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9 Lives Cat Food Review 2021: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give 9 Lives cat food a rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars.

 

This is a clear budget option. It is extremely inexpensive, but it is also full of cheap, low-quality ingredients. For the price point, it is a decent cat food. However, if you compare it to the cat food market as a whole, it is extremely low-quality.

Introduction

9 Lives is one of the oldest cat food brands on the market after founded in 1957. Due to a well-thought-out advertising campaign featuring “Morris the Cat,” they quickly became one of the industry’s most recognizable brands. This cat starred in over 50 commercials.

9 Lives is owned by Big Heart Pet Brands, which also owns Meow Mix, Natural Balance, and Nature’s Recipe. The recipes are pretty similar to some of their other brands. If you’re familiar with any of them, you likely won’t find any surprises with 9 lives.

9 Lives also promotes the adoption of cats from animal shelters. They fund an inaugural tour of Morris’ Million Cat Recipe, a nationwide bus tour to encourage cat adoption. They have recently added a new cat to their advertising, whose name is Li’l Mo. This orange cat was adopted from a Los Angeles animal shelter.

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At a Glance: The Best 9 Lives Cat Food Recipes

Image Product Details
Winner
9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Dry Cat Food 9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Dry Cat Food
  • Inexpensive
  • High in protein
  • Omega fatty acids added
  • Second place
    9 Lives Protein Plus with Chicken & Tuna Flavors Dry Cat Food 9 Lives Protein Plus with Chicken & Tuna Flavors Dry Cat Food
  • Added protein
  • Dual kibble shapes to provide interest
  • Includes added antioxidants
  • Third place
    9 Lives Meaty Pate with Real Beef Canned Cat Food 9 Lives Meaty Pate with Real Beef Canned Cat Food
  • Nutritionally complete
  • Contains many meat products
  • High in protein and fat
  • 9 Lives Plus Care with Tuna & Egg Dry Cat Food 9 Lives Plus Care with Tuna & Egg Dry Cat Food
  • Reduces urinary pH
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Formulated for older cats
  • 9 Lives Indoor Complete with Chicken & Salmon Flavor Dry Cat Food 9 Lives Indoor Complete with Chicken & Salmon Flavor Dry Cat Food
  • Helps support hairball control
  • Formulated to maintain healthy weight and metabolism
  • 9 Lives Cat Food Reviewed

    Who makes 9 Lives, and where is it produced?

    9 Lives is owned by Big Heart Pet Brands and is crafted alongside their other brands. Their facilities are located in Kansas and Pennsylvania. Their formulas are crafted in these facilities, as well as a few international manufacturers. Not all of their recipes are made in the USA, though they don’t disclose precisely what recipes are made where.

    Varieties Offers

    9 Lives offers a variety of different foods to choose from. They provide both wet and dry cat food – with various lines of each. Their wet food lines include Tender Morsels, Protein Plus, Hearty Cuts, and Meaty Pate. These lines have different textures, which is what essentially sets them apart from each other. Besides that, they are very similar to each other in terms of ingredients and production.

    They also offer a variety of different dry foods. For example, some of their most popular lines include Indoor Complete, Protein Plus, Plus Care, and Daily Essentials. Their dry food recipes all have similar ingredients. Their main differences are primarily based on their advertising and added nutrients.

    Ingredients

    9 Lives has similar ingredients when compared to other budget pet foods. Many of their meats are low-quality. For instance, meat by-product is a common addition, even the first ingredient in cat food. While by-products aren’t necessarily bad, unnamed by-products are. “Meat by-products” could be anything. This is particularly problematic if your cat has allergies, as there is no way to know if the food is allergen-free. However, no one wants to feed their cat mystery meat.

    By-products in themselves aren’t bad, though, as long as they are labelled. By-products are simply parts derived from animals other than meat. This can include nutritious parts, including the brain, lungs, spleen, and kidneys. This resembles what your feline would eat naturally in the wild, as most cats eat the whole prey. Named by-products are an okay option. These occur in this brand as well, and we consider them okay ingredients – especially at this price point.

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    The best meats are whole meats and meat meals. Meat meals are simply cooked-down, dehydrated meats, which are actually more nutritious for our pets than whole meat. They’ve basically concentrated meats and suitable for use in dry food, as they have low water content.

    This food also uses quite a few protein additives. These are ingredients that increase the overall protein content of the food but are not meat-derived. Soy protein concentrate is a good example of this, as is pea protein. These ingredients may not include all of the amino acids that your feline needs.

    Filler ingredients are often included in these recipes as well, including wheat flour and similar ingredients. These provide little nutritional benefit, but they are used to bulk up the food and calorie content of the food. For this reason, fillers are typically not recommended.

    Average Cost

    Compared to other companies, 9 Lives is absolutely a budget option. It is much cheaper than other options on the market. This is what draws most consumers towards the food – it is simply one of the cheapest options out there.

    If this is all you can afford to feed your cat, then it is better than nothing. However, it’s cheapness should make you question its quality. This food is cheap for a reason. If you can afford better, then we recommend considering a different option for your feline.

    A Quick Look at 9 Lives Cat Food

    Pros
    • Expensive
    • Many flavors available
    Cons
    • Low-quality ingredients
    • Fillers included in many recipes
    • Recalls are common

    Recall History

    9 Lives has been recalled several times over the last few years. Firstly, in 2017, several recipes of their Meaty Pate were recalled due to potential thiamine deficiency. The recall was expanded later. The recall also included other brands owned by the Big Heart Pet Brands.

    They issued another recall in 2018 for two varieties of their wet food. Again, this recall was for thiamine deficiency.

    Some reviews point to these being the only two recalls in the company’s 60+ history. However, cat food guidelines were not strict (or even existent) until a few decades ago. It isn’t surprising that the company didn’t have any recalls in the 1960s.

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    Reviews of the 3 Best 9 Lives Cat Food Recipes

    1. 9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Dry Cat Food

    9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Flavor Dry Cat Food

    With whole ground corn as the first ingredient, 9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Dry Cat Food is lower quality compared to most foods on the market. Preferably, whole meat or meat meal needs to be the first ingredient in any cat food – not a grain. Chicken by-product is included as the second ingredient. This is a meat product, but it is of lower quality than some of the other options.

    The third and fourth ingredients – corn gluten meal and soybean meal – are both protein additives that raise the food’s protein content. However, this protein does not come from meat, making it a poor choice for most felines. This food does have a protein content of 30%, which is about average.

    This food claims to contain beef and salmon. However, it does not include much of either of these animals. Beef fat is included. “Meat and bone meal” are also added, but this is one of the lowest quality meat options out there. It is literally “mystery meat” and could be anything. Salmon meal appears further down on the list and there is no other beef to be found.

    Omega fatty acids are added, likely due to the fish meal.

    Calorie Breakdown:

    9Lives Daily Essentials Review

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • High in protein
    • Omega fatty acids added
    Cons
    • Many low-quality ingredients included
    • Grain as the first ingredient
    • Poor meat choices

    2. 9 Lives Protein Plus with Chicken & Tuna Flavors Dry Cat Food

    9 Lives Protein Plus with Chicken & Tuna Flavors Dry Cat Food

    9 Lives Protein Plus with Chicken & Tuna Flavors Dry Cat Food is a more popular dry food option. As the name suggests, it is meant to be higher in protein than their regular food. It is by about an extra 3%, though this still puts it firmly in the average category as far as most pet foods go. Furthermore, it appears that most of the protein comes from soybean meal, which is the third ingredient on the list. Chicken by-product meal is included as the second ingredient. While any meat in cat food is typically a good thing, this is a lower-quality option.

    The first ingredient isn’t meat at all, but whole ground corn. This is whole grain, so it has some nutritional value. However, it should not be the first ingredient on the list. Preferably, high-quality meat should come first.

    Tuna meal is included, but it is much further down in the ingredient list – hardly enough to make much of a difference. Vague “animal fat” is included. While some sort of animal fat is acceptable and expected in cat food, labelled animal fats are preferable. There is no telling what animal this fat comes from, so we consider it a lower quality source.

    Calorie Breakdown:

    9Lives Protein Plus Review

    Pros
    • Added protein
    • Includes added antioxidants
    • Dual kibble shapes to provide interest
    Cons
    • Low-quality materials
    • Whole grain corn as the first ingredient
    • Includes protein additives

    3. 9 Lives Meaty Pate with Real Beef Canned Cat Food

    9 Lives Meaty Pate with Real Beef Canned Cat Food

    Out of all the recipes we’ve reviewed thus far, the 9 Lives Meaty Pate with Real Beef Canned Cat Food is one of the better options on the market. It includes meat as the first ingredient, though it is meat by-products. This is possibly one of the worst meat ingredients that can be used in cat food. As a by-product, it may be nutritionally inferior to meat meal and whole meat. Furthermore, as it is only named as “meat.” There is no telling what animal this meat comes from. It could include anything from roadkill to euthanized shelter animals.

    Beef and poultry by-products are both include right after water, which is necessary for processing. These are both high-quality options, though they do come after the low-quality meat by-products.

    Overall, this food is also decently high in protein and fat. This is likely due to the higher levels of meat, which increase both the fat and protein content.

    Calorie Breakdown:

    9Lives Meaty Paté With Real Beef Review

    Pros
    • Nutritionally complete
    • Contains many meat products
    • High in protein and fat
    Cons
    • Low-quality meat

    What Other Users Are Saying

    Many people complained that the wet food wasn’t useable after being open. A fresh can is necessary at every mealtime. Saving the can in the fridge causes the food to grow hard, which will likely turn your cat off from the food. Once put out, the food also grows hard quite fast. It needs to be eaten right away, which may or may not work for your situation.

    Some cats don’t like the wet formula, though every cat food likely has a cat that doesn’t like it. Cats are often picky, which can make it challenging to find a food that they’ll eat. This doesn’t necessarily say anything about the food itself.

    Many people did claim that their cat loved the flavor of both the dry and wet food. It seems to depend on the cat and their preferences. However, more people claimed that their cat loved it than those that claimed that their cats didn’t like it.

    There does seem to be quite a lot of powder in the bottom of the dry food bags. This makes some customers feel a bit ripped-off, as much of the kibble isn’t useable. This also speaks somewhat to the quality of the kibble.

    Many people felt that the kibble was also tiny. If you have a very small cat, this may not be a huge issue. However, larger cats may not like the smaller kibble.

    Others noticed their cats gained weight and fur health decreased while on this food. This is expected, as this food isn’t exceptionally high-quality. Some people didn’t notice any problems, though. Again, this likely has to do with your particular cat. Some need high-quality food more than others. Particular cats can eat practically anything and be fine, while others need a particular diet to thrive.

     

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    Conclusion

    While 9 Lives is highly inexpensive, it is cheaper than most cat foods for a reason. The ingredients used are primarily low quality. By-products are often used, including unnamed by-products. There are high levels of grain as well. Grain often appears as the first ingredient, while whole meat as the first ingredient is much preferable.

    We don’t necessarily recommend this food unless it is the only option in your budget. In its cost range, it is decent food. Compared to the whole cat food market, though, it is pretty low-quality when compared to most other options.