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Acana vs. Orijen Cat Food: Our 2021 In-Depth Comparison

If you take your cat’s health seriously, then you may have thought about investing in a premium cat food brand to feed them. However, it seems like there are just as many choices to make on the high end as there are on the budget side of the aisle — and any mistake you make is likely to be much more expensive.

Two popular premium brands are Acana and Orijen. These two foods are similar, which makes sense when you realize that they’re both made by the same company. They use similar ingredients in similar amounts and are even governed by nearly-identical nutritional philosophies.

They’re not identical, though, and we feel that one is definitely better than the other. To find out which one we prefer (and why), read on.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Orijen

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food
  • Feature iconBone and cartilage ingredients
  • Feature iconSuitable for almost all life stages
  • Feature iconPrimary meats are chicken, turkey, and fish
  • Runner-up
    Second place
    Acana Wild Atlantic Premium Dry Cat Food Acana Wild Atlantic Premium Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconFull of lean protein
  • Feature iconHeavy on the omega fatty acids
  • Feature iconGood for young and developing cats
  • We prefer Orijen to Acana, but that’s not exactly a controversial opinion. Orijen is the more premium of the two foods, and it’s also a tad bit more expensive. In this price range, though, the difference in nutrition more than makes up for the difference in cost.

    While all of Orijen’s foods are good, here are three of our favorite recipes:

    If you’d like to learn why exactly Orijen edged out Acana in our rankings, we go more in-depth on the involved factors below.

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    About Acana

    Pros
    • At least 75% of its food is made of meat
    • Has kibbles for every life stage
    • Extremely high-protein
    • Follows “biologically appropriate” philosophy
    • Made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients
    • Uses high-quality fruits and veggies
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • May not be ideal for older cats or those with periodontal disease
    • No wet foods available

    Acana is a Canadian-owned brand that aims to make “biologically appropriate” foods for dogs and cats. That means that each of its recipes is designed to mimic the kind of diet that your cat would eat in the wild, with an emphasis on clean, natural ingredients.

    All of its foods are made up of at least 75% animal sources, making Acana one of the highest-protein cat foods on the market. It uses at least six different meats in each recipe as well, as cats didn’t evolve to only eat the same animal at every meal.

    Who Owns Acana and Where Is It Made?

    Acana is owned by Champion Petfoods, a company based out of Alberta, Canada. The company manufactures all its food in Canada, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

    What Kind of Food Does Acana Make?

    The company makes dry kibble for cats of every life stage, from kittens to seniors. All of its food is extremely high in protein and low in carbohydrates, with a heavy emphasis on using as many different kinds of meat as possible.

    Currently, Acana doesn’t offer any canned or wet foods, as those need to be fully cooked. Most of Acana’s meats are either fresh or raw, which it believes keeps the nutrients inside intact.

    All of its food recipes follow its “biologically appropriate” principle. Most of them are also grain-free, but there are a few recipes that include a limited number of high-quality grains.

    Who Is Acana’s Target Audience?

    Acana is a premium brand aimed at pet owners who are willing to spend whatever it takes to keep their cats healthy. It’s not a cheap food, and it’s not sold in many stores, so it can be difficult to find.

    Most of Acana’s customers are fairly well-educated about their cat’s nutritional needs, and the company relies on that. If you think that your cat should eat a diet as diverse as your own, this is not going to be the food for you. Acana recognizes that cats are carnivores and its foods reflect that.

    It only makes dry kibble, so while it does have recipes targeted at senior cats, Acana’s foods aren’t the best choice for cats with missing teeth or periodontal disease. However, their crunchy kibble can help clean cats’ teeth, so it may help prevent those issues in the first place.

    What Kinds of Ingredients Does Acana Use?

    If you read the label of any Acana food, you’ll discover that meats make up the bulk of the food. These meats range from those that you’d find in just about any cat food, like chicken and turkey, to exotic foods, like duck and quail.

    Almost all of Acana’s recipes include fish of some sort and usually several varieties of them. These aren’t trash fish either; there are high-quality species like haddock, hale, flounder, and mackerel.

    All of Acana’s fruits and veggies are extremely high-quality as well — you won’t find any corn, wheat, or soy in its recipes. Instead, it uses things like cranberries, spinach, carrots, and the like.

    However, given that cats are carnivores, Acana recognizes that the amount of fruits and veggies that your cat needs is limited at best. You’ll usually find these near the bottom of the ingredients list.

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    About Orijen

    Pros
    • Even more meat than Acana (90%)
    • Several special diet kibbles available
    • Uses the same fresh ingredients that Acana does
    • High in protein and fat
    • Each food uses at least six different meat sources
    Cons
    • Even pricier than Acana
    • No wet foods available
    • Not ideal for cats that can’t crunch kibble

    If most of the information below seems familiar, it should — Acana and Origin are made by the same company, which sues many of the same principles to make each food. Both rely heavily on the “biologically appropriate” idea, for example.

    However, Orijen looked at many of the ideas behind Acana and took them one step further. While Acana is made up of at least 75% meat sources, Orijen’s foods are made up of at least 90%.

    Orijen is more expensive as a result, but it’s also probably better for your cat (and the price difference is minimal, considering that you’re going to be spending a bundle on either food).

    Who Owns Orijen and Where Is It Made?

    Like Acana, Orijen is made by Champion Petfoods out of Alberta. Both foods are made out of the same kitchen as well.

    Acana and Orijen are the only foods made by that kitchen, so you don’t have to worry about your cat’s food being tainted by some other brand.

    Both foods are made using the same basic ingredients, but Orijen tends to use more meat than Acana.

    What Kind of Food Does Orijen Make?

    Like Acana, Orijen only makes high-protein kibble, with no wet foods available. They have kibbles for every life stage, as well as a few for special diets, such as grain-free or healthy weight.

    Acana and Orijen have different recipes, but they all seem to be based on the same idea. For example, Acana has a line called “Bountiful Catch,” while Orijen has one called “Six Fish;” both are seafood-based using at least six different types of fish.

    It’s likely that the kitchen makes each recipe the same way and just changes the amount of meat used for each, but we don’t know that for sure.

    Who Is Orijen’s Target Audience?

    Orijen’s target audience is basically the same as Acana’s: people who want the best for their cat, regardless of cost.

    To be honest, though, we’re not sure why anyone would buy Acana over Orijen. It’s a bit cheaper, but it’s still incredibly expensive, so it doesn’t seem like there would be many people in this price range who’d consider a few extra bucks a dealbreaker.

    What Kinds of Ingredients Does Orijen Use?

    Orijen uses the same ingredients that Acana does: namely, fresh, locally-sourced meats and plants that can be found in the fertile farm and ranch lands around Alberta.

    There doesn’t seem to be much difference in ingredient quality between the two foods, so it’s simply a matter of Orijen using more good stuff than Acana.

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    3 Most Popular Acana Cat Food Recipes

    1. Acana Wild Atlantic Premium Dry Cat Food

    Acana Wild Atlantic Premium Dry Cat Food

    If you want a food that’s loaded with omega fatty acids, Acana Wild Atlantic is a good choice. It’s built around wild-caught fish, like redfish, hake, and herring, each of which is absolutely loaded with important antioxidants.

    This makes it an excellent choice for younger cats, as it has all the nutrients necessary for improving brain function, boosting immune response, and ensuring that they have proper eyesight. It’s also full of lean protein (36%), which should help your cat grow up big and strong.

    It has a seriously strong fish odor, though, which you probably won’t enjoy as much as your cat will.

    Pros
    • Heavy on the omega fatty acids
    • Good for young and developing cats
    • Full of lean protein
    Cons
    • Strong fish odor
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    2. Acana Meadowlands Premium Dry Cat Food

    Acana Meadowlands Premium Dry Cat Food

    Acana Meadowlands uses chicken, turkey, and trout to give your cat all the protein and important amino acids that they need. Those are all ingredients that most cats love as well, so it’s likely that your tabby will scarf this stuff down.

    In addition to lean cuts of meat, this recipe uses different animal meals as well. This gives your cat all the ground-up bone and internal organs that they don’t usually get from commercial foods; these are an important part of any cat’s natural diet.

    However, some of the protein inside this recipe comes from eggs, which is a known allergen for many cats. If your kitty has trouble tolerating it, you may need to switch them to something else.

    Pros
    • Most cats will enjoy taste
    • Uses animal meals in addition to lean cuts of meat
    • Full of important amino acids
    Cons
    • Eggs may cause digestive issues in some cats
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    3. Acana New Grasslands Premium Dry Cat Food

    Acana New Grasslands Premium Dry Cat Food

    Acana New Grasslands is a hybrid of usual and unusual ingredients. You’ll find things like chicken and turkey inside, but there are duck and quail in it too.

    That makes it a nice change of pace from other recipes, but many cats might turn up their noses at it.

    That’s a shame because it has plenty of animal meals, not to mention fiber-stuffed foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas. There’s even pollock oil for an added dose of omega fatty acids.

    Pros
    • Good variety of usual and unusual meats
    • Pollock oil for omega fatty acids
    • Plenty of fiber inside
    Cons
    • Some cats won’t care for taste

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    3 Most Popular Orijen Cat Food Recipes

    1. Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food

    Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food

    Orijen Cat & Kitten is Orijen’s basic recipe, and it’s a good place to start for anyone looking to switch their cat to Orijen. It’s suitable for just about all life stages as well.

    Despite being the basic kibble, it’s full of ingredients that you won’t find in many cat foods, like turkey cartilage and ground chicken bones. This gives your cat important nutrients that other foods often miss.

    It has turkey, chicken, and fish, so most cats will devour it without question. Be sure to watch how they tolerate it, though, because the eggs inside may cause stomach issues.

    Pros
    • Primary meats are chicken, turkey, and fish
    • Has rare but important ingredients like bone and cartilage
    • Suitable for almost all life stages
    Cons
    • Eggs can be an allergen for some cats
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    2. Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Six Fish Dry Cat Food

    Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Six Fish Dry Cat Food

    If you want your cat to get as many omega fatty acids as possible, a kibble that’s loaded with fish is a good place to start — and Orijen Six Fish just happens to have several different varieties

    That’s the only type of meat it has, though, so your cat won’t get any poultry or red meat. That’s not a huge deal, but it does knock it down a peg from some of Orijen’s more balanced offerings.

    Still, Orijen makes up for that somewhat by loading the recipe with high-quality fruits and veggies like carrots, apples, and pumpkin seeds.

    Pros
    • Loaded with omega fatty acids
    • Six different types of fish inside
    • Uses high-quality plants like carrots and apples
    Cons
    • No other meat sources besides fish
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    3. Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Regional Red Dry Cat Food

    Orijen High-Protein, Grain-Free Regional Red Dry Cat Food

    Orijen Regional Red is packed with a variety of exotic red meats like goat, boar, and bison. Most cats never get the opportunity to take down a bison, so this should be exciting for yours.

    It uses most of the internal organs from those animals as well, ensuring that your cat gets all the important amino acids that those organs offer. The kibble itself is coated with freeze-dried cod liver oil, which adds omega fatty acids and a delectable fish flavor.

    Still, that’s about the only source of omega fatty acids in here, so if that matters to you, you may want to put your cat on a recipe that has more fish inside.

    Pros
    • Plenty of exotic red meats inside
    • Uses amino acid-rich internal organs
    • Coated with freeze-dried cod liver oil
    Cons
    • Not as many omega fatty acids as some other recipes

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    Recall History of Acana and Orijen

    Both brands are made in the same kitchen, so it makes sense that they’d have similar recall histories. In this case, there’s only been one incident involving either brand.

    In 2008, Orijen recalled cat foods that it had shipped to Australia after several cats who ate them became ill or even died. However, upon further investigation, it turned out that the issue wasn’t with the food at all.

    At the time, the Australian government required imported pet foods to undergo gamma radiation to kill any microbes inside. This radiation reduced the amount of vitamin A in the food while also releasing free radicals, which turned out to be a toxic combination.

    Given that the only recall incident involving either brand was due to something outside their control, it seems as though these are two of the safer foods on the market today.

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    Acana vs. Orijen Comparison

    Any comparison of the two brands is likely going to find more similarities than differences. However, we pitted the two foods against one another in several categories to help us determine a winner.

    Price

    Both foods are extremely expensive and tend to be among the priciest cat foods out there. However, Orijen tends to cost a little more than Acana.

    There’s a good reason for that, though. It has more meat inside, and meat is by far the biggest driver of price in cat food. So, while you’ll pay more for Orijen, there’s a good chance that you’ll decide that it’s well worth it.

    Besides, no one who buys Acana is likely to be much of a bargain shopper, anyway.

    Ingredients

    Acana and Orijen use the exact same ingredients across their various recipes. That makes sense, as their foods use ingredients that are local to the Alberta region of Canada.

    The biggest difference is that Orijen seems to include more of those ingredients than Acana does (at least the meats, anyway). It’s up to you whether that matters.

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    Selection

    Orijen has the edge here for one simple reason: it offers treats in addition to kibble.

    This won’t make much of a difference, but it’s about the only difference that you’ll find in terms of selection between the two. They both offer high-protein recipes for any life stage, as well as a few special recipes for things like grain-free diets and weight management.

    Overall

    These two brands are almost identical. Orijen is undoubtedly a bit better, but it’s also a bit more expensive — it’s as simple as that.

    Are you willing to pay a few more bucks for a bit more meat? That’s about the only question that you need to answer when deciding between Orijen and Acana.

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    Conclusion

    Orijen and Acana are both excellent foods, especially if you want to put your cat on a high-protein diet. Made by the same company, both brands follow the same philosophy of tailoring your pet’s diet according to the food that they’d eat in the wild.

    You’ll pay quite a bit for either food, but Orijen is a bit more expensive. It’s also got more meat inside, which makes that investment worth every penny in our opinion.

    If you like feeding your cat a wet food, though, you’ll need to keep looking, as neither brand offers canned foods. Their kibbles have all the nutrients that your cat needs to be healthy, though, so augmenting them with wet food likely isn’t necessary.

    Anyone with the cash to spend on a premium food like Acana can likely afford to pay a bit more for the slightly-superior Orijen, so we see no reason not to recommend that food here.

    Feature Image Illustration Credit: by terdpongvector – www.freepik.com