Iams Cat Food Review19 min read
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When you think of cat food brands, Iams may or may not be the first name that comes to mind. If you were to scan a rack of cat food at the pet store, however, you’d almost certainly recognize the packaging.
Iams uses bright colors and bold patterns on their packaging and names their products using words like “proactive” and “complete.”
Iams has a long history in the pet food industry dating back to the 1940s. As one of the pioneers of pet food, Iams is a name many pet owners know and trust. Just because a brand is familiar or visible, however, doesn’t necessarily make it worthy of your consideration.
We’ve done our best to review the brand fairly to give you the information you need to make your own decision.
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
With so many different cat food brands out there, it can be difficult to decide what to feed your cat. We know you want what’s best for your furry friend, but pet food labels can be hard to interpret.
We make it our goal to provide you with the information you need to make a smart decision on your pet’s behalf. We’ve done the research, read the reviews, and tested the products ourselves to get a feel for what’s out there and to bring you honest, unbiased information on which to base your choice.
Our cat food recommendations are based on the nutritional needs of cats – it’s that simple.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they have a biological requirement for meat in their diet. We only recommend cat foods that list a high-quality source of animal protein as the first ingredient and we favor recipes that are low in carbohydrates overall.
We look for cat food brands that use natural whole-food ingredients without low-quality fillers like corn, wheat, and soy or artificial additives. We prefer recipes that rely on natural sources for essential nutrients as well, though we understand the challenge of meeting AAFCO nutrient requirements without some use of synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Here are some of the other 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 Iams Brand
The story of Iams began in 1946 when Paul F. Iams created a pet food company with the belief that innovation was the key to enhancing the health and wellness of pets. By the 1950s, the first Iams product, a dog food called Iams 999, hit the market. It was the first commercial pet food to use animal-based protein as the primary protein source.
Over the next few decades, Iams continued to innovate. Iams Plus was released in the 1960s after a decade of formula research but the first Iams cat food product didn’t come out until the 1980s. This release coincided with a change to the face of the Iams brand. New packaging in a rainbow of colors paired with the introduction of pet foods formulated for life stages shook up the pet food aisle.
In the 1990s, Iams released their first line of natural pet food along with their first canned cat food recipes. By the 2000s, Iams had greatly expanded their product lines to include the wide variety of dry cat food and canned cat food products they have today.
While Iams has changed a lot over the years, they’ve always been devoted to the health and wellness of pets. Their cat food recipes are formulated to support the four signs of cat health: C.A.T.S. Coat, appetite, temperament, and size are what Iams believes to be the four key indicators of health in cats, so their products are designed to support optimal wellness in these four areas.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
Iams offers a variety of dry food and wet food products for both cats and dogs. When it comes to their cat food products, Proactive Health is the primary dry food line while Perfect Portions represents their wet food. They offer formulas for kittens as well as adult cats.
The Proactive Health line of dry foods contains 11 different recipes, each focused on a specific health concern or animal protein. The Perfect Portions product line includes 13 recipes for adult cats as well as indoor cats and kittens. These are sold in twin trays of two 1.32-ounce portions.
Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:
Dry Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Cup|
|Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Care with Chicken & Turkey||30||11||8.3||10||302|
|Proactive Health Healthy Adult with Chicken Recipe||32||15||3||10||341|
|Proactive Health Healthy Adult with Salmon Recipe||32||15||3||10||387|
|Proactive Health Hairball Care Recipe||32||14||8.5||10||399|
|Proactive Health Adult Sensitive Digestion & Skin Recipe||33||14||3||10||352|
|Proactive Health Urinary Tract Health with Chicken Recipe||32||15||1.7||10||387|
|Proactive Health High Protein Recipe||38||18||3||10||467|
|Proactive Health Optimal Metabolism Recipe||28||11||3||10||467|
|Proactive Health Oral Care Complete Recipe||32||15||3||10||362|
|Proactive Health Healthy Kitten Recipe||33||21||3||10||512|
|Proactive Health Healthy Senior Recipe||34||17||3||10||467|
Wet Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories (kcal/serving)|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Pate Chicken Recipe||9||5||1||78||45|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Cuts in Gravy Chicken Recipe||9||4||1||82||33|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Cuts in Gravy Tuna Recipe||10||4||1||82||38|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Cuts in Gravy Salmon Recipe||10||3||1||82||30|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Cuts in Gravy Chicken Recipe||9||4||1||82||35|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Kitten Cuts in Gravy Chicken Recipe||10||4||1||82||33|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Senior Cuts in Gravy Chicken Recipe||9.5||4||1||81||36|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Pate Tuna Recipe||9.5||5||1||75||44|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Pate Salmon Recipe||9.5||5||1||78||38|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Pate Salmon Recipe||9.5||5||1||78||38|
|Perfect Portions Healthy Kitten Pate Chicken Recipe||9||5||1||78||45|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Pate Turkey Recipe||9.5||5||1||78||48|
|Perfect Portions Optimal Metabolism Pate Chicken Recipe||9||5||1||78||45|
Product Recall History
Before choosing a new brand of cat food, it’s important to know what you’re buying. It’s essential that you read the food label to check the ingredients and the guaranteed analysis, but it doesn’t hurt to do some research on the brand as well. The product recall history is a good place to start.
Product recalls happen when the FDA receives customer complaints about a product or when testing reveals an issue. Pet food manufacturers can withdraw a product voluntarily as well for the same reasons. Recalls can be for simple issues like labeling errors or major concerns like contamination.
Here is an overview of Iams cat food recalls:
- August 2010 (potential salmonella) – The FDA issued a recall for the Iams Indoor Care Weight Control with Hairball Care dry food formula due to potential salmonella contamination.
- July 2010 (potential salmonella) – In response to concerns of potential salmonella contamination, the FDA issued a recall for Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal recipe.
- June 2010 (low thiamine) – The FDA issued a recall for Iams ProActive Health canned kitten and cat foods due to low levels of thiamine.
- March 2007 (potential melamine) – The FDA issued a recall for several recipes of Iams Flakes canned cat food and Iams Chunks, Iams Select Bites, and Iams Small Bites canned dog food due to potential salmonella contamination.
The recalls listed above are only for cat food products. In addition to these, Iams has had two dog food recalls. Two occurred in 2013, one for potential salmonella and the other for potential mold growth, and one in 2011 for potential aflatoxin contamination.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Care with Chicken & Turkey||Dry||30||11||Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn grits, corn gluten meal, ground whole grain corn|
|Proactive Health Healthy Adult with Chicken Recipe||Dry||32||15||Chicken, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain corn, corn grits, corn gluten meal|
|Proactive Health High Protein Recipe||Dry||38||18||Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn grits, ground whole grain corn, salmon|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Pate Turkey Recipe||Wet||9.5||5||Turkey broth, chicken, turkey, chicken liver, dried beet pulp|
|Perfect Portions Indoor Cuts in Gravy Tuna Recipe||Wet||10||4||Water, chicken, tuna, chicken, liver, meat by-products|
Formulated for indoor cats, this Iams Proactive Health dry food is made with 10% less fat than the original formula with fewer calories and more protein. It also contains what is described as a special blend of carbohydrates to help your cat feel full in support of weight loss.
Upon reviewing the label for this product, we weren’t surprised to several corn ingredients on the list. That being said, the first two ingredients are animal proteins.
This recipe starts with fresh chicken followed by chicken by-product meal. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there aside from the whole-grain sorghum and fresh turkey. Chicken by-products aren’t our favorite ingredient, but they aren’t necessarily bad – it’s just difficult to ascertain the source/quality.
We definitely don’t like seeing corn in cat food, especially three different corn ingredients. Corn gluten meal is often used in low-quality pet foods as a source of protein.
Other potential issues with this recipe include very high fiber content, added color, and a very high carbohydrate content (estimated over 35%). Though fiber can help cats with digestive issues and hairballs, having too much fiber in the diet is just as likely to cause issues.
This healthy adult chicken recipe is very similar to the indoor healthy weight recipe. In fact, the first five ingredients are identical aside from one swap in order. Again, we like seeing two animal proteins at the top of the list, though we can’t judge the quality of the by-product meal.
With three corn ingredients, this recipe has similar issues to the previous. Corn gluten meal may make a significant contribution to the total protein and the estimated carb content is still over 30%.
We do like that this recipe is more appropriate in terms of fiber. Though dogs can handle up to 5% fiber, cats really aren’t built to process plant ingredients – 3% is about as high as we like to see. We didn’t notice any added color in this recipe either, which is always a good thing.
One thing worth noting is that this recipe contains added prebiotics to support healthy digestion. We generally like this better than adding probiotics to cat food, simply because the microorganisms aren’t likely to survive processing. Prebiotics give bacteria in the gut food to thrive.
This recipe is described as a high-protein formula for active felines made with a combination of chicken and salmon proteins. The label says 84% of the protein is sourced from chicken and salmon.
These claims do appear to be true, considering the first two ingredients are (again) fresh chicken and chicken by-product meal. Salmon doesn’t appear until after two corn ingredients but is followed by chicken meal as another supplemental source of animal protein. Corn gluten meal is not an ingredient in this recipe, which may explain how Iams can support the 84% chicken/salmon protein claim.
Though this recipe is higher in protein than the previous two, it still contains more carbohydrate than we like to see. The estimated content is about 25% which, though arguably much better than the other two, is still over the 10% max we prefer.
Other than that, the fiber content is appropriate and there are some fresh and dried fruits and vegetables. We do, however, see caramel color on the list despite the package claim “no soy, artificial preservatives or dyes” which is a little misleading.
Iams only sells wet food in twin-packs like this where each portion is 1.32 ounces. According to the feeding instructions, cats should be given 2 ¾ servings for every 5 pounds of bodyweight. For a 10-pound cat, you’d need 5.5 servings per day, or nearly 3 twin-packs.
Overall, this recipe doesn’t look too bad. It starts with turkey broth, chicken, and turkey as the first three ingredients, none of which are a problem. Chicken liver is a good addition too, as it provides supplemental animal protein as well as beneficial nutrients.
Dried beet pulp is included as a source of fiber followed by calcium carbonate, dried egg, and guar gum. Guar gum is a thickener and a somewhat controversial ingredient. You’ll also find “added color.”
In comparison to the dry food formulas, this Iams wet food is much higher in animal protein and lower in carbohydrates (around 3%). Overall, the only real issue is the added color.
At first glance, this recipe appears similar to the previous simply because both are formulated for indoor cats. What makes this recipe is that it is from the “cuts in gravy” line. To cat owners, this typically implies more moisture and flavor but what it usually ends up meaning is more starch. In this case, tapioca.
Despite being named a tuna recipe, the first main ingredient (after water) is chicken. Tuna comes next followed by chicken liver, both good ingredients, but then we see meat by-products. Again, by-products aren’t necessarily bad, but we definitely don’t like seeing their source listed as generic “meat.”
Aside from a few questionable ingredients, however, this recipe doesn’t look too bad. Again, it’s certainly better in terms of protein and carb content than the dry foods.
What Do Customers Think of Iams Cat Food?
Because Iams has been around for decades, pet owners are very familiar with the brand. On Chewy, most Iams dry food products had over 100 reviews and carry a 4-star rating on average, or higher. Their wet food formulas didn’t have as many reviews but were still well-received.
Of some of the most popular dry and wet food products, Iams customers say their cats love the flavor and they are pleased with the price.
There are some customer concerns about quality of the ingredients and some issues with vomiting and digestive upset, however, and there are always cases where some cats simply won’t eat the food.
How Much Does Iams Cat Food Cost?
Iams is generally one of the more affordable cat food brands you’ll find in stores and online. You have to be careful when it comes to considering the price of cat food, however, because there is often an inverse relationship between price and quality.
Of the recipes we’ve reviewed here, all were fairly cheap. The first two dry foods we reviewed averaged around $1.50 per pound while the high-protein recipe was closer to $2.00 per pound. The two wet food recipes reviewed were both $0.38/ounce.
To give you a better idea how Iams 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 Iams Cat Food?
Iams is a popular brand of pet food that has been around for decades. Not only are many pet owners familiar with Iams, but you can find their products in most pet food chains as well as small and independent retailers.
You’ll also find Iams in big box stores and some grocery stores, as well as a variety of online retailers. You can find over two dozen Iams cat food recipes on Chewy and their products are readily available on Amazon as well.
If you prefer to buy directly from the brand, you can also purchase on their website.
Our Final Thoughts: Is Iams a Good Brand?
As a whole, Iams is certainly not the worst cat food brand out there. That being said, we can’t recommend their dry food products in good conscious and we believe you can do better than their wet foods as well, even at a similar price.
In fact, it’s the low price and high variety and availability that drives up our total rating for this brand. The ingredient quality and recall history bring it down.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive cat food, Iams isn’t our favorite but their canned foods are better than their dry foods. Just make sure to choose a recipe that doesn’t include fillers like corn, soy, or wheat and look for a formula with the fewest carbohydrate ingredients. Avoid recipes that include unnamed proteins like “meat by-products” as well.