Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Cat Food Review14 min read
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One of the latest trends in pet food is fresh food subscriptions. Much like meal kit services for humans, pet food subscriptions deliver fresh food right to your door.
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products is unique among these services because they offer raw food for dogs and cats.
Raw food is what many pet nutrition experts agree is the closest to a cat’s natural evolutionary diet.
Darwin’s offers a limited selection of products made with 100% real animal protein including meat, organs, and bone with added vitamins and minerals to ensure nutritional balance.
Read on to see what we think of the Darwin’s brand and to see our reviews for their top products.
- How We Review Cat Food Brands
- Overview of the Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Brand
- What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
- Product Recall History
- What Do Customers Think of Darwin’s Raw Cat Food?
- How Much Does Darwin’s Raw Cat Food Cost?
- Where Can You Buy Darwin’s Raw Cat Food?
- Our Final Thoughts: Is Darwin’s a Good Brand?
How We Review Cat Food Brands
Cats are obligate carnivores which means their bodies are designed to process and derive nutrition most efficiently from animal products.
Carbohydrates simply don’t provide biologically valuable nutrition and are hard for your cat’s body to digest. That being the case, we prefer high-protein recipes.
More than just protein content, however, we look for cat food brands that use high-quality, natural ingredients and formula their recipes in keeping with your cat’s nutritional needs.
We avoid brands that use low-quality grains, fillers, and artificial additives as well as brands that use too many by-products.
We don’t expect you to take our word for it when it comes to our recommendations – we encourage every cat owner to do their own research to decide which recipe is best for that cat.
We do, however, want you to understand how we make our recommendations so you know why you can trust them.
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 pricing and recalls as well as the availability of the brand as a whole.
Overview of the Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Brand
Often shortened simply to Darwin’s, Darwin’s Natural Pet Products is a raw pet food company that offers fresh formulas for both dogs and cats.
This company sends healthy, raw, natural food right to your door in predictable deliveries according to your pet’s unique calorie requirements.
Every one of Darwin’s recipes is complete and balanced, recommended by veterinarians. Their cat food formulas are made with 100% real meat, completely free from fillers and hard-to-digest grains.
Though their dog food formulas contain fresh vegetables for added nutrition, Darwin’s keeps their cat food recipes as protein-packed as possible.
Not only does Darwin’s use real animal ingredients, but their meats are sourced from USDA suppliers. Their chicken, turkey, and lamb is pasture-raised and free-roaming, completely free from antibiotics, steroids, and artificial hormones.
Darwin’s may only offer three raw cat food formulas and one veterinary recipe, but they have clearly taken the time to craft their recipes for quality nutrition.
Their website is full of helpful information about each recipe, including a detailed nutritional breakdown and complete list of ingredients. You’ll never have to question what you’re feeding your cat with Darwin’s.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products offers only raw food for cats and dogs. When it comes to their cat food selections, there are two product lines: Natural Selections and Intelligent Design.
The Natural Selections line of products features high-protein recipes made with 100% real meat. All chicken, turkey, and lamb inclusions are pasture-raised and free-roaming with no added antibiotics, steroids, or artificial hormones.
Darwin’s also offers a selection of Intelligent Design Veterinary Meals for cats. These are specialized meals formulated to help support cats with specific health issues.
Available by prescription only, Darwin’s currently offers a kidney support recipe made with restricted phosphorus levels.
Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:
Raw Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Ounce|
|Natural Selections Chicken Recipe||16||9||0.2||71||39|
|Natural Selections Turkey Recipe||17||8||0.2||72||36|
|Natural Selections Lamb Recipe||16||14||0.2||68||49|
|Intelligent Design KS Veterinary Formula Raw Food||15||12||1||69||46|
Product Recall History
When a problem is discovered with a pet food product, it might be recalled to prevent potential harm to pets. Recalls are typically issued by the FDA in response to consumer complaints or voluntarily by the company itself when they discover the issue.
Having a product recall or two doesn’t necessarily make a brand bad, but it is definitely something to look out for. Brands that outsource their production or manufacture their products in mass quantities may be more likely to have recalls, as do brands that use ingredients from China.
Even cat food brands that use high-quality, natural ingredients are subject to recall. Unfortunately, Darwin’s has several recalls in its history, primarily linked to foodborne pathogens.
Here’s an overview of Darwin’s recalls:
- March 2019 (potential for salmonella) – The FDA issued a recall for three raw dog food recipes in the Natural Selections product line due to potential salmonella contamination.
- March 2018 (potential for salmonella & e. coli) – The FDA issued a recall for 2-pound packages of ZooLogics and Natural Selections raw dog food for potential salmonella and e. coli contamination.
- February 2018 (potential for salmonella) – Darwin’s voluntarily recalled packages of ZooLogics Chicken and Vegetable Meal for Dogs and ZooLogics Duck and Vegetable Meal for Dogs due to potential salmonella contamination.
- December 2017 (potential for salmonella & listeria) – Darwin’s voluntarily recalled packages of Natural Selections Duck Meal for Cats due to potential contamination with salmonella and listeria.
- September 2017 (potential for salmonella) – Darwin’s voluntarily recalled packages of Natural Selections and ZooLogics meals for dogs due to potential listeria contamination.
Only one of Darwin’s recalls affected cat food products specifically. There is some concern that two of the five recalls were made “silently,” discovered via company email by Petful.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|Natural Selections Chicken Recipe Raw Cat Food||Raw||16||9||Chicken meat, chicken necks (including bone), chicken gizzards, chicken livers, chicken hearts|
|Natural Selections Turkey Recipe Raw Cat Food||Raw||17||8||Turkey necks (including bone), turkey gizzards, turkey hearts, turkey leg meat, turkey livers|
|Natural Selections Lamb Recipe Raw Cat Food||Raw||16||14||Lamb heart, lamb meat, lamb livers, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate|
|Intelligent Design KS Veterinary Formula Raw Cat Food||Raw||15||12||Chicken thigh meat, turkey hearts, chicken hearts, beets, zucchini|
This Natural Selections formula features real chicken as the primary ingredient and a single source of protein. It starts with fresh chicken meat, followed by chicken necks, gizzards, livers, and hearts.
Not only does this recipe include fresh chicken meat, but it also includes raw bone from the chicken necks. You may have heard chicken bones are bad for pets, but that generally applies to cooked bone.
Cooking the bone makes it dry and brittle, increasing the risk that it might break or splinter in your cat’s throat. Raw bone, on the other hand (especially softer bones like necks) are safe to consume and are a rich source of minerals for your cat.
Aside from chicken ingredients, this recipe only contains added vitamins and minerals as well as tomato pomace and fish oil. Tomato pomace is included as a source of dietary fiber and fish oil is, of course, a source of dietary fats.
It’s a little troubling to see an unnamed source of fish oil rather than a specific ingredient like salmon oil, but we’re willing to let it slide.
Very similar to the previous recipe, this formula is made with 100% real turkey ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. You’ll also find a small amount of tomato pomace for dietary fiber and fish oil for added fat. Cod liver oil appears later in the list as well.
This recipe is a single source protein formula which makes it a good choice for cats with food allergies, especially if they are allergic to common proteins like chicken and beef. You’ll find this recipe is still moderate in terms of calorie and fat content but rich in protein.
Another thing we like about this recipe is that the mineral supplements are chelated. Chelated minerals are mineral molecules that have been bound to protein molecules which increases their absorption and bio availability for your cat.
For cat owners looking for a novel source of protein, this lamb recipe might be a good option. It contains just three primary ingredients: lamb heart, lamb meat, and lamb livers.
Not only is this recipe packed with premium animal protein, but it is easily digestible as well. It contains some tomato pomace for dietary fiber but not grains or carbohydrates that might be difficult to digest.
The only other ingredients are added fats and vitamin and mineral supplements.
The one thing to note with this recipe is that it is significantly higher in calories than the turkey or chicken recipes. It is also more expensive, priced about $0.20 higher per ounce than the chicken recipe.
If your cat has kidney issues, you may be considering a veterinary formula. Unfortunately, many of the prescription diets on the market are made with very low-quality ingredients and are unlikely to actually benefit your cat’s health.
This Intelligent Design Kidney Support formula offers the same nutritional quality as other Darwin’s recipes, but it is designed to have low phosphorus levels and higher calcium levels to benefit your cat’s kidney health.
It also helps that it is a fresh, raw food which means higher moisture levels.
You may be surprised to find that this prescription formula isn’t even the most expensive one Darwin’s has to offer. In fact, it is cheaper than their lamb recipe. The only catch is that you need a prescription to order it, but that is fairly easy to get from your vet.
What Do Customers Think of Darwin’s Raw Cat Food?
Darwin’s isn’t currently rated by Dog Food Advisor or other major pet food review sites, nor are their products available on Chewy or Amazon.
We read reviews from several independent testers, however, and most of what we read was overwhelmingly positive.
How Much Does Darwin’s Raw Cat Food Cost?
When it comes to pricing Darwin’s raw cat food, the cost varies depending on the recipe you choose. The chicken recipe costs $6.39/pound, the turkey recipe costs $6.99/pound, and the lamb recipe $9.69/pound.
Per ounce, the cost of Darwin’s raw food ranges from $0.40/ounce to $0.60/ounce. The Intelligent Design veterinary diet costs about $0.52/ounce.
Your weekly cost will vary as well depending on your cat’s size and calorie needs. For a 10-pound cat, Darwin’s recommend about 0.3 pounds of cat food per day.
After a 10-pound introductory offer of $14.95, the recurring cost is about $150 every 10 weeks. That averages out to $15/week or $60/month.
To give you a better idea how Darwin’s 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 Darwin’s Raw Cat Food?
Darwin’s raw cat food is currently only available for online order. You can order directly through Darwin’s Natural Pet Products on their website and have your products sent right to your door.
Signing up for a subscription plan makes it easy (and free) to receive regular deliveries and you’ll get the exact amount your cat needs. You can also try a sample order of 10 pounds for just $14.95 to start.
Our Final Thoughts: Is Darwin’s a Good Brand?
While Darwin’s may not offer as much selection as other cat food companies, it’s difficult to argue the quality of their products.
Not only is Darwin’s food completely raw and fresh, but it is made with 100% real animal protein and no added carbohydrates. Simply put, it’s just about the closest to your cat’s natural evolutionary diet you’re going to get in a commercial cat food.
We like how open Darwin’s is about providing detailed breakdowns of their products as well as their effort to keep a raw food diet affordable.
Not only do they offer a 10-pound introductory offer for under $15, but the monthly cost to feed a 10-pound cat is similar to what you’d pay for a premium dry food or wet food diet.
All in all, we love Darwin’s!