7 Best Cat Foods without Chicken: Our Guide to Chicken-Free Cat Food

cat food that is chicken free

Chicken is a staple ingredient in lots of pet food. But if you have a cat that doesn’t like chicken or if you need to avoid it for some other reason, there are some good alternatives. In this article we’ll look at:

  1. Great alternative protein sources to chicken.
  2. Signs of a food allergy or sensitivity.
  3. How much protein your cat needs.
  4. The best chicken-free cat food.

Ready? Let’s go!

Chicken is one of the best protein sources for cats but that doesn’t mean your cat wants to eat it every single day. Some cats might not like chicken. Some cats can also be allergic to chicken. Food allergies are not common in cats – itching because of flea bites and inhaled substances are more common – but they do occur. If your cat is allergic or sensitive to chicken, he could also have gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or vomiting. If the food is upsetting for your cat, many cats will start to avoid eating, which can lead to weight loss.

For these reasons, you may want to think about feeding your cat a food that doesn’t contain chicken. That’s not always as easy as it sounds. Many cat foods that feature another main protein can still include chicken by-products or chicken broth. In order to find foods that are truly free of chicken, you usually have to look at all of the ingredients listed and hope that the company has not omitted something.

We can help you find some good cat foods that don’t contain any chicken (as far as we know) below.

Signs of a food allergy of sensitivity to chicken

If you think that your cat might be allergic or sensitive to chicken, here are some of the signs you might see:

  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Irritated skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Small, pale, fluid-filled lumps on the skin, especially the head and neck area
  • Food avoidance
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss

If your cat is allergic to a food, such as chicken, the symptoms will only get worse until the food is identified and your cat can start avoiding it.

5 Great Alternative Protein Sources to Chicken

Chicken is one of the most popular protein sources used in cat food and most cats enjoy it. Cats need animal protein in their diet so chicken, other poultry such as turkey, beef, lamb, and fish are all commonly used by pet food companies as animal protein in cat food.

  • Turkey: Turkey and chicken have similar nutrient profiles, as you might expect from two sources of poultry, but turkey has fewer calories, it’s leaner than chicken, and turkey has more protein. Turkey has more of some vitamins and minerals than chicken (though chicken is higher in niacin). Turkey is a favorite with many pet food companies, too, so it’s easy to find foods that feature turkey.
  • Beef: Beef is high in iron and zinc and rich in vitamins and minerals. It has more iron than fish or chicken. It’s also a natural source of antioxidants (glutathione), taurine, and other important nutrients cats need in their diets.
  • Lamb: Lamb is a red meat that has more iron than fish or chicken. Lamb has about as much protein as beef. Lamb is also a rich source of the vitamins and minerals that cats need in their diet. Lamb is also a source of natural antioxidants (glutathione), taurine, and other nutrients.
  • Fish: Fish is low in fat and high in protein. It also has lots of vitamins and minerals for your cat such as riboflavin and vitamins B2 and D to help calcium make its way to your cat’s bones. It also has iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and selenium. Fish can also contain lots of omega-3 which is good for the heart and other vital functions. The fish with the most omega-3s are tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, and trout. Plus, many cats love fish.
  • Eggs: Eggs are considered the most bioavailable of all animal protein sources. This means that your cat is able to use the protein in eggs better and more easily than other protein sources. (Note that whey, from milk, has more protein bioavailability than any other protein source. It is added to some pet foods.) If your cat has any problems eating meat or fish, a cat food that features eggs would be a good choice.

Overall Best Chicken-Free Cat Food

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

First Five Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Ground Flaxseed

Our choice for the best overall chicken-free cat food is Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food. Our main criteria was to find foods that didn’t contain any chicken – no easy task since many foods use chicken broth, chicken by-products, or include chicken somewhere in the ingredient list even if it’s not the main source of protein. This lamb cat food is made from 95 percent lamb, turkey, and liver. It also includes some vegetables and fruits. It has no grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives. This is a pate. We think many cats will like this food.

Here are 6 More Top-Rated Cat Foods without Chicken:

We looked at many popular cat foods, including lower-priced foods such as Friskies, Fancy Feast, and 9 Lives. We have no objection to including some of these foods since it’s important for cats to get plenty of meat protein, even if that means feeding foods that have some meat by-products. However, we simply had a hard time finding foods that didn’t contain chicken in some form. These foods don’t contain chicken. Weruva (which also makes BFF and Cats in the Kitchen cat foods) had several other foods without chicken that we could have included.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Turkey, Turkey Meal & Duck Formula Dry Cat Food

First Five Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Pork Meal

If you need a good dry cat food and you want a food without chicken, we can recommend Wellness CORE Grain-Free Turkey, Turkey Meal & Duck Formula Dry Cat Food. It contains no chicken anywhere in the ingredient list. It’s also grain and gluten-free so it has no corn, wheat, or soy. It has no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.

Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Beef & Cheese Entree in Gravy Canned Cat Food

First Five Ingredients: Water Sufficient for Processing, Beef, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products

If your cat likes beef and cheese, we like Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Beef & Cheese Entree in Gravy Canned Cat Food. Purina employs veterinary nutritionists and has excellent quality control at their facilities. We respect the nutritional research they do on their pet food formulas. This food has no chicken and it uses real beef and cheese chunks in gravy.

BFF OMG Tuna & Beef Baby Cakes with Tuna & Beef in Gravy Wet Cat Food Pouches

First Five Ingredients: Tuna Broth, Tuna, Beef, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Oil

If your cat likes tuna and beef, we think she will like BFF OMG Tuna & Beef Baby Cakes. This is a tuna and beef wet cat food in a pouch. BFF is made by Weruva which makes lots of very good cat foods. This food is made with wild-caught tuna and has a gravy made from broth to help your cat stay hydrated. It’s grain and gluten-free with no corn, wheat, or soy; and it’s GMO-free. This is also a low carb cat food.

Purina Muse Natural Ocean Fish Recipe in Broth with an Anchovy Topper Adult Grain-Free Cat Food Trays

First Five Ingredients: Fish (Ocean Fish, Anchovy), Fish Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate

For cats that are real fish-lovers, you might try Purina Muse Natural Ocean Fish Recipe in Broth with an Anchovy Topper Adult Grain-Free Cat Food Trays. Again, this food has no chicken. The fish is ocean fish filets topped with anchovies, in a fish broth. This is a chunky recipe. This food has zero grains, wheat, corn, soy, by-product meals, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Iams Purrfect Delights Tempt Me Tuna & Mackerel Dinner Flaked in Sauce Canned Cat Food

First Five Ingredients: Fish Broth, Tuna, Mackerel, Modified Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Oil

If your cat likes her food with a different texture, Iams Purrfect Delights Tempt Me Tuna & Mackerel Dinner Flaked in Sauce Canned Cat Food is a flaked food. No chunks or pate. No chicken. It contains no added gluten, artificial flavors, corn, or soy. It should be a favorite with cats that love fish.

Wellness Morsels Turkey Dinner Cubes in Rich Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

First Five Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Peas, Dried Egg Whites

For cats that can eat turkey, even if they are trying to stay away from chicken, Wellness Morsels Turkey Dinner Cubes in Rich Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food has plenty of turkey but not one bite of chicken. It’s grain free with no corn, wheat, or soy. No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.

Conclusion

Chicken is a great source of protein for cats but there can be good reasons to feed your cat a different protein. Your cat may want variety in her diet; or she could have a food allergy or food sensitivity to chicken. Fortunately, there are many good protein alternatives available. Lamb, turkey, beef, and fish are all good protein sources for your cat. However, it can be difficult to find cat foods that don’t contain chicken in some form, even if it’s not advertised as one of the main ingredients. It’s always a good idea to read the ingredient list carefully if you are trying to avoid chicken or any ingredient to make sure it’s not present in the food. If you have trouble finding a food that your cat can eat, we suggest looking at veterinary diets. They are typically made under stricter manufacturing conditions and guidelines.

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