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10 Best Grain-Free Cat Foods in the UK in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

With so many different opinions on grain-free cat food on the internet, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of what the best options are for your cat. Although cats in the wild may not eat grains, they do offer a variety of health benefits, including energy and nutritional vitamins.

If your vet has advised you to transition your cat to a grain-free diet because they don’t digest grain well, have inflammatory bowel disease, or are allergic to it, grain-free cat food may relieve them from their discomfort and symptoms. With an abundance of grain-free options, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve narrowed down and reviewed some of our favorite grain-free cat foods below.


 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

The 10 Best Grain-Free Cat Foods in the UK

1. Applaws Grain Free Dry Adult Cat Food – Best Overall

Applaws Complete and Grain Free Dry Adult Cat Food

Primary Protein: Chicken
Protein Content: 37%
Size: 2 kilograms
Food Type: Dry

Our first pick and best overall grain-free cat food on our list is Applaws Complete and Grain Free Dry Adult Cat Food. This 2-kilogram bag of cat food is made up of 80% chicken protein, suitable for the obligate carnivore your cat is. It’s an excellent choice for cats with grain sensitives and contains omega-3 and omega-6 for a shiny coat, as well as prebiotics and probiotics to improve gut health.

There is no added sugar in the recipe, and it only contains natural, high-quality ingredients that are full of minerals and vitamins to provide your cat with the nutrition they need. There is a variety of flavours to choose from, which is great because some don’t appeal to fussier cats.

  • Made up of 80% chicken
  • All ingredients are natural and of high-quality
  • No added sugars
  • Variety of flavours
  • Some of the flavours don’t appeal to fussier cats

2. Thrive Cat Premium Plus Dry Food – Best Value

Thrive Cat Premium Plus Dry Food

Primary Protein: Chicken
Protein Content: 52%
Size: 1.5 kilograms
Food Type: Dry

A popular option that is our choice for the best grain-free cat food for the money is Thrive Cat PremiumPlus Dry Food. Its recipe is made up of 90% chicken, and it has a crude protein content of 52%. Cats need a high amount of animal protein in their diet to fuel them nutritionally, and this recipe offers that.

This recipe is also low in carbohydrates, as it’s grain-free and only contains a bit of sweet potato and potato. However, it’s high in vitamins, minerals, taurine, and omega-fatty acids. The packaging is resealable, allowing you to keep the cat food in its bag without losing its freshness. Unfortunately, some cat owners have complained about the recipe changing slightly, which has changed the colour and smell of the kibble.

  • High in protein
  • Affordable
  • Low in carbs
  • Resealable packaging
  • The recipe has undergone a slight change which has affected the kibble

3. Lily’s Kitchen Chicken & Healthy Herbs – Premium Choice

Lily's Kitchen Adult Delicious Chicken and Healthy Herbs Dry Complete Cat Food

Primary Protein: Chicken
Protein Content: 27%
Size: 800 grams
Food Type: Dry

A high-quality recipe that is packed with natural ingredients and plenty of nourishment is Lily’s Kitchen Adult Chicken and Healthy Herbs Dry Cat Food. It’s made up of 67% chicken, 4% dried egg, and potato, along with many other nutritious ingredients.

There are alternative flavours to choose from to keep your cat interested and coming back for more. The kibble is shaped like a little triangle and is small enough to eat comfortably. Unfortunately, this little 800-gram bag of food costs around the same price as many competitors’ 2-kilogram bags of cat food, making it a very expensive option.

  • High-quality cat food
  • Many flavours
  • Well-sized kibble

4. Arden Grange Kitten Food – Best for Kittens

Arden Grange Kitten Food

Primary Protein: Chicken
Protein Content: 34%
Size: 2 kilograms
Food Type: Dry

For grain-free food specially formulated for kittens, consider Arden Grange Kitten Food. It can also be enjoyed by pregnant and lactating mothers. Arden also supplies cat food for adult cats, allowing you to transition your kitten onto the next life stage when they’re old enough.

The kibble is dry, small, and doesn’t have an overwhelming smell, but be sure to keep water next to your kitten’s food bowl so that they can stay hydrated.

The first few ingredients are chicken meat meal, fresh chicken, potato, chicken oil, and egg powder. Although it doesn’t contain cereals or grains, it does contain quite a high percentage of potatoes, which are carbohydrates. It’s free from preservatives, gluten, beef, dairy, and soy ingredients.

  • Formulated for kittens, pregnant, and lactating mother cats
  • Hypoallergenic for sensitive kittens
  • First ingredients and chicken and chicken meal
  • High percentage of potatoes
  • Safe for adults

5. Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food

Dr. Elsey's Cat Foods

Primary Protein: Chicken
Protein Content: 59%
Size: 970 grams
Food Type: Dry

Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food offers a bag of dry cat food with a high crude protein content of 59%, as more than 90% of the ingredients include animal protein. However, this tasty meal isn’t for the average cat because it’s very expensive, especially when considering that it’s less than 1 kilogram in weight.

This high-protein recipe is excellent at maintaining lean muscles in your cat, supporting their immune system, and fueling them with the energy they need. Thanks to the ingredients used, your cat will stay full for longer, helping with weight management and allowing you to give smaller food portions.

  • High in protein
  • High percentage of animal protein used
  • Provides excellent nutrition for an obligate carnivore

6. HiLife It’s Only Natural Wet Cat Food

HiLife It's Only Natural - Complete Wet Cat Food

Primary Protein: Fish
Protein Content: 12.50%
Size: 70 grams each
Food Type: Wet

For a different type of cat food, try this fishy box of HiLife It’s Only Natural Wet Cat Food. It contains 32 pouches of sardine with tuna flakes wet cat food that has a moisture content of 82%, which is great for keeping your cat hydrated.

These pouches contain fewer carbohydrates than many dry cat foods and use real fish that you can see. The omegas-fatty acids support skin and coat health and add a shine to it. HiLife sources its ingredients from the UK, Far East, and Europe from suppliers they trust. Some customers have complained of a recipe change that has upset their cat’s stomachs.

  • Real fish is used
  • Sourced from trusted suppliers
  • High in moisture and protein
  • Recipe change hasn’t agreed with a few sensitive cats

7. Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Dry Cat Food

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain

Primary Protein: Chicken and Salmon
Protein Content: 42%
Size: 2 kilograms
Food Type: Dry

For a balanced diet for your cat, try out Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Roasted Venison and Smoked Salmon. It contains chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes, taurine, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, and so much more. These ingredients give your cat the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-fatty acids they need to stay healthy.

A few customers have complained that the kibble size is a bit large for their breed of cat to chew, but if you soak it in warm water, it softens and is easier to eat. It’s a great option for active cats with sensitive stomachs, and it’s on the more affordable end.

  • Contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential omega-fatty acids
  • Great for cats with sensitive stomachs
  • Affordable
  • Some cats may struggle with the kibble size

8. Harringtons Grain Free Mixed Selection Wet Cat Food

Harringtons Grain Free Mixed Selection in Jelly Wet Cat food

Primary Protein: Varied
Protein Content: 11.50%
Size: 85 grams each
Food Type: Wet

Another wet grain-free cat food that your cat may love is Harringtons Grain Free Mixed Selection in Jelly Wet Cat food. It comes in a pack of 40 pouches with 10 pouches of beef, 10 pouches of chicken, 10 pouches of salmon, and 10 pouches of tuna for an affordable price. If your cat gets bored of their food quickly, this mixed selection may be just what they need to maintain their interest.

The ingredients used are natural, complete, and tasty, although some flavours have a strong odour. Each flavour contains taurine, which is essential for cats as it supports their vision, heart function, immune health, and digestion. Harringtons cat food is made in the UK, and they source their ingredients mostly locally.

  • Mixed selection keeps fussy cats interested
  • Well-priced
  • Natural, complete, and tasty ingredients
  • Contains taurine
  • Made in the UK
  • Some flavours are strong smelling

9. Encore Complete and Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food

Encore Complete and Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food

Primary Protein: Chicken
Protein Content: 37%
Size: 800 g
Food Type: Dry

Active cats need plenty of protein, and Encore Complete and Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food can provide them with that as their recipe is made up of 80% chicken protein. Their first few ingredients are dry chicken meal, chicken mince, potato, brewer’s yeast, and beet pulp.

A slightly different ingredient included in this recipe is seaweed/kelp, which is easy to digest, improves gut health, and boosts metabolism. There is no grain or gluten in this cat food but plenty of amino acids and DHA, and EPA. Encore started out as a UK pet food brand, but now they sell their food around the world. However, many customers have complained of poor company standards because they’ve paid the price for three bags of food and only received one or two bags instead.

  • High in protein
  • Includes seaweed which contributes to gut health
  • Encore has been successful and now sells its cat food around the world

10. James Wellbeloved Complete Wet Senior Cat Food

James Wellbeloved Complete Wet Senior Cat Food

Flavor: Lamb
Protein Content: 9.20%
Size: 85 grams each
Food Type: Wet

If you’ve got an older cat who is fussy about dry cat food, consider James Wellbeloved Complete Wet Senior Cat Food. The pack contains 12 lamb pouches of cat food. It’s free from grain, added artificial flavours, and preservatives. It’s hypoallergenic, contains only one high-quality protein source, and is highly digestible for senior cats with sensitive stomachs.

This wholesome and natural recipe has everything your long-time furry friend needs, from protein to vitamins and minerals. It contains omega-3 fatty acids to hydrate your cat’s skin and soften their coat. It’s complete and balanced for your cat’s life stage. However, some cats tend to lick up all the gravy and leave the food untouched.

  • Specially formulated for senior cats
  • Gentle on the stomach and highly digestible
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Complete and balanced
  • Some cats prefer the gravy over the food
  • Expensive


Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Grain-Free Cat Food

There is a lot of information—and misinformation—about grain-free diets for your cat. However, we want to help you make an informed decision when looking for cat food so that your cat can receive the nutrients they need to live a long and healthy life.

Are Grain-Free Cat Foods Better?

Although many people claim that cats shouldn’t eat grain because cats in the wild don’t, there is no nutritional evidence that supports a grain-free diet. Healthy cats can digest a grain-inclusive diet well without any harmful effects on their bodies. It doesn’t reduce their lifespan but rather improves their energy levels and provides them with the nutrients they need.

Grain provides your cat with fibre, which prevents hairballs, and is also packed with calcium, thiamine, iron, folate, riboflavin, and niacin. Grains also add essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to your cat’s body.

Many people used to believe that grain-free diets were better because specialists sold them, and they’re often labeled as “holistic.” There is a need for grain-free diets if your cat’s health requires it, but if you have a healthy cat, grain-free cat foods aren’t necessary. Whole grains are not just fillers but an affordable and beneficial addition to cat food.

When Should You Feed Your Cat a Grain-Free Diet?

Although grain-free cat food isn’t necessary for healthy cats, there is a place for these types of foods for cats who need them. Vets may advise you to switch your cat onto a grain-free diet if they have inflammatory issues, irritable bowel disease, grain sensitivities, allergies, or if they struggle to digest it. In these cases, grain-free cat food is your best option, as it may reduce your cat’s symptoms or eliminate them altogether.

There is no strong evidence to suggest that grain-free cat food is detrimental to your cat’s health, even with its potential link to heart disease in dogs. However, it may cost a bit more.

Cat eating cat food in bowl_Sweetlouise_Pixabay
Image Credit: Sweetlouise, Pixabay

How to Know if Your Cat Is Sensitive to Grain

Some cats, although quite uncommon, have an allergy to the ingredients in their food. Most of the time, their poor digestion and reaction to their food are caused by the animal protein in it instead of the carbohydrates. Often, cats are allergic to chicken, beef, fish, and any protein they’ve eaten for a long time.

For sensitive cats, vets often recommend that you start transitioning your cat onto foods with novel proteins at first because they often contain animal protein your cat has never eaten before and shouldn’t react to. If your cat still has an allergic reaction to their food, they may recommend trying a hydrolyzed protein diet.

However, testing can be done by a veterinary professional to help diagnose your cat with an allergy to grain so that you can better manage their diet and symptoms.

Symptoms of a grain allergic reaction can display themselves as itchiness, bald patches, hair loss, vomiting and diarrhea, excessive grooming, red and inflamed skin, sores, scabs, and “hot spots.” If you have noticed these symptoms in your cat, don’t leave it to get worse. Take them to get examined by your vet, as they’ll be able to best help you with initial treatment and long-term management.

What Is Grain-Free Cat Food?

As it claims, grain-free cat food is a diet without grains. These recipes are free from barley, rice, oats, corn, and wheat. However, they’re often replaced with other carbohydrates such as sweet and normal potatoes, as well as many types of legumes.

These alternative ingredients often match or even succeed the number of carbohydrates found in your cat’s food, so continue to measure out and monitor your cat’s food consumption because grain-free cat foods aren’t always weight-loss friendly.

Gluten is found in the protein of some grains and, therefore, isn’t found in grain-free cat food. Many people suffer from gluten allergies, but this is rarely true for cats and isn’t typically an area for concern.



Here’s a brief summary of our top picks. The Applaws Complete and Grain Free Dry Adult Cat Food is our best overall option. The Thrive Cat PremiumPlus Dry Food is our best value pick. The Lily’s Kitchen Adult Delicious Chicken and Healthy Herbs Dry Complete Cat Food is our premium option.

The Arden Grange Kitten Food is the best option for kittens, while the Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food is another solid choice to consider. Any one of the cat foods is sure to be a good pick for your cat!

Featured Image Credit: Fayzulin Serg, Shutterstock

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