The Cat Food Pyramid

This particular cat food pyramid looks at the diets available to the modern house cat. The bottom tier represents the worst choice for feline health and longevity. Healthfulness increases with every upward step, while the top of the pyramid is simply the best, healthiest diet we can offer our cats.

Best Fed Cats - The Cat Food Pyramid depicting the worst (bottom) to the best (top) cat food options
Image by Best Fed Cats ©
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" – Hippocrates.

Not all cat foods are created equal. The bounty provided by mother nature for every species on the planet is, of course, the best option – by far. There is no contesting this.

Food problems emerge the moment humans start to interfere. The worst food – no matter the species – will always be the processed, man-made stuff.

The Lower the Tier, the More Health Damaging

...dry food is the worst

The bottom tier of the cat food pyramid – conventional dry cat food – is by far the worst choice 1, 2, 3. Unfortunately, this is also the food that most cats customarily eat.

And these foods are ceaselessly marketed to us and endorsed as 'the best option' (not!).

...dry foods are bad, no matter the price point

Dry foods range from cheap to prohibitively expensive. However, all dry foods share common negatives. Sure, they are the most convenient and the most frequently chosen.

But they are also the most damaging to a cat's health. Their worst property is that they are moisture depleted, which wreaks havoc on the cat's urinary system – from the kidneys, all the way down to the urethra 1, 4, 5.

They are also excessively high in carbohydrates – between 35% to 55% 1, 6 – which is especially detrimental to the metabolic health of a carnivore.

These foods are also ultra processed 4, 7 and loaded with health damaging chemicals and synthetics. Finally, dry foods are the furthest removed from the cat's instinctual diet.

...wet cat foods are better

From a health perspective, it is best to – at a minimum – switch to wet cat foods 1. It is a step up, as wet foods are at least more hydrating. They are therefore less damaging to a cat's kidneys and urinary system.

The One Dietary Change Every Household Should Make Today sheds some more light on the importance of this dietary switch. If it is the only change a household can afford, it should really be this one.

Most wet cat foods are lower in carbohydrates and have a shorter list of concerning ingredients.

...better, but not ideal

Before slamming the canned cat food aisle, there is still a lot more that can be done to improve the cat's diet. Wet foods are still too processed to optimise a cat's health.

And most still feature carnivore inappropriate ingredients. Though lower in carbohydrates, chemicals and synthetics, they still require some carbohydrates for food consistency and texture 6.

They are much better than dry food, but not still not a great overall health promoter.

...clear links to poor health

And now, the show stopper. Within veterinary medicine, commercial cat foods have well known, extensively documented disease associations 8. These range from obesity 1, to hyperthyroidism and diabetes 4 to a whole host of cancers 9.

But most are unwilling to accept this. Cat carers don't want to give up their convenience and affordability. And veterinarians don't want to give up this stream of income.

Dr Peter Dobias (DVM) explains that many veterinary practices raise as much as a third of their income through pet food sales 10. Some veterinarians depend on it for the survival of their practices.

And cats are caught in the middle.

...conventional commercial foods dominate

Despite their damage to health, the largest proportion of cats around the globe nowadays eat man-made foods. Most cats eat dry food, canned foods or a combination.

And these industries continue to grow by an average rate of 2.6% per annum 11, even in the face of rampant disease. It is heartbreaking that the foods fed to cats most often, are also the most injurious to health.

...a multi-billion dollar empire

As with all big industries, the global pet food market is vast. It was valued at USD 110.53 billion in 2021 and 115.50 billion in 2022 12. It is expected to rise to almost 164 billion by 2029.

It is an empire built on the promise that it will keep cats healthy, but it rarely delivers. Sure, these foods can keep cats alive, but cats never thrive on them. And they are never truly healthy on them 13.

Best Fed Cats - Image of cat contemplating to rather eat his toy mouse than dry cat food
Photo by Freepik

The Higher Up the Pyramid, the Better!!

The more biologically appropriate foods become, the more health optimising they are. Moving up a few tiers will significantly improve a cat’s health, longevity and quality of life.

...more dietary benefits

The closer to the top, the more health benefits are imparted. As stated, cats are more hydrated and their kidneys are better protected. Painful bloating is diminished and digestive problems reduced.

Condition improves, overweight cats trim down and metabolic issues resolve. Energy levels increase and overall health dramatically improves – usually in a fairly short span of time.

Cats may even be more playful and kitten-like because of increased energy. Grumpy cats often become more friendly and approachable, because they feel so much better on species appropriate food.

It is comparable to how much better we feel when switching from junk food to a healthy, wholefood diet.

...home-cooked rocks second place

Balanced, home-cooked cat food blows commercial wet foods out of the water. They are freshly prepared and cat carers have full control over the quality of ingredients.

And they have 100% control over what goes into the food. But, home-cooked cat foods are...well...cooked. Cats do not digest and absorb cooked foods well 5.

It puts strain on the cat's digestive and metabolic systems. All of the enzymes, most of the vitamins, many amino acids (especially taurine) and trace minerals are lost or destroyed during cooking 13, 14.

Proteins are denatured and their molecules become all weird and funny from heat application 4. Weird and funny are usually great attributes, but not in this case.

…balanced raw is the CAT'S WHISKERS

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they are designed to eat raw animal tissue for optimal health. Feeding them in line with their unique biology is simply the best approach.

It is the most healthful and the pinnacle of feline diets – hands down. Sadly, it is also the diet fewest cats get to enjoy and reap the rewards from.

Plus it's the diet that the majority of cat carers are least familiar with or shy away from the most. But all of that is about to change.

…with the right guidance, everything is easy

The bulk of the material on this website will be geared towards optimising cat health and learning about balanced raw diets.

But no cat should be left behind. If a raw diet is not right for a household, there is still a lot that can be done to improve a cat's health.

A future resource will flesh out this cat food pyramid further by looking at every cat food form known to man – and a few more. It promises to be the ultimate cat food guide!

Finally, betterment of the modern house cat's wellness and ridding them of diet related disease is totally what this website is about. And this concept shapes all of the materials on this website. Mi-au!

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1 Pierson, L.A. (2016). Feeding your cat: Know the basics of feline nutrition. In Cat Info.  Retrieved May 08, 2023, from http://

2 Buckley, C.M.F., Hawthorne, A., Colyer, A. & Stevenson, A.E. (2011). Effect of dietary water intake on urinary output, specific gravity and relative supersaturation for calcium oxalate and struvite in the cat. British Journal of Nutrition, 106, S128 – S130.

3 * Becker, K.S. (2021). 110 Pets died, 210 sickened from eating contaminated food. In Healthy Pets with Dr Karen Becker. Retrieved May 08, 2023, from pets/archive/2021/02/21/aflatoxin-contamination-of-pet-food.aspx

4 Hofve, J. (2022). 10 Reasons why dry food is bad for cats & dogs. In Little Big Cat. Retrieved on May 08, 2023, from

5 Taylor, B. & Becker, K.S. (2013). Dr Becker's real food for healthy dogs and cats: simple homemade foods (4th ed). United States: Natural Pet Productions.

6 Verbrugghe, A. & Hesta, M. (2017). Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy? Veterinary Sciences, 4(4), 55;

7 Thixton, S. (2016). How many times are ingredients cooked in kibble pet foods? In Truth About Pet Food. Retrieved on May 09, 2023, from

8 Malik, R. (2007). Feeding cats for health and longevity – an idiosyncratic perspective. Paper presented at the Small Animal Medicine Chapter Meeting, Australian College of Veterinary Scientists' Science Week.

9 Wysong, R.L. (2002). The truth about pet foods. Midland, Michigan: Inquiry Press.

10 Dobias, P. (2013). Why does the American Veterinary Medical Association propose the vote against raw food? In Doctor Dobias Natural Healing. Retrieved May 09, 2023, from

11 Kępińska-Pacelik, J. & Biel, W. (2021). Microbial hazards in dry dog chews and feeds. Animals, 11(631);

12 Fortune Business Insights (n.d.). Animal nutrition / Pet food market. Retrieved May 08, 2023, from

13 True Carnivores (n.d.). What vets say. Retrieved May 11, 2023, from http://www.true /what-vets-say/

14 Griffiths, S. & Ruish, D. (n.d.). Evolutionary nutrition for the cat. In Club Canine. Online booklet retrieved April 29, 2015. Revised version available from

* Resource no longer available online. It is nonetheless cited as it is contains valuable, original information from an important author.

The information provided on the website is educational and informational. We are here to give guidance on how to feed a properly balanced raw diet. We also offer advice on how to improve the diet of the modern house cat. Please note that we are not veterinarians. We are not here to give veterinary advice. Best Fed Cats will not be held responsible for any adverse reactions to your cat based on the information on our website. The health of your cat depends entirely on you. We expect you to use your knowledge of your cats, their circumstances and their health – in conjunction with a trusted veterinarian – to determine if any advice provided on this site is appropriate for your cats.

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