7 Worst Cat Food Brands To Avoid in 2024 + Alternatives

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We know what your furball means to you, and naturally, you want to feed your cat the purr-fect food. 

You must have spent years discovering the proper nutrition for your cat.

Choosing between canned food to kibble and elements like taurine to arachidonic acid must have confused you.

Then, looking up if the brand you are going with meets AAFCO standards adds more to the burden.  

However, after reading the article, it won’t be your concern anymore. We will walk you through some of the worst cat food brands you should avoid, no matter what, for your furry friend’s sake. 

So, without further ado, let’s start this journey of exploration.

Make sure to check out the best shampoo brands in 2024 after the list of the worst ones that I have handpicked based on my testing and the Cat Owners’ insights and reviews.

Worst Cat Food Brands

What Makes a Cat Food Brand Worst?

The first thing to know is that the cat food brand doesn’t matter. It is the ingredients that make the difference, which varies between brands.

Cat food brands with a low-quality ingredient list are definitely the worst. This is because they use cheap ingredients that often contain preservatives, fillers, and even chemicals harmful to cats.

Also, cat food that doesn’t contain essential vitamins and nutrients is a waste of money.

Therefore, you should consider the following factors when buying cat food:

  • The nutritional content of the food,
  • Type of protein used
  • The source of the proteins (natural or artificial)
  • The type of oil used
  • The presence of preservatives
  • additives
  • other chemicals and how it is processed

List of Worst Cat Food Brands to Avoid 

Based on thorough research, the worst cat food brands include Purina, Royal Canin, and Blue Buffalo, mainly due to low-quality ingredients, which can harm cats’ health.

These brand foods contain grains, enormous kibble sizes, potential allergens, meat by-products, and many other harmful ingredients. They also contain Carrageenan, which can lead to cancerous growths. 

Let’s have a detailed look at these brands. 

1. Purina 

Purina  - WorstBrands

There are no two views about the high popularity of Purina in the market. However, no matter how famous this brand is, few products will make you say otherwise.

Kit and Kaboodle, dry cat food, in particular, contains multiple vitamins like Vit B1, Vit A, and Niacin and minerals like copper sulfate. Despite all this, the brand failed to satisfy most customers. 

The ingredients include grain, e.g., corn gluten meal. Some might say there’s no evidence that grain food harms cats.

However, veterinary nutritionists recommend avoiding them since some cats are allergic to grains.

Also, customers seem majorly upset about the company changing formulas without giving any heads-up.

This seems like something that could annoy any pet owner when their cat refuses to eat the new formula.

Some products, especially the Kit and Kaboodle dry cat food, cause bloating, vomiting, and coughing in some cats.

Hence, many cat owners avoid this worst dry cat food. There are many good brands and products as well.

So, do your research and go with something healthy and tasty for your feline.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Low thiamine levels.
  • Usage of pea protein 
  • Unannounced changes in the formula
  • Caused bloating and vomiting
  • Contains grain food

If you are a multi-pet lover, skipping harmful dog food brands is equally important.

2. Royal Canin 

Royal Canin  - WorstBrands

Royal Canin is known for completing more than 50 years of nutrition and serves the needs of both cats and dogs. Have they left a mark on cat parents in these years, though? 

Well, not really. Their dry adult cat food is a big fail among cat owners.

Frequently, people complain about this cat food causing vomiting issues, as mentioned earlier. Some even said their cats lost a lot of weight because of this.

Dry food contains considerably more carbohydrates than wet food, which is not good because cats require more meaty food and fatty acids. 

Apart from that, their Adult dry cat food kibble is big for cats, and the texture is firm. It refrains the cat from enjoying gobbling food.

On the other hand, their products are a bit pricey. It puts off many customers, especially when they can get better and more cost-effective options.

You can try their wet food range if you still have to. Otherwise, there are some great brands, too.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Chicken by-product serves as the primary source of protein.
  • Melamine derivative contamination
  • Caused weight loss in some cats.
  • The Kibble size is too big.
  • High-cost of products

Meow Mix is worth considering for your beloved cat’s well-being. Before making a purchase, take a moment to explore the feedback from fellow cat owners and compare prices.

3. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo  - WorstBrands

We tried their canned food options. They indeed have high moisture content in some products, but what more do they offer?

Blue Buffalo’s products have fishy ingredients, which you don’t want to explore while keeping your cat’s health at stake.

They include Carrageenan and some fish oil, which they decided not to specify.

Their canned products say no corn, soy, or wheat; this can be attractive to many cat parents.

Yet, customers say they don’t smell good, which drives their felines away. Then, why shouldn’t we classify this as a bad cat food brand?

It is said to contain flaked food in gravy, but we’d like to correct that. To be exact, you can say it is rough food with just a few drops of gravy.

Yes, this is how they are staying true to their words. Sigh!

Reasons to Avoid

  • Food contains propylene glycol
  • Contains Carrageenan, which can lead to diseases
  • The smell is not so appealing.
  • Gravy quantity is less.

As we delve into the intricacies of cat food, it’s worth noting that grooming is another crucial aspect of pet care.

Like selecting the right food, avoiding bad pet shampoos is vital for your cat’s health and hygiene.

4. American Journey

American Journey  - WorstBrands

This brand contains probiotics that help keep the bacteria away and provides 40% animal protein.

Considering this, some might think American Journey is the best option since protein is high. However, we believe otherwise.

They contain Tapioca Starch, pea protein, and carbohydrates in an above-average quantity of 22-24%. We all know that high carbohydrates are not something suitable for cats.

Their products have been widespread, but recent reviews show how people are no longer fans of them.

Many complaints about the food being powdery and having shallow moisture content.

Something that was not well received was the sudden increase in prices. People reportedly mixed American Journey products with other brands to afford a meal for their cat.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Components like Guar gum and Cassia gum are added as thickening agents.
  • Carbohydrates are above normal levels.
  • Quality deteriorated.
  • Not for people with a low budget

5. 9 Lives

9 Lives  - WorstBrands

Tender Morsels with Real Chicken In Sauce caught our attention. 9 Lives include meat by-products, which are not considered high-quality substances. 

This product also contains food starch and wheat flour. In addition, they add bulk to the food and have no nutritional value to a diet.

Soy protein is also a component in Tender Morsels. It is a problematic ingredient for customers since they must be attentive if the cat is allergic to it.

Ditch this brand and go for a healthier option for your cat. Their refined palates do not deserve this food.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Contains preservatives like BHA
  • Caramel color
  • Meat by-products
  • Bulk adding ingredients
  • Potential allergens

6. Iams 

Iams  - WorstBrands

IAMS claims that they meet the requirements for FDA approval, but we highly doubt that. 

Due to insufficient thiamine quantity and melamine contamination, they have been recalled numerous times.

We couldn’t help but think what a disappointment it must’ve brought to their loyal customers.

Corn Gluten Meal, Peas, and Whole Grain Sorghum are the elements that we disapprove of. They contribute to the High-Carb nature of food primarily responsible for diabetes.

There had been outbursts of rage at this brand due to their treatment of animals. It was the reason why customers boycotted them.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Contains Carrageenan 
  • Meat by-products
  • Low thiamine content
  • High-Carb food
  • Ill-treatment of animals.

7. Whiskas

Whiskas - WorstBrands

This American brand, founded 86 years ago, is expected to offer fool-proof products.

Everyone supposes it must’ve perfected its production over the years. Sadly, that’s not what happened.

Again, the major turn-off is the presence of Carrageenan. Prolonged use of Carrageenan1 leads to cancer and inflammation. Hence, Keep your pets miles away from this stuff.

Their packaging is another issue; in this time and age, who uses plastic pouches? We could’ve spared the blunders in the formula, but this practice of using plastic is not acceptable.

Some found maggots in their products and reported their cats having allergies, too. Not just that, they have carcinogenic agents like a caramel color.

How should we recommend this to you while knowing all this? It’s like letting our readers jump into a wildfire.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Recalled due to mycotoxin contamination
  • Artificial dyes
  • Less quantity 
  • Carrageenan
  • Non-eco-friendly
  • Allergies were observed as a result of this product.
  • Other Carcinogens like a caramel color.

You may like to know: Baby Food Brands To Avoid

Reliable Cat Food Brands (Our Pick)

Reliable Cat Food Brands

Cat food brands being up to the mark might seem a lost cause to you now.

Surprise! Some brands will make your cats purr with happiness, knead with contentment, and snuggle with you. They truly tick all the columns of good standards.

We have listed a few such brands below. Let’s have a look at them.

1. Smalls

Every product by Smalls meets  AAFCO guidelines. The most striking fact about their food is that it is human-grade, which means it is fit for human consumption.

They have a wide variety, from fresh cat food to frozen food options. Their protein comes from animal sources, which we know is suitable for our carnivorous pets.

Food contains high moisture content, which serves as a cherry on top. It efficiently helps indigestion.

Smalls cat food mostly doesn’t have harmful additives and cheap by-products.

We are so sold on this one, considering how every brand adds fillers no matter what they stand for, but it doesn’t. Indeed, it makes their loyal customers feel like they are on cloud nine.

We haven’t come across a cat food brand of such remarkable quality, and think about the human-grade food texture.

If something is edible to humans, it must have a soft texture and be attractive to cats.

What do We love?

  • Subscription-based service with their representatives helping with a trial at your doorstep.
  • Less smelly cat poop
  • Protein from animal sources
  • More water content in food
  • No harmful or filling ingredients
  • Soft texture

2. Meow Mix

Meow Mix is worth considering for your beloved cat’s well-being. Before making a purchase, take a moment to explore the feedback from fellow cat owners and compare prices.

Cat owners can’t stop singing praises of this one on Amazon. It’s pretty famous for its catchy advertising jingle.

If we are, to be honest, we love the name more than anything. After all, we all are “meow” lovers, aren’t we?

Meow Mix has both dry and wet recipes. We are big fans of the Savory Morsels Cat Food, which involves a variety of fishes like Ocean Whitefish. What a fancy feast for our kitties!

Unlike other pasty foods, the smell is very fish-like, and that’s a win-win. It makes the cat come running to savor the meal. Believe us; cats love the smell of their favorite food.

Their Tender Favorites with Real Tuna are sealed in a very user-friendly manner. Also, customers have been raving about how their food helps reduce hairballs.

Essential vitamins and minerals are part of their range. It seems like their forte is to ensure the healthy skin of our felines.

Plus, these products are considerably economical. What’s better than a paw-licking meal that’s easy on the pocket, too?!

What do We love?

  • Easy to open packaging with no spills
  • Balanced amount of vitamins and minerals
  • Variety of recipes in wet food
  • Smell that your cat loves
  • The adequate moisture content of wet food
  • 4.7 rating
  • High protein content

3. Tiki Pets

Check out the price and user reviews about Tiki Cat Foods.

Tiki Cats is an all-natural and low-carbohydrate food brand. They are said to be perfect for cats with diabetes.

 Like the brand mentioned above, this one also meets International human-grade food standards. It tells us that the food must be easy to chew for cats since it is soft.

 The fish they include comes from sustainable methods, making this brand even more reliable. It’s a delight to find a brand that considers such stuff finally.

They contain no by-products or preservatives. It should be named best of the best!

Their “After Dark” range is a moisture-rich option; it includes muscle meat and other nutritious organs. Tiki Pets sure does know the art of luring customers.

Their diets offer over 95% protein in wet options. We can’t be any more confident in the quality of a brand. Tell us one thing about this brand that doesn’t hit the right spot.

What do We love?

  • Non-GMO products.
  • 40+ flavors to satisfy every cat
  • Healthy hydration
  • Fish obtained by sustainable methods
  • All-natural stuff with not a single artificial additive.
  • High protein content


We tried our best to enlighten you about the worst cat food brands.

The competition in this industry is getting tougher even after a global pandemic. Now more than ever, it makes your choice challenging.

Start browsing the brands in this soaring industry and customize a criterion for your pet. Don’t let these brands trick you with their fancy gimmicks.

Each pet’s needs are subjective and require special consideration for nutrition. Therefore, choose their food wisely. 

Here is a pro tip: get an appointment with your veterinary nutritionist to make up your mind further.

Other Brands to Avoid:

Erica Steven Author
Co-Founder and Content Manager at WorstBrands

Erica Steven is the founder and lead writer of WorstBrands, a site dedicated to providing honest and trustworthy reviews about outdoor gear and fashion products.

With a passion for exploring the great outdoors and staying up to date on the latest fashion trends, Erica uses her expertise to provide valuable insights into the products that matter most to her readers.

Whether you're looking for camping equipment or the latest fashion accessories, Erica's articles are the perfect resource for finding the best products that fit your lifestyle.

4 thoughts on “7 Worst Cat Food Brands To Avoid in 2024 + Alternatives”

  1. Many pets would be dead were it not for Royal Canin specialty (prescription) formulas. My cat is one of them; he was literally at death’s door when their HP (hydrolyzed protein) food saved his life.

  2. Good article except 2 things. (1) Royal Canin is WORSE that you say: corn, wheat, corn gluten etc (2) Smalls has peas and greenbeans BOTH CAUSE LECTINS preventing absorption of nutrients. Smalls is a hypocrite company Legumes/lectins Almost killed my pets.


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