Shopping for the best grain-free cat food? Let Untamed run you through the menu

Walk down any pet food aisle, and you’ll find yourself lost in a sea of colourful bags, cans, and pouches of cat food, all with different nutritional values hiding behind hard-to-read labels. Lately, pet parents have been intrigued by the constant talk of grain-free cat food offered by several retail brands across the UK. It’s not a mere fad as making your feline friend go grain-free is a solid step in the right direction. The prime selling point of such food is its high protein content that replicates a cat’s natural diet—but is every grainless cat food equally good?

Many brands have come up with fancy products tagged as “grain-free food for cats'' but are still as harmful to cats as those containing grains. Some of them don’t even offer the biologically appropriate nutrients for cats.

If choosing the best cat food is giving you anxiety, let Untamed come to the rescue. In this article, we will analyse grain-free cat food inside and out to ensure you can make informed purchase decisions and give your furball well-balanced and healthy meals.

Eggs or cornmeal? Is the matter of grains giving you a migraine?

Source: Shannon McGee

What is grain-free cat food, and what makes it different?

Grain-free wet or dry cat food doesn’t contain grains but still provides carbohydrates from other ingredients. To assess the true significance of grain-free cat food, you should understand what ingredients cat food manufacturers use in their products and how much of each is appropriate. The following table will give you an overview of the components in cat food:

Ingredients

Details

Protein and fats

Good cat food should deliver protein and fats through a meat source, like:

  • Poultry (includes eggs, raw chicken, and organs)
  • Cooked or raw meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.)
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans

Many brands use vegetable-based proteins to buff up the nutritional value of their foods, although cats have a hard time digesting them

Carbohydrates

Felines need carbohydrates for energy, albeit in small quantities. A cat can meet their daily carb quota from meat sources alone. Most food brands contain excess carbs because they use the following ingredients:

  • Grains, such as rice, wheat, oats, barley, and corn
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and carrots
  • Sugar

Moisture

Cats don’t normally drink lots of water, so their food needs to have enough moisture. Dry cat food may not be high in moisture content, but most wet food options provide adequate hydration to felines

Supplements

This refers to synthetic minerals and vitamins added to cat food

Preservatives

Cat food can go rancid pretty quickly, so many manufacturers tend to add natural or artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life of their products

Does getting rid of grains make food any better from a nutritional viewpoint?

How does no grain in cat food make a difference?

For a long time, cereal-free cat food was considered a designer diet made for cats with gluten intolerance or sensitive stomachs. Over time, cat parents began to realise that grains were used either as a cheap filler or as a binding agent for dry food and that even healthy cats needed something better. The growing preference for grain-free cat food has resulted in the following changes to the industry standards:

  1. Higher levels of quality proteins—With grains out of the picture, manufacturers have to add more meat-sourced proteins to the mix. Commercial pet food often contains nutritionally insignificant slaughterhouse scraps and derivatives (like bones, hooves, beaks, and such) to boost the protein levels, but the grain-free variants must deliver more in terms of quality and quantity by using quality meat sources
  2. Fewer allergens—Since cats are biologically not predisposed to digest grains, many suffer from severe food allergies because of the inadequate components in cereals. Grain-free food is a great option for such cats, although gluten-free food does not necessarily mean grain-free (more on this later) 
  3. Lower chances of contamination—Grains are generally extracted from non-organic sources and usually soaked in pesticides and fertilisers. Grainless food should be free from such contaminants unless the product contains iffy vegetable-based fillers
  4. Increased palatability—Cats’ taste buds are used to meat. Many felines turn fussy when they have to eat grains in their food. Numerous pet parents have observed an improvement in their cat’s appetite after switching to a grain-free diet
  5. Cost-effectiveness—Cats have to consume large quantities of grains to get the required nutrients. When their food has more meat, they instinctively feel full with a small serving, which is good news for your cat food budget

Feline flex—Go against the grain to find authentic food that gives you no pain!

Image (c) Untamed

The health benefits of grain-free cat food outlined

If you’re still not sure why to feed grain-free cat food to your fluffball, know that removing grains from a cat’s diet can boost their health in the long run. Grain-free cat food benefits are numerous and include:

  1. Seamless digestion—Cats don’t produce the salivary amylase enzyme necessary for the digestion of starchy food. Feeding grains to cats is a potential gastrointestinal disaster. Grain-free diets automatically help the feline digestive system function with optimum efficiency and keep digestive upsets and malabsorption issues at bay
  2. Efficient immune response—Grain-free cat food is based on meat, so it has the natural blend of micronutrients and minerals necessary for feline growth, maintenance, and the development of antibodies to ward off pathogens
  3. Consistent vitality—Since grains bring in excess carbs into a cat’s system, they end up feeling lethargic. Once you get rid of the grains, nothing will inconvenience your cat's digestive system, and their energy levels should spike up
  4. Toned muscles—The high protein makeup of grain-free cat food improves the muscle tone in cats and keeps them flexible and ready to pounce
  5. Glossy skin and hair—This is another positive effect of having the right amount of protein in the feline diet. Hair loss and itchy, flaky skin disappear when a cat switches to a grain-free meal plan
  6. General health—Carb-rich cat food causes the cats to ingest an amount of glucose that is disproportionate to their body weight. By choosing a grain-free diet, you can help protect your cat from getting overweight and developing diabetes, heart problems, or kidney disease

Potential downsides of grain-free food for cats and how to deal with them

Grain-free or low-grain cat food may not always be the best choice for your cat. It all boils down to the particular product and how your cat reacts to it. We have assembled some common problems and adequate solutions in the table below:

Issue

Problem

Solution

Junk meat

A grain-free label that says “real chicken cat food” doesn’t always mean the food contains chicken breast or other meat. The chicken may include derivatives containing feathers and bones, which drastically lowers the actual protein values in the meal

Look for brands that use whole meats and organs instead of derivatives

Veggie fillers

Certain brands try to cut the production costs by filling their grain-free products with vegetables. Nutritionally deficient food can be “grain-free,” but it's still not appropriate for your feline

Get into the habit of analysing cat food labels and recognising the ingredients of a low nutritional value

Fibre deficiency

Grains are high in fibre content. Given in small quantities, they can help cats maintain a healthy metabolism. A grain-free diet may be lacking in this aspect

Choose grain-free food containing metabolism-boosting ingredients and supplements, like:

  • Fibre 
  • Prebiotics
  • Fats from whole meat

Allergies

Some cats may be allergic to meat in grain-free food. For example, seafood is a common allergen for sensitive felines

Be aware of the specific allergic triggers for your special moggy 

Overeating

Grain-free food may contain artificial taste boosters (similar to enhancers put in human junk food), so cats tend to overeat 

Check the labels for artificial flavouring, monitor serving sizes, and be strict with your cat (we know it’s easier said than done)

How to evaluate the best cat food without grains—your questions answered

Reading and cracking cat food labels is a superpower that develops gradually in dedicated cat parents. If grain-free cat food is uncharted territory for you, we can help relieve your doubts and concerns.

Is every grain-free food low on carbs and calories—how to recognise the red flags?

You might have already noticed the deceptive factor in the promotion of many commercial grain-free products. As a 2017 study showed, some grain-free foods contain even more carbs and calories. If you swap the grains with other carbs like sugary fruits and starchy vegetables, you're not really improving the nutritional value of the food.

When choosing a meal for your cat, steer clear of brands that:

  • Don’t reveal the source or quantity of the crude protein sources
  • Use blanket terms like animal byproducts instead of specific ingredients
  • List too many plant-based sources (no matter how many vitamins and antioxidants plants provide, they won't satiate your cat’s carnivorous needs)

Grain-free or gluten-free? What should I get for my cat?

A grain-free product eliminates all grains, but a gluten-free item doesn't. Grains like quinoa, oats, buckwheat, and millet are known to be gluten-free, so they may appear in foods marketed as such. If you can't decide between the two types, consult the table below for clarification:

Product tag

To buy or not to buy?

Gluten-free

Choose gluten-free cat food if:

  • Your cat reacts badly to gluten, milk, or dairy products (gluten and lactose intolerance often coexist)
  • You want your cat to get fibre from appropriate grains
  • You are raising an underweight kitten who needs carbs, but you are not sure about their gluten tolerance

Grain-free

Grain-free always means gluten-free. Choose grain-free cat food if you’re looking to:

  • Increase the protein intake of your cat
  • Want to keep their carb intake to a minimum (especially if they are on a weight-loss plan)

What should I choose for my feline companion—wet or dry grain-free food?

Grain-free cat food is available in wet and dry variants, although dry food will still have starchy ingredients as binding agents. You can choose the right one after considering your cat’s:

  1. Preference—Cats get easily attached to a food’s texture. Whether they respond well to grain-free cat biscuits, jelly, or gravy food, you should follow through
  2. Hydration needs—If your cat doesn't like to drink water, consider serving them moisture-rich wet food
  3. Health status—Cats with digestive issues or kidney problems may have a hard time dealing with kibbles, so wet food is a wiser choice

Your budget also plays a part in determining whether you choose wet or dry food because the latter is more affordable. If you’re buying dry grain-free food, make sure your cat has at least one wet meal per day and drinks enough water.

Going grain-free will be rough on my pockets—what should I do?

Grain-free cat food is excellent for your cat, but the price tags on such products deter many parents from committing to it. Despite the costs involved, choosing grain-free food can save your cat from many age-related illnesses and cut your vet expenses down the line.

If you are in a dilemma about whether you can afford grain-free food for your pet in the long run, check out the following solutions:

  1. Come up with a diet plan that includes both cereals and grain-free food—Your cat should be doing well with a bit of cereal and a high quantity of proteins
  2. Look into homemade diets—Cooking grain-free food for your cat is doable as long as you:
    1. Are aware of the food items forbidden for cats (like onions, chocolate, etc.)
    2. Don’t overcook the food (this kills the micronutrients)
    3. Avoid over-seasoning the food
    4. Serve appropriate portions
    5. Ensure the food doesn’t go bad
  3. Switch to Untamed—Untamed offers premium grain-free canned cat food at competitive prices. Our recipes honor your cat’s untamed instincts with the best cuts from the following human-grade whole meats (no junk):
    1. Chicken breast and liver
    2. Tuna steak
    3. Salmon fillet
    4. Sardine and mackerel fillet
    5. Duck breast
    6. Shrimp

Our food is also cruelty- and hormone-free. Click here to get a personalised meal plan and sign up for our mouth-watering taster pack!

Real food with real power—we go above and beyond to give your furry friend the feast they deserve!

Image (c) Untamed

Looking for the best non-grain cat food that ticks all the right boxes? Untamed is the jackpot!

Your search for the best grain-free wet cat food ends here! Untamed follows the basic philosophy of all cat lovers—ensuring that our feline companions live the coziest, healthiest lives. When it comes to food, we create recipes that provide cats with the right dose of nutrients without the redundant fillers.

Untamed’s assortment of wet food will be perfect for your furry friend because we:

  1. Offer a balanced diet—Our recipes are protein powerhouses containing taurine and vitamin E, both essential for cats. We portion our food in vet-recommended amounts, so every Untamed can is a supreme meal
  2. Steam-cook our food—We gently steam-cook our food to preserve nutrients that can be annihilated by prolonged exposure to heat (this often happens during the production of commercial food)
  3. Create hypoallergenic formulas—We make the job of a cat parent easier by crafting nutritious hypoallergenic food that caters to the need of felines of all ages and sizes

Need grain-free kitten food? Trust Untamed to deliver!

When we say all ages, we mean kittens too. Many cat parents feel anxious whenever their kittens start eating solids because younglings tend to get diarrhoea due to incompatible food.

If you’re introducing your kitty to cat food, Untamed’s grain-free meals will be a safe and splendid first food for them. The authentic taste will sweep them off their paws. 

From what we’ve heard from our clients, Untamed is a favourite dish of every cat. Here’s a detailed timeline of the benefits they observed in their furballs:

Duration of Untamed diet

Benefits

One week

  • Less mess in the litter box
  • A rise in energy levels (due to harmonious protein and carb levels)

Three to six months

  • Noticeably fewer hairballs
  • Stunning shiny coat
  • Increased sharpness and agility

One year and up

  • Steady immunity
  • Slowdown of age-related issues
  • Ideal weight and muscle tone
  • Zero digestion issues
  • No bouts of grumpiness (unless you do something to disappoint them)

Raise cats who look and feel like a million bucks—take the first step towards feline well-being with Untamed.

Source: Ilse Orsel

Want to see your cat thrive every day? Get them their purrsonal Untamed pack!

Get your cat the tastiest meals that help them stay healthy in three simple steps:

  1. Take our quick quiz and tell us more about your cat
  2. Get a recommended plan delivered to your inbox
  3. Order a trial taster pack

Your first order will be at your doorstep within a day. If your cat falls in love with our food, we'll replenish your supplies every month—at no extra delivery cost. Our packaging is environmentally friendly, and we ensure our carbon footprint remains low at all times because we believe cat food production must not compromise our environment (we know our cats secretly love us for this!).

Hooman, look! Something maddeningly scrumptious just got delivered to our door!

Image (c) Untamed

Are there hidden commitments in the subscription plan?

No, we keep a transparent and flexible subscription policy to accommodate you and your pet’s needs. You can do the following from your Untamed account:

  • Modify the contents of the order
  • Change the delivery cycle
  • Pause, cancel, or postpone it

You can change your subscription settings at any time and change the details about your cat to modify their meal plan to their changing needs.