Is Grain Free Cat Food Good or Bad?

More and more customers are checking products to ensure the food is “free” from one thing or another, such as gluten, fat, or sugar, in every grocery store aisle. Every day, the list becomes longer. Some pet parents now try to feed their cherished four-legged family members according to their preferences, taking these preferences from the dinner table to the food bowl.

It should come as no surprise that the industry of pet food has responded with a wide range of grain-free food products for cats emerging in recent years.

But is grain free cat food good or bad? Contrary to what you might read online, some grain-free cat foods might be bad for your cat, as grains are highly beneficial for your cat. The most frequently asked issues concerning grain-free cat food are addressed in the following details, along with recommendations on whether you should feed it to your cat or not.

What is Grain-free Food?

To answer the question ‘is grain free cat food good or bad?’ we first need to determine what grain free cat food is. Simply said, grain-free cat food is a cat food that has been produced without grains. Cat food frequently contains wheat, corn, oats, barley, and rice, among other grains. Most cats don’t need grain-free food, and it’s rare to find a cat with a grain allergy. 

According to a study that appeared in Veterinary Dermatology, one of the least likely causes of food allergy in cats is maize. Four of the 56 cats in research with food allergies were affected by maize allergies.

Meanwhile, 45 cats experienced food allergies related to consuming beef, dairy, and fish. But how can you tell whether your cat is allergic to any foods? Following are a few warning symptoms of a food allergy:

  • Hair Loss
  • Excessive grooming
  • Itchiness
  • Sores
  • Scabs
  • Bald patches
  • Skin inflammation
  • Hot spots

More frequently than food allergies, cats can become allergic to grooming supplies, food, and environmental irritants like pollen or flea bites. Similar symptoms to food allergies can be caused by acne, mite, lice, and skin diseases caused by bacteria and fungi. 

By having your cat’s veterinarian perform a thorough examination, you can narrow down the selection of allergies your cat has. If food is suspected as the source of the allergy, your veterinarian may advise an eradication trial, the global standard for identifying a food allergy, to help you identify the source of your cat’s allergy and discomfort.

Your veterinarian should always be your first choice of call if you have any questions about whether your pet has any allergies or not.

Is Grain-free Cat Food Gluten-free and Low in Carbs?

A gluten-free diet can help manage celiac disease, which affects over 3 million people in the United States and is a severe condition. The great news is that there is no proof, according to science, that cats are also affected by this illness. Therefore, it is not required for cats to avoid gluten.

Many pet owners overlook the fact that grain-free food frequently substitutes other carbohydrate ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, tapioca, lentils, and peas, for grains.

Some grain-free pet meals include carbohydrate levels equivalent to or sometimes even greater than cat chow including grains, but carbs don’t cause dogs and cats to become fat. 

Instead of carbohydrates, risk factors for obesity include an unhealthy life, neutering, overfeeding, feeding table scraps, and ingesting too much fat and calories. Whole grain carbohydrates aid in giving your cat a comprehensive and balanced diet, which is essential for optimal health.

Is Grain-Free Cat Food High in Protein?

Since protein serves as a cat’s main source of energy, unlike most other animals, protein is particularly crucial in cat food. While cats do need some essential protein to come from animals, many people are unaware of this, approximately 57 percent of cat parents, according to a PetMD poll, their bodies are also quite adaptive at processing and digesting high-quality, organic ingredients. 

Proteins, fats, and carbs from plants can be a great source of critical nutrients. Providing enough calories from carbohydrates prevents body proteins, including those in muscles, from being metabolized to provide energy.

In actuality, a dish that uses only meat as a source of protein may have a greater phosphorus content.

Although phosphorus is a vital nutrient, high-phosphorus meals have been linked to development in cats with previous chronic kidney disease. The necessary amino acids that cats require can be found in low-phosphorus sources in vegetables and grains, giving your cat the protein she needs to stay healthy.

Which is the Healthiest Grain-free Cat Food?

The grain-free cat foods with the highest levels of animal protein and meat are the healthiest. Cats must consume high-protein diets full of meat and animal protein to not only survive but also to operate. 

A better option than dry cat food is typically wet grain-free food. Starches are used in crunchy kibble to bind the dry food bits together. As a result, grain-free dry cat food contains more foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, peas, and lentils.

For your cat’s health and wellbeing, wet grain-free cat food frequently has more protein and fewer vegetable and fruit ingredients. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) seal of certification should be the primary indicator. When a cat food product bears the AAFCO logo, it implies that the food satisfies the AAFCO’s nutritional requirements. The second item to watch out for is a grain-free cat food that uses a lot of vegetable ingredients. 

Here are five of our favorite grain-free wet cat foods:

Earthborn Holistics Harbor Harvest & Monterey Medley

This grain free wet cat food comes in two flavors: Monterey Medley and Holistic Harbor. Monterey Medley contains skipjack tuna and mackerel, while the Harbor Harvest has tuna and salmon. They have all the vitamins and minerals your cat needs.

With taurine, it also improves heart and vision health. Omega-3 and omega-6 mean healthy skin and fur, and the natural fibers improve digestion. This food is perfect for kitties that struggle to process grains, or who also have a tendency to get UTIs, as the water content provides hydration.

Wellness Complete Health Bundle for Kittens

While you can feed your cat wet food only, it’s best to include some dry food as it provides lots of dental benefits. This combo from Wellness Complete Health includes grain free wet and dry food.

It’s made specifically for kittens, so it has lots of protein, antioxidants, probiotics and DHA, which is vital for proper development. Feed your cat this from the time they’re weaned till they are one year old. Free of grains, it features chicken, whitefish and tuna as its first ingredients.

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Variety Pack

Cats are known to be picky eaters, so this variety pack + bundle includes enough variety to keep your cat interested. It consists of 12 grain-free food pouches in six different flavors, and 12 cans in four different flavors.

The pouches are an easy way to feed your cat, as you simply open the pouch and pour into a clean bowl. The flavors include cage-free chicken, wild-caught tuna, and wild-caught mackerel. The canned foods are gravy style, with real meat as the first ingredient. Each bite of this food has tons of vitamins, minerals, omegas and antioxidants.

Purina Beyond Grain Free Pate 3 Flavors

The variety of this 3 flavor pack will keep your cat interested! The flavors include Ocean Whitefish and Spinach, Chicken and Sweet Potato, and Wild Salmon. Each of these cans is full of nutritious ingredients, and each protein was raised without steroids or hormones.

The vegetables, like spinach and sweet potato, have loads of vitamins and minerals your cat needs to thrive.

Without grains, this pate style food is truly delicious, and will satisfy even the pickiest of cats.


Some grain-free cat food products can be bad for your cat. But with the rising demand and developments in the market, many high-quality grain-free cat food products can provide all the basic and necessary nutrients to your cat. Considering this, it all depends on what grain-free cat food product you are buying and providing your furry pet. 

If you are a cat lover or have cats at home, you might also want to look for cat toys, food, and accessories, for which you can visit the Cat Product Guide

Ashley is the co-founder of She is a professional writer, whose work has been seen in many top publications and websites, like Digital Trends, Opposing Views, Men's Health, and more. She is passionate about all animals, and loves her cats Felix and Lola. Ashley enjoys finding the best products and foods to ensure they're living their best lives possible!