Article Hero Image

CAT / nutrition

How to Choose the Right Cat Food


There is a lot of information out there about what pet parents should or should not feed their pet cat. This can make it difficult to know what food to buy or what will help your cat thrive. There are tons of products on the market from dry cat food to wet cat food, limited ingredient cat food to natural cat food, and freeze-dried to frozen cat food, the options truly are endless. Keep reading to find out how to narrow down those choices to something that is perfect for your feline friend. 


Details to Consider When Choosing Food


There are a variety of different factors that contribute to what diet best fits your feline friend. Ultimately, consulting with a veterinarian is the best way to pick exactly the right food for your pet. Some considerations that go into figuring out how to choose the right cat food include: 


1. Age


There are different types of food for each age range of cats to help meet the nutritional needs associated with their physical development and changes in their health as they age. The dietary needs of a kitten can vary greatly from that of a senior cat. That is because kittens are growing rapidly and need food that helps them do so successfully while senior cats might need food that supports different areas of their health as they age. 


2. Nutritional Needs


Different cats might have individual nutritional needs due to their health, development, environment, and more. For example, some cats have cat food allergies or sensitivities/intolerances that require limited-ingredient food. Other cats might need diets that support their heart health, weight, urinary tract health, and more. 


3. Veterinary Advice 


A great place to start when figuring out how to choose the right food for your cat is the vet. Your veterinarian has a ton of knowledge and information about which food will meet the needs of your cat. They will be able to point you in the right direction so that you know you are choosing the right option. 




Different breeds can sometimes have different nutritional needs based on their genetics or even their coat. For example, long-haired cats may benefit from a hairball formula in their diet if they experience a lot of hairballs.


5. Cat’s Preferences


Some cats just have preferences for what they are and are not willing to eat. This might mean that a cat will only eat wet food and refuse to eat dry food, or a cat that only likes tuna could refuse to eat chicken-formula food. This should be considered when figuring out how to choose the right cat food. Whether your cat prefers dry food, wet food, broths, or a mix of options, we have choices for you. 


How to Choose the Right Kitten Food 


Since kittens are still developing, they need food that can help support their energy, development of muscles and body, and give them everything they need nutritionally. Figuring out how to choose the right kitten food means finding food designed specifically for their age group. Some considerations when choosing a kitten food include finding one with great sources of protein, taurine, and other important nutrients that support their development. 


Choosing Food for an Adult Cat 


Once a kitten is done developing, they transition into their adult years. Adulthood in cats can last anywhere from ages 1-10. Adult cats require less energy-heavy food as they no longer burn through it as quickly as they once did. Although they no longer need kitten food, they still need important nutrients in their diet to support their health and happiness. 


During this phase, it is best to work with your vet to determine what cat food will be best for your cat. If your pet has any specialized nutritional needs or health considerations, those details can be factored into your decision. 


Choosing Food for a Senior Cat


When a cat transitions into their senior years, cat food needs to provide nourishment and nutrients to support their aging bodies. As cats age, there is also a chance that they can develop different health considerations that factor into their dietary needs. For example, cats with aging joints might need a diet that supports their joint health. Cats with heart conditions may need diets that support their heart health.


Ultimately, It’s best to consult with your veterinarian as to what the specific health needs of your cat are and to determine the best diet for them. They can evaluate your pet to help you choose the perfect cat food for their needs.


When are Vet-Authorized Diets Necessary?


A vet-authorized cat diet is one that requires authorization from a vet to purchase. Vet-authorized foods are specially formulated for specific health needs. These diets are only necessary if your veterinarian decides that this type of food would be best for your cat's health. 


To order or purchase an item like this, stores may need information about your cat along with their veterinarian to verify authorization for the purchase.  


How to Choose the Right Cat Food: 


Pet parents learning how to choose the right cat food can do so by considering the age, nutritional needs, breed, and preferences of their cat along with veterinary advice. 


Need other cat supplies while you’re shopping for food? PetSmart also carries cat treats, cat bowls/feeders, and more. 


PetSmart also offers convenient shopping with curbside or in-store pickup. Need something today? We have select items available for same-day delivery in most areas powered by DoorDash. For items you purchase frequently, PetSmart has Autoship that automatically delivers the items you want to your door as often as you’d like. Check the website to see which items are eligible.


Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.