Blue Buffalo Freedom Cat Food (Dry) Review And Nutritional Analysis

Rating

2 Star

  • Meat is the first ingredient - 1 Star
  • Does not use unnamed meats - 1 Star
  • Below average protein content - 0 Star
  • More than 4 controversial ingredients - 0 Star
  • Catological Discretionary Rating - 0 Star

Here’s a few important points to consider for this particular line:

  • Meat is the first ingredient
  • Recipes include a lot of filler ingredients
  • Includes extra vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
  • Low protein content, even with added plant-based proteins
  • Likely not much meat in most recipes

The Freedom product line includes 5 dry recipes/flavors.

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).

The star rating is a rough average of all of the flavors in a single line of food. If an individual recipe scored lower or higher, we will mark that below, next to the flavor.

blue buffalo freedom dry cat food bag

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Chicken

Dry Cat Food

Estimated Nutrient Content

Method

Protein

Fat

Carbs

Guaranteed Analysis

32%

14%

NA

Dry Matter Basis

36%

16%

32%

Calorie Weighted Basis

34%

36%

31%

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

36%
Protein
16%
Fat
32%
Carbs

Fiber (guaranteed analysis):

7%

Calories/100g:

360

Is real, named meat the first ingredient?

Yes

INGREDIENTS: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Turkey Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber, Pea Protein, Flaxseed (Source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Powdered Cellulose, Potatoes, Dried Egg, Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Canola Oil (Source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Dried Chicory Root, Salt, Potato Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Caramel, Taurine, L-Lysine, Mixed Tocopherols (A Natural Preservative), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Parsley, Kelp, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Ferrous Sulfate, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Turmeric, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Oil of Rosemary, L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Sodium Selenite.

Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.

Ingredient Breakdown

The first ingredient in this cat food is deboned chicken. Good.

While quality of the individual ingredient can vary, chicken is a very 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 second ingredient is chicken meal. Good.

Chicken is a very good protein source for cats.

Chicken meal is a concentrated form of chicken, and is considered a high quality ingredient.

The third ingredient is peas. OK, but with reservations.

This recipe contains peas, which are usually a quality carbohydrate source. They’re also high in protein.

However, they are not biologically appropriate for your cat to have in any large quantity, and they also force us to evaluate just how much meat protein is in this food, since the peas will boost the crude protein content.

The fourth ingredient is tapioca starch. OK, but with reservations.

Used in many grain-free recipes as a starch to bind the food together.

While it’s not very nutritional and doesn’t compare well to grains in some cases, there’s likely not enough of it to cause any digestive issues for your cat.

The fifth ingredient is turkey meal. Good.

Turkey is a very good protein source for cats.

Turkey meal is a concentrated form of turkey, and is considered a high quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient is chicken fat. Good.

Named animal fats in cat food is usually a good thing.

Chicken fat is a great source of healthy fats and omega fatty acids.

It is preferred to canola oil or unnamed animal fats.

The seventh ingredient is pea fiber. Bad.

Pea fiber is high in insoluble fiber.

It is not a biologically appropriate ingredient for cats, and is a filler ingredient to boost fiber content.

The eighth ingredient is pea protein. Bad.

Peas are a quality carbohydrate, but cats don’t need much in the way of carbohydrates.

Peas are also rich in protein, and this ingredient is a concentrated form of that protein, which means the actual meat content of this food may be lower than the macronutrient profile suggests.

Peas are not the worst carbohydrate your cat can consume, but they’re simply not at all biologically appropriate.

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 a few things you should know about.

It includes cellulose powder, which is a filler high in insoluble fiber. It’s typically wood pulp (sawdust) from pine trees. Too much insoluble fiber can interfere with digestion and inhibit protein and nutrient uptake.

This recipes includes potatoes and potato starch. These are typically used as filler in grain-free recipes. Potatoes are not biologically appropriate and may cause digestive upset.

It also has added caramel color. There is no reason for a cat food to be colored, except to make it appeal to cat parents. Your cat does not care what color her food is.

Since it is 100% marketing gimmick, it is unnecessary, and usually the sign of a cheap cat food.

Many coloring options, such as caramel, are potential carcinogens, or otherwise potentially harmful for your cat.

The label says it includes oil of rosemary. If this is true, this is a potentially dangerous ingredient.

Most cat foods include rosemary extract, which is a useful natural preservative.

However, oil of rosemary can be harmful to cats.

The essential oil derived from rosemary is useful for topical application, but can become toxic at higher doses when ingested.

We wonder if this might be a misprint on the label, as Blue Buffalo is the only company to include it on their label.

There are also many probiotic strains which help introduce enzymes into the gut to break down the food better and make it more digestible and bioavailable. These are generally considered high quality ingredients.

To read a more in depth article about any of the ingredients listed here, check out our Cat Food Ingredient Wiki (currently under development).

The Catological Verdict on Blue Buffalo Freedom Dry Cat Food

From top to bottom, this is a below average dry product.

Meat is the first ingredient, but fillers are heavily used, including plant-based protein-boosters.

It contains too many carbohydrates to be biologically appropriate for felines, plus the crude protein is boosted from plant protein, which shows that there is actually less meat in here than you might originally think.

This is not a good example of a dry food you should be feeding to your cat.

With so many plant-based protein boosters, and a low protein content to begin with, we believe this is mostly a plant-based cat food, which is not biologically appropriate for your cat.

To review, on a dry matter basis, this food is 36% protein, 16% fat, and 32% carbs.

As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 36%, and average fat content of 15%, and an average carb content of 33%.

Compared to the other 2000+ foods in our database, this food has:

  • Below average protein.
  • Average fat.
  • Above average carbs.

Because meat comes first, but many unnecessary filler ingredients are used, our average rating for this brand is 2 stars.

Not recommended.

Blue Buffalo 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 Blue Buffalo brand in the past:

  • March 2017 – Potential high levels of beef thyroid hormone (naturally occurring) – 1 recipe affected
  • February 2017 – Potential alluminum contamination – 1 recipe affected
  • February 2017 – Packaging quality – 2 lines of dog food affected
  • May 2016 – Potential mold – 1 recipe affected
  • November 2015 – Potentially contains propylene glycol – 1 cat food recipe affected
  • November 2015 – Potential for salmonella – 1 recipe affected
  • October 2010 – Potentially too much vitamin D – 3 lines of dog food affected
  • April 2007 – Melamine – Most recipes affected
  • NOTE ON LAWSUIT – A class action lawsuit was levelled against Blue Buffalo in 2017, alleging high levels of lead in their products. This is working it’s way through the legal system, and these allegations are not proven.

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. (Our alert system will be launched shortly, check back soon.)

Where To Buy Blue Buffalo 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.

Plus, they offer 20% off and free shipping on lots of orders.

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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