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- Meat is the first ingredient – 0 Star
- Uses some unnamed meats – 0.5 Star
- Above average protein content – 1 Star
- Less than 4 controversial ingredients – 0 Star
- Catological Discretionary Rating – 0.5 Star
The 9Lives product line includes 3 wet product lines, each with a variety of flavors. However, since they’re all very similar, and all of minimal quality, we are combining them here.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage or packaging: Growth (G), Maintenance (M), All Life Stages (A), Supplemental (S) or Unspecified (U).
- 9Lives Meaty Pate (M)
- 9Lives Hearty Chunks (M)
- 9Lives Tender Morsels (M)
9 Lives Hearty Cuts with Real Beef & Chicken in Gravy was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review since they are all fairly similar, though if we found that one particular flavor or recipe was significantly different, we have marked it’s individual score next to it above, in parentheses.
9 Lives Hearty Cuts with Real Beef & Chicken in Gravy
Wet Cat Food
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||11%||28%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||45%||27%||28%|
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Fiber (guaranteed analysis)
Is real, named meat the first ingredient?
Water Sufficient for Processing, Meat By-Products, Beef, Chicken, Soy Protein Concentrate, Wheat Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Steamed Bone Meal, Natural Flavor, Salt, Caramel Color, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Iron Oxide (Color), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Taurine, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite).
Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.
Ignoring the water sufficient for processing…
The first ingredient in this cat food is meat by-products. Bad.
By-products can be biologically acceptable ingredients in pet food, if they’re labeled as coming from a specific animal. However, when they’re not labeled, they could come from anywhere, including euthanized cats, dogs, zoo animals, road kill, and more.
Meat by-products are defied as “non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. Includes, but not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, Brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth, and hoofs.”
This is not a high quality ingredient.
The second ingredient is beef. OK, but with reservations.
While it’s nice to see a named meat as the second ingredient, beef is not something that cats would ever eat in the wild.
Beef may cause inflammation of the stomach in some cats.
It’s also important to note that beef contains over 70% water, so when it is processed and cooked for use in cat food, it will become a smaller part of the total recipe.
The third ingredient is chicken. Good.
While quality of the individual ingredient can vary, chicken is a good protein source for cats.
It’s also important to note that chicken contains about 70% water, so when it is processed and cooked for use in cat food, it will become a smaller part of the total recipe.
The fourth ingredient is soy protein concentrate. Bad.
Soy protein concentrate is a non-meat protein source that is often used to increase the crude protein content on the label, without being biologically appropriate for your cat.
While there is some debate on whether soy truly increases estrogen levels unacceptably, research has shown that soy can be particularly bad for cats, inhibiting the healthy birth of kittens, decreasing liver function, causing a rise of blood sugar, and potentially being linked to thyroid damage.
The fifth ingredient is wheat flour. Bad.
This is another non-meat filler ingredient that may be hard for cats to digest. Wheat flour is the highly-processed starch and endosperm of the wheat kernel.
Wheat flour is another name for refined white flour, which is not a biologically appropriate ingredient for cats.
The sixth ingredient is modified corn starch. Bad.
Corn is not a quality ingredient in cat food.
Corn products are generally hard for cats to digest and do not contain a robust enough amino acid profile when compared to meat, which they should be eating.
Corn starch is a carbohydrate extracted from the endosperm of corn, and is not biologically appropriate for a feline diet.
The seventh ingredient is steamed bone meal. Bad.
This is an unnamed meat product, and can contain almost anything.
This meal is a “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents.”
While this likely contains a lower amount of digestible protein and fewer amino acids than a quality cut of meat, the worst part is that since it’s unnamed, it can be made of almost any animal, including euthanized cats, dogs, zoo animals, road kill, and more.
While some of what’s in this product might be biologically appropriate for your carnivorous cat, we do not recommend any cat food that uses this as an ingredient, due to the likely low quality and disgusting source of the meats.
The eighth ingredient is animal digest. Bad.
This is the product “which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves, and feathers.”
Digest is usually used to enhance the flavor of kibble.
This is another unnamed animal product, though, and so can come from nearly anything, even 4-D animals (dead, diseased, dying, or disabled).
The ninth ingredient is salmon meal. Good.
It is high in protein. Fish is a decent source of protein for cats, but it is also one that is much more likely to cause allergies than other meats. It also lacks enough taurine to make up your cat’s whole diet. Here, however, it is one of the few good ingredients listed on the label.
This recipe includes a number of other ingredients, but once you get down this far, none of them will be in large enough quantities to make a real difference, except for the added vitamins and minerals.
However, there are still a few things you should know about.
First, it’s disappointing to see any pet food company using artificial coloring.
This coloring is solely for pet parents’ benefit, and does nothing to make the food look or taste any better to the cat. It’s especially bad that this company uses ingredients like Red 40 and titanium dioxide, which have been linked from everything to hyperactivity in children to potentially containing a carcinogen, to being carcinogenic and cause genetic disorders, respectively.
The recipe also uses BHA as a preservative, rather than the more natural products many companies are using these days.
BHA is a potential carcinogen that has produced tumors in lab animals, and could easily be replaced by another, safer preservative.
The Catological Verdict on 9Lives Wet Cat Food
From top to bottom, this is a below average wet product.
From the abundance of corn in the recipe, to meat not being the first ingredient, to the use of artificial coloring, it just ticks none of the right boxes.
This is a perfect example of a very cheap food that is cheap for a reason.
Since meat only shows up a couple of times, and not that often at the top of the ingredient list, we can assume that this is a plant-based cat food, without enough meat to make it biologically appropriate for a cat’s dietary needs.
To review, on a dry matter basis, this food is 34% protein, 10% fat, and 47% carbs.
As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 35%, and average fat content of 10%, and an average carb content of 46%.
Compared to the other 2000+ foods in our database, this food has:
- Below average protein.
- Below average fat.
- Above average carbs.
Because it is full of corn and lower quality meat products, our rating for this brand is 2 stars.
9Lives Cat Food Recall History
We do not believe that a recall indicates a low quality food or company, and we respect the fact that sometimes things happen that cause a manufacturer to recall a food.
Usually these things are non-life-threatening, and we think it’s important to take a moment to be thankful about just how few recalls there really are in the industry, considering the enormous volume of food produced.
However, we do believe that a history of recalls may point to a larger issue with a company, and that discerning consumers want to know who they’re buying from, especially when it comes to something as important as the food you feed your beloved cat.
Here is a list of recalls that have affected the 9Lives brand in the past:
- Recall 1
If you want to stay up to date on the latest recall information affecting your cat’s food, sign up to our email list and receive an email every time a recall is announced. We’ll also let you know about any updated ratings, recipe changes, or new cat foods on the market.
Where To Buy 9Lives Cat Food
We recommend purchasing your pet products from Chewy.com. They continually prove that they walk the walk while talking the talk, and I’ve never dealt with a more dedicated pet-parent base of people than those who work at Chewy.