Instinct Cat Food Reviews: The 5 Best for Your Kitty

 

My philosophy when it comes to my own body is to eat high-quality foods that are appropriate for me, so as much as possible all-natural and nothing artificial. I take the same philosophy when it comes to my cat, so I am always looking for high-quality, species-appropriate foods that I can afford to put in her bowl.

I came across the Instinct brand a few years ago, and it has been one of my go-to cat foods ever since. All their foods, wet and dry, are high in quality meats that have been ethically farmed, and low in carbohydrates, something that has traditionally been included in commercial cat foods but offers little nutritional value for cats.

[toc]

 

Their wide range of recipes and relatively affordable prices mean that these are foods that I can feed to my cat daily without worrying about her developing sensitivities, or me breaking the bank.

Read on to find out more about the brand, and get my top five picks from the more than 50 foods that Instinct makes for cats.

 

If You Are In A Rush…

You can’t go wrong with Instinct’s original range, in both wet and dry foods. Both are made with high-quality meats as their first ingredients and are very low in carbohydrates, which is especially impressive for their dry food. They also both come in a broad range of flavors.

Instinct have also recently upgraded their dry food recipe to include some freeze-dried raw meat for added nutrition, or you can get their Raw Boost, which is the same quality kibble with chunks of freeze-dried meat added.

Here are Instinct’s five cat food options:

  1. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food
  2. Nature’s Variety Pride by Instinct Grain-Free Minced Titan’s Tuna Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food
  3. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food
  4. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food
  5. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food

 

Instinct Cat Food Reviews

Instinct currently makes over 50 different cat foods, but in my opinion, these are their top five.

 

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

 

Instinct’s leading wet cat food line is still their original grain-free pate. They use high-quality, responsibly farmed meats as the basis of their recipe, for example, cage-free chicken, which is important to me as an animal lover. Meat products make up 95 percent of the recipe (excluding water).

The first three ingredients in their chicken recipe after broth are chicken, turkey, and chicken liver, which is good to see as liver is an important part of a cat’s nutrition. Unlike many other cat foods, the secondary meat ingredient in this recipe is pretty clearly indicated on the label, which is great when avoiding certain meats due to allergies or sensitivities.

The recipe is marketed as grain-free, and it is good to see that in this case, grain-free does not mean ‘grain replaced with another carbohydrate’. Cats don’t really need carbohydrates, and wet cat foods don’t really need carbohydrates for their consistency (unlike dry foods), so it is good to see that this recipe is free from grains, potatoes, and all those other ingredients, though it does contain some peas, which are relatively high in carbohydrates.

The recipe does contain limited amounts of fruits and vegetables, making up just 5 percent of the recipe. This includes carrots, artichokes, cranberries, pumpkin, tomato, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and parsley, which are all sources of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fiber that are good for cats. The recipe is also enriched with a range of essential nutrients including taurine and vitamins A, B, D, and E.

This recipe comes in a lot of varieties, which is great when you find a cat food that you love. Feeding your cat the same meat daily is the fastest way to encourage them to develop an allergy to that specific meat.

So it is reassuring to know that there are lots of different options with this food quality recipe. There is only one fish range, salmon, but the other recipes contain menhaden fish oil to add some of those omega fatty acids that cats get from fish.

The only question mark I have with this recipe is that it says that it contains egg product. Eggs are a good source of protein for cats – in addition to vitamins A, B, D. E, and K, as well as calcium, if they are given the ground shells – and they do sometimes eat them in the wild, raiding nests. However, I prefer not to have egg in my regular cat food as I like to limit the amount of egg that my cat eats because they are high in fat and cholesterol.

I also wish that it was clearer whether this egg product includes the yolk, the white, and the shell, in what proportions, and if it is cooked or raw. Not only can raw eggs carry things like salmonella, but raw egg whites contain avidin, which can block cats absorption of B vitamins. So I would really like to know more about what is in this egg product.

If your cat likes this one, you can mix it up with Purina Beyond’s canned meals or the gravy-licious Friskies food.

Pros

  • Made from 95% animal products
  • High-quality meats
  • High in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Grain-free
  • Enriched with essential nutrients often from natural ingredients
  • Wide range of flavors

 

Cons

  • Contains egg product
  • Contains peas

 

Nutritional Profile

  • Crude protein 10% minimum
  • Crude fat 7.5% minimum
  • Crude fiber 3% maximum
  • Moisture 78% maximum

 

Overall: Variety of Healthy Protein

CLICK HERE FOR BEST PRICE

 

Nature’s Variety Pride by Instinct Grain-Free Minced Titan’s Tuna Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food

 

Next on my list of excellent cat foods made by Instinct is their Pride wet food line, which is mostly a fish line, with four out of their five recipes containing fish as the main ingredient. However, the fish line also contains pork, pork liver, and eggs as sources of protein (in the case of the lamb recipe the other meat is beef).

While these are all great protein sources (except for the concerns already raised about eggs), it would be good if the second meat source, which there seems to be quite a lot of in the dish, was also listed on the main label rather than just in the fine print.

The resulting recipe is high in protein, low in fat, and low in carbohydrates. We don’t see any plant products such as grains, peas, or potatoes being added here as fillers. The recipe contains the same range of fruits and vegetables and is enriched with the same nutrients as the original recipe.

For me, this is a once in a while recipe as I don’t like to feed my cat too much fish, especially tuna, on a regular basis. Fish can be high in heavy metals and mercury, so eating it too often can be problematic. But my cat loves it as a semi-regular treat.

 

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Low in fat
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Enriched with essential nutrients often from natural ingredients
  • Grain-free

 

Cons

  • Predominantly a seafood brand
  • Labeling could be better
  • Contains eggs

 

Nutritional Profile

  • Crude protein 10% minimum
  • Crude fat 2% minimum
  • Crude fiber 3% maximum
  • Moisture 80%

 

Overall: Quality Seafood

CLICK HERE FOR BEST PRICE

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food

The final wet food on my list is Instinct’s Ultimate Protein line, which is a limited ingredient line. It only contains chicken, chicken liver, eggs, ground peas, sodium phosphate, guar gum, salt, and sodium carbonate in chicken and turkey broth. This makes it a recipe with 90 percent animal product that is simple meat.

While this is close to what cats eat in the wild, it does not have all the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that domestic cats need. It does not reflect the variety that cats eat in nature, and when meats are cooked and processed they lose some of their nutrients.

This makes this food a great meaty treat that cats will love, and it can be food to use for a short time if they are having stomach issues as there is not much in here that should set them off, but it does not offer a holistic diet for a cat.

 

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Limited ingredients
  • Grain-free

 

Cons

  • Does not provide all the required vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
  • Contains eggs
  • Contains peas
  • Limited range of flavors

 

Nutritional Profile

  • Crude protein 10% minimum
  • Crude fat 4% minimum
  • Crude fiber 1% maximum
  • Moisture 82% maximum

 

Overall: Sensitive Stomach Treat

CLICK HERE FOR BEST PRICE

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food

Moving into dry foods, Instinct’s Original dry food has been one of my favorites for a while. It is heavy in animal ingredients, making up 81 percent of the recipe, secured from quality and ethical sources such as cage-free chicken.

The chicken recipe is made from chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, and chicken fat, which makes for an excellent high protein mix, though I do wish the fish meal was more clearly indicated on the packaging.

The recipe is free from grains, soy, and potatoes, and uses tapioca and peas as the main necessary carbohydrates for making dry kibble, which are pretty good choices as far as feeding cats carbohydrates goes.

Like Instinct’s wet food recipes, it also contains fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, apples, cranberries, and blueberries, as natural sources of vitamins and minerals, and salmon oil as a natural source of omega fatty acids. The recipe is also enriched with all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and probiotics that cats need to thrive.

While I have been a fan of this recipe for a few years, they have actually changed it recently, adding freeze-dried raw chicken, chicken liver, and chicken heart to the kibble recipe. Raw meat is a great source of nutrients for cats, as it matches their natural diet and raw meat retains nutrients that are lost during cooking. With this kibble, I can introduce a little of that into my cat’s diet without really doing any work.

 

Pros

  • Contains raw meat
  • High in protein
  • High-quality meat
  • Low in carbohydrates for a dry food
  • Enriched with essential nutrients often from natural ingredients
  • Grain-free
  • Wide variety of flavors

 

Cons

  • Labeling could be better

 

Nutritional Profile

  • Crude protein 43% minimum
  • Crude fat 19.5% minimum
  • Crude fiber 3% maximum
  • Moisture 9% maximum

 

Overall: Quality Staple Dry Food

CLICK HERE FOR BEST PRICE

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Cat Food

If you are looking for something a bit special, Instinct’s Raw Boost dry food is basically a souped-up version of their original recipe. As well as containing some raw ingredients in the kibble, it also contains chunks of freeze-dried meat.

Since I want to feed my cat the most natural food for her possible, if I could I would just feed her raw meat every day, but not only would that be pretty expensive, it is also not that easy. It is not as easy as chopping up meat from the butcher and putting it in her bowl.

In the wild cats eat the whole animal—muscles, organs, skin, feathers, bones—so a raw meat diet needs to contain all these things. You can buy fresh or frozen raw cat foods, which are enriched with a range of vitamins and minerals like other cat foods, but they are expensive and inconvenient because of their short use-by date.

Freeze drying retains the nutrients of raw meat while giving it a longer use-by date and adding it to my cat’s kibble is an easy way to inject a little bit of that raw food nutrition into her diet in a very convenient, and relatively affordable, way.

 

Pros

  • Contains raw meat
  • High in protein
  • High-quality meat
  • Low in carbohydrates for a dry food
  • Enriched with essential nutrients often from natural ingredients
  • Grain-free

 

Cons

  • Labeling could be better

 

Nutritional Profile

  • Crude protein 43% minimum
  • Crude fat 19.5% minimum
  • Crude fiber 3% maximum
  • Moisture 9% maximum

 

Overall: Daily Raw Meat Nutrition

CLICK HERE FOR BEST PRICE

About Instinct

Instinct is part of the Nature’s Variety company, which was founded in Lincoln, Nebraska. All of Instinct’s foods are still made in small batches in company-owned factories in Nebraska to ensure maximum quality and minimum processing.

Instinct’s philosophy is to make natural food from organic ingredients free from nasty artificial additives, and which is species appropriate for our pets. This means foods that are not full of grains and other carbohydrate fillers but is rather full of quality meat contained from ethical sources.

Instinct has also added a raw aspect to their philosophy. Raw meat is what cats eat in the wild, and has better nutrition for them as some nutrients are lost from meat during the cooking process. Instinct is pioneering a number of affordable and convenient ways that pet owners can add raw eat to their cat’s diet.

The Verdict

Instinct is a high-quality cat food brand offering superior products at a relatively affordable price. Their philosophy of species appropriate and quality ingredients really can be seen in every bowl.

Their best wet food is their original range, which is packed full of high-quality meat and is very low in carbohydrates. It also comes in a very extensive range of flavors, so it is something that can be used as your basic, go-to wet cat food.

Instinct’s original dry cat food is also high in meat-based protein and low in carbohydrates for a dry cat food. It even contains a bit of freeze-dried raw meat in the kibble recipe for an extra boost. But if you are looking for something a bit special consider their Raw Boost dry cat food, which also contains chunks of freeze-dried raw meat for that extra raw-meat nutrition.

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print
Share on whatsapp
Kristen Chapple

Kristen Chapple

Hi I'm Kristen, cat lover and blogger. I was born into a cat-loving family and have been a proud kitty mommy ever since I can remember. I love sharing my cat knowledge and love being an active part of the kitty-loving community.