I'd like to switch my 4 cats over to a canned food diet. However, I am on a bit of a budget. Can anyone suggest a low-cost solution? I'd like to not feed them complete crap, but this is seeming like it might cost a lot.
Often, buying the large 13 oz cans and splitting can be waaaay less than buying the little individual serving size cans. They can be a little hard to find in "cat" versions, but some dog cans ARE complete for the kitties, or you can supplement taurine really, really cheaply.
The usual recommendation for canned on the cheap is Fancy Feast--they have varieties that are only meat without any grains or glutens. But that's not the only option, especially if you can be a little creative
I agree with the "what they will eat" comment. My guys don't like certain flavors (need to get organized as I can never remember if it is fish or chicken that they do not like). Mine prefer Pate and will only lick the gravy and leave the meat chunks of I buy the "bits" or "shreds".
I hate buying yucky cheap food, but have wasted Chicken Soup for the Cat Lovers Soul, Taste of the Wild, and several other expensive and not so expensive types of canned and dry food. Currently I feed about half canned and half dry to my 9 cats. It bothers me to do it, but I keep going back to Meow Mix dry and Friskies canned Pate. The cans are 10 for $5 at Petsmart and my local Sweetbay supermarket, so the cost is not bad. The indoor cats oonly get dry in the morning and the dry food is $9.99 for a 20 lb bag.
I have found Fancy Feast is the cheapest. I feed EArthborn Holistsics when I can get it but it is NOT cheap! When I can't get it, they sometimes get Weruva but they will eat the Classics line of FF which is, I think, grain free. The little cans are .63.
Shopping online can also save you dollars. We started using chewy.com when the customer service at our local pet place went to hell and the other outfit in town wanted $2/can. It is AWESOME to have stuff on auto ship and it just shows up when you need it.
That's pretty damned close to the $1.26 per day per cat you're going to pay for Fancy Feast.
Another brand to look for is Hound & Gatos. We buy it locally (sadly not available on Chewy's, sigh!) and it was just over $1/can for the 5.5 oz version. I cannot remember what it was exactly, only that it was less than the BG we buy for the other kitties.
lilitiger2, they also have your Earthborn Holistics at about a $1.50/can. Not sure how that compares to what you're paying now, but it might be worth exploring.
consider also that if you prevent a variety of health conditions by feeding a wet low-carb diet, you'll end up saving a lot of money in the long run. Ask your vet how much a cat dental costs, or how much surgery for a blocked urinary tract costs, or how much it costs to treat diabetes, and you'll feel much better about paying for cans vs. for dry food. If you really can't afford any of the low-carb canned options, even a cheap wet food with some grain in it is far healthier than any dry food.
Fancy Feast Classics (and maybe some others, I haven't looked), and some of the Friskies do not have grain/wheat gluten.
I have tried Hounds & Gatos, Tast of the Wild, Before Grain, and some others recently has my local pet store has a good variety of grain free options. My 2 cats really aren't partial to any wet food. They like the fish flavors a little more, but generally take a bite in the morning and it sits out for the rest of the day. They do eat Before Grain dry food well. I feed them the Salmon variety. It's a dry food, but at least it is grain free and has some good ingredients.
I may pick up more wet foods to try, but seriously, go with what your cat will eat. Weight the cost differences between Fancy Feast and higher quality grain free foods and see what you can afford. Sometimes the cost difference can be marginal for a better quality food.
I was paying more for Verus dry food than Before Grain and BG has far better ingredients.
What they will eat. Mine go through phases of refusing particular textures/flavors and the closer something is to its 'off the bone' state, the more likely they are to flat-out reject it (they looked at some fancy duck stuff like I was trying to poison them.) Right now they get the 'whatever Friskies/Nine Lives are cheaper with occasional Fancy Feast' diet plus 4Health grain-free dry food (which helps as they eat less of that instead of scarfing the regular dry. Though they have developed stinkier poops on it.)
I agree with everyone else -- "what they will eat".
I bought a couple cans of Merrick's Turducken thinking they might show some interest (has ingredients that they've eaten separate before) and they looked at me like "dude, wth is this crap?" I thought the stuff smelled awesome and would love for them to make a people version as a stew (hint hint).
Crack open a can of Friskies "Flaked Tuna in Sauce" and the crowd goes wild!
At least testing out the varieties of the standard grocery store fare is a heck of a lot cheaper. You can't go wrong (low carb, low/no grain wise; flavor wise is totally up to your kitties) with the Fancy Feast tins labeled as "Classic" at 55 cents a pop. I've also had mild success in enticing them to try new stuff if I crumble up some of their favorite treats (Temptations) to sprinkle on a little serving of whatever canned food I'm attempting to get them to eat.