Indoor vs Outdoor Cat Food: Which is Better?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

indoor vs outdoor cat food

Cats are wonderful friends, and if you are a fur parent all you want for them is the best including the food that they eat. Choosing the right kind of food is a big part of their lifestyle because it contributes a lot to keep them healthy.

But did you know that indoor vs outdoor cats have needs that vary? In this article, let’s dig into exploring the indoor vs outdoor cat food to help you choose the best one for your furry friends!

Characteristics Indoor Cat Food Outdoor Cat Food
Calorie Content Lower Higher
Fiber content Higher Lower
Prevents hairballs Yes No



Indoor and outdoor cats have pretty similarl nutritional requirements. However, the kind of environment that they live in, health conditions, and behavior may lead to different food in different instances.

And, both indoor and outdoor cat food provides essential nutrients needed to grow and develop. It is important to look for the cat food ingredients at the back of the label to know what suits your cat.

What is indoor cat food? In general, indoor cat food for domestic cats typically contains fewer calories, meaning it can help in controlling weight.

Meanwhile, outdoor cat food is also known as your regular cat food with a standard amount of calories.



Indoor cat food and outdoor ones come in various forms like canned, wet, freeze-dried, raw, and dry kibble.

  • Canned/Wet – provides moisture content on the cat’s diet by hydrating them with the water content of the cat food.
  • Freeze-dried – a minimally processed option that keeps the natural nutrients and flavor of the ingredients.
  • Raw – mimics a natural diet that a cat might eat in the wild. It is high in protein content and a nutrient-dense option.
  • Dry kibble – helps promote dental health by reducing tartar buildup. It contains specific ingredients that is made exclusively for indoor cats, such as hairball control and weight management.

Indoor Cat Food vs Outdoor Cat Food: Differences

1. Indoor cat food


Lesser calories in indoor cat food are perfect for indoor cats because they tend to have a more laid-back lifestyle than their counterparts. They do not need to go outside to hunt for their food. This means that they do not need much energy to maintain a healthy weight.

Because of the calm and rather lazy lifestyle of indoor cats, the indoor formula cat food is also formulated with high fiber because indoor cats may be prone to develop hairballs.

Choosing the right indoor cat diet may prevent your cat from getting obese, which might eventually lead to serious complications such as heart diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

  • Help with weight control by providing less calories
  • High protein choices are also available
  • Helps eliminate hairballs in the intestine with fiber content
  • Perfect for cats with a sedentary lifestyle
  • Multiple flavors
  • Protein content may be replaced by filler ingredients and artificial dyes.
  • Not ideal for very active cats, as it might lead to deficiencies
  • Prescription products are high-priced

2. Outdoor cat food


Outdoor cat food is also known as your regular cat food. The most important thing that makes it different from indoor cat food is the calorie count.

Basically, this type is a cat food for outdoor cats to provide them with high protein for protection against outdoor environments, including parasites, weather conditions, and more.

Outdoor feral cats or cats that live outside and without a specific owner are the type of cats that would benefit greatly from outdoor cat food.

However, compared to indoor food, outdoor cat food may not specifically address hairball control.

  • Higher protein proportion for outdoors cats to be healthier and stronger
  • Enough nutrition to protect against outdoor environments
  • Various options with different nutrition proportions and ingredients
  • Ideal for active cats
  • May contain unhealthy preservatives and fillers
  • Can cause weight gain if cat is sedentary

Which is Better?


The decision between indoor and outdoor cat food depends on your cat’s lifestyle and specific requirements.

Choose indoor cat food if your cat is primarily indoors:

  • They do not have an active lifestyle
  • Prone to hairballs
  • Requires weight management
  • Gas-specific dietary sensitivities
  • Love indoor food flavors

Opt for outdoor cat food if your cat is frequently outdoors:

  • They are very active, loving to chase prey and wander around the neighborhood
  • Expose to weather conditions and other elements
  • In their growth period (6 – 12 months old)
  • Needs high-protein intake, or the veterinarian recommends using it.

Always consider looking for the nutritional content before buying to know the brand with high-quality ingredients and contains the right amount of calories for your cat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can outdoor cats eat indoor cat food?

The answer is simply, yes. However, consider your cat’s lifestyle because it might deprive them of nutrients if they are active cats or cause weight gain if they are sedentary.

Can wet cat food be mixed with dry cat food?

Yes. It provides the water needed by your cat to prevent dehydration. On the other hand, mixing wet with dry cat food would also be a good choice. You can consult your veterinarian for more information about the right nutritional needs of your cat.


When choosing between indoor vs outdoor cat food, prioritize high-quality ingredients and caloric suitability. Remember – it doesn’t matter if your cat is indoors or outdoors; what’s important is that it meets the necessary nutrients it needs daily.

For personalized advice, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian and confidently make the best choice for your cat.

5/5 - (3 votes)