Canstar Blue’s 2020 cat food review has seen Fancy Feast, Friskies, Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Dine, ALDI Silvester’s and Whiskas rated and compared on pet enjoyment, range variety, packaging, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Want to ‘meow’ your cat at the dining table? Feeding Mr Whiskers might seem easy, but who are we ‘kitten’ ─ a whopping two in five (43%) respondents to our survey on cat food admitted to having a fussy pet that won’t eat certain types or brands of food. But with plenty of fish in the sea claiming to offer the best and tastiest in pet nutrition, how do you know which cat food is the right one?
To give you a helping paw, Canstar Blue has surveyed more than 400 Aussie pet owners and asked them, as well as their four-legged friends, to review the cat food they have most recently purchased. Brands were rated on pet enjoyment, range variety, packaging, value for money and overall satisfaction. Those which received the minimum sample size of 30 responses are compared in this year’s report.
Fancy Feast proved to be the purr-fect pick in our latest ratings, having earned the only five-star rating for overall satisfaction. It also achieved full marks for most of the categories.
Here are the best brands of cat food in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
Fancy Feast took the lead after receiving five-star reviews in most categories, including overall satisfaction, while most brands landed on four stars overall. The only exception was Whiskas, which scratched three stars across all categories.
Friskies and ALDI Silvester’s weren’t ‘kitten’ around when it came to giving consumers bang for their buck, achieving full marks in the value for money category. Royal Canin also ‘meowed’ pet owners in terms of packaging, after being the only brand to score five stars in that area. Hill’s Science Diet finished with a similar result for pet enjoyment.
Read on for an overview of some of the major pet food brands available in Australia, before going into further detail about how to choose the right food for your cat amongst the staggeringly huge range of options.
This would be an extremely long article to list every single cat food product available in Australia – so we’ve kept the list confined to only the most prominent and widely available brands. Exclusion from this list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sub-par product. Many cat food brands are also produced by the same company, so we’ve mentioned the parent company for those.
One of the many members of the Purina litter, Fancy Feast offers a large selection of wet food products. It provides a gourmet selection from several collections, including Florentine, Tuscan, chicken, turkey, seafood and meat. Expect different types of pate, giblets, fish pieces and meat slices dressed in gravy, broth, and even pasta.
Fancy Feast is slightly more expensive compared to other options on the market, costing anywhere between $1.20 for a 40g pack and $19 for 12-packs. Some flavours include Fancy Feast ‘royale’ tuna, surimi & whitebait broth, Fancy Feast beef, salmon & cheese and Fancy Feast lamb garden greens & snapper Flavour. These generally come in tins and sachets, as well as larger 12-pack collections.
You can also head to Purina’s Fancy Feast website for a breakdown of the nutritional information, as well as some FAQs on a variety of pet-related questions.
Another member of the Purina family, Friskies is among one of the most affordable cat food brands on the supermarket shelves. It offers both wet and dry varieties, with specific recipes tailored to suit kittens, adults and seniors. Different flavours include Friskies 7, Surfin and Turfin, Indoor Delights, Kitten Discoveries, Meaty Grills, Seafood Sensations and Senior Splendour.
Purina’s Friskies claims its range provides a range of benefits, such as plenty of protein to help maintain strong lean muscles as well as antioxidants to support a healthy immune system. Some products are also said to contain dental protection to keep teeth and gums healthy. Friskies can cost between $4 for a 1kg bag and $13 for a 2.5kg bag of kibble.
Hill’s Science Diet is one of two labels under Hill’s Pet Nutrition, offering biology-based nutrition for pets at different life stages. There’s a variety of can & trays, dry food, pouches, stews and treats to choose from. Some flavours include ocean fish entrée, roasted chicken & rice medley and seared tuna & carrot medley.
Hill’s Science Diet covers a wide range of health conditions, including ageing, dental care, food sensitivity, weight management, urgent care, heart care and environmental allergies. The label also produces alternatives for pregnant or nursing cats, young adult cats which have been neutered, as well as options targeted towards hairball control. The line is also stated to be veterinarian-recommended.
Compared to the Hill’s Prescription Diet range, which has an emphasis on targeting specific concerns, this label is designed for the everyday cat. Prices can start from $21.67 for a 12-pack of 85g pouches, and reach up to around the $140 mark for a 10kg bag.
While it’s best known for its chocolate (which is definitely not appropriate cat food), international corporation Mars also owns a huge range of pet food brands, including Royal Canin which is a veterinarian-founded company originating from France.
Cat kibble covers the full range you would expect from a major cat food brand – kittens, adults, and seniors, as well as different kinds of cats – those with sensitive digestion, active cats, outdoor cats, sleepy indoor cats, and fussy cats. There is even a number of breed-specific formulas. Prices start from around $20 for a 12-pack of 85g pouches and can go up to $108 (or potentially more) for a 10kg bag of kibble.
In the wet food department, the range covers pouches of mousse or chunks in jelly or gravy, with different varieties for specific nutritional requirements. The specialised Royal Canin Feline Care dry foods are designed to help address and manage specific health issues – hair & skincare, hairball care, lightweight care and urinary care.
Yet another brand under the Mars Petcare umbrella, Dine serves self-described premium food for cats, with ‘fine dining’ wet food coming in cans, trays and pouches, as well as some dry foods. The wide variety of ‘gourmet’ tastes and textures are available for both kittens and full-grown cats.
The menu encompasses all kinds of cuts, slices, morsels and flakes served in gravy, jelly or sauce. There are also soups and mousses. Flavours include turkey, lamb, chicken, tuna, salmon and ocean fish just to name a few. It’s a quite diverse menu so your cat won’t get bored.
The Dine Desire range is said to be made with Australian meat while its Perfect Portions varieties are offered in a single-serve to leave zero wastage, according to the company. In addition, it offers creamy treats in three different flavours as a one-off treat for your furry pal.
ALDI’s Silvester’s range of cat food is currently the only supermarket branded food label to have featured in our review. As with many ALDI-branded products, you can expect competitively low prices at around $0.85 for a 400g can. Similarly to its rivals, ALDI Silvester’s also caters to different ages with specific products for kittens and adults.
Some flavours to expect include casserole with chicken sarine & salmon.
Also owned by Mars Petcare, Whiskas is a household name thanks to its affordable offerings for the family cat. Its packaging has a recognisable purple colour with a grey kitten on the front. The range caters to kittens, adults, and senior cats, plus it has a Milk Plus Lactose-Free range as a supplement for cats with sensitive stomachs.
Whiskas offers cat food as meat-like pieces in cans, pouches or dry biscuits. There’s quite a variety of flavours in the line-up, so expect your standard beef casserole and chicken loaf as well as sardine with prawn or chicken with rabbit.
The Whiskas bagged dry food range includes a few different flavours plus specialised mixes for hairball prevention and for indoor cats. Wet food covers meal sachets of meats with sauces, gravies, and jellies, sold as three-packs or boxes of 12. There’s also a range of canned loaf, casserole, mince and jelly-based meals.
Here are several other major brands of cat food that you might want to check out.
One of the biggest players in the pet food market, Purina produces a number of different pet food brands. Below are some of the cat food brands created by Purina:
Founded by a vet in New Jersey, USA, to help provide better nutrition to guide dogs suffering from severe kidney problems, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is now is a major producer of specialised pet food for dogs and cats suffering from injuries or ailments. Hill’s started with its Prescription Diet product line, followed by the Science Diet brand.
Similar to Hill’s Science Diet, Hills Prescription Diet foods are targeted towards cats managing or recovering from chronic or severe health issues, or recovering from surgery or other medical intervention. A few examples of these specialisations include urinary tract care, thyroid care, weight loss, joint care and weight reduction. Each is available in a choice of dry or canned food. However, this particular line is more catered towards cats with specific needs. Hill’s Science Diet is the go-to option for getting your cat’s usual nutritional requirements, with alternative options also available for concerns like dental care and sensitive stomachs.
Owned by Mars Petcare, Advance Pet Nutrition is claimed to be designed for Australian pets, taking into consideration our climate and lifestyle. The Advance cat food range covers both wet and dry varieties for premium pet food for kittens and adults, as well as tailored recipes for dental care, weight management, hairball prevention, and indoor cats. Wet food comes in easy-open single-serve trays (sold individually or in multi-packs), while dry food comes in bags of varying sizes, up to 6kg so you can keep well-stocked for a hungry kitty.
Taking a simplicity-focussed approach, Applaws cat food is grain-free and promises to use a minimum of 50% animal protein in every product. Applaws cat food is also said to be free from artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and claims to never use cheap and unnecessary fillers. The independent company produces a pretty diverse range of recipes, in single-serve tins, pots, and pouches, as well as dry food. The pots are ready-to-eat meals that save washing up kitty’s bowl – just peel off the lid and it’s ready to eat straight from the container. Recipes range from simple fish fillets and chicken breast pieces to mixed meats with vegetables or cheese to meats served in broths and jellies.
Started by a breeder to produce a pet food solution that uses only nutritionally beneficial ingredients, Black Hawk is part of the ‘real food movement’. The brand was founded here in Australia and is said to be locally made without the use of wheat, corn, soy, gluten, artificial preservatives, colours and flavours, or unnecessary fillers. Uniquely, Black Hawk contains emu oil which provides omega 3, 6 and 9. The brand even promises to help pets become happier, healthier, and grow shinier coats. The product range covers only adult cat food. Black Hawk can be purchased from pet retail stores.
For a cat lover on a budget, Coles offers a wide range of choices while keeping grocery costs low. The range covers dry, tinned, and pouch cat food. The dry food range includes three different flavours, all available in 1kg boxes (as well as 4kg boxes for the Chicken & Salmon Flavour). Coles tinned varieties include three different 400g size tins. Finally, the 100g pouch packs are available individually in three different flavours, or as boxes of 12 each with three different flavours. There are four different variety packs, one each for ‘meat’, poultry, and fish.
Owned by Mars, IAMS began based on founder Paul F. Iams’ work with breeders and pet nutritionists to help improve nutrition and the quality of life of pets. His work and the work of his company led to new discoveries in the field of pet nutrition. Today, the product range for cats covers kittens, adults, and seniors, covering common cat health concerns such as hairball prevention and weight management. There are also a number of grain-free and grain-inclusive dinner tins to choose from.
Optimum – owned by Mars Petcare and endorsed by celebrity vet Dr Chris Brown – offers a simple range of six different dry foods – for kittens, adults, and seniors. You’ll also find food formulated for preventing furballs and for oral care. For kittens, it offers dry food with chicken while for adults it has the option of tuna, kangaroo or chicken flavours to choose from. These come in 800g bags and are claimed to provide additional vitamins and antioxidants to build your cat’s immunity.
Woolies’ own brand of cat food makes keeping your cat well fed much more affordable. The product range covers both dry and wet foods, with the latter coming in a range of tinned and pouch meals. All are formulated to meet the nutrition standards as defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Cat Nutrient Profiles. Smitten dry food is available in 1kg boxes, with two different flavours for adult cats (beef, lamb & vegetables and sardine, tuna & prawn), and one flavour for kittens (chicken & tuna). The 400g tinned food is available in six different recipes, including one kitten-specific dish. Meal pouches are available in a choice of two different recipes sold individually (100g) or as boxes of 12.
There’s plenty to consider when buying pet food. For some, it means finding something that meets their pet’s specific dietary needs (12%). Some pet owners also prefer to read the ingredients and nutritional information on products to make sure they know what’s going in their cats’ bellies (19%). Our results additionally show that a third (34%) of people we surveyed tend to switch up flavours, brands, and types of food to make sure their four-legged friend doesn’t get bored at mealtime. A similar number of people alternatively choose to stick to the same label (37%), while almost half (48%) of respondents admit to trying multiple brands of pet food.
To find out what makes Australian pet owners and their pets happy, we’ve listed the drivers of customer satisfaction in order of what our respondents considered to be the most important.
Similarly to dog food, it looks like more people are paying attention to their cat’s tastebuds compared to last year. Pet enjoyment (up from 35%) replaced value for money (down from 34%) as the number one driver of customer satisfaction. Although the average amount spent on cat food each month still remains around $67.
Not all cat food is the same – there can be a drastic difference between brands and their product lines. Unfortunately, it can be the case that cheaper is riskier as it may use cheaper, nutritionally-deficient fillers or it may not be compliant with Australian standards. This can also happen at the top end of the price range, which is why it’s so important to read the label.
The Australian pet food industry is largely self-regulated. In 2011, industry representatives, the RSPCA and various other relevant stakeholders developed the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food (AS 5812-2011) which sets base standards for pet food nutrition, safety, and marketing. However, adherence to this standard is voluntary – check the packaging to see whether or not it states to be compliant with AS 5812-2011. Also, according to the RSPCA, the regulation of ‘pet meat’ products is seriously lacking.
One longstanding issue with pet food safety in Australia is the use of sulphur dioxide, sodium sulphite, and potassium sulphite as food preservatives. These can cause potentially fatal thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiencies in cats and dogs. AS 5812 includes a requirement that any food product containing any of these preservatives must contain sufficient thiamine, to prevent a deficiency.
Cats have different dietary needs at different stages in their life – that’s why you’ll see different foods labelled for different kinds of cats.
There are also specialised food products available for cats with specific needs. If your cat has any chronic health issues, you should consult your vet about the appropriate diet to keep them healthy and happy.
The following ingredients should be avoided in cat food products:
There’s no clear consensus as to which type of cat food is better – dry or wet. ‘Wet’ cat food refers to all soft food types that usually come in tin cans, packets and sachets. Both wet and dry cat foods are nutritionally complete, provided they meet the Australian Standard. Dry cat food is generally considered to be good for teeth, while wet is considered good for bone and muscle development. However, it’s not a huge difference between the two. In the end, the choice comes down to personal preference (of both you and the cat) and your vet’s advice.
When asked which types of food they give their cats, respondents to our survey reported the following:
It’s generally considered good to chew on something that requires a bit of work from the jaw and teeth, to keep both strong and healthy. Dry cat food can also be more convenient for pet owners – it can be left out for longer without spoiling. That means busy owners who fill their cat’s bowl quickly on the way out the door in the morning don’t need to worry about the food becoming unsafe before they get home to dispose of any leftovers. While dry food is more energy-dense, it also has lower moisture content and can have more carbohydrates and less protein compared to wet varieties. It’s worth mentioning that dry cat food is generally cheaper than wet varieties.
Some cats might find wet food tastier. It’s certainly much closer to the natural diet of raw meat. If you’re concerned about your cat getting enough hydration, wet food is claimed to be an easy way to increase water intake, according to brands like Purina. You can even add more water and mix it into the food before serving. While content varies widely, wet cat food is said to generally contain more fat and protein (and fewer carbohydrates) than dry food. However, wet food is less energy-dense.
When choosing a wet food, avoid those with empty fillers such as corn and rice. Wet food spoils quickly, so it’s best served under supervision so that the uneaten remains can be taken away quickly. Eating wet food that’s been sitting out in the open for a few hours (particularly on a warm day) is a quick way to end up at the vet! Opened wet food should be stored in a sealed plastic or glass container (not in the tin) and kept refrigerated.
The folks at Hill’s Pet Nutrition believe moist or canned food should generally be eaten within four hours, or at least in circumstances where the temperature is above 10°C. Any opened cans should be stored in the fridge for up to five to seven days. Food leftover after this period should be thrown out.
Unlike humans and even dogs, cats are ‘obligate carnivores’. They cannot get all of the nutrients they need from plant sources. There are also numerous plants that humans happily eat but can be toxic to cats. The most important nutrient that they need that cannot be sourced from vegan food is taurine. Some synthetic taurine does exist, but it’s not yet clear whether or not it’s a sufficient replacement for the real deal. There are some vegan pet food brands, such as Vegan Pet, which are claimed to be vet-approved. However, don’t necessarily take their word for it – consult your vet. It’s generally not advisable to make your cat eat completely vegetarian or vegan cat food.
While the supermarket may naturally be considered the go-to for feeding your precious pet, as it is for humans, you should also consider beyond the supermarket shelves. As with many products, supermarkets don’t necessarily stock the highest end or even the greatest range, although it is convenient to do your cat’s grocery shopping at the same time as the human grocery shopping.
Cat food can be purchased from pet supply stores, online retailers, and sometimes directly from the brands themselves. Our survey shows 71% of respondents buy their pet food from the supermarket, while 23% buy from a pet store and 2% buy from their vet.
It can be cheaper in the long term to buy bulk cat food online, particularly if you’re buying the higher-end stuff. One in 10 (13%) pet owners said they generally buy the largest capacity of food available. Just make sure to do your research to ensure that you’re buying a reputable brand. If you’re considering an unfamiliar brand, it’s well worth your time looking for reviews and pet care forums to see what other cat carers’ experience has been with the product. Your kitty’s health and wellbeing are well worth your time.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: MaraZe/Shutterstock.com, Impact Photography/Shutterstock.com, Chendongshan/Shutterstock.com, Veera/Shutterstock.com, Yuriy Golub/Shutterstock.com, zannaz/Shutterstock.com, LADO/Shutterstock.com.
Canstar Blue’s cat food ratings saw a number of brands perform well in a number of areas.
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased food for their cat in the last 3 months – in this case, 449 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.