Cat Food Reviews

Merrick Cat Food Review15 min read

January 30, 2020 11 min read

Merrick Cat Food Review15 min read

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

Founded in Texas in 1988, the Merrick Pet Care Company has grown substantially. After releasing their first product – a dog treat named Flossie – the brand grew to include dozens of dog and cat food products across numerous product lines.

Merrick believes that the best pet ever deserves the best food ever, and that’s what they strive to provide.

Using the highest quality ingredients available, Merrick seeks to deliver superior nutrition while staying true to their Texas roots.

All of their recipes are hand-crafted and tested for quality to ensure that they improve the lives of the pets who enjoy them. Read on to see what we think about the Merrick brand and their cat food products.

The Merrick Cat Food Ratings1 min read
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
    Cons
      Variety of Recipes
      10/10
      Ingredient Quality
      10/10
      Price Per Pound
      8/10
      Recall History
      9/10
      Availability
      10/10
      Customer Reviews
      9/10

      How We Review Cat Food Brands

      If you know anything about your cat’s nutritional needs, you know that he needs a high-protein diet.

      More than that, however, is the fact that he needs a diet rich in animal protein.

      Cats are obligate carnivores, so their bodies are better adapted to deriving nutrition from animal than from plant sources.

      In reviewing different cat food brands, we favor the ones that use real animal ingredients with other whole foods to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

      Cat food should be complete and balanced with the help of vitamin and mineral supplements and we try to avoid recipes that contain artificial additives, low-quality fillers, and by-products.

      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 these requirements, we also look for cat food brands that offer a variety of different recipes for customers to choose from.

      Cats can be picky eaters, so we think it is important for a cat food brand to offer a variety of products – having variety gives you more to choose from.

      The brand’s recall history is a good way to gauge quality and safety as a whole while customer reviews provide insight into the brand’s quality and popularity.

      Overview of the Merrick Brand

      The Merrick brand was born over 30 years ago in Garth Merrick’s family kitchen in Hereford, Texas.

      Garth became concerned about his dog Gracie’s nutrition and started home-cooking her food to make sure it was as wholesome and nutritious as possible.

      With the belief that other pets deserved the same high-quality diet, Garth built the Merrick Pet Care brand.

      Over the past several decades, the brand has grown to include over 125 dog and cat food products, all made with the highest quality ingredients and held to the highest nutritional standards.

      Though the Merrick company itself has grown, they still follow the same beliefs on which the company was founded.

      Every recipe is hand-crafted and tested in Garth’s original kitchen using high-quality natural ingredients.

      Each pet food product contains leading levels of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats without any preservatives, fillers, or anything artificial.

      Not only does Merrick provide premium food for pets, but they also give back to the community to make the lives of pets and their people better and healthier.

      Merrick offers their customers the 5-star promise that includes: real whole foods, higher quality ingredients, health you can see, hand-crafted recipes, and community support. Every recipe starts with real USDA certified meats and fresh-caught fish with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional support.

      This combination of premium-quality ingredients delivers the ideal combination of protein and healthy fats to support optimal weight and increased energy.

      Plus, Merrick products contain industry-leading levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.

      What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?

      The Merrick brand has grown substantially since its inception and now offers more than 125 pet food products. When it comes to their cat food,

      Merrick products are divided among three product lines: Backcountry, Limited Ingredient Diet, and Purrfect Bistro. Backcountry products are formulated for maximum protein content to satisfy your cat’s wild, carnivorous cravings.

      The Limited Ingredient Diet line starts with a single source of animal protein and contains other natural ingredients for cats with food sensitivities.

      Purrfect Bistro is a line of wet and dry cat foods, all of which are 100% grain-free, highly digestible, and loaded with natural flavor.

      Products Included in This Review

      NameTypeProtein %Fat %Top 5 Ingredients
      Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe with Chicken, Duck & Quail Grain-Free Dry Cat FoodDry42%14%Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes, peas
      Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Pate Canned FoodWet8%4%Deboned chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, natural flavor, pea protein
      Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Adult Dry FoodDry38%17%Deboned salmon, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, peas

      Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe with Chicken, Duck & Quail Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

      • Type of Food: Dry
      • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes, peas
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 42% protein, 14% fat, 4% fiber, 11% moisture
      • Calories per Cup: 395 calories per cup
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $3.99/pound

      Ingredients:

      Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Natural Flavor, Salmon Meal (source of Omega-3 fatty acids), Potato Protein, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Deboned Duck, Deboned Quail, Chicken Liver, Dried Yeast Culture, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Phosphoric Acid, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Gelatin, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

      If you want to feed your cat the best of the best, you would consider a raw food diet. Because raw food is very expensive and can be difficult to keep fresh, this Merrick Backcountry recipe might be more your speed.

      It contains high-protein kibble infused with freeze-dried raw pieces, making it an ideal combination of dry food and raw food but still shelf-stable.

      This particular recipe contains fresh chicken as the main ingredient with supplemental protein from chicken meal, turkey meal, and salmon meal – you’ll also find fresh duck and deboned quail further down the list.

      This is a grain-free recipe, made with potatoes and peas as the main carbohydrates and chicken fat as the primary source of fat.

      This recipe contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with some plant protein (potato protein) and is supplemented with chelated minerals as well as probiotics for healthy digestion.

      Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Pate Canned Food

      • Type of Food: Wet
      • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, natural flavor, pea protein
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 8% protein, 4% fat, 1.4% fiber, 78% moisture
      • Calories per Cup: 131 calories/5-ounce can
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.36/ounce

      Ingredients:

      Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Alfalfa Meal, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Flaxseed Oil, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract.

      Cats with sensitive stomachs do well with Merrick’s Limited Ingredient Diet line.

      This particular recipe is a wet food made with real chicken as the primary ingredient. Fresh deboned chicken is supplemented with chicken liver as another source of animal protein, though there is also some plant protein in the form of pea protein and alfalfa meal.

      This recipe is grain-free, made with limited carbohydrate ingredients and contains a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.

      Overall, this single-source protein recipe is ideal for cats with food allergies and sensitivities because it provides high-quality, easily digestible nutrition.

      It is supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition and it is highly digestible as well.

      Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Adult

      • Type of Food: Dry
      • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned salmon, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, peas
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% protein, 17% fat, 3.5% fiber, 11% moisture
      • Calories per Cup: 412 calories/cup
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $2.99/pound

      Ingredients:

      Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg Product, Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Tapioca, Ground Flaxseed, Phosphoric Acid, Inulin (from chicory root), Dried Whey Protein Concentrate, Sunflower Oil, Choline Chloride, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Sunflower Oil, Taurine, Minerals((Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins(Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.

      This Purrfect Bistro recipe is a great option if you’re looking for a more traditional dry cat food recipe.

      It features fresh salmon as the main ingredient with chicken meal and turkey meal as supplemental sources of animal protein. It does contain several forms of plant protein, however, including pea protein, potato protein, and dried whey protein concentrate.

      Overall, the recipe contains 38% crude protein, so we wonder how much of that comes from plant sources.

      This recipe is rich in healthy fats, providing a blend of omega-3s and omega-6s for healthy skin and coat.

      It also contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas.

      Overall, this recipe is complete and nutritionally balanced with help from vitamin and chelated mineral supplements. It also contains probiotic supplements to help with healthy and regular digestion.

      What Do Customers Think of Merrick Cat Food?

      For the most part, Merrick customers are satisfied with the brand and many products carry a 4-star average review. Customers love the high-quality ingredients and natural recipes, though there are some concerns about reformulations changing the texture of the product. There are also those cats who simply refuse to eat the food, but that seems to be the case for most brands.

      Positive Customer Reviews

      “This food is high in protein and my cat loves the freeze-dried bits, so much that he will sometimes eat them before the dry kibble. Not a problem for my cat but may upset the stomach of others. Over 6 months feeding this food and my cat definitely has a silkier coat, is at a great weight, and has a lot of energy.”

      – Ingrid, reviewing Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe Dry Food

      “I love shopping Merrick. Great brand who uses great ingredients. My cat cries for this every morning at 7 am. He comes to my feet in the kitchen and his tail is vibrating with excitement. It took a couple days for him to start liking it but now it’s his favorite. I love how it’s low on calories too.”

      – Issa, reviewing Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Pate

      “I started using this 3 months ago. I have an older cat and he’s had leaky eyes for years and everything I try doesn’t work. Since using this cat food, his eyes have cleared up – it’s amazing. My two-year-old cat likes it too which is a good thing. I suggest this cat food for everybody, I’m very happy with it.”

      – Laurak, reviewing Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

      Negative Customer Reviews

      “I had high hopes for this product. The marketing sure makes it look good. But there are large bits of white something that is probably supposed to be pretend special meat and our cat just pushes them to the side. We were trying to transition her to this food, but she may even be refusing the smaller bits.”

      – Rick, reviewing Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe Dry Food

      “I have 4 Persian cats who LOVED the Merrick LID Grain-Free Chicken Pate cat food. They just stopped eating it. It has definitely changed! At first, I thought it was that they were just tired of it, but they won’t touch it at all. Not until I read the reviews did I realize it’s not the cats – it’s the product!”

      – NJRetired, reviewing Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Pate

      “My cats have never been finicky eaters. Only one other time did they not eat a food. After 2 weeks, my cats were even opening cabinet doors to get to bread. After replacing this food, they stopped. Don’t know if it was the food or the batch but 2 bags went to waste because they would not eat it.”

      – CatMamma, reviewing Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

      Product Recall History

      A product recall occurs when there is a problem (or a potential problem) with a certain product or its packaging.

      The FDA issues recalls based on customer complaints and the results of their own product testing, though manufacturers can voluntarily recall products as well. Just because a brand has a few recalls doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t trust the brand; it just means that there is the potential for mistakes when producing foods in mass quantities.

      Here is an overview of the recalls affecting the Merrick brand to date:

      • May 2018 (Potentially elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone) – The Merrick brand voluntarily recalled certain beef dog treats due to potentially elevated levels of naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone.
      • August 2011 (Potential for salmonella) – A single lot of Merrick Doggie Wishbone treats was recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.
      • January 2011 (Potential for salmonella) – The FDA issued a recall for all lot numbers of Merrick Jr. Texas Taffy treats due to concerns of salmonella contamination.
      • July/August 2010 (Potential for salmonella) – A single lot each of Merrick Beef Filet Squares and Merrick Texas Hold’ems pet treats were recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.

      None of these recalls affected Merrick’s cat food products and there hasn’t been an FDA-issued recall since 2011. It is still important to do your own analysis of Merrick pet food ingredient lists to determine quality for yourself, but it looks like the brand improved some of their processes to increase safety since the 2011 recall.

      How Much Does Merrick Cat Food Cost?

      The Merrick brand includes three different product lines, each at a different price point.

      The Merrick Backcountry product line is the most expensive, but understandably so. It is a high-protein line of kibble infused with freeze-dried raw meat and other high-quality natural ingredients. The average price is about $3.99 per pound.

      The Purrfect Bistro line is a little more affordable, but still contains high-quality ingredients. It is priced around $2.99 per pound.

      The Limited Ingredient Diet line contains fewer high-quality ingredients but a single source of protein which can influence the price. The canned foods in this line cost an average of $0.36/ounce which is fairly affordable.

      To give you a better idea how Merrick stacks up against other cat food brands, here is a quick chart to show you some average prices:

      Brand/RecipeTypeQualityPrice/OuncePrice/Pound
      Meow Mix Original Choice Dry FoodDryLowX$0.90/pound
      Friskies Classic Pate Mixed Grill Canned FoodWetLow$0.07/ounce$1.16/pound
      Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice Adult Dry Cat FoodDryModerateX$2.53/pound
      Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Chicken Pate Recipe Canned Cat FoodWetModerate$0.36/ounceX
      Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real ChickenDryHighX$3.45/pound
      Ziwi Peak New Zealand Venison Recipe Canned Cat FoodWetHigh$1.21/ounceX

      Where Can You Buy Merrick Cat Food?

      Merrick offers a wide range of products for cats and those products are readily available at most major pet food stores.

      You can find Merrick products at Petco and PetSmart as well as regional and sometimes local pet food stores.

      For cat owners who prefer to shop online, it is easy to find Merrick products from major online retailers like Chewy and Amazon or shop Petco and PetSmart’s online stores. If you’re looking for a retailer in a particular area, you can use the website’s store finder.

      Our Final Thoughts: Is Merrick a Good Brand?

      The Merrick company has a 30-year history of using high-quality, natural ingredients to produce premium pet foods.

      The brand has grown significantly and currently offers dozens of cat foods in three different product lines.

      As far as quality, we love that every recipe starts with a real source of animal protein and most recipes contain several. Most of the recipes we checked were fairly limited in carbohydrate content and contains beneficial supplements for balanced nutrition.

      We were concerned that some recipes contained several sources of plant protein, however we were unable to determine exactly how much that contributed to the overall protein content. Generally speaking, however, we like the Merrick brand and recommend it.

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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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