FreshPet Cat Food Review15 min read
This page contains affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn More
Though fresh cat food delivery companies have really only started to gain traction in the last few years, fresh pet food is nothing new. FreshPet was started in 2006 as one of the first commercial fresh pet food companies and they have grown exponentially since then.
Today, they offer a wide variety of products for cats and dogs, making them available online and in fridges across the country.
Read on to see what we think of the brand and to see our reviews for their top products.
How We Review Cat Food Brands
Your cat’s food is more than just what he eats for breakfast and dinner – it’s his primarily source of nutrition.
A balanced diet is essential for long-term health and wellness, and it should come from high-quality, natural ingredients. That’s what we look for in a good cat food brand.
Cats are obligate carnivores, so their bodies are designed to process animal products (meat) better than plant products. Animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish should always be listed first for your cat’s food and carbohydrates should never outweigh the animal ingredients.
When evaluating a cat food brand, we take a comprehensive look at the brand and an in-depth look at their products. We know you want what’s best for your cat, and we’re here to help you find it.
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
We really want to make sure any cat food brand we recommend to our readers is made with high-quality ingredients, but we evaluate several other factors as well.
We give preference to brands that offer a 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 FreshPet Brand
The FreshPet company started in 2006 with a mission “to revolutionize the way all pets are fed by making fresh, natural food.” The company started small but has grown to feed over 1 million pets and their products are sold in over 20,000 retailers across North America.
Fresh pet describes their products as “real pet food, fresh from the fridge” and that’s exactly what they are. These products are made with real, whole ingredients that are gently cooked without preservatives.
FreshPet’s gentle steam cooking process preserves the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients and refrigeration keeps the products fresh without the need for artificial preservatives.
Though they started out small, FreshPet has expanded greatly and currently offers dozens of different products across several product lines.
They suggest their fresh food provides the following benefits:
- Shinier, softer skin and coat
- Improved digestion
- Healthier weight
- Relief from food allergies
- Increased energy
- Maximum flavor (for picky eaters)
Though there are certainly some challenges involved in feeding your cat fresh food, the benefits are undisputable. FreshPet makes it easy to find a high-quality product your cat will love, and you don’t have to go any further than your local pet store or grocery store to get it.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
FreshPet offers a wide variety of products for dogs and cats divided among several product lines. For cat food, their products are available in three lines: FreshPet Select, Vital, and Nature’s Fresh.
FreshPet Select is made using fresh, whole, high-quality ingredients including 100% natural poultry, beef, and fish with no ingredients from China and no grains. Choose from pate rolls, wet food recipes, and moisture-rich tender bites.
The Vital product line is designed for simplicity. It includes only the nutrients your cat needs and nothing more. Nature’s Fresh cat food from FreshPet is made with a holistic approach to nutrition, thoughtfully prepared and made from locally sourced ingredients that are Global Animal Partnership (GAP) certified.
Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:
Fresh Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Kg|
|Nature’s Fresh Grain Free Chicken Recipe for Cats Complete Meal||18||10.5||1.5||65||1,740|
|Vital Grain Free Chicken & Beef Recipe for Cats Roll||10||6||1||78||1,200|
|Vital Grain Free Chicken Recipe for Cats Complete Meal||17||11||1.5||65||1,720|
|FreshPet Select Chicken & Beef Grain Free Gourmet Pate for Cats Roll||10||6||1||78||1,200|
|FreshPet Select Grain Free Gourmet Pate with Salmon for Cats Roll||9||8||0.75||78||1,165|
|FreshPet Select Tender Chicken & Beef Recipe for Cats||18||10||2||65||1,900|
|FreshPet Select Tender Chicken Recipe for Cats||18||10||2||65||1,900|
|FreshPet Select Grain Free Chicken & Ocean Whitefish Recipe in Gravy||9||4||1||82||865|
|FreshPet Select Grain Free Chicken & Pumpkin Recipe in Gravy||9||4||1||82||865|
|FreshPet Select Grain Free Tender Chicken & Beef Recipe in Gravy||9||4||1||82||865|
Product Recall History
Before switching your cat to a new pet food, it’s important to do your research on the brand. There are a number of ways to judge a brand’s quality and their recall history is one of them.
Having a recall or two doesn’t necessarily indicate a poor-quality brand, but a long list of recall points toward potential issues with ingredient quality or manufacturing.
FreshPet produces their foods in large batches, so there is some concern there. They state in the FAQ section of their website that “the only ingredients we’re interested in are the best ingredients we can find” and all ingredients are locally sourced, as much as possible.
Ingredients are delivered daily to their company kitchens in Bethlehem, PA and recipes are steamed at low temperature.
Not only does FreshPet adhere to high standards for quality and safety, but the company hasn’t had any product recalls to date.
One thing worth noting here is that because FreshPet doesn’t sell directly to customers, retailers are responsible for storing the food properly and selling it by the right date. It’s possible that issues have been reported in the past but were attributed to retailer mishandling rather than an issue with the product itself.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|Nature’s Fresh Grain Free Chicken Recipe for Cats Complete Meal||Fresh||18||10.5||Chicken, chicken liver, natural flavors, pea protein, carrots|
|Vital Grain Free Chicken & Beef Recipe for Cats Roll||Fresh||10||6||Chicken, chicken broth, beef, chicken liver, natural flavors|
|Vital Grain Free Chicken Recipe for Cats Complete Meal||Fresh||17||11||Chicken, chicken liver, natural flavors, pea protein, eggs|
|FreshPet Select Grain Free Gourmet Pate with Salmon|
for Cats Roll
|Fresh||9||8||Chicken, chicken broth, beef, chicken liver, salmon|
|FreshPet Select Grain Free Chicken & Ocean Whitefish Recipe in Gravy||Fresh||9||4||Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, ocean whitefish, natural flavors|
If you’re used to feeding your cat dry food but you want to make the switch to fresh, something like this Nature’s Fresh Grain Free Chicken Recipe could be a good choice. It looks similar to kibble because it is formed in small bites, but the quality is higher.
This recipe features humanely raised fresh chicken with vitamin-rich peas and carrots in a grain-free formula. It also contains eggs, spinach, fish oil, and celery powder along with vitamins and minerals.
One ingredient worth noting is the pea protein, ingredient #4. Pea protein is a plant-based protein, so it provides less nutritional value than the chicken or chicken liver. It’s hard to tell how much of the protein comes from this source, however.
Overall, this seems to be a decent fresh food recipe. We would, of course, like to see another animal protein replace the pea protein, but there are no major red flags here.
Another common way in which fresh pet food is presented is in rolls like this Vital Grain Free Chicken & Beef Recipe. You simply determine how much your cat needs according to his weight then slice the roll and chop it up in his bowl.
This recipe features fresh chicken and beef as the primary ingredients with chicken broth for moisture and flavor. This recipe also contains pea protein like the one before it, as well as tapioca starch and carrageenan, likely for thickening.
Carrageenan is a somewhat controversial ingredient in pet food because it has been linked to digestive upset. The tapioca starch seems to be the primary source of carbohydrate, though it likely helps thicken the product as well. The estimated carb content of this recipe is still under 5%, however.
Another kibble-like fresh food, this Vital Grain Free Chicken Recipe is very similar to the first recipe reviewed. In fact, all six of the first ingredients are identical, with the eggs and carrots in swapped.
Again, pea protein is used as a primary ingredient and may contribute significantly to the total protein content of the formula. This recipe includes carrots and spinach as the primary carbohydrates, and as natural sources for key nutrients.
Another point worth noting is that FreshPet uses chelated minerals in their foods. Chelated minerals are simply mineral supplements that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which increases their absorption and utilization in your cat’s body.
This fresh cat food roll is designed with fresh fillets of salmon on the package. If you take a look at the ingredients list, however, you’ll see that it isn’t even listed until fifth. The main proteins are actually chicken, beef, and chicken liver.
Though this recipe already has three sources of animal protein (as well as eggs), it still includes pea protein isolate. Considering the overall protein content is only 9% (41% dry matter), it’s hard to say how much of that is animal versus plant-based protein.
Other than the protein ingredients, this recipe only includes tapioca starch, carrageenan, pea fiber, and celery powder (plus supplements for nutritional balance). The same potential issues with carrageenan apply here and we wouldn’t mind seeing a more nutritious source of carbohydrate than tapioca starch, though it is more likely used for thickening here than nutrition.
Though most FreshPet cat food products are rolls or fresh kibble, there are also a few wet food stews. This recipe features chicken and ocean whitefish as the primary proteins.
Like many of the other FreshPet recipes, this formula contains pea protein and pea fiber. Given the higher moisture content of the recipe, however, the 9% crude protein actually ends up being higher when calculated as dry matter – around 50%.
This recipe doesn’t contain carrageenan, but it does use guar gum as a thickener. This is a less controversial ingredient but not without its naysayers. Generally speaking, however, this appears to be a decent recipe in terms of nutrition and quality.
What Do Customers Think of FreshPet Cat Food?
Because FreshPet cat food is sold primarily in stores, it’s difficult to find customer ratings online. The FreshPet website has a few ratings, but the volume of reviews is fairly low.
Generally speaking, customers seem to be pleased with the quality of the ingredients and with the food itself.
How Much Does FreshPet Cat Food Cost?
You should expect fresh pet food to cost more than traditional kibble, largely due to the fact that it needs to be refrigerated to keep it fresh. This increases costs for both manufacturers and retailers.
The cost of FreshPet is significantly higher than typical dry foods, but you’ll find it’s on par with many fresh pet food companies.
You should be prepared to spend at least $4 per pound, sometimes over $6 per pound, for FreshPet. Their wet food products (like the stews) are priced around $0.50/ounce.
To give you a better idea how FreshPet 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 FreshPet Cat Food?
What makes FreshPet unique from other fresh pet food companies is that you can find their products in many stores, and not just pet stores. FreshPet offers their products in many grocery stores and big box stores with branded refrigerators.
You can also find their food in the refrigerated section of major pet stores like Petco and PetSmart. Online, you can order FreshPet from major retailers like Walmart and Petco as well as AmazonFresh and Prime Now.
Our Final Thoughts: Is FreshPet a Good Brand?
Overall, we’d say FreshPet is a decent introduction to fresh food for cats.
We like that it is easy to find in pet stores (and grocery stores), though the online offerings are still a little limited. It’s fairly pricy as well, compared to traditional kibble, but is in line with other fresh food brands.
In terms of the quality of FreshPet products, there are both ups and downs. We like the use of real animal protein and other whole ingredients, but we could do without the pea protein.
We were disappointed to see controversial ingredients like carrageenan as well as carbohydrates with limited nutritional value like tapioca starch.
If you’re considering fresh food but you’re not sure it’s worth the price or that your cat will eat it, FreshPet could be a good steppingstone in the right direction. You can certainly find higher quality fresh foods, but we didn’t have any major gripes with this brand on the whole.