Updated April 12, 2023


For her sensible, up-to-date opinion, in readable daily articles and intelligent YouTube videos, on food-related issues as well as medical ones, google the name of well-known integrative American veterinarian Dr. Karen BECKER. Also, here are two great no-nonsense, impartial sites to check the content of all brands’ bags and cans of food: (1)  (2) allabout You’ll be as surprised as I was to see the results! Two more outstandingly professional sources for cat-feeding info are the site and the Facebook group “Feline Nutrition – Feed Cats Like Cats” – which has both resident experts and skilled members.

NO FISH FLAVOURS IN GENERAL : always read the ingredient list on a bag or can. English-language encyclopedias call cats “obligate carnivores” for a reason – as desert animals their digestive system evolved to handle meats, not fish.  But fish is cheaper to bring to market… The first 4-5 ingredients on a can/bag are the main ones in descending order of percentage; if they include fish put it back. HOWEVER fish oil mentioned further down the percentage list is fine because its Omega-3 fatty acids are great for skin and coat.

TRY TO LIMIT KIBBLE INTAKE. Most (ultra-processed) kibble is at least 60% carbs. Cats’ bodies aren’t designed to digest carbohydrates efficiently, and most carbs in a cat’s diet convert to sugar and fat  - leading to dental plaque, obesity and related diseases.  Type 2 diabetes is rampant in (typically plump) North American kitties. The generally low protein levels in kibble mean cats often eat more of it to satisfy their basic protein need. Kibble is also addictive, some brands more than others. 

A quick guide to help you navigate the jungle of cat food labels and claims :

Kibble if you must

Fromm’s 4 no-grain formulas: Gamebird, Hasenduckenpfeffer, Chicken au Frommage, Beef Livattini; 
Carna-4 (only the chicken package, not the fish one);
Open Farm (ecologically appropriate);
N & D (high quality but watch the numerical position of herring in the ingredient list);
Chicken, Turkey and Duck ‘Carnivore’ formula, with higher protein than usual for a kibble (we prefer this one actually).

There are also Orijen and Acana, once upon a time okay; however in November 2022 they were bought by the world’s largest petfood producer, Mars Inc. (owner of Whiskas, Pedigree, Cesar, Royal Canin, Iams, Eukanuba, Nutro etc., not to mention Wrigleys, Masterfoods, MarsBars and the list goes on. Mars is also the owner of VCA, a now-huge vet clinic consortium that owns scads of clinics across North America, and is disproportionately well-represented in Toronto). 

Freeze-dried and air-dried raw foods 

Do try them out on your cat(s); unlike cans & especially kibble they don’t have carcinogenic AGEs from high-heat ultra-processing, questionable thickening agents, preservatives or kibble’s excessive-calorie carbohydrate count. The superb Feline Naturals (Chicken and Lamb), Stella and Chewy’s (Chick Chick Chicken, Tummy Ticklin’ Turkey or Duck Duck Chicken and the probiotic-rich Digestive Boost), PureBites or Primal freeze-dried raw brands, plus Ziwi Peak air-dried raw, are all available between Global, Pet Valu and Petsmart, not to mention our favourite on-line place ,, where you can also order cans without having to buy an entire case of something. They deliver, and their prices are reasonable when you do a comparison.

Wet food 

Think wet food in miniature cartons : Open Farm, Stella & Chewy’s, Go!, Now brands. Ecoconscious, plus healthier as well! As for cans, always READ THE INGREDIENT LIST! Ingredients are listed by law in descending order of presence and the first 4 or 5 are the main ones. Those brands around the longest contain earlier thickeners like carrageenan (carcinogenic) and guar gum (diarrhea-causing in some cats, like people) as well as cassia gum and xanthan gum (synthetic, apparently also carcinogenic). More recent arrivals on the market have safer thickeners like agar-agar, or else (of late) no thickener at all; they’re often the only thing (in combination with freeze-dried raw or raw foods)  we have found will work for sensitive-tummy kitties.. 

To assure your cat has a resilient gut biome (and respect her taste buds), always feed her a daily wet food serving that ROTATES various meats from different brands; feeding your kitty the same food over time creates a narrow-tolerance stomach guaranteed to be easily upset. 

Some brands with high meat content we like:

Feline Naturals : All flavours except fish. High quality indeed, with numerous nutritional prize rankings to show for it! At Pet Only and Global.

Canada Fresh : Any meat flavours, including chicken, beef and duck. No additives, thickeners etc. From B.C. On-line ordering at (they only do whole case orders though).

Boréal : All meat recipes, including Turkey with Cobb chicken, Duck with  C.c., Turkey with C.c. or combination Cobb chicken, New Zealand lamb and Angus beef. Again, no additives or thickeners! Made in northern Ontario. At

Identity :  6 meat flavours, including quail and chicken. At Pet Only.

Essence :  2 meat flavours, Ranch & Meadow and Air & Gamefowl. At Pet Only.

KitKat : All flavours except fish. No gums.

Inception : Poultry recipe. At Pet Only.

Vintage : only sold by Costco and usually sold out.

Instinct : Duck formula, Lamb formula, Chicken formula, Rabbit formula (this last is ‘limited ingredients’).

Applaws : Chicken breast and rice in water, Chicken breast/rice with cheese (ultrafine strips). No vitamins added, meat only, so don’t feed as sole daily food.

Hound and Gatos : Chicken and chicken liver, Turkey, Beef, Gamebird, Duck and duck liver.

Pure Vita : Chicken, Turkey, Beef and several mixed flavours. Single meat ingredient foods.

NutriSource : made by same family-owned company as Pure Vita. Any meat flavours.

Rawz :  Chicken, duck, turkey, beef, rabbit etc. 

Ziwi Peak : all flavours but fish.

Koha : Duck paté, Chicken paté, Turkey paté, French guineahen paté, Kangaroo paté. All single ingredient foods – ideal for cats allergic to certain common meats or fish. Their stews aren’t recommended since they have gums.

Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein : Meat flavours.

Orijen : Various meat flavours, but Chicken and Duck  is the sole flavour with no backstopped fish.

PureBites : comes in 4 meat flavours. Only meat, no vitamins added, so don’t feed as sole daily food.

Ultra (Pet Valu in-house higher-level brand) : Chicken stew, Turkey stew. Real pieces of meat in the stew! Contains guar gum though.

N & D : Duck and pumpkin,  quail and pumpkin etc. Great as a special treat!

A lot of the above brands are available at Global, Ren’s, Pet Valu and Petsmart. We feed them all, several at a time, always rotating different meats and brands (as opposed to the same 1 or 2 foods for years) because quality wet foods are interchangeable without troublesome results and rotation makes for a healthy tummy, happy taste buds and a satisfied kitty. 


A lesser but tolerable brand in cans :

Fromms : all flavours except the few with fish. Has locust bean gum and guar gum though.

Outright expensive considering their contents and no longer used at GCR :

Merrick’s (e.g.Duck paté, Beef paté, chicken paté,  Thanksgiving Dinner). Some cans in this brand’s lineup have guar gum as a thickener, others still have carrageenan while some others have lately been reformulated with agar-agar. Merricks is high in salt so as to make kitties like it best (just like the other Nestlé-Purina wet foods such as Friskies and Fancy Feast).

Wellness Core

also Weruva (overwhelmingly fish flavours, plus loaded with up to three gum thickeners)


WET FOOD BRANDS TO AVOID because of chemicals, various cancer-linked substances including thickeners, meat by-products, food colouring, soy, too much corn and not enough meat, high salt content (the better to addict) etc. (These foods are usually cheaper.) :

Friskies, Special Kitty, Fancy Feast, Whiskas, anything from Walmart, Meow Mix, ‘Lovibles’ from Pet Valu, a lot of Weruva brand flavours (reasons mentioned above). Also: be careful about Blue (Buffalo), which owns Wilderness as well – Blue was convicted in court for false ingredient-advertising. At GCR we tend to avoid anything advertised on TV because it mostly means a deep-pocketed multi-national owner (e.g. Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé-Purina, Royal Canin). Look for smaller/family-owned companies, e.g, Purebites, Pure Vita, Canada Fresh, Essence, Fromm’s etc.

DRY FOOD BRANDS TO AVOID for the same reasons as wet ones, plus the threat of very painful, potentially deadly (and very expensive) urinary blockage in male cats: Friskies, Special Kitty, Purina Cat Chow, Meow Mix, Beneful, Whiskas, Iams etc., even regular Kirkland (Costco).   

***TREATS : no Temptations PLEASE, nothing by Whiskas etc. ONLY packets clearly marked “natural” or “grain-free”. ALWAYS read the ingredient list!!! At GCR we prefer people food treats  -  meat, cheese, ricotta etc. (but check first if your cat is lactose-intolerant). And for treats we LOVE rotating packages of different brands of freeze-dried raw food!

Remember: (1) always read the ingredient list for all foods wet and dry! You don’t want to see the word “by-product” - it refers to animal parts not allowed for human consumption including claws, beaks, hooves, skin etc. that are liquefied (with chemical agents) in order to include them in (cheaper) dog and cat food.

                      (2) try to even partially replace kibble – since how it’s made (“extrusion”) renders it nutritionally suspect. Instead slowly transition your kitty to raw cat food (Tollden Farms brand is top-grade and its bone content is optimal, unlike certain other brands); raw is slowly but surely gaining in popularity because of its way-superior nutrition and its teeth-cleaning properties (unlike kibble, fine-ground bone fragments clean the teeth; it’s also cheaper than having to buy both high quality freeze-dried and wet food for your kitty). If you don’t have the time to thaw it the night before, try freeze-dried raw with water added, like us, or - top-rated by Dr. Becker - check out cooking for your kitty. She has helpful articles on how to transition your cat from kibble to wet to raw, and for willing cooks, she and others offer lots of recipes online. Cooking for your pet is easier than you may think, and you can store it in the fridge for future use. 😊