What Is The Best Cheap Cat Food? [Reviews & Buying Guide]

Want to learn which is the best cheap cat food for your cat?

Here we discuss the best cheap cat foods. Then we talk about what to look for in a cheap cat food and we answer some common questions.

In A Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks…

 

Overall Best Cheap Cat Food

9Lives Daily Essentials

9Lives has our favorite overall cheap cat food. They provide your cat with all the nutrients he or she will need and sell at a great price per pound.

This cat food does a good job of have a lot of strengths without many weaknesses.

9Lives will help your cat to maintain a strong, healthy, shining coat. It does this by providing your cat with a good balance of omega fatty acids (these are better than they sound). Omega-3 fatty acids help your cat to heal his or her skin, grow strong hair, and have excellent overall skin and fur health.

This cat food will also do a good job of helping your cat have strong heart and organs. This will increase your cat’s life span and quality of life. 9Lives helps your cat’s organs by providing him or her with a healthy dose of taurine.

One thing we don’t like is that this food doesn’t have a lot of protein. 30% isn’t bad, but we wish it was higher. If you want the higher-protein option, you can find it here.

This food sells at a great cost per pound.

Things We Like

  • Helps produce a strong, healthy coat for your kitty
  • Great at protecting your cat’s organs
  • Sells at a very reasonable cost per pound

Things We Don’t

This is our favorite overall cheap cat food. It has tons of strengths without any clear weaknesses. It’s a great pick if your cat doesn’t have any specific needs.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Cheap Wet Cat Food

Meow Mix Tender Favorites

Meow Mix is our favorite cheap wet cat food. It’s a wet food and wet foods tend to be a bit better for your kitty. This food sells at a great price and includes everything your cat needs in his or her diet.

Meow Mix sells their wet cat food in a variety pack. This means that your cat gets to try some new flavors and meal time stays interesting, but it could also mean that it’s hard to get much of one flavor that your cat loves.

One thing we do like about this food is that it’s pretty heavy in gravy. Gravy makes the food taste better for your cat and helps your cat stay hydrated. That makes this a pretty solid choice for picky eaters or cats who don’t love drinking water. Gravy will help your cat to enjoy meals more and stay healthier in the balance.

This food doesn’t have much protein, so it’s not the best pick for active cats. It’s not a great pick for overweight cats either since Meow Mix’s formula runs a bit high on the carbs. Lots of carbs could cause a lazy kitty to put on a few pounds.

But Meow Mix does an excellent job of adding vitamins, minerals, and other helpful nutrients to their food for your kitty. At this food’s price point, it’s pretty hard to complain.

Things We Like

  • Variety pack keeps meal time interesting for your kitty
  • Good option for picky eaters and cats that don’t drink enough water due to lots of gravy
  • Provides plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for your kitty
  • Great pick for budget shoppers who want a wet food

Things We Don’t

  • Might lead to some weight gain if your cat is lazy. If you notice weight gain, cut back on the portions a little. This won’t be a problem for active cats

This is our favorite cheap wet cat food. It has almost all the perks of more-expensive cat foods while still being very kind to your wallet.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Cheap Cat Food For Healthy Coats

Purina Indoor Advantage

Purina has our favorite cheap cat food for healthy coats if you’re doing some budget shopping. This food covers your bases while being pretty kind to your wallet.

Purina’s indoor advantage food is made for indoor cats. It adds omega-6 to help your cat maintain healthy skin and a smooth, shiny coat. This food also adds in Vitamin A and zinc to make sure that any skin injuries or infections can heal up. Overall, this is a great pick if your cat needs a better coat.

Purina’s formula also works to stop hairballs by providing your cat with plenty of dietary fiber. These fibers help your cat digest hair better so that it comes out in stool instead of by regurgitation. This is a lot more comfortable for your kitty and a lot cleaner for you, so it’s a win all around.

We like that this food comes with a whopping 38% protein. Most budget foods are very low in their protein content. But this food is an exception. The high protein makes this a good pick for active or overweight cats since protein helps to rebuild muscle.

And then last of all, this food sells for an awesome price. It’s very reasonable at its current price point.

Things We Like

  • Aids skin and coat health with omega-6, vitamin A, and zinc
  • Helps end hairballs by giving your cat extra dietary fibers to pass the hair along as stool instead of hairballs – more pleasant for your cat, cleaner for you
  • Good pick for overweight or very active cats due to very high protein
  • Plenty of vitamins and minerals for your kitty

Things We Don’t

  • Not quite as cheap as other foods on our list, but helps your cat’s coat, aids with hairballs, and has high protein. It’s a more valuable food

This is our favorite cheap cat food for coat health. It’s a little more pricey than other options on this list, but it is more valuable and better for your cat overall.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Cheap Cat Food For Hairballs Or Vomiting

Purina One Control

Purina One is our favorite cheap cat food if your cat struggles with hairballs or vomiting.

purina one hairball control

Hairballs are reduced by way of better digestion. Purina One’s unique formula adds natural fibers to your kitty’s diet so you can be sure that the hairballs aren’t collecting in your cat’s gut. We also like that this boosted digestion will help with all sorts of vomiting. When your cat is digesting food better and passing it as stool, there’s less of a chance of the food regurgitating.

Purina One’s formula has a lot of perks: it’s loaded in vitamins, minerals, and omegas for one. These nutrients help to make sure that your cat has a beautiful and healthy coat as well as healthy skin. This is another way of reducing hairballs. This food also helps your cat’s organ health and will boost his or her immune system plenty. You will have an all around happier, healthier cat.

This formula does have a good chunk of grains and carbs in it, so that’s a possible downside. You may need to restrict portions to ensure that your kitty isn’t getting too many calories in a day for overweight or inactive cats. If you’re concerned, we recommend checking your cat’s weight every week or so once you start the food. If your cat is gaining, cut back on the portions a bit.

All in all, this formula is kind to your wallet and doesn’t miss out on much. It’s a great pick.

What We Like

  • Prevents hairballs by helping your kitty’s digestion
  • Helps stop vomiting with better digestion
  • Prevents hairballs by giving your kitty healthy skin and fur
  • Vitamins and minerals boost your cat’s immune system

What We Don’t Like

  • Has a lot of carbs – you may be necessary to restrict portions for heavier cats

Purina One is our favorite cheap cat food if your cat struggles with hairballs or vomiting.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Cheap Cat Food For Diarrhea & Digestive Health

Purina Pro Plan Focus

Purina’s Focus brand is our favorite cheap cat food for diarrhea and digestive health. It sells at a good price while helping your cat end his or her stomach problems.

purina pro plan focus

Purina Focus helps your kitty’s sensitive stomach by giving your cat an extra boost of probiotics. These probiotics help with overall gut health and make sure that your kitty is able to pass his or her poop on a regular basis without any trouble. Purina also includes foods such as rice and oat meal that are easy on your kitty’s digestive system.

A downside here is that due to the rice and oat meal, your kitty will be taking in a lot of carbs. Carbs aren’t great for your kitty’s weight in general and too many can promote weight gain. That said, there are tons of happy and healthy cats who eat lots of carbs, so it’s not a make or break thing.

In addition to probiotics to help with digestive health, this cat food has a lot of antioxidants to help your kitty’s immune system stay strong. Your kitty will get lots of minerals, vitamins, and omega fatty acids to help with his or her skin, coat, and overall organ health.

One disadvantage to the budget buy is that even though this cat food costs less in absolute terms, the cost per pound is a bit higher than with other foods. If you can afford it, it’s best to go with more pounds in one bag unless you’re trying a new food or just can’t make the ends meet.

This is a good pick if you need to stop your kitty’s diarrhea or produce better poop and to save money too.

What We Like

  • Prevents diarrhea by giving probiotics to your kitty
  • Helps your cat pass regular, healthy stool
  • Easy to digest food makes this a great option for cats who are also vomiting
  • Helps your kitties immune system
  • Aids in skin, coat, and overall organ health with vitamins and minerals

What We Don’t Like

  • High in carbs
  • Higher cost per pound than some foods

Purina Focus is our favorite cheap cat food if you want to stop diarrhea or other types of unhealthy poop.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Cheap Cat Food For Older Cats

IAMS Proactive Health Senior Adult Dry Cat Food 

Iams has our favorite cheap cat food for older cats. It helps your aging kitty live longer and maintain his or her quality of life.

Iams works to help your cat’s bone and joint health by providing calcium and potassium. Healthy bones and joints will keep your kitty pain free and help him or her to be more active. There’s also the added benefit of less bone and joint pain as your kitty grows older.

Alongside increasing activity, Iams uses L carnitine to make sure that your cat doesn’t start to gain too much weight. Increased activity plus healthy weight makes for a happy heart, so nothing to complain about there. Your cat will be living longer and maintaining quality of life as he or she ages.

This cat food also works to keep your cat’s immune system strong. It packs in the vitamins (vitamin E in particular) to help your cat stave off sickness in old age. This food packs a lot in it, so it’s priced a little higher than some other options on this list.

Things We Like

  • Promotes joint and bone health to keep your kitty active
  • Helps keep your cat from gaining weight
  • Keeps your cat’s immune system kicking
  • Does a good job at maintaining organ health as your kitty ages

Things We Don’t

  • Priced a little higher per pound than some other options on this list.

This is our favorite cheap cat food if you have an older or aging cat. This food helps your cat maintain his or her quality of life and helps your cat to live longer. It costs a bit more than some other options on our list, but it packs a ton of value for aging cats.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Best Cheap Cat Food For Allergies

Purina Beyond Grain Free

Purina Beyond is our favorite cheap cat food for allergies. It helps your cat’s food allergies while still saving your wallet from a doomsday scenario..

The Beyond grain free formula formula promises high quality nutrition for your cat. Formulated by veterinarians, the food is designed to be easy to digest and full of nutrients. This food is pretty high in proteins, so it’s a good pick for active or overweight cats. It’s not the highest in protein, but it’s much higher than most cheap cat foods.

Beyond does a great job at helping your cat get over any allergies. They don’t include grains, soy, or corn in their food. These are three of the most common food allergens for cats, so this is a good pick if your cat ever struggles with allergies.

One thing we like about this food is that it comes in several flavors. My cat tends to dislike less expensive foods (to my wallet’s detriment, she’s a cat of refined tastes) so we like that there are several flavors here to choose from.

Several buyers commented that this food helped their cats have less stomach problems. This might be a good cat food for vomiting. That improved stomach health might come from the better digestion due to lack of “filler” foods.

The kibbles in this food are a bit big, so it’s not a good pick for cats who have teeth problems.

What We Like

  • No grain, corn, or soy
  • Might help with stomach problems
  • High in protein
  • Lots of flavor options

What We Don’t Like

  • Big kibbles make this a bad pick for cats with teeth problems

This is our favorite cheap cat food for allergies. It skips out on a lot of potential allergens for kitties, is very nutritious, and still sells at a super reasonable price.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Best Budget High Calorie Cat Food (& Best For Kittens)

Iams Proactive Health

The Proactive Health from lams is our favorite cheap cat food if your cat needs to gain weight. It’s marketed for kittens, but is a good option for cats of any age.

Iams’s food is a solid diet choice to increase your cat’s weight. It helps your cat gain weight by packing calories into the food, but doing so in a healthy manner. It has 33% protein which isn’t a ton, but is pretty good for a budget cat food.

It also includes Vitamin E, which strengthens your cat’s immune system. Not just that, it also has a very rich omega-3 DHA which helps your cat’s coat health, skin health, and supports strong mental processes. This food helps protect your cat’s brain as he or she gets older.

This item from Iams is also rich in taurine, minerals, vitamins, and fish oil to encourage vision, organ, and overall health. It’s made with very small kibbles so that even kittens can eat and digest it.

This product is ideal not just for adult cats but also for kittens that need that extra push to gain a few healthy pounds.

This food is great, especially for pregnant or nursing cats. It has numerous nutritious ingredients that’ll help in weight gain as well as overall development.

Pros:

  • Helps skinny or young cats gain weight to get healthy again
  • 33% protein is enough for active kitties to stay active
  • Supports healthy organs
  • Helps make your cat’s coat shine

Cons:

  • Some owners said that their cats didn’t love the flavor

This is our favorite cheap cat food for weight gain. It helps your cat gain the extra pounds that he or she needs to be healthy.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Cheap Cat Food For Overweight Cats

9Lives Lean & Tasty Weight Loss

9Lives cat food is our cheap cat food for weight loss. It has all that your cat needs to lose weight while still preserving your wallet.

9lives dry cat food

9Lives cat food helps your cat lose weight by boosting your cat’s metabolism and restricting the caloric value on their food. The boosted metabolism helps your cat burn more fat and feel energetic. The restricted calories helps your cat to feel full and stay full. This makes for a happier, more active cat who can shed those extra pounds.

The restricted calories come by way of low protein and low fat content. One downside is that this cat food has over 50% carbs or “ash” food in it. Ash food is made of ingredients that provide little to no nutritional value. The high carbs makes this food a little bit more difficult for your kitty to digest. While this isn’t a make-or-break deal, we wouldn’t recommend this food for the long term usage.

This food is a good pick if you need to get a few pounds off your kitty. Once you’ve accomplished that, we recommend going back to the regular 9Lives Daily Essentials that we recommended as best cheap cat food overall.

9Lives combats the digestion problem of high carbs by tossing in extra fibers in their food. These fibers work to prevent hairballs, constipation, or other stomach issues.

This cat food has quite a few vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids, but less than other options on our list due to ash foods. You can expect the 9Lives brand to help your cat keep a strong and healthy coat as well as an immune system that’s in good shape.

What We Like

  • Helps with weight loss by boosting your cat’s metabolism
  • Restricts calories so your cat feels full but still loses weight
  • Extra fibers help with digestion, hairballs, and stomach issues
  • Strong and soft coat for your kitty
  • Helps your cat keep his or her immune system strong
  • Great budget buy and great price per pound

What We Don’t Like

  • Lower proteins than many other options
  • Lots of carbs
  • Lots of “ash” foods with low nutritional value – not a good long term food. We recommend using it until your cat is at his or her ideal weight and then going to the regular 9Lives food we recommended earlier.

This is our favorite food if you want your cat to lose a few pounds.

Check Price and Reviews on Chewy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

How Can I Pick The Best Cat Food For Me?

There are a lot of cheap cat foods out there. How do you know which one is best for you?

We tried to specify which cat foods are best for specific situation – best overall, best for weight loss, and so on. But here are the criteria we look at when buying our cat foods:

  • Specialty of the food
  • Level of macronutrients
  • Customer reviews
  • Price

Let’s talk about each of these.

Specialty of the Food

Many cat foods have a type of “specialty”. This specialty might be dietary aid, might prevent hairballs, might be limited ingredient and good for allergies.

We specify in our reviews which cat food is best for what situation.

But how can you tell on your own?

We’ll give you a hint: try reading the title.

Most cat food specialties are in the title of the food itself. The food will say something like “Grain Free” or “Sensitive Skin & Stomach”. It can be tempting to go straight for one of these options, but we recommend only going for a specialty food if your cat has a specific problem.

If your cat isn’t regurgitating hairballs, then you don’t need a cat food for hairballs.

None of these foods will be bad for your cat. But specialized foods will cost a bit more than jack-of-all-trade options like our overall favorite 9Lives Daily Essentials.

Before  buying, take a moment to consider your cat’s needs and whether the food is geared towards that. There’s an option for almost every situation.

Macronutrients

There are 3 macronutrients that we get all of our calories from: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Cats need more proteins and less carbs than humans, so we like to look at cat food that packs at least 30% protein. Anything lower might not be great for your kitty, even thought it might be less expensive than other options.

An ideal cat food for us will have more than 30% protein. Some cat foods have 33% (good), 38% (great) and some even have over 40% (awesome).

The more proteins your cat has, the more he or she will recover from activity, build strong muscles, and be well-supplied with nutrients.

Customer Reviews

This is our favorite place to look when you’re curious how your cat food is going to taste. It’s hard to know without buying, but you can get a pretty good idea from customer reviews.

We tend to ignore one or two reviews that say their cat didn’t enjoy the food. One or two are anomalies. But when you see whole strings of people saying that their cat wasn’t a fan, that’s a warning sign.

The odds are good that if the majority of cats liked it, your cat will too. The same goes for dislike. Don’t worry if you see just a handful of less-than-stellar experiences. Worry when you see that a large number of buyers had a poor experience.

Price

And the all-important metric. All of the foods we listed above are budget-loving, so this won’t affect you as much.

We like to look at the price per pound or serving instead of the absolute price. Between $1-$1.50 per pound or serving are very reasonable. $1.50-$2 per pound or serving isn’t too bad, but that food will often have some sort of specialty.

More than $2 per pound or serving doesn’t mean the food is expensive, but it’s outside the realm of “cheap” cat food.

It’s better to evaluate the food like this instead of saying “Oh, this food costs $22 and the other food costs $18. The second food is cheaper!”

It might be. But it might cost a lot more per pound and end up costing you more money over time. Check the price per pound or serving to get the best deal every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this food stop X problem?

Yeah, it could. We recommend checking the title of the food.

Cat food will often be explicit about what it helps. Cat foods for hairballs will say “hairball”, cat food for diarrhea will say something like “digestive health”, and grain free cat food will say “grain free” or “limited ingredients”.

If you don’t see a specific designation on your cat food or aren’t sure, check the customer reviews. Most customers will say whether the food fixed a problem for their kitty or not.

What are the ingredients of this food?

You can check a food’s ingredients before buying by hovering your mouse over any of the product images. This brings up a zoomed picture in Amazon and Chewy that you can inspect and read 🙂

Can I feed this to my kitten/adult cat/older cat?

All the cat foods on our list can be fed to cats of any age. You will often find that some foods are better for age groups than others.

The Iams Proactive Health is our favorite for kittens.

The Iams Senior Adult Cat Food is our favorite for older cats.

But any of our options can be fed to any aged cat.

Is this food grain free?

If it’s grain free, it no doubt says so on the packaging or description in Amazon and Chewy. Grain free cat foods are very proud of their grain-free status, so you’ll hear all about it.

Conclusion

Our overall best cheap cat food is the 9Lives Daily Essentials. It contains everything your cat needs to be healthy while still selling at a great price.

Thanks for reading! Let us know in the comments below: which cat food did your cat enjoy the most?

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