Best wet cat food for kittens, seniors and pets with sensitive stomachs

Best wet cat food for kittens, seniors and pets with sensitive stomachs

Cat food is one of the most important needs for your pet. Yet there are so many options to choose from today, it can seem like a daunting task to find the best one. The two most popular types of cat food are dry food, commonly called kibble, and wet or canned cat food. There are benefits to both types of food, but if you have a picky eater, wet cat food might be the way to go.

“Wet cat food is often more appealing to cats than dry kibble because of its taste and texture,” said Dr. Nicole Savageau, VMD, veterinarian with The Vets, a mobile veterinary service. “It can be a good source of high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.”

To sort through all the canned cat food options available today, Savageau recommended looking at their ingredients, moisture content and brand reputation. Using her guidance, along with insights from other veterinarians and reviews from pet owners, we compiled a list of the best wet cat foods, including options for seniors, kittens and pets with sensitive stomachs.

Our top picks

How we picked the best wet cat food

To navigate the many wet cat food varieties out there, including options for kittens, indoor cats and those with sensitive stomachs, we reached out to veterinarians for their expert guidance. Here are the most important factors they said to keep in mind when selecting a quality wet cat food for your pet:

  • AAFCO statement: Cat foods should be formulated to meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards, and they should be labeled as a “complete and balanced” source of nutrition for your cat’s life stage.
  • Brand: Our experts recommended selecting a cat food made by Purina, Hill’s Science Diet or Royal Canin, which have good reputations for quality and employ board-certified veterinary nutritionists and scientists to formulate their products.
  • Ingredients: Cats require a diet that’s high in animal protein, and a protein source such as chicken, turkey, beef or fish should be in their food. Animal-based proteins provide essential nutrients for your cat, including taurine, an essential amino acid that cats require in their diet.
  • Moisture content: Food with a moisture content of at least 75{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} will help ensure proper hydration levels.
  • Calories: It’s important to ensure your cat is getting an appropriate number of calories each day. Their specific calorie needs will depend on their current weight, lifestyle and body condition, but in general, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends between 240 and 270 calories per day for a healthy adult cat that weighs 10 pounds.

These general guidelines will help steer you toward high-quality wet cat food, but your veterinarian can provide specific guidance for your pet’s individual needs. “It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet,” said Savageau, noting that cats with medical conditions can often benefit from a prescription diet, which are only available through a veterinarian.

The best wet cat foods in 2023

Using the criteria and brand recommendations from our experts, we compiled the following list of the best wet cat foods. They meet or exceed AAFCO standards and are nutritionally balanced to support your cat’s health. The foods we included are highly rated by cat owners and available to purchase online or at most major retailers.

Best overall wet cat food

Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials Variety Pack

Purina Pro Plan has been recommended to me by veterinarians for my own pets, and I’ve given their formulas to my cats (and dogs) for several years. The Complete Essentials Variety Pack includes three different flavors, including chicken and rice, turkey and rice, and chicken and vegetables, all of which are fortified with 25 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as taurine, an essential amino acid for cats that supports their vision, digestion, heart and more. The variety pack allows you to keep mealtime interesting for your cat, but you can also purchase the recipes individually if they’re partial to one flavor. In addition to being recommended by vets, this Purina food has a 4.7-star rating from nearly 6,000 reviews on Amazon.

Can size: 3 ounces | Number of cans: 24 | Food style: Chunks in gravy | Calories: 65-71 kcal/can | Moisture content: 80-82{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

Best budget wet cat food

Fancy Feast Grilled Seafood Feast Variety Pack

The Fancy Feast line of wet cat foods is an extremely popular option from Purina — it has more than 100,000 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.7 stars. There are a wide range of flavors and textures available, and this variety pack includes grilled seafood flavors with ocean fish, salmon and tuna as the main sources of protein. The canned food doesn’t contain artificial flavors or preservatives, and the food is packed in gravy to make it more palatable for your pet.

Can size: 3 ounces | Number of cans: 24 | Food style: Grilled | Calories: 70-71 kcal/can | Moisture content: 80{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

Best wet cat food for indoor cats

Royal Canin Adult Instinctive Canned Cat Food

Royal Canin is another highly recommended pet food brand, and its Adult Instinctive Canned Cat food is a popular choice for adult cats who live indoors. The formula is designed to help cats maintain a healthy weight and proper digestion, even if they’re less active, and it comes in several styles, including thin slices in gravy, chunks in gravy and loaf in sauce. It has a 4.6-star rating from over 2,000 Amazon reviews.

Can size: 3 ounces | Number of cans: 24 | Food style: Slices in gravy, chunks in gravy or loaf in sauce | Calories: 66 kcal/can | Moisture content: 81.5{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

Best wet cat food for weight loss

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight

The Perfect Weight Cat Food has fewer calories than other formulas, and the brand claims that 70{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} of cats lose weight within 10 weeks on this diet. The chicken and roasted vegetable flavor has a stew-like consistency, and once your cat has reached a healthy weight, the food can also be used for maintenance. It has a 4.6-star rating from more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon.

Can size: 2.9 ounces | Number of cans: 24 | Food style: Stew | Calories: 62 kcal/can | Moisture content: 84{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

Best wet cat food for seniors

Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Variety Pack

Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ is formulated for older cats, providing a specific blend of nutrients to support their health as they age. The 12-can variety pack includes beef, turkey and chicken flavors, and there is also a seafood variety pack if your cat prefers fish-based food. It has an average 4.6-star rating from more than 4,500 Amazon reviews, but keep in mind that this food is higher in calories than other options, so it may not be the best choice for overweight cats.

Can size: 3 ounces | Number of cans: 12 | Food style: Pate | Calories: 105-108 kcal/can | Moisture content: 78{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

Best wet cat food for kittens

Royal Canin Kitten Canned Cat Food

This Royal Canin Kitten Food is formulated to support the growth and development of cats up to 12 months old. It’s made with highly digestible proteins, fiber and prebiotics for digestive health, and it contains antioxidants to support their immune system. It’s available as thin slices in gravy or loaf in sauce, both of which have a soft texture that’s easy for young cats to eat, and the food is popular among pet owners, with a 4.7-star rating from over 4,500 Amazon reviews.

Can size: 3 ounces | Number of cans: 24 | Food style: Thin slices in gravy or loaf in sauce | Calories: 76 kcal/can | Moisture content: 80.2{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

Best wet cat food for sensitive stomachs

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach

The Sensitive Skin & Stomach cat food from Purina Pro Plan has a highly digestible formula for animals with sensitive stomachs. It’s available in tuna and oatmeal, Atlantic char or duck flavors, all of which have a soft pâté consistency. The formula contains 25 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as taurine, and it includes prebiotic fiber for improved digestion. The food has a 4.6-star rating from nearly 7,000 reviews on Amazon.

Can size: 3 ounces | Number of cans: 24 | Food style: Pâté | Calories: 87 kcal/can | Moisture content: 78{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86}

How to shop for wet cat food

Experts acknowledge that choosing cat food can be a challenging task due to the number of options available. “Deciding what food to feed your cat can be daunting because there are so many different brands,” said Dr. Kim DiMaio, VMD, owner of in Pennsylvania. To narrow down your options, DiMaio and the other experts we consulted recommended looking at the following factors:

  • AAFCO nutritional adequacy. When selecting any cat food, whether wet or dry, one of the most important considerations is exploring if it is nutritionally adequate for your pet. For this reason, you’ll want to look for the AAFCO statement on the packaging, which “indicates that the food meets the minimum nutritional requirements for cats,” said Savageau. The statement should label the food as “complete and balanced,” which means it contains all essential nutrients in the proper ratios. This statement will also indicate what life stage the food is intended for — options include growth, maintenance of adult cats, gestation/lactation or all life stages. Different quantities and ratios of nutrients are necessary for different life stages.
  • Brand. There are dozens of manufacturers that make food for cats, but veterinarians frequently recommend three major brands: Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet and Purina. “They are brands that have been around for decades and have board-certified veterinary nutritionists and scientists on staff that do tons of research, the results of which are available in peer-reviewed published medical journals, to ensure their products are safe and deliver what they promise,” said Savageau. DiMaio echoed this sentiment, noting that these brands “invest in research and development to ensure that their products meet the highest standards.” If you choose to go with another brand, you’ll want to research how the brand formulates its foods and if it has a reputation for quality and safety.
  • Ingredients. Protein is a key ingredient for any wet cat food. “Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a diet high in animal protein,” said DiMaio. To fulfill this requirement, look for a wet food that includes chicken, turkey, fish, beef or another type of animal protein. Savageau says the ingredient list should be easy to read and that the best wet cat foods will be free from fillers and artificial additives, such as colors or flavors.
  • Moisture content. As part of AAFCO labeling requirements, canned cat food must have its maximum percentage of moisture listed on the label. Savageau recommended selecting a food with at least 75{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} moisture, which will help your pet stay hydrated.
  • Special dietary needs. Certain wet cat foods are formulated for kidney or urinary issues, dental issues, weight management or digestive problems. If your cat has any medical conditions, your veterinarian can help you select a wet food that is appropriate for their dietary needs.

What are the advantages of wet cat food?

There are a variety of situations when our experts recommend wet food for cats. Savageau explained that wet food is often appealing to picky eaters, who may like the flavor and texture better than kibble, and its high moisture content is beneficial for animals that don’t drink enough water on their own. Because wet food is easy to chew, veterinarians often recommend it for older cats and those with dental issues, as well.

Canned food can also be useful for weight loss. “Wet cat food can be helpful for cats who are overweight or obese because it is generally lower in calories than dry kibble,” said Savageau. “It can also help cats feel full and satisfied for longer periods, which may reduce the likelihood of overeating.”

What are the disadvantages of wet cat food?

While there are benefits to feeding your cat wet food, there are several drawbacks as well. Canned food is more expensive than dry cat food, and it is often messier to feed.

There also may be long-term health implications for cats solely fed wet food. A study published in “Animals,” an international peer-reviewed journal devoted entirely to animals, found cats who eat wet or soft food often have worse oral health than animals fed dry food. Other studies have reported similar findings, and researchers believe this is because dry food is more abrasive, helping to remove plaque as cats chew. For this reason, some pet owners choose to feed a combination of dry and canned food. Your veterinarian can also suggest alternative ways to keep your cat’s teeth and mouth healthy.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Nicole Savageau, VMD, is a veterinarian who works with The Vets, a mobile veterinary service operating in several major U.S. cities. Her special interests include feline medicine, preventative medicine, exotic animal medicine, soft tissue surgery and cytology.
  • Dr. Kim DiMaio, VMD, is a veterinarian and the owner of, a veterinary hospital with two locations in southeastern Pennsylvania. She practices fear-free medicine and has an interest in internal medicine, behavior and geriatrics.

Why trust Select?

Camryn Rabideau has been covering pet products for more than six years, and she’s owned several cats throughout her life. While researching this article, she spoke with two veterinarians who offered guidance on how to select a high-quality wet cat food. She sorted through dozens of popular wet foods and read online reviews from hundreds of cat owners while compiling this list, and she also took her own experiences with different cat foods and brands into account when selecting products. Rabideau’s most recent guide for Select was Best Cat Litter Boxes.

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