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Above Average - Canned Cat Food

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.

 

First a Little Cat Food Education…

Nothing Else Matters…

The manufacture’s website story and product label design don’t matter. Advertising doesn’t matter. Internet product reviews and caregiver’s testimonials don’t matter. “If you are feeding canned cat food, the ONLY things that matter to your cats’ future and wellbeing are the ingredients in the can and the quality of those ingredients.”  – Doug Hines

Learn to evaluate canned cat food ingredients yourself and make a difference in your cat’s future

One purpose of this website’s ‘Cat Diet’ section is to directly affect cat’s lives everywhere by heightening the awareness of cat-parents/guardians/caretakers regarding the quality of ingredients in canned cat food, and to hopefully influence cat food manufacturers to produce better products. (By canned, I include pouched or boxed or little-plastic-dish or plastic tray cat food.) After all… it is our marketplace choices which ultimately drive and encourage cat food manufacturers to produce better, more healthy cat food. That’s something we all want for our cats.

On this webpage I offer you insight as to how I go about assessing cat food ingredients so that you may follow up with a more in-depth study of your own.
 
You won’t find any product endorsements or advertising here either. I don’t sell or promote anything. I have no attachments to the cat food industry whatsoever.
 
The overall state of the cat food industry today is not a pretty picture, but then again, the overall state of the human food industry isn’t exactly full of integrity either, so what would you expect?

Sad But True…

Commercial cat food manufacturing is predominantly based on human greed and deception.

I know that’s a horrible sentence to greet you with as you look for guidance about cat food, but it’s the fundamental fact underlying the entire cat food industry. If you learn only one thing in visiting this site, I hope you will come to know that all dry food and most wet, canned food is bad for your cat. I hope you will make the decision to stop feeding your cat commercially chemically-ladened cat food and begin to feed your cat a species-appropriate diet. Do it for your cat(s).

You Can’t Tell The Quality of a Cat Food by Looking at The Ingredients List Alone…

… BUT IT’S THE PLACE TO START.  The old saying ‘You can’t judge a book by it’s cover’ isn’t exactly true in the context of judging cat foods. In this case, you CAN quickly come to a pretty decisive opinion about a food’s quality by simply reading the ingredients list. Once you know what to look for, bad ingredients jump right out and grab your attention. But that’s not the entire story.

Quality, a vague term at best, is nonetheless what we want for our cats when choosing cat food. After all… we all want our cats to have a healthy future. A lot of aspects of cat food production, however, ultimately affect the food’s quality. 

The original source of the ingredients themselves impacts quality greatly, as does the product’s formulation, ingredients collection, production method and quality control, and storage considerations.

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)?

Why be concerned about what’s in cat food?

We are concerned because, ultimately, we are responsible for the well-being of our companion animals. They are totally dependent on us for their care, protection, and good health. It is our responsibility to make decisions for, and act in, their best interest. Part of that decision-making process involves choosing the best possible food for them – as we would do for ourselves.

You are likely to hear a lot of pet food manufacturer bashing throughout this website – as a natural consequence of the industry’s overall poor integrity. However, it is also true that some of these people have the upmost integrity and provide us with the valuable service of producing cat food. We would be at a loss without them, and we genuinely owe them our thanks. Let’s not forget that fact as we read onward down this page.

If you are a cat food manufacturer please hear my message. A cat’s well-being must be the first and only priority in choosing ingredients for cat food. Considerations of product shelf-life and profits must take a back seat to our responsibility for ensuring their good health. Have the courage to adjust your business model to make good health the number one priority for cats. Create a future worth living.

Why Quality Cat Food?

There’s one thing I know for sure… Cats are like most people. They like junk food more than they like good, quality food. That’s where we have to step in as insistent, responsible pet owners and say, “Shut up and eat the food I give you Jack!”  lol

The only problem with the “insistent” philosophy as written above is that it doesn’t work. No matter how much I have begged or cajoled, my cats just turn up their nose at most “good” food. Unfortunately, you just may have to settle for less-than-best in your pursuit of the ultimate cat food.

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

NOTE… Below I list what I consider to be ‘better-than-average’ wet, canned cat foods. I do not pretend to know, or be aware of,  any of these cat food manufacturing 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.

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 you read the products lists below, it is very important that you read my page regarding Transitioning to New Food. Transitioning is a process which requires care and attention.

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) 
  • 0% – pork
  • 0% – dairy (milk / cheese / yogurt, etc) (allergies and intolerance)

How does the cat food industry look overall?

To date I have reviewed the ingredients of over 1,500 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%            B = 2.5%            C = 5.8%            D = 5.8%            E = 13.3%           X = 72.4%

72.4% of the 1,500 cat foods I have examined have ingredients which are detrimental to a cat’s long-term health.

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 grade to any particular manufacturer overall. 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. Don’t generalize that ‘XYZ’ cat food is all 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.

Be clear that I’m not recommending the cat foods listed below. I’m just showing you which foods had ‘better-than-average’ ingredients. Hopefully, you will review each product and make a choice for yourself.

Chewy…

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 Information yourself. You can also read the company-provided description/hype. This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, CNH® may earn a small affiliate commission.

And Now… A Little Drum Roll Please…

Here are (in my opinion) ‘better-than-average’

wet, canned cat foods

You know, out of 1,500 cat foods I have reviewed, one would think the list which follows would be a little longer. Nope. The length of this 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% – 95% of your cat’s diet should come from herbivore/ungulate animals

Primary Daily Feeding Choices:

  • Rated B – 68.2% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark Pâté – Rabbit & Chicken Liver  Chewy
  • Rated B – 56.5% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark Pâté – Venison & Beef Liver  Chewy
  • Rated B – 54.5% protein – Hound & Gatos – Lamb & Liver  Chewy
  • Rated B – 50.0% protein – RAWZ / 96% Meat – Rabbit Pâté Company
  • Rated B – 50.0% protein – Hound & Gatos – Rabbit Formula   Chewy
  • Rated B – 45.8% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark Pâté – Beef & Beef Liver  Chewy
  • Rated B – 45.5% protein – Hound & Gatos – Beef Formula   Chewy
  • Rated B – 43.2% protein – Canada Fresh – Red Meat  Chewy

 

Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices:

  • Rated C – 47.7% protein – RAWZ / 96% Meat – Beef & Beef Liver Company
  • Rated C – 44.5% protein – *Evanger’s – Rabbit  Chewy
  • Rated C – 40.0% protein – Wysong – Beef Formula  Chewy
  • Rated C – 40.0% protein – Wysong – Rabbit Formula  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 not listed here 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.

5% – 10% of your cat’s diet can come from poultry

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

Primary Daily Feeding Choices:

  • Rated B – 72.2% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark – Chicken & Lamb  Chewy
  • Rated B – 72.2% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark – Chicken & Duck  Chewy
  • Rated B – 70.6% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark – Chicken  Chewy
  • Rated B – 70.5% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark – Chicken & Beef  Chewy
  • Rated B – 66.7% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark – Chicken & Quail Egg Chewy
  • Rated B – 47.7% protein – Hound & Gatos – Gamebird Poultry  Chewy
  • Rated B – 45.5% protein – Hound & Gatos – Chicken & Chicken Liver Chewy
  • Rated B – 45.5% protein – Hound & Gatos – Duck & Duck Liver  Chewy
  • Rated B – 45.5% protein – Hound & Gatos – Turkey & Turkey Liver  Chewy
  • Rated B – 45.5% protein – *Essence – Air & Gamefowl  Company
  • Rated B – 43.5% protein – Tiki Cat / After Dark Pâté – Duck & Chicken Liver  Chewy
 
  • Rated C – 54.5% protein – RAWZ / 96% Meat – Turkey & Turkey Liver  Company
  • Rated C – 50.0% protein – RAWZ / 96% Meat – Chicken & Chicken Liver  Company
  • Rated C – 50.0% protein – RAWZ / 96% Meat – Duck & Duck Liver  Company

 

Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Feeding Choices:

  • Rated B – 85.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Chicken Breast in Broth Chewy
  • Rated B – 84.6% protein – PureBites – Chicken Breast in Water  Chewy
  • Rated B – 80.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Chicken Drum in Broth Chewy
  • Rated C – 90.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Chicken & Liver  Chewy
  • Rated C – 85.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Chicken & Shrimp Chewy
  • Rated C – 76.9% protein – PureBites – Chicken Breast & Shrimp in Water  Chewy
  • Rated C – 40.0% protein – Wysong – Chicken Formula  Chewy
  • Rated C – 40.0% protein – Wysong – Duck Formula  Chewy
  • Rated C – 40.0% protein – Wysong – Turkey Formula  Chewy

5% or less of your cat’s diet should 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 Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional 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.

  • Rated B – 92.4% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Tuna & Shrimp  Chewy
  • Rated B – 88.2% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Tuna Atlantic  Chewy
  • Rated B – 88.2% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Mackerel in Broth  Chewy
  • Rated B – 86.7% protein – PureBites – Tuna & Salmon in Water  Chewy
  • Rated B – 85.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Tuna Pacific  Chewy
  • Rated B – 85.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Tuna & Whitebait Smelt  Chewy
  • Rated B – 83.3% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Ocean Fish in Broth  Chewy
  • Rated B – 79.1% protein – Almo Nature / Daily – Tuna in Broth  Chewy
  • Rated B – 79.1% protein – Almo Nature / Daily – Tuna with Mackeral  Chewy
  • Rated B – 79.1% protein – Almo Nature / Daily – Tuna with Salmon  Chewy
  • Rated B – 79.1% protein – Almo Nature / Daily – Tuna with Shrimp  Chewy
  • Rated B – 75.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Salmon in Broth  Chewy
  • Rated B – 69.2% protein – PureBites – Tuna in Water  Chewy
  • Rated B – 65.0% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Trout & Tuna  Chewy

 

  • Rated C – 93.5% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Tuna & Chicken  Chewy
  • Rated C – 91.7% protein – PureBites – Tuna & Chicken in Water  Chewy
  • Rated C – 79.5% protein – Almo Nature / Natural – Salmon & Chicken  Chewy
  • Rated C – 79.1% protein – Almo Nature / Daily – Tuna with Chicken  Chewy
  • Rated C – 40.0% protein – 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.

  • Rated B – 50.0% protein – Hound & Gatos – Salmon, Mack, Sardine  Chewy
  • Rated B – 47.7% protein – Hound & Gatos – Salmon Formula  Chewy
  • Rated B – 47.7% protein – *Essence – Ocean & Freshwater  Company
  • Rated B – 40.9% protein – Vintage – Moist Harbour not available in the U.S.  Company
  • Rated C – 68.4% protein – Tiki Cat – Tilapia in Tilapia Consomme  Chewy

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 question is…    Does your cat like the food?

(My cat Bubby expressed himself very clearly when he didn’t like a particular food. He began 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 1,500 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 hype shaping our lives. 

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