Julia Ogden

Written by Julia Ogden

Georgia Jeremiah

Reviewed by Georgia Jeremiah

Updated: June 4, 2024

Instinct Original (Wet) Review

Choosing the best food for your kitten is one of the most important decisions you can make.

Updated: June 4, 2024

Our Verdict


Highly Recommended

Instinct Original wet cat food receives the Cat Food Advisor rating of 5 stars.

Made from natural ingredients including named meat products, fruits and vegetables, Instinct Original wet cat food comes in a smooth paté texture.

It does not contain any grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy or artificial colors and preservatives.

  • Made from natural ingredients
  • Free from plant-based fillers
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • Some recipes are high in fat
  • Quite expensive

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

Product line Rating AAFCO
Instinct Original Real Chicken recipe 5 A
Instinct Original Real Duck recipe 5 A
Instinct Original Real Lamb recipe 5 A
Instinct Original Real Rabbit recipe 5 A
Instinct Original Real Salmon recipe 5 A
Instinct Original Real Venison recipe 5 A
Instinct Original Real Chicken recipe for kittens 5 G

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Recipe and Label Analysis

Instinct Original Real Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

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

Instinct Original Real Chicken

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, egg product, dicalcium phosphate, turkey, peas, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, kale, cabbage, ground flaxseed, tuna fish oil, guar gum, broccoli, potassium chloride, cranberries, blueberries, salt, parsley, taurine, zinc proteinate, magnesium sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, iron proteinate, choline chloride, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D supplement, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3%

Red denotes any controversial items

Ingredients Analysis

The first ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

The second ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a cat food, they are a common component in many wet products.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth ingredient is egg product — an unspecified (wet or dry?) form of shell-free eggs. The quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg products can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The fifth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.

The sixth ingredient is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.2

Turkey is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

The seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth ingredients are all named vegetables — peas, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, kale and cabbage.

Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.  However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this cat food.

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.​​

Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.

Tomato is a nutrient rich vegetable consisting of about 72% carbohydrates.

Kale is a type of cabbage in which the central leaves do not form a head. This dark green vegetable is especially rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C, vitamin K and calcium.

And like broccoli, kale contains sulforaphane, a natural chemical believed to possess potent anti-cancer properties.

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Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Instinct Original Real Chicken recipe is a high quality wet cat food.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 45.5%, a fat level of 34% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 12.5%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 48.4% and a mean fat level of 28.2%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 15.4% for the overall product line, alongside a fat to protein ratio of 59%.

This means this Instinct Original product line contains above average protein levels and lower than average carbs and high levels of fat content, when compared to typical wet cat food.

Final Word

Instinct Original recipes are packed full of named meat products as well as vegetables and fruit. Some of the product range is quite high in fat, so if you’re looking for a low fat option, we’d recommend the rabbit and salmon recipes.

Has Instinct cat food been recalled in the past?

No. Instinct has never had a product recall.

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.


Instinct Pet Food was founded in 2002 and produces frozen and freeze-dried raw pet food from its facilities in Lincoln, Nebraska.


1: Association of American Feed Control Officials

2: Adapted by the Cat Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition

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