WholeHearted Cat Food Review18 min read
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Being a cat owner is a wonderful thing, but it does come with a few challenges. On top of keeping the litter box clean, you also have to worry about keeping your cat’s food in stock. Once you’ve gone through the process of choosing a diet, it’s important to keep it consistent. Unfortunately, cat food brands come and go, and you can’t always find the same thing twice.
WholeHearted is a Petco-exclusive brand, so you’ll always know where to find it. The WholeHearted brand is self-described as wholesome, thoughtful, and affordable.
We’ve dug into the details of the brand to evaluate the quality of their products and manufacturing as well as their pricing and recipe variety. Curious to see what we found out?
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
- Overview of the WholeHearted Brand
- What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
- Product Recall History
- What Do Customers Think of WholeHearted Cat Food?
- How Much Does WholeHearted Cat Food Cost?
- Where Can You Buy WholeHearted Cat Food?
- Our Final Thoughts: Is WholeHearted a Good Brand?
How We Review Cat Food Brands
When you walk into a pet store and stroll through aisle upon aisle of cat food, they all start to look pretty much the same. Even when you open up a bag and look inside, it’s all kibble. The shapes and sizes may be a little different, but if you poured a couple of bowls you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.
This is part of what makes shopping for cat food so difficult. It’s hard to separate the good from the bad, especially when the two can look nearly identical.
Fortunately, we’re here to help! We’re not here to tell you that one brand of cat food is the absolute best, but we DO want to give you an objective look at some of the top brands on the market as well as an in-depth review of some of their products. It’s our goal to help you understand your cat’s nutrition and how different brands stack up in terms of providing for your cat’s needs.
Though we may have our own preferences, we do our best to evaluate each pet food brand on its own merits. We’ll tell you what we like and don’t like about the products, so you have a better idea where to focus your own research. If we don’t recommend the product, we’ll tell you!
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 WholeHearted Brand
The WholeHearted brand was launched by Petco in 2016. On Petco’s website, the announcement described the brand as follows:
“WholeHearted [is] an exclusive new private label of natural dog food featuring thoughtfully crafted recipes with quality ingredients and healthy nutrients. The affordable product line, which is available in both wet and dry options, was developed in-house by Petco nutrition and product innovation experts.”
Though WholeHearted was launched as an exclusive dog food brand, Petco soon released cat food products as well. Today, the brand offers over 200 recipes for dogs and cats.
Because WholeHearted pet food is only available through Petco, we had a little trouble finding objective information about it. We found that the brand uses protein sources from the United States, New Zealand, and South America. Other ingredients, however, may be sourced internationally and we couldn’t find any details about how or where the products themselves are manufactured.
The assumption is that they’re made by a third-party. We do, however, know that WholeHearted pet foods are made in the United States.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
The WholeHearted brand may have begun as a dog food company, but they offer a wide variety of cat food products today. This brand offers over 100 different products for cats divided between wet foods and dry foods, including recipes for kittens, adult cats, and senior cats.
When it comes to their dry food recipes, WholeHearted offers around a dozen formulas, all grain-free. They have an original line of recipes as well as limited ingredient diets and a few specialized recipes for issues like weight control and urinary support.
For wet food, WholeHearted has several dozen options in a wide variety of flavors and textures. Not only do they offer traditional options like pates, but they have minced and flaked foods in gravy as well as pouches. You’ll find formulas for kittens as well as adult cats including limited ingredient diets and specialty formulas for weight control, digestion, and other issues.
Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:
Dry Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Cup|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Chicken Formula Dry Food||32||12||4||10||327|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Salmon Formula Dry Food||32||12||4||10||331|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Turkey Formula Dry Food||32||12||4||10||323|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Chicken Formula Dry Kitten Food||34||16||4||10||347|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Chicken Formula Senior Dry Food||32||18||7||10||341|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Beef & Pea Recipe Dry Food||32||12||4||10||358|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Salmon Formula Dry Kitten Food||34||16||3.5||10||397|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe Dry Food||33||16||3.5||10||396|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Chicken Recipe||36||16||3.5||10||396|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Salmon Recipe||36||16||3.5||10||396|
|WholeHearted Weight Control Chicken & Pea Recipe Dry Food||32||9||11.5||10||288|
|WholeHearted Healthy Digestion Chicken & Egg Recipe Dry Food||32||18||4||10||354|
|WholeHearted Urinary Support Chicken Recipe Dry Food||30||15||2||10||402|
Wet Food Recipes
|Recipe||Protein %||Fat %||Fiber %||Moisture %||Calories/Kg|
|WholeHearted All Life Stages Chicken Recipe Grain-Free||10||2||1||84||916|
|WholeHearted All Life Stages Chicken & Tuna Recipe Grain-Free||10||2||1||84||836|
|WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain-Free Tuna Recipe Flaked in Gravy Canned Food||12||2||1||84||963|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Salmon Recipe Adult Pate||10||4||1||80||1,305|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Turkey Recipe Adult Pate||9||5||1||80||1,256|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Tuna Recipe Canned Kitten Food||12||4||1||84||1,071|
|WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain-Free Beef with Veggies||7||2||1||84||943|
|WholeHearted Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Tuna Recipe Wet Food Tubs||10||2||1||84||901|
|WholeHearted Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon Recipe Wet Food Tubs||10||2||1||84||1,025|
|WholeHearted Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Wet Food Tubs||10||2||1||84||936|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Tuna Recipe Flaked in Broth Pouches||9||2||1||85||778|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Tuna & Sardine Recipe Flaked in Broth Wet Food Pouches||9||2||1||85||779|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Chicken & Pumpkin Recipe Flaked in Broth Pouches||8||2||1||85||809|
|WholeHearted Weight Control Chicken Recipe Adult Canned Food||9||4||3||78||980|
|WholeHearted Easy Digestion Chicken Recipe Adult Canned Food||10||6||2.5||78||1,129|
Product Recall History
When it comes to evaluating a pet food brand, it’s important to review the information on the pet food label. The list of ingredients and guaranteed analysis will only get you so far, however. It’s also important to consider the quality of those ingredients as well as their sourcing and processing.
If you want to get a big-picture feeling for a pet food brand, you need to look into its history.
In addition to researching the company’s ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes, take a quick look at their product recall history as well. A company with a long list of product recalls may not be the best choice, though accidents do happen and a recall or two may not be enough to indicate a poor-quality brand. It’s all about context.
A product recall can be issued voluntarily by the manufacturer or by the FDA. They usually happen in response to testing results or consumer complaints and, when they do, the product must be removed from sale to protect pets and consumers.
Product recalls can happen for many reasons ranging from labeling errors or formulation issues to contaminated ingredients or even foreign bodies in the food. Fortunately, we didn’t find evidence of any recalls for the WholeHearted brand in its history.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Chicken Formula Dry Food||Dry||32||12||Chicken, chicken meal, peas, chickpeas, pea flour, chicken fat|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe Dry Food||Dry||33||16||Duck, duck meal, lentils, chickpeas, canola oil|
|WholeHearted Weight Control Chicken & Pea Recipe Dry Food||Dry||32||9||Chicken, chicken meal, peas, chickpeas, powdered cellulose|
|WholeHearted Grain-Free Turkey Recipe Adult Pate||Wet||9||5||Turkey broth, turkey, chicken, dried egg product, tapioca starch|
|WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain-Free Beef with Veggies||Wet||7||2||Water, beef, dried egg product, tapioca starch, carrots|
This WholeHearted recipe offers two promises: thoughtfully crafted and maximum benefits. Like all of the brand’s recipes, it is grain-free and starts with a real source of animal protein.
Formulated for all life stages, this recipe starts with fresh chicken as the first ingredient and is followed immediately by chicken meal. Grain-free carbohydrates including peas, chickpeas, and pea flour are the next three ingredients, followed by chicken fat.
These appear to be the primary ingredients in the recipe, though you’ll also see salmon oil as a healthy source of added fat as well as some fresh fruit and veggies. These are likely added as natural sources for key nutrients, but it’s difficult to tell their concentration because they appear on the list after several supplements. This recipe also contains probiotics for healthy digestion.
Overall, we don’t see any red flags with this formula. The only downside is that we tend not to prefer peas and legumes as primary ingredients for cat food because they can be hard to digest.
Food allergies are less common in pets than some pet food manufacturers would have you believe, but they do exist. If your cat is sensitive to common proteins like chicken or beef, a limited ingredient recipe made with a single source of protein might be the ideal solution.
This limited ingredient formula from WholeHearted features duck as the main ingredient and a single source of animal protein. In addition to fresh duck, it contains duck meal as a supplemental source of concentrated protein.
Like the previous recipe, this formula contains legumes as the carbohydrate ingredients – in this case, lentils and chickpeas. Canola oil is the main source of added fat, though you’ll see fish oil as well.
Aside from the main ingredients, this formula contains added vitamins and minerals for nutritional balance and probiotics for digestive health. Though we appreciate the use of probiotics, we’re never sure whether they actually survive the cooking process used to extrude dry foods like this.
Formulated for weight control, this chicken recipe from WholeHearted is lower in calories and fat than the original chicken recipe but still contains the same concentration of protein. Fresh chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients with peas and chickpeas to follow.
The primary difference with this recipe is in the fiber. This formula contains 10% fiber, primarily from powdered cellulose and pea flour. Fiber is often added to weight control pet foods because it helps keep the pet feeling full on fewer calories. The trouble is excess fiber may contribute to digestive upset and concentrations over 3% haven’t consistently shown benefits. We generally don’t like foods that contain over 3% fiber for cats, certainly not over 5%.
Overall, we don’t mind this recipe aside from the high fiber content and the inclusion of legumes like peas and chickpeas. The estimated carbohydrate content is a little high as well, over 30%.
We often prefer wet food formulas from brands that offer broth dry and wet food. In many cases, wet cat food is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate than dry food. This seems to be the case here with this turkey recipe pate.
The first ingredient in this formula is turkey broth, followed by both turkey and chicken. You’ll also find dried egg product as a supplemental source of protein.
This formula contains fewer main ingredients than the dry food formulas we’ve reviewed, and the estimated carbohydrate content is under 5%. There are several thickeners including tapioca starch, guar gum, and locust bean gum, and the primary source of added fat is plant-based.
Generally speaking, however, we don’t see any major red flag ingredients.
This beef with veggies recipe features water as the main ingredient and beef as the second. Dried egg product provides the only other source of animal-based protein, though you’ll see pea protein on the list as well. The only other main ingredients are tapioca starch, carrots, and sunflower oil.
Though it sounds like adding veggies would be valuable in terms of nutrition, we’re not convinced this recipe is any better than the previous. Fortunately, the estimated carbohydrate content seems similar, so the addition of those veggies doesn’t seem to detract from the protein content.
Overall, this seems like a decent recipe. We’d prefer to see more animal protein over the use of pea protein, however, and we’d sub out the sunflower oil for an animal-based fat.
What Do Customers Think of WholeHearted Cat Food?
When shopping for pet products, it’s important to do your research. You can easily find the details about pet food companies by looking on their website, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you what the products are actually like or whether your cat will like them. This is where customer reviews come in.
The WholeHearted brand is only available through Petco stores and the website, so we were only able to find reviews on the Petco website. That being the case, it’s hard to tell whether they are overwhelmingly positive because negative reviews are filtered out, or whether customers really like the brand as much as they seem to. Most products had 4/5 stars or higher.
Customers of WholeHearted love the affordable price as well as the variety of flavors and textures. When it comes to negative reviews, however, there are recurring comments about cats throwing up after eating the food and some simply wouldn’t touch it.
How Much Does WholeHearted Cat Food Cost?
Cat food varies considerably in price from one brand to another and even from one recipe to another within the same brand. WholeHearted has a reputation for being affordable, but is it really?
When shopping for cat food, it’s important to remember that price and quality are often equated. Higher quality ingredients are more expensive for the manufacturer and those prices will be passed along to the customer. That being said, not all expensive cat foods are good and not all affordable cat foods are bad. It really comes down to the specific brand and even the specific recipe.
Of the dry food recipes we reviewed, WholeHearted dry cat food ranges from $2.17 to $3.60 per pound. The limited ingredient diet and specialized formulas were more expensive than the original. WholeHearted wet food averaged around $0.20 per ounce.
To give you a better idea how WholeHearted 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 WholeHearted Cat Food?
As a Petco-exclusive brand, the only place you can purchase WholeHearted cat food is at Petco. You can find Petco store all over the country using the store finder on the website, or you can shop online. Because it is a Petco brand, you can often find sales and savings on WholeHearted cat food.
Our Final Thoughts: Is WholeHearted a Good Brand?
Overall, we don’t have any major concerns with the WholeHearted brand. We appreciate the use of animal proteins as the main ingredient in every recipe and we like the variety of flavor options. Even the recipes that aren’t labeled Limited Ingredient Diets are often made with a single source of animal protein which makes it easy for owners of cats with allergies to find an option.
We’re not sure whether WholeHearted really is much more affordable than comparable brands, however, at least for their dry foods. Priced over $2.00 per pound with many recipes over $3.00 isn’t what we’d call low-priced, though their wet foods certainly are affordable averaging $0.20/ounce.
If you’re looking for an affordable brand of pet food you can consistently find in pet stores, WholeHearted could be a good choice. We would just recommend you go with a wet food like the turkey recipe reviewed versus one of the dry food options.