Cat Chow Cat Food (Dry) Review And Nutritional Analysis

Rating

1 Star

  • Meat is the first ingredient - 1 Star
  • Uses unnamed meats - 0 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:

  • Most, but not all recipes have meat as the first ingredient
  • Most other ingredients are very low quality fillers
  • Most meat is by-products, and in many cases unnamed – which usually indicates very low quality
  • Includes extra vitamins and minerals
  • Very inexpensive

The Cat Chow product line includes 8 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.

purina cat chow dry cat food bag

Cat Chow Complete was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Cat Chow Complete

Dry Cat Food

Estimated Nutrient Content

Method

Protein

Fat

Carbs

Guaranteed Analysis

32%

13%

NA

Dry Matter Basis

36%

15%

35%

Calorie Weighted Basis

34%

33%

33%

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

36%
Protein
15%
Fat
35%
Carbs

Fiber (guaranteed analysis):

3%

Calories/100g:

388

Is real, named meat the first ingredient?

No

INGREDIENTS: Poultry By-Product Meal, Corn Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Whole Wheat, Brewers Rice, Soy Flour, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Fish Meal, Animal Liver Flavor, Meat and Bone Meal, Phosphoric Acid, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Red 40, Niacin, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Sodium Selenite.

Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.

Ingredient Breakdown

The first ingredient in this cat food is poultry by-product meal. Bad.

According to the AAFCO, poultry by-product meal “consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, viscera, and whole carcasses, exclusive of added feathers.”

This is then rendered and concentrated into a protein-rich meal.

Any animal product that is not fully named (i.e., chicken, turkey, or beef), is considered low quality. 

It may be chicken, but it might be turkey or any other kind of poultry. 

By-products, as you can see above, is basically everything left over after the main cut of meat is taken away (usually for human consumption).

Low quality meat product.

The second ingredient is corn meal. Bad.

Corn is not a biologically appropriate food for cats.

This is a processed version of corn that is concentrated into a meal, typically to increase protein quantities by removing moisture.

The ingredient used is usually an inexpensive feed-grade corn. There are reports of it including moldy grains and fungus.

It’s not as digestible as meat, it’s not meat protein, which means it isn’t a complete protein that your cat needs, and it’s typically only included as a cheap filler.

Low quality ingredient.

The third ingredient is corn gluten meal. Bad.

Again, corn is not biologically appropriate, and most if not all corn ingredients are cheap fillers.

Corn gluten meal is used as a protein additive, but it is not as digestible as meat protein, and not what your cat needs to be healthy.

AAFCO says that it is “the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.”

Low quality ingredient.

The fourth ingredient is ground whole wheat. Bad.

Grains are not biologically appropriate for cats. They would never eat grain in the wild.

The moderate protein levels will contribute to the overall protein of this food, making the amount of meat in it lower than it seems.

Basically, just a cheap filler that may cause digestive upset.

The fifth ingredient is brewer’s rice. Bad.

These are the small fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice.

It is basically a waste product from breweries.

It’s a cheap, non-nutritive filler that can be rough on the intestines, and potentially lead to diabetes.

Rice may also decrease taurine digestion. Taurine is a vital amino acid that cats need to stay healthy, but that they can’t produce themselves. Decreased digestion can be dangerous to cats.

The sixth ingredient is soy flour. Bad.

Soy is a bad ingredient for cats, particularly soy manufactured in factories in the US, where soy bean protein is used to create other products, compared to Asia, where soy is typically fermented, which makes it much better for the body.

Soy flour is basically a by-by-by-product of soy beans. From the bean to soy protein meal to flakes to toasted and ground down soy flour.

Soy contains many anti-nutrients that inhibits your cat’s body from digesting nutrients from the other foods she eats. 

The seventh ingredient is animal fat. Bad.

Added fat is usually a good sign, but when it is an unnamed product like this, it is a bad sign.

When we see “chicken fat”, we know that the fat comes solely from rendered chicken carcasses that are meant to be there.

“Animal” fat, on the other hand, can contain almost anything. 

Animals included could fall into one of the 4-D categories: dead (by means other than slaughter), dying, diseased, or disabled. 

It could also include roadkill or even zoo animals. 

The rendering industry is not a very fun place to look too far into when it comes to animal food, and unnamed animal fats are one of their specialties. 

We recommend staying away from any unnamed animal product, because you just don’t know what’s in there, and the self-regulation surrounding the industries provide a lot of leeway when it comes to what kind of meat can be used.

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.

This recipe contains fish meal, which is a concentrated form of fish. However, since it is not named fish, we have no idea what the actual ingredients are, and we therefore recommend staying away from ingredients like this.

Animal liver flavor is used to enhance the flavor, but again, this is a non-specific animal, and is not a high quality ingredient.

Meat and bone meal is also included, yet another non-specific animal ingredient. AAFCO describes it as “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents.” Not a high quality ingredient.

Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 2 are used to color the kibble. Cats don’t care what color kibble is – this is always a marketing ploy to make the food look better to humans. 

Some of these colors have been linked to health issues, including containing carcinogens. 

There is no point to include colors in cat food. 

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 Cat Chow Dry Cat Food

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

Meat is the sometimes the first ingredient, but it is unnamed, non-specific meat, and the rest of the ingredients are filler, most of which is bad for your cat.

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

Based on the ingredients and the macronutrient profiles, meat likely plays a tiny part in the recipe, and we can therefore say that it is likely a plant-based cat food, which is not appropriate for your carnivorous feline.

To review, on a dry matter basis, this food is 36% protein, 15% fat, and 35% carbs.

As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 40%, and average fat content of 12%, and an average carb content of 33%.

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

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

This is one of the worst overall foods we looked at, our average rating for this brand is 1 star.

Not recommended.

Cat Chow 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 Cat Chow brand in the past:

  • June 2011 – Potential of salmonella – Cat Chow Naturals affected
  • Purina, Cat Chow’s parent company, has been affected by a few other recalls over the past 10 years

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 Cat Chow Cat Food

We do not recommend buying this particular food, but 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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