Cat Food Companies - Which Are Best? - Cat Info Detective

Cat Food Companies – Which Are Best?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Hey you cool cats! Skye Blake here, back help you discover which cat food companies are the best, most reliable ones.

Many people are suspicious of these companies but are they right?

Is “Big Cat Food” uncaring and greedy, only interested in manipulating you and your vet?

paw prints coming in from a distance

Are small boutique companies compassionate and concerned about your pets and the environment?

Let’s discover answers and find out how to evaluate cat food companies… it’s important for both you and your cat.

What Questions to Ask Cat Food Companies

people asking questions, cat food companies

In order to properly evaluate cat food companies, you need to ask specific questions.

WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) has a helpful guideline sheet for cat owners trying to choose food.

Each company should be judged on its own merits, history, reputation, and product analysis.

Check their website for contact information and ask…

Are they willing to be transparent, either with you or your vet?

facts under magnifying glass

If vets call and say they need something specific for a client’s medical problem and the company says “sorry, that’s proprietary”, the vet can’t determine if the products will meet the needs of their patients.

If they aren’t easy to contact or refuse to answer the questions, they’re probably not reliable and it’s best to avoid their products.

Does the Company have a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist or PhD in Animal Nutrition On-Staff?

generic person - scientist, lab equipment, vet, meds, cat food companies

You can request the names, qualifications and employment status (employees or independent consultants).

If they use consultants but have no experts on-staff, someone unqualified may be creating the recipes, which means the food might not be complete and balanced.

Which leads us to the next question…

Does the Vet Nutritionist Formulate the Recipes?

cook figure in front of recipe; cat food companies, nutritionists

Developing recipes is complicated.

Whoever does it must have “knowledge of nutrition, raw materials, and processing not taught in veterinary school programs.”1GNC_Guidelines” (wsava.org)

Someone who’s trained and has experience formulating pet foods might have a MS/PhD in food science and technology, which is helpful in choosing ingredients and knowing the proper nutrient levels for each product.

cat eating kibble

Having both a vet nutritionist who knows the medical aspects and a PhD who knows the formulation aspect is ideal.

This is why the best companies have a staff of scientists and nutritionists.

Does the Diet Meet Nutritional Guidelines?

front of dry cat food package

The company’s recipes should meet or exceed the minimum nutritional guidelines of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), FEDIAF (European Pet Food Industry Federation), or WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association).

This is important to be sure the diet is complete and balanced, with all necessary nutrients in the proper amounts.

To determine if the formula used in each recipe meets these standards, reputable companies will analyze the recipe using either a nutrient database or chemical analysis of the product once it’s produced.

What Quality Controls Does the Company Have in Place?

quality control; cat food companies

Quality controls are important to ensure the safety of both pets and their owners.

The procedures companies use should include “ingredient (food and supplement) validation, final diet nutrient analysis, toxicology, bacteriology, and packaging/shelf-life screenings prior to, during, and after manufacturing.”2GNC_Guidelines” (wsava.org)

See “How Is Cat Food Made?” for more detailed information.

Are Small Companies Better Than “Big Cat Food”?

info on back of package, broth

There’s an image being created on social media and marketing that smaller cat food companies are better than large ones because they care more and use “pure”, “healthy”, or high-quality ingredients.

The implication (and sometimes direct accusation) is that Big Cat Food is an impersonal, unfeeling group of evil capitalists who want to kill your cat with bad food.

cat & kittens eating from bowls

These types of images and sweeping generalizations should always set off alarm bells because they’re designed to manipulate people, not deal with facts.

Every company has to be evaluated on its own merits, but it turns out that generally the larger, more established companies have consistently reliable complete and balanced food.

There are a number of reasons for this.

The “Big Guys”

Purina nutritionist commitment
  • Have been around the longest and are most experienced at creating good quality cat food
  • Have scientists and vet nutritionists on-staff
  • Make diets that meet better-than-minimum-standards
Royal Canin canned wet kitten food
  • Invest money in peer-reviewed product research that they make available to the public
  • Do feeding trials
  • Manufacture/process in their own facilities for better quality control
industry, factory, manufacturing, pet food
  • Have stringent quality control standards

Some of the companies that fill these criteria most are what vets typically recommend because they have high standards with products that are science based.

A few examples are…

The Purina Promise- dry cat food

You may say, “But they have cat food recalls”, thinking that makes them bad companies.

But that’s not always the case as you can discover at “Cat Food Recalls – What Do They Mean?

The “Little Guys”

Pet store cat food aisle

The most important criteria from a cat owner’s perspective when evaluating a cat food company, is to find out who actually manufactures the products.

Smaller cat food companies can meet the above criteria but often do not because they don’t have the experience or money to employ vet nutritionists and other experts.

They often hire other companies to process and package their products and only put their names on them.

wet cat food-Blue Buffalo Wilderness

This means they have no control over the quality of ingredients and bioavailability.

The experience of Blue Buffalo® over the years is a good example of what can happen when a company doesn’t have good control over their products or any testing of them.

If you look at their product labels, you’ll see most do not say the products are complete and balanced.

cat eating from white bowl/orange paw prints - preparing bowls for a trip

This means you need to be careful about using their products because you don’t know the quality or safety of them.

Here’s a great video from a vet with helpful information…

BEST Food for Your Dog and Cat | A Veterinarian Explains (Pet Nutrition Part I)
Vet Med Corner, April 1, 2022

Discover more about various aspects of feline nutrition and cat food at these related pages…


Cat Food!How Is Cat Food Made?
Big Cat Food Paying Off Vets & Other MythsCat Food Recalls – What Do They Mean?
Meat By Products In Cat FoodPet Food Regulations & Oversight
Reading Cat Food LabelsHow to Feed a Cat
Cat Food & Water BowlsCat Food Puzzles
What Nutrients Do Cats Need?Are Carbs Bad for Cat?
Can Cats Drink Milk?Food for Kittens – Giving Them Good Nutrition
What Vitamins Do Cats Need?What’s the Best Cat Food?
Dry Cat Food (Kibble)Homemade Cat Food
Raw Cat Food – Good or Bad?Raw Meat Diet for Cats – Benefits vs. Risks
The Best Cat Food BrandsThe Best Kitten Food
Wet Cat FoodCat Food Allergies & Sensitivities
Dental Care for CatsFat Cats – Unhealthy or Cute?
What’s a Veterinary Nutritionist?

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own. Sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

AAFCO The People Behind Animal Feed and Pet Food“, aafco.org, 2019

AAFCO-Approved Pet Food: Everything You Need to Know“, PetMD

About AMS | Agricultural Marketing Service” (usda.gov)

The Association of American Feed Control Officials” (aafco.org)

Canned or Dry Food: Which is Better for Cats?“, Skeptvet (skeptvet.com)

FDA’s Regulation of Pet Food“, FDA.gov

6 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know About Cat Food “, by Amanda MacMillan, Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM, April 01, 2018, webmd.com

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Definition” (investopedia.com)

How-Pet-Food-is-Made.pdf“, Pet Food Institute (petfoodinstitute.org)

How pet food is made – making, used, processing, parts, components, product, industry, machine“, How Products Are Made (madehow.com)

Pet Food“, FDA

Questions & Answers: Contaminants in Pet Food“, FDA, July 29, 2021

WSAVA“, (wsava.org)

WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee: Guidelines on Selecting Pet Foods“,wsava.org, March 10, 2021

Updated January 9, 2023

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