What is the cheapest grain free cat food?

redfurmom

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We have multiple cats and have tried a few high priced bags in the past like Orijen, Solid Gold, etc which they all loved but it was breaking the bank. We read that cats will eat less of a high quality grain free food so we figured that would compensate for the higher cost but they seemed to eat about the same or more.

What are the most affordable grain free dry foods? We'd love to feed all canned but after crunching numbers, it's gonna be way too expensive. At least for now. Thanks in advance!
 

missmimz

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Truth, there isn't any. "Grain free" doesn't really mean anything, because all companies do is switch out "grains" for something else starchy, like potatoes, or veggies. The "cheaper" you go, the worse the kibble gets. Orijen is probably the best, although it's def not anywhere near as good as it was before the formulary change. What wet food are you feeding and how many cats? There are ways to feed 100% wet food on a tight budget. FF classic, Tractor Supply's 4health, even some friskies in rotation, way better than cheap kibble. 
 
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redfurmom

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We've been feeding sportmix dry and special kitty can to a few who need can food--including our girl Jada who was just diagnosed with diabetes. She's actually still at the vet on a fluid IV. We're down to one budget so it's tough. The thing is that the can food we end up feeding can NOT have any gravy/sauce because of her diabetes. I've been googling and came across Feline's Pride--their cornish hen flavor--which has 55% protein and 0% carbs so that would be amazing for Jada but at over $80 a month just for her, we can't swing it.

We care for over 50 cats on a daily basis between our guys and a tame colony which we've fed for several years. Some of those guys have special needs as well so the new food overhaul will have to apply to everyone. Weights for all the cats range from 5 to 16 lbs. All spayed/neutered which decreased their energy for the most part, with the exception of a handful of wide open cats. But they all pretty much just lounge all day so there's no super high activity levels. Also, the colony, even though they are outside cats, are not out in the open to wander. A neighbor built an enclosure for them so that's where they live. No access to hunting on their own.
 

sargon

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The cheapest grain free dry food that I know of  has a decent reputation is probably, "Taste of the Wild", which *IS* cheaper than others, but still is relatively pricey. I read some decent things about Kirkland's catfood, but I remain skeptical on that count.

With 50 cats... you may just have to accept that you can't afford to feed them the best (and just research to find a less bad cheapo food), and be satisfied in the knowledge that they are sill living longer safer, and better lives.  Good food matters, but few people have the financial resources to feed 50 cats something like  Orijin, Fromm,  or Young again kibble, let alone premium canned options.
 

jazzyp

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The cheapest grain free dry food that I know of  has a decent reputation is probably, "Taste of the Wild", which *IS* cheaper than others, but still is relatively pricey. I read some decent things about Kirkland's catfood, but I remain skeptical on that count.

With 50 cats... you may just have to accept that you can't afford to feed them the best (and just research to find a less bad cheapo food), and be satisfied in the knowledge that they are sill living longer safer, and better lives.  Good food matters, but few people have the financial resources to feed 50 cats something like  Orijin, Fromm,  or Young again kibble, let alone premium canned options.
This was my first thought, as well.  It's what I was feeding my cats for a while.  Then, under a bit of pressure, I switched to 4Health, first the grain-free, then just regular indoor cat food.  I ended up with one case of severe UTI, a cat on prescription food, and a recommendation from my vet that I try 4Health all life stages for the other cats.  No dice.  Two more cats with UTI, the rest with elevated pH in their urine, now on prescription food, which pretty much means everyone has to eat it.  I hate, hate, hate prescription food, particularly Science Diet, so now I am looking for affordable alternatives, hopefully not kibble.  But that's another post...my next one, in fact.

Anyway, I digress.  Taste of the Wild is good food, if you have to feed kibble.  It's going to be expensive if you are feeding lots of cats, but far less so than any of the super-premium brands.  Please note, those who have pointed out that grain-free does not mean carb-free, so whatever brand you get, do your homework on the ingredients.  Chicken Soup cat food is also pretty good, but it does contain grain.  Please be aware that both this and Taste are made by Diamond, and there have been recalls in the past, but that is true of many, many commercial foods.

You have my utmost respect (perhaps absolute adoration) for taking care of a tame colony.  Those kitties are lucky to have you, whatever you are able to feed them.  
 
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redfurmom

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This was my first thought, as well.  It's what I was feeding my cats for a while.  Then, under a bit of pressure, I switched to 4Health, first the grain-free, then just regular indoor cat food.  I ended up with one case of severe UTI, a cat on prescription food, and a recommendation from my vet that I try 4Health all life stages for the other cats.  No dice.  Two more cats with UTI, the rest with elevated pH in their urine, now on prescription food, which pretty much means everyone has to eat it.  I hate, hate, hate prescription food, particularly Science Diet, so now I am looking for affordable alternatives, hopefully not kibble.  But that's another post...my next one, in fact.



Anyway, I digress.  Taste of the Wild is good food, if you have to feed kibble.  It's going to be expensive if you are feeding lots of cats, but far less so than any of the super-premium brands.  Please note, those who have pointed out that grain-free does not mean carb-free, so whatever brand you get, do your homework on the ingredients.  Chicken Soup cat food is also pretty good, but it does contain grain.  Please be aware that both this and Taste are made by Diamond, and there have been recalls in the past, but that is true of many, many commercial foods.



You have my utmost respect (perhaps absolute adoration) for taking care of a tame colony.  Those kitties are lucky to have you, whatever you are able to feed them.  
Thank you! We're seeing what we can shift or lower; anything to afford the best we can. We lost Jada. She died yesterday of renal failure. It may or may not have been related to what we were feeding but it kills me we lost her. We only had 1.5 years with her. We're trying to avoid kibble but it looks like that's what we're going to have to go with. Hopefully we find a great food at an affordable price. And good luck to you as well!
 

thegreystalker

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Reasonably Affordable Wet Food Brands; No Grains But Some Carbohydrate Content Nevertheless

Natural Value

Sheba

Purina Beyond (Classic)

Purina Pro Plan True Nature (Classic)

Under the Sun

Triumph

Companion Wholesome Formula (the house brand at Stop & Shop Supermarkets in the NE and Mid-Atlantic states)
 

thegreystalker

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Also,

Chewy.com has significantly decreased the price of some of their Iams grain-free recipes.  Some do include tapioca starch, rice flour and pea protein (sources of gravy).  Yes, rice is a grain, a fact which for some strange reason AAFCO ignores.  That said, these recipes contain no corn, wheat or soy.

Purrfect Delights Salmon-dippty Do

Purrfect Delights Chicken Chunks

Purrfect delights Chicken-dulgence

Note also that new grain free recipe Super Supper from 9 Lives, while chock full of MBP, has no CWS.
 

thegreystalker

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Additionally,

Try some grain free kibble that is CWS free, of good quality, and does break the bank.

Purina Beyond

Evolve

Canidae Pure Elements

Purina Pro Plan True Nature

Nutro

Finally, there's a current sale at OnlyNaturalPet.com.  I picked up some rabbit recipe kibble; 10lbs bag for 27 bucks, which is a great price for high quality/high protein ingredient food.  Their chicken formula and turkey formula are most costly than the rabbit formula at this time.
 
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redfurmom

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Reasonably Affordable Wet Food Brands; No Grains But Some Carbohydrate Content Nevertheless

Natural Value

Sheba

Purina Beyond (Classic)

Purina Pro Plan True Nature (Classic)

Under the Sun

Triumph

Companion Wholesome Formula (the house brand at Stop & Shop Supermarkets in the NE and Mid-Atlantic states)
Thank you for the suggestions! We'd really love to feed raw if possible. Our budget will be about $400-$450 a month for all of the cats no matter what route we take whether it's kibble or dry. Is this doable? If so, how?
 

QuinnsMama

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I don't know how much you've been looking around online, but I found this thread on Catster.

A page I'm looking at now recommends, for those feeding a stray/feral/colony/etc. on a budget, Fancy Feast (they note the highlight ingredients: real meat as the first ingredients (Chicken, broth, chicken, liver.), very affordable, balanced, nutritious option) for wet food and, for dry food, Goodlife (highlights: Real meat #1 ingredient, no soy, corn, or wheat, the best for your buck, premium nutrition, antioxidant blend).

This is said site.

I found this cool pdf, it's about feeding ferals on a budget and how to make what you can afford to give them more nutritious.

Can do more research and update this if you'd like, this was pretty much just scratching the surface of the first page of Google.
 

jade14

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My cat loves the Sheba canned food, it is really quite decent for the price, about the same quality as Fancy Feast Classics which he also loves.  I get a case of 24 of the turkey kind on Chewy for only $8.  
 

jazzyp

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This was my first thought, as well.  It's what I was feeding my cats for a while.  Then, under a bit of pressure, I switched to 4Health, first the grain-free, then just regular indoor cat food.  I ended up with one case of severe UTI, a cat on prescription food, and a recommendation from my vet that I try 4Health all life stages for the other cats.  No dice.  Two more cats with UTI, the rest with elevated pH in their urine, now on prescription food, which pretty much means everyone has to eat it.  I hate, hate, hate prescription food, particularly Science Diet, so now I am looking for affordable alternatives, hopefully not kibble.  But that's another post...my next one, in fact.

Anyway, I digress.  Taste of the Wild is good food, if you have to feed kibble.  It's going to be expensive if you are feeding lots of cats, but far less so than any of the super-premium brands.  Please note, those who have pointed out that grain-free does not mean carb-free, so whatever brand you get, do your homework on the ingredients.  Chicken Soup cat food is also pretty good, but it does contain grain.  Please be aware that both this and Taste are made by Diamond, and there have been recalls in the past, but that is true of many, many commercial foods.

You have my utmost respect (perhaps absolute adoration) for taking care of a tame colony.  Those kitties are lucky to have you, whatever you are able to feed them.  
Thank you! We're seeing what we can shift or lower; anything to afford the best we can. We lost Jada. She died yesterday of renal failure. It may or may not have been related to what we were feeding but it kills me we lost her. We only had 1.5 years with her. We're trying to avoid kibble but it looks like that's what we're going to have to go with. Hopefully we find a great food at an affordable price. And good luck to you as well!
I am so sorry about Jada.  
 
Thank you for the suggestions! We'd really love to feed raw if possible. Our budget will be about $400-$450 a month for all of the cats no matter what route we take whether it's kibble or dry. Is this doable? If so, how?
A lot depends on where you live and how expensive food is there.  A starting point is knowing that the average indoor cat needs about 20 calories per pound of body weight.  Less active or fat cats need less, active cats need more.  Your colony cats will undoubtedly need more.  You may not be able to weigh each cat, but can you estimate?  

Once you've established how many calories your cats will need daily, you can look at the calorie content of some of your food options, and see if they will fit your budget.  It's not hard to figure out the calorie content of a can of food, there are websites that give it.  For a bag of kibble, it's a little harder to get a bead on how many servings are in the bag.  I did this today with the last of a bag of Science Diet, which is what I want to get my cats off of.  The bag weighed 17.6 lbs. when full, with 349 calories per cup of food.  I placed a measuring cup on my kitchen scale to have it read at zero, then put the full cup on the scale.  The cup of food weighed 3.5 oz., not including the weight of the cup.  Then you just do the math to figure out how many servings are in the bag, based on calories, and how much each serving costs.  And I only had to do this for six cats - I do not envy you!  

Canned food is better than dry, but the one problem for people on a budget is the fact that it is less calorically dense, due to it's high water content (ironically, this is also part of why it is better for the cats.)  This is the issue I was struggling with almost all day yesterday - trying to calculate the needs of each cat, my own budget, and then, choosing the healthiest option that I could still afford.  It is going to be very difficult for you to find a canned grain-free food for 50 cats on that budget.  You're working with, at most, about $15 a day.  That's about 33 cents per cat.  You aren't going to be able to serve canned grain-free only for that.  M own pet-food budget is slightly larger, about 50-55 cents per cat per day, and I couldn't find any grain-free canned food that would fit and still give each cat enough to eat.  You might be able to combine a dry grain-free with a more affordable canned food that includes grain.  It will be a compromise, but some kind of compromise is probably going to be unavoidable.  Believe me, I sympathize.  It is incredibly frustrating.

If you live somewhere where food costs are not high, and if you have large freezer, raw may work for you.  You will want to stock up when it is on sale, and you might also look at sites like freecycle, to see if anyone in your area is giving away meat.  (Yes, it happens.  I used to feed my dogs raw, and you would be amazed at what people will give away when they clean out their own freezers.  I was given venison, emu, and even whole turkeys.  I also stocked up on things like chicken leg quarters and the cheaper pork roasts when I found them on sale.  Sometimes you can get people who process deer carcasses during hunting season to give you scraps.  I had to stop with raw when I moved to Alaska, because I lived in a little cabin with only a dorm fridge, and had no more room to store meat from sales, and Alaska prices being what they are, doing anything other than sale shopping was simply impossible.  

If you are interested in raw, and have a place to store the meat, there are lots of resources for you to learn how to do it.  Catinfo has some great information.  I fed my dogs prey model raw, meaning they ate muscle meat on the bone, and organs (a variety, not just liver.)  People who are uncomfortable with serving meat on the bone can grind it up, and catinfo discusses how to do this.  Even shopping sales and getting freebies, though, it may cost more than you can spend.  But the addition of some raw food would be beneficial, even if you have to rely on kibble for some of the cats' needs.

I posted a thread of my own yesterday, looking for affordable canned food, and got some good suggestions, although most were not grain-free.  You might find some of them helpful, too.

Best of luck, and please, keep us posted about how it goes.  
 
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jazzyp

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I just remembered something that might help you a little.  I don't know where you are, but if you have a Tractor Supply Company in your area, they give a 5% discount for purchases of 20 or more bags of food.  I don't think it applies to 4Health, but I believe that is the only brand excluded.  Sadly, the discount is not available for canned.  Five percent doesn't sound like a lot, but when you are feeding so many animals, every bit helps.  Other stores in your area may offer a similar deal.  It's worth asking.
 
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