John Seeberg

Written by John Seeberg

Laura Ward

Reviewed by Laura Ward

Updated: June 12, 2024

Instinct Ultimate Protein (Wet) Review

Updated: June 12, 2024

Our Verdict


Highly Recommended

Instinct Ultimate Protein wet cat food is made up of two recipes which each receive the Cat Food Advisor rating, 5 stars.

All recipes contain high protein levels derived from real meat and organ sources. They come in a pate texture and are available in cans or pouches.

  • High in protein
  • Contains animal organs
  • Includes fish oil providing omega-3 fatty acids
  • Includes plant-based protein
  • Relatively expensive versus other cat foods

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 Ultimate Protein Real Chicken Recipe 5 A
Instinct Ultimate Protein Real Rabbit Recipe 5 A

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Recipe and Label Analysis

Instinct Ultimate Protein Real Chicken Recipe 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 Ultimate Protein Real Chicken Recipe

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Chicken, turkey, chicken liver, chicken broth, montmorillonite clay, menhaden fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), ground flaxseed, egg product, peas, carrots, potassium chloride, minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), choline chloride, salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), taurine, magnesium sulfate, l-ascorbyl-2- polyphosphate, artichokes, cranberries, pumpkin, tomato, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, kale, parsley.

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3%

Red denotes any controversial items

Ingredients Analysis

The first and second ingredients are chicken and turkey. Both meats are considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken/turkey”. 1

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

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 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 fifth ingredient is montmorillonite clay, a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.

Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The sixth ingredient is menhaden fish oil. Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. Their oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids, two high quality fats boasting the highest bioavailability to both dogs and humans. 

What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not as likely to be exposed to mercury contamination as is typical with deep water species.

The seventh ingredient is ground flaxseed. one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this cat food.

The eighth ingredient is egg product which is an unspecified (wet or dry?) form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product 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.

This food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better cat foods.

From here the list goes on to include a number of other items. But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of the product.

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Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Instinct Ultimate Protein Real Chicken Recipe looks like an above-average wet product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 45.5%, a fat level of 38.6% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 7.9%.

As a group, the brand features an above-average protein content of 45.5% and an above-average fat level of 26.1%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 20.4% for the overall product line, alongside a fat to protein ratio of 58%.

This means this Instinct Ultimate Protein range contains higher than average protein, lower than average carbohydrate and higher than average fat, when compared to typical wet cat food.

Final Word

This range of food is high in protein and lists the first and second ingredient as animal protein. Further animal organs are included in addition to fish oil which provides good omega-3 fatty acids. 

None of the recipes include ade gums, grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or preservatives.

Has Instinct Ultimate Protein 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: [1. Association of American Feed Control Officials].

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