Instinct Limited Ingredient Cat Food (Wet) Review And Nutritional Analysis

Our review process is unbiased and based on extensive research. If you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.


  • Meat is the first ingredient – 1 Star
  • Uses some unnamed meats – 1 Star
  • Above average protein content – 0.5 Star
  • Less than 4 controversial ingredients – 1 Star
  • Catological Discretionary Rating – 0.5 Star

Instinct Limited Ingredient is one of our top 2 choices for best overall hypoallergenic food for kitties with sensitive stomachs.

Here’s a few important points:

  • Good amount of with meat, including organ meat
  • Very limited ingredient
  • Proteinate version of minerals for easier absorption
  • Hard to tell how much meat is actually in here, because peas and pea protein are included

The Instinct Limited Ingredient product line includes 3 wet 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.

instinct limited ingredient

Instinct Limited Ingredient Rabbit was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Rabbit

Wet Cat Food

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis12.5%4.5%NA
Dry Matter Basis52%19%8%
Calorie Weighted Basis49%43%8%

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Fiber (guaranteed analysis)




Is real, named meat the first ingredient?



Rabbit, Water, Rabbit Liver, Pea ProteinPeas, Montmorillonite Clay, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate

Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.

Ingredient Breakdown

The first ingredient in this cat food is rabbit. Good.

Rabbit is an excellent food that is fairly commonly eaten by wild cats.

Very biologically-appropriate.

Ignoring the water used for processing and moisture, the second ingredient is rabbit liver. Good.

Liver is an important organ meat that your cat would eat in the wild to get extra protein, vitamins, and minerals.

This is usually a sign of a high quality food.

The third ingredient is pea protein. OK, but with reservations.

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 may be lower than the macronutrient profile suggests.

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

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 fifth ingredient is montmorillonite clay. Good.

This is an anti-caking agent, which means it helps stop the food from sticking together.

However, since it’s all natural, it’s a preferable ingredient to many other synthetic products.

It is full of minerals and may help as an anti-diarrhoea treatment.

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.

This recipe uses the proteinate form of minerals, which means that they should be easier to digest for your cat, and be more readily available for her body to use to maintain her health. This is usually a sign of a quality 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 Instinct Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food

From top to bottom, this is an above average wet product.

From the abundance of meats, including organs, to the limited ingredients, to the addition of important minerals and vitamins, this ticks most of the boxes.

This is a good example of the type of food you should be feeding your cat, though we don’t think the peas are necessary.

Since meat shows up frequently, and right at the top of the ingredient list, we can assume that this is a mostly meat-based cat food, with enough meat to make it biologically appropriate for a cat’s dietary needs.

To review, on a dry matter basis, this food is 52% protein, 19% fat, and 8% carbs.

As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 48%, and average fat content of 26%, and an average carb content of 8%.

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

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

Because it includes quality meat products, including organs, and only limited other ingredients, our average rating for this brand is 4 stars.


Instinct 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 Nature’s Variety Instinct brand in the past:

  • July 2015 – Potential for salmonella – 2 recipes affected
  • February 2013 – Foreign body/choking hazard – 2 recipes affected
  • February 2010 – Potential for salmonella – 3 recipes affected

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 Instinct Limited Ingredient Cat Food

We recommend purchasing your pet products from 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. 

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?!

1 thought on “Instinct Limited Ingredient Cat Food (Wet) Review And Nutritional Analysis”

  1. Hello! Thank you for this article! It’s extremely informative and answered all my concerns regarding the Limited food. I really like this website.

Comments are closed.