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The ultimate guide to different types of cat food

Cats have a reputation for being fussy, sensitive, and difficult to please. When it comes to food, you can spend a lifetime experimenting with wet, dry, and semi-moist products without ever finding the option your cat is happy with.

Some cat parents resort to homemade food or raw diets, thereby increasing the cost and effort of keeping their kitty content.

You should know that felines are not arbitrary food critics. If your cat decides that a particular food deserves the cold shoulder, there is usually a good reason. Your kitty will appreciate well-balanced and tasty meals, especially if they are tailor-made to their preferences.

Untamed has the info you need on different types of cat food. Choose wisely, and you won’t have to spend half your life scouting shelves for alternatives.

Room for everyone at the sushi bar

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Different kinds of cat food explained in detail

The commercial pet food industry has spent decades researching how to package the required nutrients in an attractive way.

You can find various cat food products, and the most common are:

  1. Dry biscuits
  2. Semi-moist food
  3. Wet food

Dry biscuits

Dry cat food is usually made by mixing ingredients in a slurry, drying them by cooking, and then extruding them into the desired shape and size.

There are numerous brands offering everything from premium to budget products, but many dry foods have:

  • High carb volume
  • Grains and cereals to bulk the product up
  • Lower palatability than wet food

To find out whether you are looking at a good or cheap dry food product, you need to study the label carefully.

The tell-tale signs of cheap dry food are:

Signs of cheap dry food


Long ingredient lists

The more ingredients there are in the food, the more likely you are to find multiple vegetable protein sources, flavour enhancers, and unnatural preservatives with no nutritional value

Taurine as a separate ingredient

If taurine is listed as a separate ingredient, this is an indication that there is not enough meat in the particular product to cover your feline’s taurine needs

E-numbers and additives

Many cheaper dry foods contain various artificial additives. You should avoid any ingredient you don’t know or understand, as it may not be doing your cat any good

Dry cat food’s principal disadvantage is that it is often less palatable for cats than other types of food because of the:

  • Use of lower-quality fats and carbs for energy
  • Mouth-feel of the biscuits

If your kitty is suffering from mouth abrasions, toothache, or gum disease, you might find that they will be unwilling to eat dry food as it causes pain.

Keep an eye on water consumption with dry food

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Semi-moist food

Semi-moist food typically consists of chunks of meat in cat gravy, cat jelly, or cat broth.

While higher-end semi-moist foods can be nutritious and delicious to felines, many lower-priced products are essentially junk food.

If you check the ingredients lists of cheaper semi-moist products, you will often find large numbers of substances you don’t recognise.

In many cases, this is because the so-called chunks of meat are, in truth, soya-based. Their appearance is purely designed to make you—the cat parent—believe you are feeding real meat to your cat.

You may also notice that the most prominent ingredients in semi-moist foods are those making the product look good. As an example, one of the market-leading semi-moist foods features a combination of the following as its largest ingredient:

  • Guar gum
  • Cassia gum
  • Kappa carrageenan

These gelling agents make up 46.38% of the product, leaving little room left for real food.

Wet food

Wet food comes in tins and usually contains:

  • Meat in gravy or jelly
  • Flakes of fish in broth
  • Minced meat
  • Smooth pâté

The canning process can often be aggressive and destructive to nutrients, so don’t be surprised if taurine is listed among the ingredients of heavily cooked tinned foods.

Wet cat food has a reputation as the most palatable of all, but you should be careful as the palatability sometimes masks unhealthy ingredients.

Cheaper canned foods often contain high levels of simple carbohydrates (sugar). These caramelise during the cooking process and improve the appearance of the food for the buyer but are not healthy for your cat.

Whichever type of cat food you choose, you need to study the label carefully before buying the product.

Right, what’s for pudding?

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How to choose a cat food

A bit of research can help you make a healthy and tasty choice for your feline. You can prevent many long-term health issues with high-quality nutrition.

Your choice of food should take your feline’s natural diet into account. Cats are obligate carnivores and need the following in their meals:

  1. Animal protein
  2. Animal fat
  3. Vitamins and minerals

Animal protein

Animal protein provides your kitty with the amino acids required for:

  • Muscle build
  • Skin and coat maintenance
  • Healthy organ function

Cats cannot live healthily on a vegetarian or vegan diet, and food based on meat ensures they get the amino acids they need while keeping the feeding amount low.

The animal proteins are ranked by their biological value, which indicates what percentage of a protein your feline can metabolise. The biological values of the most common protein sources are:

Protein source

Biological value

●     Chicken


●     Salmon

●     Sardines

●     Prawns

●     Tuna


●     Liver


●     Beef

●     Pork or ham


●     Soya


●     Wheatgerm

●     Corn

●     Sweetcorn

●     Other vegetable proteins

Below 65%

If the cat food contains a high percentage of a protein source with a BV of 90% or more, it:

High-quality protein as the main ingredient in your cat’s food also helps manage urinary tract infections (UTIs) such as:

Animal protein is also a key component in your feline’s coat, helping to reduce shedding and keep hairballs under control.

The best a cat can get

Image (c) Untamed

Animal fat

Animal fat is an excellent source of slow-release energy for cats, second only to animal protein.

Fat delivers twice as much energy as carbs, so good cat foods should be grain-free, low in carbs, and high in calories from protein and fat.

Fat also gives your feline essential fatty acids for cell membrane health, including:

  • Linoleic acid
  • Arachidonic acid
  • Omega-3 and omega-6

The most significant upside of animal fat in your cat’s food is that felines are mad about the taste—palatability is rarely an issue if the food contains a good proportion of animal fat.

Vitamins and minerals

Cats need various vitamins and minerals in their food to maintain healthy organ function and support chemical reactions in their bodies.

The vitamins cats need in their food and their best sources are:

Vitamin type



●     Vitamin A—liver, fish, egg yolk, and butter

●     Vitamin D—liver, kidney, fish oil, and eggs

●     Vitamin E—liver, egg, wheat germ oil, milk, and butter

●     Vitamin K—produced naturally in a cat’s intestines

Water-soluble (B complex and C)

●     Vitamin B complex—meat, milk, eggs, and liver

●     Vitamin C—cats can make their own from glucose in the liver

As for minerals, your cat needs small amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and calcium, all present in the correct amounts in meat sources. If they are listed as separate ingredients, this may be a sign that the food doesn’t contain enough high-quality meat.

Check your facts when choosing the right cat food

All the information you need to determine whether a food is right for your feline is on the label, but you must know what to look for.

The three components to investigate when choosing your cat food are the:

  1. Flavour or variant your cat likes
  2. Ingredients list
  3. Guaranteed analysis

The more effort you put into checking what a specific product is made of, the better your chances of choosing the right one.

Any product labelled as “complete and balanced” provides all the nutrients your cat needs, although some cat food manufacturers do it better than others.

Choosing the flavour or variant your cat likes

Cats will let you know which flavours they like, but you have to be aware of the food labelling conventions in the pet food industry.

If cat food claims to be “chicken flavour,” this does not mean that its main ingredient is chicken. In truth, “flavour” is a phrase best avoided on any cat food, as it means that it only has to contain an essence that tastes like the named meat, but not the meat itself.

Check out the table below for more details.

Flavour designation

Percentage of the named meat in the product

“flavoured with”

Up to 4%


Between 4% and 14%

“rich in”

More than 14% but less than 26%

Named ingredients, such as in Untamed’s Chocka Chicken

Over 26%

If your cat has known medical conditions requiring the highest-quality diet, you should only consider food labelled in the last category. These conditions could include:

Food with more than 26% of the named protein source will most likely contain a few other meat types that could exacerbate whatever condition your cat is suffering from.

What’s in the ingredients list?

The list of ingredients must include everything that has gone into the product in descending order of volume.

Meat should be first on the list and as clearly defined as possible, so avoid products with vague terms like meat and animal derivatives. If your cat has ever loved a brand for a month, only to reject it a week later, you should check the ingredients list for any vague descriptions. Your cat’s rejection of the food may be due to the changed recipe in the next production run. Manufacturers tend to buy the cheapest ingredients available from week to week.

You should also look for the following signs that the product may be produced to a budget rather than for nutritional value:

  1. Ingredient splitting
  2. Undecipherable scientific names

Ingredient splitting

If the food has a long list of grains and cereals directly after the meat source, you should check whether any are duplicates, such as:

  • Corn gluten
  • Ground corn
  • Corn meal

These are all corn, but splitting them makes each smaller than the meat ingredient and keeps meat in the first place.

Undecipherable scientific names

If you don’t know what an ingredient does, you should steer clear of it. Common artificial additives in cat food include:

  • BHA and BHT
  • Propylene glycol
  • Dl-methionine
  • Riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin supplements

These perform various functions, but all of them are unnecessary in high-quality food.

The best sign of high-value cat food is a short ingredients list with clearly-defined components.

What does the guaranteed analysis tell you?

The guaranteed analysis on the label tells you how much of each nutrient group is in the product.

By law, manufacturers have to list:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Moisture

The values to aim for in good cat food are:

Nutrient type

Ideal percentage

Animal protein

More than 50%


Up to 20%


Less than 3%

When you compare this analysis with the ingredients list, you should see meat in the first place and few, if any, grains or cereals. It indicates that the protein and fat content is not only high but of good quality.

The full range of Untamed goodness

Image (c) Untamed

Untamed is the best option when choosing cat food

If you perform the above tests on Untamed cat food, you will see that every tin measures up to scrutiny.

Untamed is the healthiest way you can give cats what they need without sacrificing the taste, whether they’re kittens, adults, or seniors with decreased appetite.

Our diets are prepared under vet supervision with the following principles in mind:

  1. Animal protein sources
  2. High protein content
  3. Human-grade ingredients
  4. Gentle steaming
  5. Carefully balanced portions

Animal protein sources

Each Untamed tin contains only animal protein sources.

If your cat needs a healthy diet for medical reasons, Untamed’s hypoallergenic food is a perfect choice. Proper nutrition also helps with chronic conditions, such as diabetes.  Even if your kitty isn’t particularly fussy, you have the peace of mind knowing exactly what goes into every meal.

High protein content

Untamed food contains twice as much animal protein as most commercial cat foods.

This means that your feline’s nutritional needs are covered in small, easily digestible portions.

Human-grade ingredients

Every Untamed food ingredient is human-grade—we ensure only the best of the best ends up in our diets.

Our products are also ethically produced, with a low carbon footprint and recyclable packaging—we believe that what pleases your cat mustn’t hurt the planet.

Gentle steaming

Aggressive cooking can destroy nutrients, so we gently steam our meals to eliminate harmful bacteria while sealing the goodness in.

You can notice the difference when you open a tin of Untamed—the fresh aroma will hit you a second before your kitty’s forehead does.

Carefully-balanced portions

Your feline doesn’t need huge quantities of Untamed to be satisfied because our meals are nutrient- and energy-dense.

If your cat has special needs or requirements, we can help you plan the portions accordingly. These circumstances could include:

The final test of our quality is how much your cat loves Untamed—start your trial now and find out!

Start your Untamed trial today

Giving your feline a chance to try Untamed is the best decision you can make!

Within a week of going Untamed, you will notice positive changes:

  • After the first week—Your feline will become more active, and you’ll notice less mess in the litter tray
  • After two months—You will see a change in physique, with an improved muscle tone and no weight issues
  • Within four months—Your cat’s coat should be sleek and silky, and hairballs should be scarce
  • For life—Natural weight control should be achieved through a balance of great food and healthy exercise

You can start your Untamed adventure by ordering our cat food online:

  1. Tell us about your kitty
  2. Check your inbox for your personalised meal plan
  3. Order your trial pack online

Once your trial pack arrives, you and your feline can explore the great taste of Untamed.

Once you know which of our delicacies have been devoured with the most relish, we will keep you stocked with Untamed to make sure the cupboard is never bare. Our efficient cat food delivery service inlcudes free shipping.