is low in moisture.

Wet recipes are high in moisture but don’t always offer complete nutrition. It is also more expensive and does not last as long once opened. Ultimately, what is best for your kitty depends on their health, age, activity level, preferences, and budget.

Does a raw diet provide better nutrition for my indoor cat?

A raw diet does not provide “better” nutrition, but it can be a fulfilling diet for your cat. That said, there are some risks to raw-feeding. Raw diets are high in protein, which is a benefit, and are minimally processed.

Several commercially made options are formulated to provide proper nutrient balance. One of these is a better option than doing it yourself, as raw diets can lead to a nutrient deficiency if not done correctly. There is also a risk of bacterial contamination from eating and handling raw foods. Talk to your vet before making this kind of major dietary switch.

Can cats be vegetarian or vegan?

No, all kitties are obligate carnivores. They need meat to survive. A cat may be able to sustain eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, but they will be very unhealthy without the proper protein, fat, and taurine they get from animal meat.

Tips For Feeding Your Indoor Cat

When looking for indoor cat food, look for high-quality animal protein, lower caloric density, high carbohydrates, added fiber, and moisture. Kitties can eat three or more small meals daily, as they often eat over ten times a day in the wild. Inside cats need at least two regular meals daily, with a few smaller snacks mixed in. Mealtimes are an excellent time to work in mental stimulation.

Because indoor cats do not hunt their meals, they miss out on this fulfilling and exciting activity. Automatic and puzzle feeders can spice things up and get them more mentally engaged at mealtimes. Along with healthy nutrition, daily exercise, and interactive toys are essential to keep your furball at a healthy weight and prevent boredom or loneliness. Always discuss any dietary concerns with your vet before adding supplements or changing foods.

If you are still unsure of the best chow for your furball, Love Your Cat has covered several other options, including grain-free. Consider Fromm, Applaws, Cat Person, and I and Love and You. All are well-made, top-quality brands that may suit your kitty’s needs.

Why Trust Love Your Cat?

Danielle is a feline owner with decades of experience. She has raised indoor and outdoor cats and kitties with special medical needs. Danielle has always supported animals in need and has adopted most of her pets as rescues or taken them in as strays. Along with being an expert in cat care, Danielle has worked as a professional writer and educator for over ten years. She strives to provide pet owners with the most up-to-date research-backed information to help every pet live a happy, healthy life.

A cat sitting on toilet bowl with rolls of paper.

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