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As a certified pet nutritionist & herbalist, my goal everyday is to help pet-parents bring their pet-kids to their best health possible through diet and natural medicines. One of the simplest things we as pet-parents can do everyday is to feed our pet the most FRESH balanced diets possible. While a well-balanced fresh (pre-frozen meat) raw food diet is in-arguably the best diet possible for our cat and dog kiddos... I understand that this is not always an option for many in our pet community. This is why I am working hard to create these pet food lists to help you choose from the other types of food options which can still create great health in your pet and dehydrated, also known as air-dried food is a great option!
There seems to be much confusion between the difference between dehydrated or air-dried pet foods and freeze-dried cat foods, so I want to take a minute to clear up the confusion:
A dehydrated or air-dried cat food is a food which has gone through a process of slowly removing all water from the food by use of air set at a temperature of typically 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The foods used in these recipes are sometimes raw, or some-times slightly pre-cooked; but the end result is a food which has been heat processed which does de-nature the nutrient content of the food in excess to freeze-drying.
A freeze-dried raw cat food is a food which has gone through a process of deep freezing to remove all water form the food by use exposure for a set number of days to temperatures of typically -30 degrees and -50 degrees Fahrenheit. The foods are processed directly form their raw form with no processing or exposure to heat. The end result is a food which still is slightly denatured beyond that of a frozen raw diet where the moisture has not been removed, but still is higher in nutrient density than that of air-dried formulations. However, in this type of processing there is a slightly higher chance of surviving bacteria through the processing versus that of dehydrating.
I personally do not feed dehydrated cat foods, or typically recommend them to pet-parents I am working with because process of dehydrating pet foods leads to increased prices of the food compared to other food type varieties making them cost prohibitive for many. Also, in any food it is the water or the moisture in the food which contains the aroma, and cats appetite drive is hugely driven by aroma of their foods. I often find that many cats just do not eat these dehydrated and air-dried formulas very well, but of course there is always expectations to any rule and some cats love them, so if you think a dehydrated or air-dried cat food option is a good one for you and your cats then give it a try!
I have compiled this list of recommended dehydrated/air-dried cat foods based on companies who are creating the diets to contain complete and balanced formulas for all life-stages of cats, and using quality ingredients in their formulations.
1. The Honest Kitchen dehydrated cat food: $0.67 cents per oz.
2. Grandma Lucy's Artisan freeze-dried cat food. $0.73 cents per oz.
3. Sojo's dehydrated cat food: $0.89 cents per oz.
4. Ziwi Peak air-dried cat food: $1.15 per oz.
5. Real Meat Company air-dried cat food: $1.30 cents per oz.
6. Zeal Canada air-dried cat food: $1.89 cents per oz.