Purina Cat Chow Review

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Purina Cat Chow—good or bad? Learn all about this brand in our unbiased Purina Cat Chow review.

The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Purina Cat Chow on What Matters

We’ve analyzed Purina Cat Chow and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, ingredient quality, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history. Here’s how it rates in each of these six key areas.

 SHOP FOR PURINA CAT CHOW ON AMAZON

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 3/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 3/10
  • Product Variety – 4/10
  • Price – 10/10
  • Customer Experience – 6/10
  • Recall History – 4/10

We give Purina Cat Chow cat food a 30 out of 60 rating or a D grade.

About Purina Cat Chow

Purina Cat Chow is one of the oldest brands in the business, dating back to the early 1960s. It was Purina’s first cat food and, after decades on the pet food aisle, is still one of the most widely-available and popular brands you can buy.

Cat Chow kibble is everything convenient in cat food—it’s easy to store and serve, affordable, and available almost anywhere you shop.

But is it a safe and healthy choice for your cat? That’s what we’re exploring in this review. I’ve spent hours researching Purina Cat Chow, reading customer reviews, analyzing labels, and digging into the brand’s history.

Let’s start at the beginning—ingredient sourcing and manufacturing.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Purina Cat Chow foods are manufactured in company-owned facilities located around the United States and Canada. According to the company, most of their ingredients are sourced from North America along with a variety of ingredients from other regions. For example, the company sources lamb from New Zealand and synthetic vitamins and amino acids from China.

Has Purina Cat Chow been recalled?

Along with a couple of varieties of Friskies kibble, Purina Cat Chow Naturals dry cat food was recalled in 2011 due to potential salmonella contamination.

Other Purina brands have been recalled several times over the years, but the 2011 recall appears to be the only one involving Purina Cat Chow in the last decade. To learn more about other Purina pet food recalls, click here.

What kinds of cat food does Purina Cat Chow offer?

The Purina Cat Chow lineup includes a slim variety of dry foods.

In addition to standard formulas for adult cats, the selection includes recipes for indoor cats, kittens, and cats with sensitive stomachs. Purina Cat Chow Naturals recipes are almost identical to the standard Cat Chow recipes but are free of artificial colors.

Purina Cat Chow Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product NameFood TypePrice per OunceOur Grade
Purina Cat Chow Hairball & Healthy Weight Indoor Dry Cat FoodDry$0.05C-
Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat FoodDry$0.05C-
Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat FoodDry$0.06C-

Purina Cat Chow Hairball & Healthy Weight Indoor Dry Cat Food Review

Purina Cat Chow

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Chicken by-product meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food. 

This food promises to address two issues common among indoor cats—hairballs and weight gain. It’s a dry food featuring chicken by-product meal as its first ingredient, followed by a mix of grain-derived ingredients.

With whole grain corn, soy flour, wheat, corn gluten meal, and rice taking up so much space on the ingredient list, plants appear to take precedence over meat in this recipe. After this array of kibble-binding grains, the food contains beef fat as its main fat source.

Two additives, “natural flavor” and “liver flavor”, increase the food’s palatability. Though their origins aren’t explicit, these ingredients appear to be safe for cats and are generally an acceptable inclusion in pet food.

The food contains powdered cellulose as a source of fiber, which may help it fulfill its promises of relieving hairballs and promoting a healthy weight. After a mix of synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, the food contains three types of food dyes. The food is colored with Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5. All of these dyes may cause or contribute to health issues.

Overall, this food has moderate protein content, low fat, and high carbohydrate content.

Whether you focus on macronutrient distribution or ingredient quality, there’s nothing about this food that looks like an ideal choice for your cat’s bowl. It’s neither species-appropriate nor made from top-quality ingredients.

Its protein sources are either plants or derived from potentially-low value animal by-products. It’s high in carbohydrates, which may increase your cat’s chances of developing diabetes later in life.

With 358 calories per cup, this food is low in calories compared to other kibble products.

Ingredients

Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Soy Flour, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Beef Fat Naturally Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Liver Flavor, Chicken, Powdered Cellulose, Soybean Hulls, Calcium Carbonate, Phosphoric Acid, Salt, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Parsley Flakes, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)], L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein30% min
Crude Fat9.5% min
Fiber5.5% max
Moisture12% max
Ashn/a

Purina Cat Chow Hairball & Healthy Weight Indoor Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Purina Cat Chow Hairball & Healthy Weight Indoor Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Beef Fat, Chicken

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Soy Flour, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Soybean Hulls, Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • Uses beef fat rather than plant-derived oils

Cons

  • Extremely high carbohydrate content
  • Low fat content isn’t right for every cat
  • Dry food doesn’t provide the moisture cats need
  • Contains artificial colors
  • Contains chicken by-products, which may be less digestible than other cuts of chicken

Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food Review

Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food

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Chicken by-product meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food. 

Purina’s Cat Chow Complete recipe is the brand’s maintenance food, formulated to meet the nutritional needs of most adult cats.

Though an animal-derived ingredient, chicken by-product meal, is the food’s first ingredient, it doesn’t appear to be a meat-based food. With ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, rice, and soy flour the next few items on the ingredient list, this is a plant-based food.

In general, plant-derived nutrients appear to be less bioavailable for cats than those derived from animals. In addition to being less nutritionally efficient, a plant-based food like this one is carbohydrate-heavy and may contribute to your cat’s chances of developing and continuing to have diabetes.

After the long list of grains, the food contains beef fat, chicken, and fish meal. While we don’t know all the details about the quality of these ingredients, they are animal-derived inclusions that honor your cat’s needs as a carnivore.

The food contains an array of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make each meal nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats. Near the end of the ingredient list, the food contains a mix of dyes, including Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5.

Overall, this food has moderate protein content with low fat and high carbohydrate content. 

This is a plant-based food that emphasizes potentially low-value protein sources over intensely-nourishing or high-quality ingredients. While it’s fortified and formulated to provide the nutrition your cat needs, it’s not an optimal choice.

The food is 405 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Rice, Soy Flour, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Chicken, Fish Meal, Liver Flavor, Phosphoric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)], Dl-Methionine, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein32% min
Crude Fat12% min
Fiber3.0% max
Moisture12% max
Ashn/a

Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Beef Fat, Chicken

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Rice, Soy Flour, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2

Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish

Pros

  • Uses beef fat instead of plant-derived oils

Cons

  • Very high in carbohydrate matter
  • Primarily made from plant ingredients
  • Contains potentially-harmful artificial colors
  • Doesn’t have enough moisture to keep your cat well-hydrated

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food Review

Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food

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Chicken and corn gluten meal appear to be the primary protein sources in this dry cat food.

The biggest difference between Purina Cat Chow Naturals and Purina’s standard Cat Chow foods is the former’s lack of artificial dyes. The second significant difference is its first ingredient. Instead of chicken by-product meal, Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original dry cat food features chicken as its first ingredient.

Compared to chicken by-products, this ingredient is likely a more bioavailable and digestible protein source. That said, chicken is a moisture-rich ingredient that earns its place at the top of the ingredient list based on its pre-cooking weight. After the food is cooked, chicken likely takes up significantly less space in the recipe.

Instead of making a meaningful difference in the food’s nutritional makeup, the use of chicken as the first ingredient does little more than allowing the company to claim “real chicken” as the number one ingredient. And the food isn’t free of by-products, either. Though it’s not the first ingredient, chicken by-product meal appears later on the ingredient list.

Like other Purina Cat Chow recipes, the food contains a mix of corn gluten meal, rice, soybean meal, ground yellow corn, and ground whole wheat. These ingredients increase the food’s carbohydrate content and are sources of protein.

While these grain-based ingredients appear to take up most of the room on the ingredient list, the food also contains a few additional animal ingredients. For example, the food relies on beef tallow as its main fat source. Liver flavor, natural flavor, and a small amount of salmon appear to round out the food’s flavor profile.

Overall, this food has moderate protein content with low fat and high carbohydrate content.

Though this food earns some points with its lack of artificial colors, it’s not much better than anything else you can buy from Purina Cat Chow. It’s a plant-based, high-carbohydrate food that fails to deliver the moisture your cat needs.

The food has 398 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Rice, Soybean Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Ground Whole Wheat, Beef Tallow Naturally Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Natural Liver Flavor, Salmon, Phosphoric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Spinach, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)], Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite].

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein34% min
Crude Fat13% min
Fiber3.0% max
Moisture12% max
Ashn/a

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Beef Tallow, Salmon

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Soybean Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Ground Whole Wheat

Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish

Pros

  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors
  • Relies on animal-derived fat

Cons

  • Primarily made with plants
  • Very high in carbohydrate matter
  • Low fat content isn’t ideal for every cat

What do customers think of Purina Cat Chow cat food?

Purina Cat Chow is one of the most popular brands in the business. It’s earned multiple generations of customers and the vast majority of them love it.

Even Consumer Affairs reviewers are relatively kind to Purina. With 838 ratings submitted in the last year, Purina Pet Foods earns an overall satisfaction rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Let’s take a closer look at what customers are saying about Purina Cat Chow on Chewy.

Positive Reviews

“I used to feed IAMS cat food, until they jacked prices up so high & the cats LITERALLY started covering up the IAMS like it was poo. Tried Blue Buffalo, that was hit & miss plus $$. After getting 5 cats dumped here that are now “family” I switchedto lesser expensive dry cat food – Purina Naturals. I have one fellow who has GI problems – vomits/diahrea etc – and this is the ONLY food he will eat without puking or pooping like crazy. My local stores are inconsistent with having this in stock – you know how cats don’t handle change in food easily. So I’m going with chewy so I can have a consistent supply of the only food that works for my “kids!” – MeToosMom, reviewing Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food

“After only a few days no more coughing up hair balls. I only feed about a cup to three adult cats in the morning. I feed their regular wet food in the evenings. Seems to be doing the job of getting rid of hair balls. I highly recommend it for your indoor cats.” – ArmandHammer, reviewing Purina Cat Chow Hairball & Healthy Weight Indoor Dry Cat Food

Negative Reviews

“The first thing I must state is that I have sent Purina a rather terse review. I let them know clearly my opinion regarding the recent change, of their packaging. I want you, to know, of my thoughts, regarding the fact there is no longer the easy opening pull tab, on their bags. It is absurd, to add inconvenience, to the ever increasing prices [I realize that cannot be avoided], and the reduction, in volume.” – Grouch, reviewing Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food

“When the pack size changed from 16# to 15#, Purina also changed the ingredients. Now instead of poultry meal, there is only chicken meal. They removed the meat and bone meal, and have cracked corn instead of corn meal. Our barn cats (never ever had a picky barn cat in 40+ years) refused to eat this new food! I have been an autoship customer of Chewy.com ever since they were a small and new company. Chewy is my favorite company to deal with currently. I wish however Chewy would have notified me well ahead of the ingredient change so I could have kept some of the old food while transitioning to new. Chewy has always gone above and beyond in the customer service area, but they could use some improvement in alerting autoship customers to changes and could use some improvement in communicating with pet food companies on ingredient changes. Afterall, pet food is their main business, they above all retailers, could be on top of this. I finally did get a straight answer regarding the ingredient changes from Purina after talking to 4 people there. Chewy was not aware of any ingredient changes. Room for improvement, but keep up the good customer service!” – Nickname, reviewing Purina Cat Chow Complete Dry Cat Food

How much does Purina Cat Chow cat food cost?

With few recipes costing more than five cents per ounce, Purina Cat Chow is one of the cheapest brands on the market. Assuming that you’re feeding a typical ten-pound cat who takes in about 200 calories per day, Cat Chow will cost about $0.10 to $0.12 per day.

Overall, is Purina Cat Chow cat food a good choice?

There’s not a single food in the Purina Cat Chow family that emphasizes meat over plants or clearly-named meats over potentially-low value by-products.

With ingredient lists thick with corn, soy, wheat, and dyes, Purina Cat Chow’s original lineup tends to contain more plants and potential irritants than nourishing meat ingredients. While Purina Cat Chow Naturals poses as a healthier upgrade, it’s just as carbohydrate-heavy and just as species-inappropriate.

Overall, Purina Cat Chow is a tempting option if you’re on a tight budget, but it’s not your only choice. Before you settle on this brand, consider Kirkland cat food or any of the products on our list of the best cheap cat foods on the market.

Where to Buy Purina Cat Chow Cat Food

Purina Cat Chow is available almost anywhere you can buy cat food. You’ll find it in groceries, big box stores, and pet specialty shops. It’s similarly easy to find online, with online retailers including Walmart.com, Chewy, and Amazon.

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