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Best cheap cat food for outdoor cats 2024

Outdoor cats embody the spirit of adventure, navigating the world with a mix of independence and mystery. While their explorations bring joy and fascination to cat owners, ensuring these adventurous felines receive the proper nutrition without breaking the bank is a priority. With the myriad of options available, finding the best cheap cat food that meets the nutritional needs of outdoor cats can be a daunting task. This guide dives into the essentials of what makes cat food both affordable and nutritious, offering insights and recommendations to help you make the best choice for your free-spirited companion. Whether you’re catering to a seasoned explorer or a backyard adventurer, discover how to provide your outdoor cat with the sustenance they need to thrive

Best cheap cat food for outdoor cats 2024


#1 Purina Cat Chow Complete

Purina Cat Chow Complete

Hey, cat parents! If you’re on the hunt for some top-notch noms for your furry overlord without breaking the bank, I’ve got the scoop on a favorite that might just end your search. Let’s talk about Purina Cat Chow – it’s like the holy grail of cat food that ticks all the boxes: affordability, availability, and quality.

First things first, Purina is a big deal in the pet nutrition world. They’ve got vets on the team whipping up these recipes, and they’re backed by the smarty-pants at the Purina Institute who are all about pushing the envelope on pet health and nutrition.

Now, onto the good stuff. This cat food is affordable and nutritionally complete for cats at any stage of their nine lives. It’s crafted to get even the pickiest eaters purring, thanks to its irresistible beef fat and liver flavoring. Plus, Purina’s not playing games when it comes to transparency – their interactive ingredient list means you know exactly what’s fueling your feline friend.

Pros that deserve a round of applause:

  • Packed with 32% protein to keep those muscles lean and joints healthy.
  • Loaded with 25 essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Proudly sports the AAFCO seal of approval for nutritional levels needed for all life stages.
  • Made in Purina’s Missouri plant, bringing extra quality control to your cat’s bowl.
  • Super wallet-friendly at under $11 for a 6.3 lb bag.

But, it’s not all purrs and cuddles:

  • The major gripe? Some wish it came in more flavors to keep kitty’s palate excited.

In a nutshell, Purina Cat Chow is a solid choice for those looking to feed their cat something tasty, nutritious, and kind to the wallet. It’s a crowd-pleaser that’s easy to find and comes with the peace of mind of quality ingredients and manufacturing. Just keep in mind, a little variety might be needed to keep your cat’s taste buds dancing!

#2 Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

If you’re on the prowl for the best bang-for-your-buck cat food, grocery store shelves stocked with brands like Purina Cat Chow are where it’s at. These options are not only easy on the wallet but are also widely available and usually come with the AAFCO seal of approval, signaling they meet the right nutritional standards.

Purina, in particular, stands out in the pet nutrition field. With a team that includes on-staff veterinarians, every recipe is formulated with a deep understanding of what pets need to thrive. The Purina Institute is also on the forefront, pushing the boundaries of pet health and nutrition research.

Every bite of this budget-friendly cat food promises a complete nutritional profile suitable for felines of all life stages. The formula is made irresistible with the addition of beef fat and liver flavoring, catering even to the pickiest eaters. Plus, Purina’s commitment to transparency means you won’t find any mystery ingredients in their products.

Here’s the breakdown:


  • High in protein (32%) to support strong muscles and healthy joints.
  • Packed with 25 essential vitamins and minerals.
  • AAFCO approved for all life stages.
  • Quality control is a priority, with production based in Purina’s Missouri plant.
  • Affordable, at under $11 for a 6.3 lb bag, translating to $1.72 per lb.


  • While the formula is a hit, some users wish for more flavor variety to keep mealtime exciting for their furry friends.

#3 Dave’s Naturally Healthy & Delicious

 Dave’s Naturally Healthy & Delicious

When scouting for affordable wet cat food that doesn’t skimp on quality for adult cats, one brand stands out from the pack. Founded over two decades ago by a passionate dog dad with expert guidance, this brand has carved out a niche for itself in the pet food market. Their offerings, particularly a certain recipe rich in chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, and turkey, are a hit among pet parents looking for nutritious options without the hefty price tag. The sizable 12.5 oz cans also offer great value, ensuring your cat stays well-fed without draining your wallet.

Let’s dive into the highlights:

  • Rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, promoting a shiny coat and healthy skin.
  • Completely free from grains, artificial flavors and colors, and carrageenan, making it a clean choice for your feline.
  • Meets AAFCO standards, ensuring your cat gets a balanced diet.
  • Proudly made in the USA, supporting domestic production.
  • Priced at about $36 for twelve 12.5 oz cans, which works out to a mere 0.24 cents per oz, offering excellent value.

However, it’s not without its drawbacks:

  • Some pet parents have noted that the food can be a bit waterier than expected. Yet, considering that hydration is often overlooked yet crucial for cats, especially those that might not drink enough water, this could be seen as a benefit in disguise.

#4 Purina Fancy Feast Kitten Classic Paté

Purina Fancy Feast Kitten Classic Paté

Caring for outdoor cats comes with its own set of challenges and necessities, particularly when it comes to nutrition. Outdoor cats are generally more active and face different environmental factors than their indoor counterparts, making their dietary needs slightly different. They require food that not only supports their higher energy demands but also aids in their overall resilience against the elements.

Dave’s Pet Food presents an excellent, cost-effective solution for feeding outdoor adult cats. This brand has been delivering nutritionally complete food for over two decades, focusing on quality ingredients without the hefty price tag. Their wet food recipe is packed with high-quality proteins like chicken, chicken liver, and turkey, essential for maintaining the muscle health of an active outdoor cat. The inclusion of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids further ensures their coat stays healthy and shiny, which is crucial for cats exposed to the outdoors.

Why Dave’s Pet Food stands out for outdoor cats:

  • It’s formulated with Omega fatty acids, vital for skin and coat health, especially important for cats braving the outdoor elements.
  • The food is free from grains, artificial flavors, colors, and carrageenan, minimizing the risk of sensitivities or allergies.
  • It meets AAFCO standards, guaranteeing a nutritionally balanced diet suitable for the high-energy lifestyle of outdoor cats.
  • Proudly made in the USA, ensuring quality and safety in each can.
  • Priced at about $36 for twelve 12.5 oz cans, it offers great value, especially considering the larger can size, making it more economical for feeding multiple cats or ensuring your outdoor friend is well-fed.

However, it’s important to note:

  • Some pet parents have mentioned that the cans might be more watery than expected. While this might seem like a downside, it’s actually beneficial for outdoor cats. Hydration is often overlooked, and the additional moisture in wet food can help keep your cat hydrated, especially if they’re not keen on drinking water regularly.

For those caring for kittens outdoors, Fancy Feast offers a kitten-specific formula that’s rich in the necessary nutrients for growth and development. Its smooth paté texture is perfect for younger cats, ensuring they can easily consume and digest their food. Plus, with USA-sourced ingredients and manufacturing in Purina’s Missouri plant, you’re guaranteed a product that meets high-quality standards. Priced affordably, it ensures that even the youngest outdoor adventurers get the right start in life, nutritionally speaking.

Both options represent solid choices for outdoor cats, providing balanced nutrition tailored to their active lifestyle and specific health needs. Whether you’re feeding a robust adult cat or a growing kitten, these options ensure your outdoor companions are well-nourished, healthy, and ready to explore their outdoor world.

#5 Instinct Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food

Navigating the world of cat food for our feline friends with sensitive stomachs or allergies can be quite the challenge, not to mention the potential hit to our wallets from veterinary visits aiming to pinpoint the issue. However, finding a high-quality, limited-ingredient diet that won’t break the bank is entirely possible. Instinct’s limited-ingredient recipes emerge as a beacon of hope in this scenario, offering a straightforward yet effective solution.

Crafted with simplicity and quality in mind, these recipes boast a minimalistic approach – one protein and one vegetable. This approach not only makes it easier to avoid common allergens but also simplifies the detective work in identifying what might upset your cat’s stomach. The absence of grain, corn, wheat, and other common irritants is a huge plus, especially for our furry friends with dietary sensitivities.

Why we’re big fans of Instinct’s limited-ingredient cat food:

  • Collaboration with the University of Nebraska and PhD-level nutritionists ensures these recipes are grounded in solid nutritional science.
  • A simple ingredient list minimizes the risk of allergic reactions and digestive upset.
  • Free from grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, and preservatives, catering to cats with specific dietary needs.
  • External lab testing and an “Excellent” SQF Food Safety rating alongside an SQF Quality Certification highlight the brand’s commitment to safety and quality.
  • Adherence to AAFCO standards guarantees a complete and balanced meal for your cat.
  • Priced at under $30 for twelve 5.5 oz cans, working out to .47 cents per oz, it’s a cost-effective option considering its specialized formulation.

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