Contents of Article
- The Best Fresh Cat Food
- Here are our top five picks for the best fresh cat food:
- Smalls Smooth Fish Human-Grade
- JustCats Fish & Chicken
- Raised Right
- Other Human Grade Cat Food Options
- Open Farm
- The Honest Kitchen
- Caru Classics
- What Are the Benefits of Fresh Food for Cats?
- What About Fresh Dog Food?
- Fresh Cat Food Delivery FAQs
Your cat is more than just a pet – he’s a member of the family. You do your best to do right by your cat, giving him all the treats he wants and a comfy place to rest his head. If you truly want what’s best for your cat, feed him the highest quality diet you can consistently afford.
A high-quality diet is the key to balanced nutrition and optimal health and wellness.
When it comes to choosing a diet for your cat, you have plenty of options. Many pet nutrition experts agree that fresh cat food is best and, lucky for you, there are a number of cat food subscription companies out there that make it easy to find. We’ve tested and reviewed the top fresh cat food options on the market to bring you this honest review.
The Best Fresh Cat Food
Fresh cat food is a great option for cats because it is usually of higher nutritional quality than traditional kibble. Commercial kibble is often loaded with low-quality ingredients and fillers, simply for the benefit of reducing production costs for the manufacturer. Even if the ingredients themselves are pretty good, some of their nutrition is destroyed through high heat processing methods.
The benefit of fresh or raw food is that those ingredients typically retain more of their original nutritional quality because they aren’t cooked to sit on a shelf. Many fresh cat food companies cook their products at low temperatures in small batches to preserve nutrition and, because the food is intended to be served fresh, they don’t use a lot of preservatives.
Not all fresh cat food is created equal, but there are certainly a few companies that stand out.
Here are our top five picks for the best fresh cat food:
- Best Overall: Smalls Smooth Fish
- Runner Up: JustCats Fish & Chicken
- Best Raw: Darwin’s
- Best Low Carb: Raised Right
- Best Non-Subscription: FreshPet
Now let’s take a closer look at each of these options for fresh cat food delivery.
If you’re considering an upgrade to fresh food for cats, Smalls is definitely worth considering. This company produces fresh cat food in small batches using human-grade ingredients to deliver premium nutritional quality. You won’t find any artificial additives or fillers in their food, and their cat food recipes are grain-free. Simply provide some basic information about your cat’s age, size, and activity level and Smalls will calculate his calorie requirements and send you pre-portioned packages of fresh cat food in predictable monthly deliveries. It couldn’t be easier than that.
Smalls offers 6 fresh cat food recipes, all of which are made with real animal protein as the first ingredient. Choose from smooth bird, ground bird, smooth other bird, ground other bird, smooth cow and smooth fish – you can also opt for the variety pack which includes both. No matter which recipe you choose, your cat will enjoy premium-quality nutrition from human-grade ingredients, and you’ll enjoy the convenience of predictable monthly deliveries.
They also offer freeze-dried raw options that offer similar nutrition as fresh food, but without the refrigeration requirements.
Pros: Pre-portioned in individual packages, made with human-grade ingredients, real animal protein
Cons: Limited options for customization
JustCats Fish & Chicken recipe is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that’s perfect for adult cats of all breeds. This nutritionally balanced cat food contains yuca root to absorb and retain moisture, to help ensure your cat is always fully hydrated. Yuca root is also highly digestible, something that is very important for cats with pancreatitis. It is made with human-grade ingredients and the main source of protein is Alaskan Pacific wild-caught cod. Cod is low-calorie and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B12 & B6, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. Cat food that contains easily digestible EFAs, like those in fish, helps contribute to a healthy, shiny coat. If you choose this food for your cat, you can have peace of mind knowing that it is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.
Pros: Gluten free, grain-free, no growth hormones, ideal for adult cats, hydrating, highly digestible, human grade
Cons: More expensive than other cat foods
The only thing better than fresh cat food is raw cat food, according to many veterinary nutritionists. Raw cat food uses the same premium-quality ingredients but, because it isn’t cooked, those ingredients retain more of their nutritional integrity. Our top pick for the best raw cat food is Darwin’s. This company offers two product lines for raw cat food, one of which features free-range meats and organic vegetables. All recipes are packed with animal protein and nutritionally balanced.
Darwin’s makes it easy to feed your cat the best each and every day. They offer free pet food consultations and you can sign up for recurring deliveries, so you always have what you need in stock. Darwin’s portions their products in frozen patties packaged with perforated marks for easy separation. So, while your meals may not be customized for your cat, they are easy to thaw and serve.
Pros: Two product lines to choose from, premium animal proteins, fresh human-grade ingredients
Cons: Raw food requires safe food handling procedures, meals not individually portioned
Another option in human-grade cat food delivery is Raised Right. This company offers premium-quality recipes formulated by veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker with a limited list of ingredients low in carbs. These recipes are completely free from fillers and artificial additives, lab-tested for safety. Raised Right gives you the option to feed your cat an exclusively fresh food diet or to use their products as food toppers to increase the moisture or protein content of your cat’s diet. To make things even easier, Raised Right sends a little extra food in each shipment to make sure you have enough to last until your next order.
Raised Right makes it easy to choose a plan that is right for your cat and for your budget. Simply plug in your cat’s weight and activity level then indicate whether your cat needs to gain, lose, or maintain weight. From there, you’ll be able to choose from feeding 100%, 50%, or 25% fresh food which will determine the frequency of your shipments. You can then select from two recipes (both poultry) or a mixture of the two in each shipment.
Pros: Customize your deliveries as needed, fresh human-grade ingredients, low-carb recipes
Cons: Only two recipes to choose from (chicken and turkey)
Though fresh cat food delivery options are still fairly new, the concept of fresh cat food is not. FreshPet has been around since 2006 when it became one of the first brands of refrigerated pet food. You can find FreshPet in most major pet stores and even some grocery stores. They have a wide variety of products to choose from including fresh rolls, patties, and complete meals. The main downside is that you can’t order directly from the website or set up a recurring shipment.
One thing worth mentioning with FreshPet is the fact that their products are manufactured in larger quantities than some fresh food deliveries like Smalls and JustCats. The ingredients seem to be of high quality, but there could be variations in freshness depending how individual retailers store the products. FreshPet uses more added ingredients like thickeners and plant proteins, but they don’t use artificial preservatives in their products.
Pros: Wide variety of recipe choices, free from artificial preservatives, available in most pet stores
Cons: Produced in larger quantities than some fresh food, freshness varies by retailer
Other Human Grade Cat Food Options
When it comes to a high-quality diet for your cat, nutrition experts agree that fresh cat food and raw cat food are the top two options. These foods can be pricy, however, and it isn’t always convenient. If you want to make the upgrade to human-grade cat food but you’re not sure if fresh food is the best option right now, you still have plenty of choices.
Here are a few more options in human-grade cat food recipes and subscriptions to consider:
If you’re looking for unbeatable nutritional quality and real animal protein, look no further than Open Farm. Made with ethically sourced ingredients and packed with wholesome nutrition, this brand is definitely one to consider. Though Open Farm doesn’t offer fresh cat food, their products are gently cooked to preserve nutritional quality and packages to retain freshness. You’ll enjoy the convenience of dry kibble while your cat enjoys the flavor and nutritional benefit of human-grade ingredients.
While Open Farm may not be a traditional cat food delivery service, you have the option to subscribe for regular delivery. Simply set up an autoship order through Chewy or through the Open Farm website directly. Choose from four protein-rich flavors in dry food or four recipes of rich wet food made with premium ingredients including nutrient-rich superfoods.
Pros: Premium human grade ingredients, real animal protein as first ingredient, subscribe and save
Cons: Not a traditional cat food delivery service, brand may not be available in all stores
Fresh cat food is great, but it isn’t always as convenient as dry food. When you want the convenience of dry food but the nutritional quality of fresh food, dehydrated cat food from The Honest Kitchen might be a good compromise. This brand uses fresh, human-grade ingredients to formulate nutrient-rich recipes featuring real animal proteins and wholesome veggies and fruits. Their products are dehydrated rather than cooked to preserve nutritional value and increase shelf-life.
The challenge with The Honest Kitchen is that their products require rehydration prior to feeding. The good news is you simply have to add water and mix the product. Each box contains at least 2 weeks of food and there are a variety of recipes to choose from. Not all cats enjoy the rehydrated texture, but you can mix it with your cat’s current diet to get him used to it.
Pros: Made with human-grade ingredients, real animal proteins, variety of recipe options
Cons: Food requires rehydration before feeding, some cats dislike the rehydrated texture
When it comes to choosing cat food, many cat owners prefer wet food. Wet cat food is rich in moisture which is essential for optimal health, not to mention skin and coat health, but it also tends to be higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than dry food. Caru Classics offers a variety of wet food options made with human-grade ingredients. It may not be quite the same as fresh cat food, but your cat will enjoy superior nutritional quality, rich protein content, and unbeatable flavor.
Caru Classics offers a wide variety of recipe options made with premium proteins like chicken, turkey, and salmon. Each formula is cooked in flavorful broth or gravy completely free from artificial additives and fillers. Save by creating an autoship order on Chewy or purchase at your local pet specialty store.
Pros: Rich in protein and moisture, made with human grade ingredients, wide variety of recipe choices
Cons: Not available for subscription (may order online or in-store)
What Are the Benefits of Fresh Food for Cats?
When you hear the words “fresh cat food” you may not know exactly what they mean. After all, kibble is considered fresh when you first open the bag. When we talk about fresh cat food, however, we’re generally talking about food that is kept in the refrigerator – not the kibble you get at the store.
Fresh cat food typically contains fewer artificial additives, especially preservatives, though that means it needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Most fresh cat food companies use high-quality ingredients including real animal protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. Many fresh cat food companies produce their food in smaller batches as well, ensuring higher standards of quality and safety.
Here are some of the nutritional benefits of fresh cat food:
- Higher quality ingredients lend themselves to improved skin and coat condition
- Whole-food ingredients are more digestible for your cat which may improve nutrient absorption
- Fresh food diets provide a more usable source of energy for cats
- Many cats following fresh food diets have fewer problems with food and skin allergies
- A fresh food diet promotes healthy weight and lean muscle mass
- More digestible ingredients may lead to improved digestion with reduced stool volume/odor
The fresh cat food companies we’ve reviewed above are our top picks for a reason. They use high-quality, human-grade ingredients and they produce their goods to the highest standards. All pet food is not created equal, however, so you still need to do your job as a pet owner to make sure what you’re feeding your cat is going to support his nutrition and his overall health.
What About Fresh Dog Food?
Though there are a few fresh cat food delivery services out there, the majority of fresh pet food companies offer products for dogs. Nom Nom offers a larger variety of products for dogs than for cats and several companies offer fresh food exclusively for dogs. The Farmer’s Dog and Ollie are two of our two picks, though others include Grocery Pup, Spot & Tango, and PetPlate. Darwin’s and FreshPet offer products for both dogs and cats as well.
At the end of the day, it’s your job as a cat owner to protect your cat’s health and wellness. Feeding your cat a high-quality diet is the best thing you can do to support his health and to ensure that you get to enjoy a long, happy life together with your furry friend.
Fresh Cat Food Delivery FAQs
What are the benefits of cat food delivery?
We’ve already covered the benefits of fresh cat food, but fresh cat food delivery has benefits of its own. Fresh cat food is delivered frozen so there’s no need for preservatives. Simply place the food in your freezer once you receive it and move a package or two to the refrigerator to thaw. These delivery services send monthly shipments right to your door so you never have to worry about running out of cat food and you can change or customize your order at any time.
Is fresh cat food worth the cost?
Fresh cat food is certainly more expensive than the average kibble, but you have to ask yourself what your cat’s health is worth. The quality of fresh food tends to be higher than that of kibble and a quality diet is the key to keeping your cat healthy and well. Buying cheap cat food might save you money right now, but it could end up costing you later in the form of expensive vet bills.
Can I customize my fresh cat food subscription?
Yes. Many fresh cat food companies ask you to provide information about your cat’s age, weight, and activity level so they can calculate his individual calorie requirements. From there, the company will either provide detailed feeding instructions or go so far as to portion out your cat’s meals according to those needs. You’ll also receive recommendations on how much food to order and how often. You can change or update your subscription as needed online or by contacting customer service.
Can’t I just make fresh cat food at home?
If you’re thinking about switching to fresh cat food, you may be wondering if you can save a little money by making it yourself at home. While this is certainly an option, it may not be as simple as you imagine. Cats have specific nutrient requirements and if you don’t meet those requirements, your cat won’t be in optimal health. If you choose homemade cat food, be sure to follow a recipe formulated by a veterinary nutritionist and know you may need to give your cat supplements as well.