Evolve 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:

  • Meat is the first ingredient
  • Most recipes utilize fish as the main protein source, which we do not recommend, as it’s not what a cat would naturally eat (not to mention they’re potential allergens and may contain toxins)
  • An abundance of fillers make this a very low protein, very high carb recipe, which is not ideal for cats
  • Extra vitamins and minerals have been added
  • A cheap, but not great food

Evolve’s product line includes 4 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.

evolve dry

Evolve Salmon, Brown Rice & Barley was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Evolve Salmon, Brown Rice & Barley

Dry Cat Food

Estimated Nutrient Content

Method

Protein

Fat

Carbs

Guaranteed Analysis

32%

15%

NA

Dry Matter Basis

36%

17%

33%

Calorie Weighted Basis

33%

37%

30%

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

36%
Protein
17%
Fat
33%
Carbs

Fiber (guaranteed analysis):

4.5%

Calories/100g:

362

Is real, named meat the first ingredient?

Yes

INGREDIENTS: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Whole Ground Rice, Turkey Meal, Whole Ground Barley, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Dried Cellulose, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Cranberries, Blueberries, Flaxseed Meal, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Alfalfa Meal, Dried Kelp,Taurine, Salt, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Dried Chicory Root, Beta Carotene, Vitamins: Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Minerals: Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Brewers Dried Yeast, Zinc Sulfate, Dried Lactobacillus Acidolphilus Fermentation Product, Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product.

Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.

Ingredient Breakdown

The first ingredient in this cat food is deboned salmon. OK, but with reservations.

A good source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Fish oils support the health of the skin, coat, joint, kidneys, heart, and immune system, and may even help with serious illnesses such as cancer.

However, do we not believe cats should be fed a diet high in fish.

Cats may be allergic to fish, fish may contain toxins from contaminated waters, and in the wild, it is not common to find cats who eat fish, even if they live close to water.

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.

In short, much of the moisture of the chicken is taken away, and you are left with a very high-protein, low-moisture powder-like substance.

The inclusion of chicken meal helps to ensure a very high protein level.

The third ingredient is oatmeal. Bad.

Oats are generally a good source of fiber and energy for humans and even other animals, but grains are not biologically appropriate for cats.

We believe that oats of any kind have no place in a recipe that looks to mirror natural feline diets.

There are better options for fiber, like pumpkin or coconut.

The fourth ingredient is whole ground rice. Bad.

It may be slightly better than corn in some areas, but rice is simply not biologically appropriate for cats.

It is a filler ingredient.

Studies hypothesize that rice may decrease taurine absorption in cats, leading to taurine deficiency, a dangerous ailment.

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 whole ground barley. Bad.

While it is a useful grain in most senses, and better than many alternatives, it is still a grain.

And cats do not require grain. Therefore it is not biologically appropriate.

Barley is high in fiber, and has an average amount of protein for a grain.

The seventh ingredient is chicken fat. Good.

Named animal fats in cat food is usually a good thing. Cats do need a fair amount of fat.

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

It is preferred to canola oil or unnamed animal fats.

The eighth ingredient is peas. Bad.

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

They are full of fiber, but also contain a fair amount of protein, which we should keep in mind when judging the meat content of this food.

There probably aren’t many peas in here, but there really doesn’t need to be any.

The ninth ingredient is potatoes. Bad.

These are typically used as filler in grain-free recipes.

They are not biologically appropriate and may cause digestive upset.

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.

It includes dried cellulose, 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.

It uses brewer’s dried yeast, which is a by-product of brewing beer. It is used for flavoring and for protein and B-vitamins.

However, some reports suggest that it can become very toxic to the liver, causing allergies and arthritis, in large doses.

This recipe utilizes chelated minerals, which may be easier to digest and more bioavailable for your cat. This is usually a sign of a high quality cat food.

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 Evolve Dry Cat Food

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

It includes a variety of different types of meat, which is good, but there is not enough meat in the recipe, which is not good.

A large variety and quantity of fillers is used, which drives down the cost of the food, but also drives down the protein, and drives up the carbs…which again, is not healthy for your cat.

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

The protein in this is quite low, and the carbs are quite high, so we are confident in saying that this is a mostly plant-based cat food, which is not appropriate for your carnivorous feline’s dietary needs.

To review, on a dry matter basis, this food is 36% protein, 17% fat, and 33% carbs.

As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 37%, and average fat content of 17%, and an average carb content of 32%.

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

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

Because the first ingredient is meat, but there are a lot of fillers which give this a poor macronutrient profile, our rating for this brand is 2 stars.

Not recommended.

Evolve’s 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 Evolve brand in the past:

  • May 2014 – Low thiamine levels, recalled by parent company, not the Evolve brand
  • March 2007 – Melamine contamination – kitten formula affected, multiple others pulled as a precaution

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 Evolve Dry 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. 

Not Convinced?

Check out our ratings and reviews of the best cat foods in our comprehensive, data-backed guide right here.

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  • September 13, 2018
  • Food
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