Laura Ward

Written by Laura Ward

Georgia Jeremiah

Reviewed by Georgia Jeremiah

Updated: January 18, 2024

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Cat Food Review

Updated: January 18, 2024

Our Verdict

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Not Recommended

Rachael Ray Nutrish dry cat food receives the Cat Food Advisor rating of 2.5 stars.

Although made from named meat and fish products, many of the recipes also contain more controversial ingredients such as corn gluten meal, sodium selenite and caramel coloring.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Number one ingredient is meat & fish products
  • High in protein
Cons
  • Brewers rice fillers
  • Sodium selenite
  • Below average carbohydrates

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

The Rachael Ray Nutrish dry product line includes five dry cat foods.

Product line Rating AAFCO
Indoor Complete Chicken, Lentils & Salmon 2.5 U
Real Chicken & Brown Rice 2.5 U
Real Salmon & Brown Rice 2.5 U
Longevity Chicken, Chickpea & Salmon 2.5 U
Inner Health Turkey, Chickpea & Salmon 2.5 U

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Recipe and Label Analysis

Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Chicken, Lentils & Salmon 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.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Chicken, Lentils & Salmon

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

37.4%

Protein

13.2%

Fat

41.5%

CarbsCarbohydrates

Chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice, dried peas, corn gluten meal, lentils, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whole flaxseed, cranberries, pumpkin, salmon, dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, dicalcium phosphate, caramel (color), salt, choline chloride, potassium chloride, taurine, dried blueberry, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, dandelion, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, vitamin a supplement, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, sodium selenite, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement


Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8%

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

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

The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a cat.

The fourth ingredient is dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this cat food.

The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this cat food.

The seventh ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).

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.

It also contains caramel, a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.2

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a 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?

Another controversial ingredient listed in this recipe is dried plain beet pulp. Beet pulp is a high-fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most cat foods is entirely acceptable.

This recipe receives a 2.5-star rating.

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Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Chicken, Lentils & Salmon dry cat food looks like a below-average food.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 37.4%, a fat level of 13.2% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 41.5%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 36.7% and a mean fat level of 13.8%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41.5% for the overall product line, alongside a fat-to-protein ratio of 38%.

This means this the Rachael Ray Nutrish dry cat food product line contains above-average protein levels and above-average carbs and average fat, when compared to typical dry cat food.

Final Word

Rachael Ray Nutrish dry cat food does contain named meat and fish sources as its number one ingredient, but many of its recipes are also bulked out with brewers rice and contain corn gluten meal.

The AAFCO nutrient profile for this product range is also unspecified on the company website.

Has Rachael Ray cat food been recalled in the past?

Yes. In June 2015, a number of Rachael Ray Nutrish wet cat food varieties were recalled due to high levels of vitamin D, which can cause serious health complications in cats.

The products affected were:

  • Paw Lickin’ Chicken & Liver, 2.8 oz. single pack, “Best by” date of Aug. 17, 2015
  • Ocean Fish & Chicken Catch-iatore, 2.8 oz. single pack, “Best by” date of Dec. 1, 2016
  • Ocean Fish-a-licious, 2.8 oz. single pack, “Best by” date of Dec. 1, 2016
  • Tuna Purrfection, 2.8 oz. single pack, “Best by” date of Dec. 1, 2016
  • Lip Smackin’ Sardine & Mackerel, 2.8 oz. single pack, “Best by” date of Dec. 1, 2016

Two variety packs that contain some of these recalled products also were recalled:

  • Chicken Lovers Variety Pack, 12 count pack of 2.8 oz cups, “Best by” date of Dec. 1, 2016
  • Ocean Lovers Variety Pack, 12 count pack of 2.8 oz cups, “Best by” date of Dec. 1, 2016

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

Rachael Ray Nutrish was founded in 2008 by Food Network favorite Rachael Ray, who joined up with Ainsworth Pet Nutrition to develop a range of dog food containing simple, natural ingredients. The cat food element of the business began in 2014.

In spring 2018, pet food giant J.M. Smucker Company announced it was buying Ainsworth.

The brand line includes Rachael Ray Nutrish, Rachael Ray Nutrish SuperMedleys, Rachael Ray Nutrish Little Bites, Rachael Ray Nutrish Large Breed, Nutrish Dish, Nutrish Dish Stews, Just 6, Zero Grain, PEAK, PEAK Treats, Soup Bones, Smoochies Biscuits, Smoochies Brushes, Purrfect Entrées, Purrfect Broths, Love Bites, Wheelies, Soft Spots.

Sources

1: Association of American Feed Control Officials

2: Consumer Reports February 2014

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