The Best Soft Dry Cat Food

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Medically Reviewed and Approved By: Dr. Abdul Basit Javed (DVM, RVMP)

After my Maine Coon cat was diagnosed with gingivitis and stomatitis, I went into overdrive researching soft dry cat foods to ensure she could eat comfortably. And for my cat, the best one is Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend.

Best Overall
Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend
  • Soft tender bites with real salmon or chicken
  • Grain free, contains omega 6 fatty acids for coat
  • Supports gut health with prebiotic fiber

Cats, like humans, have dental issues, which become important as we age. But what’s ideal for my cat may not be suitable for yours. Your buddy may be a senior cat with missing teeth or no teeth needing their best soft dry cat food.

That’s why I separated my recommendations below into multiple categories. At the end is a buyer’s guide.

One more thing: From what I’ve seen, many people out there are suggesting crunchy, hard dry foods that are inappropriate. That’s why my list of soft cat foods are genuinely soft or contain a softer element!

These are the products we review in this article (not all shown):

Meow Mix Tender Centers Basted Bites

Meow Mix Tender Centers Basted Bites

  • Kibble with soft centers
  • Tuna & Whitefish, Beef & Salmon, Chicken & Tuna, & More Flavors
  • 35.23% min Protein By Dry Matter Basis
ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Cat Food

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Cat Food

  • Softer jerky texture
  • Lamb, Venison, Beef, Chicken, Mackerel Flavors
  • 40.70% min Protein By Dry Matter Basis
Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Chicken Morsels

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Chicken Morsels

  • Can be lightly rehydrated
  • Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Rabbit, Salmon Flavors
  • 47.37% min Protein By Dry Matter Basis
Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics

Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics

  • Softer, meaty pieces mixed with kibble
  • Chicken & Rice Shredded Blend Flavor
  • 40.91% min Protein By Dry Matter Basis
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Treats

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Treats

  • Soft, meaty texture
  • Chicken & Duck, Chicken & Salmon, Chicken & Trout, & more Flavors
  • 27.78% min Protein By Dry Matter Basis

All cat foods included on this list meet the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for cats. Always consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your cat’s diet.

Best Overall Soft Dry Cat Food

Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend
  • Soft tender bites with real salmon or chicken
  • Grain free, contains omega 6 fatty acids for coat
  • Supports gut health with prebiotic fiber
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Rice Flour, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Beef Fat
  • Guaranteed analysis: 34% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric content: 370 kcal/cup
  • Life stage: Adult cats

The best soft dry cat food on the market is Purina One Tender Selects Blend. As such, it’s a super popular choice among cat owners looking for the softer side of kibble. This semi soft cat food has the most positive reviews by far – over 12,000!

Purina One Tender Selects Blend is one of the truly “soft” dry cat foods on the market, blending commercial availability, the soft texture, and great ingredients.

Note this brand is not entirely soft, and the food is a mix of both soft bites and crunchy pieces. The alternating texture is appealing for many cats, according to purchasers.

Real salmon with its natural Omega 6 fatty acid is the top ingredient. That’s a big deal for providing the clean protein needed for strong joints and muscles while keeping coats shiny.

Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend formula offers complete, balanced nutrition with essential vitamins and minerals.

My complaint about this soft kibble is variety. Commercial brands like Purina usually offer more choice, but it’s only salmon or chicken in this line.

Rating Breakdown

  • Softer Element: 10/10
  • Ingredient Quality: 8/10
  • Flavor Variety: 9/10
  • Price: 10/10
  • Overall Score: 9.25

What We Liked:

  • Soft tender bites
  • Price
  • Real salmon and chicken
  • Grain free

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Some filler like carrots and peas
  • Limited variety of flavors

Runner Up Semi Soft Cat Food

Meow Mix Tender Centers Dry Cat Food
  • Dual-texture kibble combines a crunchy outside with a tender, meaty center
  • Good for felines who can still chew a little bit
  • Variety of flavors for picky eaters
  • First 5 ingredients: Whole Ground Corn, Chicken By-product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Fat
  • Guaranteed analysis: 31% Crude Protein, 11% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric content: 325 kcal/8 oz.
  • Life stage: All stages

For my runner up, this is also a food that everyone can easily find. Meow Mix Tender Centers is a great soft dry cat food popular with extremely picky cats and their owners.

A good bargain pick, Meow Mix Tender Centers semi soft cat food features dual-texture kibbles that actually combine a crunchy outside with a tender, meaty center.

So while not completely a soft wet cat food or semi soft like our top pick, it strikes a good compromise for felines who can still chew a little bit.

Coming in a variety of flavors, this one is a real crowd pleaser. It also provides complete balanced nutrition with all of the vitamins and minerals your cat needs.

I am not a fan of the fillers and by-product ingredients – but if the flavor keeps under-eating cats coming back, I have no complaints.

Rating Breakdown

  • Softer Element: 8/10
  • Ingredient Quality: 8/10
  • Flavor Variety: 10/10
  • Price: 10/10
  • Overall Score: 9.0

What We Liked:

  • Meaty centers
  • Price
  • Great taste
  • Satisfaction of crunch without the hardness of true dry cat food

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Filler ingredients
  • A little bit of a strong odor

Premium Pick Soft Dry Cat Food

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Cat Food
  • Premium quality food with a softer jerky-like texture 
  • Grain-free, low-carb and ultra high protein formula
  • Contain superfoods like organs meats, tripe, kelp
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, New Zealand Green Mussel, Chicken Bone
  • Guaranteed analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 30% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 14% Moisture
  • Caloric content: 312 kcal/level scoop
  • Life stage: All stages

ZIWI Peak Air Dried is one of the highest quality and dry cat foods on the market today with a softer chewy texture – like jerky. Your cat would rather eat whole live prey, and this is pretty close it!

A grain-free, low-carb option, this ultra high protein formula offers a medley of boutique ingredients designed to help a cat reach peak health.

In addition to New Zealand green muscles, ZIWI Peak Air Dried is packed with free-range meats, organs and cold-washed green tripe. A touch of organic kelp brings in some much-needed minerals and antioxidants.

All ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced in New Zealand. Organ meat provide species specific nutrients cats love and crave.

ZIWI uses free-range, grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood. I’m also thrilled to be able to give this soft cat kibble without antibiotics or growth hormones.

Rating Breakdown

  • Softer Element: 9/10
  • Ingredient Quality: 10/10
  • Flavor Variety: 10/10
  • Price: 7/10
  • Overall Score: 9.0

What We Liked:

  • Chewy jerky texture
  • 96% species-specific protein
  • Grain-free and low-carb recipe
  • Variety of flavors
  • No antibiotics or hormones

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Price

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels
  • Freeze dried, can be lightly rehydrated for a softer texture
  • Raw, concentrated nutrition for vitality, teeth, skin, immune health
  • Nutrient-dense, grain free and no fillers
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken (ground with bone), Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride
  • Guaranteed analysis: 45% Crude Protein, 25% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 5% Moisture
  • Caloric content: 123kcal/1 oz.
  • Life stage: All stages

My top popular soft dry food for cats recommendation is Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels. As a freeze dried raw food, it’s made for light rehydrating, and you end up with firm, chewy food with texture softer than hard kibble.

All types of cats can enjoy softer dry food, from healthy ones who just like the texture, to those with dental or chewing problems. And this is definitely true with with Stella & Chewy’s.

So many reviewers love it because it put a spring back into the step of their older or under eating sick cat, along with fur and digestive improvements. Kittens and healthy adults love it too!

98 percent of each batch of freeze-dried, raw morsels is made from organic meat, organs and bone. It’s a whole prey eating, like your cat’s cousins in the wild prefer!

While Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels offers complete nutrition for cats at all life stages and provides raw, concentrated nutrition that helps with vitality, teeth, skin and a healthy immune system.

This is a minimally processed cat food that’s made in small batches. They even throw probiotics in the mix to help digestion.

This brand is definitely one of the best freeze dried cat foods, because it’s a nutrient-dense, grain free cat food without filler that can help cats stay fit and lean.

(Dig the organic ingredients? See my list of the best organic cat foods!)

Rating Breakdown

  • Softer Element: 9/10
  • Ingredient Quality: 10/10
  • Flavor Variety: 10/10
  • Price: 7/10
  • Overall Score: 9.0

What We Liked:

  • Softer than dry kibble
  • Firm and chewy texture
  • Meat, organs, ground bones for species specific eating
  • No grains, gluten, fillers, artificial preservatives, colorings
  • Limited ingredient, high protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Raw can be a big change for cats used to mainstream blends
  • Price

Best Soft Dry Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics Chicken & Rice Shredded Blend
  • Combo of soft morsels + normal kibble with the Chicken & Rice Shredded Blend flavor
  • Helps healthy intestinal bacteria to flourish in gut
  • Supports eyes, joints, skin, and coat health
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Beef Fat
  • Guaranteed analysis: 36% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric content: 423 kcal/cup
  • Life stage: Adult cats

The best soft cat kibble for sensitive stomachs is Purina Pro Plan, which has the popular combo of soft morsels and normal crunchy kibble when you get the Chicken & Rice Shredded Blend flavor.

According to Maine Coon Hawaii’s veterinary advisor, Dr. Abdul Basit Javed (DVM, RVMP), “this cat food contains probiotics – live microorganisms that help improve gut health, and natural prebiotics – high-fiber nutrients that act as food for your cat’s normal gut flora.”

Overall, they improve digestion and reduce gastrointestinal health issues, and can be a great way to “reset” the GI system if your cat has been suffering from tummy troubles caused by low quality food in the past.

Featuring a real chicken as the first ingredient, Purina Pro Plan Chicken and Rice Shredded Blend will feel like a familiar “comfort food” to your cat.

Purina also adds in key vitamins like vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acids to help nourish your cat’s muscles, eyes, joints, skin, and coat.

Rating Breakdown

  • Softer Element: 9/10
  • Ingredient Quality: 9/10
  • Flavor Variety: 8/10
  • Price: 8/10
  • Overall Score: 8.5

What We Liked:

  • Tender morsels
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Prebiotics in the formula
  • Omega 6 fatty acids with other vitamins and minerals

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some filler

Best Soft Cat Treat

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Soft-Moist Cat Treats
  • Tender and moist
  • Made with real, chicken and salmon
  • Free of corn, wheat, soy or artificial flavors
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Potatoes, Vegetable Glycerin, Gelatin
  • Guaranteed analysis:  25% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 28% Moisture
  • Caloric content: One Treat/1.5 Kcals
  • Life stage: All stages

I want to round out my list of the best soft dry cat food with a treat because I know it’s something a lot of health-conscious cat owners are interested in.

Made with real, chicken and salmon, these soft cat treats only contain 1.5 calories each. They are also very tender and moist.

While it’s easy to think of treats as indulgent, these little bits get major bonus points for being free of corn, wheat, soy or artificial flavors. “Treats should not make up more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily calorie intake,” Dr. Javed advises.

Rating Breakdown

  • Softer Element: 10/10
  • Ingredient Quality: 8/10
  • Flavor Variety: 8/10
  • Price: 8/10
  • Overall Score: 9.0

What We Liked:

  • Soft and chewy texture
  • Chicken and salmon are the main ingredients
  • No fillers
  • No corn, wheat or soy
  • Price

What We Didn’t Like:

  • They can get hard if not resealed properly

Our Experience with Soft Cat Food

When my cat went through a phase of no appetite, little grooming, and generally being more withdrawn than usual I took her to our vet. There, she was diagnosed with stomatitis all throughout her gums.

Poor Chelle

See all the red, inflamed tissue? I felt so bad for not somehow catching it earlier, and couldn’t imagine the pain she was going experiencing.

Stomatitis, I learned, was even more severe than gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). “It is advanced oral inflammation involving the inner cheeks, gums, tongue, inner lips, and sometimes pharynx,” according to Dr. Javed.

The vet recommended extracting teeth for a 100% chance of relief, but I wanted to preserve her teeth as much as possible.

In the end, we agreed on removing the affected gum tissue (gingivectomy) and seeing how that would go before moving to other procedures. Anyway, she has the operation, and it was a success. There was no pain anymore and Chelle made a full recovery!

So during pre-care and post-care, I learned all I could about softest cat foods, wet or dry or in any form, that she could eat and enjoy with pain. My picks above are what I found.

Do Soft Dry Cat Foods Exist?

“Does it?”

Is there a dry cat food that is soft? That’s the same question I had at first. I assumed all dry cat foods were hard by default, because that’s what mostly out there in the market.

However, look a bit harder and creatively, and you’ll discover find soft cat food that’s dry, yet chewy!

These foods will not be the solid, crunchy bites that you can hear making impact with your cat’s teeth. However, they still get the satisfaction of chewing on soft cat kibble or something. Here are some examples:

Kibble with Soft, Chewy Pieces

Compared to hard pieces of kibble, this type of cat food is actually not that different. The kibble is manufactured with similar ingredients, but often using a different process to bake or process the pieces.

The moisture content is slightly more than regular dry cat food, which makes it chewy. You might find this a great option for a cat with a few missing teeth.

The popular cat food brand Friskies makes a Tender & Crunchy Combo Dry Cat Food with a moisture content of 12%. This food mixes different textures to create kibbles that are easy to eat, but not completely mushy.

Semi Moist Cat Food or Pouch Foods

If you’ve been in the pet-food aisle, you’ve probably seen the semi moist cat food brands in pouches. Some of you might remember the first pouch food, the iconic Tender Vittles Cat Food.

Semi moist cat food actually contains between 60 percent and 65 percent water by weight. So it definitely has more moisture than typical kibble, which weighs in at about 10 percent. Canned wet food is about 87%.

Semi wet cat food have a place in a cat’s diet, occasionally as a food topper or special treat, though it’s not the most healthy ways to give your cat complete nutrition or as a replacement for dry cat food, as they generally contain more sugar and salt than either dry or canned cat food.

For those who want to give them a try, I recommend Wellness Healthy Indulgence Gravies because it’s truly softer than kibble, with high quality proteins in a delicious gravy, and is grain free.

Wellness Healthy Indulgence Gravies
  • High quality protein in a delicious gravy
  • Much softer than kibble
  • Grain free

Another semi-moist cat food brand I like is Sheba with their Perfect Portions Cuts in Gravy. On top of being super irresistible to all cats, it offers a species specific protein to fat ratio, plus vitamins, taurine, minerals, and fish oil.

  • Palatable for most cats
  • Pefect protein to fat ratio for cats

A great semi-moist product is Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Variety Pack. This pouch food comes in many different flavors, including chicken, tuna, and pumpkin. The chunky food pieces are served in gravy, which is soft for your cat’s teeth.

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Variety Pack
  • Big variety of flavors
  • Tender protein and extra gravy

Freeze Dried or Raw Diets

Do not feel limited to only chewy kibble or pouch food. If you are serious about taking care of your cat’s oral health, consider thinking out of the box.

There are freeze-dried food options, like our top choice, Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels. This food is made out of raw ingredients, and you can add water to soften them up.

You can also try your hand at homemade cat food. Some cat owners craft meals out of ground raw meat or pureed cooked meat. However, make sure you are considering all of your cat’s nutrition requirements.

Soft Cat Treats

I can hear my cat licking her lips already!

Softer texture treats are way more available and easy to find than nutritious soft dry food options. But that should not be an excuse for overfeeding soft chewy treats or interchanging it with dry cat food that is soft.

Soft and chewy cat treats are great in moderation, but they should be just that: infrequent treats. According to veterinarians, treats should never make up more than 10 percent of a cat’s diet.

Treats are not designed to be nutritionally complete and balanced. You could be setting your cat up for serious tummy troubles and nutritional deficiencies if you try to replace real cat food with treats.

You could be striving for 5 percent or less. Your cat should be agile, lean, and strong!

That being said, I like the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Soft-Moist Cat Treats mentioned above or even the ultimate soft cat treat brand, Temptations MixUps!

  • The ultimate soft cat treat
  • Shake the bottle and cats come running

Toppers and Broths

Toppers are often used to make food more palatable for cats. That could be important if you’re trying to get your cat to “like” a new soft kibble. Some people also use them to moisten up dry food too.

Don’t forget about broths to add interest or extra flavor to dry food. You can soak kibble in bone broth, for instance, for an extra tasty and collagen packed punch.

My top pick for that is Primalvore Premium Organic Bone Broth, as a high quality broth that can improve bone and joint health, digestion, and had coat and skin benefits!

Primalvore Premium Organic Bone Broth
  • Provides essential collagen to improve bone and joint health
  • Has digestion, coat and skin benefits too

Feeding Dry vs Wet Cat Food

If a cat is having trouble with hard dry cat food, you may wonder why not just switch your cat’s diet to only wet cat food? The answer has several layers. Here are the pros of dry food vs wet food.

  • First, many vets agree that a little crunch is good for a cat’s teeth. It can actually help slough off tartar and plaque that may lead to further dental and gum issues.
  • Secondly, soft cat kibble is the best option for portion management. You can allow them to freely graze because you know exactly how much you soft kibble you are pouring into the bowl each time.
  • Third, dry cat food is kinder on your wallet vs wet foods.

Dry soft cat food is a great way for your cat to get complete nutrition with or without a wet component. But I’ll also add that eating both dry and wet food is more varied.

Dr. Javed advises that “dry cat foods are also preferred by many cat owners as they are delicious and help maintain the dental health of your cat. However, avoid extra crunchy dry cat foods as they are hard on the palette of your cat, and rather, choose soft dry cat foods. Remember to provide your cat with plenty of water as dry cat foods contain little moisture. ” 

Who Needs Soft Dry Cat Foods?

Cats with Bad Teeth

As I shared, my Maine Coon is trying softer dry cat food because she may have gingivitis.

Similarly a cat with any dental issues or bad teeth (like periodontal disease, tooth resorption, or stomatitis) that make it painful to eat may benefit from a similar switch.

Even if a cat has all their teeth extracted, it’s possible for them to live happy lives and partake the soft cat foods above. They might even eat more after extraction since the pain is gone!

Senior Cats

Many senior cats need softer food due to everything from missing teeth to weaker jaws. Or it could be simply a loss of appetite.

As cats age, they might prefer the texture of softer dry food over some of the hard varieties that are commonly sold. Older cats dealing with sickness or treatment may also simply lose interest in eating.

Semi moist cat food for older cats that’s easier to eat is a good move in these situations. I recommend Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels as the best soft dry cat food for senior cats.


Finally, there’s also your cat’s preferences. Fluffy can be perfectly healthy and enjoy a dry food that is soft, moist, and delicious because it’s what they like.

And as your cat ages, and turns out they can’t eat their favorite dry kibble comfortably anymore, it’s up to us cat guardians must help with that!

Can Dry Cat Food Be Softened?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to moisten your cat’s favorite dry food so that it’s easier to eat. After all, the best soft cat food is one that your cat actually eats. There are numerous things you can try to make it more tender.

  • Try warm water. Simply add warm water to their hard dry kibble and let it sit for a bit. Water is the most neutral and won’t change the taste of the food.
  • Broth is another way to add moisture, additional nutrients, and yummy flavors to their dry food. I recommend bone broth, as mentioned above, due to the many health benefits, and a meaty essence many cats can’t resist.
  • Regular chicken broth is also fine to use. However, try to make your own chicken broth, without sodium, onions, garlic, or spices, which can harm your cat.

Softening dry foods changes it’s texture, and possibly flavor, and it’s contingent on Fluffy accepting their “new” favorite dry food.

This is one of the reasons why I recommended a freeze dried food as my top pick. Freeze dried cat food brands instruct you to rehydrate the food before feeding, and so the food is in its best form with water added!

Frequently Asked Questions About Soft Dry Cat Food

Is there such a thing as soft dry cat food?

Soft dry cat food does exist on the market, but is harder to find than you might imagine. A truly soft, chewy kibble does not exist – or not entirely.

Soft cat kibble that is softer than traditional “hard crunchies” does exist. It tends to have more moisture content and can come in packages, freeze dried, or raw.

Is it OK to moisten dry cat food?

Yes, you can moisten dry cat food with water or broth to soften it up.

If you go this route, be sure to clear the food after your cat is finished eating. Once you add liquid to dry cat food, you risk bacteria growth due to the moisture if you leave the dish out.

Is there a cat food like Tender Vittles?

Tender Vittles has been discontinued, but you can find cat foods similar to it from mainstream food brands like Purina, Meow Mix and Blue Buffalo.

Is there a dry food for cats that is soft?

The commercial dry food market does not feature softer versions of your cat’s favorite brands. Thankfully, there is a type of transition between dry and wet food available.

You can find various selections that advertise themselves as moist or semi-moist. There are also chewy cat treats, and dry food with soft and chewy pieces.

What is moist dry cat food?

Moist dry cat food consists of mostly dry ingredients with just a good amount of moisture or a wet element mixed in. The result is a soft dry cat food easier to eat for some cats.

The extra moisture in it helps keeps the food softer and can be especially beneficial they have dental problems that make it difficult to eat crunchy kibble. If you don’t have access to store-bought moist dry cat food, you can add water to dry food to make it softer.

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2 thoughts on “The Best Soft Dry Cat Food”

  1. Thank you for this site, and information! I recently adopted a stray that has been diagnosed with stomatitis. He was picky about all foods…no wet food was his style. I bought the Temptations, and Purina One, and he is eating like a champ!
    Toshi and I are very happy!

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