8 Best Cat Food Without Red Dye

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best cat food without red dye

Ever wondered if your feline friend really cares about the color of their food? Spoiler alert: they don’t.

Welcome to our meticulously researched guide on the best cat food without red dye.

Cats, being color-blind, don’t need their food to be visually appealing. What matters most is the nutritional value and taste.

We’ve invested hours in research and consulted with veterinarians to curate this top-notch list of wet and dry cat food without red dye. To ensure your feline friend gets the nutrition they need, minus the unnecessary additives.

Our top recommendation? Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food. It stands out for its nutritional value and absence of artificial coloring.

Every cat is unique, and so are their dietary needs. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list to cater to different preferences and requirements.

So, read on to discover the perfect dye-free diet for your feline friend.

Quick Overview

Here’s a quick glance at the best cat foods we’ve reviewed, highlighting their suitability:

FoodBest forWhere to buy
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Dry Cat FoodBest OverallCheck Price Now
Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten FoodBest for Picky EatersCheck Price Now
Purina Cat Chow Naturals OriginalBest Budget OptionCheck Price Now
Merrick Grain-Free Canned Cat FoodBest Wet FoodCheck Price Now
ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Recipe Cat FoodBest Without ChickenCheck Price Now
I and Love and You Salmon & Trout RecipeBest for Adult CatsCheck Price Now
Nutro Wholesome Essentials AdultBest for Senior CatsCheck Price Now
Instinct Original Grain-Free RecipeBest with Raw IngredientsCheck Price Now

8 Best Cat Food Without Red Dye

Now, let’s dive into the detailed review of each food on the list to figure out which is the best cat food without red dye for your cat.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

– Best Overall

hill's science diet dry cat food

Food TypeDry Food
Primary IngredientsChicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Pork Fat, Powdered Cellulose
Guaranteed Analysis31.0% Crude Protein, 13.0% Crude Fat, 12.0% Crude Fiber, 8.0% Moisture
Special DietIndoor, With Grain
Life StageAdult
Customer Rating4.3

Hill’s Science Diet offers this Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food, a product that stands out for its focus on the specific needs of indoor cats. And it guarantees your furball stays away from any artificial additives including the red dye.

It features chicken as its main ingredient to offer high-quality protein. Protein plays a crucial role in a cat’s diet, as it helps maintain muscle mass, bolsters the immune system, and aids in the production of enzymes and hormones.

It also includes natural fibers. They improve digestion and ease litter box cleaning. Fiber also regulates bowel movements, reduces hairballs, and keeps cats fuller for longer.

Designed for adult cats, it is crafted with natural ingredients and includes DHA from fish oil to enhance brain health and eye development. It also contains balanced minerals for strong teeth and bones.

The food’s ability to support a healthy immune system is also a plus, thanks to its antioxidant and vitamin blend.

Customer feedback highlights the benefits of this food. Many cat owners appreciate the improved digestive health and reduced hairballs in their pets.

However, not all reviews are glowing. Some customers have raised concerns about the kibble size, which can be too large for some cats. This has led to difficulties in eating and, in some cases, cats refusing the food altogether.


  • Specifically formulated for indoor cats
  • High-quality ingredients for optimal nutrition
  • Promotes digestive health and reduces hairballs
  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • No chicken by-product meal
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives


  • Kibble size may be too large for some cats
  • Not suitable for a cat who is allergic to grain

Nulo Freestyle Chicken & Cod Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food

– Best for Picky Eaters

nulo freestyle chicken recipe grain-free cat food

Food TypeDry Food
Primary IngredientsDeboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Deboned Cod, Whole Peas
Guaranteed Analysis40.0% Crude Protein, 20.0% Crude Fat, 4.0% Crude Fiber, 10.0% Moisture
Special DietGrain-Free, Gluten Free, Low Glycemic, High-Protein
Life StageAdult
Customer Rating4.3

Nulo’s Chicken & Cod Recipe stands out for its high-protein, grain-free formula, catering to both kittens and adult cats. It is also free from artificial colors and red dye, ensuring a natural diet for your feline.

The blend of deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and deboned cod provides a rich source of protein.

Omega fatty acids in the formula promote a healthy coat and skin. The absence of potatoes and tapioca makes it a good choice for cats with dietary sensitivities.

Additionally, this food is enriched with essential nutrients like dried chicory root, dried kelp, and vitamins C, E, and A, along with Taurine, supporting overall health, vision, and heart function.

Most customers appreciate its quality and health benefits. However, some noted the small kibble size and varying taste preferences among cats.


  • High-quality, natural ingredients
  • No red dye or any other artificial coloring
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • Promotes coat health and digestion


  • Small kibble size may not suit all cats
  • Taste may not be preferred by some cats

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food

– Best Budget Option

purina cat chow natural original

Food TypeDry Food
Primary IngredientsChicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-product Meal, Rice, Soybean Meal
Guaranteed Analysis34.0% Crude Protein, 13.0% Crude Fat, 3.0% Crude Fiber, 12.0% Moisture
Special DietHigh-Protein, Weight Control, Indoor, Natural, With Grain
Life StageAll life stages
Customer Rating4.7

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality.

Designed to cater to cats of all life stages, it’s a versatile choice for multi-cat households.

It’s free from artificial additives, aligning with the needs of health-conscious cat owners.

Chicken and chicken by-product meals are the main sources of protein. The inclusion of by-product meal suggests a lower protein quality compared to other options.

It’s enriched with whole grains and 25 essential vitamins and minerals, supporting overall health.

Notably, it includes omega-6 fatty acids, which are crucial for maintaining a healthy skin and coat.

With a high customer rating, it’s clear that most cat owners are satisfied with this product. However, some cats may find the kibble size less than ideal, and flavor preferences can vary.


  • Natural ingredients with real chicken and salmon
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • No artificial additives
  • Enriched with vitamins and minerals for overall health


  • Kibble size may not be suitable for all cats
  • Some cats may not prefer the taste
  • Contains chicken by-product meal

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Rabbit Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

– Best Wet Food

merrick purrfect bistro rabbit recipe

Food TypeWet Food
Primary IngredientsDeboned Rabbit, Chicken Broth, Deboned Chicken, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor
Guaranteed Analysis9.0% Crude Protein, 4.0% Crude Fat, 1.4% Crude Fiber, 78.0% Moisture
Special DietGrain-Free, Gluten Free, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, High-Protein, Pea-Free
Life StageAll life stages
Customer Rating4.0

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Rabbit Pate is a grain-free canned food, crafted without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, offering a natural and wholesome diet for adult cats.

Merrick’s commitment to quality is evident in this rabbit pate. The deboned rabbit provides a high-quality protein source. The absence of grains makes it an ideal choice for cats with grain sensitivities.

The food’s nutritional composition includes essential vitamins, minerals, and taurine, along with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids for healthy skin and fur.

A pH level of around 6 is beneficial for cats to maintain a healthy urinary pH with regular freshwater intake.

The majority of customer reviews are positive. However, some concerns have been raised about quality consistency, with reports of variations in texture and occasional bone fragments.


  • High-quality, real rabbit as the primary ingredient
  • Grain-free, suitable for cats with sensitivities
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Affordable in the premium cat food category
  • Beneficial pH level for urinary health


  • Inconsistency in texture and occasional oily or watery batches
  • Reports of bone fragments, raising safety concerns
  • Some cats may not be accustomed to rabbit

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Recipe Cat Food

– Best Without Chicken

ziwi peak air-dried lamb recipe cat food

Food TypeAir-Dried, Dehydrated
Primary IngredientsLamb, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Lung, Lamb Heart, Lamb Liver
Guaranteed Analysis38.0% Crude Protein, 30.0% Crude Fat, 3.0% Crude Fiber, 14.0% Moisture
Special DietLimited Ingredient Diet, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Grain-Free, Pea-Free, Non-GMO, High-Protein, Natural
Life StageAdult
Customer Rating3.9

ZIWI Peak’s Air-Dried Lamb Recipe is a premium choice for cat owners, focusing on a grain-free, high-protein diet. This food is crafted to mirror a cat’s natural diet, free from artificial colors and red dye. ZIWI Peak uses high-quality lamb, lamb tripe, and lamb lung, providing essential proteins that support muscle development and maintenance.

Lamb is a rich source of amino acids, which is vital for a cat’s health yet it cannot produce sufficient on its own.

Lamb tripe and lung contribute to a balanced diet with their unique nutrient profiles, supporting overall health and vitality. The inclusion of New Zealand green mussels offers natural glucosamine and chondroitin, promoting joint health.

Organic kelp, a source of vitamins and minerals, supports thyroid function and overall wellness.

With a relatively high rating on Chewy, many customers report improved coat health and digestive wellness in their cats.

However, some cats may not prefer the lamb flavor, and the price is another consideration for buyers.


  • Rich in high-quality proteins from lamb
  • Supports muscle health and overall vitality
  • No artificial colors or red dye


  • Lamb flavor may not be universally liked

I and Love and You Naked Essentials Salmon & Trout Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

– Best for Adult Cats

I and love and you naked essentials

Food TypeDry Food
Primary IngredientsSalmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Dried Garbanzo Beans, Dried Peas
Guaranteed Analysis34.0% Crude Protein, 14.0% Crude Fat, 4.0% Crude Fiber, 12.0% Moisture
Special DietGrain-Free, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, High-Protein
Life StageAdult
Customer Rating4.0

“I and Love and You” offers a holistic approach to cat nutrition with its Salmon & Trout Recipe. This grain-free dry cat food emphasizes high-quality protein sources, particularly salmon, to support overall feline health.

The primary ingredients, salmon and chicken meal provide essential amino acids and fatty acids. These nutrients are vital for muscle development, energy, and maintaining healthy skin and coat.

It includes prebiotics and probiotics for gut health. However, it also contains beans and peas, which add more carbohydrates and could lead to obesity.

It is free from common fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.

The product is generally popular, but not all cats like its taste. Additionally, there are instances of cats developing dry skin and coarse fur after consuming it.


  • High-quality protein from salmon and chicken meal.
  • Grain-free, suitable for cats with sensitivities.
  • Promotes muscle building and energy.
  • Supports skin health and a shiny coat.


  • The flavor may not appeal to all cats.
  • Some reports of dry skin and coarse fur.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

– Best for Senior Cats

nutro wholesome essential cat food

Food TypeDry Food
Primary IngredientsSalmon, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Grain Brown Rice
Guaranteed Analysis33.0% Crude Protein, 17.0% Crude Fat, 4.0% Crude Fiber, 10.0% Moisture
Special DietNo Corn No Wheat No Soy, Non-GMO, Natural, With Grain
Life StageAdult
Customer Rating4.6

This Nutro formula offers a balanced diet for adult cats, particularly those who thrive on a grain-inclusive diet.

The high-quality salmon and absence of artificial additives make it a healthy choice, though preferences for grain content and flavor vary among cats.

Salmon provides high-quality protein and flavor. Brown rice adds dietary fiber, aiding in digestion.

It also contains essential antioxidants for immunity and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health.

Besides, Nutro never uses GMO ingredients, corn, wheat, soy, chicken by-product meal, or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.

Most cat owners praise this food, yet there are concerns about the inclusion of rice in the formula.


  • High-quality salmon as the main protein source
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Supports digestive health and lean muscle maintenance


  • Contains grains, which may not suit all cats.
  • Some cats may not prefer the taste.

Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

– Best with Raw Ingredients

instinct original grain-free cat food

Food TypeDry Food
Primary IngredientsChicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas
Guaranteed Analysis41.0% Crude Protein, 21.0% Crude Fat, 3.0% Crude Fiber, 9.0% Moisture
Special DietGrain-Free, Gluten Free, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Natural, High-Protein, Premium
Life StageAdult
Customer Rating4.2

Instinct’s formula provides a nutritious choice for those seeking a raw-inspired diet for cats. It’s rich in protein and natural ingredients, benefiting cat health.

This food, with high animal protein from cage-free chicken, supports lean muscle and overall health. It caters to cats’ natural dietary preferences.

It also includes live probiotics, natural omegas, and antioxidants for digestive health, skin and coat health, and immune support.

Instinct pet food, designed to deliver essential nutrition for cats, avoids grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meals, and artificial colors or preservatives.

Some customers commend the food for its quality and benefits for their cats. In comparison, others criticize its crumbs or smell.


  • High animal protein content from cage-free chicken.
  • dye-free food.
  • Beneficial for muscle health and digestion.


  • Some issues with packaging and product consistency.

Why You Should Buy Cat Food Without Red Dye?

When it comes to our feline friends, we all want what’s best for them. Let’s delve into why cat food without red dye is a healthier choice for your kitty.

why you should buy cat food without red dye

Adverse Health Effects

These artificial dyes, originally derived from coal tar and now petroleum, have been controversial due to their adverse effects on laboratory animals, mainly rodents:

  • Blue 1: Not toxic in key rat and mouse studies, but there are concerns about its effect on kidney tumors in mice and nerve cells.
  • Blue 2: Linked to brain gliomas in male rats, raising questions about its safety.
  • Green 3: Associated with bladder and testes tumors in male rats.
  • Red 3: Recognized as a thyroid carcinogen in animals.
  • Red 40: May accelerate immune-system tumors in mice and cause hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Yellow 5: Not carcinogenic in rats but inadequately tested in mice. Linked to hypersensitivity reactions and behavioral effects in children.
  • Yellow 6: Caused adrenal tumors in animals and may be contaminated with carcinogens.

While there’s limited evidence on how food dyes impact cats, it’s best not to take risks with our pets.

Notably, the Laurel Animal Shelter in Mississippi requested donations of cat food without red dye. They observed that cats eating food with Red Dye #40 often had significant digestive issues.[1]

Hyperactivity in Children

A California state report found that synthetic food dyes may cause hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children.[2] This suggests a need to reassess these additives in all foods, including pet food. However, more research is necessary in this area.

Stricter Regulations in Europe

In Europe, foods containing these dyes come with warning labels, reflecting the cautious approach towards food safety. In contrast, the FDA in the U.S. still permits these dyes based on outdated studies. This discrepancy raises questions about the safety standards applied to food dyes in the U.S.

By choosing dye-free cat food, you’re prioritizing your cat’s health and well-being, ensuring they get only what they need – nutritious, wholesome food.

How to Choose the Best Cat Food Without Red Dye?

Selecting the right cat food without red dye involves more than just avoiding colorful kibble. It’s about understanding what truly matters in your cat’s diet. Here’s a guide to help you make the best choice for your feline friend.

choose the best cat food without red dye

Avoid Any Color Additives

The first step is to eliminate any cat food containing color additives. These are divided into two categories by the FDA:

Certified colors, which are synthetic and often cheaper, and colors exempt from certification, which are derived from natural sources.

Certified colors include FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6. They are often listed on labels without the “FD&C” or “No.” prefix.

Colors exempt from certification, although natural, can still be misleading and are often labeled as “artificial color” or “color added.” Vigilance in reading ingredient lists is key.

Understand Cats’ Nutrition Needs

Unlike humans, cats have unique nutrition needs, so avoid feeding them food they cannot eat or digest. The ideal cat food will have a high protein content, moderate fat, and low carbohydrates.

High Amount of Animal Protein

Cats, as obligate carnivores, require a high protein diet for muscle, skin, fur, and overall health maintenance.

The protein source should be the first ingredient listed and should be a named meat source like chicken, beef, or salmon, rather than vague terms like “meat by-products” or “poultry” suggesting less desirable, mixed animal parts in the food.

Moderate Amounts of fat

Fats, particularly essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, are crucial for skin and coat health.

Fat is found in ingredients such as salmon, chicken, liver, or beef. Sometimes, extra fat is added, and you’ll see specific sources listed in the ingredients, like beef fat, fish oil, or soybean oil.

Minimal Amount of Carbohydrates

Cats have evolved to derive most of their energy from protein and fat, meaning carbohydrates like starch and fiber aren’t essential in their diet. The less, the better.

Look for the AAFCO Statement

For cat owners, deciphering the nutritional content in cat food can be challenging due to complex names and jargon.

A simple way to ensure your cat receives all necessary nutrients is to buy foods with an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional adequacy statement on their labels.

Foods must meet or exceed AAFCO’s nutritional adequacy standards to be marketed as “complete and balanced” for a specific life stage.

Choose Natural or Organic Cat Food

Another quick method to select the best cat food without red dye is to look for products labeled as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’.

Natural and organic cat food, often easier to digest, typically features high-quality ingredients without any artificial additives.

The AAFCO states that for cat food to be labeled “Natural,” its ingredients must not undergo chemically synthetic processes, excluding artificial coloring, flavor, or preservatives.

The USDA defines “organic” pet food as free from antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides, and preservatives. Organic cat food ingredients must not be genetically modified, grown with chemical fertilizers, or irradiated.

Pet food products must contain at least 95% organic ingredients to display the USDA organic seal and the certified organic statement.

Consider Life Stage

Cats’ nutritional needs vary with age. Kitten food is formulated to support rapid growth and development, adult cat food for maintenance, and senior cat food often contains supplements for joint health and has lower calorie content.

Selecting a food appropriate for your cat’s life stage is crucial for their health.

Talk to Your Vet

Consulting with your veterinarian is always a wise step when changing your cat’s diet, especially if they have specific health issues or dietary needs.

Your vet can provide personalized advice based on your cat’s health history and current condition.


What is the best cat food with no chemicals?

The best option for cat food without chemicals is organic cat food. These foods are made with natural ingredients and are free from synthetic additives, including artificial colors and preservatives.

What cat food has no dyes in it?

Many natural and organic cat food brands pride themselves on not using any artificial dyes. Always check the ingredient list to confirm.

Is red dye in cat food bad for cats?

While definitive studies on cats are limited, red dye has been linked to health issues in other animals and humans. It’s generally advised to avoid cat foods with red dye to prevent potential risks.

What does Red 40 do to cats?

Red 40 has been associated with digestive problems in cats, as seen in some animal shelters. There may also be other health risks not yet fully understood.

Why do food brands put dye in cat food?

Dyes are often added to make the food more visually appealing to human buyers, not the cats, who have limited color vision.

Does Meow Mix have red dye?

Some Meow Mix products may contain red dye. It’s essential to read the ingredient list of the specific product you’re considering.

Is it OK to choose Natural Food Coloring?

Natural food colorings, derived from plants and other natural sources, are generally considered safer than synthetic dyes. However, they are unnecessary for cat food.

Does organic food have artificial food coloring?

Organic cat foods are usually free from artificial food coloring and other synthetic additives. They adhere to strict standards for organic certification.

The Final Words

In our journey to find the best cat food without red dye, we’ve explored various aspects of what makes a cat food product both safe and nutritious for our feline friends.

The key takeaway is the importance of choosing cat food that prioritizes natural ingredients and avoids unnecessary additives like red dye, which can have questionable effects on a cat’s health.

Our top recommendation, Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food, stands out as an excellent choice for its high-quality ingredients and absence of artificial colors.

Remember, each cat has unique needs, so it’s always wise to consult your vet before changing their diet.

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