Cat Food Reviews

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Review16 min read

July 28, 2020 12 min read

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Review16 min read

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Reading Time: 12 minutes

When you hear the name Dr. Elsey’s you probably think of cat litter.

If that’s the case, you certainly aren’t wrong. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat is a popular line of cat litter products that has been on the market for over 30 years. When it comes to cat food, however, Dr. Elsey is fairly new on the scene.

What makes Dr. Elsey’s cat food unique is the fact that it is extremely high in protein. This isn’t unusual for cat food in general, but it is somewhat unique for dry food.

The Clean Protein line of cat food includes both dry food and wet food products made with real animal proteins, inspired by the whole prey diet cats follow in the wild.

Read on to see what we think of the Dr. Elsey’s brand and to see our reviews for their top products.

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food1 min read
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
    Cons
      Variety of Recipes
      10/10
      Ingredient Quality
      9/10
      Price Per Pound
      8/10
      Recall History
      10/10
      Availability
      9/10
      Customer Reviews
      8/10

      How We Review Cat Food Brands

      We know you want to give your cat the very best and you trust us to give you our honest opinion. We want you to understand how we make our recommendations, so you know what we look for in a cat food brand and what we think makes one better than another.

      What it really comes down to is your cat’s nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a high-protein diet made primarily of animal ingredients.

      We always look for a cat food that contains a real source of animal protein as the first ingredient.

      In addition to plenty of animal protein, we check for healthy fats and natural sources of key nutrients. Cats can’t digest carbohydrates as well as dogs can, so the carb content of your cat’s food should be extremely limited.

      We also recommend avoiding low-quality fillers and artificial additives.

      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 Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Brand

      Dr. Bruce Elsey is a feline-only veterinarian who started his own practice back in the 1970s. Having seen over 8,000 patients during his time in practice, Dr. Elsey became an expert on cats and their needs. It was no surprise, then, when he released his own line of cat litter in 1989.

      In 2017, Dr. Elsey launched a line of high-protein cat foods called Clean Protein. Each recipe is inspired by the protein levels found in animal prey, formulated with at least 90% protein from animal sources like chicken, beef, turkey, fish, and duck. Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein cat food comes in two dry food formulas and nine wet food formulas as well as a variety pack.

      Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein cat food is marketed with the tagline, “Feed protein, not plants.” This brand recognizes that cats are carnivores designed to follow a wild prey diet.

      Because commercial cat food is so much more convenient and accessible for the average cat owner, however, Dr. Elsey made an effort to mimic the protein levels found in natural prey products cat owners would be more likely to choose.

      Though Dr. Elsey’s dry food selection is limited to two recipes, there are more choices in wet food. It’s also worth noting that the brand offers three single source protein canned foods – these are a great option for cats with food allergies or sensitivities to common proteins like chicken and beef.

      What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?

      Dr. Elsey’s cat food brand offers a limited selection of dry food products and an extensive wet food collection.

      The dry food recipes feature either chicken or salmon and both are grain-free, gluten-free, and completely free from fillers and artificial preservatives.

      When it comes to their wet food formulas, Dr. Elsey’s offers a selection of Clean Protein pates made with flavors like chicken, turkey, beef, and fish.

      In addition to multi-protein options, there are three single source protein recipes as well: salmon, pork, and duck.

      Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:

      Dry Food Recipes

      RecipeProtein %Fat %Fiber %Moisture %Calories/Cup
      Clean Protein Chicken Recipe Dry Kibble for All Cats5918412554 kcal/cup
      Clean Protein Salmon Recipe Dry Kibble for All Cats5617412554 kcal/cup

      Wet Food Recipes

      RecipeProtein %Fat %Fiber %Moisture %Calories/Can (5.5 oz.)
      Chicken Recipe Paté1191.578197
      Turkey Recipe Paté1191.578202
      Beef Recipe Paté1161.578180
      Ocean Whitefish Recipe Paté12.57.51.578190
      Rabbit & Turkey Recipe Paté116178178
      Duck & Turkey Recipe Paté118178197
      Single Source Animal Protein Salmon Recipe Paté10.56178211
      Single Source Animal Protein Duck Recipe Paté134178161
      Single Source Animal Protein Pork Recipe Paté10.57178192

      Product Recall History

      We couldn’t find any information about recalls pertaining to Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein cat food. This isn’t particularly surprising, considering the brand was only launched in 2017.

      Just because a brand hasn’t had any recalls doesn’t necessarily mean it is a trustworthy brand – the opposite is true as well. A recall simply means there’s an issue with the product and it needs to be removed from pet store shelves.

      It can be for a non-life-threatening reason like labeling issues or something more concerning like potential contamination with food-borne pathogens.

      Pet product manufacturers who outsource their production and source ingredients from China are more likely to have recalls, though that isn’t exclusively true.

      We like that Dr. Elsey’s hasn’t had any recalls, though there are definitely more factors to consider when judging the brand’s quality.

      Products Included in This Review

      NameTypeProtein %Fat %Top 5 Ingredients
      Clean Protein Chicken Recipe Dry Kibble for All CatsDry5918Chicken, dried egg product, pork protein isolate, gelatin, chicken fat
      Clean Protein Salmon Recipe Dry Kibble for All CatsDry5617Salmon, dried chicken, dried egg product, gelatin, salmon hydrolysate
      Clean Protein Chicken Recipe PatéWet119Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, dried egg product, natural flavor
      Clean Protein Rabbit & Turkey Recipe PatéWet116Rabbit, turkey broth, turkey, turkey liver, dried egg product
      Clean Protein Single Source Animal Protein Pork Recipe PatéWet10.57Duck, duck broth, duck liver, dried egg product, natural flavor

      Clean Protein Chicken Recipe Dry Kibble for All Cats

      Product Info:

      • Type of Food: Dry
      • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, dried egg product, pork protein isolate, gelatin, chicken fat
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 59% Protein Min, 18% Fat Min, 4% Fiber Max, 12% Moisture Max
      • Calories per Cup: 554 kcal/cup
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $7.12/pound

      Ingredients:

      Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharide, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Taurine, Salt, Rosemary Extract.

      The most popular of Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein recipes, this chicken formula dry food offers 59% crude protein and 18% fat.

      Converted to dry matter basis, taking into account the 12% moisture level, that converts to about 67% protein which is much higher than the average kibble.

      The first ingredient in this recipe is chicken – fresh chicken, to be specific. What you need to remember here is that because it is fresh, it contains up to 60% moisture.

      Once the product is cooked, the final weight of chicken will likely be much lower. Dried ingredients like the egg and pork protein isolate will likely climb up the list.

      Though this recipe does contain fresh chicken as the main ingredient, it isn’t the only source of protein.

      In fact, it seems as though the egg product, pork protein isolate, and even the gelatin might contribute similar amounts or even more. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just something to consider if you’re looking for a chicken recipe to feed your cat.

      In addition to the protein ingredients, this formula contains chicken fat, flaxseed, and salmon oil along with added vitamins and minerals. Both chicken fat and salmon oil are nutritious ingredients and flaxseed provides both healthy fats and fiber.

      Clean Protein Salmon Recipe Dry Kibble for All Cats

      Product Info:

      • Type of Food: Dry
      • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, dried chicken, dried egg product, gelatin, salmon hydrolysate
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 56% Protein Min, 17% Fat Min, 4% Fiber Max, 12% Moisture Max
      • Calories per Cup: 554 kcal/cup
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $7.12/pound

      Ingredients:

      Salmon, Dried Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Gelatin, Salmon Hydrolysate, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Chickpeas, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Pork Protein Isolate, Potassium Citrate, Fructooligosaccharide, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract.

      Like the previous recipe, this salmon formula contains more than just salmon when it comes to protein. This recipe also contains dried chicken, dried egg product, and gelatin in addition to salmon hydrolysate.

      To dig a little deeper into the ingredients list, you’ll need to know what hydrolyzed proteins like salmon hydrolysate and pork protein hydrolysate are.

      Hydrolyzed protein consists of proteins that have been broken down into smaller segments – the amino acid chains have been separated into smaller pieces.

      Proteins that have been hydrolyzed are less likely to trigger an immune response which is why they are often included in hypoallergenic pet foods.

      Hydrolyzed proteins may also be easier for pets with inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive disorders to absorb because they’ve already been broken down.

      In addition to the protein ingredients, this recipe contains chicken fat, dried chickpeas, and flaxseed along with added vitamins and minerals.

      Clean Protein Chicken Recipe Paté

      Product Info:

      • Type of Food: Wet
      • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, dried egg product, natural flavor
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 11% Protein Min, 9% Fat Min, 1.5% Fiber Max, 78% Moisture Max
      • Calories per Cup: 197 kcal/can (5.5 oz.)
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.36/ounce

      Ingredients:

      Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Agar-Agar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Barley Grass, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Turmeric, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Folic Acid.

      Though Dr. Elsey’s dry food formulas are made with hydrolyzed proteins, his wet food formulas are not.

      This chicken recipe pate is made simply with chicken-based ingredients including fresh chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver. You’ll also find dried egg on the list.

      Aside from these proteins, this formula doesn’t contain many primary ingredients.

      Salmon oil is the main source of fat and New Zealand green mussels act as a natural source of glucosamine. You’ll also find chelated minerals and synthetic vitamins to ensure balanced nutrition.

      One thing worth pointing out here is the inclusion of barley grass. Often used in pet supplements, barley grass is a rich source of vitamin E and natural enzymes.

      According to the FDA, barley grass is considered gluten-free, even though the barley grain is not.

      Clean Protein Rabbit & Turkey Recipe Paté

      Product Info:

      • Type of Food: Wet
      • First 5 Ingredients: Rabbit, turkey broth, turkey, turkey liver, dried egg product
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 11% Protein Min, 6% Fat Min, 1% Fiber Max, 78% Moisture Max
      • Calories per Cup: 178 kcal/can (5.5 oz.)
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.40/ounce

      Ingredients:

      Rabbit, Turkey Broth, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Agar-Agar, Barley Grass, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Magnesium Proteinate, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source Of Vitamin K Activity), Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Organic Sunflower Oil, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide.

      This rabbit and turkey recipe is packed with real animal protein and rich flavor. Fresh rabbit is the first ingredient, followed by turkey broth, fresh turkey, and turkey liver.

      Aside from these, many of the remaining ingredients are similar to the previous recipe.

      Agar-agar is commonly used in wet pet foods as a thickener. A natural gelling agent derived from seaweed, agar-agar is made from the same type of seaweed as carrageenan.

      Carrageenan has been known to trigger digestive issues, but the jury is still out on agar-agar.

      Clean Protein Single Source Animal Protein Pork Recipe Paté

      Product Info:

      • Type of Food: Wet
      • First 5 Ingredients: Duck, duck broth, duck liver, dried egg product, natural flavor
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 10.5% Protein Min, 7% Fat Min, 1% Fiber Max, 78% Moisture Max
      • Calories per Cup: 192 kcal/can (5.5 oz.)
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.46/ounce

      Ingredients:

      Duck, Duck Broth, Duck Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Agar-Agar, Barley Grass, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Taurine, Magnesium Proteinate, Salt, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source Of Vitamin K Activity), Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Organic Sunflower Oil, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide.

      If your cat suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, a single source protein recipe is recommended.

      This duck formula is made only with fresh duck, duck liver, and dried egg when it comes to the protein inclusions. Salmon oil is the main source of fat but is unlikely to trigger allergies.

      In addition to plenty of duck, this recipe is supplemented with dried mussels and barley grass as well as synthetic vitamins and minerals.

      We’re glad to see that many of the minerals are chelated, meaning they have been chemically bound to protein molecules which enhances their absorption.

      What Do Customers Think of Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food?

      Generally speaking, customers are very pleased with Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein line of cat foods.

      The chicken recipe dry food is the most popular recipe, based on the number of reviews, followed by the chicken recipe wet food. Most products have 4 stars (out of 5) and the lowest average is 3 stars.

      In addition to reading customer reviews of the brand, we also checked out some independent review sites to see what they thought of Dr. Elsey’s.

      Several other sites gave the brand a 4-to-5-star rating, so we’re confident that our review is on-par with the average customer experience.

      How Much Does Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Cost?

      When it comes to cost, you have to separate Dr. Elsey’s cat food into two categories: dry food and wet food.

      Clean Protein dry food is quite expensive, priced around $7.12 per pound. This makes it much more expensive than most of the premium dry foods we’ve reviewed.

      Dr. Elsey’s canned cat food is much more affordably priced, averaging $0.35 to $0.50 per ounce. This disparity in pricing is the primary reason the brand’s overall rating is a little lower than you might expect based on the content of our review.

      To give you a better idea how Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein cat food stacks up against other cat food brands, here is a quick chart to show you some average prices:

      Where Can You Buy Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food?

      Like many cat food brands, you can find Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein cat food both in stores and online. This brand is readily available at major online retailers like Amazon and Chewy as well as pet store chains like Petco and PetSmart.

      Shop for Dr. Elsey’s cat food at big box stores like Walmart and Target, both in-store and online, or at local pet stores and supermarkets.

      Our Final Thoughts: Is Dr. Elsey’s a Good Brand?

      Overall, we think Dr. Elsey’s is a decent brand of pet food, but we wouldn’t include it in our list of favorites.

      There’s a big difference between the dry food and wet food options, however, especially when it comes to price. We’re not sure the price of the dry food is justified based on the ingredients.

      If you’re looking for a high-protein recipe to feed your cat and you want to keep it affordable, we recommend Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein wet food.

      Choose from a variety of protein options, including single source recipes, according to your cat’s preferences and specific dietary requirements.

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      Kate Barrington is avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines
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