Cat Food Reviews Reviews

Nutro Cat Food Review14 min read

January 30, 2020 11 min read

Nutro Cat Food Review14 min read

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

Nutro’s tagline is “feed clean” and that’s exactly what their products do – provide pets with clean, wholesome recipes that nourish their bodies with healthy nutrition.

The Nutro company understands that being a pet owner is more than a responsibility – it is a privilege.

Not only does Nutro follow a “feed clean” philosophy today, but they have been a major player in the natural pet food industry for more than ninety years.

Today, Nutro offers several different product lines for pets featuring real, recognizable, non-GMO ingredients in recipes that are simple and purposeful.

Read on to see what we think about the Nutro brand and some of their most popular products.

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

      How We Review Cat Food Brands

      When it comes to reviewing cat food brands, we want to offer you our honest opinion.

      Our recommendations are made based on how well a product meets the nutritional requirements of cats and how trustworthy the brand is as a whole.

      We know that cats require a diet high in animal protein with moderate fat and limited carbohydrate content.

      We look for brands that use wholesome, natural ingredients in highly nutritious formulas free from fillers, by-products, and artificial additives. The higher quality the cat food, the higher our rating.

      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 Nutro Brand

      The Nutro brand has been making natural pet food products since 1926 when a British businessman sold a pet food company to John Saleen. Saleen changed the company name to Nutro Products and moved the company to Industry California.

      The brand was resold in 1976 and acquired by Mars, Inc. in 2007 when the headquarters were moved to Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. The company owners two dry pet food manufacturing facilities and three wet food manufacturing facilities, so they make all of their own products in-house.

      As a pioneer of natural pet food, Nutro has always been committed to using real ingredients in their recipe.

      They may have only recently articulated their “feed clean philosophy” but it has been a core belief of the company since its inception.

      Over the years, Nutro has made the decision to never use artificial additives and to give pet parents a choice when it comes to the inclusion of grains, chicken by-product meal, and soy proteins in their recipes. In 2014, they started the process to source only non-GMO ingredients and they continue to make improvements in the nutritional quality of their products.

      Nutro sources their ingredients only from trusted farmers and suppliers and prepare their foods in trusted facilities, subjecting everything to rigorous tests for quality and safety.

      The brand has grown to include several product lines including grain-free and limited ingredient recipes.

      Choose from dozens of wet and dry food products and treats for both dogs and cats, knowing that your pet will gain the benefits of wholesome, balanced nutrition that comes from real, high-quality ingredients.

      What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?

      Nutro offers three different product lines for cats, including both wet food and dry food options.

      When it comes to their dry food offerings, there are two product lines: Wholesome Essentials and Wild Frontier. Nutro Wholesome Essentials cat food features real poultry or fish as the first ingredient with other wholesome ingredients for superb taste and balanced nutrition.

      The Wild Frontier line is a high-protein, grain-free line of products inspired by the way your cat’s ancestors lived in the wild.

      When it comes to wet food, Perfect Portions is the main product line which offers pates and cuts of meat in gravy. The Wild Frontier line also offers an assortment of wet foods.

      Products Included in This Review

      NameTypeProtein %Fat %Top 5 Ingredients
      Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat FoodDry33%14%Chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice, pea protein, whole brown rice
       Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Salmon & Tuna Pate RecipeWet12%5%Salmon, chicken, chicken liver, pork broth, chicken broth
      Nutro Wild Frontier Indoor Adult Open Valley Recipe Chicken Flavor High-Protein Grain-Free Dry FoodDry40%16%Chicken, chicken meal, pea protein, split peas, chicken fat

      Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Food

      • Type of Food: Dry
      • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice, pea protein, whole brown rice
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 33% protein, 14% fat, 7% fiber, 10% moisture
      • Calories per Cup: 378 calories/cup
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $2.50/pound

      Ingredients:

      Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Soybean Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Oat Fiber, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

      One of Nutro’s most popular cat food recipes, this formula features real chicken as the first ingredient for high-quality protein and real poultry flavor.

      It contains whole brown rice as a main source of carbohydrate, though the first carbohydrate source listed is brewers rice.

      It should also be noted that this recipe contains a considerable amount of plant protein in the form of pea protein, dehydrated alfalfa meal, and potato protein.

      With all three of these ingredients appearing within the top 8 ingredients on the list, we question how much of the 33% crude protein actually comes from animal sources.

      We like that chicken fat provides the primary source of essential fatty acids, though we are concerned about the high fiber content.

      This is an indoor cat recipe, so the increased fiber content is designed to help with hairballs, but excessive fiber content can upset a cat’s digestion.

      Overall, this recipe provides a decent source of balanced nutrition, but there are a few caveats.

      Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Salmon & Tuna Pate Recipe

      • Type of Food: Wet
      • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, chicken, chicken liver, pork broth, chicken broth
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 12% protein, 5% fat, 1% fiber, 78% moisture
      • Calories per Cup: 43 calories/serving
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.49/ounce

      Ingredients:

      Salmon, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Pork Broth, Chicken Broth, Tuna, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Carrageenan, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Tapioca Starch, Salt, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Copper Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K Activity).

      Sold in twin-packs, this Nutro Perfect Portions salmon & tuna recipe features real salmon as the first ingredient with tuna as a supplemental source of animal protein.

      This is a smooth pate with a soft texture easy for cats to eat and full of natural fish flavor.

      It should be noted that it also contains chicken and chicken liver, so it may not be the best choice for cats with food allergies or sensitivities to this common protein, but it does contain a fairly limited list of ingredients.

      Note as well that fish oil is the primary source of fat and it is an unnamed ingredient, so it is difficult to determine the quality.

      It is, however, a complete and balanced recipe with the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements.

      Nutro Wild Frontier Indoor Adult Open Valley Recipe Chicken Flavor High-Protein Grain-Free Dry Food

      • Type of Food: Dry
      • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, pea protein, split peas, chicken fat
      • Guaranteed Analysis: 40% protein, 16% fat, 6% fiber, 10% moisture
      • Calories per Cup: 391 calories/cup
      • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $3.54/pound

      Ingredients:

      Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tapioca, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Menhaden Fish Meal, Salmon Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

      If you’re looking for a high-protein recipe made with real animal ingredients, try this Wild Frontier Indoor Adult recipe. It features real fresh chicken as the main ingredient with chicken meal as a concentrated source of supplemental protein.

      This recipe does contain two plant proteins (pea protein and potato protein) but contains several additional animal proteins including menhaden fish meal and salmon meal as well.

      This is a grain-free recipe made with split peas and tapioca as the primary carbohydrates and chicken fat is the main source of fat. Overall, it provides a high protein content, though we wonder how much of it comes from the plant proteins.

      What Do Customers Think of Nutro Cat Food?

      Most of Nutro’s customer ratings on Chewy are at least 4 stars, many 4.5 to 5 stars. Customers appreciate the high-quality ingredients and high protein content of the recipes, though some cats simply don’t like the food. This is the case with any brand, however, and for the most part customers seem pleased with Nutro cat food.

      Positive Customer Reviews

      “My cats LOVE IT!! Had been feeding them Royal Canin Indoor Adult Dry cat food and one cat decided to start eating my dog’s food. I tried switching to another brand and then another. Finally settled on Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice and all three of the cats love it! Thank you!”

      – GummyBear, reviewing Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

      “My fine finicky feline Leo prefers Nutro’s salmon & tuna recipe over almost all other foods I attempt to feed him. He has diabetes and before I give him his 2x daily shot of insulin, I place a plate of Nutro salmon & tuna in front of him. He hunkers down for his shot and that second gobbles up the food.”

      – Shelley, reviewing Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Salmon & Tuna Pate Recipe

      “This food keeps my two cats happy and healthy! Seriously. No more tummy problems since we found Wild Frontier. Unfortunately, the pet store stopped carrying it. Fortunately, Chewy did not and I can get it delivered in a day or two, tops. Win win win!”

      – Spike, reviewing Wild Frontier Indoor Adult Open Valley Recipe Chicken Flavor

      Negative Customer Reviews

      “I have four cats. One will eat it. Two pick at it, eventually, but one won’t eat it at all (and is losing weight), so I need to go back to my old Authority cat food brand which they all liked. I will feed the rest of the Nutro to the cat who will eat it.”

      – Chris, reviewing Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

      “I loved the packaging of this – no half-eaten containers in the fridge! However, my very picky green-eyed black cat wouldn’t touch it! He normally eats anything with salmon, but not this. I gave it away to a friend with barn cats who are thoroughly enjoying it.”

      – Schleeter, reviewing Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Salmon & Tuna Pate Recipe

      “I’m sure this is a quality product, but my cats are the real judges. I try to buy what they like but, ultimately, they make the decisions. Two out of three ate it when I opened the bag but, for some reason, they didn’t seem to enjoy it the next day. The third one sniffed and backed away slowly.”

      – CatLadyforLife, reviewing Wild Frontier Indoor Adult Open Valley Recipe Chicken Flavor

      Product Recall History

      Pet food recalls are a common occurrence, even among some of the top-quality pet food brands. A product recall is issued when there is something wrong with the product or the packaging. It could be as serious as contamination with a food-borne pathogen like salmonella or as minor as a mislabeling issue. Just because a brand has a product recall or two doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad brand, but you should pay attention to the details of those recalls.

      Here is a quick history of product recalls affecting the Nutro brand:

      • December 2015 (potential for mold) – Several lots of Nutro Apple Chewy Treats were recalled due to the potential for mold contamination.
      • September 2009 (Plastic in production line) – Bags of two Nutro puppy food recipes were recalled due to plastic found in the production line that could have potentially made it into the packages.
      • May 2009 (Incorrect zinc/potassium levels) – Seven varieties of Nutro dry cat food were recalled due to incorrect levels of potassium and zinc.
      • March 2007 (Potential melamine) – Cans of Nutro Adult, Puppy, Senior, Weight Management, Large Breed Adult, and Large Breed Puppy recipes were recalled due to melamine concerns.

      Though Nutro has had four recalls in its brand history, only one of them specifically affected a cat food product and it was recalled due to a formulation issue, not product contamination.

      How Much Does Nutro Cat Food Cost?

      The Nutro company offers three different product lines, so you should expect the prices to vary. For the Wholesome Essential line of products, you’ll pay about $30 for a 14-pound bag of cat food with average prices under $2.50 per pound.

      Because the wet food Perfect Portions line comes in small twin packs, the per-ounce price is a little higher than it might be for a larger canned product, averaging around $0.50 per ounce. The Wild Frontier line contains more high-quality proteins and is grain-free, so it is priced a little higher around $3.50 per pound.

      To give you a better idea how Nutro 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 Nutro Cat Food?

      When it comes to finding Nutro cat food, you have plenty of options. Find Nutro products in major pet store chains like Petco and PetSmart as well as their online stores.

      Locally, you can find the brand in many larger regional chains as well as some local chains and specialty pet food stores.

      You can purchase Nutro cat food online from major retailers like Amazon and Chewy. To find a local or online retailer for Nutro cat food, use the brand’s store locator on the website.

      Our Final Thoughts: Is Nutro a Good Brand?

      Overall, we like the Nutro brand though there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

      Though every recipe contains a real poultry or fish source as the first ingredient, many recipes contain a considerable amount of plant protein as well.

      Each recipe is complete and balanced with the help of vitamin and mineral supplements, but not all of the mineral supplements are chelated. You’ll also find a few ingredients some would consider questionable like brewer’s rice and carrageenan.

      If you’re looking for a quality cat food brand that offers a wide variety of products, Nutro is one to consider. Just be sure to read the ingredients list and choose carefully a recipe that doesn’t contain too much plant protein.

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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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