A Cat Lover's Educational Website

by Doug Hines

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What's in Your Cat's Food Dish? ®



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Review Results Are In! - This is What You've All Been Waiting For

You can scroll down this page to find the 'Winners' list, but you would be better advised to read through the preliminary information first. There is a lot to learn on this page which will help you understand the entire review grading process.

To date I have reviewed the ingredients of over 1,250 canned cat foods. You can get an excellent snapshot of the overall industry performance by looking at the product grade percentages below.

  • A  -  0.16%  (2)
  • B -  2.5%  (32)
  • C -  5.8%  (73)
  • D -  5.8%  (74)
  • E -  13.3%  (167)
  • X -  72.4%  (907)

  • D + E + X =  a gigantic 91.5% substandard quality cat food. The industry as a whole should be ashamed of itself.

Below is my list of ‘better-than-average’ cat food brands. Keep in mind that I consider 91.5% of wet cat foods to be substandard (D+E+X). This is like picking the less damaged apples out of a trash can full of damaged apples. There are some, however, which are better than others.

Notice that I don’t just award a gold star to any particular manufacturer. I choose particular products within a product line. Be careful - You may have an (X)-rejected ‘flavor’ within the same product line designated with others designated as (B)s. Don’t take it for granted that all of a particular manufacture’s products are good.

Also notice that some of these products may have less-than-desired individual ingredients. You have to remember what kind of industry we are dealing with here. Out of a sea of bad products, one has to accept substandard ingredients some of the time. For example, some of the products below contain sodium selenite, which is bad if overdosed. Others below contain guar gum or potato which only drops the product one or two letter-grades.

Be clear that I’m not recommending these cat foods. I’m just showing you which foods’ ingredients were better than others. Hopefully, you will review each product and make a choice for yourself.

Remember... there is no way to determine QUALITY from the label or ingredients list

Always keep this fact in mind - - there is no way to determine dietary quality from reading either the product's label or the ingredient list. Although a product may, on first glance, contain great ingredients, there is no way to determine how those ingredients were sourced. Is the manufacturer using diseased animal material and material sourced from non-slaughtered animals, i.e., euthanized, and/or drowned, and/or decomposing livestock, and/or animals commonly referred to as ‘road kill’ (allowed by the FDA)?

Important Notes Before We Go Any Further

I have chosen the products below based solely on their ingredients list content. While the ingredients list is valuable because you can readily recognize substandard ingredients, it is also true that there is no way to determine the quality or the source of any of the ingredients. 

Also... I do not pretend to know, or be aware of, or understand any of these companies' past history, past recall history, or anything else about them. Some of these companies have histories which have significantly damaged their reputations, and that damage continues to haunt them to this day. Hopefully, they have turned the corner and are now producing better quality products in better quality containers. Should I find out otherwise, I will remove them from the list promptly. Additionally, past performance regarding dog food is not necessarily representative of that with cat food, although one can certainly make the argument that both come out of the same factory.

The astute reader may notice that the products in the following lists have recently been rearranged and reorganized. I felt the adjustment was needed to reflect my studies regarding seafood. As expressed elsewhere on this website, because of it's natural propensity for contamination, fish/seafood should not be used as a primary daily food. Feeding your cat(s) fish often/regularly is not a good idea. Read more about that subject here.

Here's another thought for you... Once you have found your 'ideal' cat food, you still need to vary your cat's diet. It is probably best to mimic cats in the wild who are unlikely to eat the same thing meal after meal after meal. "Interestingly, being exposed to a single protein over the long term makes your cat more likely to develop an allergy to it." - Emily Parker - Catological.com  (Doug's note: Although I consider Emily's work essential to the 'cat conversation,' I do not necessarily agree with her cat food reviews.)

Repeat Reminder: Individual products listed below do not mean that the entire brand is acceptable. In some instances the same company that produces a product rated (B) will also produce another one rated (X). Don’t take it for granted that all of a particular manufacturer’s products are good.

Finally, after reading the products lists below, it is so vitally important that you closely read my page regarding Transitioning to New Food. Transitioning is a process which requires care and attention.

The Distinction Between Food Appropriate for Primary Daily Feeding & Intermittent, Supplemental Food

"...it is important for cat owners to make sure their pets are getting the recommended amounts and mix of all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients." - Your Cat's Nutritional Needs, published by the National Research Council of the National Academies, pg11

Food Appropriate for Primary Daily Feeding usually has added vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Having said that, you must still read the ingredients label to make sure of a product's contents.

Other foods, sometimes referred to as 'Individual Ingredient' products, lack additional vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and are therefore recommended only as Intermittent, Supplemental, and/or Occasional foods.

Chewy + As Fed Basis & Dry Matter Basis

I have included links to Chewy for your benefit. Clicking the links will take you directly to the Chewy product page where you can check the Nutritional Info yourself. You can also read the company-provided description (THE HYPE). I do not make a profit on product sales. I do, however, make a stipend should you become, and remain, a Chewy customer well into the future. In other words, I receive a pittance based on your long term satisfaction.

The percentages associated with each product below are Dry Matter Basis, which is calculated from As Fed Basis. The As Fed Basis is what you see on the can's label. The Dry Matter Basis excludes the can's moisture content, and reflects the balance expressed as a percentage of all the dry matter alone. Dry Matter Basis is the only way you can accurately compare two products side-by-side. It is also the only way you can compare wet food to dry food. One must convert both wet and dry to Dry Matter Basis before you can compare them. You can read about these calculations on the PawDiet website here.

In the percentages beside each product below, I have left out the percentage for 'fiber.' I did so only because I did not have room on the line for it. I was restricted by the length of the line in the website builder. So... 50.0% 31.8% 11.4% refers to 50.0% Protein, 31.8% Fat, and 11.4% Approximate Carbs. If the three percentages below don't add up to 100% it is because the percentage for Fiber is missing. Said another way, if you want to know the percentage of Fiber, subtract the other three percentages from 100.

Also note, for the purposes here, I did not include the percentages of ash.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the original As Fed Basis figures are supplied supplied by the manufacturer, and as such, are questionable at best. After all... look at the integrity level we are working with here.

My Cat Food Recommendations

I want a diet for my cats that is reflective of their ancestral diet, a diet of cats in the wild

The following cat food list choices are based on current studies regarding the diets of feral cats and cats in the wild. Multiple studies show that the most common food source of these cats is rabbit (41.5%). The other 58.5% of food sources are primarily rodents, birds and insects.

Since no cat food manufacturer has produced a cat food based on rodents, birds and insects, a big part of a wild cat’s diet must be ignored in the search for a currently available commercial cat food. In other words, since I can’t go to the pet store and purchase 'Mice & Birds Brand' cat food, I’m ignoring the other 58% for now.

I am therefore basing my cat food choices as follows PLUS an evaluation of each product's ingredients.

Since domestic cats have been fed and are accustomed to eating to other foods, without supporting scientific data, I assign the following percentages to major food groups.

  • 85% - from herbivore/ungulate animals  (beef. sheep/lamb, goat, rabbit, venison, elk, bison, caribou, llama, alpaca, moose)
  • 10 % - poultry  (predominately quail, duck, pheasant and a lesser amount of turkey, chicken)
  • 5% - seafood (but only occasionally)  See the section on fish here.
  • 0% - pork
  • 0% - dairy (milk / cheese / yogurt, etc) (allergies and intolerance)


The Best Cat Food I've Found Isn't Canned

My search for the ideal canned cat food yielded no products that I would categorize as an 'A'.

Additionally, I have yet to find any commercial manufacturer who produces an alternative to the canned foods in the 85% category of cat food from herbivore/ungulate animals.

So I am left to evaluate only poultry and seafood here.

In poultry and seafood there is a fresh cat food delivery service in the U.S. that makes homemade-style recipes formulated by a veterinary nutritionist in their own FDA-approved kitchen using human-grade, natural, whole ingredients that are very close to an ideal feline diet. NomNomNow is the next-best-thing to feeding your cat(s) homemade food with none of the preparation hassle. Recipes are custom made for your cat's unique dietary needs. (I'm not exactly thrilled to see carrot and cantaloupe in the Chicken Chow-Meow recipe, but I guess there are worse things in other brands.)

I asked the folks at NomNomNow about their 'nutrient mix' which is added to the principal ingredients in their cat food recipes. Here's what they said, "Our nutrient mix is a proprietary formula developed by board-certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Justin Shmalberg, to balance each of our recipes so that your furry loved one is getting exactly what he or she needs nutritionally. Because every recipe is different, our NomNomNutrient Mix is not a generic mixture but, rather, varies slightly from recipe to recipe. The ingredients include Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Choline, and Taurine. Vitamin A is also included in our Nutrient Mix designed specifically for cats.

This blend has then undergone testing by the manufacturing facility as well as independent testing to ensure it compliments each recipe to create meals that are balanced and complete.

Our nutrient mix is made in the USA, is entirely natural, non-synthetic, and fit for human consumption. While many competitors use generic vitamins, our Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Shmalberg has formulated this proprietary supplement blend to perfectly meet our pets' needs.

Out of respect for NomNomNow, I have devoted a page for them on my website. View it here.  The page includes many of NomNomNow's library articles. You can also see my YouTube NomNomNow playlist featuring Dr. Shmalberg here.

Read as Emily Parker from Catological.com reviews NomNomNow.

NOTE: Since writing the above I have been able to taste-test NomNomNow with my own cats. All three like it very much! There is no doubt in my mind that this cat food is the best my cats have ever eaten. It's so good that I caught one of my cats trying to open the refrigerator door (just joking)! Presently, NomNomNow only has two choices for cats: chicken and fish. I hope they begin producing other foods as well because they are truly a winning company!

Below are the 'better-than-average’ canned cat foods available today (in my opinion)

You know, out of 1,250 cat foods I have reviewed, one would think the list which follows would be a little longer. Nope. This short list is a direct reflection of the lack of integrity in the cat food industry. At least the products which follow are something to be thankful for - in a sea of substandard products.

85% of my cat's diet will come from herbivore/ungulate animals:

Primary Daily Feeding Choices:

  • 54.5% 36.4% 04.5%  B  Hound & Gatos - Lamb & Liver  Chewy
  • 50.0% 31.8% 11.4%  B  RAWZ / 96% Meat - Rabbit Pate  Company
  • 50.0% 31.8% 13.6%  B  Hound & Gatos - Rabbit Formula   Chewy
  • 47.7% 27.3% 20.5%  C  RAWZ / 96% Meat - Beef & Beef Liver Company
  • 45.5% 36.4% 13.6%  B  Hound & Gatos - Beef Formula   Chewy
  • 43.2% 38.6% 13.6%  B  Canada Fresh - Red Meat  Chewy

Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices:

  • 40.0% 32.0% 22.0%  C  Wysong - Beef Formula  Chewy
  • 40.0% 32.0% 22.0%  C  Wysong - Rabbit Formula  Chewy
  • 44.5% 22.7% 25.0%  C  *Evanger's - Rabbit  Chewy

* I have reservations about including products from Evanger's because of their history of questionable practices. I include this one product only because there aren't many products containing rabbit available in the marketplace. There are 18 other products containing rabbit, but they are all substandard.

Don't make the mistake of comparing the percentages for Primary Daily Feeding Choices to the percentages for Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices. You can only reliably compare products within each group. You may also notice percentages which are higher in a product graded 'C' vs. one graded 'B'. For example, although a 'C' has more protein than a 'B', the 'C' may have other questionable ingredients.

10% of my cat's diet will come from poultry:

(Obviously some items below are poultry + another major food category. However, poultry is the primary ingredient.)

Primary Daily Feeding Choices:

  • 72.2% 12.8% 11.7%  B  Tiki Cat / After Dark - Chicken & Beef  Chewy
  • 72.2% 12.8% 11.7%  B  Tiki Cat / After Dark - Chicken & Lamb  Chewy
  • 70.6% 12.9% 12.4%  B  Tiki Cat / After Dark - Chicken  Chewy
  • 66.7% 13.3% 16.1%  B  Tiki Cat / After Dark - Chicken & Duck  Chewy
  • 66.7% 13.3% 16.1%  B  Tiki Cat / After Dark - Chick. & Quail Egg Chewy
  • 47.7% 38.6% 09.1%  B  Hound & Gatos - Gamebird Poultry  Chewy
  • 45.5% 40.9% 09.1%  B  Hound & Gatos - Chicken & Ch. Liver Chewy
  • 45.5% 40.9% 09.1%  B  Hound & Gatos - Duck & Duck Liver  Chewy
  • 45.5% 36.4% 11.4%  B  Hound & Gatos - Turkey & Turkey Liver  Chewy
  • 45.5% 31.8% 18.2%  B  *Essence - Air & Gamefowl  Company
  • 81.0% 13.8% 05.2%  C  Tiki Cat - Chicken with Egg in Ch. Con.  Chewy
  • 80.0% 13.0% 07.0%  C  Tiki Cat - Suc. Chicken in Chicken Con. Chewy
  • 54.5% 43.2% 02.3%  C  RAWZ / 96% Meat - Turk. & Tk Liver  Company
  • 50.0% 40.9% 04.5%  C  RAWZ / 96% Meat - Chick & Ch. Liver  Company
  • 50.0% 31.8% 11.4%  C  RAWZ / 96% Meat - Duck & Dk. Liver  Company

Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices:

  • 85.0% 01.5% 08.5%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Chicken B in Br Chewy
  • 84.6% 07.7% 03.8%  B  PureBites - Chicken Breast in Water  Chewy
  • 80.0% 15.0% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Chick Drm in Br Chewy
  • 90.0% 04.5% 00.0%  C  Almo Nature / Natural - Chicken & Lv  Chewy
  • 85.0% 01.5% 00.0%  C  Almo Nature / Natural - Chicken & Sh Chewy
  • 76.9% 03.8% 15.4%  C  PureBites - Chicken Br & Shrimp in W  Chewy
  • 40.0% 32.0% 22.0%  C  Wysong - Chicken Formula  Chewy
  • 40.0% 32.0% 22.0%  C  Wysong - Duck Formula  Chewy
  • 40.0% 32.0% 22.0%  C  Wysong - Turkey Formula  Chewy

Don't make the mistake of comparing the percentages for Primary Daily Feeding Choices to the percentages for Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices. You can only reliably compare products within each group. You may also notice percentages which are higher in a product graded 'C' vs. one graded 'B'. For example, although a 'C' has more protein than a 'B', the 'C' may have other questionable ingredients.

5% of my cat's diet will come from seafood:

(Obviously some items below are seafood + another major food category. However, seafood is the primary ingredient.)

(Some of the foods in this list are more than 'single or individual foods, i.e. they contain other ingredients. They are included as intermittent, supplemental, occasional feeding choices because they contain fish.)

Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices:

  • These products are true I,S,O feeding choices. They don't contain other added ingredients You really can't compare the percentages in the two groups. Only compare within a group.
  • 92.4% 01.8% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Tuna & Shrimp  Chewy
  • 88.2% 00.6% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Tuna Atlantic  Chewy
  • 88.2% 02.9% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Mackerel in Br Chewy
  • 86.7% 06.7% 00.0%  B  PureBites - Tuna & Salmon in Water  Chewy
  • 85.0% 02.0% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Tuna Pacific  Chewy
  • 85.0% 02.5% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Tuna & Whiteb  Chewy
  • 83.3% 02.8% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Ocean Fish in B Chewy
  • 79.1% 04.7% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Daily - Tuna in Broth  Chewy
  • 79.1% 04.7% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Daily - Tuna with Mack  Chewy
  • 79.1% 04.7% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Daily - Tuna with Salm  Chewy
  • 79.1% 04.7% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Daily - Tuna with Shrimp  Chewy
  • 75.0% 04.5% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Salmon in Br  Chewy
  • 69.2% 07.7% 00.0%  B  PureBites - Tuna in Water  Chewy
  • 65.0% 15.0% 00.0%  B  Almo Nature / Natural - Trout & Tuna  Chewy
  • 93.5% 00.6% 00.0%  C  Almo Nature / Natural - Tuna & Chicken Chewy
  • 91.7% 04.2% 00.0%  C  PureBites - Tuna & Chicken in Water Chewy
  • 79.5% 04.5% 00.0%  C  Almo Nature / Natural - Salmon & Chick Chewy
  • 79.1% 04.7% 00.0%  C  Almo Nature / Daily - Tuna with Chick  Chewy
  • 40.0% 28.0% 00.0%  C  Wysong - Salmon Formula  Chewy

  • These products do contain other ingredients, but are listed as I,S,O because the main ingredient is seafood. You really can't compare the percentages in the two groups. Only compare within a group.
  • 50.0% 50.0% 00.0%  B  Hound & Gatos - Salmon, Mack, Sardi  Chewy
  • 47.7% 47.7% 00.0%  B  Hound & Gatos - Salmon Formula  Chewy
  • 47.7% 31.8% 15.0%  B  *Essence - Ocean & Freshwater  Company
  • 40.9% 29.5% 25.0%  B  Vintage - Moist Harbour (not available in the U.S.)  Company
  • 68.4% 23.7% 07.9%  C  Tiki Cat - Tilapia in Tilapia Consomme  Chewy

  • *pate texture/consistency/density good for kittens.

In the end we need a little humor...

Finally, I guess all of this in-depth ingredient analysis can itself be viewed with skepticism. Maybe the most important questions are... How does your pet respond to the food? Does your cat turn up his/her nose and turn around and run away from the dish? (My cat Bubby expresses himself very clearly when he doesn't like a particular food. He begins pawing... as if trying to cover up the nasty, unpleasant, objectionable stuff... just like he would cover his poop in the litter box. LOL)

Cats in the wild, and feral cats, usually eat a diet of rabbits, mice & rats, birds, reptiles/amphibians, small mammals and insects. You Know... Not one of the 1,200 cat food cans I have reviewed contain any of those ingredients (except for rabbit).  Imagine going in a pet food store and asking for 'Mice & Birds' cat food. LOL Ignoring reality because society may find it unpleasant is just another example of marketing shaping our lives. 

Love to you and your cat(s).   - Doug Hines

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Information on this website is provided for general purposes only. It should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, care and treatment. Nothing herein is intended to treat, heal, or otherwise be considered as medical advice or treatment. Contact your veterinarian with any questions regarding your cat's diet or health. See additional details here.

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