Contents of Article
- What is the Best Chicken-Free Cat Food?
- Here are a few tips to help you find the best cat food without chicken.
- Top 3 Best Dry Cat Foods Without Chicken
- Instinct by Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit Dry Cat Food Review
- Wild Calling Western Plains Stampede Rabbit & Sweet Potato Review
- Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Cat Food Review
- Top 3 Best Wet Cat Foods Without Chicken
- Wellness CORE 95% Turkey Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review
- Hound & Gatos Gamebird Formula Grain-Free Cat Food Review
- Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Review
In this article, you’ll learn how chicken can appear in foods that don’t have the word “chicken” on the label, how to avoid hidden chicken, and which of the best dry and wet cat foods are chicken-free.
In addition to being chicken-free, our picks are nutritionally sound choices with low plant content, low carbohydrates, and no artificial ingredients. Many are limited-ingredient foods made with allergic cats in mind.
It can be hard to narrow down all the choices out there when we are concerned about keeping our pets healthy and happy. If you want some help picking a food that is healthy for your cat while avoiding chicken, check out the list below.
What is the Best Chicken-Free Cat Food?
Here are a few tips to help you find the best cat food without chicken.
Avoid vaguely-named ingredients.
If you want to know what’s going into your cat’s body, eliminating animal by-products is a good first step. Avoid foods labeled with “chicken by-products”, “chicken by-product meal”, “poultry by-products”, or “poultry by-product meal”.
“Liver” is another ingredient to avoid. The liver in the recipe could be sourced from any animal, including chicken.
Two exceptions to this rule are “animal digests” and “natural flavor”. These vaguely-named additives may include chicken tissues, but they’re produced by hydrolysis, a process that breaks down proteins. Hydrolysis is the same process that’s used to make hypoallergenic veterinary diets.
Traces of chicken can show up in any cat food—even when chicken isn’t on the label.
A 2013 study found that about 40% of tested dog and cat foods contained different meats than those listed on the label. Some contained meat that wasn’t on the ingredient list. A few didn’t contain meats that were listed. Three of the fifty-two foods contained both unlisted species and omitted meats present on the label. The most common unlabeled ingredient? Chicken.
This study demonstrates that you can’t believe everything you read on a cat food label. Buying from an ultra-reputable cat food manufacturer known for stringent quality control will help you avoid these kinds of mislabeling issues, but doesn’t guarantee that your cat will never consume something not mentioned on the ingredient list.
It’s impossible to control everything that goes into your cat’s body, but it’s not all bleak.
Finding cat food without chicken is a challenge, but after you narrow your search to trustworthy brands that use named proteins and offer a variety of limited-ingredient foods, your job becomes much easier. All of the foods on the following list are made without chicken. Instead, they feature alternative proteins from rabbit, turkey, duck, venison, and other animals.
In addition to being chicken-free, they’re nutritionally sound choices with low plant content, low carbohydrates, and no artificial ingredients. Many are limited-ingredient foods made with allergic cats in mind.
Top 3 Best Dry Cat Foods Without Chicken
Instinct by Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit Dry Cat Food Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First 5 Ingredients: Rabbit Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Rabbit
This limited-ingredient food from Nature’s Variety was made for cats with allergies and food sensitivities. It’s a single-species product that features rabbit meal, fresh rabbit meat, and freeze-dried rabbit as the only protein sources, followed by peas as the lone vegetable ingredient.
In addition to being chicken-free, the food doesn’t contain other common allergens like beef, fish, dairy, and eggs.
Compared to other dry foods, it’s a low-carbohydrate product with about 24% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. – Buy It
- Limited-ingredient diet made for cats with allergies and food sensitivities
- Made primarily from nourishing rabbit meat
- Single-species protein source
- Contains plant ingredients not necessary for carnivorous cats
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
First 5 Ingredients: Rabbit Meal, Rabbit, Sweet Potato, Lentils, Turkey Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid)
Most Wild Calling foods are made with single animal proteins and intended for a rotational feeding plan.
This recipe features rabbit as its sole animal protein source, with rabbit meal and rabbit as the first two ingredients. It includes several plant ingredients, including sweet potatoes, lentil, tapioca, and dried peas. All of these plant ingredients contribute to the food’s 40% carbohydrate content, which is high compared to a cat’s natural eating habits, but typical among dry foods.
- Made with a single protein source
- Uses rabbit, a novel protein perfect for elimination diets
- Ideal for cats with food sensitivities and allergies
- High carbohydrate content at approximately 40%
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First 5 Ingredients: Venison, Venison Tripe, Venison Heart, Venison Lung, Venison Liver
Like all Ziwi Peak foods, this air-dried cat food features a single protein source. In this recipe, that protein source is venison, a novel protein for many cats and therefore appropriate for elimination diets.
In addition to muscle meat, the recipe includes venison tripe, heart, lung, liver, kidney, and bone. It contains New Zealand green-lipped mussel as a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. These nourishing animal ingredients constitute 96% of the total recipe.
The food is virtually free from plant ingredients and extremely low in carbohydrates. Unlike most dry foods, this jerky-style air-dried product is species-appropriate and a good choice for most cats, including those on strict low-carbohydrate diets. – Buy It
- Features venison, a novel protein
- Single-source protein
- Limited ingredient food ideal for cats with allergies
- Exceptionally low in carbohydrates
- Not all cats will like the air-dried texture
Top 3 Best Wet Cat Foods Without Chicken
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Water Sufficient For Processing, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Ground Flaxseed
This cat food from Wellness CORE’s 95% line is, as the name suggests, 95% turkey meat. This makes it a great choice for cats who like poultry flavors but can’t eat chicken.The food doesn’t contain any other common allergens like fish, dairy, eggs, or beef.
The remaining 5% of the food is dedicated to binders and ground flaxseed as a fiber source, along with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Wellness CORE 95% turkey pate has an estimated carbohydrate content of 2.5%, making it one of the lowest-carbohydrate foods on the market. – Buy It
- Single protein source
- Free from common allergens
- Low carbohydrate content
- 95% turkey meat
- Contains multiple gums as binders
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Duck, Duck Broth, Turkey Liver, Guinea Fowl
Some cats love the taste of poultry, but just can’t stomach chicken. Those cats might consider Hound & Gatos Gamebird canned food. This recipe includes multiple poultry ingredients, including turkey, duck, guinea fowl, and quail.
The food is simply made with salmon oil as a fat source, agar-agar as a thickener, and a range of added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
It’s not a limited-ingredient diet, so it’s not a great choice for cats with suspected, but still unidentified, food allergies.
If you like the simplicity and low carbohydrate content of Hound & Gatos food but need a limited-ingredient product, consider Hound & Gatos lamb & lamb liver, turkey & turkey liver, duck, rabbit, beef, or pork. All have simple ingredient lists with a single protein source and, of course, absolutely no chicken. – Buy It
- Great for cats who like poultry flavors but can’t eat chicken
- Simple, meat-rich ingredient list
- Very low in carbohydrates
- Not a limited-ingredient food
Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Review
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Ground Flaxseed
This food is 95% lamb and turkey liver with a small amount of eggs as a third animal protein source.
Like many other Nature’s Variety Instinct foods, the recipe is meat-heavy but also contains plant ingredients including ground flaxseed and traces of artichokes, cranberries, pumpkin, tomato, blueberries, and more.
Nevertheless, it’s an exceptionally low-carbohydrate food packed with species-appropriate animal protein.
- Made primarily from lamb and turkey
- Rich in animal protein
- Low in carbohydrates
- Contains egg, a common allergen