The Best Cat Food for Outdoor Cats

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best cat food for outdoor cats
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Finding the best cat food for outdoor cats can be tough when there are hundreds of dry cat food options out there to choose from. When looking for the perfect dry food blend for your adult cats, it’s important to analyze what’s in the food.

Your outdoor cat food should be high in protein. Cats are carnivores and require high amounts of animal protein to give them the energy they need, especially those that live outside. You’ll also want to seek out grain-free dry food to avoid empty carbohydrates.

If you’re not sure where to start to find the best cat food for outdoor cats, this list will help you break down the information you need to make an informed decision.

Each review lists the first 5 ingredients, which you’ll want to ensure includes at least 2 animal products and minimal carbohydrates (if any). You’ll also find the nutrient breakdown for each blend. Focus on the minimum percentage of protein as we want to pack as much as we can in there to help outdoor cats build lean muscles.

The special diet listed in each section reflects if the food is high-protein, grain-free, or formulated for other benefits such as sensitive digestion. This list includes a wide variety of products from premium pricing to more affordable options so you can pick the best dry cat food for your pet that fits your budget.

Best Cat Food for Outdoor Cats List

  1. Best Overall Outdoor Cat Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Cat Food
  2. Best Value Outdoor Cat Food: Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  3. Most Affordable Outdoor Cat Food: Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food
  4. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Cat Food
  5. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food
  6. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Dry Cat Food

Best Cat Food for Outdoor Cats 2021

Which dry cat food blends made the list for best cat food for outdoor cats? Check out these 6 great options for you and your furry friend.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Cat Food

Best Overall Outdoor Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Peas

Nutrient Breakdown: Protein 40% min, Fat 18% min, Fiber 4% max, Moisture 9% max, Taurine 0.15% min, Fatty Acids 4% min

Calorie content: 443 kcal/cup

Special diet: Grain-Free, High-Protein, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy

Key Features: High-protein recipe made with real chicken

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Cat Food is a great choice for outdoor cat food. It’s made with real chicken and has a high-protein recipe that helps cats maintain healthy body weights while providing the energy needed for outdoor cats. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Cat Food is also grain-free, so it doesn’t contain wheat, corn, or soy.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Cat Food is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals to help support your cat’s immune system. Taurine is also present to promote healthy eye and heart function. This outdoor cat food also has ample fatty acids to help your cat keep its shiny coat.

We chose the Blue Buffalo Wilderness blend because it’s both high in protein and grain-free. Blue Buffalo Wilderness is packed with real chicken to help your outdoor cats grow strong, lean muscles. Their blends also focus on complete and balanced nutrition aimed at providing your cat with a strong immune system and a healthy life.

The cost of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Food is higher than other options on this list, which is something to keep in mind when changing dry cat foods.

Blue Buffalo also has a kitten version of this outdoor cat food which can be found here.

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Best Value Outdoor Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Pea Protein

Nutrient Breakdown: Protein 42% min, Fat 18% min, Fiber 3% max, Moisture 10% max, Taurine 0.15% min, Various amounts of Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E, Fatty Acids

Calorie content: 390 kcal/cup

Special diet: Grain-Free, High-Protein

Key Features: Protein-rich recipe that helps support bones, joints, and good health

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Cat Food is another affordable option that still comes with plenty of protein for outdoor cats. This cat food blend is made with real, roasted meat along with fruits and vegetables to give your cat the energy they need. The grain-free blend packed with minerals and fatty acids also helps aid in digestion and overall wellness.

We choose Wild Rocky Mountain Cat Food as the best value outdoor cat food, as it’s reasonably priced while still packing a high-protein punch. This blend has one of the higher minimum protein contents on the list, while still providing your cat with the essential minerals and nutrients needed.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

Most Affordable Outdoor Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Brown Rice, Brewer’s Rice

Nutrient Breakdown: Protein 34% min, Fat 14% min, Fiber 4% max, Moisture 9% max, Taurine 0.15% min, Various amounts of Fatty Acids, Calcium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Vitamin E

Calorie content: 386 kcal/cup

Special diet: N/A

Key Features: Beet pulp added as a wholesome source of fiber and prebiotics to help with digestion

Rachael Ray Nutrish Cat Food is a lower-cost option cat food for outdoor cats. While this cat food does list farm-raised chicken as the #1 ingredient, it does have overall less protein than other options on this list. However, it’s still corn, wheat, and soy-free and void of artificial flavors making it a good option for your outdoor cat. If you’re looking for a more affordable outdoor cat food, Rachael Ray Nutrish Cat Food may be right for you.

We chose the Rachael Ray Nutrish cat food as the most affordable outdoor cat food as it’s the lowest cost cat food on this list. This blend still packs in the protein with farm-raised chicken as its top ingredient. However, it does weigh in lower overall min protein percentage than other options on this list. If you’re worried about cost but want to give your outdoor cats a good dry food option, then Rachael Ray Nutrish may be right for you.

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Hake, Chicken Meal, Cassava Root Flour, Dried Egg Product, Pea Starch

Nutrient Breakdown: Protein 35 min%, Fat 14% min, Fiber 4% max, moisture 12% max, Taurine 0.15% min, various amounts of Linoleic Acid, Calcium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E

Calorie content: 392 kcal/cup

Special diet: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, High-Protein, Sensitive Digestion, Natural

Key Features: High in protein cat food that contains no gluten or grain with natural probiotics for digestive health

Purina Beyond Simply Grain-Free Cat Food is a natural cat food that is high in protein with real ocean whitefish as the #1 ingredient. It is specifically made with high-energy cats in mind, so it’s perfect for outdoor cats. The Purina Beyond blend contains added vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and natural probiotics to promote good digestive health.

Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas

Nutrient Breakdown: Protein 41% min, Fat 21% min, Fiber 3% max, Moisture 9% max, various amounts of Vitamin E, Ascorbic Acid, Fatty Acids

Calorie content: 505 kcal/cup

Special diet: Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Natural, High-Protein

Key Features: Contains 81% real animal ingredients and oils along with fruits vegetables, and other whole ingredients

Instinct Original Grain-Free Cat Food focuses on providing pets with a diet rich in raw, unprocessed foods to aid in better digestion, weight improvement, improved skin and coat, and more energy. Cage-free chicken is listed as the primary ingredient which helps support lean muscle growth which is perfect for your outdoor cat.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Dry Cat Food

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat

Nutrient Breakdown: Protein 40% min, Fat 18% min, Fiber 4% max, Moisture 10% min, Taurine 0.2% min, Various amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Calcium, Phosphorous, Fatty Acids

Calorie content: 477 kcal/cup

Special diet: Grain-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy

Key Features: Made with all-natural ingredients including real chicken to provide ample energy for your cat

Wellness Complete Health Natural Cat Food is a good option if you’re looking for a protein-rich blend that provides your outdoor cat with the energy they need. High-quality protein, along with Vitamins A & E are combined to support your cat’s immune system. This blend is also grain-free making it a good overall option for your feline friend.

Buyer’s Guide: How to find the best cat food for outdoor cats

best outdoor cat food

It’s extremely important to make sure your outdoor cat is getting a balanced diet. Cats are carnivores, which means they need meat in their diet. However, even if they are hunting outside it is difficult to ensure they are getting enough nutrition from fresh prey alone. Therefore, you need to supplement your outdoor cat’s diet with some form of commercial food.

While cats require high amounts of protein, they only require moderate amounts of fat and minimal carbohydrates. Vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals are also important factors in a cat’s diet.

One important amino acid is called Taurine, which cats do not make on their own. Taurine is important for supporting a cat’s brain, heart, and nerve function.

So, with all of these things to consider when purchasing the best cat food for your outdoor cat, what should you look for? Let’s check out a few important items to check when purchasing food for your outdoor cat.

Protein Type

Because cats are predominantly carnivores, adult cats require a minimum of 26% protein in their diets. This is relatively high when compared to dogs who require 12% and humans who require 8%. The amount of protein required also varies based on a cat’s age. Kittens require more protein than adults cats while they are continuing to acquire muscle mass. Senior cats also require higher protein content to help them maintain lean body mass.

There are two sources of protein in commercial cat foods: animal-based and plant-based proteins. Meats contain high amounts of Taurine and essential amino acids, while most plants (including soybeans) do not contain these. Cats are not able to process and utilize plant-based proteins, so it’s important to make sure their food has enough animal-based protein.

The best cat food for outdoor cats will be a high-protein animal-based formula such as chicken, duck, tuna, salmon, or mackerel. These protein sources also contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals which your cat needs to maintain good health.

Ingredients

When reading commercial cat food labels, the ingredients are listed in order of usage. So the first ingredient listed is the most prevalent one and the last ingredient listed is present in very small amounts.

It’s important to understand what the individual ingredients are in your cat’s food. You should look for meat by-products, poultry, or fish as these are high-quality protein sources. Make sure carbohydrate ingredients are at a minimum and not the first ingredients listed.

Many high-protein cat foods come packed with essential fatty acids and minerals to support your cat’s healthy immune system and digestion. These added components can aid in maintaining healthy skin and a healthy coat for your cat.

How we chose the best cat food for outdoor cats

When comparing the best dry food options, the main things we considered were:

  • Use of real animal protein
  • Minimum protein percentage
  • Grain-free: no wheat, corn, or soy
  • Price
  • Consumer ratings
  • Taurine addition
  • Other added nutrients and minerals

When looking for the best dry food to provide your cat with a healthy and nutritious diet, it’s important to balance the above factors. All play an important role in your cat’s physical and mental well-being.

The above options are all geared toward adult cats, so if you have a kitten or senior cat you’ll want to seek out food specific to their needs as they will be different than adult cats.

Do Outdoor Cats Need Special Food?

You may be wondering if there is a difference between indoor cat food and outdoor cat food. Both indoor and outdoor cats have the same nutritional requirements; however, outdoor cats are typically more active and therefore need more calories than indoor cats. Most cat foods specific to indoor cats have lower calories per cup.

Dry food vs wet food for outdoor cats

When comparing dry food versus wet cat food, the main difference is water content. Wet cat food has a higher moisture content than the average dry cat food.

Because of the higher water content, wet cat food has many benefits over dry cat food including aid in hydration, better urinary health, and better weight management. However, it’s critical no matter if your cat is eating dry cat food or wet cat food that they have access to fresh water at all times.

Wet cat food doesn’t as long as dry cat food, so that’s something to consider if you are leaving food out for your outside cat. Dry cat food is also beneficial to your cat’s teeth as the harder pieces of food help scrape plaque and build up off of their teeth.

Check out this in-depth article on dry food vs wet food for more information.

What do wild cats eat?

Wild cats typically eat mice, snakes, ground squirrels, rabbits, birds, insects, and sometimes larger animals like raccoons. Outdoor cats eat the same types of food that wild cats do. However, it’s important to provide them with balanced nutrition by feeding them high-quality commercial cat food specifically formulated for outdoor cats.

Our Verdict – Best Cat Food for Outdoor Cats

When choosing the right dry cat food for your outdoor cat, it’s important to look for food that has the correct amount of protein, fat, and carbs along with added nutrients to support their overall health.

We chose Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Cat Food as the best cat food for outdoor cats due to its high protein, grain-free blend specifically made to keep your outdoor cat fueled all day.

However, all of the options on this list are good options for your cat, so read through the reviews and choose the one that has the right nutritional balance and price for you and your furry friend.

If you’re looking for more information on what cats need, check out this list complete list of cat essentials.

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