IAMS Cat Food Review: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Last Updated on: January 7, 2021

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give IAMS cat food a rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars.

Introduction

Though today you’ll find IAMS pet food in a variety of grocery stores and big-box stores, for many years, they were confined primarily to vets and specialty pet stores. But IAMS is one of the oldest pet food companies around. In fact, they’re responsible for the first dry dog food made with animal-based protein.

IAMS was started in 1946 by Paul Iams; a self-taught animal nutritionist. During the economic hardship of the great depression, Paul survived by selling dog food. This experience taught him that even the worst financial problems wouldn’t prevent people from finding a way to feed their pets. So, he created the Iams 999 dog food in 1950, which was the very first IAMS product.

But Paul wasn’t done yet, and neither was IAMS. Two decades later, in 1969, Paul founded Eukanuba. A few years after that, the IAMS paw print logo debuted, which is still the symbol of the brand today. In the 80s, IAMS set an example for the entire pet food industry by creating dog food formulas for specific life stages. They also started making cat food around the same time. Today, they continue to make quality food for all dogs and cats.cat face divider 2

At a Glance: The 5 Best IAMS Cat Food Recipes:

Image Product Details
Our Favorite IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free Wet Cat Food IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free Wet Cat Food
  • High in crude protein
  • Priced affordably for the average cat owner
  • Loaded with vital nutrients for a healthy cat
  • IAMS Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food IAMS Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food
  • With high quality protein and 0 percent fillers
  • Chicken is the number 1 ingredient in this protein rich cat food
  • Essential nutrients, including calcium and potassium, help nourish a healthy heart
  • IAMS Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food IAMS Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food
  • Minimum of 32% crude protein
  • Contains omega fatty acids for a healthy coat
  • Lists a whole-food animal protein source as the main ingredient
  • IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Senior Grain Free Wet Cat Food IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Senior Grain Free Wet Cat Food
  • Grain free wholesome recipe
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Supports a healthy immune system with vitamin E
  • IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Control Dry Cat F IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Control Dry Cat F
  • High in crude protein
  • Priced affordably for the average cat owner
  • Loaded with vital nutrients for a healthy cat
  • IAMS Cat Food Reviewed4IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free Wet Cat Food

    A Bit of History

    Paul Iams started the IAMS pet food brand, but eventually sold it to Clay Mathile, who had worked for the company. In 1999, Mathile sold IAMS to Proctor & Gamble for over $2 billion. That sale resulted in some major changes at IAMS, such as a reduction in serving sizes and the substitution of cheaper ingredients to keep prices down.

    Unfortunately, these changes weren’t great for IAMS or their customers and a class-action lawsuit followed shortly after when several dogs started losing weight on the new foods. IAMS agreed to demands by the FDA to settle the claim. Then, in 2014, IAMS was sold again; this time to Mars inc.

    As of 2020, Mars inc. is the largest pet food company in the world, with over $18 billion in annual revenue. IAMS is just one of the many brands that Mars owns, including Eukanuba and Royal Canin.

    Interestingly, Mars doesn’t own the entirety of the IAMS company. When they purchased IAMS from Proctor & Gamble, the European arm of the corporation was sold to Spectrum Brands. However, in 2020, Spectrum sold the European IAMS and EUKANUBA to United Petfood who says they will continue to manufacture the foods moving forward.

    Where is IAMS Cat Food Produced?

    The IAMS company makes its own food, though they’re a subsidiary of Mars Inc. Their manufacturing plants are mostly located in the United States, with factories in Ohio, Nebraska, and North Carolina with headquarters in Virginia. In Ohio, there’s also an IAMS research center where veterinarians, nutritionists, and scientists study pet nutrition and develop new products.

    To satisfy the international market, IAMS Europe has a manufacturing plant located in Coevorden, the Netherlands.

    Which Types of Cats is IAMS Best Suited For?

    With dozens of different recipes in many flavors, there’s an IAMS food for every feline. Whether you feed your cat dry food or wet, you’re sure to find a food that’s a great fit. They even make special blends for cats in different life stages, so from kitties to seniors, they’ve got you covered.

    Some owners prefer to feed their cats special diets like grain-free and IAMS caters to these pet parents as well. There are formulas to aid digestion, improve your cat’s coat, prevent hairballs, maintain healthy weight, and more.

    Which Cats and Owners Might Do Better with a Different Brand?

    With so many food choices to pick from, it seems like IAMS might be a fit for most cats. But some felines might not be fond of this food.

    We’ve had trouble with picky eaters in the past, and some of them didn’t like IAMS food. Granted, there are always a myriad of flavors to try, so you might get lucky, but you might not.

    While IAMS makes food that’s meant to keep cats healthy and happy, not every cat owner is going to be as happy looking at the ingredients list. There’s nothing on it that’s harmful to felines in any way, but there are some ingredients in IAMS food that some cat owners may not want to feed their cats, such as corn. Still, different recipes often use different ingredients, so if you wanted to avoid corn, for instance, you could opt for a grain-free recipe instead.

    Cute cat eating on floor at home
    Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

    The Primary Ingredients of IAMS

    Whenever we want to get a better understanding of a pet food, the first place we look is the ingredients list. Once you know what ingredients were used in a food, you can get a good feel for its overall quality.

    Ingredients are listed in descending order according to the amount of each that’s in the blend. So, the first ingredient listed is the most prevalent, and the last ingredient is used in the smallest amount. The first five ingredients could be considered to be the primary ingredients of any cat food, and in the case of the IAMS ProActive Health Healthy Adult Dry Cat Food, those ingredients are chicken, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain corn, corn grits, and corn gluten meal.

    It Starts with Quality Protein

    When the first ingredient listed in a cat food is any whole-food animal-based protein, it’s usually a good sign. With this IAMS food, we can see that chicken is the most used ingredient. That’s a great start and shows that they prioritized quality ingredients and protein content with this blend.

    The second ingredient on this list is chicken by-product meal. That doesn’t sound as good as chicken by itself, but by-product meal is actually quite nutritious for cats. In the wild, cats eat their prey whole, which means they’re eating organs, bones, and more. For domestic cats, these are glaringly absent from their diet. But by-product meals use organ meats and other tissue that can provide necessary nutrients for your cat.

    Since we’re on the subject of protein, let’s take a quick look at the nutritional label, where we can see that this food contains a minimum of 32% crude protein. That’s quite a bit more than many dry cat food blends we’ve seen. And since protein is so important for cats, that’s going to get a thumbs-up in our book.

    Substantial Quantities of Corn

    After seeing two great protein sources listed, you’ll notice that there are three corn ingredients next. Cats don’t need carbohydrates since they’re obligate carnivores. That doesn’t mean corn is bad for them, but we don’t like to feed our cats too much of it.

    That said, we do like whole-food ingredients and all dry cat foods use carbohydrates of some kind to bind the food together and act as filler calories. At least whole grain corn is a healthy whole food that’s preferable to cheaper fillers that we’ve seen used by other brands.

    Unfortunately, we see one of those cheaper fillers a bit farther down the list with the corn gluten meal. This is a cheap ingredient that’s used to help boost the food’s protein content. While it does add some protein to the blend, corn gluten meal isn’t protein that cats can digest easily. And since it’s harder for your cat to digest, the calories aren’t used well, which can lead to obesity and even diabetes.

    Cat ball divider 1A Quick Look at IAMS Cat Food

    Calorie Breakdown:

    **We’ve chosen Iams Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Paté – Chicken to represent the rest of the products in the line **
    Pros
    • Priced affordably for the average cat owner
    • High in crude protein
    • Uses whole-food animal protein source as the main ingredient
    • Loaded with vital nutrients for a healthy cat
    Cons
    • Contains quite a bit of corn
    • The quality isn’t as good as it once was

    Recall History

    It has been quite a few years since the last time that IAMS pet food was recalled, but they had a string of recalls between 2007 and 2013 due to several different issues.

    The most recent recall of IAMS pet food was in August 2013 for possible contamination by salmonella.

    Five months earlier, in March of 2013, IAMS issued a voluntary recall on several foods for potential mold growth. It should be noted that this isn’t a true recall since it was done voluntarily.

    High aflatoxin levels saw a small batch of IAMS food recalled in December of 2011.

    In 2010, IAMS went through three recalls in August, July, and June for low levels of thiamine and the presence of salmonella.

    IAMS was also the brand that was most affected by the massive melamine recall in March 2007, with 43 of its products being yanked from shelves.

    cat + line dividerReviews of the 3 Best IAMS Cat Food Recipes

    1. IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free Wet Cat Food1IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free Wet Cat Food

    Simplifying feeding time, the IAMS Perfect Portions wet cat food comes in small containers that are perfectly sized for a single serving. More than just making feeding quick and easy, this also helps to maintain your cat’s weight, ensuring that they’re never overeating.

    This recipe uses pate, which is easy for cats to eat and offers complete nutrition. It’s completely grain-free. In fact, it’s almost carbohydrate-free with just 0.9% total carbohydrates. Multiply that number by ten and you’ll get the protein content of this food; 9%. That may not sound like a lot, but this is wet food, so 78% of it is water.

    Look at the ingredients and you’ll find several healthy protein sources including chicken and poultry liver. The only downside is that some picky eaters won’t be interested in this food. You can’t please everybody!

    Pros
    • Priced affordably for the average cat owner
    • High in crude protein
    • Uses whole-food animal protein source as the main ingredient
    • Loaded with vital nutrients for a healthy cat
    Cons
    • Contains quite a bit of corn
    • The quality isn’t as good as it once was

    2. IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Control5IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Control Dry Cat Food

    With obesity becoming such a major problem for pets across the country, weight control blends like this one are becoming more and more popular. They’ll help to maintain your cat’s healthy weight, as long as you don’t overfeed them. But this food goes a step further by offering hairball management as well, reducing the number of hairballs your cat will cough up.

    Take a look at the ingredients list and you’ll notice that chicken is listed as the number one ingredient. That’s how they managed to pack a minimum of 30% crude protein into this recipe. But a few items lower on the list you’ll find several corn ingredients, which we weren’t as thrilled about. Still, this is a very affordable cat food for any pet owner and the overall quality is great.

    Pros
    • Priced affordably for the average cat owner
    • High in crude protein
    • Uses whole-food animal protein source as the main ingredient
    • Loaded with vital nutrients for a healthy cat
    Cons
    • Contains quite a bit of corn
    • The quality isn’t as good as it once was

    3. IAMS Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food3Iams Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food with Chicken & Salmon

    As obligate carnivores, cats need a lot of protein. Thankfully, the IAMS Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food has answered the call. This blend has more protein than most dry cat foods, with a minimum of 32%. While that’s more than other brands, it’s only a little more protein than other blends from IAMS.

    Of course, protein isn’t all that this food contains. You’ll also find omega fatty acids on the nutritional label that are great for keeping your cat’s coat soft and healthy. But like other IAMS foods we’ve reviewed, this one contains quite a few corn ingredients that can cause problems in some cats, such as allergies.

    Pros
    • Minimum of 32% crude protein
    • Contains omega fatty acids for a healthy coat
    • Lists a whole-food animal protein source as the main ingredient
    Cons
    • Corn isn’t great for all cats

    What Other Users Are Saying

    You know how we feel about IAMS, but we wanted to make sure that we’re providing you with the whole picture. To see what others who have used IAMS cat food thought about it, we searched the internet, looking through reviews and forums to find other opinions to share with you. You can read some of these reviews for yourself here.

    On Amazon, many users stated that IAMS cat food helped clear up digestive problems for their cats. One user’s kitten had problems for weeks that were cleared up quickly by switching to IAMS.

    Other users were pleased with the affordable price of IAMS cat food.

    3 cat dividerConclusion

    IAMS is one of the oldest pet food brands, and you might even consider them to be the original. Today, their products are sold in over 70 countries and they’re the seventh-largest pet food brand in the United States.

    With a team of veterinarians, nutritionists, and scientists always working to improve upon existing formulas and create new ones to help keep pets in perfect health, IAMS will continue to be one of the biggest names in pet food. With offerings for pets of all ages, lifestyles, and even those with specific needs, you’re sure to find a recipe that will work with your pet.


    Featured Image: IAMS, Chewy