Laura Ward

Written by Laura Ward

Georgia Jeremiah

Reviewed by Georgia Jeremiah

Updated: January 18, 2024

Purina Cat Chow Dry Cat Food Review

Updated: January 18, 2024

Our Verdict

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Not Recommended

Purina Cat Chow dry cat food receives the Cat Food Advisor rating, 2.5-stars.

Although some products in the range contain chicken, the bulk of the recipes are made from chicken by-product meal and a variety of plant-based foods, such as corn gluten meal, wheat, rice and soy flour which offer little nutritional value to cats.

Pros
  • Contains beef fat
  • Affordable
Cons
  • High carbohydrate
  • Many plant-based ingredients
  • Artificial colors

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile: Growth (kitten), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

The Purina Cat Chow product line includes nine dry cat foods.

Product line Rating AAFCO
Cat Chow Complete 2 A
Cat Chow Complete with Real Salmon 2 A
Cat Chow Gentle Sensitive Stomach + Skin (Turkey) 2 A
Cat Chow Indoor Hairball + Healthy Weight 2 A
Cat Chow Senior Essentials 7+ Immune + Joint Health 2 A
Cat Chow Naturals with added Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients (Original) 3 A
Cat Chow Naturals with added Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients (Indoor) 3 A
Cat Chow Naturals with added Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients (Grain-free) 3 A
Kitten Chow Naturals 2 A

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Recipe and Label Analysis

Purina Cat Chow Complete Cat Food 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.

Purina Cat Chow Complete Cat Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

36.4%

Protein

13.6%

Fat

42%

CarbsCarbohydrates

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, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, taurine, 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


Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3%

Red denotes any controversial items

Ingredients Analysis

The first 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 second ingredient is ground yellow corn, a coarsely ground flour made from dried corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a cat.

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

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.

And 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 fourth ingredient is whole grain wheat.  Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. 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 fifth ingredient is rice. Once cooked, whole rice is a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Just like wheat, aside from its inherent energy content, rice is only of little nutritional value to a cat.

The sixth ingredient is soy flour, a high-protein by-product of soybean processing.

Although soy flour contains about 51% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And 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 seventh 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.

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

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

The ninth ingredient is fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations. 2

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

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.

However this recipe contains sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.

There are also a number of artificial colors which we’re always disappointed to find in any pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your cat. After all, do you really think your cat cares what color their food is?

This recipe receives a 2-star rating.

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Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Cat Chow Complete Cat Food  looks like a below average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 36.4%, a fat level of 13.6% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 42%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 39% and a mean fat level of 13.4%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39.7% for the overall product line, alongside a fat to protein ratio of 34%.

This means the Cat Chow product line contains average protein and average fat when compared to typical dry cat food.

Final Word

Purina Cat Chow dry cat food is a cheaper product made from low quality ingredients. It redeems itself a little, with the presence of beef fat and chicken, and in the Naturals’ recipes chicken is the first ingredient, but Cat Chow is predominantly a dry cat food range made from chicken by product meal, bulked out by plant-based ingredients.

Has Purina cat food been recalled in the past?

Yes, Purina has had a number of cat food recalls over the years.

The last one was in July 2021 when cans of Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials Tuna Entree in Sauce Wet Cat Food were recalled as they may have contained plastic.

In March 2019, Purina issued a recall of one of its Muse cat foods.

In 2012, a single lot of Purina Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management Feline Formula was recalled due to low levels of thiamine. Production Code #11721159.

In June 2011, Friskies issued a small recall due to the potential risk of salmonella contamination. This recall only affected a small range of Friskies products, – the Friskies Grillers Blend dry cat food recipe in 3.15lb and 16lb bags with best-by dates of August 2012.

In the same year, some other Purina dry cat foods were recalled due to suspected salmonella contamination. The products affected were: Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ dry cat food, 3.5 lb. and 7 lb. bags, with a “Best by” date of May 2012 and Production Code #03341084 or #03351084 and Purina Cat Chow Naturals, 6.3 lb., Production Code #10331083 13, with “Best by” date of August 2012.

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.

About

Nestlé Purina PetCare is an American subsidiary of the Swiss corporation Nestlé, based in St. Louis, Missouri. It produces and markets pet food, treats, cat and dog litter.

The cat food brands owned by Purina are: Beyond, Breeze, DenaLife, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Kit & Kaboodle, Petivity, Purina Cat Chow, Purina ONE, Purina Pro Plan, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Tidy Cats and Whisker Lickin’s.

Sources

1, 2: Association of American Feed Control Officials

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