Instinct Raw Boost Cat Food (Dry) Review And Nutritional Analysis

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  • 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 Raw Boost Chicken is one of our top 5 choices for best dry cat food overall.

Here’s a few important points:

  • Packed with high-quality meat ingredients
  • Utilizes some organ meat for extra protein and nutrients
  • Minimal carbohydrates
  • Very good macronutrient profile for a dry food

The Instinct Raw Boost 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.

instinct raw boost

Instinct Raw Boost Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Instinct Raw Boost Chicken

Dry Cat Food

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis43%20%NA
Dry Matter Basis47%22%17%
Calorie Weighted Basis40%45%14%

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Fiber (guaranteed analysis)




Is real, named meat the first ingredient?



Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Tapioca, Freeze Dried Chicken, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, White Fish Meal (Pacific Whiting, Pacific Sole, Pacific Rockfish), Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Salt, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), DL-Methionine, Taurine, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Blueberries, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract

Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.

Ingredient Breakdown

The first ingredient in this cat food 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 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 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 fourth ingredient is menhaden fish meal. Good.

Menhaden are a small, oily fish, with a very high protein content.

Because it is a concentrated meal, most of the good oils are gone.

There is some concern that these are not sustainably fished.

The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid). Good.

Mixed tocopherols are a natural preservative, and better than synthetic options.

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 tapioca. 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.

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. 

This recipe includes freeze dried chicken liver and chicken heart. These are quality protein-rich ingredients that also give extra vitamins and minerals, and help the recipe more closely resemble a wild diet.

Dried tomato pomace is also included. It is basically a by-product of tomatoes after they have been used for sauces, ketchup, and the likes. 

Some say it’s a useful form of fiber, while some say it’s a pointless, cheap, filler ingredient. 

Whatever the case, there’s probably not enough to make much of a difference here.

This recipe contains montmorillonite clay, which is not a common ingredient, and which you might want to know more about. 

It 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.

There are also 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 Instinct Raw Boost Dry Cat Food

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

From the numerous meats, including some organ meat, to the reasonable amount of carbohydrates, to the addition of important minerals, vitamins, and probiotics, this just ticks many of the boxes.

This is a good example of the type of food you should be feeding your cat if you choose to feed a dry diet.

Since meat shows up frequently, and right at the top of the ingredient list, we can assume that this is a 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 47% protein, 22% fat, and 17% carbs.

As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 44%, and average fat content of 18%, and an average carb content of 23%.

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

  • Average protein.
  • Average fat.
  • Average carbs.

Because it is full of quality meat products and lacks filler ingredients, our 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 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 Dry 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?!

2 thoughts on “Instinct Raw Boost Cat Food (Dry) Review And Nutritional Analysis”

  1. My vet has recommended prescription Hills dry food for my overweight cat..He is very unhappy with the Hills food..eats it, but I can tell he doesn’t like it..He just gets hungry..I am unhappy that he is unhappy, but would love a cat sitter who is a Rescue person recommended Instinct..I am not happy with the recalls..Can u help

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