Iams vs Purina Cat Food: How to Pick the Purrfect Food for Your Feline Friend

Iams vs Purina Cat Food: Which is Better for Your Feline Friend?

As a cat owner for over 10 years and a feline behavior enthusiast, I’m often asked which cat food brand I recommend – Iams or Purina? It’s a great question, because we all want the very best for our furry companions. While both produce quality cat foods, after analyzing ingredients, nutrition, and cat owner experiences, I believe Iams edges out Purina. Iams takes the win for providing optimal nutrition tailored specifically for cats.

In this article, we’ll compare ingredient quality, nutritional value, pricing, and real owner feedback on both brands. I’ll also share tips on safely transitioning your cat to a new food, because abrupt changes lead to tummy troubles! By the end, you’ll know how to choose the ideal food to keep your cat healthy and happy.

Ingredient Quality and Nutrition

When it comes to ingredients, meat-based proteins should be at the top of the list – cats are obligate carnivores after all! As an experiment, I compared the first 5 ingredients of similar Iams and Purina foods side-by-side. What I found is that Iams tends to emphasize meat ingredients like chicken, salmon, turkey, and egg. However, Purina formulas often list corn, wheat, soy, and meat by-products before the first meat source.

As a cat owner, I always check for by-products, which can include undesirable extras like beaks, feet, and intestines. Iams minimizes these, while Purina foods contain them more often.

When I consulted veterinarian Dr. Sarah Michaels about cat nutrition, she explained why Iams has an edge. Its recipes are specifically tailored to match cats’ high protein needs and low carb digestion. Purina takes a more generalized approach for pets. No wonder my own two cats gobbled up Iams but turned up their noses at Purina!

Pricing Comparisons

I won’t pretend that Iams doesn’t cost more – it generally runs about 20-30% higher than Purina per pound. When I priced out a few popular recipes of each brand at my local pet stores, here’s what I found:

  • Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care adult dry cat food, 16 lb bag: $42.99 ($2.68 per lb)
  • Purina ONE Urinary Tract Health Formula adult dry cat food, 16.5 lb bag: $31.98 ($1.94 per lb)
  • Iams Proactive Health Pate wet cat food, 12 ct 5.5 oz cans: $15.49 ($2.58 per can)
  • Purina Fancy Feast wet cat food, 12 ct 3 oz cans: $10.99 ($0.92 per can)

That steeper price tag reflects the higher quality ingredients and specialized cat nutrition expertise that Iams offers. For me, it’s worth spending a little more to invest in my cats’ health. But I totally get how Purina’s lower prices can fit better in a tight budget. Their food still provides balanced nutrition for less active indoor cats.

On that note, here are some of my tips for saving money on pet food:

  • Buy larger bags to get a lower per-pound cost
  • Look for sales, coupons, and store membership deals
  • Split costs by sharing large bags with friends
  • Stick to just dry or wet food to buy in bulk for just one variety
lovely cat

Cat Owner Experiences with Each Brand

To get the real scoop, I asked fellow cat owners about their experiences with Iams and Purina. For Iams, glowing reviews mentioned shinier coats, higher energy levels, and decreased hairballs. However, some picky eaters disliked the taste, especially the dry food.

As for Purina, owners of senior cats and those prone to urinary issues reported good results. But there were mixed reviews on taste – some finicky felines rejected it entirely. One owner said she had to mix in extra gravy just to get her cat to eat it!

I also consulted veterinary nutritionist Dr. Julia James, who recommends Iams more often for general health. But she advises some Purina formulas for urinary and digestion concerns.

That advice matches my own experience. When my cat Leo suffered a bout of gastritis, Dr. Julia suggested temporarily switching to Purina Pro Plan EN Gastroenteric dry food. Within a week, his symptoms improved greatly!

So while Iams is my overall top choice, Purina can be ideal for cats with special needs. Any abrupt food switch can cause digestive upset, so work with your vet on a gradual transition if your cat requires a customized diet.

How to Switch Your Cat to a New Food

If you do decide to transition your cat to a new food, take it slow! Cats’ sensitive stomachs don’t take well to sudden changes. When I hastily switched my cat Leo to a new dry food, he protested with a week-long hairball frenzy!

Now I know better and recommend mixing the new food in gradually over 7-10 days. Here are my tips for a smooth transition:

  • On days 1-2, do a mix of 1/4 new food and 3/4 old food.
  • On days 3-4, increase to half and half ratios.
  • On days 5-6, shift to 3/4 new food, 1/4 old.
  • Finally on days 7-10, phase out the old completely.

You can follow the same gradual process when switching between wet and dry foods too. I had success mixing both types together during the transition. Just be sure your cat is drinking enough water since wet food provides extra hydration.

If at any point your cat refuses the new food or has diarrhea or constipation, slow down the switch or go back to the previous ratio for a few days. Every cat adjusts differently, so be patient. The whole transition could take 4 weeks or more.

Pay close attention to your cat’s litter box habits throughout the process. Any urgencies, discomfort, or unusual volumes are signs to pause the transition and consult your vet. Catching issues early prevents longer disruptions down the road.


Let’s tackle some common questions about Iams, Purina, and switching foods:

What if my cat is a super picky eater?

Don’t fear – you can tempt even finicky felines. Try warming wet food to bring out aroma, adding water to dry kibble, grinding dry into powder, or mixing in tuna juice. And as always, transition slowly to new flavors. For extremely stubborn cats, your vet may recommend prescription food.

Are Iams and Purina safe for kittens?

Absolutely, both brands offer specially formulated foods for kittens to support development. Iams Proactive Health Kitten is a great choice, as is Purina Pro Plan Focus Kitten. Follow package portions and instructions. Wet food helps kittens stay hydrated.

Which food is better for preventing hairballs?

Hairball care formulas with added fiber help whiskers pass through digestion safely. Both Iams and Purina offer great options like Iams Hairball Care and Purina ONE Hairball Formula. Just be sure to transition gradually to a high fiber diet.

What if my cat has urinary or digestive issues?

For sensitive cats, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets UR St/Ox formula is excellent for urinary health, while Purina Pro Plan EN manages gastrointestinal problems. Always consult your vet first though, as prescription diet may be required. Iams also offers some intestinal and urinary care formulas.


To sum up, Iams and Purina both deliver balanced, complete cat nutrition. But when we compare ingredient quality, nutritional tailoring for cats, and owner satisfaction, Iams comes out on top. For cat owners willing to invest in premium, natural ingredients and food designed just for cats, Iams is a winner. However, Purina remains a solid budget-friendly option, especially for less active indoor kitties.

No matter which brand you choose, take the time to gradually transition foods for your cat’s comfort and health. Avoid abrupt changes and pay attention to any signs of digestion distress. Working with your vet, you can find the ideal diet to keep your feline friend purring. Here’s to many happy, healthy years with your cat

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