Best Natural & Organic Cat Food — 2022 Guide

What are the best natural & organic cat food brands for your special feline? We know you love your cat(s) and that’s why you want them to have the very best nutrition to keep them healthy and hormonally balanced. So what should you avoid and what brands have the best natural and organic ingredients? You’ve trusted Mamavation with topics like the best natural & organic dog food, the best home water filters for PFAS “forever chemicals,” & the best air purifiers, now join us for our latest investigation on the best natural and organic cat food brands. Scroll down to the bottom for our brand recommendations.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

Environmental Working Group (EWG) Finds Toxic PFAS “Forever Chemicals” in Cat Food Packaging

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a pet food consumer study where they tested eleven bags of the most popular dog and cat food brands for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” inside the packaging. They found indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” in the packaging and that is concerning because of its ability to leach into the cat or dog food and expose your pet to PFAS. PFAS is toxic and persistent and linked with numerous health problems like cancer, immune system dysregulation, and weight gain in humans.

The following cat food and dog food products were tested by EWG:

Cat Food Packaging Results

  • Blue Buffalo Blue Adult Indoor Health with LifeSource Bits — 71 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Iams Proactive Health Healthy Adult with Chicken — 60 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & White Meat Chicken — 630 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken — 310 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Rachel Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Cats Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe — 77 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine

Dog Food Packaging Results

  • Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe — 140 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Iams Lamb and Rice Recipe — 12 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Bacon & Steak Flavor — 590 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Pedigree High Protein Beef and Lamb Flavor — 15 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
  • Purina Dog Chow — Non-detect total fluorine
  • Purina Puppy Chow High Protein Complete with Real Chicken — non-detect total fluorine

Sadly, none of the cat food brands that were tested by the EWG had non-detect results. Ironically, the brand that tested non-detect for dog food, Purina, had detections in their cat food packaging. Mamavation has ensured these products and brands made it to our “not our favorite” category based on potential exposure to PFAS “forever chemicals” down at the bottom.

Dangerous Contaminants and Adulterated Ingredients in Pet Food

There are many examples of recalled pet food due to ingredient contamination. In a recent case brought by Purina, the United States District Court in St. Louis handed down a verdict on Wilbur-Ellis Feed and Diversified Ingredients ordering them to pay a whopping $7 million for their involvement in selling poultry feathers, heads, bones, feet, and entrails as high-quality poultry meal to Blue Buffalo and other pet food manufacturers.

There’s a problem with toxic chemical contamination as well. According to research conducted by Cornell University, glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) is pervasive in the pet food industry. Scientists tested 18 different commercial cat and dog foods, and ALL of them contained detectable glyphosate. Their findings also connected the presence of glyphosate to the fiber content of the food which suggests a plant-based origin. This is not surprising because we already know that crops are often sprayed heavily from beginning growth to end harvesting, and this is just more proof that this toxic, persistent herbicide remains in the final product.

These are crops that are commonly desiccated and heavily sprayed with glyphosate. These are the crops you want to seek in organic versions to avoid contamination with glyphosate.

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Wheat

Surprisingly, the concentration of glyphosate in pet foods could very well result in exposures up to 12x higher than that of humans! Scientists also noted the limited available information about the effects on glyphosate on cats and dogs which means we really have no idea how bad this is affecting them. Unfortunately, the brands that were tested have not been released. Don’t worry, we made sure to ensure all our “best” brands use only organic legumes.

In addition, there are other dangerous contaminants like pentobarbital, the drug used to euthanize animals. In fact, the FDA put out a report that says, “There appear to be associations between rendered or hydrolyzed ingredients and the presence of pentobarbital in dog food. The ingredients Meat and Bone Meal, Beef and Bone Meal, Animal Fat, and Animal Digest are rendered or hydrolyzed from animal sources that could include euthanized animals.” This led us to an automatic demotion of any brand with products that contained any of these ingredients. Mamavation is also looking out for hydrolyzed ingredients in your cat food.

Ingredients to Avoid in Cat Food

Here are some basic principles to guide you when you are looking for wet cat food or dry food, or whatever else you need for your cat. Please talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s diet before making any changes.

  • All types of meat by-products, by-product meals, meat meals, and meat and bones meals can be sourced from any number of places including diseased animals, non-slaughtered dead animals, euthanized animals, or decomposing animals, which means they may also be contaminated with the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital. By and large, the source of the meat is a mystery and high-quality cat food will never include this. An example of this is “chicken meal.”
  • Natural flavors is an umbrella term that legally hides an alarming variety of ingredients (some chemically distilled) through laws designed to protect trade secrets. By definition, it’s any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. That can include a LOT of different substances.
  • Carrageenan is irritating to the digestive system and can cause diarrhea
  • Artificial colors and artificial flavors should be avoided because they’re synthetic ingredients that can come from anything that is inedible (even petroleum) and is processed to create chemicals of flavorings and colors.
  • Too Many Legume Ingredients and other legumes can have other ingredients that interfere with glucose regulation and lead to intestinal irritation if eaten in large quantities over long period. Because of the “grain-free” cat food movement, this is impossible to avoid, so we again suggest you vary flavors. Also, make sure if you see legume-based ingredients, they are using an organic ingredient because glyphosate is high in legumes.

Lack of Oversight in Pet Food Manufacturing

Can you believe the FDA has actually admitted that they don’t actively enforce the law with pet food? The United States law, Title 21, Chapter 9, Subchapter IV, Section 342 states that food (including animal/pet food) is considered adulterated if it is sourced from a non-slaughtered animal.

But in 2016, the FDA openly stated they will continue to “…allow animals that have died other than by slaughter that are further processed; we will allow those ingredients in pet food [because] processed pet food, including pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, goes through a kill step, such as heat processing, which is designed to kill harmful bacteria.” Nasty.

Any pet food containing one of the following ingredients could contain diseased animal material, non-slaughtered dead animal material, euthanized animal material, and/or decomposing animal material, and there’s no source requirement: chicken by-products, chicken by-product meal, turkey by-products, turkey by-product meal, meat meal, beef meal, lamb meal, venison meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat and animal digest.

Another problem is regulations do not require pet food to disclose what percentage of the total pet food is present. That information is considered a ‘recipe’ and would be proprietary. What they do mandate is that pet food ingredients be listed in order of pre-cooking weight, with the heaviest ingredient first.

Mamavation’s Investigation on Best Natural & Organic Cat Food

Mamavation looked at the disclosed ingredients of over 195 cat food products for this investigation. We also used the results of recent total fluorine testing from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It was important to find cat food that was marketed to consumers in various ways.

  • cat treats,
  • cat food for kidney disease,
  • cat food for diabetes,
  • cat foods with high-quality protein,
  • cat foods with omega-3 fatty acids,
  • cat food for a healthy immune system,
  • cat foods including essential vitamins,
  • cat food for older cats,
  • cat food with antioxidants,
  • cat food made from freeze-dried raw meat,
  • dried food,
  • cat food for healthy skin
  • cat food with vegetables like carrots and potatoes

Unfortunately, we were not able to structure the post to reflect these categories above, however, you’ll find them all in the “best” and “better” categories. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see our recommendations on products and brands.

Not Our Favorite Cat Food

This is the category for products that contain the worst ingredients you’ll find in cat food. Every one of them has multiple ingredients from unknown and/or potentially contaminated sources including animal fat, animal digest, flavors, by-products and meat meals, toxic preservatives, added sugar, carrageen, and possible GMO ingredients including corn, soy, and canola. We found that many dry cat foods contain mysterious meat meals which automatically knocked them down to the bad category. Unfortunately, this list includes the most affordable brands that you find in common pet and grocery stores around the country. Also interestingly, a convincing label that has phrases like ‘all-natural,’ ‘ultra-premium,’ and ‘complete nutrition’ had little to do with the quality of ingredients. We also included any brand that had indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” in their packaging. Please note that some brands have products in different categories based on the ingredients used, so pay attention.

  • ACANA First Feast High-Protein Kitten Dry Food
  • ACANA Grasslands Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • ACANA Indoor Entree Adult Dry Cat Food
  • Blue Buffalo Blue Adult Indoor Health with LifeSource Bits — 71 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine of packaging via EWG testing.
  • Blue Buffalo Baby BLUE Healthy Growth Formula High Protein Salmon Wet Food (concerns about packaging)
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Indoor Cat Chicken Recipe (concerns about packaging)
  • Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney & Mobility Support Dry Food (concerns about packaging)
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food (concerns about packaging)
  • Diamond Maintenance Cat
  • Hill’s Science Diet Tender Tuna Dinner
  • IAMS Perfect Portions Chicken Recipe Cuts in Gravy (concerns about packaging)
  • IAMS Proactive Health Healthy Adult with Salmon (concerns about packaging)
  • IAMS Proactive Health Healthy Adult with Chicken — 60 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine packaging via EWG testing.
  • Instinct Raw Boost Kibble + Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dry Food
  • Kindful Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food
  • KOHA Minimal Ingredient Chicken Stew
  • Life’s Abundance All Life Stage Cat Food
  • Lucy’s Pet Formulas for Life Salmon, Pumpkin & Quinoa
  • Meow Mix Tender Favorites Wet Food Salmon & Crab (concerns about packaging)
  • Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Food (concerns about packaging)
  • Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & White meat Chicken — 630 parts per million (ppm) packaging via EWG testing
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe
  • Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Duck Recipe
  • Merrick Purrfect Bistro Bon Appetits Chicken Recipe in Gravy
  • Merrick Purrfect Bistro Healthy Kitten Dry Food
  • Merrick Purrfect Bistro Surfin’ & Turfin’ Recipe Pate’
  • Nature’s Diet Freeze-Dried Fresh Ulitmate Raw: Duck & Herring with Superfoods
  • Nulo Freestyle Cat & Kitten Chicken & Cod Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food
  • Nutro Adult Formula with Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Food
  • Nutro Cuts In Gravy Tuna Recipe
  • Pawtree Turkey & Oatmeal (Fish-Free)
  • PURELUXE Adult Cat Grain-Free Turkey
  • Purina Kit & Kaboodle Original Adult Complete & Balanced Dry Cat Food (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina ONE Indoor Advantage Adult Premium Dry food (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina ONE True Instinct Turkey Recipe in Gravy (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original with Chicken (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken — 310 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine packaging via EWG testing.
  • Purina Friskies Pate’ Salmon Dinner (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Fancy Feast Medleys Wild Salmon with Garden Veggies & Greens in Sauce (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Beyond Simply Grain Free White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe with Probiotics (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Friskies Farm Favorites Balanced Dry Food (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Beyond Duck & Sweet Potato Pate’ (concerns about packaging)
  • Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials (concerns about packaging)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Tuna Purrfection Flaked Tuna in a Savory Sauce (concerns about packaging)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Savory Bites Yummy Chicken & Veggies Dry Cat Food Recipe (concerns about packaging)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Purrfect Entrees Fin-Tastic Primavera (concerns about packaging)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Cats Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe — 77 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine for packaging via EWG testing.
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Purrfect Entrees Fin-Tastic Primavera (concerns about packaging)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Savory Seafood Purrfect Broths (concerns about packaging)
  • Royal Canin Aging Wet Food (12+)
  • Royal Canin Digestive Care Dry Food
  • Royal Canin Kitten Wet Food
  • Royal Canin Urinary Care Dry Food
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support Wet Food
  • Sheba Garden Medleys Salmon & Vegetables Entree in Gravy
  • Sheba Premium Pate’ Signature Seafood Entree
  • Solid Gold Indigo Moon with Chicken & Egg
  • Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Deboned Chicken & Egg Recipe Dry Food
  • Tractor Supply 4Health Adult Digestion Support Turkey & Salmon Recipe Wet Cat Food
  • Tractor Supply 4Health Grain Free Adult Indoor Cat Digestion Support Chicken Dry Cat Food
  • Tractor Supply 4Health UNTAMED Deep Woods Recipe with Turkey in Savory Juices
  • Tractor Supply 4Health With Wholesome Grains All Life Stages Chicken Dry Cat Food
  • Vet Worthy Milk Replacement
  • Vitakraft Souprise Stew Snack with Salmon & Carrot
  • Wellness Complete Health Grain Free Senior Dry Cat Food
  • Wellness CORE RawRev High Protein Kibble + Raw Turkey Liver Dry Cat Food
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe with real chicken
  • WholeHearted All Life Stages Grain Free Salmon Recipe Dry Food
  • Wishbone Pasture Lamb for Cats
  • WYSONG Uncanny Freeze-Dried Raw Food Mix
  • WYSONG Vitality Dry Cat Food

Better Natural & Organic Cat Food

The “better” category contains products that have few questionable ingredients. These foods aren’t perfect, but they’re far better for dogs than those listed in the “not our favorite” category and are nutritionally acceptable. It’s clear that wet foods have better quality ingredients, fewer additives, and would seem to be overall healthier with the added water content. Please note that some brands had products in different categories so please pay attention.

Best Natural & Organic Cat Food

The “best” category has few, if any, problematic ingredients. It’s also the shortest category. These cat foods make the cut because they have more quality, whole food ingredients, no additives, low mycotoxin risk, and are meat-based. Some of them also contain organic meat and vegetables. All legumes here are organic in order to avoid high levels of glyphosate contamination. We’ve also avoided crops that are linked to mycotoxins. Some of these products contain supplementation while others do not. Please contact your Veterinarian to see if supplementation of additional vitamins and minerals is needed. The dietary needs of cats are unique so please consult your Vet before switching up meals.

The post Best Natural & Organic Cat Food — 2022 Guide appeared first on MAMAVATION.

This content was originally published here.

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