Primal Cat Food Review15 min read
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Your cat is a carnivore at heart. Not only does he crave the flavor of meat, but his body actually requires it to function at its optimal level. Primal Pet Food is a raw pet food company that takes your cat’s biological requirements into account and creates freeze-dried and frozen foods that meet them.
While raw food may not be in every pet owner’s budget, it’s well worth considering. The quality of your cat’s diet is directly linked to his long-term health and wellness.
Consider an upgrade to the quality of your cat’s food an investment in his health and in the future you two have together.
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
As a responsible cat owner, we know you want to make a smart choice when it comes to your cat’s diet. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. With so many different brands out there, it’s tough to separate the good from the bad and to know what’s really right for your cat.
We’re not here to tell you which cat food we think is best. We’re here to provide you with the insight you need to understand your cat’s nutritional needs and the unbiased brand information you want to be able to make an informed decision for yourself and for your cat.
Our recommendations are based on what cats need – it’s as simple as that.
Cats are obligate carnivores, so meat should be the foundation of any healthy feline diet. We look for recipes that start with a real source of animal protein, especially recipes that include more protein than carbohydrates as main ingredients.
What it really comes down to, however, is nutritional balance. Real, whole-food ingredients are the most nutritious and the most digestible for your cat, so that’s what should be in his diet.
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 Primal Brand
The story of Primal Pet Foods dates back to 2000 when Matt Koss found out his dog Luna was going into renal failure. Heartbroken and determined to keep Luna healthy, Koss tried everything the veterinarian recommended with no luck.
Finally, after following the advice of a holistic veterinarian, Koss switched Luna to the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet based on bones and raw food.
It didn’t take long for Luna to become transformed. Not only did her appetite increase, but so did her energy. Luna looked, acted, and evidently felt more like her old self.
Inspired by Luna’s transformation, Koss wet out to show other pet owners the power of raw feeding. He took his original homemade recipe and created a raw pet food company dedicated to creating pet food products “that make it easier than ever to keep your pet’s diet as close to nature as possible.”
Every product Primal Pet Foods has to offer is made using high-quality ingredients including real animal proteins, certified organic produce, and unrefined vitamins and minerals.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
At this time, Primal Pet Foods only offers freeze-dried and raw frozen cat food. They offer the same collection of 7 formulas, all of which are available in freeze-dried form and most of which are available in the scoop-and-serve Pronto line or as raw frozen nuggets.
The Pronto line of raw frozen cat food is easy to portion and comes in a resealable bag. Just scoop the desired portion and let it thaw for a few minutes before feeding. The raw-frozen nuggets may take a little longer to thaw and the freeze-dried nuggets should be rehydrated before feeding.
Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:
Freeze-Dried Raw Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Oz.|
|Feline Beef & Salmon Formula||53||30||3||3||157|
|Feline Chicken & Salmon Formula||52||32||1||3||161|
|Feline Duck Formula||37||37||4||4||126|
|Feline Pork Formula||57||18||2||3||147|
|Feline Rabbit Formula||60||25||3||3||147|
|Feline Turkey Formula||57||23||2||3||148|
|Feline Venison Formula||62||24||6||3||140|
Raw Frozen Cat Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Oz.|
|Pronto Feline Chicken & Salmon Raw Frozen Formula||13||10||1||73||36|
|Pronto Feline Pork Raw Frozen Formula||15||6||1||77||37|
|Pronto Feline Rabbit Raw Frozen Formula||19||5||2||69||34|
|Pronto Feline Turkey Raw Frozen Formula||15||9||1||73||34|
|Pronto Feline Venison Raw Frozen Formula||16||7||2||70||35|
|Feline Beef & Salmon Raw Frozen Nuggets||15||10||1||69||45.5|
|Feline Chicken & Salmon Raw Frozen Nuggets||13||10||1||73||36|
|Feline Duck Raw Frozen Nuggets||15||15||1||63||38|
|Feline Pork Raw Frozen Nuggets||15||6||1||77||37|
|Feline Quail Raw Frozen Nuggets||16||8||1||70||54|
|Feline Rabbit Raw Frozen Nuggets||19||5||2||69||34|
|Feline Turkey Raw Frozen Nuggets||15||9||1||73||34|
|Feline Venison Raw Frozen Nuggets||16||7||2||70||35|
Product Recall History
It’s your job as a cat owner to do what’s best for your cat and that means making a responsible decision when choosing his diet. Beyond checking the list of ingredients and the guaranteed analysis, you should also take the time to evaluate the quality of the brand as a whole.
We recommend checking the brand’s recall history. Product recalls happen for a variety of reasons including simple issues like labeling errors but also serious problems like contamination with food-borne pathogens. A long list of recalls is a red flag.
Here’s an overview of product recalls for Primal Pet Foods:
- December 2017 (bone grind size) – The Primal Pet Foods company recalled five of their freeze-dried canine formulas and four feline formulas because the bone grind size was too large.
- March 2015 (low thiamine) – In 2015, the FDA issued a recall for a single lot of the feline turkey raw frozen formula due to low thiamine levels in testing.
- May 2011 (potential for salmonella) – The FDA issued a recall for the feline chicken & salmon formula nuggets in 2011 due to potential salmonella contamination.
Though Primal Pet Foods has had three recalls in its history, only one of them affected more than a single recipe. The company has been recall-free for the last three years.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|Feline Chicken & Salmon Formula Freeze-Dried Nuggets||Freeze-Dried||52||32||Chicken, chicken necks, chicken gizzards, salmon, chicken liver|
|Feline Beef & Salmon Formula Freeze-Dried Nuggets||Freeze-Dried||53||30||Beef hearts, beef livers, ground beef bones, salmon, organic kale|
|Feline Turkey Formula Freeze-Dried Nuggets||Freeze-Dried||57||23||Turkey, turkey necks, turkey hearts, turkey livers, organic collard greens|
|Pronto Feline Rabbit Raw Frozen Formula||Raw Frozen||19||5||Rabbit (with ground bone), rabbit livers, rabbit hearts, organic collard greens, organic squash|
|Feline Duck Raw Frozen Nuggets||Raw Frozen||15||15||Duck, duck necks, duck gizzards, duck livers, organic carrots|
While most of Primal’s cat food recipes are made with a single source of protein, there are two protein duos including this chicken and salmon recipe.
This formula features fresh chicken as the first ingredient followed by chicken necks and chicken gizzards. Next comes the fresh salmon, followed by the final animal ingredient, chicken livers. The chicken necks include raw bone which provides essential minerals and the chicken gizzards and livers are rich in nutrients as well as protein and healthy fat.
Aside from the animal ingredients, this recipe includes organic fruits and vegetables like carrots, squash and broccoli as well as other conventionally raised produce. The estimated carbohydrate content of this formula is under 5% which is great to see.
The other dual-protein recipe from Primal, this beef and salmon formula starts with beef hearts as the first ingredient followed by beef liver and ground beef bones. Fresh salmon is the fourth ingredient and the only other animal ingredient here.
After the protein ingredients (which also provide the primary sources of healthy fats) come a collection of organic and conventionally raised fruits and vegetables as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Another thing we appreciate about these freeze-dried formulas is that they don’t include any vitamin or mineral supplements. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to use supplements in cat food, but a heavy reliance on them suggests poor nutritional quality of the ingredients themselves.
The fact that Primal doesn’t use any means the raw ingredients and the product is very nutritious.
One of Primal’s several single-source protein recipes, this turkey formula includes animal-based proteins as the first four ingredients: turkey, turkey necks, turkey hearts, and turkey livers.
Fresh turkey is the first ingredient and main source of protein while turkey hearts and livers provide healthy animal-based fat, supplemental protein, and essential nutrients. The turkey necks are added as raw bone for the mineral content – a natural source of joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin.
Following the animal ingredients you’ll find the usual collection of organic and conventionally raised fruits and vegetables. Again, no supplemental nutrients are needed and the estimated carbohydrate content of the recipe is under 10%.
Primal’s raw frozen Pronto recipes are made with bite-sized pieces so you can simply scoop and serve. This rabbit recipe is made with a single source of animal protein including ground bone and organ meats for their nutritional value and essential nutrients.
Fresh rabbit (with ground bone) is the first ingredient, followed by rabbit livers and hearts. The protein content of this recipe appears much lower than the previous two, but only because it is fresh frozen rather than freeze-dried – the moisture content is 69%.
The estimated carbohydrate content of this frozen formula is extremely low, only about 2%. If you’re looking for maximum nutritional value for your cat, a raw food formula like this is a great choice.
Similar to the previous recipe, this formula is made with a single source of animal protein. The main difference is that the food comes in nuggets rather than bite-sized pieces.
This formula features fresh duck as the main ingredient, followed by duck necks, gizzards, and livers. Again, you’ll find an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies (both organic and conventionally raised) as well as organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Salmon oil is added to this recipe and several others along with coconut oil to help provide a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for your cat’s skin and coat health. Unlike many of the others, this recipe does include a single synthetic vitamin, vitamin E.
What Do Customers Think of Primal Cat Food?
Using customer reviews and ratings on Chewy, Primal Pet Foods seems to be a well-liked brand. All seven freeze-dried formulas have at least 50 reviews and a 4-star average or higher.
Customers love the quality of the ingredients and high protein content, though some cats just don’t seem to like the freeze-dried texture even when re-hydrated.
How Much Does Primal Cat Food Cost?
There’s nothing wrong with shopping for cat food with a budget in mind, but it’s never a good idea to shop by price alone. If you did, you’d probably end up with a product that isn’t very good, and you’d almost certainly never even consider Primal Pet Foods.
Primal Pet Foods cat food is at the high end of the pricing spectrum. Their freeze-dried recipes average about $2.29 per ounce and their raw frozen formulas are over $8.00 per pound.
The thing to keep in mind here is that the price per ounce for freeze-dried food doesn’t directly correspond to the per-ounce price for wet or dry food. Using Primal’s turkey formula as an example, the average cat (10 to 12 pounds) needs about 4 nuggets per day and 1 ounce is equivalent to 3 ½ nuggets. So, a 14-ounce bag would last you close to 2 weeks.
To give you a better idea how Primal 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 Primal Cat Food?
Primal Pet Foods has become one of the most popular brands of freeze-dried and raw frozen pet food, but you may still have trouble finding the frozen products in stores.
Their freeze-dried foods can be found online at Chewy and Amazon as well as some other pet product retailers. In stores, your best bet is to check with independent retailers and specialty pet food stores.
Our Final Thoughts: Is Primal a Good Brand?
Overall, we love Primal Pet Foods and give them a higher personal recommendation than our numerical rating would suggest. This brand really shines when it comes to the quality of their products as well as their variety.
Unfortunately, our rating system sometimes brings quality brands down because we like to include practical ratings for things like pricing and availability. It’s also worth noting that Primal does have a few product recalls in their history.
If you’re considering raw food for your cat, we highly recommend Primal Pet Foods. They offer freeze-dried options for convenience as well as frozen recipes in a variety of protein choices.