Cat Chow Food Review16 min read
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If you were asked to name as many brands of cat food as you could, there’s a good chance Cat Chow would be on the list.
One of several product lines made by Purina, Cat Chow is easily one of the most popular cat food brands on the market. It is also one of the oldest.
Just because a cat food brand has been around for decades, however, doesn’t necessarily make it good. It’s your job as a responsible cat owner to determine the quality of any product you decide to feed your cat.
The good news for you is we’re here to help.
Read on to see what we think of the Cat Chow brand and to see our reviews for their top products.
How We Review Cat Food Brands
All animals require a balance of nutrients in their diet and your cat is no different. It’s important to realize, however, that your cat’s nutritional needs are different from your own.
Cats are obligate carnivores by nature which means they require a high-protein diet made primarily of animal ingredients.
When we evaluate cat food brands, we take a look at a variety of factors but focus primarily on the quality of the ingredients and the nutrition they deliver.
A good cat food should start with a real animal protein as the first ingredient and shouldn’t contain low-quality grains or fillers like corn, wheat, or soy.
Carbohydrates should not be a significant inclusion in your cat’s diet because he simply can’t digest them – they don’t provide a valuable source of nutrition.
Whole grains and fresh product do provide some nutritional value, but low-quality grains are hard to digest and generally low in nutrition for cats.
Here are some of the things we look for in a good cat food brand:
- High-quality animal protein as the first ingredient
- Rich in healthy animal fats (ex: chicken fat or salmon oil)
- Few to no carbohydrate ingredients (especially within the top 5)
- Limited number of main ingredients plus supplements
- No low-quality fillers, grains, or by-products
In addition to making sure any cat food brand we recommend is made with high-quality ingredients, we evaluate several other factors as well. We prefer brands that offer a wide variety of recipes and those that provide plenty of information about their ingredients and products.
We also consider average pricing and product recalls as well as the availability of the brand as a whole.
Overview of the Cat Chow Brand
Cat Chow is one of Purina’s many brands. The history of Purina dates all the way back to 1894 when William H. Danforth and his partners George Robinson and William Andrews started the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. Eventually, the company came to be known as Ralston Purina.
Ralston Purina merged with Nestle in 2001 to form the Nestle-Purina Petcare Company. Today, the company is the second largest pet food company in the world and the largest in the United States. Nestle-Purina generates over $12 billion in revenue each year, second only to Mars Petcare.
Purina introduced the Cat Chow brand in 1962 as one of the first commercial extruded pet food products, following in the footsteps of Purina Dog Chow which was released in 1956.
Today, the Cat Chow brand offers fewer than a dozen individual recipes (dry food only) yet remains one of the most popular dry cat food brands on the market.
Of the Cat Chow brand, Purina claims they “proudly offer a variety of formulas because [they] recognize how important it is to find the right nutrition for different lifestyles, needs, and tastes.” Their recipes are designed to deliver 100% complete and balanced nutrition for each live stage with a flavor cats love.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
Purina Cat Chow currently offers two product lines, both of which contain only dry food recipes. The original Cat Chow contains four recipes and the Cat Chow Naturals line contains four recipes.
Cat Chow offers an assortment of recipes for all life stages as well as recipes for kittens and indoor cats. They offer one grain-free formula and one for sensitive stomachs. There are no senior recipes.
Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:
Dry Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Cup|
|Cat Chow Complete||32||12||3||12||405|
|Cat Chow Gentle for Sensitive Stomachs||34||11||5||12||408|
|Cat Chow Indoor||30||9.5||5.5||12||358|
|Cat Chow Nurture Kitten Food||40||13.5||2.5||12||414|
|Cat Chow Naturals Grain-Free||34||13||3||12||398|
|Cat Chow Naturals Original||32||11||3||12||413|
|Cat Chow Naturals Indoor||38||9||5.4||12||358|
|Cat Chow Naturals Kitten Food||40||15||2.5||12||406|
Product Recall History
A product recall happens when there’s a problem with the product and it needs to be pulled from pet store shelves.
This often happens when an ingredient is tainted or when the product tests below proper levels for a certain nutrient. It can also be the result of a packaging or labeling error.
Having a product recall or two isn’t necessarily an indication of a poor-quality brand.
Recalls do tend to be more common, however, in brands that mass-produce their products and those that outsource manufacturing. Nestle Purina Petcare is the second-largest global pet food company.
Here’s an overview of Purina recalls:
- March 2016 (inadequate vitamins and minerals) – Several recipes of Purina Pro Plan Savory Meals in 10-ounce tubs were recalled along with several Beneful recipes.
- August 2013 (possible salmonella risk) – The FDA recalled 3.5-pound bags of Purina ONE Beyond Our White Meat Chicken & Whole Barley Recipe Adult dry dog food for possible salmonella risk.
- May 2012 (possible low thiamine) – The FDA recalled 5.5-ounce cans of Purina Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management cat food due to possible low thiamine levels.
- July 2011 (possible salmonella risk) – A voluntary recall for Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ dry cat food was issued due to possible salmonella risk.
- June 2011 (possible salmonella risk) – The Purina company voluntarily recalled 6.3-pound bags of Purina Cat Chow Naturals due to possible salmonella risk.
Given the size of the Nestle Purina Petcare company, it’s not surprising that they have a few recalls in their history. Only one of the recalls from the last 10 years affected the Cat Chow brand in particular.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food||Dry||32||12||Chicken by-product meal, ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, rice|
|Cat Chow Hairball & Healthy Weight Indoor Dry Cat Food||Dry||30||9.5||Chicken by-product meal, whole grain corn, soy flour, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal|
|Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food||Dry||32||11||Chicken, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, rice, soybean meal|
|Cat Chow Naturals Hairball & Weight Control Indoor Dry Food||Dry||38||9||Chicken, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal|
|Cat Chow Naturals Grain-Free with Real Chicken Dry Food||Dry||34||13||Chicken by-product meal, cassava root flour, soy flour, pea starch, chicken|
Easily one of the most popular products from Cat Chow, this recipe is said to have “high-quality protein for strong muscles” and “healthy carbs for vital energy.” Unfortunately, our analysis of the ingredients list shows that may not be entirely true.
The first ingredient on the list is, in fact, a source of animal protein but it is chicken by-product meal rather than fresh chicken or chicken meal. By-products are not always necessarily bad, but it is more difficult to judge their quality because they aren’t specifically named like fresh chicken.
It’s also worth noting that the next five ingredients are plant-based – those so-called “healthy carbs.” The true is, however, that corn, rice, and soy ingredients are generally not viewed as nutritious for cats.
Corn gluten meal is a source of plant protein as well, so it might contribute significantly to the total protein content of the recipe.
This formula does contain fresh chicken and fish meal as supplemental sources of protein, but it’s not likely that they contribute significantly to the total protein content – at least not as much as the plants.
Formulated for indoor cats, this recipe has a lower percentage of fat and a higher percentage of fiber than the original recipe. This recipe is designed to reduce hairballs and to improve weight management.
The first ingredient in this formula is, again, chicken by-product meal. This ingredient is followed by five carbohydrate ingredients with beef fat as the primary source of fat.
Chicken appears on the list as well, but not until after beef fat and liver flavor.
You’ll also notice several sources of added fiber in the form of powdered cellulose and soybean hulls. Though cellulose isn’t necessarily a bad ingredient, soy products are not recommended for cats.
Neither is corn or wheat which make up the majority of the first six ingredients.
The Cat Chow Naturals line of products advertises real animal protein as the first ingredient with added vitamins and minerals. At first glance, the ingredients list looks a little stronger than the original Cat Chow lineup, but it still isn’t what we’d call good.
Fresh chicken is, in fact, the first ingredient and an additional source of protein is listed third.
Unfortunately, it’s that chicken by-product meal again and corn gluten meal is listed second, so it likely makes a significant contribution to the total protein content.
This recipe still contains corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as a high percentage of carbohydrate ingredients on the whole. Fresh salmon provides a supplemental source of protein and dried spinach a natural source of essential nutrients, but neither is likely used in a significant amount.
Similar to the Cat Chow Indoor recipe, this formula has less fat and more fiber than the original Cat Chow Naturals recipe.
Fresh chicken is the first ingredient again, but the supplemental chicken by-product meal moves down to fourth from third with turkey as the eighth ingredient.
Corn gluten meal provides a significant amount of plant protein, based on its positioning on the list, and you’ll find additional corn ingredients as well as soybean meal.
This recipe seems to be wheat-free, but it does rely heavily on plant ingredients.
The only grain-free offering from Cat Chow, this Naturals recipe features chicken by-product meal as the first ingredient with fresh chicken four ingredients later.
You’ll also see pea protein added as a supplemental source of protein, but it is less biologically valuable since it is plant-based.
It’s good to see this recipe is free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients but the carbohydrates used are very high in starch which provides limited nutritional value.
Overall, the estimated carbohydrate content of this recipe is over 30% which is still very high.
What Do Customers Think of Cat Chow Cat Food?
Not only is Purina Cat Chow an incredibly popular brand in terms of sales, but customers seem to like it. Six varieties are available on Chewy, all with over 250 customer reviews and an average rating of 4.5/5 or higher.
Some recipes have well over 500 reviews.
One thing worth noting with this brand is that many customers comment on the low price and the fact that their cat loves the food.
As one of the cheaper brands of cat food, it’s likely that many who are loyal to this brand purchase it for the price and don’t necessarily know it isn’t the highest quality product.
How Much Does Cat Chow Cat Food Cost?
Generally speaking, Purina pet food products are fairly affordable. Cat Chow is one of their cheaper product lines and you’re like to find it in most pet stores as well as some big stores and groceries.
Cat Chow currently offers eight different products divided in two lines: Purina Cat Chow and Purina Cat Chow Naturals. The original Cat Chow line sells for an average price under $1.00 per pound while the Cat Chow Naturals line sells for between $1.25 and $2.00 per pound, depending on the recipe.
To give you a better idea how Cat Chow stacks up against other cat food brands, here is a quick chart to show you some average prices:
|Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Food||Dry||Low||X||$0.90/pound|
|Friskies Classic Pate Mixed Grill Canned Food||Wet||Low||$0.07/ounce||$1.16/pound|
|Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice Adult Dry Cat Food||Dry||Moderate||X||$2.53/pound|
|Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Chicken Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food||Wet||Moderate||$0.36/ounce||X|
|Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken||Dry||High||X||$3.45/pound|
|Ziwi Peak New Zealand Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food||Wet||High||$1.21/ounce||X|
Where Can You Buy Cat Chow Cat Food?
As one of the most popular brands of pet food Purina products are sold in most major pet stores. You can find Purina Cat Chow in pet store chains like Petco and PetSmart as well as smaller local and regional stores.
You may also find Cat Chow in big box stores and some grocery stores.
Our Final Thoughts: Is Cat Chow a Good Brand?
It’s hard to argue that Cat Chow is an affordable cat food but it’s easy for us to say we can’t recommend it in good conscious.
Though every recipe we reviewed lists an animal source of protein as the first ingredient, Cat Chow relies heavily on by-product meals and plant proteins. We also hate to see corn, wheat, and soy ingredients being used so significantly.
In terms of the guaranteed analysis, Cat Chow doesn’t look too bad and the calorie content seems moderate.
You have to remember, however, that even at 30-some percent crude protein, only one of the top three sources in most recipes are animal-based.
If you’re trying to improve the quality of your cat’s diet without breaking the bank, you can probably do better than Cat Chow.