Julia Ogden

Written by Julia Ogden

Georgia Jeremiah

Reviewed by Georgia Jeremiah

Updated: May 29, 2024

9Lives (Dry) Review

Updated: May 29, 2024

Our Verdict


Not Recommended

The 9Lives Dry Cat Food product range is made of five recipes which all receive  2 stars

It is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO for adult maintenance. Each recipe in the range is tailored to meet the nutritional needs of cats in different stages of life.

  • Contains animal-sourced fat
  • It is affordable
  • Animal and poultry by-products
  • Contains artificial colors
  • Contains BHA

The table below shows each recipe in this range including our rating and the AAFCO nutrient profile: Growth (kitten), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product line Rating AAFCO
9Lives Daily Essentials 2 M
9Lives Indoor Complete 2 M
9Lives Plus Care 2 M
9Lives Protein Plus 2 M
9Lives Gentle Care - Supports Digestive Health 2 M

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Recipe and Label Analysis

Daily Essentials was selected to represent the other products in the 9Lives Dry Cat Food line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.

9Lives Daily Essentials

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Whole ground corn, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, beef fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whole wheat, meat and bone meal, animal digest, salmon meal, phosphoric acid, salt, titanium dioxide (color), choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity) vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, red 40, taurine, yellow 5, yellow 6, lactic acid, BHA (used as a preservative), blue 1, blue 2, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3%

Red denotes any controversial items

Ingredients Analysis

The first ingredient is whole ground corn which is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a cat.

The second ingredient is chicken by-product meal. A dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the choice cuts have been removed.

On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The quality of this ingredient can vary, depending on the caliber of the raw materials obtained by the manufacturer.

The third ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

The fourth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would also be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

Less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this cat food.

The fifth ingredient is whole wheat. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a cat.

For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any cat food.

The sixth ingredient is beef fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols). Beef fat (or tallow) is most likely obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Although it may not sound very appetizing, beef fat is actually a quality ingredient.

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Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, 9Lives Dry Cat Food Daily Essentials is a below average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 35%, a fat level of 10% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 47%.

As a group, the brand features a below average protein content of 34% and a mean fat level of 10%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line, alongside a fat ratio of 10%.

This means that the Daily Essentials product line contains lower than average protein, higher than average carbs and lower than average fat when compared to typical dry cat food.

Final Word

9Lives Dry Cat Food is one of the cheaper ranges and its ingredients reflect this.

All of the food recipes contain chicken or poultry by-product meal and are bulked out using plant-based ingredients. It also consists of controversial ingredients BHA as a preservative as well as artificial colors.

Has 9Lives cat food been recalled in the past?

Yes. 9Lives has been recalled at least twice during its 60-plus year history. The most recent was in December 2018, when two varieties of 9Lives canned cat food were recalled due to potentially low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1).

In early January of 2017, several flavors of Meaty Paté canned food were pulled off the shelves due to potential thiamine deficiency. The recall was expanded eight days later to include more Meaty Paté flavors. In addition to 9Lives foods, the recall involved two other Big Heart Pet brands — EverPet and Special Kitty.

You can view a complete list of all cat food recalls since 2021 here.

To stay on top of any cat food product recalls, sign up for our free email alerts, here.


9Lives was founded in 1957 and, after taking on its iconic spokescat, became one of the most recognizable brands in the pet food industry.

9Lives is owned by Big Heart Pet Brands, a subsidiary of the J.M. Smucker company. Other brands in the Big Heart Pet Brands’ family include Meow Mix, Natural Balance, Nature’s Recipe, and Milo’s Kitchen.


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